News Releases and Information Bulletins
NEWS RELEASE / ARTICLE
Mark D. Menacher,
21 October 2002
For Immediate Release
Title: FURTHER OBJECTIONS TO ELCA CANCELLING REFORMATION SUNDAY
The news that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is advising its parishes to "shift away" from celebrating Reformation Day is spreading across the denomination. In response to the unexpected advisory, objections to the denomination's drift away from the principles of Protestantism are growing.
According to the September-October edition of the ELCA publication, Seeds for the Parish (p. 2), denominational officials recommend, "In light of our church's commitment to ecumenical relations, it may be a good idea to shift away from a focus on the 16th century Lutheran Reformation and its readings ('the truth shall set you free') and move toward an ecumenical celebration of reconciliation and the on-going reformation of the church."
Further objections to the ELCA's advisory include the following:
Rev. Roy A. Harrisville III, Ph.D., and General Manager of Augsburg Fortress Press (the ELCA's publishing house), declared that "the suggestions that the ELCA take the 'L' out of its name [L for Lutheran] are unilateral and irresponsible."
Pastor James D. Engh of Atonement Lutheran Church in Missoula, Montana states, "The suggestion in the article from 'Seeds for the Parish' is just plain silly,..." but "it's so typical of the thinking and decision making in the ELCA these days, resulting in an erosion of confessional Lutheranism. Enough is enough! We Lutherans should be expected to be Lutherans and not continually change who we are in order to appease others or to facilitate ecumenical relationships."
Mr. G. Barry Anderson, ELCA member and appellate court judge for the State of Minnesota writes, "The Reformation is for Lutherans as important as the 4th of July is for Americans. ... Is the Reformation over? Is it time to 'shift away' from its message and 'move toward an ecumenical celebration of reconciliation? How can there be reconciliation around any other message than 'the truth shall make you free'? Bold proclamation of this, the one true gospel, is needed now more than ever."
For centuries thereafter, Lutherans have celebrated "Reformation Day" to remind themselves of Luther's bold steadfastness in speaking the truth and setting the faithful back on the right path. Now, after 500 years of Lutheranism, the ELCA's head office is seeking to put an end to Reformation Day.
With 5.1 million members, the ELCA is the largest Lutheran body in the United States. In response to the ELCA's official departure from its own heritage, Lutheran congregations and groups from around the USA are encouraging ELCA parishes to disregard the ELCA's advisory and to celebrate Reformation Day with renewed vigor.
1. Use of all or of any part of this article is granted by the author. For further information regarding the above quotations, contact Dr. Mark D. Menacher as per the details given above.
2. The source for the quoted sections of the ELCA advisory is "Seeds for the Parish" (page 2) which is available on the Internet at: http://www.elca.org/co/seeds/septoct02.pdf