Author Topic: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's  (Read 8920 times)

Dave Likeness

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The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« on: March 17, 2020, 03:48:14 PM »
American Lutheran Church organized on April 22, 1960

51% of membership came from American Lutheran Church of 1930 (German heritage)
46% of membership came from Evangelical Lutheran Church (Norwegian heritage)
 3%  of membership came from United Evangelical Lutheran Church (Danish heritage)

First President was Dr. Fredrick Schiotz.  There were 2,260,000 members
with 5,000 parishes and 4,500 pastors.


Lutheran Church in America organized on July 1, 1962

80% of membership came from United Lutheran Church in America (German heritage)
20% of membership came from Augustana Lutheran Church (Swedish heritage)

First President was Dr. Franklin Clark Fry.  There were 3,200,000 members
with 6,000 parishes and  7,000 pastors


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..
« Last Edit: March 17, 2020, 10:43:10 PM by Dave Likeness »

Richard Johnson

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2020, 04:22:40 PM »

American Lutheran Church organized on April 22, 1960

51% of membership came from American Lutheran Church of 1930
46% of membership came from Evangelical Lutheran Church
 3%  of membership came from United Evangelical Lutheran Church

First President was Dr. Fredrick Schiotz.  There were 2,260,000 members
with 5,000 parishes and 4,500 pastors.


Lutheran Church in America organized on July 1, 1962

80% of membership came from United Lutheran Church in America
20% of membership came from Augustana Lutheran Church

First President was Dr. Franklin Clark Fry.  There were 3,200,000 members
with 6,000 parishes and  7,000 pastors


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..

Actually, you forgot the American Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Suomi Synod as predecessors to the LCA--admittedly small, less than 2% I believe, but they should not be forgotten.

But I fail to see how these statistics lead to the "bottom line" you mention. Not that I necessarily disagree with the idea that the merger may have been a mistake or was doomed to fail, but what do the statistics at the time of the ALC and LCA mergers have to do with that?
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Charles Austin

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2020, 04:49:49 PM »
Richard, I think the urge for a more “complete” Lutheran Church in our country had a lot to do with Franklin Clark Fry and Dr. Frederick Schiotz.
Both, I believe, Thought that a merger would make Lutheranism here stronger.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. Just another bozo on the bus, trying to get through the day without getting bruised.

Dave Likeness

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2020, 04:50:27 PM »
Pastor Johnson, you are correct that the statistics of the ALC and LCA at the time of merger had nothing
to do with the failure of the ELCA.

In 1960 the new ALC church body  was more conservative.
It was more rural and upper Mid-West oriented in Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas.

In the 1962 the new LCA church body was more  liberal and ecumenical.
It was mostly urban and strong on the East Coast in Pennsylvania and New York.

Comparing the background of the 1960 ALC and the 1962 LCA one can easily see some contrasts that
could raise red flags when it came to the Lutheran Confessions and the Decision of the  ELCA in 2009.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2020, 10:46:47 PM by Dave Likeness »

Michael Slusser

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2020, 05:12:58 PM »
In my opinion, the new ELCA did not spend enough years learning to know each other before launching out into questions and adventures that would tax even a well-established church. I think 30 years would not have been too many. Then there would have been a young adult generation that didn't remember a time before the churches were separate from each other and who weren't intoxicated with the power of voting.

Peace,
Michael

Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Dave Likeness

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2020, 05:25:37 PM »
Father Slusser has nailed it.  The ELCA was conceived in haste and was subjected
to a liberal agenda from birth. Social issues dominated their perspective and the
practicing homosexuals viewpoint gained a seat at the table for the ELCA priorities.   


Michael Slusser

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2020, 05:50:35 PM »
Father Slusser has nailed it.  The ELCA was conceived in haste and was subjected
to a liberal agenda from birth. Social issues dominated their perspective and the
practicing homosexuals viewpoint gained a seat at the table for the ELCA priorities.
I'm not in agreement with everything in this post. I think that forming the ELCA was a good thing, not "conceived in haste," and should have been followed by a shakedown cruise of a generation. The yen to vote stuff because we can is not a distinctively "liberal" trait. It goes with a peculiar (and unLutheran) assumption that we can always improve ourselves/the church.

