Update On LCMC (Lutheran Churches In Mission For Christ)

Started by Dave Likeness, May 28, 2023, 03:08:12 PM

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Dave Likeness

What we know:

LCMC started in 2001 as a breakaway from the ELCA.  At the present
time it has 970 congregations with about 375,000 members. Is there
anyone on this forum who is associated with this group?  Does anyone
here have any more information about LCMC?

peter_speckhard

Isn't LCMC more of any affiliation that includes congregations that can also be members of other synods like the NALC? I didn't think LCMC was its own synod/denomination like ELCA, WELS, etc.

George Rahn

Quote from: Dave Likeness on May 28, 2023, 03:08:12 PM
What we know:

LCMC started in 2001 as a breakaway from the ELCA.  At the present
time it has 970 congregations with about 300,000 members. Is there
anyone on this forum who is associated with this group?  Does anyone
here have any more information about LCMC?

I resigned from the ELCA clergy roster in 2017.  I opted to work with the LCMC and am now on its clergy roster.  Loosely organized early on, LCMC wants more organization administratively.  It's recent plan is moving toward that.  Here in Texas I have found a vibrancy in its key tasks for Christian witness and for new ways to do mission.  Small communities for Christian worship with their guides being the scriptures and the Lutheran confessions.  Although it's seemingly to downplay it's Lutheran confessional identity, through my own ministry and witness I draw a close connection to the way the Biblical teaching happens guided by such items as Luther's small catechism and the Augsburg confession. 

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

When I read about LCMC in the past, I wondered whether they were more akin to Scandinavian Lutheranism than German Lutheranism. But that might be misperception on my part.

Brian Stoffregen

#4
Quote from: Dave Likeness on May 28, 2023, 03:08:12 PM
What we know:

LCMC started in 2001 as a breakaway from the ELCA.  At the present
time it has 970 congregations with about 300,000 members. Is there
anyone on this forum who is associated with this group?  Does anyone
here have any more information about LCMC?

I believe that it was started as a network of ELCA congregations growing out of the WordAlone movement that opposed our agreement with The Episcopal Church. It sort of morphed into a denomination, although I don't think they use the word "denomination" for themselves.

I believe that many of the WordAlone and early LCMC congregations had come out of the Norwegian Lutheran tradition.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

J. Thomas Shelley

#5
In 2010 LCMC's self description was "an association, not a denomination".   The association was willing to allow clergy and congregations to be rostered with other bodies, including but not limited to the NALC. 

The association considered part of its ministry to provide a "landing zone" for those departing the ELCA who might subsequently move on to another body.  A representative who attended the 2010 constituting assembly of the NALC told me that they would not consider such moves "being used" in any negative sense.

For those reasons my departure from the ELCA--along with the congregation's departure--led us to the LCMC.  It is noteworthy that on Reformation Day of 2010 the congregation voted purely unanimously to affiliate with LCMC as well as to pursue the formation of a Lutheran Diocese within the Anglican Church of North America,   That latter part has been "cancelled" and removed from the current congregation history on its web site but the full truth can still be found through the way back machine.

My sojourn with LCMC was about three and one half years.  I never became involved in any wider units than just the immediate local congregations.
Greek Orthodox Deacon - Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Richard Johnson

The Lutheran Historical Conference has published Historical Guide to Lutheran Church Bodies of North America and they've recently included an addendum by Mark Granquist:

Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ
www.lcmc.net

2001 –     (March 25, Phoenix, Arizona)  Organized from one part of the reform movement the Word Alone Movement.
   9 Districts and 10 Fellowships, although congregations are not required to be members of one of these organization
   970 congregations, and approximately 375,000 members

Bibliography   LCMC: The First Ten Years. Canton MI: LCMC, 2010.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

George Rahn


Michael Slusser

#8
A long-time member of this Forum, Pr. Lou Hesse, pastors Living Word Lutheran congregation in Moses Lake WA that is affiliated with LCMC - Augustana District. His wife Debbie (who did the typing ;) ) has been a trustee of the ILT in South Dakota.

I miss Lou. His contributions were original, courteous, and non-partisan.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Brian Stoffregen

I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Coach-Rev

I"m dual rostered with both LCMC and NALC, as is the congregation I serve.

LCMC has it's share of issues, like every other denomination (though it really is not a denomination per se) - most notably a profound lack of pastoral and congregational fidelity to the Confessions and Scripture.  With a complete lack of oversight of any kind, congregations pretty much do as they please, meaning one never knows where the individual church stands on many major topics.
"The problem with quotes on the internet is that you can never know if they are genuine." - Abraham Lincoln

blog:  http://coach-rev.blogspot.com/
photography:  https://jeffcottingham.smugmug.com/

Rev. Spaceman

I am on the clergy roster of both LCMC and the NALC. However, I am much more active with NALC. In fact, I haven't had much of anything to do with LCMC in a number of years.

Note, it is properly referred to as simply "LCMC" and not the LCMC. LCMC stands for Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ.

But I will share some thoughts that hopefully will add clarity to what LCMC is all about. As has been noted, it was formed in 2000 and 2001 by 25 congregations from the ELCA. Initially, the theological and confessional issue was the opposition to the mandated historic episcopate in the ELCA as a result of the Called to Common Mission agreement with the Episcopal Church. Those who felt in good conscience they could not go along with it needed an alternative organization. But LCMC considered itself from the beginning to be a post denominational organization. They left it open to each congregation to decide if they wanted to be affiliated exclusively with LCMC or to remain also with the ELCA. Over the years, this has meant that many LCMC congregations have become dually affiliated with groups like the NALC and Canadian Association of Lutheran congregations, and so forth.

