The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'Across the wide Missouri divide'

Readers disagree with Marty on ELCA-LCMS relations

Maybe I live in an area of the country that’s outside the norms, but I had difficulty relating to “Across the wide Missouri divide” (October 2007). On more than one occasion I’ve participated in prayer with Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod pastors and leaders during public community services. And while it’s true that there aren’t ordained women in LCMS ministry, I see them in key leadership positions, including one very dynamic woman serving as president of her LCMS congregation. I am part of the “some” who share a vision for being united with our LCMS brothers and sisters in Christ rather than be divided from them.

David Cline
Modesto, Calif.

Missed opportunity

I was appalled and disgusted with the ELCA-LCMS story. Having been a member of both the ELCA (its predecessor, the American Lutheran Church) and the LCMS, I can easily say—based on my experience—that many of the facts are poorly positioned. Martin Marty (“Across the wide Missouri divide,” October 2007) is quick to position LCMS negatively and make accusations while supporting the ELCA without question. Ideally, why not position both from the center and demonstrate how they differ on a factual basis? He is correct in his final statement: “So Lutherans seem destined within present generations to refuse to show a common face to the public ....” Marty missed an opportunity to build a relationship.

Donna B. Wernz
Cincinnati, Ohio

Who’s gone the ‘separate way’?

For more than 30 years I’ve subscribed to and read The Lutheran even though I am an LCMS pastor, and I maintain close friendships with many ELCA clergy. Marty (“Across the wide Missouri divide,” October 2007) gives the impression that it’s Missouri that’s gone its “separate way,” diverging from an ELCA that has maintained consistency. Regarding communion: Missouri’s practice reflects the same practice as Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Most Lutherans practiced a nuanced but similar policy 50 years ago or more. The ELCA has diverged. Regarding women as pastors: Until 1958 in Sweden and 1970 in the U.S., every Lutheran group had only male clergy. The LCMS doesn’t ordain women but has more women on its clergy roster than the ELCA (as commissioned ministers of religion). Missouri hasn’t changed; the ELCA has. On biblical inerrancy: ELCA predecessors listed this in the doctrinal standard articles of their constitutions. Missouri hasn’t diverged, but the ELCA moved away from this. I hope you publish this to show that the ELCA can tolerate another perspective on the often contentious and always tragic story of U.S. Lutheran relationships.

Larry A. Peters
Clarksville, Tenn.

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