Monday, March 14, 2011

Bishop Zellmer Rejects Holy Cross' Vote to Leave ELCA

Holy Cross to leave ELCA

By Jeff Bahr, American News reporter11:57 a.m. CDT, March 14, 2011 posted at,0,620902.story

The members of Holy Cross Lutheran Church voted 61 to 30 Sunday to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. That election was the second and final one necessary for the church to sever its ties with the ELCA. A two-thirds vote was required in each election.

The departure from the ELCA will become official when Holy Cross sends a letter to the Sioux Falls-based synod. That letter will probably be sent this week, said Jack Hieb, president of the church’s congregation council.
The vote leaves Aberdeen with three churches that belong to the ELCA — Bethlehem Lutheran, Good Shepherd and Zion Lutheran. It is expected that Holy Cross will join the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ.

The Rev. David Zellmer of Sioux Falls, the bishop of the South Dakota Synod of the ELCA, was at Holy Cross for the vote. “He stood up immediately after the vote and said that he’s not going to recognize the vote because he felt like it wasn’t appropriate,” Hieb said. The bishop, Hieb said, has a history of not accepting such votes.

“He has refused to acknowledge that anything we’ve done is valid,” Hieb said. “And I guess at the end of the day, from my standpoint — I’ve said this all along — the bishop doesn’t run this church.” The bishop, Hieb said, “is the bishop of an organization that this church is no longer a part of.”


  1. I would not be surprised if the ELCA tried lawsuits and seizing property to keep congregations from leaving. Small congregations do not have much money for a legal fight.

  2. Excellent observation. I am certain that will will also see more separation hurdles imposed during the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assmbly later this year.