What’s in a Name?

From  The-Christian-Post

Reporter Charles Boyd

The sign outside the church would usually read St. Timothy Lutheran Church. But the word “Lutheran” has been covered over and now simply reads   St. Timothy Church.

The minister of the Charleston, W.Va., church, the Rev. Richard Mahan, explained his actions to his congregation during service on Sunday.

“I asked that this be done because I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed of what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has done to a church I’ve loved for 40 years,” he said.

Last week, ELCA’s highest legislative body voted to lift the denomination’s ban on noncelibate gay and lesbian clergy.

On Sunday, Mahan used his sermon to teach his congregants, which typically numbers 300 to 400 each Sunday, about homosexuality. He told them, “We welcome the sinner, but we do not welcome the sin. All are welcome, but the sin is not.”

“We have always welcomed gays and lesbians to our church, but according to the word of God, we do not believe they are to be ordained,” he said, according to the Charleston Daily Mail. “I am not speaking out against the gay and lesbian community, but I am speaking out against the ordination of gays and lesbians as pastors and bishops and leaders of the church – and the blessing of same-sex marriages.”

Mahan’s stance was widely supported by his congregation, who gave him a standing ovation during the service.

The pastor urged the congregation to pray about what they should do next in response to the vote. He reassured them, however, that nothing would change regarding the church’s mission in the mean time.

“Let me assure you, nothing is going to change here at St Timothy. Jesus is still the same. The Bible is still the divinely inspired word of God.”

Mahan believes that the vote will split the church and may see a number of individual congregations choose to abandon the ELCA.

Explaining his own convictions, he said, “I love everyone. I love all people. This is just completely contradictory to the word of God. I love homosexuals, have ministered to them, and had homosexuals in my congregation. Nowhere in the Bible does it say you can have same-sex marriage.”



Do you think this pastor and his congregation did the right thing?



10 Responses

  1. Unfortunately, I do think they did the right thing.

    Unfortunately, in the sense that Rev. Mahan didn’t ask the ELCA, which he and his congregation belong to, to pass this legislation allowing gay and lesbian people to be ordained in the faith.

    I believe that the 1st amendment of our countries Constitution is exteremely relevant here. It defends our freedom to worship Jesus. Taking that amendment one step further, Mahan possibly with his elders may have felt the pressure of a “New” establishment of religion being shoved down their throats with the ELCA’s new epiphany regarding what scripture says (or used to say but no longer means what it says) regarding homosexuality.

    How often does Paul say the politically incorrect thing, with passion and boldness! I feel strongly that Mahan didn’t bring politics to the pulpit, instead politics (both spiritual and secular) came to him and his congregation, as it did to all Lutherans / Christians everywhere on this issue.

    Political correctness is ruining our freedom of speech one issue at a time.

    This is just my current opinion, but I’m trying to be teachable.

    “God is good Always!”

  2. Nick,

    “I feel strongly that Mahan didn’t bring politics to the pulpit, instead politics (both spiritual and secular) came to him and his congregation, as it did to all Lutherans / Christians everywhere on this issue.”

    Right, Nick!

    The ELCA has done this TO THEM.

    I too, also feel they did the right thing with the removal of the word ‘Lutheran’ from their sign.

    The name ‘Lutheran’ has been tarnished now and what once denoted grace and freedom, now denotes political correctness and bondage to the radical elements in society who are out to radically change society and the church.

    If I ever have a say in such a matter in the congregation where I worship, I would also suggest we change the name of our church, and leave off the ‘Lutheran’ name.

  3. I’m saddened by the re-branding of the word “Lutheran” that is occurring, but, I’m not willing to surrender it because of one “Lutheran” body that is systematically abandoning Lutheran distinctives.

    I would eliminate the ELCA designation from my sign but keep Lutheran.

    I serve a church that doesn’t have Lutheran in its name… which isn’t something I’m particularly happy about. The reason given for that was that the leadership of the church (before I arrived) believed that the word Lutheran meant very little to most people in the community and was a barrier to growth. I understand the argument, but we are thoroughly Lutheran in our theology. We identify our Lutheranism to other Lutherans by using the Luther Rose wherever we can.

    These are grievous times… but it seems that during such times the Church is strengthened.

  4. Here is an article & a picture of the current sign if you would like to replace it above:

    Lutheran Church changes signage after controversial vote on homosexuality


  5. Pat,

    I do like the use of the Lutheran Rose.

    I’m not sure how much of a barrier the word, ‘Lutheran’ would be on our sign now.

    It might keep someone from ever coming in and hearing what we have to say. It might not.

    The ELCA surely has done a number on that name, however.

    I feel bad for all confessional Lutherans who will be hurt by the actions of the ELCA.

    Putting a line throught the word Lutheran (as St. Timothy has done) might be a good way to let people know how you feel about what the ELCA has done.

    We don’t have the ELCA logo anywhere on our sign.

  6. Echo,

    Thanks for the link. I’ll try replacing the photo with the one in the story that you have pointed us to.

    I appreciate your stopping by and helping out.

    – Steve

  7. I highly doubt Mahan wants to abandon Lutheranism. He was probably just demonstrating his frustration and probably would have crossed out ELCA if it were present.

    We Lutherans have the obligation and most likely the sense of duty to stand up against the ELCA decision. My prayer is that seekers will find refuge in an unwavering understanding of scripture that (I hate to have to say this) we conservative Lutherans stand firm on.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, aren’t we Lutherans because we don’t explain the unexplainable, we don’t put God in a box as something that can be messed with? I’m pretty sure that’s how I was raised.

    I still agree with Mahan’s reaction, I’m sure he has the proper motives at heart and wouldn’t abandon Lutheran Theology. I’m proud to be a Lutheran!

  8. I thought we baptists were strong on the autonomy of the local church, but this proves that Mahan’s church is autonomous also. You must follow God as He leads, and i think they did.

  9. Jesus is the same… that is what keeps me going.

  10. Sermon—“After the Vote”:

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