As Chair of its initial Steering Committee, I sought to cast a vision for CORE Illinois after the host pastor, Dr. Jeffray Greene, opened the session with Responsive Prayer II (Suffrages) from the Lutheran Book of Worship. I sought to emphasize first that we found ourselves in this need not solely because others had taken the church in a wrong direction, but also because we had not heeded the signs and warnings that had been raised before us. Indeed, error had entered the ELCA "by our fault, our own fault, our own most grievous fault." And that we engage in this endeavor first confessing our own sin, repenting, and receiving forgiveness for our part in letting the church get off track.
I reminded the convocation of our own history as American Lutherans, of our long-held desires to come together into one church, of our ability to work together on important matters --theology, missionary work at home and abroad, relief and charity -- even when we were in separate Lutheran church bodies, meaning that as some separated from the ELCA while others remained, new denominational lines need not be walls preventing us from ministering together in and from Illinois whenever we can. Lutheran councils, coalitions, shared ministries all have a long history prior to the formation of the ELCA in 1988. We must do that again as Lutheranism in Illinois and North America is reconfigured.
Pr. Ken Kimball of the continental Lutheran CORE Steering Committee brought greetings from Lutheran CORE and our sister movement, Call to Faithfulness, noting some of CTF's successes and challenges within the Northeastern Iowa Synod. He, too, shared some of the vision of Lutheran CORE for the future of North American Lutheranism.
I read a letter from Bishop Paull Spring, Lutheran CORE's Chair. Some comments and questions from the assembly (including other members of Lutheran CORE working groups) were offered, a proposed Constitution for CORE Illinois was briefly introduced and then, following Compline, the convocation recessed for the evening.
The convocation reconvened Saturday morning with Responsive Prayer I (Suffrages), and we spent some time reviewing and amending the proposed constitution. Yes, there were a few moments it may have seemed we were getting bogged down in details. But in the end, the convocation unanimously approved a good-enough constitution. Then the following were elected to the Steering Committee:
- Pr. Steven Tibbetts, Zion, Peoria, Chair
- Ralph Cox, American, Rantoul, Vice-Chair*
- Lynn Bivens, Bethel, Bartonville, Secretary
- Mike Kasten, Good Shepherd, Champaign, Treasurer*
- Pr. Jeffray Greene, American, Rantoul
- Jim Taeger, Prince of Peace, St. Joseph
- Pr. Gary Blobaum, St. Paul, Oregon*
- Pr. Jeff Cottingham, First, Paxton*
- Judy Rademaker, Immanuel, Flatville*
After a brief review of some possible Synod Assembly resolutions and highlighting some mission and ministry groups that are supportive of Lutheran CORE's vision, the convocation broke into smaller groups -- those from the Northern Illinois and Metro Chicago Synods, those in the Central/Southern Illinois Synod intending to remain, and those in C/SIS expecting to depart -- to begin networking and discuss common concerns that CORE Illinois could help facilitate.
The convocation closed with Holy Communion, Pr. Jim Lehmann (Immanuel, Flatville) preaching from the LBW daily lectionary's Gospel, St. Mark 9:14-29 (Jesus healing of a boy possessed by an evil spirit) and Pr. Greene presiding.
Now the work of faithful ministry begins. Illinois Lutherans -- pastors, laity, congregations -- who support the goals and principles of Lutheran CORE are encouraged to contact the Core Illinois Steering Committee that we can get started working together.