Characterizing their recent meeting as “collegial and hopeful,” representatives of the American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC) and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod have set another date to continue dialogue that could lead to altar and pulpit fellowship.
During their March 7-8 meeting at the Synod’s International Center in St. Louis, participants discussed inter-Christian relationships, close(d) communion, piety vs. pietism, and the role of women in the church. Presentations stating the official positions of the church bodies were followed by extended discussions to determine that agreement exists on each issue.
AALC Presiding Pastor Thomas Aadland expressed “satisfaction that progress is being made.” He heads the church body comprised mostly of congregations that did not join the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America when it was established in 1987. The AALC numbers about 11,000 members in 84 congregations.
Discussion of fellowship practices and ecumenical relationships will continue at the next meeting, set for July 13-14 in St. Louis.
“We continue to be hopeful that we will be able to recommend entering into altar and pulpit fellowship to our church bodies at our 2007 conventions,” observed LCMS Secretary Raymond Hartwig, one of the participants.
Other AALC representatives at the recent meeting were Rev. Gregory Gerendas, administrative assistant; Rev. Frank Hays, president of the AALC seminary, and Rev. Darrel Deuel, formerly of the Commission on Doctrine and Church Relations. Other LCMS representatives were President Gerald B. Kieschnick; First Vice President William Diekelman; Dr. Samuel Nafzger, executive director of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations; and Dr. Charles Arand of the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, faculty.
“We have been encouraged by our agreement on sensitive issues including church and ministry, the charismatic movement, and now also the role of women in the church,” said Nafzger.
Posted March 31, 2006