Minnesota North Confessionals Hosting a Free Conference on Emerging Lutheran Groups Such as the ACELC, by Pr. Rossow

The Minnesota North Confessional Lutherans are holding what promises to be an interesting conference. They have invited three speakers, including your BJS editor, to address the blossoming of various groups para-church and intra-church theological groups within Lutheranism.

For my part I will be sharing my experiences with groups and theological statements such as the ACELC, TTMBO (“That They May be One” a statement put out by the Northern Illinois Confessional Lutherans in response to Yankee Stadium), and Fritz Baue’s “Lutheran Manifesto.”

Let me say a word about the ACELC. I am no longer a part of that group but that does not mean that I am critical of their work. I have been in contact with them since agreeing to speak at this conference. We have had amicable exchanges. I joined the group when it first started nearly two years ago and did so because I thought it was important for my congregation to begin to explore options if the LCMS was to continue down the path of American Evangelicalism. In the meantime, the stunning victory and mandate given to President Matt Harrison got me rethinking the need for an actual association of congregations and I have since withdrawn my membership in the group. I will share more on that in my conference address.

Here are the details about the conference:

23rd Annual Lutheran Free Conference

Hosted by MN North Confessional Lutherans & Other Friends & Supporters

THEME:  “WHAT’S NEW IN LUTHERANISM” Emerging Associations in the Lutheran Family

Two emerging associations in the Lutheran family that will be given consideration include the LCMC – Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, an association being joined by many of those congregations leaving the ELCA. The other is the ACELC – Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations, an association of LCMS congregations with concerns about the direction of their church body.

WHEN:  Saturday, October 30, 2010, Registration opens at 8:30 a.m., Conference begins at 9:30a.m. – Adjournment at 3:00 p.m.

WHERE:  Redeemer Lutheran Church, 2719 Third Street North, St. Cloud, MN

SPEAKERS:  Rev. William Bakewicz, Pastor, American Lutheran Church (LCMC), Long Prairie, MN

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow, Pastor, Bethany Lutheran Church (LCMS), Naperville, IL

 Rev. Joshua Scheer, Pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church (LCMS), Bagley, MN

COST:  $25.00 per person (includes coffee & rolls and lunch).

Registration is $25 per person (payable at the door) and includes coffee & rolls and a lunch. Though pre-registration is not required for the conference, pre-registration is required if you plan to eat at the conference site. If you plan to attend & be fed, call (320) 252-8171 or send an e-mail to [email protected] by Friday, October 22nd, with the names of those attending.

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

Minnesota North Confessionals Hosting a Free Conference on Emerging Lutheran Groups Such as the ACELC, by Pr. Rossow — 50 Comments

  1. So many conferences and meetings for us conservative confessional this coming year. I would like to attend everyone of them but that would be impossible. One idea though—-would it be possible to insert an interactive calendar in the side column to announce the up coming events every month? I remember once using one on a web site that changes automatically every month. Don’t remember the name.

  2. When I saw the word “emerging” in the title, I immediately thought of Brian McLaren etc. It’s a shame that the new liberals have ruined a perfectly good word, but it’s maybe something to keep in mind as you choose words to describe various Lutheran groups. . . don’t want that to happen.

  3. I find it odd that a group wanting to learn more about the goals and intentions of the ACELC would not ask a person who is actually a part of the ACELC to present…

  4. Ummmm…..if the LCMS were to become evangelical, then why start a new denomination (ACELC) from scratch? Those disaffected congregations could simply leave the LCMS and join TAALC. I would have similar questions for NALC and LCMC churches.

    Would TAALC have you?

  5. I received this, which seem relevant to the topic:

    Dear Friends in Christ,

    Today [Fri. 10-1] in St. Louis, at the International Center of the LCMS, 3 representatives of the ACELC Steering Committee (Rev. Drew Newman, Rev. Dan Bremer & Rev. Richard Bolland) met cordially and frankly for 4 1/2 hours with 1st Vice-President Herb Mueller, Nebraska District President Russ Sommerfeld, and Missouri District President Ray Mirly. At it’s conclusion the 6 of us formulated the following statement and agreed that it could be circulated publicly. Should you choose to distribute this information to others, we ask that you PLEASE relay it EXACTLY and ONLY as it appears below.

