|An Introduction to ELCM
We are a synodical federation, fellowship, and association
of Centrist Evangelical Lutheran congregations and pastors. The point of origin for most
of us has been the former Lutheran Church in America ( LCA ) and its successor body the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We made the decision to leave the ELCA in
November of 1991. Since that time we have searched for a Lutheran Church body to become
part of that would be "centrist" in stance. While we searched we successfully
planted our congregations and engaged in ongoing Mission efforts. Ours has been a
wandering Aramean search and we found no truly "Centrist" Lutheran alternatives
For the first 6 months of our existence we were Independent
Free Lutherans and then we gave The Association of American Lutheran Churches (TAALC)
a trial membership. Next we were part of a trial effort to establish the Lutheran
Ministerium & Synod - USA (LMS-USA) and then we were back to "an
Independent Free Lutheran" stance hoping that some of our relation from the
Muhlenberg/General Council/Augustana/Suomi/United Synod of the South Lutheran tradition
might join us (or we might join them) in forming a genuinely centrist ( Moderate to Middle
Conservative in range of views) Evangelical Lutheran Synodical federation, fellowship or
The criteria in our looking for a Lutheran Synodical
federation, fellowship, or association home was that it be one that would have and hold to
similarities we treasured from the United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA) and its
predecessors (The General Council, Ministerium of New York, and the Ministerium of
Pennsylvania as well as from the former Augustana Lutheran Synod, Suomi, and United Synod
of the South tradition. ) days. A number of folk in our fellowship are former Augustana
Synod Lutherans. We are thus a blend of Berkenmyer, Muhlenberg, and Augustana tradition
With these points of origin in mind "Centrist
Lutheran" for us means "Lutherans who span a range from Moderate
to Middle Conservative; who represent a middle ground between ELCA on the one hand and the
other various Conservative Lutheran bodies on the other such as LC-MS, WELS, ELS, CLC etc.
. We attempt to represent a bit "larger tent concept" than the
approaches presently held by virtually all the other Lutheran alternative options to ELCA.
Our experience has been that groups such as the AFLC, TAALC, LMS-USA, LCS, are more to the
MIddle Conservative-Conservative end of the spectrum and thus are not truly
"Centrist" in stance. Smaller groups that have formed in the past with a desire
to be "Centrist" often have found themselves pulled more and more toward the
conservative end of the spectrum primarily, we believe, because these were the only other
Lutherans to talk too and dialogue with.
We see ourselves as "Biblical, Confessional,
Liturgical, Traditional, Congregational in polity, holding to a high view of the Office of
Ministry minus hierarchy, and Evangelical Lutheran with a strong emphasis upon Freedom in
Christ and upon Mission". We also understand ourselves as being open to a span or
range of Theologies from Moderate positions on the one end to the Middle Conservative
positions on the other end. While this is a narrower spectrum (smaller tent) than that
supposedly held to in ELCA it is also a much broader concept (larger tent) than that held
to in most of the other Lutheran Alternatives to ELCA. Thus we believe we have some claim
to being truly "Centrist" Lutheran.
There are indeed other Lutheran denominational and
association groupings (some mentioned above) that emphasize many of the aspects we
identify with in our definition of "Centrist Lutheran" however, these also have
other emphases added that we do not share such as, for example, a pronounced "Pietistic"
orientation or a "Charismatic" focus, or a "Hierarchical"
polity of one form or another. Much of what we set forth in our organizational principles
and constitutions has been molded and shaped by what was encountered while we were in the
ELCA. But we discovered a number of areas from our sojourns in TAALC and in LMS-USA that
caused us deep reflection and consideration. The result of these reflections are thus also
included in our organizational principles and constitutions. We have discerned patterns in
other Lutheran groupings with whom we have been associated that we believe ultimately lead
ultimately to a recreation or replication of many of the same difficulties encountered in
In our sojourns since leaving ELCA we have noticed and
indeed, encountered first hand, various pronounced fears of contamination by pastors and
congregations coming out of ELCA or other groupings of Lutherans. These various fears
result in what amounts to a kind of 2nd class membership for former ELCA pastors and
congregations. Trial or probationary membership becomes the rule and we believe such truly
undermines the Evangelical proclamation of freedom as well as unity in Christ. Thus our
ELCM polity and constitutional organization has been an intentional attempt to eliminate
all such probationary or trial membership devices and yet to guarantee that the basic
doctrines of the One, holy, catholic (Christlicht) and Apostolic faith (Una Sancta) may
not be overturned by majority votes.
We are very open to exploring possibilities for joint
efforts with others sharing a similar orientation to our own. We are also open to folks
(Pastors and Congregations) needing and seeking only a temporary safe haven to be a part
of our fellowship while they decide where to permanently align or affiliate themselves.
We had been in the process of deciding whether or not to
pursue further organization of a little Mustard Seed "Centrist Lutheran Church
Body". Then the events taking place at the Denver, Colorado ELCA Assembly
coupled with the actions that were taken at the earlier Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ELCA
Assembly finally convinced us to proceed immediately to organize and to Incorporate the
Evangelical Lutheran Conference & Ministerium (ELCM). ELCM for the first several years
shall also be the Non Geographical Synod of ELCM.
The focus of Luther's great hymn continues, we believe, to
be most relevant to our own day and age. We are to pass on only that which we have first
received and so:
God's word is our great heritage,
And shall be ours forever;
To spread its light from age to age
Be this our chief endeavor;
Through life it guides our way,
In death it is our stay;
Lord, grant while time shall last
Thy Church may hold it fast:
Throughout all generations.
Hymn Lyrics by Nikolai F. S. Grundtvig, 1783-1872 set to
the tune of Ein' Feste Burg by Martin Luther, 1483-1546
We trace our roots of origin back to the American Lutheran
Christians of Colonial American strand who were present prior to but first
organized by Pastor Henry
Melchior Muhlenberg . (Some of us - especially our ELCM President - actually
have roots of origin to the late 17th and early 18th Century Dutch & German orthodox
Lutheran Congregations on the New York Hudson river)
If you would desire to be added to our ELCM Internet News
& Mailing list please proceed to the mailing list application form. You may also access this form from
the side bar link area after you have checked out more of our thoughts and positions.
A free Digital Messenger Chat Client Server and Messenger
Server which runs on Java and works very nicely is available for download from the Digital
Messenger Server folks.
We have a link to this free download client server posted
at the very top of the side bar menu on your left. This product is very easy to install
and to use and it would enable you to join in on online conferences and discussion
regarding Centrist Lutheran issues. Its installation on your computer will also allow you
to send Instant messages to friends who also install this Client Server
. So to join us for "Instant messages" or for
"chat room participation", regardless of what Internet Server you use, simply
insert our Email address as follows (minus the quotation marks) "Revroy@elcm.org".
The free Digital Messenger Server allows us to hold either private Chat room conferences
or public Chat room Forums and Conferences for those who are interested in various issues.