At their semi-annual meeting held in Baltimore Oct. 28, leaders of The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) focused on joint ministries in international relief and development, welfare of refugees, and human services. They also discussed a round of Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue scheduled for this month in Chicago.
A significant portion of the four-hour meeting was devoted to discussions with officials of three inter-Lutheran agencies: Lutheran World Relief, an overseas relief and development agency; Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which with the LCMS, ELCA, and Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church deals with issues of immigration and refugees; and Lutheran Services in America, an umbrella organization through which a large network of Lutheran social-service agencies relate to each other and to the world. All three agencies are based in Baltimore.
Synod President Gerald B. Kieschnick, noting that LCMS members don’t normally talk about joint advocacy, said the conversation about the joint ministries was “most intriguing.
“I am absolutely convinced that Lutheran theology has the potential to impact the world in a huge way,” he said. “I also grieve that internal struggles within our respective church bodies can weaken our witness to the Gospel.”
Kieschnick added that there is reason to rejoice that Lutherans can seize opportunities to do meaningful work in the world together and said he yearns for greater involvement on the part of the people in the pews to do hands-on ministry.
The Lutheran agencies are key to helping the United States understand what kind of nation it will be in serving others in the world, said ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson. “We cannot let internal issues divide us when it comes to providing food and housing. Only in our collective capacity can we take on the massive responsibility of ending hunger in the world,” he said.
Dr. Samuel H. Nafzger, executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations, thanked the ELCA for working to include two LCMS participants in the 11th round of Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue. Nafzger raised the possibility with the ELCA of including LCMS participants when the committee met last March in St. Louis. The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for April 7, 2006, in Chicago.
Representatives of the Synod to meetings of the CLC include Kieschnick; Dr. William R. Diekelman, LCMS first vice president; Dr. Raymond L. Hartwig, LCMS secretary; Nafzger; Dr. C. William Hoesman, chairman of the LCMS Council of (District) Presidents and president of the Michigan District, who was not able to attend the Oct. 28 meeting; and Ronald P. Schultz, chief administrative officer.
Posted Dec. 1, 2005