More than 30 pastors from ELCA “big churches” joined nearly 60 Lutheran teaching theologians from colleges, universities and seminaries recently for an intensive session focused on missional education.
The gathering—a first for the two groups—was designed to build bridges among them, recognizing that the work of each is key to the efforts of the other. Pastors and professors each spoke to the missional aspect of their teaching in three areas: Bible, Lutheran heritage and tradition, and Lutheran theology. “How important is being Lutheran for mission?” is the other question they addressed.
Small-group discussions followed each of the four sessions of the meeting, held Aug. 12-14 at Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, and co-sponsored by ELCA Vocation and Education.
Comments in an open session at the end of the gathering revealed that bridge-building had started. Dayle Malloy, a pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Lansdale, Pa., said: “In big churches we tend to get theologically isolated. We didn’t agree on everything, but being here felt like a course correction. I’m taking away energy I was losing.”
Brad Binau, a professor at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio, added: “There was definite mistrust between us. We’ve had no contact. This gets us started at mutual accountability. We need it. We’ve asked each other: How can we be church in a new way?”
There also was talk of future collaboration. Fritz Wiese, pastor of Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dayton, Ohio, said the networking was “just wonderful,” but he called on the ELCA to offer more resources that large congregations need.
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