Area churches took a stand and said ‘No’ to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s vote to allow ordained pastors to be in same-gender, monogamous relationships. Now they've formed a new synod, which they say, follows the “sacred scripture.”
When churches started leaving the ELCA, the North American Lutheran Church was formed and chartered Aug. 27 in Columbus, Ohio. Currently, there are about 50 churches that officially left the ELCA after two votes per congregation to leave and a dismissal from the synod council. Most of those churches joined the NALC.
Grace Lutheran Church, of Newton, was one of the churches to vote for dismissal from the ELCA. The church held two votes, 90 days apart, with a majority of the congregation voting to leave. The first vote was 83-3 and the second was 75-2, both in favor of departing from the ELCA. Grace Lutheran Church was officially accepted into NALC, but as of press time, was not officially released from the ELCA.
“There is some anger at the violation of God’s declaration of formation,” said Dr. Larry Yoder, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church. “When you look at the church as a recipe, there are ingredients that are proper to the dish. Among those things proper is marriage understood in the biblical sense. What has been done is to authorize a kind of relationship which is nowhere endorsed, but everywhere scorned by scripture. Nature of marriage is to be between a man and a woman. (The ELCA) has changed the nature of marriage.”
Yoder, who is a theology professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University and chairman of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as director for the Center of Theology, referenced Matthew 19 in the Bible where it states marriage is between a man and a woman.
“(The ELCA) has assaulted the sixth commandment, by expansion of adultery,” Yoder said. “(Adultery) is unfaithfulness to a spouse and committing sexual sins is under the sixth commandment. This is not only between a husband and wife.”
Yoder explained adultery is charged when anyone has sexual sin before marriage because God commands his people to remain a virgin until marriage. When that commandment is broken, Yoder said that’s when adultery is committed.
“ELCA said (adultery) is OK and gave it the blessing of the church,” Yoder said. “I have no problem with a person being gay and a pastor, this is for the sake of the kingdom of God. The ELCA changed the content of the sixth commandment and challenged God. The ELCA is abandoning the teaching of the church.”