No, Jesus did not mean it when he said “love thy brother.” That’s why the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, after voting in August to not TOTALLY FREAK OUT if churches approved gay clergy, is seeing even more churches looking to split off. The conservative group Lutheran CORE, having already floated a doomsday scenario, is drafting up a whole new denomination for other churches to join if they find ELCA too faithful to that “treat everyone equally” thing.
Led by director Rev. Mark Chavez (pictured), CORE has already called ELCA’s vote “a departure from God’s clear word” and advised churches to stop sending money to the mothership. And now he wants a whole separate faction — and “>isn’t hurting for followers. At a meeting Wednesday, CORE outlined its plans for splintering.
“We don’t feel we have a choice,” said Paull Spring, a retired Pennsylvania bishop now chairman of Minnesota-based Lutheran CORE. “The vote on sexuality opened the eyes of many to how far the ELCA has moved from biblical teaching.”
Local pastors who have aligned themselves with Lutheran CORE said it’s too early to decide whether their congregations would sever their ties with the ELCA, the largest Lutheran church body in Wisconsin and the nation.
“We’re taking baby steps at this time,” said the Rev. Mark Knappe, pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Menomonee Falls, who was surprised by the move.
“I guess I have mixed feelings about a new denomination,” said Knappe, who voted against the decision to allow gay clergy and attended a CORE conference that drew 1,200 like-minded Lutherans to Indianapolis in September.
“The body of Christ does not need one more schism, but I’m not unsympathetic to it either, given what the ELCA has done.”
The Rev. Phil Nybroten, pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Brookfield, said his congregation is in the “pondering stage.”
“It’s a big decision that we’re not jumping to make right now,” he said.