    Report of the “Group of Six” – (Richard Bolland, Daniel Bremer, Ray Mirly, Herbert Mueller, Drew Newman, Russ Sommerfeld)

    1. We met in St. Louis October 1, 2010, and had fraternal discussion.

    2. All six agree we have theological issues that need to be discussed under the Word of God.

    3. The way we pastors talk and think about one another needs also to be brought under the Word of God.

    4. Together we seek and support a process of the whole Synod to come to agreement on and to resolve these issues under the word of God.

    Your Servants For Christ’s Sake
    The ACELC Steering Committee

  6. @Jim #5

    >Ummmm…..if the LCMS were to become evangelical, then why start a new denomination (ACELC) from scratch?<

    While the personal opinion of Rev. Rossow may have been something related to a new synod, there is not one word in the ACELC letter, documents, or web site about starting a new synod.

  7. Clint, et. al.,

    When I say that my original interest in the ACELC was because of a desire to explore options to the LCMS I do not mean to imply what the ACELC stands for that today. As you point out, the ACELC documents say nothing of that. I am sorry that my comments have confused the positition of the ACELC. Thanks for the clarification. I was simply trying to describe why I had an interest early on and why that interest waned once Harrison was elected.

    I first met Pr. Richard Bolland (the chief organizer of the ACELC) in St. Louis a few years back. He presented a paper at a conference describing how the LCMS would be better off if it amicably split into a church growth synod and a traditional liturgical synod. He and I discussed that same topic a couple of years ago as the ACELC was getting started.

    Originally my elders and I were interested in an organization like the ACELC but now that the presidium of the LCMS is filled with men who are interested in promoting traditional and liturgical church orders we are not motivated to join such a group. As the ACELC documents point out, there are still several important issues to be resolved in the LCMS and I am glad to see the ACELC or anyone else, move us closer to unity in theology and practice.

    TR

  8. Concerning a non-member of the ACELC presenting at the conference, it went like this. The conference organizers saw that I had signed the original ACELC letter. They asked me to speak. I told them I was no longer a member of the group. I told them that I had also had experience with TTMBO and Baue’s manifesto and I suggested that I speak about these groups and papers in general. They took it back to their officers and agreed that was a good plan.

    TR

  9. @Pastor Tim Rossow #9
    “Originally my elders and I were interested in an organization like the ACELC but now that the presidium of the LCMS is filled with men who are interested in promoting traditional and liturgical church orders we are not motivated to join such a group.”

    Pr. Rossow,
    I believe you are being somewhat short-sighted regarding the necessity of a group like the ACELC. As I have pointed out previously, on this blog and other communications, the Confessionals have been elected to positions of authority this time. This could all change at the next election, or some future Synodical election. Resolving the issues we face in the Synod will take generations of good Catechesis. The ACELC will be there to follow through when elections fail us, as has happened in the nine years prior.

    Rudy Wagner

  10. Walter,

    Please keep in mind, I am not critical of the ACELC. I am very encouraged by their meeting with reps from the COP. Here is where I am at stated as simply as possible:

    1. I love and cherish the LCMS.
    2. I do not love and cherish it at all costs.
    3. In our previous pattern of electing synod officials that favored a “church growth” approach to the synod I became concerned.
    4. I was invited into the ACELC development process and joined willingly. This was before I thought the confessionals would have a chance of winning elections.
    5. I knew the ACELC was planning on forming an organization of congregations and was one of the first planning members to broach this subject with my elders.
    6. Once Harrison and other confessionals were elected it suggested to me that this was not the time to have an organization of congregations within the synod. Prior to that I thought it was expedient for reasons given in other comments above.
    7. I have always supported the doctrinal position of the ACELC and still do.

    I hope that clarifies my position.

    As far as I am concerned, we are all sticking together as confessionals and this bodes well for the future of the LCMS. Now is not the time to knit-pick. We need to remain unified in doctrine, practice and our life together.

    TR

  11. Let me also add that this is not about me. I have tried to keep “me” out of this by laying low on my position on the ACELC (until it was questioned) and maybe that confused some people. When the ACELC’s original documents were first published on this website all sorts of people tried to pressure me and drag me into a discussion of the pros and cons of the ACELC and I refused to go there because it is not about me.

    This is about Godly doctrine and practice. I look forward to extolling the work of various groups and individuals at the Minnesota North Confessional conference, including the work of the ACELC.

    TR

  12. @Pastor Tim Rossow #12

    “6. Once Harrison and other confessionals were elected it suggested to me that this was not the time to have an organization of congregations within the synod. Prior to that I thought it was expedient for reasons given in other comments above.”

