Back in the good ole days of the 19th century (where I prefer to spend my time), there was no confusion over what a Lutheran was and we were all happily joined together in one church--er, okay, maybe or maybe not, that ecclesiological thing still haunts us. But one thing is for sure, American Lutherans sure loved forming their synods. Somewhere around 60 were formed between 1840 and 1875! Nowadays there are fewer--but still a bunch. And as of last weekend there is one more. The North American Lutheran Church (find all the info at www.thenalc.org) was formed on August 27, 2010. The driving force was Lutheran Core, which has published a long news release. Read it all here. These two paragraphs from it jumped out at me:
“The future that we envision for confessing Lutherans in North America is one that is centered on the absolute truth of Christ Jesus and committed to making disciples for Him,” said Ryan Schwarz of Washington, D.C., chair of Lutheran CORE’s Vision and Planning Working Group. “Both Lutheran CORE and the NALC will stand in continuity with the tradition of the Christian Church over the past 2,000 years and will orient their activities primarily for the support of congregations in their ministries.”
“Lutheran CORE and the new NALC are two pathways for faithful, confessing Lutherans in North America to remain connected to each other and to the vast majority of Lutherans and Christians globally who reject the theological innovations of the ELCA and ELCIC,” added Schwarz, who was elected to serve on the NALC’s Executive Council.
What will come of all this is the focus of a piece by Russell Saltzman. You may read his entire article here. However, one paragraph of his jumped out at me. It follows:
"The NALC’s formation brought Tanzanian Bp. Benson Bagonza, Kanagwe Diocese, to Columbus, who participated in Spring’s installation. Several bishops of the new Anglican Church in North America attended as observers, along with Fr. James Massa, executive director of the USCCB secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. Also present, several pastors of the Ethiopian Lutheran Mekane Yesus Church. African Lutherans might be best described as incensed by ELCA actions. The Lutheran World Federation just completed a recent international assembly where acrimonious debate on human sexuality and the rule of Scripture was barely avoided; Africans see the NALC as someone they can do business with."
Philip Jenkins and others have told us of the importance of the Global South for the future of Christianity. We may be seeing evidence of that here.