I previously mentioned Holy Trinity of New Prague at the end of my recent update on the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC). This church and city are near my home in Northfield, Minnesota, and I previously reported that this ELCA congregation was considering dual affiliation with LCMC despite clear messages from their ELCA Synod office that dual affiliation was unconstitutional. What is more, after the Synod Bishop was invited by ELCA supporters to speak, the Bishop was “uninvited” by the church council, and the meeting had to be arranged at the local Knights of Columbus meeting hall rather than at the church building. That much was previously discussed here.
The dual affiliation vote was scheduled for Sunday, August 14th, the same day that I traveled to Orlando for the start of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly (CWA11). The Delta flight from Minneapolis was full, and at least half the passengers were Lutherans like me traveling to the Assembly. While we awaited the prearranged shuttle to the convention center, I overheard a conversation about Holy Trinity, and I visited with Synod staff who had just learned that the vote to dual affiliate had failed 145 to 117.
Since then, I haven’t heard much from New Prague. Presumably, both sides are evaluating the consequences of this rejection of the leadership of the pastor and the council. What is the future of that pastor, who invested a heavy measure of his good will with the congregation, in a failed attempt to lead down a path the congregation chose not to follow? Will the pastor attempt to salvage his congregational standing? If so, how? Having cast his lot with LCMC, how will the pastor continue as rostered ELCA clergy? Even if the pastor is contrite, will the majority of the congregation have any confidence in and support for the pastor?