A serious discussion and decision making process currently occupies the agenda for several Lutheran Churches in Lake and Cook Counties, MN. The main decision for congregations and individuals is whether to leave the ELCA Synod, and become members of an association called Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC). To become members of LCMC requires approval by two-thirds of the voting members of the congregation. From the literature and the website, it also appears to be possible for individuals to be associate members.
Why am I concerned? Each of these local congregations includes close friends, and many others who are a positive influence on the wider community. The congregations are too small to survive a contentious estrangement of the membership. I can see it in the faces of my friends that decision is a cause of depression, deep emotional and spiritual pain.
As Baha’is, my wife and I pray for unity in the community daily.
Is unity of spirit, thought, and action possible in these congregations? That’s the high level goal I try to encourage in one-on-one conversations.
The specific issue causing the potential split is the decision by the ELCA this past August not only to allow gays in committed sexual relationships to be Lutheran Pastors, but also to allow congregations to make their own decisions about the issue, including the possibility of leaving the synod.
As I understand the Statement of Faith, and the brochures published by the LCMC in advance of the discussions and vote, I think there is opportunity for further splits into smaller and smaller groups. In the Baha’i Scriptures, we have the warning that failure to remain firm in the Covenant would result in a schism of a thousand sects.
Many of the foundational documents mentioned in the statement are common to any Lutheran synod or congregation. Baha’is reading the LCMC Statement of Faith can immediately identify significant differences from the fundamental verities of our Faith.
Here is the link to the LCMC website, and the pdf Statement of Faith.