Lutheran church to quit ELCA

Members of Lutheran Church of the Master on Sunday completed their withdrawal from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America over disagreements on ecumenical and social issues. About 576 voting members of the congregation at 2617 S. 114th St. gave 89 percent final approval to a resolution to quit the ELCA, said the Rev. Kip Tyler, Lutheran Church of the Master's senior pastor. A two-thirds majority was needed. Voters gave 81 percent initial approval Oct. 14 to leaving the ELCA, with which the 2,374-member congregation has been at odds over a 1999 fellowship agreement with the Episcopal Church USA and a perceived liberal trend on sexual issues. Lutheran Church of the Master, which was the largest congregation in the ELCA's Nebraska Synod, became the third member of the fledgling Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ to leave the larger, 14-year-old church body. Leaders of the Omaha church helped found the new group in March 2001 and its parent, the WordAlone Network, in December 1999. Both groups oppose the ELCA's entrance into the Episcopal "historic episcopate," in which new pastors and bishops receive the "laying on of hands" by bishops linked by "apostolic succession" to Jesus' time. Other issues include the ELCA's inclusion of some abortionsinits health-insurance plans and fears that a study of sexual issues due by 2005 will pave the way for the ordination of active homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions. The ELCA now permits neither. Tyler said Sunday afternoon's 90-minute meeting was very cordial with little discussion of the issues. Members seemed to have reached a consensus and were ready to vote, he said. There was no vocal opposition. "I have very mixed feelings about the vote," Tyler said after the action was taken. "I wasn't surprised by it, but I have a major concern that we continue to listen, minister and reach out

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