News of ACELC Meeting in Kansas City, MO

Dear Friends,

Today, November 12, 2010, 3 representatives of the ACELC Steering Committee met for 5 hours with 1st Vice-President Herb Mueller and District Presidents Russ Sommerfeld and Ray Mirly. During that time we had some very frank, but cordial, fraternal discussions regarding the ACELC and the issues we had brought forward in our Fraternal Admonition. The following is an official New Release of that meeting. Please feel free to disseminate this News Release freely. The only caveat is that it must be circulated exactly as it appears below with no modification or alternation. Needless to say we are very pleased with the way this has been handled by the leadership of our Synod, and we give most hearty thanks to God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in this process as it has thus far progressed, and we pray will progress in the future.

On Friday, November 12, 2010, in a meeting at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Missouri, representatives of the Steering Committee of the ACELC, !st Vice-President. Herb Mueller, and District Presidents Russ Sommerfeld and Ray Mirly agreed that there is an urgency for a comprehensive study of doctrinal and practical issues within the LCMS. We therefore strongly encourage the Council of Presidents to recommend to President Harrison and 1st Vice-President Mueller to consider the incorporation into a Koinonia project the topics addressed by the “Ten Concerns” of the ACELC. We further suggest that a high priority be given to develop in-depth Bible/Confessional studies for laity and for clergy that lead to a Synod-wide study of Worship and Holy Communion. We ask that all clergy and their congregations commit themselves to participate in these studies. It is further encouraged that these studies will be expanded to be conducted at a Circuit Forum level to engage clergy and laity in this effort.

Your Servants For Christ’s Sake,
The ACELC Steering Committee


Ten Concerns (pages 6-8)

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

News of ACELC Meeting in Kansas City, MO — 33 Comments

  1. What glorious news. Thank God for the work of the ACELC. I can’t wait for the: in-depth Bible/Confessional studies for laity and for clergy that lead to a Synod-wide study of Worship and Holy Communion.

    John Thomas

  2. Am I reading this correctly, does this mean Congregational, Circut, & District level/s, practices will be examined? Does this mean, a Confessional/Evangelical basis is being looked at, to be established?

  3. I wonder how much of the 5-hour meeting was spent in “frank, but cordial, fraternal discussions” regarding the ACELC issues, and how much was spent in preparing the press release, which, boiled down, can be read as:

    “We agreed there is an urgency, and we encourage recommending for consideration and suggest a high priority be given to develop studies that lead to a Synod-wide study which we encourage the synodical members to commit to participate in so that synodical members can be engaged in those studies that we agree there is an urgency to encourage the recommending for consideration, as a high priority suggestion.”

  4. If there’s any “sound and fury” it’s all of the announcing of intentions to discuss, agreeing to urgencies, encouraging recommendations to be considered, suggesting high priorities, developing studies that lead to other studies, and encouraging commitments to participate in any studies coming out of such suggested studies being recommended for consideration.

    The Synod’s doctrinal positions have long been established; the evidence of ignoring or violating those doctrinal positions has been documented and posted on the ACELC site. It is now the responsibility of the elected synodical officials to take this evidence and act on it, or rejected the evidence as wrong, insufficient, or contradictory.

    As for the notion of a “self-appointed group,” this recalls the self-appointed group of 22 who brought charges against District President Benke for his co-officiating the Yankee Stadium interfaith worship service, One wonders why this self-appointed group wasn’t joined by more synodical members. Where were the “other nine”? Perhaps they were simply waiting to be appointed to some blue ribbon task force to prepare studies to formulate studies about what to study.

  5. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #5
    I certainly pray that whenever pastors sit down with 2 DP’s and 1VP to engage the doctrinal discord in the church on the basis of Scripture and the Confessions that it is never a”significant waste of time and attention”, even when we might disagree on the tiny forum or this “tiny group” posturing.

    I pray any future forums, studies by Rev. Harrison will produce different results than this year’s national worship conference that came out with a generic evangelical statement on worship practice of the LCMS (that our Methodist, Pentecostal friends could agree with) which seems to have been a colossal waste of time and attention.

    It’s Time, brother McCain!

  6. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #5
    I’ll be sure to pass along to Mueller, Mirly and Sommerfeld that you felt our 10 hours of time together was a waste of energy. Wouldn’t it have been much easier for them to simply tell us to go pound sand rather than meet with us. Think of all the man hours and the expense the Synod could have saved. I’m really disappointed in your response, Paul. This should be a cause for rejoicing, but you’d rather pout about it since things didn’t go the way you predicted they would go with the ACELC. Rather than being ignored, marginalized or disciplined we have actually had some fruitful dialogue. If you’d prefer not to give thanks to God for this, we will do it for you.

