General Pastoral Conference of the Northern Illinois District Passes Watered Down Motion on Cooperation with the ELCA

Brother of John the Steadfast Pastor Ben Ball of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Brookfield, Illinois passed this on to us this morning. It is a motion to limit cooperation  with the ELCA in matters that involve word and sacrament.   The original motion called for the cessation of all cooperation with the ELCA, a position that the Brothers would agree with, but during debate the motion was watered down to just include cooperation that involves word and sacrament ministry. The watered down motion does bring something important to the table.  The LCMS in convention (2001) affirmed  that the  ELCA is a   heterodox  church but did so by quoting an assertion of  former LCMS president  Dr. Alvin  Barry.   This motion, though watered down, would at least have the synod in convention itself identifying the ELCA as heterodox and not just affirming something its president asserted. Be sure to let us know what you think in the  comment section that follows.

Resolution Passed by the 2010 General Pastoral Conference of the Northern Illinois District of the LCMS

To Declare the ELCA a Heterodox Church and End all Joint Work With the ELCA


Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.   You will know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?   Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:15-17) and


The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) at its 2009 Churchwide Assembly passed resolutions on Ministry Policies stating that “The ELCA commit[s] itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships… the ELCA commit itself to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church”, and eliminated the prohibition of rostered service by members in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships; and


Homosexual acts are sinful, contrary to God’s will and design and an abomination before the true and living Lord God; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, (Leviticus 18:22, Matthew 19:4-6, Romans 1:18-32); and


The ELCA does not confess the truth of God’s Word, but as a church body is in rejection of it, let it be


That The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) confess the truth of God’s Word concerning homosexual acts that they are sinful, contrary to God’s will and design and an abomination before the true and living Lord God; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, (Leviticus 18:22, Matthew 19:4-6, Romans 1:18-32); and be it further


That the LCMS declare that the ELCA is a heterodox church; and be it further


That for the sake of faithfulness to the true God and His Holy Word (Romans 16:17) and for the sake of its own public testimony, The LCMS and its RSOs prayerfully examine their joint work with the ELCA and, where that work involves joint ministry in Word and Sacrament, bring an end to their working relationship with the ELCA; and be it further


That the LCMS pray in convention for the repentance and faith of the false teachers of the ELCA, for those who are bound in sexual sin within the ELCA and all church bodies including our own, for those who are faithfully confessing against false teaching regarding sexuality within the ELCA and for our own humble faithfulness to God’s Word; and be it finally


That the Northern Illinois District General Pastoral Conference submit this overture to the 2010 LCMS convention.

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.


General Pastoral Conference of the Northern Illinois District Passes Watered Down Motion on Cooperation with the ELCA — 30 Comments

  1. My question for this article would be:

    What are President Kieschnick’s thoughts, directly quoted, on ceasing all joint participation?

    What are Pastor Harrison’s thoughts, directly quoted, on ceasing all joint participation?

    Those directly quoted, on record answers, will speak volumes. And what is stated by this, will indirectly speak, in July.

  2. I will make two quick comments as one who attended the NID Pastoral Convention. The headline of this article is a little misleading as it says, “Northern Illinois District passes…”. It correctly states in the body of the article that this was passed by the General Pastoral Conference of the Northern Illinois District, not the District in convention.

    Secondly, the actual title of the resolution is now also misleading. When the Conference amended the actual resolution, they failed to amend the title, which should have been done. The title indicates what the original resolution asked, namely to end ALL joint work with the ELCA. The resolution was then amended to ask that all “joint ministry in Word and Sacrament” with the ELCA be brought to an end (which I guess shouldn’t really be happening anyway). The original title was left “as is” and does not reflect this change in the actual resolution.

  3. As a WELS pastor, I applaud the Brothers’ support of the original motion that would have ended all cooperation with the ELCA. In my mind, this remains the main issue that keeps WELS and LCMS divided. I agree that the final motion waters down the necessary harshness of the law that is called for, and fails to sufficiently “avoid” the false teachers. Why would a church body that claims to be orthodox knowingly and willingly work together in any way with a church body that is acknowledged to be heterodox? Doesn’t make sense.

  4. Thanks for the clarification Pr. Anderson. One thing of note regarding Pr. Rossow’s introduction. The LCMS has never declared the ELCA heterodox. What it did do was at the 2001 convention is as follows.

    WHEREAS, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    (ELCA) is in altar and pulpit fellowship (“full Communion”) with Reformed church bodies, the Episcopal Church, and the Moravian Church; therefore be it
    RESOLVED, That the 2001 synodical convention affirm the late President Alvin L. Barry’s judgment that “we cannot consider them [the ELCA] to be an orthodox Lutheran church body” (President’s Report, CW, p. 7);

    There were some more resolves for the praesidium to report to 2004 and the reporting and studying goes on.

