I had the privilege to attend the second annual ACELC Conference this past week in Lincoln, NE at Good Shepherd Lutheran.
The list of presenters was a very good one for this conference. It included a District President, a couple seminary professors and other notable theologians of our Synod. The papers for the conference were excellently presented. Please consider the papers below, especially the one by Rev. James Gier on “exceptions” in pastoral care involving the Lord’s Supper (not listed yet, but hopefully coming soon).
The papers for the conference are located here.
Now, here are some of my thoughts on the conference. The people were friendly and very welcoming to all who were there. They realize that many are interested in their cause, but many cannot quite “pull the trigger” to join their organization officially. There is a genuine charity towards others that can be found among these men of God.
I was able to secure a time to sit down with Rev. Clint Poppe, the chairman of their Board and discuss a few things. I will be posting that interview later this week hopefully (including the answers to some common objections to the ACELC). What I can say is that this group is very much interested in helping the LCMS regain her confession and working to resolve those issues which divide our Synod. They also believe that this should involve eventual discipline for those who will not listen to the Scriptures and continue to “walk separate” from the rest of the Synod (such calls for discipline are actually godly love for the neighbor). They understand that this is a long road for the LCMS, and they are fully committed to staying in the mix.
The presentations were all focused on sound teaching and pastoral practice. It wasn’t “political” at all in its substance, but instead offered some wonderful works on the Lord’s Supper and our fellowship at the Table of our Lord. Most of the works were excellently written from the perspective of providing pastoral care for people of all denominations. Some people have complained about the ACELC being too divisive or political, but from their presentations I did not see that. I saw men of God willing to speak the truth out of love, willing and desiring to restore our confession in a world which desperately needs it to be there on paper and in actions.
I had the chance to attend their banquet on the first night, which was a good time – Rev. Bolland provided a wonderful overview of our Lutheran Heritage and the patterns of decline and compromise of confession among various Lutherans. There was also live entertainment, as a couple of the ACELC folks played guitars with popular tunes to humorous lyrics.
The entire conference was very family friendly. Many of the volunteers who helped at the conference offered assistance and help to my family and others.
The conference also involved some “Table Talk” sessions which were like little workshops which allowed for participants to discuss certain topics at their table and then bring them back to the larger group. This was very helpful to understanding clergy and laity issues with the faithful practice of Table Fellowship in the LCMS.
The conference attendees reflected an excellent balance of men/women; old/young; and clergy/laity. It was a broad gathering.
The folks at the ACELC have done a great service for the confession of the Lutheran Faith. It is a worthwhile organization that deserves greater interest and support for the work that they have set out to do. There are many ways of showing support, consider joining as an Associate Member or have your congregation consider joining their efforts.
The ACELC website is here.
And no, the ACELC is not a big bunch of divisive meanies.