The setting was Minneapolis, Minnesota, predominantly Lutheran city in what has been called “the Lutheran state par excellence.” A procession of 1,000 delegates led by flag-bearers and acolytes marched three abreast from the Central Lutheran Church to the Municipal Auditorium where three churches merged into one. After more than a decade of preparation, the presidents of the Evangelical, American, and United Evangelical Lutheran churches (ELC, ALC and UELC) clasped hands to signal creation of “The American Lutheran Church” (addition of the definite article distinguishes its name [TALC] from that of one of its predecessors), whose 2,250,000 members make it the tenth largest church in American Protestantism, third largest in U. S. Lutheranism. Some 7,000 observers then joined in a spine-tingling rendition of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”

Thus opened the constituting convention of the new church (April 22–24), which will function officially beginning January 1, 1961. It followed by a day the final conventions of its three component churches. There had been little opposition to the merger and these meetings produced practically no debate. After all, the delegates were under instructions simply to ratify what had already been decided by the churches. This they did in festive mood amidst virile hymn singing, extensive Bible reading, and solid gospel preaching.

The merger was of the type to prompt rejoicing among adherents of Protestant orthodoxy. Lutherans generally maintain a fidelity to the classical doctrines several notches above many churches of Anglo-Saxon origins. “A statement on faith and life” warned against “unionism,” a term designating the establishment of church fellowship which “ignores present doctrinal differences ...

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