After a number of years, fellowship has been formally established between The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod and the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations--Assistant to the President of the LCMS, tells the whole story. Here is a little slice:
On 17 December 2010, the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) approved the recognition of church fellowship between The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC). The approval of the recognition of fellowship between the LCMS and the SELC occurred twelve years after the SELC first requested fellowship discussions with the LCMS under President Alvin Barry. Under Bylaw 220.127.116.11.2c, after a request for fellowship, consultation with the Preasidium, and the approval of the recognition of fellowship, the President of Synod may declare recognition of such fellowship.
Commenting on the CTCR’s action, President Matthew C. Harrison said, “We give thanks to the Lord that after much patience and longsuffering on the part of the Siberian Lutherans, the Missouri Synod can now recognize the gift of fellowship that the Lord has worked between the LCMS and the SELC.” For his part, Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin of the SELC has stated several times in the past, “From our point of view, we are in fellowship with the LCMS.”
Shortly after President Harrison was elected at the 64th regular convention of the LCMS, Bishop Lytkin sent President-elect Harrison a letter on 14 July 2010 saying, “We at Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church also hope that with your election and introduction in the office of the President discussions between our church bodies concerning church fellowship will gain new momentum and will come to a proper conclusion. As you may know, we have met with LCMS church leaders a number of times, starting from Alvin Barry, but in the last year some impending circumstances slowed down our progress.” In response to this letter, President Harrison sent a delegation to Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia, which consisted of Rev. Dr. Albert B Collver, Director of Church Relations Assistant to the President, Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, Director of the CTCR, and Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, Dean of International Studies, Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne, for doctrinal discussions with members of the SELC. The delegation, while acknowledging differences in practice, found no doctrinal differences. On 18 November 2010, President Harrison consulted with the Preasidium regarding pursuing fellowship with the SELC according to Bylaw 18.104.22.168.2c.
With CTCR’s December 17 approval, President Matthew C. Harrison, per Bylaw 22.214.171.124.2c, declared the recognition between the two church bodies.
Yours truly is quoted as follows:
Dr. Lawrence Rast, Chairman of the CTCR noted, “In John 17 the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father for the oneness of His church. Since that time the church has struggled to express that oneness. From this we learn, first of all, that fellowship doesn’t simply ‘happen’ by ‘chance.’ It is the gift of God. Second, we see that the realization of that fellowship occurs in a fallen world that now lives under the cross of Christ. The Commission on Theology and Church Relations rejoices in the Lord’s gracious leading of the SELC and LCMS to recognize their confessional unity and looks forward to future opportunities to work toward the faithful expression of the oneness we have in Christ with those who confess the faith in the fullness of its truth.”
This is truly an exciting day as we celebrate with our sisters and brothers in the SELC the gift of fellowship that God bestowsThe full story may be found here: