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ELCM Apologetics

ELCM and ELCM Leadership Credentials:
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When ELCM began in September 1999 it was not on the Internet but in a Constituting gathering of representatives of congregations and pastors. We of course publicized the formation of ELCM on the Internet. Here we note with interest that the large Lutheran Denominations, One and All, make considerable use of the Internet and have their own domain names.

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ELCM has its own registered Internet Domain names. We follow the example of the big church bodies in this regard.

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ELCM is legally Incorporated as a National Lutheran (indeed - Continental) Denomination. Our legal registered office is in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. So our credentials include INC. at the end of our name.

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ELCM is a 501 (c) 3 organization and is granted Non Profit Organization Tax exempt Status as a Church Body by the US Department of Treasury/ IRS. This is recognition by the Government of the USA of the validity of our Credentials.

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ELCM insists that all ordained pastors admitted to rostered membership in the Ministerium have an Equivalent to 4 years of College (undergraduate studies) with a degree of BA or BS and also hold or have an equivalence of a BD or M Div degree.

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All ELCM clergy serving in a leadership office of the General Conference or Ministerium are required to be Officially Called to Ministry in a Congregation or Mission Congregation. This requirement insists on a high standard of active pastoral ministry. Many of the large Church bodies allow those in leadership positions to have a lower standard of active pastoral ministry by allowing their clergy leaders to be separated from active daily parish or congregational ministry.

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A large proportion of ELCM Pastors hold advanced degrees in Biblical and Theological Studies as well as in other Scholarly disciplines.

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The Examining Committee of ELCM that interviews all candidates for rostering is composed not only of Lay leaders but also of Pastors with high academic credentials, with one of these being a licensed PHD Psychologist

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The ELCM has met in General Conference (Synod Convention) with representatives attending from a wide geographical area. ELCM is not primarily located in Pennsylvania but is now physically present in 11 states of the USA and in two provinces of Canada. ELCM has also had a missionary in mainland China. When the pastors and representatives of congregations meet in General Conference it is clear that they are not a ghostly internet Church because they are able to eat food and drink Coffee.

Thus in all categories the ELCM has full credentials for receiving pastors and congregations; for ordaining Seminarians, licensing Lay Catechists, launching Mission efforts, and for providing Evangelical Lutheran pastors for congregations seeking an undershepherd to our Savior. Finally all the credentials in the world to not amount to much of anything unless the pastors and churches stand upon the Faith of our Fathers. ELCM pastors and congregations hold to the Scripture as God's Word to Man and accept the Christian Book of Concord (Lutheran Confessions) as a correct exposition of the Doctrines of Holy Scripture. These latter are the solid rock basis for all ELCM Credentials. May this be so for all Organizations calling themselves "Church."

 

Church Organization and Polity Issues

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ELCM stipulates that only Pastors who are active Parish Pastors may hold elected offices in ELCM. We want no professional bureaucracy of hierarchs.

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ELCM (and you dear reader may read it for yourself by clicking on the links to the ELCM Constitution and Organizational principles found on the front page of our website) is intentionally a balance between congregations and clergy. This balanced model is the oldest American Lutheran Model of organization. The basic structure which is emphasized throughout the ELCM Constitutions and Bylaws is focused on the congregation.

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All entities beyond the congregation exist to be advisory (not impositional) to the congregations and parish pastors.

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In ELCM, the pastors are not viewed as the hired hands of the congregations who fulfill a function created by the congregation.

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There is a Ministerium in ELCM (composed of ordained pastors and licensed Ministers), but the Ministerium is advisory to the congregations and pastors of ELCM.

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The voting procedures of ELCM reject votes that are based upon majorities and super majorities and emphasize consensus in Light of Scripture and in light of the Lutheran Confessions by all the congregations and by all the pastors. Pastors can not force things through ELCM and neither can special interest entities from within or among congregations. Large congregations can not impose their orientation upon small congregations nor vice versa.

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Congregations may send as many spokespersons (each one with the privilege of voice) as desired to any General Conference (Synod) but each congregation gets one vote when votes are called. Each pastor under call likewise gets one vote. There is no running of things by the Clergy here.

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Our first Triennial General Conference (Synod Convention) was held in September 2002 and showed that the Lay leaders are very able to speak out and to set forth their well considered views. The General Conference gave abundant evidence that our approach of balance worked well for the congregations and for the pastors.

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The General Conference Executive Board of ELCM is the body which advises the congregations and pastors of ELCM and which enacts business between Triennial General Conferences (Synods). Each action by the Executive Board is posted for a ratification period and any congregation or pastor may vote "NO" and by so doing thus have the matter reconsidered. The General Conference Executive Board is composed in its majority make up by Lay Persons. Despite the size of the Executive Board there are always 3 more lay leaders serving on the Board than there are Clergy. All decisions by the Board are by consensus. 

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Committees of the General Conference Executive Board are likewise composed predominantly of Lay Leaders. The very important Roster Interview & Examining Committee (RIEC) of ELCM, for example, the committee that is charged with interviewing and examining all clergy applicants consists of 5 Lay Leaders (The Chairman is a Lay Leader) and 2 pastors. The recommendations of this Committee to the General Conference Executive Board are by Consensus.

Our Constitution and Organizational Principles are on file with the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and with the IRS.