What does it mean to be a church? This month we will be taking a historic vote. On Sunday, September 12, we will be voting on whether to leave the ELCA. At the time of this writing, I do not know the outcome of this vote. But whatever the outcome, I can assure you that we will continue to be Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

That means we will continue to be a Christian church, a part of the “holy Christian (or catholic) church” that we confess in the Apostles’ Creed. We will continue to believe in the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and our sole authority in all matters of faith and life. We will continue to be a church that believes and proclaims Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will continue to believe and proclaim that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”, and we will continue to believe and proclaim that we are “justified by faith in Jesus, apart from works”.

Let me assure you, we will also continue to be a Lutheran church. We will accept the Augsburg Confession and the Lutheran Confessions as a faithful witness to the Scriptures. We may leave the ELCA, but we will not leave the Lutheran church. In deed, part of our reasons for leaving the ELCA will be because the ELCA has strayed from its Lutheran beliefs, particularly when it comes to the authority of Scriptures. In a very real sense, we will not have left the ELCA, the ELCA will have left us.

Let me assure you that we will continue to be a church of worship. We will continue with the same worship styles and liturgies. Our worship will continue to be centered on the Word, with good (and sometimes familiar) hymns.

Will some things change? Of course. Whether we join the NALC or LCMC (if we do leave the ELCA), we will be forming new alliances and new fellowships. Hopefully, we can maintain many of our old friendships and partnerships. At the present time, it is our intention to continue working with Immanuel and Bethany of Kimballton.

Camp Okoboji has a mission statement: “knowing Christ and making Christ known”. This is what the church is all about. Whatever the future holds for Bethlehem Lutheran Church, we will always seek to “know Christ” so we can “make Christ known” for others.

Your friend in Christ,

Pastor Ron.