This Blog's purpose is to offer information about congregations voting to leave the ELCA. Pastor Barnhart's other Blog offers information about current news events relating to the Church and the nation. It may be found here:

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Just how many churches of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) await the fate of Grace Lutheran Church, North Branch, NY? The membership of the church had been dwindling for several years and finances had been a challenge, but members of Grace Lutheran Church were shocked when they received a letter from their ELCA synod that began “In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" and continued “the Synod will take control of the real and personal property of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church.”

Grace Lutheran members were shocked even more when the ELCA changed the locks on the church doors to keep out the very people whose ancestors had built the church and who until the locks were changed paid for the church’s daily operations.

Such takeovers and closures have not been uncommon in the ELCA, but they will likely increase as more and more members walk out of their churches because of the unbiblical teachings and practices being imposed on local congregations by the national church. Congregations that are voting to leave the ELCA should ponder carefully what will happen if their vote fails and vast numbers of the congregation’s membership departs. It may be only a matter of time until they too will get a letter “In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Synod will take control of the real and personal property of your church."

The closure of Grace Lutheran Church in North Branch followed the closure this past summer of their sister congregation, First Lutheran Church of Jeffersonville, with whom they had been yoked as a parish.
How refreshing that nearly all of the congregations that have voted to leave the ELCA have joined Lutheran fellowships where the property resides totally in the hands of the local congregation and cannot be taken from them, namely the AFLC, AALC, LCMC and NALC.


  1. How sad I am that my former ELCA congregation in Wausau, WI is so blind to what is actually happening within the synod. But it's not just them, it is countless other ELCA congregations that are refusing to hold on to the Word of God as their guide for Christian living. We now attend a much smaller LCMC congregation, Cornerstone Lutheran Church, but we are much happier because we are spiritually fed from the Word of God based on God's truth and not man's foolish wisdom.

  2. This is baffling - my great grand Aunts, Louisa "Lou" Goodman and Charlotte "Lotte" Goodman Fallow, whose house is across the road from this church, are buried in the cemetery at Grace Lutheran in North Branch, NY, along with countless relatives who founded this church in the mid-nineteenth century. Can't understand what the ELCA means to do - sounds like theft to me, in fact. But as an erstwhile very active member of St. James Episcopal Church here in NYC, I am all too familiar with church politics, heartbreaking hypocrisy that drove me from the Church altogether. I've discovered happily I'm more likely to meet God as I trudge the road of daily service to others than in a house of worship. But I Googled Grace Lutheran today so I could tell my mother -- who is staying in North Branch at the farm established by my great-great-great grandfather, Sylvanus Kimball, in 1840 -- what services would be held and what other activities she could attend at our ancestral parish today, Christmas Day 2011. The former Senior Associate Rector of St. James summed it in an observation he made years ago: where do you think the devil is most active? Wherever there is an intentional concentration of light: in churches! CS Lewis wrote about the phenomenon brilliantly in his book, "The Screwtape Letters." Recommended reading, funny, acutely insightful, might speak to the peculiar goings-on with ELCA? All that aside, merry Christmas, more or less, right?!