In Faith

“We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3

The congregation of St. Paul located in Pensacola, Florida began the discernment process of leaving the ELCA in 2018. We had the 2nd vote to leave the Florida-Bahamas (FB) Synod of the ELCA in 2019. We expected some challenges in leaving because of the small group of members who wanted to remain in the ELCA. The congregation voted with a super-majority to leave the FB Synod. St. Paul applied to and joined the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) in 2020. Shortly after being received into the NALC, the congregation council received a letter from the FB Synod informing us that we could not leave.

The congregation council of that period were faithful in their commitment to Christ. They had a strength in faith that was unwavering. It proved to be a blessing for us as the FB Synod attempted to stop the people of God from leaving. To resolve the issue of St. Paul leaving the ELCA, the congregation council filed a motion in court. This was to maintain our rights to the building and the financials of St. Paul. During the legal process, letters with false statements were sent to the church members of St. Paul (NALC). Slanderous statements were made against the council and me. The ugliness of letters from the FB Synod showed a lack of Christian love for others and did not speak the truth of the intentions within the ELCA. The object of the ELCA was and I believe still is to “suppress the truth” of what they are doing or what they have done. We had suggested that the majority (us) and the minority (them) could share the building. But that was met with another ugly response. The Bishop of the FB Synod stated in words like these: Any other denomination but the NALC would have been okay. But not the NALC.

Eventually after many legal disputes the FB Synod Bishop filed a summary of judgment with the claim of ecclesiastical hierarchy. Taking the matter away from the civil court and giving it back to the FB Synod to make the final determination. The ruling gave our building, bank accounts, and endowment funds to the FB Synod and the small group of people who wanted to stay in the ELCA.

This could have been crushing for us if it were not for “faith.” Instead, the ruling of the judge based on the ecclesiastical hierarchy was freeing! Shortly after we lost everything to the ruling, God founded a new name for us. Led by the Spirit, Epiphany Lutheran Church became our new name. In 2021 we sought and found a new location for worship. I was introduced to Rabbi Tokajer in September, and we began worshipping at the Synagogue on Nov. 7, 2021.

In faith we left the building in Pensacola for a new beginning. With our vision clear and our faith steadfast in Christ, we began rebuilding and evangelizing for God’s church in the new location. With little financial stability we stepped out. In our faith journey, we didn’t think about what was lost. Instead, we recognized how much God was providing.

I encourage pastors discerning their call to contact the General Secretary of the NALC. The threats from the ELCA that place fear into individual pastors is nothing more than evil. If you want to remain faithful to the Word of God, I encourage you to place your assurance in Christ not the ELCA. The letters I received informed me that I was nothing without their endorsement. The ELCA didn’t call me into ministry. God called me into the ministry of Word and Sacrament. What about my pension and medical benefits? Have faith! As God is my witness, this question came to my mind too. It was a fleeting thought as I discerned the call to serve in faithfulness. 

In March of 2023, I spoke to the congregation about our faith walk. I referred to the summary of judgment and the loss of our assets and property. In the message of faith I said, “We lost everything for the sake of Christ.” It is in this loss that we found out just how strong and faith filled we were. As I’ve said many times, “It’s easy to have faith when everything is going well in your life.” With the help of God, we’ve grown in number, in spirit, and in faithfulness. Like the letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, we lift up the church and all those who continue their journey in “faith.” We share the love of Christ with new believers and all visitors at Epiphany Pensacola. All are welcome to experience the love and joy of Christ in worship.

As I am writing this article it just dawned on me that on Nov. 7, 2023, when we break ground on a new church building it will be our 2nd anniversary of this new start congregation in Pensacola, Florida. God has blessed us with generous financial support for the church property. The mission and ministry have been financially supported by several NALC churches. We’ve received domestic mission partnerships from other NALC churches. The congregation has grown, and the people of God have been generous in supporting the mission and ministry of Christ. Losing everything for the sake of the Gospel has been transformational to the members of Epiphany Pensacola.   

