Magazine article The Christian Century

Conservative Lutherans Organize New Church Body

Magazine article The Christian Century

Conservative Lutherans Organize New Church Body

Article excerpt

Conservative Lutherans have a new church body that came into being following disagreements with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America over the ordination of gay clergy.

The North American Lutheran Church, formed August 26-27 in Grove City, Ohio, "will uphold confessional principles dear to Lutherans, including a commitment to the authority of the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions," organizers said.

In 2009, after years of contentious debate, the ELCA voted to change its policies to allow noncelibate gay and lesbian clergy and to allow churches to bless same-sex relationships.

Ryan Schwarz, vice chairperson of Lutheran CORE, the organizing group of the new church body, said in an interview that the ELCA's policy on same-sex relationships is "a symptom" rather than a cause of the unhappiness over the ELCA.

Schwarz cited a recent example of a service held by one ELCA synod in which, he said, several versions of the Lord's Prayer were recited, including one in which "the Mother who is within us" was evoked. "To us, that appears to be close to paganism," Schwarz said.

Asked why dissatisfied ELCA members did not join the more conservative Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, Schwarz said he and many who are likely to join the NALC neither agree with the Missouri Synod's "very literal" interpretation of the Bible nor support its ban on ordination of women.

Schwarz said 18 U.S. congregations have already decided to join the new church and more than 100 congregations are preparing to do so. …

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