    What we did was affirm the late President Barry’s judgment. We did not declare them heterodox, nor did we call them to repentance.

    Also, the “watering down” is exactly as Pr. Anderson reports above. There were concerns suggested by brothers in the district regarding RSO involved in Human Care with the ELCA as well as corporate synod. One that need to be answered by those in positions of authority to do so. This is where Harrison’s opinion would be of great value since it is his ballpark. As well as that of the sitting synodical president.

    So what we did was affirm President Alvin L. Barry’s judgment. We did not make a declaration that they are heterodox. I’d make that clear, that the statement about their heterodoxy is good and necessary.

  5. Please forgive numerous typos etc. in the comment above. Steadfast geeks need to put a edit comment function on here.

    Anyway, as I wrote above, the NID general pastoral conference did a good thing by this, that an actual declaration of the ELCA’s heterdoxy, which is evident, but has never been officially stated, and a call to repentance is good. However, it should also be accompanied by proper action by the LCMS and its organizations. We shouldn’t need too much prayerful consideration for that.

  6. Pastor Ball, Pastor Anderson, and other NID pastors,

    Thanks for this important overture. Somebody will need to attend the Open Hearing of the Floor Committee that receives the overture, so that the “guts” are not disemboweled by the committee. It would help the floor comittee if more than one person spoke to these issues, and explained why certain wording is important, as you have noted above.

    Speaking of wording, although the ELCA can claim that homosexual acts and relationships are “monogamous,” no self-respecting biologist or medical scientist would agree. Those sorts of relationships are called “agamic.” They are characterized by the lack of sexual reproduction. Perhaps it might be helpful to the cause if the LCMS response to the ELCA position did not use the term “monogamous,” since that term gives more respect than warranted to behavior that is contrary to nature.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  7. Thanks for the kind words Pr. Noland. It should be said that the NID East Region Pastoral conference passed a similar resolution, but retained the guts of the matter – calling for the end of any and all joint work with the ELCA.

    I’m not a delegate, but I know many who are, and hopefully they will be able to speak to committee #3 on this matter.

  8. It would have been great if this resolution focused on more than homosexuality. That is just the latest symptom of the long held heretical views of the ELCA. Focusing just on this issue gives the false impression that this is all that separates us. This cessation of joint activities with the ELCA is long over due and was due long before their recent statement on homosexuality. By focusing on homosexuality we lose a great opportunity to list out all that separates us from the ELCA. If there is any hope that this will call even some members of the ELCA to repentance then they need to repent of all their heresies – not just this one.

  9. Ben,

    I’m missing something. How does

    “RESOLVED, That the 2001 synodical convention affirm the late President Alvin L. Barry’s judgment that “we cannot consider them [the ELCA] to be an orthodox Lutheran church body” (President’s Report, CW, p. 7)”

    not constitute the Synodical Convention finding the ELCA to be a heterodox Lutheran church body? IOW, by affirming President Barry’s judgment did not the Convention make it its judgment?


    Don Kirchner

  10. Rev. BT Ball:

    I am an elder in the WELS. I agree with your comments.

    I long to see the day when we can be in fellowship with the great folks at Issues, etc. and all of the fine confessional Lutherans on this great website.

    I can dream, can’t I?

  11. I do not have the paperwork in front of me for the exact wording, but the Fall CID Pastors Conference passed a resolution requesting that President Kieschnick not invite the ELCA bishop to address the convention because of their public heterodoxy. Perhaps some of the other pastors from CID have that resolution handy to post the particulars.

  12. @Don Kirchner #12

    You are correct–the resolution is clear–I was there: we affirmed Pres. Barry’s judgment that “the ELCA is no longer orthodox.” There was spirited debate, and a reading the account of the debate on that particular resolution, shows that President Kuhn graciously granted then Pres. Elect Kieschnick two minutes to address the convention and then Kuhn suspended the standing rules for five minutes so that GK could offer his own “watering down amendment”, which failed. He was very much against the resolution, and expressed concern that we might offend the ELCA. When I returned from the convention, an LCMS acquaintance heatedly confronted me about our “unloving” attitude towards the ELCA. It must have made the news.

    Another interesting note–this resolution was discussed according to the 90 minute rule, indicating the resolution’s significance, and the ensuing 45 minutes of debate was very heated. A motion to strike the above resolve was defeated. The resolution passed 706-343, a decided majority. You could look it up.

