Disputes continue to erupt following the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s July vote to elect a new conservative president and restore the former president of a denominational seminary (CT, Aug. 17, 1992, p. 42). In the July decision, delegates narrowly elected Alvin Barry over the controversial Ralph Bohlmann as synod president. Former incumbent Bohlmann, considered moderate by some conservatives, has since responded by accusing Barry of being caught in the grip of a “political network” that will force him to comply with a conservative line.
In a letter sent in August to all pastors of the 2.6 million-member church, Bohlmann attributed Barry’s win to “sinful” politicking on the part of a right-wing faction that he says is “decentralized, yet highly organized.” Bohlmann told Religious News Service that Barry’s election was largely orchestrated by a coalition of conservatives linked to Balance, Inc., a St. Louis—based organization that produces a conservative Lutheran publication.
Barry denied the allegations that he is beholden to any group, saying his election did not result from any “carefully organized political organization” but was simply due to “a growing feeling that a change was necessary.” During his presidency, Bohlmann increasingly drew criticism for encouraging relationships with more liberal denominations and for supporting efforts to increase the role of women in the church, although he upheld the ban on women’s ordination.
The July vote also reinstalled conservative theologian Robert Preus as president of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and selected Michael Stelmachowicz, retired executive secretary of the synod’s board of higher education, as the seminary’s new administrative officer. An ...1
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