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A compilation of essays and comments by concerned pastors, theologians and laypersons, challenging denominations who are denying Christ’s resurrection, ‘demythologizing’ Scripture, blessing same-sex relationships, ordaining non-celibate homosexuals.

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—or ELCA reform to meet in early May

by Betsy Carlson (Editor, WordAlone Network)

News: March 21, 2006

  • For more information, contact:
  • Pastor Paull Spring
  • State College, PA 16801
  • 814-235-9769
  • Email Paull Spring

Groups, churches and individuals belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America last fall launched a coalition for reform in their denomination because, they said, the ELCA appears to be leaving its biblical and Reformation roots while taking up mainly a social justice gospel.

“Lutheran CORE,” as the new organization is called, will have its initial gathering April 30 through May 2 during the WordAlone Network annual convention at Calvary Lutheran Church, Golden Valley, Minn., according to Pastor Paull (fc) Spring, chair of a coalition steering committee.

The steering committee was formed last fall during a WordAlone theological conference at which leaders of WordAlone and other groups for ELCA reform called for an “umbrella organization” and agreed to work together as they had before the 2005 Churchwide Assembly in a group known as Solid Rock Lutherans. WordAlone, a well-established reform group, pledged to support the new coalition initially.

“As Lutheran CORE, this coalition for reform, we affirm the authority of the Word of God and are calling for loyalty to the Lutheran Confessions, which call on the church foremost to preach the good news of Jesus Christ,” Spring said recently. He is a former bishop of the ELCA Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod who now serves as interim pastor at St. James Lutheran Church in Huntingdon, Penn.

The purpose of Lutheran CORE is three-fold: encouraging reform-minded persons and congregations; supporting other reform-minded coalitions; and addressing “pressing synodical and churchwide issues;” the steering committee stated in a recent letter to potential members.

Among those pressing issues, the committee listed: calling faithful leaders throughout the ELCA; paying careful attention to the names being used for God instead of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit;” and participating in on-going discussions about marriage and sexuality.

The Evangelical Lutheran Confessing Fellowship from the Northeastern U.S., Lutherans Reform! from the Lower Susquehanna Synod of Pennsylvania and Called to Faithfulness of Northeast Iowa have joined Lutheran CORE already.

Solid Rock, a diverse, ad hoc group, fought efforts at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly last August to loosen rules and guidelines concerning blessing same-sex relationships and accepting persons in such relationships into ministry. Solid Rock was formed about two years before the 2005 assembly.

The new coalition, while it includes WordAlone, does not require those joining to necessarily become WordAlone members, according to Spring.

The WordAlone Network started almost nine years ago as an Internet email group in response to some ecumenical moves by the ELCA. It has grown into a national organization of more than 5,700 members and 225 churches working for renewal, reform and reflection within the ELCA on broader issues than ecumenical agreements, according to WordAlone director Mark Chavez.