    In succeeding conventions, President K. has not allowed those with whom he disagreed to address the convention, even when requested by delegates.

    I wonder how that resolution would fare today?

    Johannes, the “unloving.”

  13. While the ELCA stance on homosexuality and the implications for such heresy is profound, should be not also be concerned for the ELCA’s decision to share altar and pulpit fellowship with UMC? Perhaps another resolution could be drafted on that issue.

  14. @Concerned Deaconess #16

    I’m not sure if adding another heterodox communion to their already considerable list has made the ELCA any more heterodox. It’s kind of like being just a little pregnant. Youse is or youse ain’t.

    Which brings up an interesting question……


  15. Don-
    good to hear from you.
    You are right, there is really no difference, except in the words used. That difference is an an important one I think. To say, “We agree with our sainted president that they are can not be considered orthodox,” is a certainly an irenic way of saying heterdox.

    I think that it is way past time to call that church heterdox and use that particular word, something we haven’t done. Also it is a Christian work to call sinners to repentance, and I think that is a good thing too.


    @Don Kirchner #12

  16. Concerned Sister-
    the matter of the elca’s ordaining of women was brought up at our pastoral conference and why shouldn’t that and all the rest be added to the resolution. It is a good point, and perhaps the floor committee will bring it all together. The president of the synod appointed a committee to deal with the issue of our joint work with the elca and Pr. Wohlrabe serves on it. We’ll see what happens.
    Pr. Ball
    @Concerned Deaconess #16

  17. What would be an example of joint cooperation w/ the ELCA that is NOT Word and Sacrament ministry?

  18. Campus ministries, at least that part not involving Word and Sacrament. I used to be in one that was a joint ELCA-LCMS campus ministry with joint activities, but sadly when the 2001 convention overture arose, that campus ministyr went all ELCA. THe LCMS folks just attended the local off campus congregation.

  19. Thanks for fleshing that out, Ben. You make a good point. Calling someone or an entity unorthodox is somewhat equivocal; it doesn’t carry the same weight as saying they are heterodox. The latter leaves no doubt.


  20. @Heartbroken #20
    The last shared ministries of the ELCA and LCMS are all ministries meant to help our neighbors in need. As I read the cheers to this post I shuddered and I believe Christ and the angels weep at these words and the thoughts they represent.

    I am dumbfounded to read pastors and followers of Jesus Christ boldly declaring intent to serve their neighbors only with those with whom they have full doctrinal agreement.

    I have to ask simply this one question:
    How on earth do you know what the person serving along side of you believes?

    Be real for a few moments with me.
    If you are in a sandbag line with a group from your church would your refuse to take sandbag filled by a muslim or passed to you by a Mormons?
    If you are asked to help in the food line because your back was to sore to help with the sandbags anymore would you refuse to serve the meal from a truck that says “Salvation Army” or that was prepared by members of a hetrodox church?

    Please be serious about your motivations in service to your neighbors.
    Are you serving for the good of your neighbor?
    Are you serving for the good of yourself?

    Service to our neighbors is about our neighbors and what they need. Jesus instructs us clearly in Matthew 7:12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”

    Please answer these simple questions:
    Would you want someone to refuse to help you in your hour of need because another might come along side to help with whom they disagree?
    Would you refuse the help sandbaggers who came from a church who you consider heretical who came to serve you in the name of the Risen One Jesus Christ?

    Real service given in Christ’s name happens below the radar of many pastors and denominational leaders. Individual members of Christ’s invisible church see their neighbors in need and reach out, in very visible ways, to help. The Holy Spirit has a blessed way of calling people to serve and bringing joy to those serving. The joy is contagious and others come along to serve too; even those who we might disagree with.

    Heaven help any pastor or denominational leader who would step in the way of such service. Jesus warned that there would be millstones waiting in Mark 9:38-42. Jesus makes no distinction about small or great service; individual or shared service. Even sharing a cold cup of water in Christ’s name is service.

    Be honest:
    If you are actually manning the sand bags or passing out the food to someone who has no place to cook because of a flood would you waste time deciding who you would and wouldn’t work with based on theology?

    No one is suggesting that an LCMS member or pastor pray with an ELCA member or pastor. What I am suggesting is that formally cutting the LCMS off further from cooperative service with the ELCA and others only impares the ability of LCMS members to serve, together as members of their congregations, with their immediate neighbors. We are called to help others in Christ’s name answering the Spirit’s call. In short the people of the LCMS will keep right on serving in the name of the Jesus Christ inspite of their pastors.

    May the God of Heaven and Earth guide you to the one who is all wisdom and truth: Jesus Christ.

