A Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod task force recommended that schools affiliated with the ELCA and the LCMS choose one or the other by July 1, 2006. "[The ELCA's] recent ecumenical directions may jeopardize the doctrine of [Missouri Synod] congregations participating in [the schools]," the group said.
If the 2001 LCMS convention approves the recommendation, schools that don't choose sides will lose affiliation with the Missouri Synod. Loss of either affiliation could hurt schools' abilities to hire teachers, borrow funds and participate in retirement plans.
The convention will also consider a proposal to move supervisory responsibilities for all LCMS-recognized schools from congregations to LCMS district presidents. This would affect 34 schools run by both LCMS and ELCA congregations.
"This has the potential for seriously damaging the effectiveness of our ministry to young people and families in the New York area," said David Hahn, executive director of Long Island Lutheran, an award-winning junior and senior high school associated with 11 ELCA and 10 LCMS congregations. "For 40 years, Long Island Lutheran has had a pan-Lutheran association of congregations. It's been a huge blessing in a very diverse area."
In making its recommendation, the task force noted concerns with issues in which it said the two denominations hold differing views: abortion, sexual identity, the Lord's Supper, justification, pastoral office, application of confessional standards, religion curriculum and teaching materials.
"Suppose an ELCA church in a school association begins to be served by a Presbyterian or United Church of Christ pastor," said Ken Schurb, assistant to the LCMS president. "To a man, none of [the 10-member task force] thought that a [Presbyterian or UCC] pastor should conduct chapel at a Lutheran school but admitted there's nothing on paper to prevent it."
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