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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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20 years of the ELCA

Former editors of The Lutheran reflect on church's history

'Bond us together'

by Edgar R. Trexler

Twenty years ago I wrote in the first issue of the ELCA’s The Lutheran that “this magazine’s primary function, especially in these early days of the new church, is to bond us together.” I’d like to think we succeeded, but it’s hard to know because the new church itself took years for its three predecessors to develop something of a common mind.

First five issues of The LutheranThe lack of cohesiveness was perhaps the most surprising reality of the new church. Despite doctrinal agreement, patterns of “how we did things” were so thoroughly embedded in the cultural patterns of each predecessor denomination that the churches weren’t nearly as alike as might have been anticipated.

Suddenly, at least on a national organizational level, everything was new—a church headquarters in a new city, new leadership, new structure, new funding patterns, new loyalties to develop and so on.

It was a frantic time that probably could not have been avoided. But it set back the church for a while, particularly in morale. 


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