LCMS Leaders, Including President Kieschnick, Say that Human Care Cooperation with the ELCA will Remain Mostly Unchanged

Check out this press release from the ELCA yesterday. See if you notice anybody missing from the talks. More on that below.


October  1, 2009

ELCA, LCMS Leaders to Continue Cooperative Ministries, When Possible

        BALTIMORE (ELCA) — Leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) agreed they would do all they can to continue their longtime cooperative ministries, despite decisions made by voting members of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly regarding human sexuality.
        The ELCA is a 4.6-million member church based in Chicago. The 2.4-million member LCMS is based in St. Louis. The ELCA and the LCMS do not have “altar and pulpit fellowship” with each other because of doctrinal disagreements.
        Meeting as the Committee on Lutheran Cooperation (CLC) Sept. 28-29, the leaders spent most of their time discussing the future of their present work together. Meeting with them were leaders of three such ministries: Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Lutheran Services in America, which provides a variety of human services through social ministry organizations, and Lutheran World Relief, an international relief and development agency, all based here.
        At the center of the discussion were ELCA assembly actions taken in August. Assembly voting members adopted a social statement on human sexuality and a series of proposals to change ELCA ministry policies, including a change to make it possible for Lutherans in lifelong, publicly accountable, monogamous same-gender relationships to serve as ELCA associates in ministry, clergy, deaconesses and diaconal ministers.
        The Rev. Gerald B. Kieschnick, LCMS president, said the decisions were incompatible with the Word of God, and do not agree with the consensus of 2,000 years of Christian teaching about what Scripture says regarding human sexuality. He also repeated words from his address to the ELCA assembly in Minneapolis that the actions of the ELCA would “negatively affect the relationships between our two churches,” and that the current division between the LCMS and ELCA “threatens to become a chasm.”
        Setting the stage for the discussion on cooperative ministries was Ralston H. Deffenbaugh, former president, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS). He reviewed the history of Lutherans’ response to global human need and said the capacity of Lutherans to respond is considerable. “The world is crying out to Lutherans to continue this response,” he said.
        The church leaders also met in groups to discuss the ministries. Most agreed that despite differences over human sexuality, the churches should continue working together as much as possible when it can be done without compromise. “I have a great concern for the ongoing ministries in which we do have a joint interest — and there are many of those,” Kieschnick said to the ELCA leaders, including the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop and president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
        Kieschnick shared correspondence he has written to LCMS leaders, advising them that the LCMS president and vice presidents will continue to monitor the relationship with the ELCA. He offered suggestions to LCMS district presidents about how to respond when working with the ELCA in joint ministries when matters arise concerning the ELCA assembly decisions.
        Kieschnick told the ELCA leaders that “we do have a real concern as the LCMS for doing everything we possibly can to deliver ministry” to people in need. “We don’t take this lightly. We believe that working together with other partners can enhance the ministry that’s delivered to the recipients,” he said. Cooperative ministry relationships with the ELCA will certainly be a topic to be discussed at the 2010 LCMS convention in Houston, Kieschnick added.
        Hanson expressed gratitude to Kieschnick for his comments. “What you have said is very clear (and) honest,” the presiding bishop said. He said Kieschnick’s remarks would be “well-received” when Hanson reports to the ELCA Conference of Bishops, meeting Oct. 1-6 in Chicago.
        Others echoed the comments of the two church leaders. The mission of the cooperative ministries is bigger than both church bodies, said the Rev. M. Wyvetta Bullock, ELCA executive for administration. “We’ve made a commitment to serve ‘the least of these’ and a commitment to work with people at the margins. Now is not the time to walk away from the mission we’ve been given,” she said.
        The Rev. Raymond L. Hartwig, LCMS secretary, said it may be difficult to work together in some cases, “but it doesn’t mean the other 90 percent are not possible.” He asked leaders of cooperative ministries here to help while the churches “sort this out.”
        “We believe, teach and confess some things that bind us together such as our common understanding of Baptism,” said the Rev. Samuel Nafzger, director of church relations and assistant to the president. He expressed hope that the churches could pledge to each other “to do, in good conscience, what we can do with integrity and in faithfulness to our respective doctrinal positions.”
        The leaders also reported key information about their denominations:
        + Hanson said ELCA leaders continue to have conversations with global and ecumenical partner churches regarding the assembly’s actions on human sexuality.
        + The LWF Council will meet this month in Geneva, and it will elect a new general secretary, Hanson said. The current general secretary, the Rev. Ishmael Noko, plans to leave office next year.
        + The International Lutheran Council (ILC), which met in August in Seoul, South Korea, unanimously adopted a statement on same-gender relationships and the church, Nafzger said. It said Scriptures testify “that the lifelong committed union of one man and one woman is the place the Lord intends for human sexuality to be lived out,” and it said the ILC believes the practice of homosexuality violates the will of God. He also reported that the Rev. David Mahsman has been asked by the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg (ILSW), a joint project of the LCMS and its partner church in Germany, the Selbständige Evangelish-Lutherische Kirche, to serve as its managing director. The ILSW will seek to work together with other Christians in Wittenberg, including the ELCA Wittenberg Center, whenever possible,” Nafzger said.
        + Both churches reported income declines for 2009 and struggles to meet budget goals, mostly due to current economic conditions in the United States.
        Attending for the ELCA were Bullock and Hanson, plus David D. Swartling, secretary; the Rev. Donald McCoid, executive, Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations; Carlos Peña, vice president; and the Rev. E. Roy Riley, bishop, New Jersey Synod.
        Attending on behalf of the LCMS were Hartwig, Kieschnick, Nafzger, plus the Rev. William R. Diekelman, first vice president; the Rev. Joel Lehenbauer, executive director, Commission on Theology and Church Relations; and Ronald Schulz, chief administrative officer.
        Also present were Deffenbaugh; Anne Wilson, LIRS executive vice president; the Rev. John Nunes, president, Lutheran World Relief; and Jill Schumann, president and chief executive officer, Lutheran Services in America.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or
[email protected]
ELCA News Blog:


Where is Matt Harrison in all of this?   We have a question into the LCMS about this.

Pastor Rossow

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.


LCMS Leaders, Including President Kieschnick, Say that Human Care Cooperation with the ELCA will Remain Mostly Unchanged — 17 Comments

  1. What is cooperative ministries anyhow???? I know of only one that the scriptures bring forth; Word and Sacrament. Anything outside of this, is contained in the second table of the Law. What really shocks me is the fact that CORE Lutherans that met in Fishers Indiana, have more guts than the LCMS leadership by withholding their money and possibly severing all ties in the future. Does the ELCA have to promote Baal worship next for the LCMS to break all ties? Being an ex-ELCA member, this whole thing absolutely mystifies me beyond believe. Lord have mercy.


  2. Does this mean that if I give $100.00 to the LCMS for these ministries, after they take their $90.00 cut for fundraising, $10.00 may be handed to my neighbor in need by a gay Lutheran pastor from the ELCA? I think I’ll pass.

  3. In this article, Samuel Nafzger said, “We believe, teach and confess some things that bind us together such as our common understanding of Baptism,”. WRONG! Baptism is a slaying of the old man, and the rising of the new man unto newness of life!
    But why does he make such an heretical, queer statement? Because of his faulty understanding that Justification is the chief article of the Faith. NO IT IS NOT! The Holy Incarnation of Christ Jesus is the chief article of the Faith! God became a man! Thus mankind is redeemed unto a new godly life! What we do with our hands, feet, mouth, etc. matters!
    The Gospel and its sacrament of Baptism are not just about forgiveness. Moreover (and here is where the rubber hits the road) it is not chiefly about forgiveness. Rather, the Good news is that God became man; we are saved, set apart unto good works. Baptism is not just a forensic delaration of righteousness- history teaches those who have ears to hear that this leads to antinomianism. The washing with water and the word actually transforms us from darkness to light, meaning for example from homosexuality to heterosexuality, from lying to speaking the truth in love. If we are tempted to go back to Egypt, we are to resist vice, passion, lust and the like; this is who we WERE, not who we ARE.
    Reunite baptism with chrismation and communion as one indisoluable rite, and you will restore your original catholic and orthodox theological tradition of the first millenium. Fall short of this, and you are chasing your own tail.
    Lord have mercy on us all who are called by the name of the Annointed One, Christ the Lord.

  4. Father Hackney,

    You make a interesting point about the regenerative powers of baptsim.

    I think an equal problem is that the ELCA has congregations and institutions that are doing baptisms in the name of the “Creator, Redeeming Agent, and the Renewing Power” and other such nonsense.

    So I agree with you in criticizing Nafzger’s point that we share baptism with the ELCA but for different reasons.


  5. In this article, Samuel Nafzger said, “We believe, teach and confess some things that bind us together such as our common understanding of Baptism.”

    This struck me as an odd phrase when I read it. I might have expected something more fullsome, “the Sacraments” or “Word and Sacrament”, but then I realized that saying either of those things would be false. The ELCA communion fellowship agreements mean that we don’t have a common understanding of the Lord’s Supper even apart from the practice of closed communion. As for the Word, the recent decisions in Minneapolis are just the latest evidence that we don’t share a common view of Scripture and its authority.

    So, if the substitution of Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier for the divine name hasn’t been officially adopted by the ELCA as an acceptable formula for Baptism, a common understanding of Baptism might be about the only significant area of formal agreement Dr. Nafzger could come up with.

    It’s hard to see how we can remain faithful to our doctrinal positions and not have current division between the ELCA and LCMS become an unbridgable chasm.

  6. Father Hackney said [The Holy Incarnation of Christ Jesus is the chief article of the Faith!]

    Last time I heard, the chief article of the Faith was justification by grace through faith.