    Pr. Rossow,

    Not to be argumentative, but, in a round about way, you have made my point!

    Regards,
    Rudy

  13. Walter,

    Just a question of a curious person. Are you supposed to be listed on the LCMS roster? I cannot find your name and from your comments you seem to be speaking as one from the LCMS. Would you mind helping me out???

  14. I’m looking forward to this Conference. I’m sure we’ll all learn a lot. I hope they get a better than usual turn out, and that many people that are unaware that there are areas of division in our synod will be made aware of them. I look forward to hearing you speak, Pr Rossow. It was nice to meet you in person when I was in Houston, and it’ll be nice to see you again.
    Kari

  15. Kari,

    I have a question. I’m not sure that there is anyone in our Synod who is not aware of areas of division in the Synod. But what particular areas of division are members of our flocks not aware of, and which of those do you think they should be made aware of?

    Thanks.

  16. I think you’re wrong there. I think many people that attend their local congregations are not aware of any divisions in the synod. I wasn’t aware until about 4 years ago. I didn’t know that a lot of churches had gone contemporary and non-Lutheran in their practices, or that there were churches practicing “open” communion, or that there were churches that had women as Elders, and that they assisted in Holy Communion. I woke up, by the Grace of God. It’s much easier to be unaware, but I don’t think its good, because people can be led astray and not even recognize it, and will be saddened and shocked if they were never told of these things were happening. To learn some day, too late, that the synod was no longer Lutheran would be sad. We have two synods right now. I pray that there can be true unity again.

  17. @Don Kirchner #17
    “As stated on another website, Walter R. Wagner, a layman, is a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Simpsonville, SC.”

    Don, Pr. Sterle,
    Unfortunately, that is old information. I have since moved to New Bern, NC for “final” retirement, and am currently a member of St. Paul Lutheran (LCMS) in Havelock, NC. (BTW… not unexpected, but to my disappointment, they have chosen not to support the ACELC. I think this resulted from their not being aware of deep divisions we have in Synod, just as highlighted by the posting of [email protected]#19.)

    I’m a 73 year old layman that has followed these issues as they developed within Synod since the late’60’s. I have seen enough transpire to convince me that it will take more than this current administration alone to resolve our issues, thus my concern for an on-going entity that would be in place if a non-Confessional administration was to be voted back into authority. Insufficient catechesis for the past 40 years has gotten us in this mess, and it will probably take another 40 years of solid Confessional leadership and catechesis to resolve the problems, if that is at all possible.

    Regards,
    Rudy

  18. Thanks, Kari. You’ve told us of things you were not aware of 4 years ago.

    Currently, what particular areas of division are members of our flocks not aware of, and which of those do you think they should be made aware of?

    BTW, we have two synods now? Since when, and how so?

    Thanks,

    Don Kirchner

  19. Don — I’m not sure what you are trying to get out of Kari, but to me everything that Kari said she learned in the last four years needs to be spread through the synod .. there are 100s or 1000s of people like Kari who are where she was 4 years ago. This is just what Rudy stated in #20.

  20. I am quite sure that the level of ignorance about synodical affairs is as bad as Kari and Walter think.
    “us1st” has insisted, right up to mid July, 2010, that the only problem was with a few embittered and ossified dissidents… no more than 10% of the lcms. As long as they could sell that story to the unaware middle, they could win, if only by 51%.

    [Most pessimistic scenario] SP Harrison has been set up with a more than Herculean job in that he has to clean our Augean Stables with the cattle in place. It would not surprise me if “us1st” thought he was welcome to it!
    If Harrison succeeds, they can attempt to walk into a barn newly repaired and whitewashed. [Don’t draw any Scriptural conclusions out of that analogy!] If things do not go well, “us1st” can take advantage of any crumb of dissatisfaction in the ranks to regain power anyway.

    In half our congregations, we have a generation of CW/CG grown up. I was told this summer that seminarians show up at CTS who have never used a hymnal in worship. It would take a generation to reverse that if every such congregation had a confessional liturgical Lutheran Pastor installed tomorrow, and if none (“conservative” or “liberal”) removed such Pastors in the next 30 years. (Not exactly what has been happening lately… )

    I said, remember, that this was a pessimistic scenario!

    I haven’t mentioned God, who, if He wills, can make all I have written nonsense.
    We haven’t begun to pray as much as we ought.

