Representatives of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the North American Lutheran Church released a statement Dec. 16 about their discussions Dec. 15-16 in St. Louis. The statement follows.
An initial discussion was held on 15-16 December 2011 between representatives of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) and North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The meeting was held at the invitation of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. The NALC had also committed itself in its formal ecumenical statement to meetings with the LCMS.
The NALC is a newly formed Lutheran church body committed to biblical and confessional Lutheranism with over 300 congregations and over 100,000 baptized members. It was organized in August 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.
The NALC was represented by Bishop John Bradosky and Emeritus Bishop Paull Spring, the Rev. Dr. James Nestingen (retired seminary professor), the Rev. David Wendel (NALC ministry coordinator), and the Rev. Mark Chavez (NALC general secretary). President Matthew Harrison, the Rev. Dr. Albert Collver (assistant for Church Relations), the Rev. John Pless (professor at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.), and the Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer and the Rev. Larry Vogel from the Commission on Theology and Church Relations were the LCMS representatives. President Rev. Robert Bugbee of Lutheran Church–Canada attended as a formal observer.
Among his comments on the meeting, Bishop Bradosky said, “I am deeply grateful for the gracious hospitality of President Harrison and his competent staff. Our dialogue transcended all of our hopes and expectations. The level of openness, honesty and trust evident in our conversations was commensurate with those whose relationship had spanned years. That experience may be based on the fact that our common commitment to biblical authority and theological integrity has spanned many years to our formal meeting.”
President Harrison noted, in part: “The NALC fervently desires to take the Scriptures and the Lutheran confession seriously. These men are creedal Christians who share our own convictions on fundamental issues of life and sexuality. We do have real differences and they will not be easily overcome. But the outcome is the Lord’s.”
Discussion of theological and ecumenical issues facing each church took up much of the meeting time. Areas of cooperative work between the church bodies also were considered.
The group heard presentations by Barb Below from the President’s office on LCMS restructuring. The Rev. John Fale of the International Missions office of the LCMS reported on the Synod’s work of mercy.
The meetings between the churches will continue, with the next meeting planned for May 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. Plans for future meetings include time to address matters of difference and agreement between the churches.
President Harrison’s entire statement is available online at www.lcms.org/president and Bishop Bradosky’s full statement is available at www.thenalc.org.
Posted Dec. 16, 2011