Bishop Richard H. Graham of the Metro Washington Synod, said that none of the 80 churches encompassing 34,596 Lutherans in his synod would leave over the matter.
“As a synod, we are in favor of inclusion of the largest variety of people,” he said. “The statement has so much in it that is heartfelt and not controversial,” including many statements on marriage.
“So much of it is in the mainstream of Lutheran thought,” he added. “There are five or six sentences people disagree on.”
Bishop H. Gerard Knoche of the Delaware-Maryland Synod, who is due to retire in October, said some of his congregations may leave for other Lutheran branches such as the Lutheran Churches in Mission for Christ.
Unlike Episcopal or Catholic churches, where the diocese usually retains ownership of individual churches, Lutheran synods often don’t own an individual church’s property. The bishop suggested it would be best not to sue congregations that wish to leave.
“We’ve been encouraged to be generous to the congregations that want to leave,” he said. “If we are not brutal toward them, they might want to return.”
Julia Duin is the Times’ religion editor. She has a master’s degree in religion from Trinity School for Ministry (an Episcopal seminary) and has covered the beat for three decades. Before coming to The Washington Times, she worked for five newspapers, including a stint as a religion writer for the Houston Chronicle and a year as city editor at the ...
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