Architect of ELCA merger dies at 90

Robert J. Marshall helped lay the groundwork for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The Rev. Robert J. Marshall, who led the former Lutheran Church in America and helped lay the groundwork for the church's merger with two other denominations to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, died Dec. 22. He was 90.

Marshall, a dedicated ecumenist, was elected president of the Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S., in 1968, according to the ELCA.

He served as president for a decade, helping prepare the LCA to merge with the American Lutheran Church and Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in 1987 to form the 5 million-member ELCA.

Current ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson recalled Marshall as a steady soul who led Lutherans through turbulent times.

"To God we give thanks for the service of the Reverend Dr. Robert James Marshall, who himself became one of those giants among Lutheran leaders who served in the 20th century," Hanson said in a statement.

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