Dear members of Lutheran CORE,
As you move into the next few days and organize the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) I would ask that you temper your enthusiasm with humility and your rhetoric with wisdom. This is undoubtedly an exciting time for you and your hopefulness for that which you create can certainly blind you to the dangerous waters in which you navigate. I wish you well. How can I not, with so many friends among you?
Please, don’t offer the extreme examples of what you find offensive in the ELCA as normative. You know that great variety exists within the ELCA and will exist even within NALC in a relatively short period of time. Remember Luther’s explanation of the 8th commandment and make that the cornerstone of of your public and private comments.
Please keep in mind that you are not the only faithful Christians with the name Lutheran. Ryan Schwarz is quoted in the August edition of “CORE Connections” saying, “Lutheran CORE will seek to help faithful members of the ELCA and ELCIC to continue to uphold the authority of scripture in an increasingly challenging environment …” Many faithful (to Christ) members of the ELCA uphold the authority of scripture in a way different than you. I consider myself one of those, and will not need your help. In fact, your rhetoric is part of my increasingly challenging environment.
I plead with you to seek guidance from a wide variety of sources, not just those with whom you agree. “Without counsel, plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed. ” (Proverbs 15:22) It is very tempting in these early days to restrict your circle of advisors. As an outsider looking in, that has been the history of CORE from the beginning. NALC moves you now onto the “big stage.”
Please attend carefully to those you elect to serve the NALC. The proposed Constitution has heavy expectations and demands upon those persons. If you elect Paull as Bishop, treat him with consideration and respect. He will need your prayer and support and encouragement.
Please, not all who are part of the congregations you serve are of one mind with you and this direction you are taking. I’ve watched these people feel disenfranchised from the congregations they know and love as you’ve taken this path. I have sought to help them find ways to remain in congregations where they no longer receive appropriate pastoral care. This is some of the hardest work that lies ahead for you. Please find respectful ways to care for these members of the body of Christ. You have said that the ELCA left you, they tell me that their congregation has left them. In most cases, they’ve been pretty quiet in the face of your enthusiasm.
Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, Severna Park, MD