    Kyrie Eleison!

  21. I’ve noticed it when I have gone to conventions. National and District. I’ve also noticed when I’ve heard of various practices all over and new church starts beginning that don’t even have anything “Lutheran” in the name or practice. Sad to say. The issues are named in the AECLC document, but I’ve listed a few off the top of my head. I’m sure you’ve noticed some of these yourself. Haven’t you?Your own flock may be kept well abreast of things. I don’t know. If they are, good for you.

    Kari

  22. Attorney Kirchner,
    We have a synod which actually practices closed communion.
    We have another which practices “open” communion, sometimes hiding it under cloud of obfuscating verbiage, sometimes not.

    I wish I could believe the division was half and half, but I’m not sure of that.
    Locally “open” (and a lot of other unLutheran stuff) is ahead.

    That’s one division. I’m not sure “open” congregations don’t think everyone does it their way, or should. That’s the way they’ve been trained. (You’ve read it as well as I have.)
    I’m pretty sure that many in congregations with ambiguous language on their communion cards have never thought about what it means. I doubted but gave it “best construction” till a pastor told us exactly what it meant to him and, “Like it or leave.”

    Most congregations, after 50 years, are aware that some have women in the voters assembly.
    Many have no reason to know that other lcms churches have women in the chancel for one reason or another.

    I’m sure ACELC has a longer list….

  23. Okay. thanks, Kari.

    You mention the following issues that are areas of division:

    Contemporary practices, “open” communion, and women elders who assist with communion.

    Assuming that members of a flock in, let’s say MN North, are not aware that one or more of these are divisions in the Synod, why is it important that they attend the scheduled Conference and learn about this?

    Also, I’d be interested in hearing more about your assertion that there are two synods within the Synod.

    Thanks, Kari.

    Don Kirchner

  24. When people who care about being confessional Lutherans can’t drive up to a church with LCMS on the signboard and find a Lutheran Divine Service inside, we have “two synods” :
    one that wants the DS and one that doesn’t.

    Don’t tell me about “blended”; they are just abandoning their Lutheran confession “as fast as they can.”

  25. Don Kirchner :Okay. thanks, Kari.
    You mention the following issues that are areas of division:
    Contemporary practices, “open” communion, and women elders who assist with communion.
    Assuming that members of a flock in, let’s say MN North, are not aware that one or more of these are divisions in the Synod, why is it important that they attend the scheduled Conference and learn about this?
    Also, I’d be interested in hearing more about your assertion that there are two synods within the Synod.
    Thanks, Kari.
    Don Kirchner

    The issues listed are very real, but merely symptoms of a much deeper problem in our midst. We have one “synod” in the LCMS that has justification as its material principle in both doctrine and practice and one “synod” in the LCMS that does not.

  26. @Don Kirchner #17
    Don,

    Thanks for the information. It was corrected by Rudy himself. Just a note from me about the location of your congregation. The map on the LCMS web site places your minnesota congregation just north of Kansas City!!! 🙂

  27. Rev. Sterle,Well, we are north of KC! 7 miles east of the source of the Mississippi (Lake Itasca), 20 miles south of Bemidji. Beautiful downtown Lake George. 😉

    Clint,

    I think that what you and Kari state is a common view. And, it is not my intent to quibble, but I disagree. I think there is an LC-MS that has justification by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone as its material principle. And then there are those within who do not adhere to that in practice. And I agree that the symptoms are the problems mentioned. I simply do not think it either true or healthy to think of it as two synods within the Synod. One either practices what one confesses or one does not.

    Contemporary practices, “open” communion, and women elders who assist with communion have been mentioned as areas of division.

    Assuming that members of a flock in, let’s say MN North, are not aware that one or more of these are divisions in the Synod, why is it important that they attend the scheduled Conference to learn about this?

    Kari?

    Thanks.

