In a report to its July convention, Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod leaders will recommend that current LCMS working relationships with the ELCA be continued.
The 2001 LCMS convention asked the Praesidium — the LCMS president and five vice presidents — to evaluate these pastoral arrangements. Much of the group's report focused on the military chaplaincy.
While the Praesidium recognized the "exceptional pastoral commitment of our military chaplains," the report noted the "divergence of opinion" among LCMS chaplains "concerning the appropriateness and usefulness of continuing the present working arrangements with the ELCA."
Although recommending that current arrangements for the military chaplaincy "be continued at this time," the report says the "LCMS has reason to be concerned about the ability of the ELCA to proclaim the Christian faith with Lutheran clarity." It cites as a basis the ELCA's ecumenical agreements and its deliberations over the possible blessings of same-gender relationships and of ordaining gay or lesbian people living in committed relationships.
The Praesidium recommended that it continue to assess cooperative work with the ELCA and report to the 2007 convention.
The report was discussed when the Committee on Lutheran Cooperation met April 14 in St. Louis. The committee, made up of ELCA and LCMS leaders, meets regularly for theological conversations.
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson expressed gratitude for the report's recommendations and for being allowed to give input as the Praesidium considered these issues. But he expressed concern over wording in the report that refers to consequences for Lutheran cooperative work "should the mind of the ELCA prove to be contrary to the mind of the Holy Spirit" regarding issues of human sexuality. "That kind of language is difficult to absorb," he said.
LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick said the Praesidium had "significant conversation about that statement," indicating that it was not of one mind on that wording. He said the report was not adopted unanimously.
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