.- Following the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s controversial recent assembly, a two-day gathering of Lutherans will begin in Indianapolis on Friday. Organizers say the meeting will begin the creation of an alternative fellowship for Lutherans who uphold traditional marriage and are unwilling to support the new changes in the church’s teaching.
In August the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly approved a new policy that no longer declares marriage as “the appropriate place” for sexual relations, but rather calls for “social trust” in associations that are “loving” and “committed.”
The assembly, which met in Minneapolis, Minnesota, claimed that consensus does not exist on homosexuality. It recognized four “conscience-bound beliefs” ranging from disapproval of all homosexual relations to honoring them as equally valid marriages.
The gathering also voted to allow pastors to be in homosexual relationships.
In response to the changes, 1,200 Lutherans will attend the convocation of Lutheran Coalition for Reform (CORE). The convocation will have as its theme “What After Minneapolis?”
Organizers were forced to close registration on September 14 because of space limitations and had to move the event to from Christ the Savior Lutheran Church to the Catholic Holy Spirit Parish in the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers.
“It is wonderfully ironic that Lutherans who started 500 years ago as a movement to reform the Roman Catholic Church would now return to a Catholic Church to re-form themselves,” said Lutheran CORE director Rev. Mark Chavez of Landisville, Pennsylvania.
Chavez said the disagreement is not about sex but about the “source of authority” in the ELCA.
“The assembly’s sexuality decisions have opened the eyes of people to the biblical and theological crisis in the ELCA,” he added. “We have no objection to the Confession of Faith in the ELCA constitution. The ELCA says that the Bible is the source and norm of its faith and life, but the actions of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly have shown that the ELCA does not practice what it says it believes.”
The Lutheran CORE meeting says it intends to be a “confessional and confessing movement” that is “rooted in Scripture, creeds, and confessions” and open to all Lutherans in North America. It aims to be an “umbrella group” for other Lutheran movements both within and outside of the ELCA.
The meeting will consider a resolution that organizers say could possibly reconfigure North American Lutheranism.
“This is an exciting and hopeful time for confessional Lutherans in North America,” said Rev. Paull Spring, chair of the Lutheran CORE Steering Committee from State College, Pennsylvania.
Spring, who is retired bishop of the Northwest Pennsylvania Synod, said the organization’s ministries have received an “incredible outpouring of support” and reported that people and churches are joining the coalition for reform at an almost overwhelming pace.