Faithfully Serving,

The Rev. Dr. Franklin J. Gore

Epiphany Lutheran Church


“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

Photos courtesy of Brenda Ekstrom and Donna Busarow.

Letter From the Director – October 2021


There are two things we know for sure about the ELCA.  First, they will always give us plenty to write about.  And second, they will always leave us wondering what will it be next.  Such was the case during the past couple months.

On August 23 the Religious News Service released the story that Nadia Bolz-Weber, the ELCA’s most famous pastor, has been installed as pastor of public witness by the Rocky Mountain Synod.  This is the Nadia Bolz-Weber who was one of the keynote speakers at the 2018 ELCA youth gathering.  She led 31,000 young people in a chant rejecting traditional views of human sexuality as a lie.  (See CORE Voice July 2018).  This is the Nadia Bolz-Weber who is known for her profanity and her bragging about the sex she is having outside of marriage.  I assume it was to accommodate Nadia Bolz-Weber that the ELCA Conference of Bishops recommended and the ELCA Church Council approved a wording in the recently revised document, “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline,” which no longer describes abstinence from sexual intercourse until marriage as an expectation and requirement for pastors and other rostered leaders, but instead only as “the aspirational teaching of this church.”

In the past, when I have expressed concern about the pagan goddess worship at Ebenezer HerChurch in San Francisco, I was told that they do not represent the ELCA.  When I wrote to ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton regarding the “We Are Naked and Unashamed” movement, which wants to eliminate the requirement that pastors be married (by any definition) in order to be sexually active, I was told by her that they are outside of the teachings of “this church” and she does not want to give them attention and credence by commenting on them.

The news story said that the entire Conference of Bishops had to sign off on at least the creation of that position, if not also choosing Nadia Bolz-Weber for that position.  In addition, she was called to that position by the Rocky Mountain Synod and installed in that position by the bishop of that synod, Jim Gonia.  All that tells me that there is no way that the ELCA can say that this is action that does not represent and reflect on the ELCA.

Well, if that is what happened in August, what happened in September?  The ELCA again made the news.  That must be one of their greatest goals – to make the news.  This time they made the news by installing Protestantism’s first transgender bishop, Meghan Rohrer of the Sierra Pacific Synod.  There is much to be said about that action.

Of course there is much that could be said about the ELCA’s even having a transgender pastor who could be elected bishop.  The ELCA fully embraces the LGBTQIA+ agenda, even though the ELCA has never officially taken action to approve the BTQIA+ portion of LGBTQIA+.  (Transgender is the “T” portion of LGBTQIA+.)  The actions taken by the 2009 churchwide assembly only approved the ordination of a certain group of L and G persons – those that are in (PALMS) publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same sex relationships.  Even the recently approved document, “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline,” which I have referenced above, affirms that “this church’s understanding of human sexuality is stated in its authorized social teachings” – the most recent of which is the 2009 “Social Statement on Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust.”       

Not too long ago I received an email from an ELCA synodical staff person, who is now an ELCA synodical bishop.  She agreed that in 2009 the ELCA did not act to approve the ordination of BTQIA+ persons.  She also said that if the ordination of BTQIA+ persons had been part of the vote, it probably would not have been approved at that time.  But, she said, the Holy Spirit has revealed new things to the church.  What good timing on the part of the Holy Spirit!  To reveal new things to the church after and only after enough traditionally minded people have left that church so that these new things will not only be accepted, but welcomed and embraced.

But there is much more that can be said about the installation service for Bishop Rohrer.  I will start with the wording of the invocation given by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.  The news story said that “congregants were invited to stand as clergy gathered around the orchid-festooned baptismal font, giving thanks as decanters poured water from the Sacramento and Garcia Rivers, Lake Tahoe and the San Francisco Bay as acolytes waved blue streamers overhead.”  And then Bishop Eaton said, “You, oh God: Parent, Child, and Holy Breath.  You are the water we crave. . . .  You, oh God: Rain, Estuary, and Sea.  You are life for us all, now and forever.  Amen.”

