Further reflection on The Alley, or What’s in a name? by Klemet Preus

The Board of directors of a district has an ethical obligation to apply the will of the synod in its place. This obligation applies also to the DP and to the convention. Here is the 1995 resolution on the name Lutheran. Forget about your own opinion. Just read the resolution and ask how this should be applied.

 

To Use the Name Lutheran

RESOLUTION 3-13A

 

Overtures 3‑120130 (CW, pp. .187‑91)

 

Whereas, We have been called Lutheran since the formation of our Synod (and since Reformation times) and are thankful for our doctrinal background and heritage; and

 

Whereas, The name Lutheran clearly identifies what the member congregations and The Lutheran Church ¾Missouri Synod believe, teach and confess; and

 

Whereas, Basic Christian honesty and integrity require that no deception of any sort be used in declaring the truth of the Gospel before all the world; as St. Paul declares: “Rather we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:2); therefore be it

 

Resolved, That all congregations and mission stations in our Synod boldly profess is their official title and/or name that they are “Lutheran”; and be it further

 

Resolved, That all congregations and mission stations of our Synod state in their materials (bulletins, newsletters, etc.) that they belong to The Lutheran Church ¾Missouri Synod; and be it finally

 

Resolved, That all LCMS congregations gladly proclaim our great doctrinal heritage to a world that needs the clear proclamation of the truth.

 

Action: Adopted (11).

 

(A request to restore words relating to “encouragement” to congregations to use the name Lutheran was not received. An immediate request for reconsideration following adoption was not accepted because there had been no intervening business. A later request for reconsideration was also declined. It would have stated at the end of the first resolve, except in special circumstances with the approval of the District President. The reason for the request was possible conflict with laws in foreign countries.)

   

Initially, as the BOD of MNS discussed the application of the Alley for membership in the synod we observed that the word Lutheran was not in its name. Subsequently we were informed that the legal name of the Alley was “The Alley Lutheran Church.” That was the name on the congregation’s constitution and its bylaws which were approved by the board. But the board was uncomfortable with the Alley because the name Lutheran did not appear on its sign, on its letter head, on its website or in its bulletins. This did not strike the board as compliance with the clear 1995 resolution of the synod. When speaking to the MNS district the Alley called itself Lutheran but in speaking to the world the label was dropped.

 

Obviously the congregation through its pastor and various lay representatives loudly averred their adherence to Lutheran doctrine and such a claim was accepted with joy. But the 1995 resolution requires more than the assurance that a church claims to teach Lutheran doctrine. It required the use of the name Lutheran. This The Alley does not intend to do. So we pretty much had to oppose the application of the Alley.

 

The impassioned speech made by its pastor on the stage of the convention made certain that the Alley intended to persist in its refusal to use the name Lutheran.          

 

The 1995 resolution expressly refused to allow “exceptions in special circumstances with approval of the district president.” Yet any fair observer would have to say that the MNS district in convention allowed an exception because they perceived that the Alley was under special circumstances and the district president approved.

 

So we violated a resolution of the synod. But should we have made an issue of it?

 

 

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

Further reflection on The Alley, or What’s in a name? by Klemet Preus — 12 Comments

  1. If it were just the name that could be faulted, which had been attached to a confessional Lutheran church with solid liturgical services and orthodox preaching and teaching, then making an issue of a 14-year-old resolution might be perceived as perhaps “legalistic.”

    But where there is a hint of stench, there is usually garbage, and that is what the issue should be about. Of course this means having visitors attend to the alley regularly and making formal reports of their findings. As it is a public service, the reports should be public as well; if done on the internet, a URL link could be provided to the DP so he can read them as part of his supervisory job.

    And if the alley clearly were to be seen as a confessional Lutheran church with solid liturgical services and orthodox preaching and teaching, that says “Lutheran” louder than any neon-lit church sign.

  2. Another issue is accountability in synod. In this specific example, where is the accountability for this violation? Of course, we all know that we are accountable for our actionson judgement day and many things will be made apparent.

  3. Given that the CCM has recently ruled that a district may not act contrary to a synodical resolution, wouldn’t this action by the Minnesota South district to approve The Alley be “null and void”, as the CCM said was the action of the district that voted not to participate in “Ablaze!”?

  4. “So we violated a resolution of the synod. But should we have made an issue of it?”

    Yes. If there is a proper procedure in place for amending resolutions, or changing them, then that process should have been exhausted prior to the Alley being admitted into the LC-MS. If the resolution 3-13A could not be changed or stricken, then the Alley would either have to adopt it as their own, or would not be admitted into the synod. Now that resolution 3-13A has been effectively tossed into the trash can, one wants to ask what other resolutions will be given the same treatment? When an organization shows such disregard for their own processes and procedures, how can they be trusted? Part of this is a credibility issue and the MNS district has lost some of it by allowing the Alley to skirt by the rules.

  5. > And if the alley clearly were to be seen as a confessional Lutheran church with solid liturgical services and orthodox preaching and teaching, that says “Lutheran” louder than any neon-lit church sign. <

    Not exactly. There remains the minor matter of our public confession in the public square. It ought to and needs to square with our public confession in the privacy of our worship. Anybody can confess the Lutheran faith in the midst of Lutherans. But is not our *mission* to confess the Lutheran faith to the world because it is the confession of Christ alone for salvation in every article of faith?

    I would submit that faithful Lutherans of Missouri ought band together in saying The Alley has broken fellowship with us in its obvious disdain for the name Lutheran in its public witness. True fellowship does not give the world a different face than it gives a brother.

  6. There was a time when our grandfathers believed in all the Book of Concord taught as a true exposition of Holy Scripture.

    There was a time when our grandfathers taught God’s Word alone with a distinct Lutheran understanding of Sola Scriptura.

    There was a time when our grandfathers boldly confessed Lutheranism to the world so they may understand and come to the true knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ.

    Now, we sanction “churches” which hide the Lutheran name, flaunt the will of the Synod in the Sacraments and Worship and do their best to hide from the truth. Perhaps the Alley should adopt a “fig leaf” as their symbol in the interests of truth in advertising.

  7. Having been to the alley’s website I went to the “about” section and it clearly says it is affiliated with the LCMS, an Independent Mission of Woodbury Lutheran etc.

  8. I find it curious that no explanation is shared here as to the reason why “The Alley” and its pastor do not believe the rules apply to them nor do they want them to.

    AND YET THEY REQUEST MEMBERSHIP IN THE SYNOD! Why?

    I am sure were I aware of their reason(s), it would probably only be more infuriating.

    How can we of “our grandfathers’ LCMS” be in fellowship with a congregation in hiding?

    Carl in #1, I would suggest there is more than a “hint” here.

    Right is right, wrong is wrong. Call it like it is Missouri.

  9. #8, Drew, the website says that now. Apparently any Lutheran connection was a lot harder to find before questions were raised about it, but perhaps someone with more knowledge of the situation will clarify that.

  10. > Having been to the alley’s website I went to the “about” section and it clearly says it is affiliated with the LCMS, an Independent Mission of Woodbury Lutheran etc. <

    Part of etc. being the Willowcreek Association.

  11. I don’t know about where your connection is, but I strive for connection with Christ every moment, every day.

    I’m going to spend eternity with my Savior and I doubt that any one of us is going to be able to take any man-made buildings or institutions with us when we go to heaven.

    I’m focusing on the eternal, not the temporal. It seems like the wise investment when the difference between our time on earth and our time in heaven is considered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.