Associated Press
August  2011

A western Ohio pastor has been chosen as bishop of the newly formed North American Lutheran Church.

About 800 members elected the Rev. John Bradosky of Centerville as bishop during a meeting in suburban Columbus this week. The church says the 59-year-old Bradosky was installed yesterday during a closing worship service.

The church was formed last year by churches that left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America after America’s largest Lutheran denomination decided to allow non-celibate gays into its clergy.

A statement from the church says more than 250 congregations representing more than 100,000 Lutherans have joined the new church.

It says the church is committed to the authority of the Bible as the inspired word of God.

You can read more about this new denomination here:

FOOTNOTE: This new Lutheran denomination follows exactly in the footsteps of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) that broke free from The Episcopal Church for the same reasons.

Below is the story of the painful result of apostasy


OHIO: Lutheran discord over gays lingers
Synod is hurting financially and spiritually after denomination split

By Meredith Heagney
The Columbus Dispatch
August 15, 2011

The branches of the Lutheran church in America are like a recently divorced couple trying to move on with their separate lives.

The separation is painful, and some hold out hope that the two sides can get back together. The fallout is both emotionally and financially draining. No matter how bad the split, their pasts always will be intertwined.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the country’s largest Lutheran denomination, lost members and money after it voted two years ago to give gay people more rights in the denomination.

During the August 2009 Churchwide Assembly, the ELCA voted to allow gays in lifelong committed relationships to serve as pastors. Before that, gays and other unmarried pastors had to remain celibate.

The vote divided the denomination. In 2009, the church had 10,348 congregations, but that number has dropped to 10,000 today, said spokeswoman Marianne Griebler. The denomination lost 492 churches in those two years but also added some, she said.

The churches that left became independent or joined more-conservative denominations, such as the 700-member Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ. More than 250 of the departing congregations joined the North American Lutheran Church, a conservative denomination with headquarters on one of the campuses of Upper Arlington Lutheran Church.

The year-old NALC is meeting this week at Upper Arlington Lutheran’s Mill Run campus in Hilliard. Members are deciding on a bishop and how to proceed as a new denomination.

Once the largest church in the Southern Ohio Synod of the ELCA, the 5,800-member Upper Arlington Lutheran is one of 14 churches that left the synod in the past two years. St. John’s Lutheran Church in Grove City and Zion Lutheran Church in Obetz made the same decision.

About 230 congregations remain in the synod, but the departures had a major impact, Bishop Callon W. Holloway Jr. said. He estimated a loss of about 15 percent of the synod’s annual income, with another 15 percent lost because of the poor economy.

The synod already has made major cuts in program expenses and does less to support new and struggling churches, Holloway said. One synod employee was laid off, and more could be.

The decades-long debate on homosexuality has hampered the denomination’s ability to focus on more-important priorities, such as its commitment to fight malaria in developing countries, Holloway said.

“The character of Lutheranism is that we should be connected,” he said. “When the connections are broken, it hurts in ways that are not always apparent.”

The debate doesn’t seem to be over, either. Some Lutherans will ask the next ELCA Churchwide Assembly, which begins on Monday in Orlando, Fla., to reconsider the policy on homosexuality, Holloway said, but he doesn’t think that will happen.

Homosexuality isn’t the first social issue to polarize a denomination, said Don Huber, a professor emeritus of church history at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Bexley. Historically, church bodies split over slavery and women’s ordination, he said. And the gay-rights issue has threatened the unity of Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Methodists as well as Lutherans.

In the past, disagreeing denominations often found common ground “after a generation or two,”Huber said. “I have no idea if that’s going to happen this time or not.”

Even some families have split over the issue, he said, adding, “It gets very personal, especially for the first generation.”

Some congregations can hardly handle more strife. In some towns, small congregations were so evenly split on whether to leave the ELCA that they divided into two, neither large enough to be sustainable, said the Rev. Paul Ulring, pastor of Upper Arlington Lutheran.

Zion Lutheran, in Obetz, is down to 40 to 60 worshippers on a Sunday, said Jim Sager, president of the church council. The congregation is aging, younger members aren’t coming in, and they don’t have a pastor because the ELCA moved the previous pastor to another church.

His church voted to leave the ELCA because the denomination had strayed too far from traditional interpretations of the Bible, Sager said. Because of that decision, they lost at least one family, who decided to join another church. One family doesn’t sound like much, but in such a small church, it’s another blow to already declining numbers.

Still, homosexuality is not a topic the Lutheran church, or any church, should avoid for the sake of unity, Huber said. “There had to be a conversation about this. It affects the lives of many people in our culture and our country.”

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