I assume all this is intended to be some kind of creative reference to baptism, but what is it actually?  Idolatry.  Notice the parallel sentence structure.  The first “You, oh God:” is followed by five words that identify God – “Parent, Child, and Holy Breath.”  Not Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as per the ecumenical creeds and the Lutheran Confessions.  (Interestingly enough, at the ELCA service of ordination for a minister of word and sacrament – the new term for pastor – the candidate is asked, “Will you therefore preach and teach in accordance with the holy scriptures and these creeds and confessions?”  At the ELCA service of installation of a bishop, the bishop is asked, “Will you carry out this ministry in accordance with the holy scriptures and with the confessions of the Lutheran church?”  But why would we expect the ELCA to expect one of its own pastors and/or bishops to actually do what they said they would do?)

The first “You, oh God:” is followed by five words that identify that God – “Parent, Child, and Holy Breath.”  So we should be able to assume that the words that follow the second “You, oh God:” also identify God.  And what are those words?  “Rain, Estuary, and Sea.”  What is this?  Idolatry.  Invoking God as Rain, Estuary and Sea, and invoking Rain, Estuary, and Sea as God.  Worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.

And who is this said by?  No one less than the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA.  The ELCA could argue that Ebenezer HerChurch does not represent the ELCA, and the agenda and goals of “We Are Naked and Unashamed” are outside the teachings of “this church,” but I assume that what the Presiding Bishop says represents the ELCA and is within the teachings of “this church.”  Does Bishop Eaton actually believe that God is “Rain, Estuary, and Sea” and “Rain, Estuary, and Sea” are God, or is she so careless about saying what she is handed to say at the service for the installation of a synodical bishop? 

What if the prophets of Baal were right and Elijah was wrong and the gods are merely forces of nature?  Certainly rain is a gift, and water is essential for life.  I live in Arizona.  I give thanks for the monsoon rains which fell this past July and August.  The danger of fires is now listed as low or moderate, rather than extreme, and most of Arizona is no longer suffering from extreme or exceptional drought.  But if God were only the forces of nature, and the forces of nature were God, then what do I do about the fact that the forces that can make life possible can also destroy?  If God were only the forces of nature – Rain, Estuary, and Sea – then I would know nothing of a God who loves me as well as created me and who went to great lengths and paid a high price to save me.

Yes, it does matter what we believe.  It does matter how we witness.  It does matter what we say within the context of a worship service – especially one that is so publicly visible.

The final thing that I would want to comment on from the installation service for Bishop Rohrer is the way in which the service began with a “land acknowledgement” – a declaration that “the land where we live and worship in this place is stolen land.”  Participants in the ceremony, which was held in Grace Cathedral – in a historically wealthy neighborhood in San Francisco – were encouraged to “find concrete ways to make reparations to the original stewards of these places and their descendants.”

It is interesting.  For the ELCA the worst of sins are the ones that they are proud that they are not guilty of – white supremacy, racism, male dominance, and sexism.  They feel free to blast and criticize those awful white settlers who stole the land from indigenous persons, not realizing that they are doing the very same thing when they send in “woke” pastors who decimate congregations.  These congregations then close, their buildings are sold, and from the proceeds synods and ELCA churchwide finance their agenda. 

For example, I wrote in my June letter from the director about the online synod assembly for the ELCA synod in which I was rostered before I retired.   The proposed spending plan for the 2022-2023 fiscal year included income of $899,000, but expenses of over $1.2 million.  The assembly rejected the budget, not because it was not balanced, but instead because it did not provide funding for all of the favored ministries.  The attitude of the assembly was, We need to sell more buildings from closed congregations, and we need to use more of the dollars already obtained from already selling buildings from closed congregations.

The hypocrisy is amazing.  Encouraging the participants in the installation service of an ELCA synodical bishop to “find concrete ways to make reparations to the original stewards of these places and their descendants” while showing neither respect, consideration, appreciation, nor regard for the people who built and paid for the buildings which they are now selling in order to fund their agendas, values, and priorities.  

* * * * * * *


In sharp contrast was the LCMC gathering in early October, which I had the privilege of attending on behalf of Lutheran CORE.  In the second reading for October 10 – in Hebrews 4:14 – the author of this letter urges his readers, “Let us hold fast to our confession.”  The people at this gathering were not afraid to hold fast to their confession.  They were not afraid to call God Father, believe in the authority of the Bible, see the Lutheran Confessions as an accurate statement of Scriptural teachings and relevant for us today (even though they were written by white males), and view the mission of the Church as proclaiming Christ and helping people grow as disciples of Christ.

* * * * * *


Lutheran CORE continues to provide monthly video reviews of books of interest and importance.  Many thanks to Bill Decker for giving us a review of Erwin Lutzer’s book, We Will Not Be Silenced: Responding Courageously to Our Culture’s Assault on Christianity.  This is a book for all who are concerned about how they can and will live out their Christian convictions against a growing tide of hostility in our contemporary culture.  Picking up on the words of Jesus to the church in Sardis in Revelation 3: 2 to “strengthen what remains,” this book is written with the ardent hope that the U. S. church will wake up and “strengthen what remains.” 

Mr. Decker is an ELCA rostered lay leader who has done editorial and grant writing work for the ELCA.  Erwin Lutzer is a student of Martin Luther and pastor emeritus of Moody Church in Chicago. 

This review, as well as ten others, have been posted on our YouTube channel.  A link to the channel can be found here.

Dennis D. Nelson

Executive Director of Lutheran CORE


The past couple months I have had the privilege of representing Lutheran CORE at four most inspiring events – the NALC theology conference, missions festival, and convocation (August 6-9 in Indianapolis); Lutheran CORE’s annual Encuentro bi-lingual ministries festival (September 14 at an ELCA congregation in Chicago); the STS (Society of the Holy Trinity) general retreat (September 24-26 at a Roman Catholic retreat center north of Chicago); and the LCMC gathering (September 29-October 2 in Omaha).

does not allow for a thorough report on all of them, so what I would like to do
is to share one or two highlights from each of them.


behalf of Lutheran CORE I would like to extend our congratulations to Pastor
Dan Selbo on his election as the next bishop of the North American Lutheran
Church.  Our prayers and best wishes are
with him as he steps into this position of leadership, care, and
oversight.  The answers that he gave to
such questions as “What Should Be the NALC’S Most Important Ministry
Priorities?” and “What Challenges Do You See Facing the NALC?” make me
confident that he is going to give wise, powerful, and effective leadership for
the church.  I believe that the Holy
Spirit was present and guiding the process for the election of a new

address from Gemechis Buba, Assistant to the Bishop for Missions, at the close
of the missions festival was most inspiring. 
He based his presentation on the account in John 20 of what took place
on that first Easter Sunday evening. 
John tells us that as “the doors of the house where the disciples had
met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said,
‘Peace be with you. . . . As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’”  Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive
the Holy Spirit” (verses 19-22).

Buba commented, “When the Holy Spirit is blown on us, there are no more closed
doors.”  Many are accustomed to indoors
Christianity.  They see everything as
diminishing and closing.  But the Holy
Spirit is moving us from indoor Christianity – where there are closed doors –
to outdoor Christianity – where there are open doors.  He spoke of several Oromo churches, who at
first were concerned because they were being kicked out of buildings.  They were wondering, “Where will we go
now?”  They are no longer renting
buildings.  Rather they are buying

Buba also shared how the church of Jesus Christ is always under pressure.  The persecution and pressure may be different
in different parts of the world, but we are all under pressure.  Satan is seeking to destroy the church.  But when the Holy Spirit is leading the
church, the church becomes unstoppable. 
Receiving the Holy Spirit, the early disciples moved from being in one
room behind closed doors to being out in the world, speaking in many different

Buba reminded us that some say that there is no future for the church in
present-day America.  But we follow an
unstoppable Holy Spirit.  With the early
disciples we move from one room with closed doors in Jerusalem through open
doors to all over the world.

we follow our crucified and risen Lord Jesus, who has given us the Holy Spirit
and who now leads us to follow him from behind closed doors into the outside,
waiting world.   

