Many of you know I was pastor at First English Evangelical Lutheran Church in Victoria and you may or may not know that I resigned from that role back in February due to differences of opinion on the decision made by the church wide gathering of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in 2009 concerning Homosexuals in life long monogamous relationships being rostered leaders in the church. The decision was to allow congregations that wanted to figure out how to allow these leaders to remain in service they could, and if you did not want to as a congregation you did not have to. This led to many discussions and long talks at FEELC, and in February I left so that the congregation could proceed forward in ministry.
Well today the Southwestern Texas Synod of the ELCA announced in the Vista Online, the publication of the synod, that the synod council took action to remove the congregation from the synod. Below is the article from the Vista. I pray that this decision will allow healing in both the synod and the congregation and allow all to continue doing the ministry God has called us all to…
First English, Victoria has been removed from the roster of congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for repeated violations of its constitution.
The congregation was removed on Sept. 8 by the synod council upon the recommendation of the Rev. Ray Tiemann, bishop of the Southwestern Texas Synod. The council met Sept. 7-8 in Seguin.
First English held a congregational meeting on Aug. 26 to approve the Rev. Jim Pearson as senior pastor. Pearson is not on the roster of ordained ministers of the ELCA.
The Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions of the ELCA grants the authority for a synod council, upon the recommendation of the bishop, to remove a congregation that “calls as its pastor one who has not been approved for the roster of ordained ministers.”
First English had previously been placed under public admonition and censure by Tiemann for willfully disregarding the provisions of its constitution. The congregation, upon the recommendation of its executive committee, voted Oct. 16, 2011 to affiliate with two additional Lutheran Church bodies – Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and the North American Lutheran Church – while still being an ELCA congregation. It is unconstitutional for a congregation that is a member of the ELCA to affiliate with another church body at the same time.
A congregational meeting to consider withdrawing from the ELCA was held by First English on July 25, 2011. The motion failed 109-128.
The executive committee of First English was informed of the synod council’s action on Sept. 8 by Tiemann and synod vice president Carl Teinert. Their letter requested that First English remove any reference to its former ELCA affiliation from all congregational information, both internal and external.