Author Topic: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's  (Read 8921 times)

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #75 on: March 20, 2020, 03:47:29 PM »

Bottom Line:  In retrospect, it might have been better to halt the urge to merge with these 2 new Lutheran Church bodies.   Hindsight tells us that the formation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church In America in the 1980's was doomed to fail..

Perhaps what dooms American Lutheran unity is a widespread attitude that keeps showing up in spades throughout the posts of this subject, even in it's very title "The Lutheran Urge to Merge...".

Muhlenberg's vision is one Lutheran Church with a common liturgy in the land (which, by his life's end, was the United States).  That is the vision within which I was formed in the (U)LCA, a vision that had brought about the Common Service of 1888 (and, yes, the LBW of 1978), a vision that had brought many smaller Synods together to form the United Lutheran Church in America, then the Lutheran Church in America.  That is the vision that drove the LCA commitment "to strive for the unification of all Lutheran within its boundaries in one church and to take constructive measures leading thereto when such action will extend the mission of Christ's reconciling love." (LCA Constitution, Article V, Sec. 1.e.)

This is not an "urge to merge" to be bigger, or to take advantage of certain economies of scale, or to take over a "competitor," or to enable smaller groups to continue to survive, or anything like that.  It's not to dilute American Lutheranism to some lower common denominator.

And it's not a vision that was shared by all the parties who participated in the 20th Century mergers, or those of us living and serving in their wake -- even a full generation after the ELCA's formation -- both inside the ELCA (inclusive of some who stridently defend it through some who simply put up with it) and outside of it (either by never having been part of it or by having departed). 

And having written this, I'm also having a slightly different perspective on Charles Austin's critical references to those "who never really joined the ELCA."  (A perspective that could suggest that "those who never really joined" include key portions of the ELCA's past and present leadership.)

[And, as an aside (one that would not fit well under this subject, with some of the, uh, ecclesiastical issues within the NALC (several of whose founders are/were steeped in the Muhlenberg vision), LCMS, and other Lutheran "church" bodies.]

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