* * * * * * *


Fellowship meal at the Sept 14th Encuentro

I believe that our annual bi-lingual ministries Encuentro is our strongest connecting point with the ELCA.  The Encuentro is an annual gathering of inspiration, fellowship, support, and resources for pastors, lay leaders, and congregations who either are currently involved in or are considering becoming involved in Spanish and/or bilingual (Spanish-English) ministries.  It is held at an ELCA congregation in northwest Chicago (St. Timothy Lutheran Church).  It is co-sponsored by Lutheran CORE and the Bilingual Ministries Resource Center out of First and Santa Cruz Lutheran Church in Joliet, Illinois (another ELCA congregation).  The majority of those who attend are ELCA, and the majority of the presenters are ELCA – including pastors, theologians, and national church staff.  We were especially delighted this year to receive an email greeting from Bishop Jeffrey Clements of the ELCA’s Northern Illinois Synod, and we were deeply honored that Bishop-Elect Yehiel Curry of the ELCA’s Metro Chicago Synod stopped by.  Bishop-Elect Curry said during his greeting, “I represent the entire synod.”  How delighted we were that the bishop would include in his definition of “the entire synod” a congregation that would host an event planned and sponsored by Lutheran CORE.

so much of our work is a critical review of much of what is done and valued by
the ELCA, it is refreshing to have this annual event, which is a source of
support and encouragement for many in the ELCA. 
Lutheran CORE and the ELCA disagree on many, very basic things, but we do
agree on the importance of reaching out to and receiving the gifts of Spanish-speaking

would also want to mention the intentional inter-Lutheran outreach of this
annual event.  We were very happy to
welcome several LCMS pastors and lay people. 

Dr Maxwell Johnson

presenter was Dr. Maxwell Johnson, ELCA theologian and professor at Notre Dame
University in South Bend, Indiana.  Dr.
Johnson is incredibly knowledgeable, dynamic, energetic, and even funny.  He really engages with his audience and is
very clear in his teaching of the orthodox Christian faith.  Much of his second presentation was on the
Virgin of Guadalupe and her appearance to a native Mexican peasant farmer by
the name of Juan Diego.  Much of what he
said reminded me of the Magnificat in Luke 1, where Mary praised God for
lifting up the lowly (verse 52).  Dr.
Maxwell shared how her appearance gave the hope of the Gospel to people who had
no Good News from what was coming from Spain. 
Juan Diego was one of the low and despised indigenous persons who became
a messenger of God to the powerful, both in government as well as in the
church.  Dr. Maxwell sees her appearing
as an example of God’s care for and identification with the poor.  He said, “For people who have been told that
they are inferior – for the Juan Diegos of this world – there is
vindication.”  He added, “The Virgin of
Guadalupe is not necessary for salvation, but she is an expression of God’s

Mariachi Juvenil Tamasula prepare to lead song before the Misa Panamerica

It was exciting to see the extent to which St. Timothy is reaching out to its neighborhood.  There were several from the community present during part of the event, and both the beginning of a mariachi-led Misa Panamericana as well as a prayer vigil for peace in the city of Chicago were held outside – as a witness to the community.  One woman who came with her family to the Encuentro invited everyone to her home on the evening of Wednesday, December 11, the day before the annual commemoration of the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 12.  This will be one of several Wednesday evening Advent prayer gatherings for the St. Timothy congregation.  The text for these evening home Bible studies and Vespers will be Mary’s Magnificat from Luke’s Gospel.

Pr Dennis Nelson, Pr Myrta Robles, behind Pr Robles is Professor Klaus Peter Adam, Bishop Yehiel Curry, Pr Eardly Mendis, Pr Keith Forni & First Lutheran parishioners, Jerry Wraas and Bob Wraas, after rededication of St. Timothy’s baptismal font.