  7. @Rev. Drew Newman #10

    Pr. Newman,

    Thanks be to God for this good news! I also want to thank you and the members of the ACELC for your hard work and I support the efforts of the ACELC. I am also very thankful that SP Harrison will consider including the specific concerns and issues raised by the ACELC into the Koinonia project. It goes to show that even so-called “self-appointed tiny group[s]” will be included in the upcoming Koinonia project dialogues.

  8. “Then why, beloved brothers, do we stand by each other? Why can’t we leave one another? It is because we cannot let go of the one truth, which we, in fellowship with all the saints, have acknowledged, do believe and confess, as it is in the confessions of the Lutheran Church. These confessions [The Book of Concord] bear witness to the truth clearly, plainly, and powerfully on the basis of the Holy Scriptures, against all the desires of Satan, to the whole world.

    And why do we hold so firmly to our confession, that we happily endure the hatred of the world and also of the rest of Christianity, which is difficult to bear? Why, with God’s help and grace, would we suffer persecution and death before we would give up even a small part of that confession? We do so because we have come to make the truth set forth in that confession our own, not in times of good leisure and rest, like we might appropriate other natural or historical truths. The Holy Spirit has revealed this truth to us in the midst of the burdens of troubled consciences, as our only salvation. The Spirit has through the Word borne witness to the truth in broken and troubled hearts. Our consciences are bound to the Word, and therefore to the confession of the church. As poor, forlorn, and condemned men, we have learned to believe in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. The peace of conscience, the peace of our souls, the hope of eternal blessedness, our very being and life, hang on this truth. To surrender it would be to surrender our salvation and ourselves for time and eternity.

    Therefore neither can we let go of the most insignificant portion of the confession, because the entire series of the individual teachings of the faith are for us one chain. This chain not only binds our understanding in the truth, it binds our consciences and lives. The loss of an individual part of the same would break this chain, and we would be torn loose from Christ, tumbling again into the abyss of anxiety, doubt and eternal death. Therefore we hold fast to our confession, as to our very life.” —Friedrich Wyneken, as quoted by Matthew Harrison in “It’s Time” p. 15,16

  9. I fail to see the good news in this. Talking with a few pastors I know, the letter that was sent out earlier this year was more of a turn off of dialog. I pray for doctrinal unity and understanding, but the creation of another group within the synod was a mistake that could lead to further disharmony within the synod. I pray for President Harrison that the Lord grants him the wisdom to guide the synod through the murky paths of our disunity.

  10. Friends,

    Our meetings with representatives of the COP were always brotherly, always churchly, very honest, and entirely candid. The representatives of the COP did something which hasn’t occurred in our Synod in nearly a decade…they really, honestly listened to Confessional pastors and heard us out. After so many years of simply being ignored, marginalized, and denigrated I can’t tell you how incredibly refreshing that was.

    Not once during the more than 10 hours of conversation did anyone ever call us schismatic because they knew better than that. Anyone with an ounce of judgement understands that a group dedicated to the support of the first objective of the Synod, and the promotion of study under the Word of God and our Confessions in order to achieve greater unity in doctrine and practice in our Synod knows that such group is, in fact, the antithesis of schismatic.

    We were honored to have the level of access we enjoyed with some of the leaders of our Synod and we were gratified that they agreed that our 10 areas of concern need to be studied throughout the Synod.

    Thus, I believe it is time to put aside the matter of whether or not the mode of communication employed by the ACELC with the Synod was the best or not, and begin utilizing the documents of the ACELC to engage in such study at winkels, in congregations, and in circuit forums to actually find a way to resolve the divisions among us and restore unity in our beloved church body. Dick Bolland

  11. Paul,

    I do not recall that you have ever been a member in any congregation I have ever served. I don’t recall that you have ever been in attendance at any voter’s meeting in any church I have ever served. Nor have you ever been in attendence at any Church Council meeting in any parish I have ever served. Therefore, you are engaging in gossip plain and simple.

    I have not personally attacked you or your service to the synod (which I have admired in many ways), and I would suggest that if you have some personal complaint about me or my service as a pastor in this Synod that you do the right thing, call me, set up an appointment and let’s talk about it. That’s how Christian brothers deal with such matters. If you want to talk about the ACELC, fine, but you’ve just crossed a line you should not cross. Dick Bolland

  12. The ACELC has accomplished much already. As earlier posters have said, they have gotten the Council of Presidents to the table. Let us thank God for this.

