Los Angeles pastor Jüri Pallo wants to become bishop of the expatriate Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church in order to prevent the church's schism, an anonymous source told the website meiekirik.ee.
The fate of the church and the unity of its colorful international membership has been in a state of confusion since 13 congregations began protesting the controversial reunion last year with the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tallinn. The clash has been underscored by the nearly identical names of the churches and their acronyms - EELK and E.E.L.K - differentiated only by periods.
The latter went into exile in 1944 and considered itself the rightful successor of the pre-war Lutheran church. Pallo proposed to take bishop Andres Taul out of power and to himself take over by May 13.
As acting Bishop, the source said, Pallo would form, in Los Angeles, a temporary consistory of protesting congregations. The group would then negotiate new terms with their Tallinn counterparts in accordance with the November 2010 agreement to unite.
Three scenarios have been outlined: (1) the dissenting 13 will continue as E.E.L.K. apart from those who joined the reunion; (2) E.E.L.K. will form a new Lutheran church and apply for recognition from North American Protestant churches; and (3) E.E.L.K. will declare ecclesiastical peace on the condition that the consistory of the expatriate diocese and the bishop will be appointed from the representatives of the 13 dissenting congregations.
In a statement issued on December 24, the St. Andrew's executive board based in Toronto said they had been misled by bishop Andres Taul. Distrust of anything Soviet remains high in the expat community, and it is no different with the Lutheran church, which was originally founded in 1919 but formally re-established under the Soviets.