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LCMS forces dual membership congregations to decide

Before this year, six ELCA congregations were also members of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Seeking to end this dual membership, the 1998 LCMS convention set a January 2000 deadline for the congregations to decide their status.

In calling for the deadline, the convention said the "ELCA has joined in confession with church bodies that teach false doctrine," presumably referring to the ELCA's 1997 decision to enter into full communion relationships with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ. It is "not possible to make confession in two church bodies at the same time," the resolution continued.

In an earlier interview with the Reporter, an LCMS paper, ELCA Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson said dual congregations don't pose a problem for the ELCA.

The congregations' decisions are:

  • First Trinity, Washington, D.C.: Voted unanimously in December 1999 to affirm its status as a congregation of both the LCMS and ELCA. LCMS Southeastern District President Arthur Scherer later removed First from LCMS membership.
  • United, Manteca, Calif.: Resigned from both denominations and joined the American Association of Lutheran Churches.
  • St. James, St. James (Long Island), N.Y.: Resigned from the ELCA and retained its LCMS membership.
  • Palisades, Pacific Palisades, Calif., and Arcata, Arcata, Calif.: An LCMS commission decided the two churches do not hold dual membership and are separately incorporated congregations--one ELCA, one LCMS--served by an ELCA pastor, Walter Mees Jr.
  • Prince of Peace, Twentynine Palms, Calif.: Says it is also made up of two separately incorporated congregations and does not come under the 1998 convention action. LCMS officials are investigating the matter.

    The LCMS ruling does not affect independent Lutheran congregations overseas that are served alternately by ELCA and LCMS pastors.


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