It’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged about the Little Church on the Edge of the Prairie. Needless to say, even after the second congregational vote, nothing has been resolved. I knew it would be an uphill battle to work toward reconciliation and healing. This entry is a personal one, so please feel to skip the rant. Part of the reasons I started this blog was to record the process.

This past Sunday there was a critical congregational meeting (for the record, I’m making air quotes here)  to discuss the state of the congregation, only the Anti-ELCA crowd was notified and invited.

*shrugs*

I guess that’s okay, because it has been no secret that the ELCA part of the congregation meets regularly for support, Bible Study and discussion. They were more than welcome to attend as long as they weren’t disruptive. Same rules for everyone.

Well, needless to say there was a petition circulated at that meeting to push for another vote on May 25, because we all know how fun the first round of votes was.

*rolls eyes*

This time we will be voting on two things: An Affirmation of Faith in the Pastors and to Demand that LCEP Remains Affiliated with the LCMC. Translation: brass of the big cheese of the ELCA and force the ELCA leadership to kick LCEP out of the tent. Not too surprising as the LCMC doesn’t officially advocate such a tactic *nudge, nudge, wink, wink* but does mention that it is a way to circumvent the 2/3 supermajority double vote in the LCMC web communities.

A little background on the first resolution…our pastors received a letter from our Bishop–who, in my not so humble opinion, is a general all-around good guy with enough patience to go around to the rest of us–because numerous attempts to contact the pastors by phone have conveniently not been successful. The letter asked whether or not our pastors will support the ELCA since the vote to, well, not be part of the ELCA failed. Technically LCEP is still very much an ELCA congregation, one of few (less than 1%) where the required second vote to leave was defeated. Like it or not, it still needs to adhere to ELCA rules and hierarchy.

So much for moves toward healing a fractured church. But wait, it gets better than that.

Two weeks ago we ELCA-ers (which, for the record is a lovely new epithet or congregation created that has about as much warm fuzzy feeling as tossing around the N-word early and often…how nice) were invited to a “listening session” that the council was holding as part of their retreat. When it became obvious that they didn’t want to listen and it was a great display in tokenism, someone pointed out that the LCEP constitution mandates that the council support the ELCA (hey, I didn’t write, but I agree with it) and since there were three open council seats that they should be filled with members of the ELCA. So tentatively the council voted and extended offers to three church members that have supported the ELCA through this whole mess. Seemed like a step in the right direction toward workng on unity and mending fences.

Only it didn’t happen that way. At Tuesday night’s  council meeting, the three invited to join the council were met by pitchforks and torches an angry mob of sixty people led by the Associate Pastor’s wife demanding to know, Why are THEY here? (The angry mob was there to present their petition to vote again, sigh.)  Uh, just a guess, but they were invited by the council??? Tensions where high, and one of my friends felt quite unsafe in her own church that night.

After much bellyaching, a council member demanded that the offers to join said council be recinded. So they voted on it.  Both pastors voted against bringing the three ELCA members on board, the president who has been not that supportive of the ELCA–to everyone’s surprise actually defended the decision to extend an invitation–and voted for the three additions. BUT and this is a big BUT, the pastors decided that the president could only vote if there was a tie.  It had been 5 for, 5 against, but one of the for’s was shot down by the pastors. At the end, since people were about to stroke out, the council decided to table the decision for another month.

How convenient.

And in the continuing saga of As the LCEP Turns, they changed their minds again. But this time only ONE of the ELCA advocates was invited to join council. The other THREE (wait, didn’t I write earlier that three open seats, not four???) open seats were filled by Anti-ELCA advocates.

Talk about the pastors filling the council with hand-picked minions.

I’m to the point where I am more than happy to let this angry mob have the building, the assets, the debt, the name, the negative taint in town and everything else associated with LCEP. It isn’t about healing a congregation for them. It’s about owning the deed to a million dollar building. It has become a cult adoring the pastors. Where is the welcoming warmth that first drew me to the congregation when settled in town? Where is the Christian love that is supposed to be preached from the pulpit? I have been called an ELCA-er with as much animosity that you could easily substitute nigger, faggot or whore and convey the same meaning. We’ve been told but we still love you. But quite frankly? I’m not feeling the love. Don’t tell me you love me, then treat me like garbage behind my back. And if you mean, we still love you if you agree to our terms and promise to behave, then I want nothing to do with that type of love. I’m not looking for love or grace with caveats.

I pulled my kids from Sunday School about a month ago. I don’t want this hatred spilling down to my children. I do not want them harassed because of our family’s beliefs in equality for all or be bullied because our family wants to remain members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

My husband and I were standing on the driveway the other night listening to the frogs peeping. My husband is agnostic on his better days and an atheist on most others. I don’t force him to go to church and be uncomfortable and resentful for an hour, and he doesn’t try make me give up my faith. It may sound odd, but it leads to a healthy and happy relationship.

But as we were standing there the other night, we started talking about this detente we have, and he had something very profound to say: that he would never try to destroy my faith or convince me not to be active in church. He didn’t want to take hope away from me under any circumstance.

My pastors could learn a lot from my happily agnostic husband. In that one little conversation on the driveway, my husband offered so much more than my pastors have done in the past year: faith and support without any strings attached.

Moments like that I realize that affirmations of faith come in the weirdest places. Thank you, my dear husband, for showing me that there is hope in places where I least suspect it.

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