    Everyone, please limit your comments to substantive critique of what we know so far.

    Thank you members of the ACELC for engaging these matters. I still recmmend that you not form an actual association of congregations, but even if you do continue with those plans, I am impressed that you have gotten this far in the synod structure and wish you God’s blessings for further progress. Keep up the good work.

    TR

  13. The press release says, “Herb Mueller, and District Presidents Russ Sommerfeld and Ray Mirly agreed that there is an urgency for a comprehensive study of doctrinal and practical issues within the LCMS.”

    This is very good news to me. I pray that congregations will begin their study tomorrow and the districts and synod will keep up the full court press on Monday.

  14. @Andrew Strickland #12
    I pray for doctrinal unity and understanding, but the creation of another group within the synod was a mistake …

    Andrew,
    Do your friends think only one group should be allowed to control the thinking of Missouri synod Lutherans or express their ideas out loud/in print?

    Pardon me, but I don’t see why Bolland, et al. should be attacked for getting together to defend our historic faith [any more than BJS should!] I’m glad people are doing that. Apparently the fear of reprisal (which was justified) has been lifted.
    There will be more groups. As I read it, that is what is asked for.

    Talking among ourselves about what Missouri was and should be, under Scripture and the Confessions, is much better, IMO, than paying huge sums to non-Lutherans to lead/push Missouri congregations where they cannot go and remain faithful.

    Nine years ago “Bolland’s group” should not have been 22, but 6,022. It would have saved us a lot of grief, [not to mention money for missions] if every ordained man had stood behind Wally Schultz and said, “This is wrong for LCMS!”

  15. Pr. Rossow,
    If I’ve gotten carried away and exceeded your suggestions, I apologize.
    I saw them only after I posted.
    –helen

  16. @Andrew Strickland #20

    Andrew,
    If the result is a return to more serious concern for our faith, by more people,
    I would say that is what we have needed.
    If God wills, we may have a little more “togetherness”!
    God bless!
    –helen

  17. We’ve had a few days to calm down and let the attacks that have been across the net (I hear the same thing happened on ALPB forum and likely elsewhere).

    There will be no personal attacks on this website; if you have a problem with another person, don’t bring it here. You are free to discuss issues here, but when it devolves into a personal attack on someone else, leave it completely away from this website.

    I’ve turned comments on for this posting again, but will be very quick to turn it off if it becomes personal attacks again.

    I’ve deleted all comments on this thread that I felt were inappropriate, or responding to inappropriate comments in their entirety.

    Norm Fisher
    BJS

  18. I really don’t see this as a horrid thing, quite frankly it takes guts, which I sadly cannot claim.
    This meeting of the ACELC, does much, it defends the fact, that certain groups, were not formed for the sole purposes of ousting President K, it does give a certain validity to the concerns many, not just w/in the ACELC have, dialogue was called for upon President Harrison’s election & acceptance, and it certainly seems, that someone in St. Louis is listening.
    Will anything come of this, we know not. We, like we all have for some time, must wait & see.
    I live in the SWD, which holds/has a facination w/Leonard Sweet, Rob Bell, & also Centering/Contemplative Prayer (why, got no clue whatsoever, DP W, is mentioned quite often on WELS sites, old boys club Jeske, Church & Change). I saw nothing done in the SWD, to correct these errors in the past 2 years, and they have be allowed to not just continue but accelerate. What is a DP’s duty, as a good steward of a District? Done…nope.

    If this meeting, does anything, to address things like these occurences & District pushes like here in the SWD….bring it to those in St Louis, to their table, & for that I am most thankful. Maybe, less folks will be forced or feel forced to depart, or keep more from departing the LCMS, over the topics more than likely discussed at this meeting. Look at the sorry state of some of the Districts…many have. Both w/in the Confessional community & sadly far outside it. I do heartily pray, those who sat at that table, were listening, and know that all that departed the LCMS, wasn’t for more bells, whistles, smoke & mirrors.
    It was to find BOC & the Doctrines, and the Solas we love & hold fast too.

    I pray they act, & not just talk…or worse yet, be good men doing nothing. I’ll wait, to see if words are still as powerful as the sword. Which sword, oh, that would be up to the reader.