LCMC slowly and gradually added congregations, especially congregations from the ELCA (though a few new starts as well), over the first ten years of its existence. But most of its growth came after the ELCA's decision in 2009 regarding sexual standard for clergy. Since the NALC was not formed immediately, LCMC became the primary landing zone for ELCA congregations looking for an alternative organization. LCMC lists well over 900 congregations among its members, but it's important to remember that that includes international congregations. In the United States, I estimate that there are probably just under 800 LCMC congregations.

Congregations in LCMC consist primarily of small rural congregations along with several large mega churches. There is actually very little in between. Many of these are from the upper Midwest, so it's probably true that there is a significant "Norwegian" part of LCMC, though not exclusively.

As has also been noted, LCMC considers itself to be an association of congregations rather than a denomination. The congregation is viewed as being the primary authority. There is little if any oversight. In LCMC, a congregation can call anyone it wants to serve as its pastor, regardless of educational credentials. LCMC does have a certified pastor status, but a congregation is not required to call someone who is a certified LCMC pastor. Those who have not been certified are referred to as contract pastors. The idea of congregational freedom stemmed in part, I think, from reaction against what many of them saw as a top-down bureaucracy in the ELCA. But as has happened in a couple of cases, this congregational freedom has resulted in congregations actually abandoning Lutheranism altogether. There have been a couple of congregations that have been expelled from LCMC for refusing to baptize infants.

LCMC does not have its own seminary, but rather works with various existing seminaries to help prepare pastors for its congregations.

LCMC has districts, which are simply voluntary associations of its congregations. Congregations are not required to be a part of any district, but they can belong to one or more organized districts if they want. Some districts are geographical in focus and others are theological in their focus. There are many disparate groups within LCMC.

My own personal perception is that there is among LCMC strong influence of American Evangelicalism and "contemporary" worship trends.

I hope that clarifies some things. Though I definitely feel more at home in the NALC, I do believe there are many good people and some solid congregations in LCMC.
Rev. Thomas E. Jacobson, Ph.D

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Rev. Spaceman on June 02, 2023, 07:52:10 PM
My own personal perception is that there is among LCMC strong influence of American Evangelicalism and "contemporary" worship trends.

I hope that clarifies some things. Though I definitely feel more at home in the NALC, I do believe there are many good people and some solid congregations in LCMC.


Some of the shortcomings you mentioned are what lead Lutheran Core to begin their own denomination with a hierarchy in 2010 (NALC) rather than just have congregations move to LCMC. The AALC (which formed in 1987) by congregations opposing the ELCA, wasn't a strong option because they do not ordain women.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Rev. Spaceman

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on June 02, 2023, 09:05:00 PM

Some of the shortcomings you mentioned are what lead Lutheran Core to begin their own denomination with a hierarchy in 2010 (NALC) rather than just have congregations move to LCMC. The AALC (which formed in 1987) by congregations opposing the ELCA, wasn't a strong option because they do not ordain women.

Yes, this is true. The word you use, "hierarchy," is the word often used by people in LCMC to express their dislike of the ELCA and their lack of desire to join the NALC. I wouldn't call the NALC "hierarchical" myself. There is structure and leadership, and the organization has the capacity to speak on behalf of the organization since it is a "church" and not simply an "association" like LCMC. But the way I often hear people in LCMC talk about the NALC, they make no distinction between having organized leadership and the historic episcopate.

One of the challenges facing LCMC is that because it is so decentralized with so much emphasis on congregational autonomy, there really isn't the capacity for intentional theological reflection and the expectation that congregations will be rooted in Lutheran theology. Some districts within LCMC do encourage Lutheran theology, however. But the speakers at the LCMC "annual gatherings" (as they call them) tend to focus on issues such as "leadership," which is not all bad, but if there is no seminary of its own and no means to foster a Lutheran expression in our religious climate, Reformed Arminianism will quickly come to dominate. I've heard people within LCMC comment that "the Lutheran Confessions get in the way of mission." Rather than viewing our Lutheran background as an asset, it's looked at as outdated and irrelevant. So as much as I do love the people of LCMC and have many good connections with them, I do have some concerns about the long-term Lutheran identity of the organization.
Rev. Thomas E. Jacobson, Ph.D

Terry W Culler

Congregationalism does not mean poor Lutheran theology.  In the AFLC we have a thoroughly Lutheran seminary, a two year Bibe college preparing our leaders for Lutheran ministry, and we have a congregational polity.  We have had congregations leave because they wanted to do things or teach things that were contrary to the AC or the SC.  We believe that is their right.  But we do require each AFLC congregation to believe in the written Word of God as inspired, inerrant and infallible and that the AC is a faithful witness to the that Word.  I don't know how many congregations require full acceptance of the entire Book of Concord, but some certainly do.  So we can have a congregational polity that is faithful to Lutheran theology.

In the aftermath of 2009 we were told repeatedly that congregations leaving the ELCA did not want to join our Association because we only ordain men. 
"No particular Church has ... a right to existence, except as it believes itself the most perfect from of Christianity, the form which of right, should and will be universal."
Charles Porterfield Krauth

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