  28. We have a board of elders at my church that right now does not understand what Kari is getting at with the “two synods” concept. They think that the practice of open communion is just fine. That to me is the flaunting of a second synod. One even asked me during a discussion on this matter “Do you want to be the one to tell someone they can’t take part in our communion? Can you see inside their heart and tell me what they believe? Aren’t you judging them?” I answered that “No, I couldn’t see inside the heart, but knowing their background and knowing that they were not raised in the Lutheran belief, I could pretty well bet they couldn’t understand what and why we believe the way we do about the practice of close communion because they have not been taught what we believe and why we believe it. Also, having five questions in a bulletin did not constitute teaching them the way we believe and why we believe it. It has nothing to do with judging. I’m relying on scripture and the catechism as my guide, something I think you are throwing away because you don’t want to make someone mad.” Suffice it to say I’m labeled a troublemaker in my church …

  29. Rev. Sterle,

    Well, it is north of KC! 7 miles east of the source of the Mississippi (Lake Itasca.) Beautiful downtown Lake George. 😉

    Clint,

    I don’t know that the idea of two synods within the Synod is a good way of expressing things. Hence, I respectfully disagree. There are those who practice what we as a Synod confess- justification by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone. And there are those who do not- in practice that is. How do we resolve this difference in practice of the material principle? President Harrison has told us, an dhe has set forth a way to carry that out.

    Kari,

    I don’t know that members of my flock are up on, for example, which congregations in synod have women elders. Assuming that they are not aware that one or more of these are divisions in the Synod, why is it important that they attend the scheduled Conference and learn about this?

    Chris,

    So, how does one resolve the confusion on admission to the Lord’s Supper in your congregation?

    Thanks.

  30. @Chris #31

    In our desperate attempt to stave off decline, we have adopted a Church Growth model, which means we need warm bodies to fill the pews. That is not evangelism, and it is absolutely not instruction, because we may downplay the naem of Jesus, and do other things so as not to be offensive. Because we need theier numbers and pocket books more than we care about saving their souls. So we bring in outsiderss, which is great if we want to brgin them into the light, but do so little with them, and put them in charge because they have fresh energy. Is it then shocking that we are losing our Lutheran identity? When do we ever promote what we believe, teach, and confess?

    Unfortunately the problem is all over the place. Our past SP seemed more like a bureaucrat and a lot less like a pastor. 1sters on synodical boards (particularly CUS and sems) wished to expand college offerings. Not sure what the sem faculties are like, hopefully not as dreadful as Seminex, but are they diligent in training seminarians to proclaim the Gospel more than counseling, small groups or what have you? (really if it doesn’t start with the Word of God, then why bother being Christain?) I do believe some pastors come out not rocking the boat, and therefore still have their unhealthy biases towards CG, CW, open communion, et al. And even some of the better ones, if they get lazy, do they train their congregation, lifting up the right people to be Elders?

    And if you don’t like judging, how about discernemnt? Or testing the spirits? Even works without faith, because people will do what their hearts lead them to do. I don’t mind as much about being called judgmental, because I got tired or trying to meet people in the middle, only to run into obstinance and entrenchment. Like I mentioned elsewhere, I am leaving my current congregation soon because I am dusting their dust off my sandels. Walther talked about fleeing heterodox churches back in the day. Good blog about it over at LutherQuest. Beginning of the year I am transferring to an LC-MS congregation that appears in much better order.

    I hope you can find peace, Chris. Above all, remain faithful to Jesus. I will lift up a prayer for God to lead you on His righteous path.

  31. @Jason #32
    Chris and Jason,

    There are so many churches in the LCMS now that don’t want to stand for what Lutherans have always believed, taught, and confessed. It is so much easier and friendlier to the world when you don’t “judge”. We’re not judging, but rather we are loving when we practice closed communion, and remain faithful to the Scriptures, but the world looks at love differently than Christians do. Some want to fill pews, so they give up proper practices to attract people to fill those pews. Sometimes they build a nice new church, then they need those people to pay for it. Slippery slope.

    I’m glad Luther never stood in the middle and compromised the faith. He wouldn’t even shake Zwingli’s hand. I’m thankful the reformers “Steadfast Lutheran’s” wrote the Confessions for us to keep us on the right track. We need to start reading them again. Too many years have gone by ignoring them. Let’s get back to our real roots.

    I guess this discussion has sort of gone off track, huh? Oh, well.

    The Lutheran Free Conference can help people understand the dangers/issues the church is facing if it doesn’t return to the Word. I hope a lot of people will attend.

  32. @Rev. Don Kirchner #33
    Kari,
    I don’t know that members of my flock are up on, for example, which congregations in synod have women elders. Assuming that they are not aware that one or more of these are divisions in the Synod, why is it important that they attend the scheduled Conference and learn about this?

