On Jan. 30, representatives from the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC), the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), and WELS met for doctrinal discussions at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry in Waukesha, Wis. This was the first meeting between representatives of these three synods since 1990. It was called by the synod presidents, with the encouragement of the appropriate synod committees, upon the request of a grassroots group of pastors from all three synods in the Mankato, Minn., area.
The meeting was cordial and productive. The participants shared perspectives on the history of the relationship between the three synods. The participants also discussed the “Joint Statement Regarding the Termination of Fellowship Between Church Bodies,” a document that was prepared in 1990 during the last round of doctrinal discussions. A reconciliation is not expected to come about easily or quickly between the CLC and ELS/WELS. But attendees found it was useful to hear first-hand how the situation looks from the perspective of others and to discuss what it would take to overcome the breach that has separated the synods.
Representing the CLC were Pres. Michael Eichstadt, Rev. Paul Nolting, and Rev. Bruce Naumann; representing the ELS were Pres. John Moldstad, Prof. Gaylin Schmeling, and Prof. Erling Teigen; and representing WELS were Prof. John Brenner, Prof. Thomas Nass, and Pres. Mark Schroeder. Only one of these participants was involved in the 1990 meetings, so this meeting brought together a new generation of leaders who have not discussed the issues together before.
A second meeting is planned for April 17 in Eau Claire, Wis., to continue the discussions. The second meeting will focus more pointedly on the “Joint Statement” of 1990 and will begin the discussion of additional topics of concern.