First meeting held between Missouri Synod Lutherans,
North American Lutheran Church
ST. LOUIS—December 23, 2011—At the invitation of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), an initial discussion was held Dec. 15-16 in St. Louis with the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). Leaders from the two church bodies discussed theological and ecumenical issues facing each church body, as well as potential areas of cooperative work.
The NALC, which organized in August 2010 in Columbus, Ohio, had also committed itself in its formal ecumenical statement to meetings with the LCMS. Today, the church body, characterized by its commitment to biblical and confessional Lutheranism, has more than 300 congregations and 100,000 baptized members.
At the meeting, the NALC was represented by Bishop John Bradosky, Emeritus Bishop Paull Spring, Dr. James Nestingen, retired seminary professor; Rev. David Wendel, NALC ministry coordinator; and Rev. Mark Chavez, NALC General Secretary. LCMS President Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, Dr. Albert B. Collver III, director of Church Relations and assistant to the LCMS President; Rev. John Pless, director of field education and assistant professor in Pastoral Ministry and Missions at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Dr. Joel D. Lehenbauer, executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR); and Rev. Larry M. Vogel, associate executive director of CTCR, were the LCMS representatives. President Robert Bugbee of the Lutheran Church—Canada attended as a formal observer.
“The NALC fervently desires to take the Scriptures and the Lutheran confession seriously,” Harrison said in a statement about the meeting. “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.”
“Our dialog transcended all of our hopes and expectations,” added Bradosky. “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.”
Leaders of the two churches will meet again in May 2012 in Columbus. Future meetings will include discussions about matters of agreement and disagreement between the churches.
Harrison’s entire statement is available at www.lcms.org/president/documents. Bradosky’s full statement is available at www.thenalc.org.
About The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), is a mission-oriented, Bible-based, confessional Christian denomination headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. Founded in 1847, the LCMS has more than 2.3 million baptized members in some 6,200 congregations and more than 9,000 pastors. Two seminaries and 10 colleges and universities operate under the auspices of the LCMS, and its congregations operate the largest Protestant parochial school system in America. The church broadcasts the saving message of Jesus Christ over KFUO Radio, and it has relationships and active mission work in 89 countries around the world. In the last five years, the LCMS has awarded more than $35 million through more than 900 domestic and international grants for emergency response and disaster relief. Today, the LCMS is in full doctrinal fellowship with 33 other confessional Lutheran church bodies worldwide and is a founding partner of Lutheran Services in America, a social ministry organization serving one in every 50 Americans. For more information, visit www.lcms.org.