10 Questions about the ELCM

1. What is ELCM?

ELCM (Evangelical Lutheran Conference & Ministerium of North America) is a Synodical federation, fellowship and association of centrist oriented Evangelical Lutheran congregations and pastors formed to support and protect like minded seminarians, pastors, and congregations .

2. Can a congregation or a pastor or a Seminarian belong to the ELCA and LCMC and also ELCM?

From the ELCM viewpoint the answer is Yes. ELCM does not require congregations, pastors, or Seminarians to give up their membership in the ELCA or in LCMC or in one of the other Lutheran groupings in order to become a member of ELCM.

3. Can we belong to ELCM if we choose to leave the ELCA or one of the other Lutheran Entities?

Yes. Some congregations want or need an alternative Lutheran Option which is not in the Liberal orientation and which is not in the Ultra Conservative Lutheran direction. ELCM has been organized intentionally to make a Centrist Evangelical Lutheran Option available to congregations, pastors, and seminarians. Congregations desiring to leave their present affiliation may choose to transfer their membership in accord with their Constitutional provisions to ELCM. Membership in ELCM then provides a place to actively connect with other centrist Confessional Evangelical Lutheran congregations and pastors for fellowship and mission.

4. Has the ELCA or LC-MS ever allowed dual-rostered congregations? What about the other more Conservative Lutheran Groupings?

The ELCA does have an official policy regarding and allowing for congregations to have dual membership with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and with a number of non-Lutheran Church bodies with whom it has established relationships and fellowship recognition .The ELCA and LC-MS have no official fellowship, for example but they have had dual membership congregations in the past. For example The Lutheran magazine referred to allowance for dual memberships in the April 2000 issue as follows: [dual memberships] "do not pose a problem for the ELCA Doctrine, and Historic Lutheran Practice. " (Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson, The Lutheran 4/00, p.52). The Missouri Synod, however, requires subscription to the doctrine of the inerrancy of scripture and as a consequence understands that women cannot be ordained. Neither ELCA or LCMS appear to be open to approving dual membership for congregations and pastors of the other smaller Lutheran bodies. The various ultra conservative Lutheran entities likewise would not be open to pastors or congregations holding dual memberships with other Lutheran Bodies.

The ELCA has not yet addressed this question of dual memberships with respect to either the WordAlone movements LCMC or our ELCM. The ELCA may, consistent with its policy for the Missouri Synod, allow dual membership for LCMC and ELCM congregations. On the other hand, the ELCA could discipline or expel congregations or pastors who choose not to comply with its changes in Polity.

5. What are the financial implications of joining ELCM?

Membership in ELCM imposes no financial obligations on a congregation. However, ELCM anticipates that a substantial portion of the funding to support its activities will be provided by voluntary contributions from congregations and individuals. There is no Apportioned Benevolence in ELCM.

6. What is the difference between WordAlone and its LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ) arm and our ELCM?

The WordAlone Network operates within the ELCA and its LCMC arm is intended to also operate within, as well as outside of, the ELCA. WordAlone or WAN and LCMC are each organized as an association of individuals and congregations. The primary purpose is to provide information and suggest actions that can be taken by congregations, synods and the ELCA in response to the imposition of the required historic episcopate.

Our ELCM on the other hand is an Incorporated Synodical federation, fellowship, and association of centrist oriented Evangelical Lutheran congregations and pastors. Its primary purpose is to be a supportive federation, fellowship and association for Centrist Evangelical Lutheran congregations and pastors who have come from a variety of Lutheran backgrounds and traditions. ELCM does not operate from within the ELCA but is a separate Lutheran Church Body from the ELCA.

The WordAlone Network LCMC arm is an association only of congregations represented by delegates from its member congregations. LCMC provides a structure for congregations that wish to call and ordain pastors outside of the required historic episcopate.