    Pr. Kirchner, (not Kari, but…)
    If you are teaching your congregation why “open communion” and other un Lutheran practices shouldn’t happen, perhaps they don’t need to attend a meeting to learn that.
    If none of your people are likely to get out and be delegates to district or synod conventions, perhaps ignorance is bliss and no danger to the church. But there is a chance that they will.

    My former congregation, at the last minute, was called upon to substitute its president as a delegate in 2004. Apparently his ‘confessional’ pastor had never discussed what would go on there. The delegate thought he was going for a holiday and got a real shock. That shouldn’t happen, but it explains some of the weird voting at synodical conventions. Delegates have no idea of what the resolutions mean or what has been going on in the church and we all pay for their ignorance.

    [Right now, Matt Harrison is paying for the snow job that went with the “restructuring”.]

    Why should your flock not know that some congregations have women where they shouldn’t be, and why they shouldn’t be there. (Itasca is beautiful but it’s not as isolated as all that!) Someone’s going to tell them and then, I should think, they’d wonder why you didn’t.

  33. The members of the congregation certainly are aware, regarding the pastoral ministry, why it is given solely to men to do. They certainly are aware how that then plays out with elders and those assisting in communion. As I said, I don’t know that members of my flock are up on, for example, which congregations in Synod have women elders or women assisting with communion. And yet they seem to be doing just fine.

    As to contemporary practices, liturgically we use page 184 of LSB. Prior to that they used page 15 of TLH. Certainly they are aware that there is contemporary worship out there. They go to LWML functions, they see stuff on TV. If they have questions they bring it up at LWML or Bible class, or they come to me about it. Someone, for example, might ask why we don’t sing “Amazing Grace (when requested at a funeral) using the “old” words. I explain why. I don’t know that members of my flock are up on, for example, which congregations in Synod have contemporary worship. They see no need to call brothers and sisters in Christ cockroaches because they are involved in CW. And yet they seem to be doing just fine.

    As for admission to the Lord’s Supper, they know our practices. We had a conference/presentation on closed communion in our circuit a year and a half or so ago. Al Collver and President Fondow presented. About 8 or 10 from our congregation attended, and we met at a cafe afterwards and discussed it. If others have questions we discuss it. I don’t know that members of my flock are up on, for example, which congregations in Synod practice open communion. I’m sure they know of some., but they don’t dwell on it. And yet they seem to be doing just fine.

    Bottom line, we handle things at the congregational level. The members of the flock have been catechized using Luther’s Small Catechism. Actually, we have a catechetical recitation prior to the Prayer of the Church every Sunday, and we recite the complete Small Catechism with Explanation every year. Our people crave the Gospel and desire to eat the Lord’s body and drink His blood. They go to church to receive the gifts- to get forgiven.

    Then they go out to be a neighbor in their various vocations and stations in life. And if someone tells them what terrible thing someone else is doing out there in Synodland, I doubt that they’ll wonder why I didn’t tell them. If they have questions that they deem important enough they’ll ask me. And they may keep them in their prayers.

    Yet some would think that it is not enough that they are baptized and catechized. They need to know more, they need to know all the bad stuff going on in Synod- who’s doing what and where. Some would tell them that they need to know when and where a former Synodical President said something that the self-designated confessional Lutherans found outrageous. Some would tell them that they need to know when and where a congregation that is no longer even a member of Synod practiced open communion, or communion with women distributing. Some would tell them that they need to know when and where a self-designated confessional group became outraged about overtures or resolutions that they disagreed with (and which did not pass) being allowed for vote but others were not due to errors in fact (which, by the way, is a quite proper distinction.)

    Sorry. I don’t see it. Our folks see themselves as Lutheran. They don’t see themselves as “different,” as those who would purport to teach them like to portray themselves. They see no need to self-designate themselves by using the “confessional” redundancy. They do not go around thinking that rudeness and outrageous conduct is a badge of honor, time and again telling how Luther wouldn’t even shake Zwingli’s hand, much less mentioning that, after Zwingli was killed in battle, Luther stated that it was due to God’s judgment against one who erred. (Uh oh! Now I’ve given some new ammo for them to lob against those who err!)

    They are simply Lutherans, little birds singing in the sunshine as they eat out of their Savior’s hand or like chicks opening their mouths to receive that which strengthens and preserves them in body and soul to life everlasting. Just like hundreds of thousands others, whom some self-designated confessionals call the “mushy middle.”

