Trinity Lutheran Church organizes locally
Former pastor from Kansas City called to help.
A group of Lutheran worshippers who have been meeting in the Seventh-day Adventist Church has named their church Trinity Lutheran Church.
Russell Saltzman, mission developer for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), said the group named the church last Sunday.
Saltzman, who lives in Kansas City, MO, was called by former members of the American Lutheran Church in Gothenburg.
He said American Lutheran Church members voted May 22 on a proposal to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). When it failed, some members left to form their own church.
The NALC mission developer said the group of local Lutherans, as well as others across the country, had become dissatisfied with the ELCA and the local church, noting that there’s much theological division in the ELCA.
Although there are several issues that have divided church members in the ELCA, he said an issue that disturbed many people deals with the acceptance of gay sexuality and ordination of gay pastors.
NALC was organized in August of 2010 and has been growing rapidly, Saltzman said.
Since June 5, he said about 110 members, on average, and some visitors have worshipped on Sundays in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, he said.
Saltzman commutes to Gothenburg on Saturdays to lead Sunday worship and serve as a pastor, adviser and mentor.
“My job is to get them up to speed and stabilized to where they can afford to get a full-time pastor,” he explained, noting that youth activities and other parish education will begin in August.
Saltzman said the congregation is also looking for downtown office space for Trinity Lutheran and for a larger place to worship.
After the split from the ELCA, Saltzman said he also wanted to insure that the tone of the new congregation was Christian.
“I didn’t want a lot of bitterness or self righteousness,” he said. “I know small towns and the divisions that can happen between families and friendships.
“I hoped for a peaceable separation.”
Saltzman said he thinks that the congregation as a whole regrets that the separation had to happen.
“But at the same time, we want to build a good congregation with a thoroughly Lutheran orientation.”
He hopes to spend about four days a week in Gothenburg in August, noting that three trained lay people serve as pastoral associates.
They are Brent Block, Lawrence Wendelin and Lyle Franzen.
This Sunday, the congregation will put a provisional church council in place. Drafting a constitution will follow with eventual elections of a governing board and officers under the new constitution.
“We’re off to a real good start,” he said.
On May 15, Saltzman left an ELCA church in Kansas City where he served as pastor and was later called as a mission developer for the NALC.