Doreen Pawelk has been attending the St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in New Germany, Minnesota, for 50 years, but the 84-year-old grandmother learned over the weekend that she wouldn’t be allowed to be buried next to her husband.
In a letter, which was posted to Facebook by Pawelk’s grandson, Joshua Mark Mason, Pastor LeRoy LaPlant said that the church had adopted a self-exclusion policy. “In summary, the policy states that members who have not gathered together with us in worship to receive the Lord’s Supper at least four times in one calendar year will have excluded themselves from fellowship with us,” the letter read.
LaPlant went on to explain that, because Pawelk was now self-excluded, she is no longer eligible to be buried next to her husband, KMSP reported.
The church later claimed that they made a mistake. Prior to the self-exclusion letter, Pawelk had asked that she be released from membership and LaPlant said she was supposed to receive a letter notifying her that she was peacefully released from the church.
"It was a mistake and we've been deeply apologetic and reached out to the family and we hope even today they will sit down with us,” LaPlant told KMSP.
Pawelk’s family wants a guarantee in writing that she can be buried next to her husband and an apology.