‘Gay’ clergy leads to membership drop

Russ Jones – OneNewsNow

Another mainline denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), is reporting a decline in membership, joining a growing trend in mainline loses.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — the largest Lutheran body in the U.S. — lost almost 91,000 members and 48 congregations last year (see earlier story). Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy, says other mainline denominations, such as the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church, have seen continuous decline as well since the mid 1960s.
In response to the loss in membership, which is accompanied by a nearly three-percent dorp in giving, the ELCA Church Council is revising its remaining 2010 budget as well as restructuring the church-wide organization in 2011.
Tooley, whose organization monitors mainline denominations in the U.S., contends there is a direct connection between membership loss and a denomination’s position on same-sex “marriage.”

“[That amounts to] direct rejection of biblical and historic Christian teachings,” he explains. “And so theologically orthodox church members and theologically orthodox congregations have a hard time ignoring that new stance in the same way that they ignored for many decades a whole host of liberal political positions by their church hierarchy.”

In 2009 the ELCA voted to allow noncelibate homosexuals to serve as clergy.  In a report released recently by the ELCA, the denomination dropped to 4.5 million members in about 10,300 congregations last year.

“A number of these congregations [that have left the ELCA] have come together to form a North American Lutheran Church that they have had several meetings for,” he says, “and it seems to involve at least a couple of hundred congregations — and almost certainly will grow with time.”

Tooley says some of those who have left the denomination have also gone to the more conservative Missouri Synod Lutheran Church as well as various other smaller church entities.

The proposed North American Lutheran Church is a topic of discussion at meetings this month called by the group Lutheran CORE

Source : OneNewsNow



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