    Some have expressed interest in the new denominations and what they’re about. Like a lot of folks, expecially in Minnesota, they have relatives in the ELCA, some who now are joining these other various groups. They may well be interested in attending the conference. We’ll see. They might have to rake leaves or winterize their homes.

    And I do know that they will be very supportive of President Harrison’s Koinonia project, for it involves the study of the Word of God.

  34. @Rev. Don Kirchner #37

    If only things stayed at the congregational level. But then without some comparison, how would laity know if their pastor was adhering to the Word? If they are not taught, how many can teach themselves? I do not wish to demean the power of the Holy Spirit, but God did create a pastoral office so that wise and faithful men could shephed others, not anybody who had something to say, because some of those things are plain wrong.

    Helen mentioned how a voting delegate thought he was going on vacation. Where was the instruction to help this person make a good decision? Who will give him proper resources for him (or her) to read up on? Something, or someone, failed big time. Now crazy voting patterns will happen, and with enough ignorance and enough “agenda,” the synod will travel down a path that will be less faithful to the Word. And what that path does in soppurting certain program will then either feed or starve the church based on resources published, money spent, programs promoted. (knee bone is connected to the thigh bone)

    For an example, check out the NJ District website. (Atlantic District is advertising it, too) Front page talks about a jam session, promoting CW. Reading the description and fine print, I come away with the feeling that the organizers would like all congregations in that district to look at and hopefully adopt praise and worhsip settings. Implied might be that hopefully traditional liturgical worship would be starve out. For those (like myself) who desire hymnody, where would we go for resources and help? What if this catches on at synod? And CPH stops printing hymnals, because that is so past tense?

    If your brother stumbles, help him up. That is why I am somewhat concerned about what goes on in sister congregations. Who will go to them to tell them the Gospel? Who will help them dig deeper into the faith and help them mature? With today’s mobility, thinking just because your congregation is okay, doesn’t mean that neighhbors will come in with less than ideal ideas. We cannot be isolated in our “monastaries.” We are to engage the world with the Gospel, including the Lutheran world. Just because we bear the name Lutheran, AND Christian, does not give us a free pass. We are to be ever vilgilant, lest Satan try to snatch our hope away.

  35. Not to nit-pick here, but isn’t the term “close communion” as in “unity” instead of closed, or shut out, communion? I learned it as close communion …

  36. Jason,

    “…how would laity know if their pastor was adhering to the Word?”

    By looking to The Word.

    The general answer to your other questions:

    The Divinely called pastor.

  37. @Rev. Don Kirchner #37
    Pr Kirchner,

    One wonderful thing about being Lutheran is the freedom we have in Christ. If people have no desire to learn more at a conference that is their option. That’s fine. But some people like to learn more. They enjoy theology, and the discussion of it and also want to know what is happening. I know it’s not everyone! It’s a pretty small percentage of lay people, I’m sure. That’s fine. Yet, I’m glad there are opportunities available for those of us that want to go. I’m also glad to hear your circuit had a convocation on Close(d) Communion a year or so ago! That’s wonderful. I think all circuits are supposed to hold one once a year or so. Even if only one or two per congregation attend, it’s worth while.

    Kari

  38. Chris,
    I was brought up to “closed communion” meaning the circle of believers which includes “all the company of heaven”. Yes, it’s about unity, too.

    In the early church, (and still in the East, I think), they ask anyone who is not a communicant to leave before the Sacrament.

  39. @Helen #43
    Helen,

    I of course was brought up closed communion, but since becoming an LC-MS Lutheran, I have only encountered closed communion once and wide open communion once as well. I find it interesting that in the cases of closed and close communion, pastors say this is the position of the LC-MS. Kinda confusing huh?
    This is from lcms.org:

    Communing at non-LCMS Church

    Q. Is it wrong for a member of an LCMS congregation to receive Holy Communion at an ELCA church? Is it wrong for an ELCA member to receive Holy Communion at an LCMS church?

    A. The LCMS practices “close communion,” which is summarized as follows by the Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations: In keeping with the principle that the celebration and reception of the Lord’s Supper is a confession of the unity of faith, while at the same time recognizing that there will be instances when sensitive pastoral care needs to be exercised, the Synod has established an official practice requiring “that pastors and congregations of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, except in situations of emergency and in special cases of pastoral care, commune individuals of only those synods which are now in fellowship with us.” By following this practice whereby only those individuals who are members of the Synod or of a church body with which the Synod is in altar and pulpit fellowship are ordinarily communed, pastors and congregations preserve the integrity of their witness to the gospel of Christ as it is revealed in the Scriptures and confessed in the Lutheran confessional writings.

