Leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) and WELS met Oct. 20-21 at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry, Waukesha, Wis. The biennial meeting provides the sister synods an opportunity to discuss theological topics, share information, and encourage each other through worship.
“The gathering of leaders and representatives of the WELS and ELS is a time to enjoy the blessed fellowship we share. Not only is it encouraging and uplifting to focus on God’s Word together, it is always a boost to learn more about what each synod is doing and to discover means of cooperation and mutual assistance,” says Rev. Michael K. Smith, professor at Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, Mankato, Minn.
Twelve leaders from each synod attended the forum, where they updated one another on mutual issues in the synods and then participated in small group discussions. Three theological essays were presented and discussed during the plenary session.
“The ELS/WELS Forum is a treasure. We are able to see how genuine Lutheran brothers are handling similar situations, and we gain a profound appreciation for the diverse fruits of the Spirit as he gives them to the church,” says Rev. Paul Prange, administrator for ministerial education and global cross-cultural outreach.
The forum began in 1967 after the Synodical Conference, a fellowship organization between WELS, ELS, and the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) dissolved due to doctrinal differences with the LCMS.
“The exchange of information about our respective synods’ programs is so important to our ongoing fellowship. And the opportunity for personal, as well as professional, interaction is always encouraging,” says Rev. Steven Petersen, ELS Board for World Outreach administrator.
Fellowship between these two church bodies means that they work together on joint mission and ministry programs. It also means that pastors of either synod may preach in congregations of the other and that calls into the ministry and membership transfers between the synods can take place. Because the two synods are in fellowship with each other, members from each synod may worship and commune in congregations of either synod.
The next Evangelical Lutheran Confessional Forum will take place Oct. 17-18, 2016, at Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary.