On March 1-3, 2011, the Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations met at Trinity Lutheran Church, Kearney, Missouri, for its Convening Conference. The 130 pastors and laymen in attendance heard an array of excellent speakers discussing the issues and errors which have sadly divided our church body, The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
Rev. Dr. John Wohlrabe, Concordia, Geneseo, IL (Second Vice President of the Synod), traced the problem of unresolved error in the Synod to issues occurring following the First World War. Rev. Richard Bolland, Holy Cross, Kansas City, took the conference attendees through the history of our Synod’s failure to biblically and Confessionally resolve our errors under God’s Word and our Lutheran Confessions from the infamous “Statement of the 44” in 1945, to the recent advent of an over-emphasis on numerical growth, and the employment of the methods of the Reformed “Church Growth” movement during the past decade, and provided a presentation of the errors associated with the failures of Ecclesiastical Supervision and the Dispute Resolution Process to adequately address and resolve them.
Rev. Scott Porath, Immanuel, Eagle, NE, spoke on the unbiblical removal of pastors from their divine calls, while Rev. Clint Poppe, Good Shepherd, Lincoln, NE, outlined the errors associated with a misunderstanding of the Church’s mission. Forth Vice President of the Synod, Rev. Daniel Preus, Director of the Luther Academy, spoke to the conference on the importance of maintaining purity of doctrine and called the correction of such impure doctrine a loving and Christian act. Rev. Rick Sawyer, Messiah, Vicksburg, MS, outlined the errors association with contemporary worship, while Rev. John Wentzel, Trinity, Walton, NE, spoke on the Order of Creation. Additionally, Rev. Brent Kuhlman, Trinity, Murdock, NE, outlined the errors associated with the practice of open Communion and unionism.
The ACELC was established as an informal association of congregations within the LCMS during the business meeting on Thursday, March 3, 2011, and ten Congregations chose to join the ACELC with another ten deferring affiliation until they can report back to their respective congregations for a decision. The initial period of affiliation was extended to May, 1, 2011 in order to accommodate those congregations deferring action and to allow other congregations the opportunity to join the ACELC during this initial period. Enrollment will remain open to all LCMS congregations wishing to work together to unite our Synod in doctrine and practice for the foreseeable future.
In other business, the proposed ACELC Governance Guidelines were adopted, the theological documents: The Definition of Confessional Lutheranism In Light of Present Day Issues; The Fraternal Letter of Admonition & Catalog of Errors; and the ten ACELC documents, Evidence of Errors In The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod documents were all adopted as official ACELC documents. All of these documents are subject to clarification and improvement by the association and are intended to assist our Synod to engage in fraternal discussion leading to a resolution of these errors among us. The ACELC also passed a motion in support of the proposed “Koinonia Project” being brought forward by LCMS President Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, and clearly stated that the goal of the ACELC is to uphold the first objective of the LCMS, “The Synod, under Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, shall – 1. Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith (Eph. 4:3-6; I Cor. 1:10)…and provide a united defense against schism, sectarianism (Rom. 16:17), and heresy.” (2010 Synodical Handbook, p. 13)
The current ACELC Steering Committee members were authorized to organize as a Board of Directors Pro Tem, until the initial phase of enrollment is concluded on May 1, 2011. Nomination and election of permanent officers of the association can be completed by the member congregations no later than July 1, 2011. Those Pro Tem officers are: Rev. Richard A. Bolland, Chairman; Rev. Drew Newman, Vice Chairman & Committee Chairman – Technology/Media; Rev. Bruce Ley, Committee Chairman – Documents; Rev. Daniel Bremer, Committee Chairman – Speaker’s Bureau. Additionally, Mrs. Ginny Valleau was appointed to serve as ACELC Secretary and Mrs. Connie Brammeier as ACELC Treasurer.
Fraternally Yours In Christ’s Service,
ACELC Board of Directors Pro Tem