ELCA NEWS SERVICE
September 27, 2009
Lutheran Core Leaders, Members Map Organization's Future
FISHERS, Ind. (ELCA) -- Leaders and members of the Lutheran Coalition for Renewal (CORE) began planning for the organization's future by adopting a constitution, including plans for a "free-standing synod" not directly related to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). They also suggested ways for constituents to communicate concerns.
With the adoption of its constitution, CORE's name was formally changed from "Coalition for Reform" to "Coalition for Renewal." Biblical teaching, the creeds and the Lutheran Confessions are key values of CORE, according to its constitution.
Some 1,200 Lutherans from more than 40 states and three Canadian provinces attended CORE's convocation here Sept. 25-26 at Holy Spirit Parish at Geist Catholic Church. Approximately 400 congregations are affiliated with CORE, said the Rev. Mark Chavez, Landisville, Pa., CORE steering committee member and vice president, WordAlone Network, New Brighton, Minn.
Much of the discussions centered on responses to actions of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis, which adopted a social statement on human sexuality and a series of proposals to change ELCA ministry policies, including a change to make it possible for Lutherans in lifelong, publicly accountable, monogamous same-gender relationships to serve as ELCA associates in ministry, clergy, deaconesses and diaconal ministers.
Lutheran CORE opposed some parts of the social statement and the ministry policy changes.
"What happened is a catastrophe," the Rev. Kenneth Sauer, Columbus, Ohio, CORE advisory council member and former ELCA synod bishop, said in a presentation. The choice of whether congregations stay or leave the ELCA "can be a faithful one," he said. Any decision to leave the denomination "should be done with love."
He said there are some ELCA synods and bishops who share CORE's concerns, and the organization must find ways to support them.
God is reforming the churches of the Reformation in North America, said Ryan Schwarz, Washington, D.C., CORE steering committee member and nominee at last month's churchwide assembly for ELCA vice president. He cited declines in membership in several mainline denominations, including the ELCA. Schwarz predicted that in 20 to 30 years, the congregations of the ELCA will be "more orthodox." "Congregations that preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ will thrive," he said.
CORE is committed to finding "a viable church body" for ELCA congregations that choose to leave the denomination. For those who stay CORE will help them to "proclaim faithfully" and provide alternative resources for them, he said.
"We want to be part of the solution with the help of the Holy Spirit," said the Rev. Paull Spring, State College, Pa., CORE chair and a former ELCA synod bishop. CORE will be an intentional, confessional reforming movement, he said. It will be a "churchly community" and will form a free-standing synod for all Lutherans. It plans to provide resources to strengthen members' faith and congregations, support global missionaries, develop new congregations and provide theological education, he said. It also wants to work with synods and bishops as they consider candidates for ministry and in the process of calling pastors to congregations.
Spring said CORE wants to be an umbrella organization for other reform movements, and provide an "alternative community" for congregations and reform movements.
CORE does not plan to seek a formal relationship with the ELCA, he said.
"God is calling us to do something," he said. "The ELCA has fallen into heresy. It is time for confession and time to resist. It is a time for new life." Those who do not agree with CORE are not enemies, Spring told the convocation. "They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Be gracious in your dealings with them," he said.
Challa Varo, Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, read a statement on behalf some 120 African national congregations in the United States and Canada. He said it is "a distressing, shocking and confusing time" in the ELCA, and said the assembly actions "fundamentally shattered" global and ecumenical relationships.
The Rev. Eddie Perez, Iglesia Luterana San Pedro, Inc., Miami, spoke on behalf of some Latino pastors in the ELCA Florida-Bahamas Synod, said this is "the saddest and darkest time in the history of the ELCA."
"We are glad to see that God is using this time of duress to manifest the light," he said.
Information about Lutheran CORE is at http://www.lutherancore.org/ on the Web.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org