President Chris Hansen, Vice President Wayne Jacobson, Treasurer Craig Blanchard, Secretary Kristina McBurney, Julie Creeden, Mike Francis, Nathan Greiner, Kristie Lehman, Ron Martin, and Interim Pastor Mike Brost
A Letter from Council
Greetings from your Church Council,
Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church has been a light in this community for over 150 years; the last 35 of those being affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Following the recent vote regarding our affiliation with the ELCA, we found ourselves in a very difficult situation. While 63% of our congregation voted to disaffiliate with the ELCA, the required threshold for approval is 66.67%. After the vote, the Council decided to enter a time of prayer, listening, and time in the Word. We called all of you to join us. We have felt your prayers. We also told you that we would keep you informed regarding our next steps; thus, you are receiving this letter from us now.
On August 15th, we met as a Council for the first time since the vote. We worked very closely with our interim pastors at that meeting. One thing that has become crystal clear to all of us was that it is imperative that Nazareth remains true to who we say we are as a congregation. The following are beliefs upon which we all agree:
Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church’s Mission Statement:
Living together in God’s amazing grace, we invite all people to know Christ, grow in Christ, and make Christ known.
Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church’s By-Laws, Article I - Purpose:
The object and purpose of this congregation shall be to proclaim and propagate the Christian faith through the Means of Grace and to cooperate in the work and service of the Lutheran Church.
Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church’s By-Laws, Article II, Confession of Faith (paragraph 1):
This congregation accepts all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as a whole and in all their parts as the divinely inspired, revealed, and inerrant Word of God and submits to this as the only infallible authority in all matters of faith and life.
Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church’s “Speaking the Truth in Love” Document:
This congregation accepts this document in its entirety.
On August 21st, we met with the Bishop of the ELCA Northeast Iowa Synod, Kevin Jones. He
explained that given only a minority of the congregation desires to remain a part of the ELCA, it would be challenging to get an ELCA pastor to agree to come to Nazareth. Therefore, the Council has decided to postpone any sort of senior pastor call committee work at this time. We are very pleased to have two faithful and capable interim pastors in our midst during this season of transition. We believe that with God’s help, their leadership will sustain us and guide us as we continue to do ministry at Nazareth, and as we gather a clear direction for our future church affiliation prior to calling our next Senior Pastor. Our goal is to have our congregation as unified as possible. Please continue to pray for our unity in Christ and the future of our congregation.
As a Council, we have decided on what our next steps will be here at Nazareth:
1. We have passed a resolution to announce another vote to disaffiliate with the ELCA and affiliate instead with the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) to be held on a date yet to be determined in April or May of 2024.
2. Our primary focus for the remainder of this 2023 calendar year will be on the mission and ministries of Nazareth, Thanksgiving, and the Advent Season leading to Christmas.
3. Continuing conversations, building bridges, and fostering unity within the congregation as we seek God’s will for Nazareth.
Your church staff has been busy preparing for the Fall Kick-off on Sunday, September 10th immediately following the single service at 10 a.m. We hope you will join us in celebrating the numerous ministries of our Church as we approach the Fall Kick-off! We also encourage you to pray about how you can engage in and support the daily ministries of Nazareth.
Philippians 1:6 states, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” We are hopeful about the future direction of God’s Church. We are eager to fulfill the mission and purpose of Nazareth to be evangelical, as we live out the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20:
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” In closing, we ask for your continued support of the staff, pastors, and many volunteers who work tirelessly to fulfill the mission of Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church. We encourage all members to seriously contemplate who we say we are as a church as we look toward the future.
Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church Council President