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J. Shane Mercer, Published November 18 2009

Lutheran group moves toward new denomination

A Lutheran renewal group is moving toward the creation of a new church body for congregations that leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

According to a statement released by the group today, leaders of Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Renewal) have voted to begin work on a proposal for such an organization. The announcement comes almost three months after the ELCA voted to allow individuals in same-gender, committed relationships to serve in the clergy.

"The votes by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in August to allow pastors to be in committed same-sex relationships have created a biblical and theological crisis throughout the ELCA and have generated conflict in local congregations," the release says. "Many congregations and individuals are considering the possibility of leaving the ELCA or have chosen to redirect giving away from the national church."

"The vote on sexuality opened the eyes of many to how far the ELCA has moved from Biblical teaching,” said the Rev. Paull Spring of State College, Pa., Lutheran CORE Chair and former bishop of the ELCA's Northern Pennsylvania Synod.

Lutheran CORE said it has been in conversation with Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, an association of Lutheran congregations that some who are dissatisfied with the ELCA have seen as an alternative affiliation option. The new organization that Lutheran CORE would create is "intended to provide a place for congregations that desire a more traditional denominational structure," the release states.

At a Lutheran CORE convocation in September, attendees adopted a constitution and took the first step toward creating a free-standing Lutheran synod. The group said in today's release that Lutheran CORE will continue to operate as a free-standing synod both for congregations that remain within the ELCA and those that leave that denomination.