  21. @John, an Unlikely Pastor #23
    Thanks for your perspective. At the risk of being put on the “naughty” list, I am going to put this out and say that I have questioned our participation in Thrivent. The response I received was that we can’t screen everything and isolate from everyone. I was angry with that response at the time and felt I was being treated like a boycott-happy legalistic Baptist akin to, “Should I switch from Crest to Colgate because Crest is owned by P & G?”

    John, your post has given me something to think about, especially where we draw the line on fellowship. Certainly, God can use even unbelievers and errant believers to perform His good will, although the “good” works apart from Christ are still sin. Perhaps the response I received questioning Trivent membership was appropriate, but everyone here would agree that we must be very careful, lest “Yankee Stadiums” become the norm.

    I am not a Thrivent member, but have dealt with one of their programs, namely the now-discontinued “Care for (or in?) Congregations.” Do they jointly pray at meetings? I don’t know.

    Thanks again, John, and pass the cool minty-flavored Crest.

  22. @17
    You’re certainly right to say that “you is or you ain’t”. They ARE heterodox and have been for quite a while, but my concern is “harping” on one sin over another. Both decisions are wrong and both need to be rebuked for the sake of the souls under the care of the ELCA.

    @ 19
    A comprehensive statement on their practices would be very valuable and helpful. I’m glad the pastoral conference discussed the possibility.

  23. When Scripture merely “contains” God’s Word, the descent begins as we can “pick-and-choose.” The conclusion eventually has to become, “Christ isn’t the only way to salvation.” The only question is how long this takes. “Have YOU ever seen a virgin birth? How could someone rise from the dead? Is Mark 16:16 really inspired?” That day could be on Missouri’s horizon, although we will likely go the (Ana)Baptist or Arminian route, for we have opened the decision theology door. Lord, have mercy upon us; and may He bring ELCA (and LCMS) to repentance.

  24. When reading the formal posisitons of the ELCA it is impossible for any thinking orthodox Confessional Lutheran to see them as either CHristian or Lutheran. Yet we persist in working with them in social and other ministries through our partnership arrangemnts. No wonder so many LCMS Pastors are so eager to introduce ELCA programs into the LCMS, like FINK and others. Time to cut the ties with them completely. There is a proper time to dust off our feet and move on. Treat them as the unbelievers they are and witness to them the truth of Christ and his Divinity. I say this regarding the leadership especially who having understood the false doctrine for several decades now still persist in staying connected to thier apostasy.

  25. @mike ames #27
    cutting all ties means cutting the last ties that should never be cut; those ties of shared service to our neighbors. Sure the idea of “cutting all ties” sounds attractive when you are angry and just want to say or do something; but it cutting all ties is most unhelpful for the church.
    In tornado and flood prone midwestern states congregations often engage in ministry after disasters. It’s what we do in response to our neighbors immediate needs. After repeated disasters civil authorities, learning from experience, ask us to work in cooperation with others, setting aside disagreements, for the sake of the neighbor.
    Go on up to Fargo to help out this spring. You’ll see that there’s a great deal of cooperation needed to do real good. It takes planning, money, and the use of shared resources to honestly help out after a disaster. Cutting ties will simply cut out LCMS members from a formal place at the table before trouble strikes.
    Thankfully the invisible church, the true church, has a way of rising up and serving our neighbors and they will surely do it inspite of such resolutions.

  26. “When reading the formal posisitons of the ELCA it is impossible for any thinking orthodox Confessional Lutheran to see them as either CHristian or Lutheran.”

    I hope that you are being hyperbolic, Mr. Ames, for I considered President Barry to be a thinking, orthodox Confessional Lutheran, and he considered the ELCA a Lutheran church body albeit not orthodox.

    And I am sure that there are those pastors in the Northern Illinois District General Pastoral Conference who supported the submitted resolution, that states that the ELCA is a heterodox church and, by definition, therefore Christian, who are thinking orthodox Confessional Lutherans.

    So, it is possible for thinking, orthodox ,Confessional Lutherans to see the ELCA as either a Lutheran or Christian church body, though a heterodox one.

  27. How far does a Christian Church Body have to go before it’s ‘Official’ name recognition is considered Pagan.

    Granted there are Lutherans and Lutheran Congregations in the ELCA that have a true confessing faith in Christ, but is it not time to consider that the ‘Official’ Church is itself Pagan.

    Even considering their Doctrine of the Word and what it entails as to seeing all faiths as equal and in the same path to heaven, as worshipping the same god ad so forth.

    What conclusions must we come to as a result?

    How much of Christ’s Doctrine and Practice must be falsified to earn the name ‘Pagan’?

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