From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Assembly Hears from LCMS President

Date Thu, 14 Aug 2003 09:43:22 -0500


August 13, 2003

ELCA Assembly Hears from LCMS President

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- The Rev. Gerald B. Kieschnick, president
of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, told the 2003 Churchwide
Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
today that scheduled theological discussions will be important
for improving relationships between the two church bodies.
     The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of
the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 11-17 at the Midwest Airlines
Center. There are about 2,100 people participating, including
1,031 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is
"Making Christ Known: For the Healing of the World."
     The two largest U.S. Lutheran church bodies -- the ELCA has
5 million members, the LCMS about 2.5 million -- have agreed to
begin in November new discussions of theological issues that have
divided them.  It has been several years since the two bodies
held specifically doctrinal discussions.  Both Kieschnick and the
Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA, have taken
office since those earlier talks were held.
     Bringing greetings to the ELCA assembly, Kieschnick said the
talks "are important for maintaining hope for healing wounded
relationships, for strengthening tenuous associations, for
addressing honestly and openly the doctrinal disagreements that
exist between our two churches, and for nurturing the cooperative
work that we do together."  Although the two church bodies are
not in full communion with each other, they do cooperate in
various human-care endeavors throughout the United States and
     "It is only in Christ and his Word that we can find healing
for those issues that divide us, as he is the one who has the
power to strengthen relationships between us," Kieschnick said.
     Kieschnick encouraged the ELCA assembly in its pursuit of an
evangelism strategy for the church body.  A proposed strategy on
evangelism was adopted by the assembly Aug. 13.
     "I encourage your pursuit of this all-important cause, in
accord with God's holy and perfect will, and pray that you will
'be a dynamic church of disciples who give joyful witness to
Jesus as Savior and Lord,'" Kieschnick said, quoting from the
proposed strategy.  He added that his own church body is
beginning new initiatives intended also to make Christ known more
     Such efforts are not without their challenges, Kieschnick
said.  "Foremost among the challenges to the Church's witness to
the world is remaining faithful to Holy Scripture as we study and
respond to some of the great moral issues of the day," he said.
Among those, he cited specifically the decision of the Episcopal
Church earlier this month to approve the election of the Rev.
Gene Robinson, who is openly homosexual, to be bishop of New
     "While it is clear from Gods Word that his forgiving love in
Jesus Christ is constant for all people, this action nevertheless
constitutes a momentous break from the Christian Churchs 2,000-
year-long understanding of what Holy Scriptures teach about
homosexual behavior as contrary to God's will and the biblical
qualifications for holding the pastoral office," Kieschnick said.
He said that the Episcopal Church's action will provoke
controversy throughout the Anglican Communion and "all of
     He referred also to the ELCA's current study that may lead
to recommendations to the 2005 Churchwide Assembly to develop a
policy on blessing same-gender relationships and whether or not
people in such relationships should be pastors or lay ministers
of the church.
     "I pray that your study and deliberation of this matter will
be made in the light of the biblical understanding of human
sexuality and the qualifications for the pastoral office,"
Kieschnick said.  "It is my fervent prayer that God the Holy
Spirit will guide you, our brothers and sisters in Christ, as you
wrestle with this matter in the months and years to come."
-- -- --
Information about the ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at
http://www.elca/org/assembly/03 on the Web.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

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