The LCMS is not suing four women in California; it is not claiming any right to the property of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, an LCMS member congregation since 1925; and it is not paying legal fees associated with the case.
False information is being published by people outside the Synod concerning a lawsuit that was filed against four women (the Defendants) who are claimed to have unlawfully usurped control over the governance and property of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. Contrary to the misstatements and distortions of fact being circulated by outsiders, the LCMS is not a party to this litigation and is not claiming any right to the property of Our Redeemer.
The lawsuit against the Defendants was filed by four individual congregants of Our Redeemer, including the congregational president, who allege that the Defendants failed and refused to abide by Our Redeemer’s governing documents by, among other things, retaining a female pastor in violation of the doctrine of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and in violation of the congregation’s Constitution.
The Complaint alleges that the four Defendants refused to attend meetings with the Plaintiffs, other members of Our Redeemer who wish to retain Our Redeemer’s membership in the Synod, and the District President of the California-Nevada-Hawaii District, the ecclesiastical supervisor of Our Redeemer under the Synod’s Bylaws.
The Plaintiffs claim in particular that the Defendants refused to attend a meeting in April 2007 scheduled to address several issues, including the Defendants’ alleged violation of church doctrine. Instead, according to the assertions in the Complaint on file in Court, the Defendants held their own meeting the night before the scheduled meeting in April 2007, in which they (and others the Defendants had invited to their meeting) purportedly voted to “disaffiliate” Our Redeemer from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
Also named as Plaintiffs in the Complaint are Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, a California corporation (the member congregation whose governance is in issue and the legal entity that owns the property currently under the control of the Defendants), and the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of the LCMS, a California Corporation, that the Plaintiffs allege is named in the congregation’s governing documents as having a contingent interest in the property.
The Plaintiffs have asked the Court to enter a judgment declaring that the individuals named as Plaintiffs, together with other members of Our Redeemer who wish to remain affiliated with the LCMS, have the exclusive right to possess and control the property of the church, and to enjoin the Defendants from interfering with the Plaintiffs’ rights. The court file for this case (#RG07363452) is open to the public on the website of the Superior Court of California, Alameda County, which can be found at: http://apps.alameda.courts.ca.gov/domainweb/html/index.html
In summary, the litigation in Oakland, California, is between two factions of a formerly united LCMS congregation. The District President of the California-Nevada-Hawaii District has worked with the Plaintiffs, whom he recognizes as the proper representatives of Our Redeemer who wish to remain faithful to Synod doctrine and the governing documents of their congregation, in an effort to protect and support Our Redeemer, a long-time member congregation of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.