Friday, January 18, 2013
St. Timothy Lutheran Church has become the second congregation in the tri-county area and the seventh in the state to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and join the North American Lutheran Church.
The church released information on the change last week.
At a special congregational meeting on Jan. 6, 87 percent of those present voted to change denominational affiliation.
“We spent a long time discerning this move,” said the Rev. W. Stephen Johnson, senior pastor of St. Timothy. “This vote is the culmination of months of meetings, Q-and-A sessions and many one-on-one discussions, all so we could determine our church’s direction and where to align our focus.”
The process of discernment included presentations by the bishop of the South Carolina Synod, the Rev. Dr. Herman R. Yoos III, on behalf of the ELCA, and the bishop of the NALC, the Rev. John F. Bradosky.
The affiliation process also included three separate congregational votes over 21 months to meet with both ELCA and NALC requirements.
Affiliation with the NALC is considered a more orthodox Lutheran tradition, with four core values at its foundation: Christ-centered, mission-driven, traditionally-grounded and congregationally-focused. The NALC was formed in August 2010 and has grown to 342 congregations in 20 geographical mission districts. St. Timothy will be part of the Carolinas Mission District, which includes congregations in North and South Carolina.
“Christian churches throughout the U.S. are going through a major realignment,” Johnson said. “We have gone through a lengthy period of intense discernment. And, at the conclusion of the process, we have affirmed that the North American Lutheran Church, with its emphasis on the centrality and primacy of scripture, and a clear focus on mission, is the best fit for us.”
St. Timothy, organized in 1964, averages 175 attending weekly worship. Pastor Johnson was ordained in 1985 and was called to serve St. Timothy in 1996.
Changes in the church’s denominational status were effective immediately.