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Menahga's First English Lutheran Church among five more Minnesota churches that quit ELCA

Another five churches from the Northwestern Minnesota Synod have parted ways with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, according to information on the synod website.

Those congregations are First Lutheran Church of Roseau, Folden Lutheran Church of rural Vining, Faith Lutheran Church of Mentor, First English Lutheran Church of Menahga and Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church of Badger.

A total of 15 NMS congregations have left the ELCA this year, Synod Bishop Larry Wohlrabe wrote in an Oct. 26 letter. That represents a decline of just over 5 percent of the synod's total number of congregations.

The letter also states that the synod has 253 congregations with 103,480 members and that the departing churches accounted for a loss of 3,002 members. That's just under 3 percent of total baptized members.

The average congregation size of the fleeing churches is 200.

The ELCA continues to deal with fallout after the 2009 Churchwide Assembly when it opted to allow individuals in same-gender relationships to serve in the clergy.

In his letter, Wohlrabe wrote that they "grieve the loss" of the 15 churches, but also made the case for proper perspective.

He also noted that 14 congregations have failed to pass first votes to disaffiliate from the ELCA. Two votes are required for a church to disaffiliate.

The NMS has seen more congregations depart than any other Minnesota synod, according to Oct. 1 numbers from the ELCA national offices. Those figures show that a total of 32 congregations in the state have passed final disaffiliation votes, though those numbers include only 10 departures from the Northwestern Minnesota Synod.

The national ELCA offices said that no eastern North Dakota churches have taken second votes while two churches in western North Dakota had done so.


* To read Bishop Larry Wohlrabe's letter, visit, click on "October 27, 2010" and follow the link under "Update on Disaffiliating Congregations."