From the Worldwide Faith News archives

LCMS - Synod, ELCA to increase theology talks, meetings

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Fri, 06 Dec 2002 18:14:09 -0800

The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod
Board for Communication Services

LCMSNews -- No. 74
December 6, 2002

Synod, ELCA to increase theology talks, meetings

By David L. Mahsman

Renewed theological talks and more frequent meetings of top leadership are 
in the offing between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The 
Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.

Members of the Committee on Lutheran Cooperation (CLC) agreed Nov. 12 that 
they would pursue discussions of issues that divide the two church 
bodies.  The CLC has six members from each of the two bodies, including 
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson and LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick.

They also agreed once again to meet twice a year.  In recent years, the CLC 
had reduced its original semiannual meeting schedule to one meeting a year.

Each of the two church bodies has new leadership.  Hanson and Kieschnick 
each were elected to first terms in office by their respective church 
bodies last year.

During discussion at the Nov. 12 meeting, Dr. Samuel Nafzger said that the 
LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) is "concerned" that 
the Missouri Synod was not part of recent dialogues between the ELCA and 
the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.  Nafzger, executive director of 
the CTCR, noted that the Synod had been partners in those dialogues until 
the most recent rounds of talks.

At that point, Hanson raised the issue of a resolution adopted at last 
year's LCMS national convention that affirmed "the late [LCMS] President 
Alvin L. Barry's judgment that we cannot consider them [the ELCA] to be an 
orthodox Lutheran church body.'"

It is "confusing ... for an ecumenical partner to read that the LCMS does 
not consider the ELCA orthodox," Hanson said.

Nafzger said that the resolution is saying that the ELCA and Missouri Synod 
do not have doctrinal agreement.

LCMS Secretary Raymond Hartwig said that the resolution could be seen "as a 
reaching out" to the ELCA.  Dr. Donald McCoid, who chairs the ELCA 
Conference of Bishops, replied, "That is not how it was received."

By the end of the discussion, the participants had agreed on more frequent 
CLC meetings and to develop a proposal for separate discussions of issues 
dividing the two bodies.

In addition, Hanson agreed to discuss with ELCA officials and the ELCA's 
ecumenical partners bringing the Missouri Synod back into the Lutheran 
dialogues with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.

For his part, Kieschnick said he would encourage the Synod's Praesidium to 
"create a dialogue" with the ELCA as it examines the joint work of the two 
church bodies.	Hanson had asked that the ELCA be included in discussions 
of that work.

The 2001 LCMS convention resolved that "current cooperative pastoral 
working arrangements with the ELCA be evaluated by the Praesidium with 
results and recommendations reported to the next synodical 
convention."  Kieschnick said the Praesidium -- he and the Synod's five 
vice presidents -- began working in September on that assignment.

The next CLC meeting is set for April 3 in Chicago.  The committee plans to 
meet next November in Baltimore, where several of their joint agencies have 
their offices.


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