  19. Some people have not read President Harrison’s “It’s Time” document, especially the last sentence below:

    The Koinonia Project—Bringing Unity to Synod

    I have thought for some years that the way forward would be to bring together respected and capable people representing various constituencies and viewpoints. There are a number of ways such people could be gathered, and I will not bore you with specifics here, but it can be done nonpolitically.

    Seminary representation will be very important because both of our seminaries remain the most broadly respected institutions in the Synod, and diverse viewpoints on issues that trouble us are also represented to some extent within our faculties. The group (or groups, since a number of local efforts were the prerequisite for the great result of the Formula of Concord) would have to be of modest size, perhaps a dozen or so. Those present would have to be highly regarded by individuals sharing their general viewpoints, and known by the Synod at large to be principled, but also pious and reasonable. In fact, given the current status of things, it might even be best if this group were to form of its own accord, and thus without the accusation or even suspicion of machination.

  20. That last sentence in the paragrpaph posted in #27 is definitely puzzling. Another sentence that sticks out in that paragraph is:

    Seminary representation will be very important because both of our seminaries remain the most broadly respected institutions in the Synod, and diverse viewpoints on issues that trouble us are also represented to some extent within our faculties. [Emphasis added]

    Unless the “diverse viewpoints on issues that trouble us” are, in fact, trivial adiaphora, rather than involving heterodoxies, how can their existing representation within our seminaries make the seminaries “broadly respected”? It would have been different if the statement had noted that heterodox viewpoints that trouble us are also recognized as such within our seminaries.

  21. The ACELC news release announcing the ACELC and COP representatives, who meet last week, encouraging the COP to recommend the President consider incorporating into the Koinonia Project the ACELC’s topics addressed by the “Ten Concerns,” and Rev. Bolland’s added opinion on the ALPB site that the ACELC documents be used in winkels, circuit forums and congregation for studies on the issues, are similar to what another group of synodical members approved of last month.

    A blog post, “Koinonia Project Update” notes that this year’s Fall Pastoral Conference of the Wyoming District, held in October at Mount Hope Lutheran Church in Casper, WY, passed a resolution to forward previously prepared “Bible studies on many areas where there are divergent teachings and practices” to President Harrison to assist him in his work of the Koinonia Project described in It’s Time.

  22. Dutch :I live in the SWD, which holds/has a facination w/Leonard Sweet, Rob Bell, & also Centering/Contemplative Prayer (why, got no clue whatsoever, DP W, is mentioned quite often on WELS sites, old boys club Jeske, Church & Change). I saw nothing done in the SWD, to correct these errors in the past 2 years, and they have be allowed to not just continue but accelerate. What is a DP’s duty, as a good steward of a District? Done…nope.

    Considering DP Wille was a WELS pastor and collequized into the LC-MS in 1984, that shouldn’t be too surprising…

  23. Oh Jason, it very much is surprising. WELS, at least the one I attend, and the President it now has, all does surprises me very much indeed.

  24. Carl Vehse :That last sentence in the paragrpaph posted in #27 is definitely puzzling. Another sentence that sticks out in that paragraph is:

    Seminary representation will be very important because both of our seminaries remain the most broadly respected institutions in the Synod, and diverse viewpoints on issues that trouble us are also represented to some extent within our faculties. [Emphasis added]

    Unless the “diverse viewpoints on issues that trouble us” are, in fact, trivial adiaphora, rather than involving heterodoxies, how can their existing representation within our seminaries make the seminaries “broadly respected”? It would have been different if the statement had noted that heterodox viewpoints that trouble us are also recognized as such within our seminaries.

    Perhaps he’s suggesting we abolish the CTCR and return to seminary Gutachten (theological opinions).

  25. The question of whether to replace the CTCR entirely with seminary faculty is something that can be debated on another thread, especially in light of the Missouri Synod’s affirmation of Thesis X on the Ministry.

    The concern raised in my comment #28 is that the quoted statement on p. 11 in the It’s Time document states that “the diverse viewpoints on issues that trouble us are also represented to some extent within our [seminary] faculties.” [Emphasis added] From statements made in the previous pages, the viewpoints on the troubling issues to be discussed are doctrinal (e.g., President Harrison states on p.10, “Those who say that doctrines should not be discussed in order to avoid divisions within the church do not know what they are talking about.”). Thus it’s not clear how the synod’s seminary faculties can represent diverse doctrinal viewpoints on troubling issues, when “synod” comes from Greek words that mean “walking together.”

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