A year ago the vast majority in the dissident “moderate” movement in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) said they would stay in the Synod “till death do us part,” recalled President Sam Roth of Evangelical Lutherans in Mission (ELIM). But last month some 2,500 ELIM members met at a hotel at Chicago’s O’Hare airport and voted unanimously to approve divorce.
The ELIM resolution stated flatly that the moderate movement “cannot afford to maintain a political battle.” It pledged support both to those who decide to leave the conservative-controlled 2.8-million-member LCMS and to those who decide to stay, whether in or out of ELIM and “in spite of the eviction notice served on ELIM” at the LCMS convention in Anaheim, California, in July (see August 8 issue, page 31).
After a “fruitless and frustrating” struggle, said Roth, the opponents of recent LCMS theological and procedural actions “have turned the corner.” Around the corner may be short-term organizational proliferation, confusion, and overlap. Eventually, however, Roth and others hope institutional unity will result for most of the nine million U. S. Lutherans.
The assembly urged those seeking a new alignment to form “clusters of congregations” for mutual support. Plans call for a meeting of representatives of these groups to meet in February to map future steps.
Delegates endorsed as a “promising alternative” a proposed “interim church body,” the Lutheran Church in Mission (LCM), which was formed as a standby organization earlier this year. ELIM executive C. Thomas Spitz, who heads LCM, announced that the organization will seek congregational memberships this fall arid will try to hold its first meeting of member churches in January. Whether the LCM becomes a separate ...1
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