By Roland Lovstad
The American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC), meeting in convention June 20-23 in St. Paul, Minn., has declared altar and pulpit fellowship with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
A similar resolution to declare altar and pulpit fellowship with the AALC will come before the LCMS convention, July 14-19 in Houston. The LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations recommended altar and pulpit fellowship last February, following two years of formal dialogue between representatives of the two church bodies.
“I am very pleased that the overwhelming majority of delegates to the AALC convention approved altar and pulpit fellowship with the LCMS,” said Dr. Samuel Nafzger, CTCR executive director who represented LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick at the convention.
The AALC was organized by pastors and congregations with doctrinal concerns — particularly about the authority of Scripture — when three Lutheran church bodies formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1988. AALC membership now includes 79 congregations, 107 active pastors, and 14,137 baptized members.
When he addressed the convention, Nafzger noted that he was among the LCMS representatives who first met with AALC representatives in 1988.
“More recently, it has been a pleasure for us in the LCMS to sit down and discuss with your representatives some of the most contentious issues under debate in Christendom today,” he told the delegates. “Time after time we have found our two churches in agreement in what we believe, teach, and confess.”
In its resolution adopting altar and pulpit fellowship, the AALC recognized the LCMS as a partner church and further resolved “that we implore the Lord of the church to continue to strengthen the bond of fellowship between our two churches and that, aflame with His Spirit in one faith and one mission, we may together be renewed in our commitment to the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to all the world.” The resolution was approved by a vote of 117 to 27, with one abstention.
At the Synod’s invitation, the AALC decided in June 2005 to move its seminary to the Concordia Theological Seminary campus in Fort Wayne, Ind. A favorable report regarding the move was received “with affirmation and acclamation” by the convention.
The AALC also voted to join the International Lutheran Council (ILC), an international association of confessional Lutheran church bodies. That resolution was approved with just three dissenting votes. The LCMS also is a member of the ILC.
Rev. Franklin Hays was elected as AALC presiding pastor. Hays, who has been president of the seminary, will assume office Oct. 1. He succeeds Rev. Thomas Aadlund, who served for the past eight years.
Posted July 2, 2007