For Immediate Release
Contact: Vicki Biggs, 314-996-1236, 314-556-3829 (cell), @theLCMS
Delegates ratify altar, pulpit fellowship with Russian Lutheran church body
ST. LOUIS, July 23, 2013—With a vote of 965 to 3, delegates voted nearly unanimously yesterday at the 65th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod to ratify altar and pulpit fellowship with the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC).
“It brings me special joy to greet this assembly on behalf of the brothers and sisters of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church,’ said SELC Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin, who addressed the convention following the vote. “The LCMS has played a very special part in the life of the Siberian church, especially in providing matters of theological education.”
Prior to the revolution in 1917, the Lutheran church in Russia had more than one million members. By 1939, nearly every Lutheran pastor in Russia had been exiled or worse and Lutheran congregations ceased to exist. It wasn’t until the 1970s that small groups of Lutherans began gathering to worship together again. In 1998, the SELC formally approached the LCMS to open a doctrinal dialogue. Subsequent meetings were held, discussion ensued, and finally, in 2010, it was determined that the two church bodies shared doctrinal unity.
LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison formally declared fellowship with the SELC in December 2010, subject to ratification by the subsequent Synod convention. At the time of the declaration of fellowship, the SELC had 20 pastors serving 2,000 members in 22 parishes and teaching stations.
“After waiting 17 years, it is a great joy that the LCMS has recognized and affirmed itself to be in fellowship with the SELC,” said the Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III, director of Church Relations for the LCMS and assistant to the Synod president. “The Church in general and the Lutheran church in particular suffered under Communist Russia. To see the Lutheran Church return from the brink of extinction in Russia prompts us to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. The pattern of the cross and suffering turning into good and blessing is repeated here.”
The Synod convention, which runs through July 25, serves as the principal legislative assembly for the church body. Along with the consideration of some 116 resolutions, the convention includes opportunities for worship and fellowship. Convention participants include 1,191 clergy and lay voting delegates.
About The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a biblical, confessional, witness-oriented Christian denomination with 2.3 million members – 600,000 households – in 6,200 congregations. Through acts of witness and mercy, the church carries out its mission worldwide to make known the love of Jesus Christ. Learn more at www.lcms.org.