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St. Francis Accepts Synod Invitation
Abstract: Expelled congregation takes another step toward ELCA membership.
At a congregational meeting after worship on Sunday, July 25, members of St. Francis Lutheran (SF) considered the following resolution:
Resolved, that St. Francis Lutheran Church joyfully desires to be restored to membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and accepts the invitation of the Sierra Pacific Synod to begin the process.
St. Francis (along with First United Lutheran Church was expelled from the ELCA at the end of 1995. Expulsion was prescribed by a 1990 disciplinary hearing following the congregations' calls and ordinations extra ordinem of Prs. Ruth Frost, Phyllis Zillhart, and Jeff Johnson.
It is important to note that the resolution was a statement of intent, a response to the invitation offered to the congregation by the most recent synod assembly. The resolution was not in itself a proposal to return to ELCA membership.
Debate was spirited and focused on practical matters: what would the process of re-joining the ELCA look like? would there be changes to the congregation's constitution? what would the timeline be? what assistance, if any, could the synod office provide in the congregation's upcoming call process?
Our reporters on the scene indicated that the congregation had given the question of ELCA membership a lot of thought and members were generally well-informed.
Voting was by written ballot and the measure passed 69 to 1.
The statement of intent allows the congregation's leaders to continue to work on the process that will bring St. Francis back into the ELCA Constitutional changes, if any are required, must be proposed and ratified, most likely at the congregation's annual meeting in early 2011. If all goes well, St. Francis could be welcomed back into ELCA membership at the Sierra Pacific Synod's 2011 assembly.