By Roy S. Askins
TAMPA, Fla. — “Yea, yea! It shall be so,” belted out delegates to the 67th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) on Monday, July 22, to recognize or endorse fellowship with three European church bodies.
With unanimous, vocal acclamation, the delegates “formally recognize[d] the existence of altar and pulpit fellowship” between the LCMS and both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium (ELKB) and the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Denmark (ELFCD).
They also endorsed the fellowship between the LCMS and the Portuguese Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELP), which was previously recognized by the president of the Synod.
“Of course, this is an exciting time for these church bodies to come here and share their faith with us and us with them,” said the Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray, Synod second vice-president and chairman of Committee 5 on Theology and Church Relations. “Declaration of fellowship is simply telling the community here what is already the fact: that we share one faith and one confession.”
“I rejoice and I pray and I give thanks to the Lord that such a great assembly has its standing on the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions,” the Rev. Leif G. Jensen, president of the ELFCD, said to convention delegates. “Thank you very much, and God bless you.”
Jensen explained the new opportunities full altar and pulpit fellowship provides the ELFCD.
“Church fellowship for us implies that individual Christians, congregations and church bodies can come together; use and call pastors from each other’s congregations; and have Divine Service together and trust the Word spoken and the Sacrament being administered,” he said.
Then, looking at the delegates, he said, “And you are such a church. Thank you.”
The Portuguese church grew out of the work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil, a daughter synod of the LCMS.
The Rev. Adalberto Hiller, president of the IELP, drew laughter from the delegates when he said, “You are like our grandmother.”
He then pointed delegates to God as the source of unity: “Our relations come from God. We are brothers. We are sons of God.”
“It’s such a joyous thing for us to be able to do this,” said Murray. “It was a delight to hear President Hiller and President Jensen and to hear their wonderful confession of faith and joy upon the declaration of fellowship.”
After each acclamation, the convention delegates stood and sang the Common Doxology, giving thanks to God for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, now recognized with these partners.
Posted July 22, 2019
The 67th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod met July 20–25 in Tampa, Fla., at the Tampa Convention Center under the theme “Joy:fully Lutheran.” For more convention news: