The biennium between the 1967 and 1969 conventions of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod can be regarded as a twofold anniversary—tenth and fiftieth—of the synod’s involvement in the quest for Lutheran unity on the American scene. In the view of most observers this quest will reach a decisive climax for the Missouri Synod at its Denver convention this July when the church’s delegates vote on a recommendation of its president and council of district presidents to declare pulpit and altar fellowship with the American Lutheran Church.

It was ten years ago, at the San Francisco convention of 1959, that the synod instructed its committee on doctrinal unity to meet with representatives of the American Lutheran Church (then just in process of formation) “for the purpose of seeking a God-pleasing unity and fellowship.” For its part, the American Lutheran Church—formally established in 1961 by a merger of the former American Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church—was quick to move in the same direction. In keeping with the stipulation of its Articles of Union (1958) that “official negotiations already established [with other Lutheran churches]” be continued after the merger, the new American Lutheran Church at its founding convention in 1960 directed its officials to meet with representatives of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod for unity discussions.

The importance of this accent on the continuity of the recently concluded negotiations with those that were carried on previously should not be overlooked.

When the 1967 Missouri Synod convention adopted a resolution declaring “that the Scriptural and Confessional basis for altar and pulpit fellowship [with the ALC] exists,” it could ...

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