calendar September 24, 2010 in Communications

Synod Council approves congregation leaving ELCA

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod Council “with sadness and regret” unanimously granted approval Sept. 22 to action by Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Abington, to terminate its relationship with the ELCA.

“I want to say on behalf of all of us that we love you, we bless you to God, and your ministry,” Bishop Claire Burkat said to about 15 representatives from Holy Trinity after the announcement of the 24-0 vote.  “We know that you are being faithful to where you need to go.”

During the discussion time, several leaders from Holy Trinity explained that the newly formed North American Lutheran Church is a better theological home for the congregation than the ELCA. 

Pastor Michael Tavella of Holy Trinity was part of the group that envisioned the NALC, and Pastor Amanda Grimmer has been elected to the NALC’s Executive Council.

“The primary issues are Trinitarian theology and the holiness of the name of God,” not the ELCA actions on homosexuality, Tavella told the council.

Council members expressed sadness, if not surprise, at Holy Trinity’s action. Noting the long partnership between Holy Trinity and the Synod, Treasurer Dick Reimet said, “We wish you Godspeed, and blessings on your ministry.” 

On September 12, the congregation took its constitutionally required second vote on the action, which passed 134-22.  The 85-percent margin exceeded the two-thirds vote required by the constitution.  Bishop Burkat, Vice President Patricia Robinson, and other synodical leaders have been in consultation with the congregation since it took its first vote to terminate its ELCA affiliation on June 6.

Because Holy Trinity had been a congregation of the former Lutheran Church in America, the ELCA constitution required the Synod Council to grant approval before the termination becomes effective.

Also on September 12, St. James Lutheran Church in Northeast Philadelphia took a first vote on its action to leave the ELCA.  The 136-15 vote represented 91-percent of those present.  That congregation now begins a constitutionally mandated 90-day consultation with the bishop and synod council leaders before it takes a second vote.