Feisty Preus yields gavel to self-effacing Bohlmann.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod voted last month to break off intercommunion and exchange of ministers and members with the American Lutheran Church.

The action by the fifty-fourth regular assembly of the denomination—started by German immigrants to the midwest—followed the recommendation of its Commission on Theology and Church Relations that altar and pulpit fellowship be severed. It came 12 years after the ALC link was formed in 1969. That was the same assembly that elected conservative Jacob A. O. Preus president, ushering in a decade of intense sparring between conservatives and moderates. (The LCMS does not admit to having a liberal wing since it is the most conservative of the four major North American Lutheran denominations.)

Although theological discussions between the two denominations were held regularly over the 12-year period, differences were not narrowed; in fact, they increased. Those differences included the inerrancy of the Bible, what subscribing to the creeds entails, ordination of women, abortion, and membership in ecumenical organizations.

Lack of progress prompted the LCMS to move four years ago to a status of “fellowship in protest,” implying that if no significant progress were made, the altar and pulpit fellowship link should be broken. Two years ago, the biennial assembly voted to extend the protest status for two more years. But, as the Commission on Theology and Church Relations chairman noted, the synod could not drag on the fellowship in protest “interminably” and retain its integrity.

The resolution to cut the special tie was debated for two-and-a-half hours, with pro-and-con sentiment more or less evenly matched. When the vote came, it was ...

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