  7. This is a joke – we need to stop all joint activity with the ELCA. External or not – just because we “could” cooperate in externals does not mean we should. First, it is not necessary – there are enough other agencies that we are not dependant upon the ELCA for logistical issues. Second, what kind of witness are we giving to the world? We’re saying, “We think that the ELCA is totally wrong doctrinally, but we don’t really care enough to separate ourselves from them. It’s not really that bid of a deal. It’s just the Word of God that they are messing around with; it’s not like it matters.”

    Whatever happened to making sure you do not cause your brother to stumble when you exercise your Christian freedom?

    Many of us left the ELCA for a reason.

  8. Samuel Nafzger said, “We believe, teach and confess some things that bind us together such as our common understanding of Baptism.”

    Yes, but once we are baptized what or Who are we being fed on an ongoing basis by our pastors?

  9. Pastor Rossow,

    Indeed, your point is equally valid. Perhaps those who are attempting to be true to the regula fidei need to think twice about accepting converts by either confirmation or chrismation. For many of them are unsure of the formula in which they were baptised- even when the baptismal document is trinitarian. I am convinced that many have already had abberant baptismal words spoken over them, but their pastor/priest simply used the “old fashioed” certificate anyways. Better to be certain on this than to harbor doubt than may surface in the future.

  10. Pr. Rossow,

    Wasn’t it Teddy Roosevelt who said, “Speak loudly and carry a limp noodle; you will go far”? :\ Hmm… that doesn’t sound quite right… sounds more like our current synod President.

  11. The statement by LCMS World Relief and Human Care Executive Pastoral Assistant, Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver,

    “We do not believe the status quo can be maintained in light of the ELCA’s anti-scriptural and ungodly acceptance of practicing homosexual clergy”

    is definitely a change in direction from Rev. Harrison’s previous statements in “Does the LCMS Cooperate with Other Christians?”:

    “Doctrine (the teachings of the Bible) matters in the LCMS. But one of those doctrines is what has for millennia been called in the church ‘cooperation in externals.’ This means that Lutheran churches may in fact cooperate with other persons, entities, institutions and churches in matters that do not require church fellowship (i.e. complete agreement in doctrine and practice – which for Lutherans is most often defined by complete agreement on the doctrinal content of the Book of Concord) and do not compromise our confession of Christ and His Gospel.

    “Thus, while LCMS churches do not have joint worship with others, we can and do participate locally and nationally in a diverse array of activities, mostly of humanitarian nature.

    “What are these humanitarian activities? The range is very broad, but let me concentrate on just one. The LCMS is a partner with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Lutheran World Relief (LWR), based in Baltimore, Md….

    “Does the LCMS cooperate with other Christian churches? Absolutely! LWR is just one example. We carry out this cooperation without sacrifice to our strong conservative Lutheran identity, yet with conviction clothed in charity.”

  12. Nafzger is WRONG! We do not have agreement on the sacraments, even baptism with the ELCA, for they embrace subjective truth that allows a Reformed clergy to administer Baptism (& Lord’s Supper) in ELCA worship. The ELCA even formally agrees in their documents that there are no substantial differences with their view and the Reformed view!

    This article is key election issue for next summer, that Kieschnick won’t be able to get away from. This should move many Kieschnick supporters over to Harrison.

  13. “We carry out this cooperation without sacrifice to our strong conservative Lutheran identity …”

    I am a Harrison supporter and believe he is the best option for President of the Synod, but that statement is just wrong. First of all our identity is not conservative or traditional – it is (or should be) confessional. Second, when to church bodies that both use the name Lutheran coordinate their efforts; it is simply absurd to believe that confusion does not ensue. The non-Lutheran public does know the difference between ELCA and LCMS. Many of them don’t even know there is an ELCA and an LCMS, they just think there are Lutherans. It is well past time to mark and avoid.

  14. It’s more than “externals”. The name of Jesus Christ is being mockingly invoked in this partnership. It needs to be stopped!

    From the Lutheran World Relief website:



    Empowered by God’s unconditional love in Jesus Christ, we envision a world in which each person, every community, and all generations live in justice, dignity, and peace.


    Affirming God’s love for all people, we work with Lutherans and partners around the world to end poverty, injustice, and human suffering.


    With people in the U.S., we work for justice for those we serve.

    U.S. Lutherans, freed and empowered by God’s grace in Jesus Christ and called to respond to God’s love for all people and creation, put faith into action through the mission of Lutheran World Relief. LWR values the contribution of Lutheran theology to our understanding of faith active in love and cherishes our Lutheran heritage and identity. LWR acts on behalf of U.S. Lutherans, the ELCA, and the LCMS as a common expression of our faith through international relief and development.

  15. “LWR acts on behalf of U.S. Lutherans, the ELCA, and the LCMS as a common expression of our faith through international relief and development.”

    This is the key, we don’t have a common faith. Thus, we cannot have a common expression of our faith.

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