CTCR backs fellowship with Kenyan church

The Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) is recommending that this summer’s Synod convention declare the Synod to be in altar and pulpit fellowship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya.

The resolution of support for fellowship with the East African church body was adopted unanimously by the commission at its Feb. 16-18 meetKenyaing in St. Louis.  A report from discussions between the two church bodies says that doctrinal agreement exists between them.

“The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod is truly thankful to God for the clear confession of faith given by our brothers and sisters in Christ of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya,” LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick said following two days of meetings with ELCK representatives Jan. 27 and 28.  “The ELCK and the LCMS, while existing in countries vastly different from one another, are remarkably alike in our understanding of the life-transforming activity of the Triune God through Word and Sacrament.”

The Jan. 27-28 meeting in St. Louis was the second for formal doctrinal discussions between representatives of the two church bodies.  On Nov. 26, LCMS First Vice President Daniel Preus and Rev. Kenneth Greinke, interim regional director for Africa with LCMS World Mission, met with ELCK leaders in Nairobi, Kenya.

“By God’s grace, we expect that together we will strengthen and stand one with the other on the faith we are called to witness to within our respective church bodies and hence also within world Christendom,” ELCK Presiding Bishop Walter Obare said after the January meeting.  Obare led a three-member ELCK delegation to that meeting.

The ELCK has some 70,000 members in 440 congregations, which are served by 110 pastors and 185 trained evangelists who work under the pastors’ supervision.

Synod Bylaws require the CTCR’s approval before a Synod convention considers recognition of altar and pulpit fellowship with another church body.

In other business at the Feb. 16-18 meeting, the CTCR:

  • completed a review of “That They May Be One,” a document signed by a number of LCMS pastors and laymen that identifies itself as “a statement based upon Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions concerning church fellowship and public prayer.” The CTCR’s review is being sent to the Council of Presidents (COP), which had requested it in June 2002 after the document’s authors and distributors asked the COP to examine it.  COP Chairman C. William Hoesman told Reporter that the CTCR’s review will be discussed at the COP’s next meeting, which begins April 23.

  • continued work on “Guidelines for Participation in Civic Events.”  CTCR Executive Director Samuel H. Nafzger said that the commission spent much of its Feb. 16-18 meeting revising a draft of the guidelines that was shared with the COP.  The revision is based on consultation with the COP in early February.

Posted Feb. 25, 2004

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