Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lutheran CORE's Vision

Shrimp again. Lutheran CORE's new "Vision and Plan" for itself and a new North American Lutheran Church is now online. The entire document runs 20 printed pages. We're posting the "summary" here, but you'll want to read the whole thing -- pdf format for download and printing or as a webpage for reading in your browser.

February 18, 2010
Commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther, Renewer of the Church, 1546

Dear Friends in Christ,

We are living in an exciting time for confessing Lutherans in North America! Pastors and laypeople increasingly are engaged in the life of the Church beyond their congregations. Many are returning with new zeal to the true mission of the Church, the sharing of the Good News of Christ Jesus. Many are eager for new fellowships, new structures, and new ways of doing common ministry. And all this is happening in a society that has become once more a mission field, a culture desperately in need of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior.

In September 2009, Lutheran CORE's national convocation, meeting in Fishers, IN, committed us to pursue the "reconfiguration of North American Lutheranism," by providing for the needs both of those who plan to leave and those who plan to remain within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) in this season of challenge and opportunity. This document summarizes our vision and plan for pursuing these goals.

Lutheran CORE affirms the faithful call of confessing Lutherans, some of whom will remain in the ELCA and ELCIC and some of whom are now called to different affiliations. We envision a reconfiguration that maintains the highest degree of ongoing unity and cooperation possible among those who leave and those who stay. A primary vehicle for this unity will be the continuing ministry of Lutheran CORE, reconfigured as an association of confessing Lutherans spanning denominational bodies. However, after hearing the hopes and requests of many of those who plan to leave their current church bodies, we are now also proposing the formation of a new denominational body for confessing Lutherans: the North American Lutheran Church (NALC).

The NALC will be a faithful and innovative Lutheran church body that spans national borders. It will hold at its heart the Great Commission of Jesus to "make disciples of all nations." It will utilize networked ministries of local congregations and parachurch organizations, rather than the large bureaucracy of a denominational body. It will be governed by a convocation of representative delegates from its congregations, and it will submit major decisions to congregational ratification. It will stand in continuity with the 2,000 year history of "the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church," marrying the classical form of the church catholic with flexible structures appropriate for its ministry emphases. It will be ecumenically engaged and confessionally grounded.

It will also be a church body bigger than itself, for it will work in close partnership and cooperation with the community of Lutheran CORE. For confessing Lutherans who will remain within the ELCA and ELCIC, Lutheran CORE will offer an alternate ecclesial family, where they can connect with each other and with confessing Lutherans in the NALC and other church bodies. Some will choose to coordinate witness initiatives within the ELCA or ELCIC through this community. Many will choose to organize collaborative ministry initiatives with their partners in Lutheran CORE. Mindful of the objective of ongoing unity, the NALC will conduct many of its ministry initiatives with and through its partners in the Lutheran CORE community. And Lutheran CORE will organize its capabilities to provide resources, advice and assistance to its members in carrying out their local ministries.

Both the NALC and Lutheran CORE will be centered on four key attributes: Christ-Centered, Mission-Driven, Traditionally-Grounded and Congregationally-Focused:
  • Christ-Centered: We confess the apostolic faith in Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures. We affirm the authority of the canonical Holy Scriptures as the only source and norm of our faith and life. We accept the ecumenical creeds and the Lutheran Confessions as true witnesses to the Word of God.

  • Mission-Driven: We believe that making disciples for Christ is the core priority of the Church, that congregation planting is often best done through local congregations, and that both external and internal evangelization must be a priority of the Church in the present age.

  • Traditionally-Grounded: We affirm the ecumenical creeds and the faithful witness of the Church across time and space. We endorse the form and practices of the universal Church that are consistent with Scripture, particularly the office of the ministry and the tradition of worship under Word and Sacrament. We seek dialogue and fellowship with other Lutheran churches and with faithful Christians of other confessions.

  • Congregationally-Focused: We envision a new church body and confessing community that are organized to facilitate the ministries of local congregations in a posture of servanthood and a spirit of partnership, through the provision of resources, connections and information.
Finally, both Lutheran CORE and the NALC will seek to foster further reconfiguration and unity among confessing Lutherans by seeking out partnership opportunities with Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) and with WordAlone and other orthodox Lutheran churchly groups and ministries. While respecting our different roles and church structures, we all share a common confession of faith and a common commitment to the authority of the Word of God and the centrality of the Great Commission in the life of the Church. May God grant us ever-increasing opportunities to serve Him collaboratively.

In the hope that God will use these efforts to His purposes, we offer this plan for review and comment by all confessing Lutherans in North America.

The Lutheran CORE Vision and Planning Working Group
The Lutheran CORE Steering Committee
The Lutheran CORE Advisory Council

Read it all here (pdf format) or here. Shrimp out.


The Galloping Scallop said...

Check out Washington Times Religion Editor Julia Duin's blog about this article ...Duin cites ELCA stats that only 28 congregations have taken second votes, all of which passed, and then writes:

"So it's true NALC's beginnings may be humble. But detractors should take note of what's happened to the breakaway Anglican Church in North America that has pulled away from the Episcopal Church. The ACNA is gaining members; the Episcopal Church is about to drop below 2 million as early as next year. So, don't write off the NALC yet."

For the full text, go to

FWIW ... Discerning crustacean-watchers and theo-seismologists take note: Some changes come in waves. While the big one hit last August, the aftershocks continue. Each little aftershock could well raise its own little tsunami.

See that waterline pulling back into the ocean, revealing all sorts of flotsam and jetsam on the newly exposed shoreline? Californiano kids know what to do when this happens: Run for high ground and pray that you have enough time to get there.

Think of The North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran CORE, along with LCMC, as higher ground.

If Scallops could run .... they'd be galloping.

Anonymous said...

Errrr, so the NALC will be both for those who leave and those who stay in? I am curious how an outside church, the NALC in this case, could be allowed say within the ELCA.

It seems a wee bit tightrope.

Anonymous said...

That's not how I read it. The NALC will be a new church body, wholly separate from the ELCA. Lutheran CORE, not a church body but rather a "community" or association of like-minded Lutherans, will include members from multiple church bodies (including both the NALC and the ELCA).

Scallop said...

Anonymous 2/23 - you've got the distinction between the NALC and CORE right. For those who need to or choose to leave, the NALC offers a Lutheran denominational home-port. For those who cannot leave but want a more traditional Lutheran community with which to relate, CORE will offer that.

Anonymous said...

Well that's pretty acrobatic of CORE, isn't it...if NALC fails, why that's not a problem, CORE is a different organization! And if they succeed in screwing the ELCA even more than it is, we'll all have NALC to turn to! Thanks CORE, it's inspiring to see you commit to your offspring like this...

Eric Jonas Swensson: said...

Good grief...There is not too much point in replying to angry and sarcastic online posts except to try and keep the record straight for any honest inquirers who come along afterward.

Church reform has always been made in fits and starts. It is organic, it does not come out of a can. NALC is being born.

Isn't it fairly obvious even to its detractors that before a denomination has had its foundational meeting ratifying a constitution it is rather premature to throw stones at it? Unless one believes in abortion that is.

Anone who wishes can contact me through info on my blog, Awakenings.

BTW, I am a member of the ELCA, WordAlone, CORE and will be in NALC. Does that make me an acrobat? Not from where I stand.

Reverend Galloping Scallop, I woul especially be happy to hear from you.

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...