It's also interesting to me, reading online forums...I've run into ELCA members who have been multiply baptized in different churches because it makes them feel good...who are into "deliverance" ministry and all that attendant voodoo...who embrace what amounts to Nazarene/Wesleyan ideas about "perfection"...who believe in reincarnation and all sorts of Oprah-esque New Agey New Thought...who don't believe in female clergy; who aren't all that down with the Real Presence...who don't understand the "why" of nearly every element of worship praxis...who seem to lack a grasp of even basic, 8th-grade catechism-class Lutheran theology...but boy, if you use the words "gay" and "clergy" in the same sentence (let alone "partnered gay clergy") their heads explode and they're all about leaving the ELCA. LOL
As a former ELCA member, I have found a home in the Church of the Nazarene and am embracing Wesleyan theology. Perhaps you could rejoice that we who left have found places where we can live out our faith in the Triune God.
Its not like people did not have a chance to have imput into the process. Over the past eight or more years we studied the issue. The study committee was made up of lay and professional people. It considered reams of information from all sectors. It released two congregational studies and encouraged replies from congregations and individuals. Local synods were given opportunities to send memorials to the national church body. The council of bishops discussed everything many times. We have had at least two other national assemblies that reacted to all the information. And people still claim they were blind sided? This has been the most studied, most discussed social statement since the formation of the ELCA!
Yes, but from my personal negative experience, the issue was never brought up to the congregation, barely crossed the council, and those who found out and left were asked to leave quietly. There are isolated incidents where things could have been handled much better.
Like Tawonda maybe it is time to allow for peaceful division, the quicker the better. But it has to be through due process as outlined within your congregational constitution. It is my understanding from the model ELCA congregational process there is a three step process. The first step is a congregational vote which says it is considering withdrawing from the synod. The second step is for the local bishop to consult with the congregation to address concerns. Followed by a third step, a second congregational vote in which a 2/3 majority of voting members have to agree to the separation.
As long as the congregation is going to transfer to another Lutheran body, the synodical constitutions generally say the congregational property will remain with the majority vote (there may be some exceptions with this--I think congregations from the old Pennsylvania Ministerium are under other regulations). But if the congregation decides to go independent or to another denomination it will have to negotiate the division of the property with the local synodical council.
I am proud to be a member of the ELCA and a member of a Reconciling in Christ congregation. However, I would not be surprised if some bishops, pastors, and members behaved atrociously towards those who disagreed with the church's decision. I'm aware of several former ELCA bishops who behaved in a most un-Christian manner during their careers. And having seen church politics at the congregational level, many local pastors and laity are probably guilty as well.
Such behavior exists on both sides of this issue or any other issue facing the church. I can remember that some pastors were ready to resign if diaconal ministers were ordained.
Going back to Jesus' immediate followers, there have always been divisions within the church and always will be. Simul iustus et peccator.
Personally I pray that I behave with compassion towards everyone.
If the studies never got to the congregation and barely crossed the council, it is the fault of your pastoral and congregational leadership. The studies were sent to all congregations. The Council of Bishops commended the them for congregational study. There were numerous articles in the Lutheran and they were on the elca website.
I contend that had they been studied there would not be as much aungst as there is now.
While I do not support threats from one side or the other I can say it has gone both ways. I cannot believe the threats and condemnations Bishop Hanson has received.
The council of Bishops has determined to try to make whatever division there will be as smooth as possible. Yes, the bishops will try to retain as many congregatons as they can, but if the congregation ultimately decides to withdraw from the ELCA congegregations will get a peaceful release.