Just making it worse

>> Tuesday, March 9, 2010

When you invite the media to observe and report on the strife within your congregation.

Last Monday, March 1st, an article was published in the local paper about an ELCA congregation considering changing its affiliation from ELCA to LCMC. Let's be clear about this: they already had a vote in January and it failed. Yet many just can't move on. So they had a public forum last Thursday where non-members were allowed to attend and discuss moving from the ELCA to LCMC.

On Thursday, while watching the news during dinner, one of the local stations aired a short segment on the congregation. (Yes, KSL is owned by the Mormon church and that anchor doesn't know how to pronounce 'ordained.')

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

I can't imagine that it makes the situation better when the whole state gets to find out what is vexing your congregation, particularly in the state with a Mormon majority.

Naturally, the local paper did a follow-up article after the Thursday meeting. I'm left with the notion that since this is now in the public realm, we're going to get more articles in the months ahead about this. That church's current newsletter (pdf) is already documenting the problems within.

On page 2:
It saddens me to see this family torn apart by recent events in the ELCA. I hope that a happy medium can be reached before my family is torn apart even more. I love this church and every person who is part of this very special family.
On page 9:
Comment box questions were discussed as to why we would continue to research other churches when the congregational vote was otherwise.
I don't know who decided to invite the media into all of this, but, at this point, I suspect the pastor. He didn't seem to have any problem talking on camera in the sanctuary about these problems. He also hasn't been at that congregation for very long from what I've heard, which is less than five years.


Mary S.,  09 March, 2010 22:18  

Found your blog some months ago, can't remember how, but I'm really enjoying it. We ski Snowbasin at least twice a year.

We're also Lutheran, and I serve on a committee in my synod. The parish you describe sounds like so many others, where the "secession" is largely pastor-driven. They've planted the seeds for this for a long time. I think you're absolutely right that the pastor is likely the one who saw to it that the media got involved; sadly, that is the kind of tactic we've seen all too often across the ELCA.

And I think your comments to your congregation were brilliant. Hang in there!

House of Brat 09 March, 2010 23:18  

Thanks! I've skied Snowbasin once. I'm more of a cross-country person. My older sister and her family have skied Snowbasin a few times. They really liked the restaurant up top that you can get to with the gondola, much preferred over the crowd at the main cafeteria in the lodge.

Yeah, I think the pastor in the story is probably stirring things up. I have heard someone in my congregation mention that he has been preaching towards this for some time. I also heard that before they had their vote in mid-January of this year that he had changed his mind about leaving the ELCA after he reviewed his pension and health care situation. Perhaps he reconsidered again? I have no idea, but I was surprised that they are still talking about the issue. I have heard that before he came to Utah that he was in the eastern (?) North Dakota synod that is or was thinking about leaving the ELCA. So it's probably more than fair to say that much of it has been driven by him.

However, I wish some of these people would stop and think a bit about what it would/will be like to call a new pastor after their current one leaves. The ELCA provides a lot of support in that process. LCMC does nothing from what I understand. Their current pastor is not going to be there forever. I know he is working on his doctorate. I have heard a rumor that once he gets his doctorate that he will be leaving that parish. If they leave the ELCA and then he leaves that parish, I don't know where that will leave that congregation.

Mary S.,  11 March, 2010 22:37  

There are many pastors (a vocal minority) who would have left the ELCA years ago, but for the pension plan. LCMC and all the other acronyms are working out how the pensions would be transferred and maintained, so now pastors are bolder in deciding to leave.

Most of the congregations that have left or are thinking of leaving in my area have operated outside the ELCA, for the most part, for years. It's hard not to be catty and make comments about not letting the door hit them in the butt on the way out.

I actually started skiing by doing XC, because I was absolutely terrified of downhill. It took a LONG time, but I got pretty good at XC, skied the hardest trails at Snowbasin (Green Pond is some workout!) and also Soldier Hollow. Went back to downhill in 2008 and love switching between the two (not scared any more).

And yes, the meals at the Needles Lodge are incredible. Especially the wild mushroom turnover, yum!

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