In Contrast to LCMC, our ELCM is a Synodical federation, fellowship, and association of congregations and pastors with organization based not upon representative formula providing for delegates but based upon a consensus model in light of Scripture and in light of the Lutheran Confessions. Our ELCM consensus includes not only the member congregations but also the consensus of member Pastors. ELCM provides a structure for congregations who wish to call and ordain pastors who are of a Biblical, Confessional and of centrist Evangelical Lutheran orientation. For ELCM the issue is much more than the issue of the so-called “Historic Episcopacy.” ELCM provides a structure for pastors who wish to serve congregations seeking pastors who are Biblical, Confessional, and of a centrist Evangelical Lutheran orientation.

7. Can we join ELCM without belonging to WordAlone or LCMC or NALC?

Yes. Some ELCM congregations will have had earlier membership in WordAlone or LCMC . However, a congregation or pastor might very well join ELCM without ever joining WordAlone or LCMC or NALC.

8. Are there advantages to membership in ELCM at the present time?  Why not wait?

We believe that there are advantages to membership in ELCM. ELCM has worked through a number of issues in its organization and formation which newer and larger groupings such as WAN and its LCMC will be struggling over for many years to come. ELCM was formed with the emphasis of the Canonical Scripture as being God's Word rather than “merely containing God's inspired Word.” WordAlone and its LCMC arm were formed essentially based on a common opposition centered on one issue, namely, The imposition of the Historic Episcopacy and its attendant Apostolic succession notion. ELCM exists as an immediate safe haven for those who seek a permanent safe harbor for the present and the future.

9. What if we decide, after joining ELCM, that we wish to discontinue our affiliation with ELCM?

An ELCM congregation or pastor may freely and simply terminate membership with ELCM at any time. ELCM has instituted a "Good Order Process" that Congregations and Pastors agree to follow. Upon reception into ELCM Pastors and congregations formally subscribe to the Constitution, Bylaws, Previous Consensus Policies, and to the "Good Order Policy of ELCM." Because ELCM is a Synodical federation, fellowship, and association, a decision to terminate membership is entirely the prerogative and right of the respective congregation or the respective pastor and adherence to a good order process is expected. However, final permission or consent from ELCM is not needed in order to do so.

10.What will happen to our property if we join ELCM?

Under the ELCA constitution, title to a congregation's property resides in the congregation (Sec. 9.71.a). If you join ELCM and remain in the ELCA, there will be no change in the ownership of your property. If you are a member of another Lutheran Church body there is no issue as the congregations are stipulated to be the sole owners of the their property.

The ELCA constitution provides that a congregation that transfers its membership from the ELCA to another Lutheran church body will continue to own its property: Sec. 9.71.d. Title to the property of a congregation that has acted to terminate its relationship with this church by the provisions of 9.62. To relate to another Lutheran church body shall continue to reside in the congregation. A corresponding provision is included in Section C7.03 of the ELCA Model Constitution for Congregations.

The ELCM has been formed and is intended to be operated in a manner that will cause it to be recognized as "another Lutheran church body" for purposes Section 9.71.d. of the ELCA constitution and Section C7.03 of the Model Constitution for Congregations.

ELCM has been duly Incorporated as a U.S.A. based Lutheran Church Body (Denomination) in accord with the Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has been granted recognition and official 501 © (3) Tax exempt Status by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Congregations that previously were affiliated with the LCA or that were established by the ELCA must receive synodical approval before terminating their relationship with the ELCA. See Sec. 9.62.g. and 9.62.h. of the ELCA constitution and Sec. C6.05.g. and C6.05.h. of the Model Constitution for Congregations.

Keep in mind, however, that ELCM does not require that any congregation terminate its membership in the ELCA or in another Lutheran Church body in order to be a member of ELCM. Where a congregation votes to join ELCM while still a member of ELCA or of another Lutheran Church body or where a pastor has rostered with ELCM while still being a rostered member of the ELCA or another Lutheran Church body then the ELCA or another Lutheran Church body may take disciplinary action to remove the congregation with its property (the ultimate punishment in the ELCA) or to remove the pastor from its roster. An ELCM rostered pastor was recently removed from the roster of the CLC, for example, simply for meeting with our ELCM examining committee.