It has been suggested that those in the MNS district were pretty dumb to oppose the membership in the synod of a congregation born of an Ablaze covenant church and promoted by both district and synodical establishments. Maybe we should have let it go knowing that the other side would bring out its big guns and blow us to smithereens. A better strategy, perhaps, would have been to protest things more charmingly, be willing to lose, work more closely with president Seitz, the DP, possibly wait a few years and get someone more like-minded into the office of president. Work with that guy and move the church more gradually.
I actually believe this strategy probably is more effective and maybe even more churchly. I truly do wish that the DPs were regarding as bishops so that they would lead with word and theology rather than convention orchestration. And I believe that it is unwise to oppose the DP who is typically cherished in any given district. Ours certainly is.
But having said that let me respond and please forgive any defensiveness. Our Board of Directors was asked to welcome into membership a congregation which:
- Practiced open communion.
- Refused to use the name Lutheran despite a 1995 synodical resolution which requires it.
- Refused to use any books which would identify the congregation as Lutheran such as any hymnal or catechism.
- Confessed the faith with a statement that contained no positive references to Baptism or Holy Communion. Look here.
We postponed the decision in order to give the DP a chance to address the concerns about closed communion.
The district president, who, to his credit, holds to the practice of closed communion, had conversations with the pastor of the Alley and convinced him to exercise greater caution in administering the Lord’s Supper. He responded favorably to the issue of closed communion with a caveat.
In his report back to the Board the DP said that the Alley was holding its service of the Sacrament separate from the service of the word with the announcement that people should talk to the pastor before they commune for the first time. This satisfied the board and I personally thought that the solution on the part of the Alley was very smart. That will be the topic of a future blog. Unfortunately the DP also reported to the Board that the sacrament was being celebrated four times a year. This alarmed us even more given not only the Bible and the confessions but another 1995 synodical resolution which says, “Our Synod’s 1983 CTCR [Commission on Theology and Church Relations] document on the Lord’s Supper (p. 28) and our Synod’s 1986 translation of Luther’s Catechism both remind us that the Scriptures place the Lord’s Supper at the center of worship (Acts 2:42; 20:7; I Cor. 11:20, 33), and not as an appendage or an occasional extra.”
Various members of the board were frustrated that the question of open communion was resolved by dramatically decreasing the frequency of the sacrament. That also will be the topic of another blog. Later we discovered that the sacrament was celebrated 12 times a year with four of these celebrations being separate meals. You can judge if communion monthly is in the spirit of the 1995 resolution.
There remained the thorny issue of the name Lutheran.
But that can wait until my next blog.