Part of the festival was a re-dedication of a more-than-a-century-old baptismal font, which had not been used in worship for several years.  That rededication seemed like a recommitment on the part of the congregation to reach out to its community.

* * * * * * *


second time I had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Maxwell Johnson was at the
Society of the Holy Trinity (STS) general retreat.  At that event he spoke on “Ecclesia Semper
Reformanda” (the church must always be reformed) as it relates to baptism and
the eucharist.  I deeply appreciated the
powerful case he built against the radical hospitality movement, which would
invite all people to receive the Lord’s Supper whether or not they have been
baptized.  Here are some of the
statements Dr. Johnson made which I thought were particularly helpful and
insightful.  “In baptism the eucharist
begins; in the eucharist baptism is sustained.” 
“No one deserves baptism; the eucharist is the birthright of the
baptized.”  “The exclusion of the
unbaptized from the eucharist is not to protect the eucharist, but out of
pastoral care and concern for the unbaptized.” 
They might not be ready to make a confession of faith in Christ and to
commit to the costly discipleship of the life of following Christ.  I also appreciated his comment, “The purpose
of liturgy is not to permeate our lives with ritual, but to permeate our lives
with Christ.”

was refreshing being with people who are not hesitant to affirm the Trinity and
the Trinitarian nature of our faith.  It
was also refreshing being with people who are not afraid and ashamed to call
God Father.  The Society of the Holy
Trinity is an inter-Lutheran ministerium which regularly gathers pastors for
mutual encouragement, prayer, and study, fortifying continued faithfulness to
ordination vows.

campus of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, where the
retreat was held, is beautiful, and the singing at the worship services was
awesome.  Very often I did not join in
the singing because I just wanted to be surrounded by the beauty of voices
lifted up in praise to God.

Rev. Dr. Ryan Mills, STS, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in New Haven,
Connecticut, and dean of the New England Chapter of the Society, gave the
message at the closing worship service. 
The Scripture passages were the account of the Last Supper in Mark 14
and Luke’s description of the shipwreck on the way to Rome in Acts 27.  As I listened to those passages being read, I
was wondering how they were going to be related to each other.  The way Pastor Mills did it was brilliant.

Mark 14 Jesus sends a couple of his disciples into Jerusalem, where they are to
follow a man carrying a jar of water. 
Men usually did not carry water in those days, so this man was sure to
catch their attention.  They were to
follow him to a house where a large upstairs room would be furnished and ready
for them to eat the Passover.  Mark tells
us, “So the disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he
had told them” (verse 16).  All that we
need for our faith to be nourished and sustained Jesus has furnished.  It is ready in the Lord’s Supper.  The grace that he has promised and that we
need is available there – just as he has told us.

his description of the storm in Acts 27 Luke uses phrases like these.  “We were being pounded by the storm so
violently” (verse 18).  “All hope of our
being saved was at last abandoned” (verse 20). 
“We were drifting across the sea” (verse 27).  “Fearing that we might run on the rocks, they
. . . prayed for day to come” (verse 29). 
What did Paul do in a situation like that?  He urged them all to take some food – to help
them survive.  Verses 35 and 36 – “He
took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and
began to eat.  Then all of them were
encouraged and took food for themselves.”

we feel like we have been caught in a powerful storm of unfavorable
circumstances.  We feel pounded
violently.  We can lose all hope of being
saved.  We feel like we are
drifting.  Fearful, we pray that day will
come.  In circumstances such as these
what do we need?  The body and blood of
our Lord Jesus Christ, to give us courage, strength, and spiritual
sustenance.  Having heard that message,
and having attended that retreat, I felt ready to return to the challenges of
life – knowing that Jesus has already prepared all I will need, and that with
his presence and grace I can weather the storms.   

