The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'Mahtomedi' backers preparing for a fight

Meeting in Mahtomedi, Minn., in May, opponents of "Called to Common Mission" reaffirmed their determination to defeat the ELCA proposal for full communion with the Episcopal Church at the 1999 Churchwide Assembly.

The 125 participants of the mostly Lutheran gathering generally favor the two churches working together but not as outlined in the current proposal. They discussed strategies for defeating CCM and instead passing the "Mahtomedi Proposal" hammered out at a similar meeting earlier this year.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church agree on the doctrine of "apostolic succession," an ongoing faithful proclamation of Christ. Episcopalians bring to the relationship the "historic episcopate," a succession of bishops as a sign of unity back to the earliest days of the Christian church. Some Lutherans worry the historic episcopate may affect the role of bishops in the ELCA, the office of ministry and Lutheran identity.

The Mahtomedi Resolution affirms "a commitment to continue to work together with our Episcopal neighbors in common faith and mission." It has been adopted by several synod assemblies (see page 42).

The resolution is getting support because it's "not only faithful, but it's clear," said Marc Kolden, academic dean and professor at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. But he emphasized that the "first order of business" is to defeat CCM at the Churchwide Assembly.

Conferees discussed ways to mobilize undecided voting members at synod and churchwide assemblies to oppose CCM. Plans include:

  • Newsletters and a publicity campaign to counter what they see as mostly pro-CCM material produced by the church.
  • Strategies for handling the vote on the floor, such as making sure speakers are well-versed in rules of order, are well-informed about both proposals and are coached to not malign ELCA leaders or Episcopalians.


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