From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Council Hears Hope for ELCA-LCMS Shared Ministries

Date Tue, 20 Apr 2004 14:41:53 -0500


April 20, 2004

ELCA Council Hears Hope for ELCA-LCMS Shared Ministries

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- It appears "pastoral working
relationships" through shared ministries of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church-
Missouri Synod (LCMS) will continue, the Rev. Lowell G. Almen,
ELCA Secretary, reported to the ELCA Church Council.
     The Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and
serves as the legislative authority of the church between
churchwide assemblies.	The council met here April 17-18.
Assemblies are held every other year; the next is Aug. 8-14,
2005, in Orlando, Fla.
     In July 2001 the LCMS convention directed that "cooperative
pastoral working arrangements" with the ELCA be evaluated by the
LCMS president and the denomination's five vice presidents, a
group known as the Praesidium.	Results and recommendations from
that evaluation are to be presented to the next LCMS convention,
which meets in July.
     A draft of the LCMS Praesidium's recommendation to the 2004
convention "affirms continued cooperation in chaplaincy," Almen
     "That's good news," he said in his written report.  "Now we
have to await the decision of the convention."
     Currently the ELCA pastors work together with LCMS pastors
in a variety of chaplaincy ministries such as in hospitals,
social service agencies and the military.
     Last December the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding
bishop, met with the Praesidium to express his desire that the
cooperative ministries continue, Almen reported.  Almen himself
met with Lutheran military chaplains in January to express the
same desire, and the subject has been discussed at formal ELCA-
LCMS conversations, he said.
     "If those [cooperative arrangements] end, very directly
affected would be our military chaplains," Almen told the
     "We need both church bodies to continue working together in
pastoral care where that is possible," he continued, adding that
Lutheran chaplains are needed "for the sake of our sons and
daughters in the military."
     He noted that recently announced extensions of military
service in Iraq and Afghanistan for reserve chaplains have had a
direct impact on congregations, which now must do without the
services of their called pastor for a longer time.  There is also
a need for "pastoral care and encouragement" for spouses and
children of military personnel who have been called abroad.
     He reminded the council that pastors have ministered to
families whose loved ones have been killed or injured in war.
For example, Almen said his own congregation was to conduct a
funeral service for a member, a U.S. soldier who was killed in
Iraq, while the council was meeting.
     "That decision [at the LCMS convention] involves the care of
people, some of whom face the prospect of bleeding and dying," he
said. "I don't want them to face that alone."
     On another subject, Almen confirmed that Lutheran
Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) is now recognized by
the ELCA as another Lutheran church body, he said in response to
a question from a council member.  Some ELCA congregations have
left the church for LCMC or have declared themselves to be
members of both the ELCA and LCMC.
     Almen said LCMC is a church body because, among other
things, it has declared a set of confessions and maintains a
clergy roster.	In his report, Almen listed LCMC among 23 other
Lutheran church bodies that serve members in the United States.
     Further, he said that "the ELCA does not have provision for
dual church membership" in its constitution.

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