A. L. Barry, president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod since 1992, died Friday night while vacationing in Orlando. He had entered the hospital February 25 for treatment of pneumonia, but during his stay the 69-year-old minister developed a staph infection and kidney dysfunction, and eventually kidney and liver failure. Obituaries and news articles ran in several major newspapers, and most noted that Barry had raised both the profile of the denomination and his post. "During his years as president, he had enjoyed a higher public profile than many of his predecessors," noted The Washington Post. "He often released his views on society and religion to the secular press." Similarly, the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Barry took an active role in pressing the synod's conservative views in various matters."
But with his death, and vice-president Robert Kuhn's announcement that he will soon retire, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod stands at something of a crossroads. At least it does in the view of Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI's religion correspondent and a conservative Lutheran theologian. In an article separate from the UPI's obituary, he reports that the LCMS "has its fair share of internal tensions exacerbating the divisions within American and world Lutheranism on the whole. The sudden death of … Barry last Friday is bound to bring these tensions to the fore, church insiders say. They wonder which of the disparate LCMS wings will prevail in the election of his successor in August."
Siemon-Netto notes several tensions in the church, writing, "The main dividing line in the LCMS runs between the 'confessionalists' and the 'church growth movement,' which has little in common with ...1
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