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[LCMSNews] Praesidium adopts report
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Fri, 23 Apr 2004 17:18:36 -0500
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April 23, 2004 .................... LCMSNews -- No. 41
LCMS Praesidium adopts report
on cooperative arrangements with ELCA
The Praesidium of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod is
recommending to this year's Synod convention that current LCMS working
relationships with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America be
At the same time, the Praesidium -- the Synod's president and
five vice presidents -- expresses concern over the ELCA's ecumenical
agreements and its current deliberations regarding same-sex unions and
the possibility of ordaining practicing homosexuals.
The Praesidium makes its comments in a report to this year's
triennial Synod convention. The report responds to a 2001 convention
resolution and is included in the Convention Workbook, which will be
mailed next week to convention delegates, rostered church workers and
The 2001 convention asked the Praesidium to evaluate "current
cooperative pastoral working arrangements with the ELCA" and provide a
report and recommendations to the 2003 convention. The resolution that
makes the request notes in its single "whereas" that the ELCA has
entered into "full communion" relationships with Reformed church bodies,
the Episcopal Church and the Moravian Church.
Much of the Praesidium's report focuses on the military
chaplaincy, the area of inter-Lutheran cooperation that it cites as "the
most difficult aspect of our task of evaluation." The two church bodies
have agreed that their respective chaplains will provide Word and
Sacrament ministry to all Lutheran military personnel.
"On the one hand, the Praesidium recognizes and acknowledges the
exceptional pastoral commitment of our military chaplains, often in
extreme and dangerous situations," says the report. "On the other hand,
the Praesidium recognizes a divergence of opinion among the chaplains of
the LCMS concerning the appropriateness and usefulness of continuing the
present working arrangements with the ELCA.
"At the same time, the Praesidium affirms the desirability that
our Lutheran service members receive spiritual care from Lutheran
chaplains whenever possible, and we rejoice in the blessings which such
pastoral care has given our service members in the past," it says.
Although recommending that current arrangements for the military
chaplaincy "be continued at this time," the report says that "the LCMS
has real and significant reason to be concerned about the ability of the
ELCA to proclaim the Christian faith with Lutheran clarity." It cites as
a basis the ELCA's ecumenical agreements and its deliberations over
same-sex unions and ordination of practicing homosexuals.
The Praesidium recommends that it "continue to assess pastoral
working relationships with the ELCA during the next triennium" and
report to the 2007 convention "whether at that time these arrangements
merit continuance or whether developments within the ELCA justify other
Copies of the Praesidium's report were distributed and discussed
when the Committee on Lutheran Cooperation met April 14 in St. Louis.
The committee has six members each from the ELCA and LCMS, including
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson and LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick.
Hanson expressed gratitude for the report's recommendations and
for being among those invited to provide input as the Praesidium
considered the working relationship of the two church bodies. He
expressed concern, however, over wording in the report that refers to
consequences for Lutheran cooperative work "should the mind of the ELCA
prove to be contrary to the mind of the Holy Spirit" regarding issues of
"That kind of language is difficult to absorb," Hanson said.
Kieschnick replied that the Praesidium had "significant conversation
about that statement," indicating that it was not of one mind on that
wording. He said that the report itself also was not adopted
As for what action the convention might take on inter-Lutheran
cooperation, LCMS Secretary Raymond Hartwig told the meeting that
"overtures" -- proposed resolutions -- were received "on both sides of
this issue." He said that the convention Floor Committee on Theology and
Church Relations will have to decide how to respond to those overtures
as it prepares resolutions for convention consideration.
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