Roanoke County church votes to break with ELCA

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the largest evangelical Lutheran churches in Western Virginia on Sunday afternoon took the first step to split from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

By a majority of 70 percent, members of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Southwest Roanoke County, voted to separate from the largest Lutheran church in North America.

The move comes on the heels of the ELCA's decision last month in Minneapolis to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy. Previously the ELCA had required gay clergy to remain celibate.

Senior pastor Mark Graham said his church does not "want to be seen as anti-gay or against homosexuals," but the ELCA's statement goes against the church's interpretation of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

The fact the church even had to consider the issue is troublesome to Elijah Mwitanti, associate pastor at St. John and a native of Zambia in southern Africa.

"This just shows how far off the deep end we in America have gone," Mwitanti said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Posted September 28, 2009 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

A large church in Virginia leaving…this sure sounds familiar.

September 28, 1:21 pm | [comment link]
2. Intercessor wrote:

Boy…that did not take long.

September 28, 1:57 pm | [comment link]
3. Eugene wrote:

Once again one congregation becomes 2 congregations.  How sad! I hope the leadership does not abandon the 30% who did not see fit to leave.

September 28, 3:22 pm | [comment link]
4. Richard A. Menees wrote:

#3.  My only personal experience is being sued by one of the 1.6% that decided not to remain with the congregation that had nurtured her through the various vicissitudes of her life for several years.  Do you have personal knowledge of congregations that have “abandoned” people who have not gone with the majority of their fellow parishioners who wished to keep the faith they had received?

September 28, 4:41 pm | [comment link]
5. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the exodus from the ELCA eventually exceeds that from TEC, both in raw numbers and in the percentage of people who leave in protest.  Lutherans are generally less inclined to view the original Reformation with mixed feelings than we Anglicans are, so it wouldn’t be surprisingly if they saw the New Reformation as similarly justified.

As I keep saying, the New Reformation is by no means reserved for Anglicanism alone.  I fully expect it to hit all the so-called “mainline” denominations, although they will doubtless be influenced by it to different degrees and in different ways.

Let goods and kindred go.

David Handy+

September 28, 4:56 pm | [comment link]
6. Brian of Maryland wrote:

This will probably accelerate in the months to come.  Community Church of Joy in Arizona held their second vote this weekend (takes two votes to go) and they are now officially out.  It’s easier to leave than you folks.  As long as we head to another Lutheran denomination, we need no one’s permission.  LCMC - Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ was setup precisely for this time in our church; a lifeboat for quick exit.  Lutheran CORE will no doubt become the long term solution, but some need to leave now, particularly if they have an African presence in their congregation.  That also sounds familiar doesn’t it?

September 28, 5:00 pm | [comment link]
7. A Senior Priest wrote:

It’s a laudable thing for Christians to depart a jurisdiction when that jurisdiction departs from the clear teaching of Scripture and the articulated of the Judaeo-Christian witness from the beginning. I hope the ELCA, like TEC, will become an illustration of what will befall a denomination when it allows poor leaders to get into the driver’s seat.

September 28, 5:20 pm | [comment link]
8. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Thanks, Brian (#6).  I’m not at all surprised that huge Community Church of Joy has bolted quickly.  Of course, there are plenty of critics who’d say that Kallestad’s Willow Creek style megachurch was never really Lutheran in the first place (wink)!  More importantly, perhaps, it’s big enough that it functions like a mini-denomination all by itself.  I mean how big is it nowadays, 10K in attendance on weekends or something?

David Handy+

September 28, 6:07 pm | [comment link]
9. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Well, perhaps if all the liberal ELCA-ers and the liberal Tec-ers who remain get together (communion you know!) they can foster rump dioceses in every state in the union and apply the Denis Canon to the those who have left!  Look at the bright side - all those GLBTs who have been waiting for a more substantial presence to join than the ECUSA/TEC/GCC/EO-PAC now have options!!!!  Of course, this will split the GLBT resources if the ECLA-TEc-ers don’t join soon, and 1-3% of the population at max isn’t a lot to split up and remain solvent when your givers have gone.

September 28, 7:07 pm | [comment link]
10. francis wrote:

This is the second one in Roanoke.  Philip Bottomley at St Peter and Paul’s in the city, once under Bolivia, now under Guernsey, is the other.  This is a combo Lutheran-Anglican group.

September 28, 7:23 pm | [comment link]
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