.- As the opening of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Churchwide Assembly approaches, a group of Lutherans is gathering support to defend traditional marriage and defeat proposed changes in their church’s teaching on sexuality. The Lutheran Coalition for Reform (CORE) describes itself as a coalition of pastors, lay people, congregations and “reforming groups” that seeks to preserve Biblical authority in the ELCA.
It claims to be “a voice for the solid, faithful core that is the majority of ELCA members, pastors, and congregations.”
Lutheran CORE is preparing for the August 17-23 Assembly, which is to be held in Minneapolis. The group has criticized proposals to affirm and bless homosexual relationships and to permit pastors to be in same-sex relationships.
Rev. Paull Spring of State College, Pennsylvania, is the chair of Lutheran Core. He said in a statement that the churchwide assembly has no authority to vote on such matters.
“The constitution of the ELCA says that the Bible is the source and norm of the church's faith and life. A church meeting does not have the authority to overturn what the Bible clearly teaches about marriage and about homosexual behavior,” he said.
Rev. Spring reported that his group would be working together with “faithful Lutherans” from throughout the ELCA.
“We have voting members and volunteers ready to bear witness to the truth as it has been revealed in Scripture and confessed by faithful Christians for nearly 2,000 years,” he added.
Rev. Mark C. Chavez, a pastor in Landisville, Pennsylvania, charged that the consideration of the proposals threaten the ELCA’s relationship with partner churches in the Lutheran World Federation.
“Church leaders from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe have already written letters stating that approval of the sexuality proposals would greatly damage the ELCA's relationship with their churches,” he reported.
“These proposals will also severely damage the ELCA's relationship with Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and most Protestant Christians,” continued Rev. Chavez.
According to Ryan Schwartz, a Washington, D.C. member of the Lutheran CORE steering committee, the debate over the proposals was not about sex but rather about the “source of authority” in the ELCA.
“The ELCA claims that the Bible is the source and norm of its faith and life. The sexuality proposals are based on a different source and norm. They reject the clear teaching of Scripture and seek consensus on a different basis… The question is whether the ELCA practices what it says it believes.”