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Commission on Lutheran Cooperation Renews Discussions
News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Tue, 10 Dec 2002 15:59:37 -0600
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
December 10, 2002
COMMISSION ON LUTHERAN COOPERATION RENEWS DISCUSSIONS
ST. LOUIS (ELCA) -- Renewed theological talks and more frequent
meetings of top leadership are in the offing between the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
(LCMS). Members of the Committee on Lutheran Cooperation (CLC) agreed
Nov. 12 they would pursue discussions of issues that divide the two
The CLC has six members from each of the two church bodies,
including the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, and the Rev.
Gerald B. Kieschnick, LCMS president. The committee met at LCMS offices
The CLC agreed once again to meet twice a year. In recent years,
the committee had reduced its original semiannual meeting schedule to
one meeting a year.
Both church bodies have new leadership. Hanson and Kieschnick
each were elected to first terms in office by their respective church
bodies last year.
During a discussion at the Nov. 12 meeting of relationships with
other church bodies, the Rev. Samuel H. Nafzger, executive director,
LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR), said the CTCR
is "concerned" that the Missouri Synod was not part of recent dialogues
between the ELCA and the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches. Nafzger
noted that the Missouri 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 the resolution said that the ELCA and Missouri Synod
do not have doctrinal agreement.
The Rev. Raymond L. Hartwig, LCMS secretary, said the resolution
could be seen "as a reaching out" to the ELCA.
The Rev. Donald J. McCoid, bishop of the ELCA's Southwestern
Pennsylvania Synod and chair of 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 talk with ELCA officials and the
ELCA's ecumenical partners about 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 Missouri
Synod's Praesidium -- he and the Missouri Synod's five vice presidents
-- 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 began working in
September on that assignment.
The next CLC meeting is set for April 3 at the ELCA's offices in
Chicago. The committee plans to meet next November in Baltimore, where
several of the churches' joint agencies have their offices.
* The Rev. David L. Mahsman is director for the News and Information
Services of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, St. Louis.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG
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