Tuesday, August 17, 2010

ELC/Cokato - Final Report

As I post this on my blog, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cokato church council is meeting down in the church library and a couple who will be getting married here on August 28 are meeting with our wedding coordinator in the sanctuary.  Though my resignation is effective August 22, I have asked and received the permission of the council's executive committee to officiate at that wedding.  I checked in with the couple and the wedding coordinator and came back to my office to post the report I just made to the council.  Synod Minister Pastor Linda Pedersen is here meeting with the council as ELC/Cokato begins to chart its way forward.  Here's my report.
Pastor’s Report to the Church Council
August 17, 2010

My last Sunday at ELC/Cokato is coming up. I am deeply appreciative of the work of the church council in coming to agreement on a “Memorandum of Understanding” on “transitional support.” Thanks are also due to Pastor Steve Olson of our neighboring Gethsemane Lutheran church and also to synod minister Linda Pedersen. Thank you also for the planned reception that will be held Sunday. I hope you can attend.

Though I am thankful, this is an extremely sad time for me, for my family, and for the church as a whole. This is not only sad locally, but nationally and beyond. Hundreds of ELCA congregations have been in turmoil. 348 have voted 2/3 to leave the ELCA and many others have had votes—and many of those votes have split congregations in two. Some members leave for other congregations, others form new churches. New configurations for Lutherans are forming. The “LCMC” (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ) now has 495 member churches. Next week there will be a Lutheran CORE theological conference in Columbus, Ohio and in 2011 the “NALC” (North American Lutheran Church) will have its constituting convention. These changes will continue in the coming years. Please pray God’s will is done.

At the regular July council meeting we had two resignations--our Faith Family ministry leader, who serves as Sunday school superintendent, and one council member. Since that time another council member has resigned and I too have submitted my letter of resignation. Some members of our church have resigned from committees and others have expressed their desire to leave the congregation. It’s a very sad time.

This will be a time when charity and understanding will be needed. As a pastor, I have a special responsibility, and the various circumstances leading to my resignation are connected with that responsibility in this particular congregation, so my decision will not necessarily be the same as others who hold similar convictions. As we proceed through the coming days and weeks, various members of our local church and others will be making their own decisions, quickly or slowly. Please understand that the reasons people decide to join or leave a particular church are complex. Please withhold judgment and express caring as people make their own choices. We are not saved through church membership. We are saved only by the grace of God, given to us to receive by trusting the one and only Savior of the World, Jesus Christ. None of us are “better” or “worse” than anyone else. We all stand on level ground, sinners all, at the foot of the cross. Please remember, as a friend of mine has said, that most people are doing the best they can. (Martin Luther said something similar in his eighth commandment explanation.)

I am doing my best to complete my work at ELC/Cokato and will be working with the executive committee in regard to any future work here. We don't know what is next for us as a family. Please keep us in your prayers and please don't be strangers. Give us a call or stop by for a visit. In addition to the sadness, this can be a very lonely time. You will always be welcome in our home, wherever that may be, and at any church I serve in the future. Together we will proclaim Jesus, the one Savior of the world.

Pastor Steve Thorson


1 comment:

  1. Steve ... you are in our prayers here. Drop me a note. Pastor@gracelutheran-hayward.org. Tony S