Friday, October 30, 2009

Lutheran CORE in Illinois

I sent the following last evening.

Illinois CORE Update #1

Greetings in Christ Jesus.

This message is to give you a brief update on what has been happening with Lutheran CORE Illinois since a Steering Committee was elected Sunday evening October 4 at American Lutheran Church in Rantoul. You are receiving this because you left this e-mail address with us at that meeting, or you have indicated to me in some other way an interest in Lutheran CORE's efforts in Illinois. Please feel free to forward this message to anyone you believe would be interested, lay, clergy, or congregation.

But first, most of you receiving this were sent an invitation on October 18 to join a "CORE_Illinois" group at Yahoo! -- and a few of you have joined are receiving this message from it. This group will be used for announcements and updates of what is happening with Lutheran CORE in Illinois. It is set up for anyone interested to receive messages only. We will not use this group/list to fill up your e-mail inbox. We will be setting up another Yahoo! Group for conversation, questions, etc., and will announce that on the CORE Illinois group once it is ready for CORE members to join.

If you wish to keep up with CORE Illinois news and events, please either:
  + respond to the original invitation, or
  + send your name and e-mail to CORE_Illinois-subscribe (at) yahoogroups (dot) com, or
  + send your name and e-mail to me personally at or Lynn Bivens at 7Whites (at) comcast (dot) net, or
  + go to and follow the instructions to join.

That website and the messages on it anyone can read. You do not need to join Yahoo! to receive the messages via e-mail, but with a Yahoo! memberships you will be able to manage how you receive the messages yourself and use other features that come with Yahoo! Groups.

If you are not interested in CORE Illinois messages, you need do nothing. We will not be sending you further messages about CORE Illinois unless you tell us you want us to.

Now, for the update:
  1. The Illinois CORE Steering Committee is made up of:
      + Pastor Steven Tibbetts (Zion, Peoria), Chair
      + Ralph Cox (American, Rantoul), Vice-Chair
      + Lynn Biven (Bethel, Bartonville), Secretary
      + Mike Kasten (Champaign)
      + Jim Taeger (Prince of Peace, St. Joseph)

  2. We have been formally received as a member of Lutheran CORE That means we will be part of a larger coalition of Lutheran reform groups that, over the next year, are discerning how to continue mission and ministry with each other even as some stay in the ELCA and others leave in light of the actions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly. Lutheran CORE is looking to be a movement for the renewal of Lutheranism in North America, as part of the ELCA when possible, apart from the ELCA when necessary. There is much helpful information on their website, as well as clarification of misinformation. They are still in catch-up mode after the overwhelming attendance at the Fishers Convocation -- so you may still also find materials that reflect how things were before the Assembly.

  3. As you read materials about and from Lutheran CORE, and as you find yourselves in discussions about this summer's actions, you will notice that the controversies are not simply about sex. Yes, we in Lutheran CORE believe the Social Statement on Human Sexuality is fundamentally flawed and the changes in ministry standards are unacceptable. But these are symptoms of deeper issues within the ELCA (which most of us are still part of) over the use and authority of Holy Scripture; how we speak about and to God in worship, prayer, and study; and Christ's Great Commission to make disciples. The temptation is to focus on the ELCA's new perspectives on sexuality; that diverts the churches from Christian mission.

  4. I am forming a Clergy Advisory group of about a dozen C/SIS pastors. They are not only providing the Steering Committee guidance and advice, they are at work building a web site for Illinois CORE. Watch for an announcement of the site's launch.

  5. The Steering Committee has been creating a brief Powerpoint (TM) presentation for use with smaller groups, such as Congregation Councils, etc. It has been used with at least one congregation so far, but is still a very much a work-in-progress.

  6. Representatives of the Steering Committee and/or Advisory group have addressed Lutheran CORE with the pastors and rostered leaders of at least two Conferences, at least one congregational forum, and with at least one Congregation Council. Other inquiries are being made in various spots throughout the Synod, but nothing has been scheduled as yet. If you'd like a representative from Lutheran CORE Illinois to be part of your conversations responding to the Assembly's actions, contact me or Lynn.

  7. As I'd indicated at Rantoul, I attended a gathering of clergy from the Northern Illinois and Metro Chicago Synods concerned about the Churchwide Assembly's actions. Before this, they have been isolated from one another, thinking that they were alone in their concerns. (That will sound familiar to some in our Synod, too.) Now they know otherwise. While it seems more likely that they will form their own Lutheran CORE group rather than join with ours, we intend to support each other as much as we are able.

  8. The October 4 gathering called for a January convocation open to all Lutherans within the Central/Southern Illinois Synod, or even the entire state of Illinois, in order to complete the necessary organization of a Lutheran CORE Illinois member. The Clergy Advisory group is currently scouting out possible locations, initially focussing on the Decatur-Springfield area.

  9. Please keep Bishop Freiheit and the pastors of the C/SIS in your prayers. As across the ELCA people are divided over the actions of the Churchwide Assembly, we find the same divisions within the Synod, among the pastors, and even within congregations. Even those who have supported the Assembly's actions are aware of the negative impacts this has had throughout the ELCA. Lutheran CORE aims to be a means for the faithful to stand together in the Gospel and to work toward the future the Lord is giving us in our places. That begins in this difficult time by holding all our called leaders in prayer.

Again, please feel free to forward this message to anyone you believe would be interested, lay, clergy, or congregation.

Your servant in Christ, Steven+

The Rev. Steven P. Tibbetts, STS
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Peoria, Ill.
Chair, Illinois CORE Steering Committee

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