Author Topic: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies  (Read 13647 times)

John_Hannah

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #45 on: March 03, 2014, 04:11:50 PM »
Actually, there were no large group of Swedes in either the LCA (1962) nor any Norwegians in the ALC (1930, comprised of the Ohio, Iowa, and Buffalo Synods--all German in background).

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Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

LutherMan

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #46 on: March 03, 2014, 04:17:18 PM »
The American Lutheran Conference had Germans, Danes, Norwegians and Swedes in their various church bodies...

Dave Likeness

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #47 on: March 03, 2014, 04:20:18 PM »
Ladies and Gentlemen, having spent 5 years
of ministry in Minnesota, I can tell you there
are a ton of Swedes in Minnesota.  It is in
Minnesota that the LCA was Swedes and
the ALC was Norwegians.  Of course this was
a moot point by 1988 and the formation of
ELCA.
 

BHHughes

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #48 on: March 03, 2014, 04:22:56 PM »
Ladies and Gentlemen, having spent 5 years
of ministry in Minnesota, I can tell you there
are a ton of Swedes in Minnesota.  It is in
Minnesota that the LCA was Swedes and
the ALC was Norwegians.  Of course this was
a moot point by 1988 and the formation of
ELCA.
 

They kept their children away from one another as long as possible. Poor Sven and Ole be spinning in their graves like a Lefse rolling pin.

Dave Likeness

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #49 on: March 03, 2014, 04:25:31 PM »
Pastor Hughes is correct.  All the Sven
and Ole jokes came originally out of the
state of Minnesota. 

Rev. Spaceman

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #50 on: March 03, 2014, 04:27:47 PM »

[1) I understand that at least one of the predecessor bodies (prior to LCA) had the Histoic Episcopate or Apostolic Succession.  I've met several fine, old pastors ordained by bishops who had this excellent and now lost mark of the church.  I'm thinking it was the Augustana strand?  Maybe not, but I'd love to hear who did and why it was kabashed.

2) A great thesis, I think, could be done on the relative ecclesiologies and theologies of the ALC vs LCA - not in compettiton, just comparison.  For it seems to me I was always told that the ALC was more conservative and the LCA more liberal.  However, from historical perspective - the limited view I have -- it seems that the finer point is that, as we know, the ALC was more congregationalist and LCA more hierarchical.  As such, it seems to me and I would love to hear some discussion on this -- the ALC was actually more susceptible to cultural shifts and trends as a congregationalist polity because each congregation could, in many ways, go their own way (a bit overstated, I know, but without central authroity and oversight whose interpretaton is correct?).  The LCA, on the other hand, with its structure of bishops and some sort of palpable unity would actually slow down the integration of cultural shifts and preserve more of the tradition (truly conservative in the sense Luther and even Christ were). 

What say you?  I'm leaving for camp today, so I'll probably not have access to this discussion til Friday night, but I still would love to hear some thoughts!
[/quote]

Regarding the historic episcopate: Actually, no.  This is a common misunderstanding.  The Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church (commonly called Augustana Synod) never did have an understanding of itself as having any kind of historic episcopate.  Although they were a Swedish-based ethnic synod (the only Lutheran option for Swedish-Americans), they did not view themselves as simply the daughter church of the Church of Sweden.  George Stephenson's description of the Augustana Synod as "a daughter" is true in the sense that they shared an ethnic kinship, but not much more than that.  In fact, there was often strong resistance against identifying their group in such a way.  When Archbishop Nathan Soderblom from Sweden visited the US in the 1920s, he was welcomed by the Augustana Synod for ethnic reasons, but the content of his preaching was heavily criticized by many within the Augustana Synod, claiming he was preaching essentially a Unitarian understanding of Christianity.  And what is even more telling is that Soderblom presented a pectoral cross to the then-president of the Synod (Brandelle, I think).  They accepted the cross, but with the explanation that in doing so they did not adopt any kind of understanding of the role of a bishop or apostolic succession of bishops.  But they did acknowledge it as a sign of friendship.  Having said this, there were some isolated voices in the Augustana Synod who wanted to adopt such an understanding, but they were definitely a minority.  If I remember right, I think there were a few pastors who went to Sweden to receive ordination from Swedish bishops, but this practice was not mainstream.

