By Roger Drinnon
After consultation with the Synod Praesidium and with approval from the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR), Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison declared fellowship with the Lutheran Church of Uruguay (LCU) Jan. 16.
The announcement brings the total number of international partner churches in fellowship with the LCMS to 37. New partnerships with the LCU and with the Lutheran Church in Norway will be taken to the Synod convention in July for formal endorsement.
“How joyful when brothers dwell in unity, and fellowship is recognized between Lutheran churches,” said the Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III, LCMS director of Church Relations.
“We understand fellowship to be a gift from the Lord, and we are thankful that He moved the Missouri Synod and the Lutheran Church of Uruguay to recognize that they taught and practiced the same doctrine.”
Collver pointed out that the LCU began as a mission effort of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina (IELA/Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Argentina), the Synod’s partner church in Argentina. He said as the LCU matured, it also began working with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (IELB/Igreja Evangélica Luterana do Brasil), the Synod’s partner church in Brazil.
“It’s exciting to see how churches that began as a Missouri Synod mission start among German immigrants developed to plant churches in other South American countries such as Uruguay,” said Collver.
In a letter to the Rev. André Luiz Müller, principal pastor for the LCU, Harrison stated, “We are thankful for the work that both our partner churches in Argentina and Brazil have done to support and encourage the Lutheran Church of Uruguay over these years.”
Collver said the Rev. Dr. Jack Preus, executive director of the Luther Institute — Southeast Asia, was instrumental in nurturing the partnership with the LCU, which Collver hopes will include expanding the educational ministry at the LCU’s San Pablo school.
“This opens up pathways for walking together in so many ways. One thing the Lutheran Church of Uruguay is known for is its outstanding educational ministry,” said Preus. “Building upon that excellent foundation, it is exciting to see the LCMS coming alongside the LCU to help create the first-ever Lutheran university in Spanish-speaking Latin America.”
Harrison’s declaration is in keeping with Synod Bylaw 188.8.131.52.2 (c), which states: “When a small, formative, emerging confessional Lutheran church body … requests recognition of altar and pulpit fellowship with the Synod, after consultation with the Praesidium and approval by the commission [CTCR], such recognition may be declared by the President of the Synod subject to the endorsement of the subsequent Synod convention.”
“We rejoice in the fellowship we share as we participate together in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We look forward to this partnership and to how it will continue to grow in the future,” said Collver.
“This declaration of fellowship between the [LCU and the LCMS] is a gift and blessing from God,” echoed Preus. “When fellow Christians walk together in unity of theology and practice, God’s name is praised, and His people [are] greatly blessed.”
Roger Drinnon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is manager of Editorial Services for LCMS Communications.
Posted Jan. 27, 2016 / Updated Jan. 28, 2016