The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


August 5, 2010

LCMS President-elect calls ELCA relations 'complex'

What is the future of inter-Lutheran cooperation between the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America? LCMS President-elect Matthew Harrison calls it "complex."

Harrison spoke to interviewer James Heine from the LCMS Reporter about topics from the LCMS restructuring and debtload to how Harrison will approach relations with the ELCA. Reporter is a monthly newspaper the LCMS mails to some 33,000 clergy and lay leaders. The interview was posted August 4.

When asked whether the Missouri Synod can work effectively with the ELCA in inter-Lutheran groups, Harrison called it "a hard issue," that does not have "an immediate one-size-fits-all answer."

"It will be difficult to move to resolution in any way, shape or form, because people are deeply invested, and it's complex," Harrison said. "On the positive side, I've served on the inter-Lutheran boards.I've spent more time with ELCA leadership and ELCA people than, I think, virtually anybody else in the Synod over the last 10 years. We know the agencies. LCMS World Relief has 120 Recognized Service Organizations, 100 of which are inter-Lutheran. We know the constitutional issues they face; we know the representation, Missouri/ELCA, on those organizations. ...

"It's going to be virtually impossible to do anything with Higgins Road [the ELCA's headquarters] - that is, direct joint administration of an AIDS task force or those kinds of issues. Higgins Road is deeply and ideologically committed to their stand on the issues that separate us, and unless the ELCA is willing and able to bring something new to the table, it's just going to be very difficult.

"On the other hand, a ministry such as [Lutheran World Relief] — where our friend John Nunes is doing his best to navigate some difficult waters and be faithful in an inter-Lutheran organization — I think our emphasis has to be on these independent Lutheran entities and how we relate to them."

Read the full interview here.

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