* * * * * * *


the LCMC annual gathering, I was blessed and encouraged by the resources that
that association provides for congregations that are between pastors, in the
call process, and/or in transition.  I
attended breakout sessions for Call Committee Coaches, on Intentional Interim
Ministry (with a focus on the interim pastor), and on Pastoral Succession.  I had a hard time choosing between a second
breakout session on Intentional Interim Ministry (with a focus on the
congregation) and the session on Pastoral Succession.  I found myself wishing they were not being
offered at the same time. 

session for Call Committee Coaches was led by Perry Fruhling, LCMC Coordinator
for Pastoral Ministry.  I commend Perry
for all the resources he has for congregations that are in the call
process.  I also deeply appreciate the strong
endorsement he has given to Lutheran CORE’s Congregations in Transition
ministry initiative.

was very interested in attending the breakout sessions on Intentional Interim
Ministry and Pastoral Succession because I have seen the tragedies that can
happen when pastoral succession does not go well.  I have seen a strong, orthodox ELCA
congregation where orthodoxy did not survive a change in pastors.  I have seen the massive disruption and great
damage that can happen when the largest congregation in a synod trusts the
synod to supply them with their next pastor. 
I have seen a congregation “settle” for a pastor in order to relieve
their own anxiety rather than doing the hard work of continuing in the search
process.  This congregation is now paying
a high price.  I have seen what can
happen when one person manipulates and controls the call process rather than
allows it to be a unique opportunity for the congregation to learn from its
past, identify its strengths, and prepare itself for a new future.  Having seen what can happen, I was very
grateful to learn about the Intentional Interim Ministry that the LCMC has to
offer its congregations.

was intrigued with the comparison that was given between repairing a parking
lot and interim ministry.  One option is just
to fill the potholes.  That would be like
simply having pulpit supply.  A second
option would be to apply a thin coat of sealant that would get you through
another winter.  That would be like
having an interim pastor who has not been trained to be an intentional
interim.  The third option would be to
take the time and put forth the effort to take off a few layers and get down to
the foundation.  That would be like
having an intentional interim.

kinds of situations were described where having an intentional interim would be
particularly recommended – after a long-term pastor, where there have been
several different pastors in a short period of time, and when a pastor leaves
suddenly or unexpectedly.  The comment
was made that a congregation should have an intentional interim for one month
for every year of the former pastor’s call – but no less than a year. 

learned that intentional interims can and need to be “truth speakers.”  Using all the capital and credits that they
have, they can deal with issues that the next called pastor will then not have
to deal with.  A big difference between
an intentional interim and the next called pastor is that the intentional interim
will be leaving.  That factor alone might
enable the intentional interim to do what needs to be done. 

attending the breakout session were encouraged to consider whether they might
have the gifts and calling to be an intentional interim.  We were told that intentional interims have
got to be able to love all people – even very difficult people – as they draw
from the well of God’s great love for us. 
They have got to be able to remain calm and be a non-anxious
presence.  And they have got to be engaged
in doing self-care. 

am very grateful to Dawn Spies, Steve Abend, and Steve Lien (former LCMC
coordinator of pastoral ministry) for leading the workshop.  The next day I was talking with a friend who
is serving his second term as an intentional interim.  I thanked him for what he is doing, and I
committed myself to pray and ask God to bless those who serve in this way and
to raise up more intentional interims.

* * * * * *

you to the organizers of and the presenters at these four events.  I am very grateful for the opportunity to
attend, I value the ministry partnerships, and I enjoy the relational

Blessings in Christ,
Dennis D. Nelson
Executive Director of Lutheran CORE

Pastor Gjerde’s Letter Asking Bishop Eaton to Stand Against Abortion

Easter Greetings and Pastor Gjerde’s Letter Asking Bishop Eaton to Stand Against Abortion

  • APRIL 20, 2017 – 9:55 PM

Christ the Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

There is no greater promise than the one our Lord Jesus gave to Martha. “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11: 25)

There is no greater source of strength than what the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians. “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15: 54)

There is no greater reason for hope than what is expressed in the book of Job. “I know that my Redeemer lives; and though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19: 25-26)

The resurrection of Jesus is a powerful statement of the value of life. For why would God give us resurrected, eternal life if life were not precious?