Peace,
Michael
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Charles Austin

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2020, 06:12:29 PM »
From the original proposal, it took nearly 10 years to form the ELCA. Hardly “conceived in haste”
And “a liberal agenda” did not dominate, although social issues were present to a significant degree, often at the urging of the AELC, the LCMS refugees. And remember, the ALC andLCA were already mostly moderate and/or liberal theologically and socially.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. Just another bozo on the bus, trying to get through the day without getting bruised.

RDPreus

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2020, 07:16:57 PM »
How was the AELC LCMS refugees?  Nobody forced them out.  They left of their own free will.

Richard Johnson

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2020, 07:27:59 PM »
Pastor Johnson, you are correct that the statistics of the ALC and LCA at the time of merger had nothing
to do with the failure of the ELCA.

In 1960 the new ALC church body had more of a Norwegian background and was more conservative.
It was more rural and upper Mid-West oriented in Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas.

In the 1962 the new LCA church body was more of a Swedish background and was more liberal.
It was mostly urban and strong on the East Coast in Pennsylvania and New York.

Comparing the background of the 1960 ALC and the 1962 LCA one can easily see some contrasts that
could raise red flags when it came to the Lutheran Confessions and the Decision of the  ELCA in 2009.

Still not buying it. The LCA was WAY more German than Swedish. The ALC was marginally more German than Norwegian, and the German segment was arguably more conservative theologically (not culturally) than the Norwegians.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Richard Johnson

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2020, 07:28:52 PM »
Father Slusser has nailed it.  The ELCA was conceived in haste and was subjected
to a liberal agenda from birth. Social issues dominated their perspective and the
practicing homosexuals viewpoint gained a seat at the table for the ELCA priorities.

I pretty much agree with this. But I don't think it has much to do with the predecessor bodies of the LCA and ALC.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Richard Johnson

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2020, 07:32:07 PM »
From the original proposal, it took nearly 10 years to form the ELCA. Hardly “conceived in haste”
And “a liberal agenda” did not dominate, although social issues were present to a significant degree, often at the urging of the AELC, the LCMS refugees. And remember, the ALC andLCA were already mostly moderate and/or liberal theologically and socially.

Yeah, "conceived in haste" is perhaps an overstatement; it was way longer than either the Norwegian merger of 1917 or the ULCA merger of 1918 (of course that was really a "reuniting" rather than a merger).

But "conceived in haste" rings true in the sense that the merger proceeded before some very key issues were determined, under the rubric of "let's get it done and we'll figure it out afterwards"--notably the doctrine of the ministry and ecumenical relationships. In that sense, it wasn't so much conceived in haste but prematurely delivered.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Charles Austin

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2020, 08:14:34 PM »
Pastor Preus:
How was the AELC LCMS refugees?  Nobody forced them out.  They left of their own free will.
Me:
Yeah. Sure. Threats of trials. Declared to be teaching things “not to be tolerated in the church of God.”
But that’s old news no longer relevant to this thread.

And Richard is right, near the end of the merger process, too many things were left unsettled rather than pin them down before coming together. Some felt a “delay” of the merger would have been seen as a failure of the whole process.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. Just another bozo on the bus, trying to get through the day without getting bruised.

Dave Likeness

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2020, 10:53:12 PM »
@ Pastor Richard Johnson.....Your post on the heritage of the ALC and LCA caused me to
post the actual percentages in the opening of this thread.  I was mistaken on the influence
of the Swedish heritage on the LCA.  The Germans beat the Norwegians 51% to 46% in ALC
Thanks for your polite corrections.
 

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Lutheran Urge To Merge In The 1960's
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2020, 11:15:40 PM »
Attached is a chart of the mergers (and non-mergers) of U.S. Lutheran Church bodies. The earlier details come from a chart from Lutheranism in North America: 1914-1970, by E. Clifford Nelson, © 1972. Those after that date I added.
"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]