Representatives of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and The American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC) this fall took part in the first of two theological discussions that could lead to the establishment of altar and pulpit fellowship.
The AALC is composed primarily of congregations that chose not to become members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America when it was established in 1987. The Minneapolis-based church body has 83 congregations and a baptized membership of more than 14,100.
During the Oct. 6 meeting at Christ the Ray of Hope Lutheran Church, an AALC congregation in Albuquerque, N.M., representatives of both denominations presented position papers and took part in discussions on the topics of “Church and Ministry,” “Lay Ministry,” and “Charismatic Concerns.”
“Participants of both church bodies concurred that the presentations and the discussions that followed demonstrated that the official positions of their respective churches on these issues were in agreement with each other,” said Dr. Samuel Nafzger, executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations. Nafzger gave a presentation on “Charismatic Concerns” at the meeting.
AALC Presiding Pastor Thomas V. Aadland told Reporter that he is “hopeful altar and pulpit fellowship may be declared in the foreseeable future.
“That prospect would be a tremendous blessing,” Aadland said. “AALC members are scattered across the country and have family members in LCMS congregations. The hunger for the Sacrament at those times and places one is far from home would no longer remain unsatisfied were fellowship to be enjoyed. Both our church bodies have congregations which are too small to call a full-time pastor on their own, but which could work with neighboring congregations to support a pastor in a yoked relationship.”
AALC representatives also reported on the move of their seminary in Edina, Minn., to the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS), Fort Wayne, in August. The move of the AALC’s 12-year-old American Lutheran Theological Seminary was approved by the church body’s General Convention in June. The seminary, which rents office space on the upper floor of St. Augustine Hall, has two students who attend CTS classes.
Aadland says the AALC seminary has been received “with open arms and a ‘Herzlich Willkommen!’ (‘heartfelt welcome’).
“At every point, CTS personnel have assisted with the move in more ways than space allows to recount here,” he said.
“Every day is a Thanksgiving for a child of God,” said Aadland. “Those who belong to Christ in the AALC have every reason to give thanks to our gracious Savior for the life and witness of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
“Whether or not we soon realize actual altar and pulpit fellowship, the people we have met among our fellow redeemed have been an enduring blessing to us. Regardless of how future talks unfold, we have been thankful for the relationshi