    “I was brought up with “closed communion” meaning the circle of believers which includes “all the company of heaven”. Yes, it’s about unity, too.” That is a very interesting statement as it is a very Orthodox statement to make.

    That part about leaving before the Sacrament in the Eastern church may still be sung, but people do not leave and are not expected to leave.

    Catechumens were individuals preparing to be baptized in the Church. In former times, prior to the beginning of the Eucharistic portion of the Liturgy, all those who were not prepared or unable to receive the Eucharist were dismissed. The dismissal of the catechumens was one of these, and it is generally understood that, upon their dismissal, they went off for further catechesis in preparation for their eventual Baptism.

    “Today, unless the local custom dictates otherwise [and I have never encountered this], no one actually expects the catechumens to depart at this time. In other words, if no one explicitly ushers you out, then you should feel free to stay for the entire Liturgy, without taking Holy Communion, however.” OCA.org

    Interesting custom regarding communion in the Orthodox church.
    “The word prosphoro denotes the bread which is brought to the Church as an offering for use in the preparation of the Holy Gifts for Holy Communion. Only the center part of the loaf is used for this purpose; the rest is distributed at the end of the Holy Liturgy to communicants and all worshipers in remembrance of the custom of the original Church, the custom of Agape, or Christian love.” Holy Trinity Orthodox Church

  40. Kari,

    What a joy to read your post!

    “One wonderful thing about being Lutheran is the freedom we have in Christ.”

    Indeed.

    “If people have no desire to learn more at a conference that is their option. That’s fine.”

    I’m glad that you agree that it’s fine.

    “But some people like to learn more. They enjoy theology, and the discussion of it and also want to know what is happening. I know it’s not everyone! It’s a pretty small percentage of lay people, I’m sure. That’s fine.”

    I’m glad that you agree that it is fine.

    “Yet, I’m glad there are opportunities available for those of us that want to go.”

    As am I.

    And thank you for actually using my name! 🙂

  41. @Andrew and Helen … I was brought up with it being called “close communion” by my confirmation pastor and my parents, so that is what I have heard it. Thanks for the explanation further about the distinction between the two. The “close communion” definition may have been a preferential one used by the pastor and the distinction between the two was never made.

  42. “so that is what I have heard it.” should read “so that is the way I have heard it.” A brain on no caffiene should not be let near a keyboard! lol …

  43. Clint,
    I don’t know that the idea of two synods within the Synod is a good way of expressing things. Hence, I respectfully disagree. There are those who practice what we as a Synod confess- justification by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone. And there are those who do not- in practice that is. How do we resolve this difference in practice of the material principle? President Harrison has told us, an he has set forth a way to carry that out.

    Don,

    It is always great to see your posts and often very insightful comments. I have no personal attachment to the term “two synods” and used it simply because another used the phrase in an earlier post. My point is simply that we have major decisions among us in the LCMS that manifest themselves in a variety of ways; and I believe strongly that at the root of every one of these divisions is the doctrine of justification (or lack thereof)! I look forward to the work that God will do through President Harrison’s “Koinonia Project.”

    In Christ, Clint

  44. Clint,

    Thanks. Whenever I see your posts I think of Westpoint and my wonderful year in Nebraska, even though you were back at Sem, reading Greek Scripture under the trees!

    I guess my point is that we should be careful in using “two synods within the Synod” talk for, by definition, those who practice what we as a Synod confess- justification by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone- are then a synod within a Synod. That’s simply not true. Those that practice what we as a Synod confess ARE the Synod.

    And that’s why I don’t care to join groups formed as separate legal entities within the Synod, especially those who love to proclaim, “We are different!” and other words of separation. It’s good to see that the ACELC leaders have toned things down.

    But then they don’t want me as a member anyway! 😉 So it works out.

    I too look forward to the Synodical implementation of the “Koinonia Project.”

    peace,
    Don

  45. As a pastor of the AALC, it would not seem prudent to simply assimulate a congregation simply because they have a gripe with their synod. The reason to leave (which has been consistant in the past) has been that the congregation has found a doctrinal error (in their synod) that they can no longer tolerate and the AALC has provided a place where the congregation can practice confessional Lutheranism.

    We could wrangle whether these congregations practice “true” confessional Lutheranism, but this also doesn’t seem prudent.

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