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In the September 2023 issue of CORE Voice I gave an analysis of the expected outcome from the ELCA’s Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church.  After reading the biographical paragraphs for the thirty-five members, I described the certain end result of their work.  Here is a link to my analysis, which I entitled “Once You Know the Makeup, You Know the Outcome.” 

Based on who was chosen by the Church Council to be a part of the Commission, I listed four things that are certain to characterize the Renewed Lutheran Church – social justice activism as the main mission and purpose for the church, an ever-diminishing role for men, LGBTQ+ activism, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as the primary value system for the church.  At the end of that article I said that I would keep you informed as the Commission continues to do its work. 

The Commission met electronically September 21-22.  A link to a description of their meeting can be found here. The work of the Commission is as predicted.  After all, “Once You Know the Makeup, You Know the Outcome.”

The first thing to note in that report is a phrase in the resolution passed by the 2022 Churchwide Assembly which directed the Church Council to establish the Commission.  The phrase is “being particularly attentive to our shared commitment to dismantle racism.”  Those words are the only place where the resolution gets specific in defining what is to be the central mission and top priority of the Renewed Lutheran Church – dismantling racism.

Now certainly racism is wrong.  God so loved the world that He gave His Son.  God does not love just one race or ethnic group of people.  In the Great Commission of Matthew 28: 19, Jesus said that we are to make disciples of all nations, not that we are to dismantle racism.  In His final words to His disciples before ascending into heaven, Jesus told His followers that they are to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1: 8).  Jesus does not say that we are to make our number one priority dismantling racism.

The second item of interest to note is who are the three people who were invited to join the meeting as staff resource persons to inform the Commission concerning specific issues.   

  • Judith Roberts, ELCA Program Director for Racial Justice, who told about the efforts of the task force on “Strategy Toward Authentic Diversity.”
  • Pastor Nicolette Peñaranda, Program Director of African Descent Ministries, who described the barriers that clergy and congregations of African Descent face in the ELCA.
  • Vance Blackfox, ELCA Director for Indigenous Ministries and Tribal Relations, who spoke of the ongoing efforts to heal the broken relationship between the Indigenous community and the ELCA.

A couple years ago I sent an email to the recently appointed assistant to the bishop for authentic diversity for the synod in which I was rostered before I retired.  I wrote, “As an older, white, cisgender male, I am a part of a marginalized group.   In the spirit of authentic diversity, what kind of ministry will you be offering people like me?”  As expected, I never received a response.

I find it interesting that the Commission is concerned about barriers that clergy and congregations of African Descent face.  They show no concern at all for the barriers that seminarians, pastors, and congregations with traditional views face.  

And I find it interesting that the ELCA is concerned to “heal the broken relationship” between itself and the Indigenous community.  But it has absolutely no concern or interest to heal the broken relationship between itself and pastors, congregations, and lay people with traditional views, even though we also are people who have experienced broken promises, congregational leaders being removed, and church properties being taken over under the guise of S13.24 in the model constitution for synods.

In the spirit of “Once you know the makeup, you know the outcome,” we will continue to keep you informed.

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Art Hebbeler says:

    When I was in seminary (1998-2001, LTSP of blessed memory), I posed a question to a couple of then-bishops who were visiting over coffee. “Have either of you read the AME’s white paper on evangelism to the white community?”

    Both looked stunned, turned to each other, and then looked at me. One said,”No, we weren’t aware of it. Have you read it? What does it say?”

    I replied, “There isn’t one. But they have some great resources for evangelism and outreach to the unchurched.” They were not amused. I see nothing has changed on the focus of ELCA leaders.

  • Brilliant way of handling the situation! ELCA leaders need to be shown the ridiculousness of their ways.

    • Raymond Barclay says:

      I am becoming fully aware of the ELCA’s pandering to those members of progressive, far-leftist theological mission statements. As mentioned, the majority of the ELCA’s Churches reside in rural locations whose members still hold to the teachings of Dr. Luther.
      I love the small congregation of which I am supplying following my retirement, but I don’t see much of a future for them being served by their synod offices. They feel abandoned and left behind as the ELCA tries to find a theological compromise with the ideological mindset of those who make sin acceptable.

      • Thank you for your faithful ministry to your congregation. I thank God for people like you who faithfully serve congregations that have been abandoned by their synods.

  • Pastor L.J.Wylie says:

    Thank you dPastor Nelson and all for your faithful reporting of ELCA activities.

    When we FOLLOW Christ’s way specific plans re situational social culture issues and the News are not required and tend to breed division and conflict, and detract from the core mission given us by Christ himself which HE indeed exampled…make known the Gospel and foster it as we each have opportunity and in which the SPIRIT will lead and empower our witness.

    Having spent my ministry in the Medical world, I note from experience that where we can now treat everything that presents, our focus is on “causation”….what is causing the problem presented to occur with the thought to preclude recurrence.

    Perhaps this is a tonic certain ELCA leadership by selection would be find beneficial.

    • The ELCA would do well to examine why its decline is accelerating and why it is such a toxic environment that the presiding bishop requested and was given a four to six month leave of absence.