Church Relations

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod


While the LCMS is a uniquely North American church body, it has relationships of varying degrees with 70 other Lutheran church bodies in 58 countries around the globe.

Needless to say, all of these church bodies are unapologetically Lutheran, confessing — at a minimum — the three ecumenical creeds and the Augsburg Confession.

The LCMS communicates and cooperates with these other church bodies in many areas, such as ecumenical relations, theology, theological education, mission, and mercy.

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  • The LCMS Office of Church Relations

    The President shall be the chief ecumenical officer of the Synod … He or his representatives shall represent the Synod in official contacts with other church bodies (Bylaw 3.3.1.1.2 (a)).

    The LCMS President is the chief ecumenical officer of the LCMS and, as such, has the primary responsibility for managing these many relationships.

    Because of the size and ever-growing scope of these relationships, the LCMS President delegates this authority to a unit within his office called the Office of Church Relations, which manages these many international relationships under his direction and on his behalf.

    The Office of Church Relations, then, serves as the official channel through which inter-church cooperation takes place in the LCMS. On behalf of the LCMS, then, the Office of Church Relations:

    • engages in church-to-church relations with national Lutheran church bodies;
    • engages in church-to-church relations with international Lutheran church bodies;
    • engages in ecumenical relations with national non-Lutheran church bodies;
    • deploys representatives of the LCMS President around the world;
    • provides scholarships and other support for theological education around the world;
    • represents the LCMS in international fora such as the International Lutheran Council (ILC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF); and
    • connects LCMS members, pastors, and congregations in North America to other church bodies around the world.

 


 

Sister Church Bodies in Fellowship with the LCMS

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has partner churches around the world. A partner church is a church body with whom the LCMS has full altar and pulpit fellowship.

View partner churches



Church Bodies Working Toward Fellowship with the LCMS

The LCMS has allied relationships with several churches.

  • View allied churches
    • Australia — Lutheran Church of Australia
    • Belgium — Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium
    • Bolivia — Evangelical Christian Lutheran Church of Bolivia
    • Cambodia — Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cambodia
    • Czech Republic — Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in the Czech Republic
    • Czech Republic — Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession
    • Ethiopia — Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus
    • Finland — Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland
    • Indonesia — Indonesian Lutheran Christian Church
    • Kazakhstan — Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Kazakhstan
    • Nicaragua — Lutheran Church Synod of Nicaragua
    • Norway — Evangelical Lutheran Diocese in Norway
    • Peru — Evangelical Lutheran Church—Peru
    • Portugal — Portuguese Evangelical Lutheran Church
    • Rwanda — Lutheran Mission in Africa—Synod of Thousand Hills
    • Sierra Leone — Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church—Sierra Leone
    • South Africa — Confessional Lutheran Synod of South Africa
    • South Sudan — South Sudan Evangelical Lutheran Church
    • Sweden — Mission Province in Sweden
    • Tanzania — Lutheran Church of East Africa
    • Turkey — Istanbul Lutheran Church
    • Uganda — Lutheran Church of Uganda
    • Ukraine — German Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Ukraine
    • United States — The Lutheran Ministerium and Synod—USA


Church Bodies in Another Relationship with the LCMS

The LCMS has nascent dialogue with churches around the world.

  • View churches with emerging relationships
    • Burma — Myanmar Lutheran Church
    • Colombia — Confessional Lutheran Church of Colombia
    • Ethiopia — Ethiopian Evangelical Lutheran Church
    • Madagascar — Malagasy Lutheran Church
    • Malaysia — Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malaysia
    • Norway — Evangelical Lutheran Denomination
    • Norway — Norwegian Lutheran Mission
    • Singapore — Lutheran Church in Singapore
    • South Sudan — Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sudan and South Sudan
    • Tanzania — Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania

 


 

 


 

General Information



Sending Workers & Funds Overseas

Starting in 1911, the LCMS began to take measures to ensure that its expanding international work was carried out efficiently and in good order. This resulted in a series of evolving decisions and resolutions to this end, the last of which was a Convention action in 2010 that established the current text of Bylaw 3.8.3

 

Journal of Lutheran Mission

The Journal of Lutheran Mission is an electronic publication of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, focused on a uniquely Lutheran approach to mission.

International Lutheran Council

The ILC is a worldwide association of established confessional Lutheran church bodies which proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the basis of an unconditional commitment to the Holy Scriptures as the inspired and infallible Word of God and to the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord as the true and faithful exposition of the Word of God.

 

The Wittenberg Project

The goal of The Wittenberg Project is to honor our Lutheran heritage as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation by nurturing and strengthening the faith of Christians and introducing the Christian faith to non-Christians, especially those living in and around Wittenberg as well as the thousands of people from around the world who visit this historic place each year.

 


 

Church Fellowship


Article VI: Church Fellowship

At the 2010 LCMS Convention, the Synod passed Resolution 8-30B titled, “Congregations Walking Together in Mission with Covenants of Love To Study Article VI of the Synod’s Constitution.”

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  • The resolution noted that Article VI of the Synod’s constitution has been misunderstood, in particular the clauses, “Renunciation of unionism and syncretism of every description;” “Exclusive use of doctrinally pure agenda, hymnbooks, and catechisms in church and school;” and “examination and approval of [congregation’s] constitution and bylaws by the district.”

    Resolution 8-30B resolves, among other things, “That the President of the Synod in consultation [with COP, CTCR, CCM] ... make provisions for the preparation of materials that explain the biblical, confessional, and historical basis for Article VI of the Synod’s Constitution.”



Dialogue With Other Church Bodies

The LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations in 2011 adopted a report entitled “Theological Dialogue with Other Christian Church Bodies.”

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  • The LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations in 2011 adopted a report entitled “Theological Dialogue with Other Christian Church Bodies.”

    The report concludes: “At no point, however, should dialogue with other Christians be allowed to deny or to gloss over areas of theological disagreement. Authentic ecumenical dialogue must always be in the service of the truth of God’s Word, centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church has no higher treasure.”

     Download and read report



Policies

In 2014, the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations adopted and revised a policy entitled “Policy for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Declaring Altar and Pulpit Fellowship with Another Church Body.”

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  • The report begins:

    “Article III of the constitution of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod lists as the first objective of the Synod that:

    The Synod, under Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, shall—Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith (Eph. 4:3-6; 1 Cor. 1:10), work through its official structure toward fellowship with other Christian church bodies, and provide a united defense against schism, sectarianism (Rom. 16:17), and heresy.

    This policy statement describes the procedure which The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod follows in declaring Church Fellowship with another church body.”

     Download and read report



Letters and Statements

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has written several letters and statements, including some co-authored by other church bodies, on a variety of topics in church relations.



 

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The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Inc., including Mission Central (in Mapleton, Iowa), is an IRS registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity.

A contribution designated (restricted) for a specific purpose, when accepted, will be used only to fund expenses related to that purpose. Occasionally, we may receive more in contributions for a particular purpose than can be wisely applied to it in the foreseeable future or the purpose may cease to be feasible. In these situations, the LCMS will make reasonable attempts to contact contributors to apply their contribution toward another aspect of ministry that aligns closely the contributor’s goals and values. If a contributor cannot be contacted, the LCMS will use the gift to meet a similar pressing need that most closely matches the contributor's original intent.

Consistent with Synod Board policy and in recognition of a more challenging economic and philanthropic/fundraising environment due to inflationary pressure, not more than 12.5 percent of any charitable contribution will be allocated to administering gifts and communicating with contributors. Contributions received and accepted by the LCMS are deemed to be in agreement with this statement.

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