Another powerful statement of the value of life is the cross. For why would Jesus have endured the suffering and pain of death by crucifixion if He did not place the highest value upon what would be obtained through that sacrifice – forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life?

Please find below a letter which Pastor Steve Gjerde, Vice President of the Board of Lutheran CORE, has written to Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, asking her to take a stand regarding the harm and tragedy of abortion in America. We are also asking her to acknowledge the conscience and convictions of the members and leaders in the ELCA who are a part of the pro-life movement. Because Bishop Eaton has recently written about the preciousness of life, and because the ELCA advocates for many other kinds of victims, please pray that she will be led to go a step further and lead the Church in taking a stand against this industry that takes the life of the unborn.

Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE

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Dear Bishop Eaton,

In your most recent article for “Living Lutheran,” you wrote powerful and succinct words about the value of life: “Life is precious and beautiful and, even in its painfulness, something to be fiercely protected.” Those words reflect the fierce love of our Father in heaven, who sent His Son into great pain for the sake of freeing this whole creation from its bondage to decay. Thank you for that good statement.

Those words also reflect the commitments of Lutheran Coalition for Renewal (LCORE). With numberless Christians across the world and throughout times past, Lutheran CORE is committed to supporting the Church in faithfulness to Holy Scripture and God’s gift of life. I now write on behalf of Lutheran CORE, asking you to lead the ELCA into a renewed appreciation of the pro-life movement and convictions at work in the ELCA membership.

Members and pastors of the ELCA turn to us weekly for guidance, counsel, and comfort as they contend for life, health, and compassion in the midst of a culture and church that drifts from the vision of justice that we have learned from our Lord Jesus Christ. Having once been a growing child Himself in the womb of His mother, He leads us to see God at work in the wondrous events of human conception and development, and especially to see Him, the once Rejected One, in those growing human beings whom no one wants or welcomes.

It has long rankled members of the ELCA that our insurance provided through Portico (formerly, ELCA Board of Pensions) will support elective abortion. Likewise, the messages of the Office of Presiding Bishop, as currently listed, do not display a letter addressing the harm and tragedy of abortion in America. Frequent messages on behalf of refugees and the victims of violence appear, but there are no messages remembering the victims, both nascent and adult, of this killing industry, nor even a call for us to love and welcome the unborn into our homes and congregations through prayer, care, and the support of parents and struggling families.

Since social statements (such as the social statement on abortion, 1991) do not represent the end of conversation and speech, but a platform for further teaching and public witness, and since both Holy Scripture and our Lutheran heritage encourage hospitality towards unborn children, the Lutheran CORE board of directors and I hope that you will soon release such a letter. We also hope that the ELCA would, in love for its members and neighbors whose consciences are bound to resist abortion and work for a caring culture of life, explore ways to free its rostered leaders, with no penalty, from having to participate in an insurance program that supports elective abortion. Given the current state of insurance in America, we know that it is no easy task, yet we also believe the beauty and preciousness of life are worth the effort.

A letter from your office might necessarily acknowledge, as the ELCA has frequently tried to do, that a diversity of opinion on specific matters relating to abortion exists. Yet it would be good to see that the ELCA knows that the pro-life movement also exists; that it is an honorable expression of Christian faith and love, active among members and leaders of the ELCA; and that abortion has unjustly and violently excluded neighbors from our human community, damaged families, and afflicted the consciences of both women and men.

Some of our sisters and brothers in the NALC even worked with Lutheran CORE to develop a statement on the Sanctity of Nascent Life, which I commend to you (here). Although the ELCA social statement on abortion guides the work of your office, the joint NALC-LCORE statement joins you in valuing the beauty and preciousness of life, even in its painfulness, and it helps us reflect on how the weakest among us are to be protected. It also represents the voice of many people in the church that you and I serve, who have frequently sensed that their voices are marginalized in congregations and synods.

Again, thank you for such a beautiful statement regarding the sanctity of life, and for all the ways that your work points to the Lord of both the living and the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Rev. Dr. Steven K. Gjerde
Vice-President, Lutheran CORE