Regarding the LCA as "liberal" and TALC as more "conservative," in some ways those generalizations hold truth, but I think it's more complex than that, and it all depends on what one means by those descriptions.  The LCA tradition was more Americanized in general, and they weren't all that involved in the theological disputes that happened among more Midwestern-based Lutheran synods.  Hence, they were less doctrinally rigid, content to affirm subscription to the Lutheran confessions as a basis for church fellowship rather than requiring explanatory theses beyond that.  But when we think about "liberals," which tradition did Mark Hanson come out of?  He came out of TALC!  I say this not to single out Mark Hanson, but simply to demonstrate that there were "liberal" and "conservative" elements in both of those groups.  And by the way, if I'm not mistaken, I think that TALC actually approved the use of the title "bishop" before the LCA did.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2014, 04:40:49 PM by Rev. Spaceman »
Rev. Thomas E. Jacobson, Ph.D

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #51 on: March 03, 2014, 04:36:17 PM »
[It is my understanding that in the Augustana Synod (the Church of Sweden in the USA) it was bishops who ordained; and since in Sweden the reformation was fairly gentle-- that is, bishops who had been Catholic and therefore in apostolic succession simply became Lutheran bishops instead, and kept on ordaining the way they had before-- the Church of Sweden claims apostolic succession.  Rome and the Orthodox disagree; but as I read literature about apostolic succession it seems that at its worst it is one more excuse we baptized employ to divide ourselves and declare others In Error.

But yes, I have known many Augustana Synod pastors who would note that the Historic Episcopate and Apostolic Succession was no big deal since they'd been doing ministry within it their whole careers.  Some LCA pastors, too, whose roots (and whose bishops) were Augustana, noted AS/HE as part of their identity.
[/quote]

Take note of my previous post.  The Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church was not "the Church of Sweden in the USA."  It was a Swedish-Lutheran ethnic synod, but it was not understood to be simply the American "arm" of the Church of Sweden.

The claim that the Church of Sweden has to have held on to apostolic succession is actually a good one.  The Church of Sweden, though it had severed ties with Rome in 1527, I think, did not become explicitly Lutheran until 1593.  For several decades it was just understood to be a nationally-run church independent of Rome.  Some bishops, including Laurentius Petri, brother of Olavus Petri, were consecrated as bishops, but without papal confirmation.  It is a practice that they just kept on doing (and by extension, the Finnish Church has the same claim), but without much theological significance attached to it.  Lutheran pastors from other countries have never had any trouble working within the Church of Sweden, for example. 
Rev. Thomas E. Jacobson, Ph.D

BHHughes

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #52 on: March 03, 2014, 05:03:18 PM »
Pastor Hughes is correct.  All the Sven
and Ole jokes came originally out of the
state of Minnesota.

And my wife's family seems to know them all.

Matt Hummel

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #53 on: March 03, 2014, 05:18:21 PM »
I recall sage advice given to me by a former LCA pastor after I told him of the interesting time I had in my second call (first as solo pastor) to a parish that had been ALC before the merger.  Interestingly enough, I was baptized in an ALC parish. While I was being baptized, the pastor was being voted out by the Council and they called one of those wingnuts who led the parish into apostasy.  It was one of those 2 on LI.  My mom was incensed by the eir actions and I grew up in an LCA parish and went on to an LCA Seminary.  So it was a comedy of manners when I got there.

In sharing my stories with an older pastor (former LCA as well) after I left, I was informed that "Friends don't led friends serve in former ALC parishes..."
Matt Hummel


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Rev. Spaceman

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #54 on: March 03, 2014, 05:24:41 PM »
The Augustana Synod consisted of Swedes and
the ALC consisted of Norwegians.  So they waited
until 1962 to join their fellow Swedes in the LCA.
Why would that matter?  They were in fellowship with The American Lutheran Conference from 1930-1960 with the Norwegians...

Time-out for clarification.

The synodical alliances of that time period are sometimes hard to understand.  First of all, one must distinguish between the "old ALC" formed in 1930 (consisting of three/four different German background synods) and the "new ALC" of 1960 (made complete in 1963 when the Lutheran Free Church joined it), officially abbreviated "TALC" to distinguish it from the old, German ALC.  The American Lutheran Church of 1960/63 (TALC) consisted of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, ELC, (Norwegian, and the largest group of the merger), the "old" ALC of 1930 (German in background), and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church, UELC, (Danish in background, of the "sad" variety from the Danish "inner mission" tradition as opposed to the other Danish group that joined with the LCA in 1962).  Compared to the ELC and ALC, the UELC was quite small, comprising only about three percent of the membership of the new TALC.  And as I said, in 1963, the Lutheran Free Church (also of Norwegian background) finally mustered enough votes to join TALC, but about 20 percent of its congregations declined to merge, and instead formed a new group call the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, AFLC.

As to why the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church (Swedish) did not join TALC and instead joined the LCA, that is a complex matter, but I'll try to explain.  In the years leading up to the mergers of the 1960s, there were three broad groupings of Lutherans in the United States.  The one would be the Synodical Conference, which included the Missouri Synod, regarded as the most doctrinally rigid of the three.  On the other end of the spectrum was the ULCA, regarded as the least doctrinally rigid.  In the middle was a type of "protective alliance" of a few different synods called the American Lutheran Conference.  These were groups that participated with the ULCA in the National Lutheran Council, but feared the influence of the ULCA in theological matters.  The American Lutheran Conference folks were not quite as doctrinally rigid as the Synodical Conference folks, but they shared a greater kinship with the Synodical Conference than they did the ULCA.  The American Lutheran Conference consisted, I think, of the following groups: ELC (Norwegian), ALC (German), UELC (Danish), Lutheran Free Church, Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Maybe I'm missing one or two in there.  But numerically, all three groups were about the same size.  Note here that the Augustana Church identified itself with these more doctrinally rigid groups.

