New denomination headquartered in Indy?

September 24, 2009
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Might a new church denomination form after members of a conservative Lutheran group meet in Fishers on Friday and Saturday, and might that denomination be headquartered here—far from the unofficial center of the Lutheran world, Minneapolis?


At least 1,200 disaffected members of the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America plan to discuss a 559-451 vote at a national denominational assembly to end a ban on gay clergy. The August convention was in Minneapolis. The Fishers meeting, which has been planned for months, was moved to the larger Holy Spirit Catholic Church from Christ the Savior Lutheran Church to accommodate an avalanche of registrations.

A member of the steering committee for the conservative group, Ryan Schwarz, says the group met in Indianapolis a year ago, and chose the city again for this week’s meeting for reasons cited by lots of other not-for-profits that make Indianapolis home: its central location and ease of traveling in and out.

Schwarz wouldn’t speculate whether a new denomination would form or, if so, where it would be headquartered. He emphasized the meeting hasn’t been called to create a new denomination, but rather to launch a year of study and “discernment” about a how to “bring about a reconfiguration of Lutheranism in North America.”

But, he says his group, the Coalition for Reform, or CORE, likes Indianapolis a lot. “I just know we’ll be back to Indianapolis for meetings, because it’s such a great place to be,” said Schwarz, a layman who lives in Washington, D.C. “I would be shocked if this is the last time we are in Indianapolis.”

The Evangelical Lutherans are nowhere near the size of the largest U.S. church denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, but with 4.6 million members and 10,396 congregations, it isn’t small, either.

Schwarz noted that a denominational survey taken in 2004 showed 57 percent of respondents opposed changing the traditional teaching on homosexuality. So, he suggested, it wouldn’t be surprising if a number of congregations leave the denomination.

Anybody disagree with his observations about Indianapolis? On a separate note, how do you feel about the gay clergy question that’s also rippling through United Methodist, Episcopal and other denominations?

  • I believe it is always a positive thing for people to grow in acceptance of those different from themselves. I believe we all have the right to our own beliefs and religious freedoms. However I fail to see why people have any problems with homosexuality and people who are born gay? Sins are things that are inately bad because they bring harm to others or ones self. Being born gay and having a loving relationship is no different than being heterosexual in a loving relationship. With all the problems and hateful behavior in this world, it is beyond me why anyone would devote energy towards ensuring unequal rights for anyone. Sometimes change is good. If someone is gay and wants to devote their life to God how can that be a bad thing? What does ones personal attraction have to do with any other part of their life? There are so few people interested in being clergy these days. We should be supporting those who have the moral fortitude to devote their lives to their belief in God.
    • I'm all for economic development but the last thing Indy needs is the by-product of an other-world schism, and the un-enlightened end of it, to boot. Please, go elsewhere.
      • Steve,

        So, if one follows (or attempts to) God's laws, that makes him "unenlightened"? Me thinks not.
      • First of all, if one truly believes in diversity, that should include opinions different than your own. That should make this group welcome in Indy.

        Secondly, while no one is going to win the disagreement of whether people are "born gay", that is somewhat beside the point. I agree that people have the right to make their own way in this world, and if that includes a same sex relationship, so be it. However, why is disagreeing with that viewpoint wrong?

        Let's not forget the architect of the bible and the earth, God, said something entirely different. Those that follow God's word should not be criticized because of their beliefs anymore than the ones that espouse same sex relationships. If we are going to get along, we have to learn to accept diverse opinions. We shouldn't be so small minded that we don't want them here because we don't agree with them!
      • I believe that all men and woman are created equal, but I also believe that only men should be Priests. Is that discriminatory?

        Back on topic, our location is the best thing going for us. It and value are the main reasons we are a top convention city.
        • To answer your question Indyman: Yep.

          Have a great day.

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