The American Lutheran Conference, which was based on the Minneapolis Theses of 1925, written by Hans Gerhard Stub, the first president of the ELC, became the foundation for the eventual merger that produced the TALC in 1960.  Why, then, didn't the Augustana Swedes join them?  Well, historically, the Augustana Synod had ties to the eastern Lutheran groups that went on to form the ULCA in 1918.  They were originally a part of the General Council, but they declined to participate in the 1918 merger, pursuing an independent future.  And so they were pulled in a couple of directions.  Theologically, they tended to agree with their American Lutheran Conference sister synods.  But they also felt that merger negotiations should be open to all Lutherans who wanted to participate.  But the rest of the American Lutheran Conference wanted to exclude the ULCA from negotiations.  And that is what caused them to merge into the LCA in 1962.
Rev. Thomas E. Jacobson, Ph.D

John_Hannah

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #55 on: March 03, 2014, 05:57:33 PM »
The American Lutheran Conference had Germans, Danes, Norwegians and Swedes in their various church bodies...

Yes, we all did. In my Iowa hometown, the only Lutheran churches were Missouri and ALC (Iowa Synod). Swedes and Norwegians and Danes had to join the German Americans.

There was, however, no ethnically derived body of Swedes that were a part of the ULCA before 1962 nor of Norwegians that were a part of the 1930 ALC.

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Richard Johnson

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #56 on: March 03, 2014, 06:02:34 PM »
Actually, there were no large group of Swedes in either the LCA (1962) nor any Norwegians in the ALC (1930, comprised of the Ohio, Iowa, and Buffalo Synods--all German in background).

Peace, JOHN

I see you've gotten it right in the more recent post, but I think you misspoke in this earlier one. You meant to say there were no large group of Swedes in the ULCA. The LCA merger (1962), of course, included the Augustana Synod.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #57 on: March 03, 2014, 06:22:11 PM »

2) A great thesis, I think, could be done on the relative ecclesiologies and theologies of the ALC vs LCA - not in compettiton, just comparison.  For it seems to me I was always told that the ALC was more conservative and the LCA more liberal.  However, from historical perspective - the limited view I have -- it seems that the finer point is that, as we know, the ALC was more congregationalist and LCA more hierarchical. 


Both ALC and LCA had a range of theologies within them, but generally, the middle of the ALC was more conservative than the middle of the LCA.


Some differences in the ecclesiologies.


The ALC was defined as congregations.
The LCA was congregations and clergy.


ALC pastors had voice, but not vote on the council.
LCA pastors had voice and vote and were often the council president


ALC pastors had to be elected by the congregation to be voting delegates to district conventions.
LCA pastors were voting delegates by virtue of their office.


Parachurch organizations, e.g., camps, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. …
… in the ALC were usually owned by a separate corporation of individuals and congregations.
… in the LCA were usually owned by the synod.


ALC congregations were assessed District Dues, but giving to the national body was free will.
LCA congregations were assessed Synod Dues and a portion of that was sent to the national body.


I don't know if it was true throughout the church bodies, but in Ohio:
… the ALC congregations got multiple names, e.g., 10 candidates where I interned.
… in the LCA congregations got one name from the bishop, if they decided "no," they got a second name.


Also, ALC pastors could have their names in more than one congregation at a time.
LCA pastors could not.
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

LutherMan

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #58 on: March 03, 2014, 07:32:44 PM »

Also, ALC pastors could have their names in more than one congregation at a time.
LCA pastors could not.
Please expand on this...

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Reflections on ELCA Predecessor Church Bodies
« Reply #59 on: March 03, 2014, 08:12:08 PM »

Also, ALC pastors could have their names in more than one congregation at a time.
LCA pastors could not.
Please expand on this...

Oh, I didn't note that this was in reference to seeking a new call.

An LCA associate pastor where I interned was looking for a call. The bishop would submit his name and only his name to one congregation. That congregation could deliberate on him. If they decided "no," they got another name, and the pastor's name could go to another congregation who was searching for a congregation. It was frustrating for him because he really wanted to move from that call. It wasn't healthy for him nor his wife; but it was very time consuming.


In the ALC, my profile along with others, was often given to two or more congregations at a time - especially for a pastor who was anxious to leave a call. I flew to Maryland once to do two interviews in separate congregations. At another time I had an interview in Oregon and before returning home, did another one in Nevada. It happened occasionally, that an ALC pastor might then receive calls from two different congregations, and then have to decide.


These differences are in the ELCA mostly by areas. Where the LCA was strong - East Coast, many synods give congregations only one candidate for a yes/no vote. Where the ALC was strong, multiple names are given - although not usually as many as 10 as my internship congregation received.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2014, 08:14:26 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]