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Lutheran Family: Intrafaith Organizations

Lutheran Family: Intrafaith Organizations

363

American Lutheran Conference

(Defunct)

The American Lutheran Conference was a short-lived ecumenical body founded in 1930 soon after the formation of the American Lutheran Church (1930-1960). The American Lutheran Church took the lead in inviting the Augustana Synod, the United Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church (later the United Evangelical Lutheran Church), the Norwegian Lutheran Church in America (later known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church), and the Lutheran Free Church into an associated relationship. Many saw the new structure as designed to facilitate eventual union.

The several member groups quickly moved toward establishing doctrinal consensus and pulpit fellowship, and by the 1950s all but the Augustana were engaged in serious merger negotiations. In the light of these negotiations, the purpose of the conference had been served, and it was disbanded in 1954. The merger in 1960 produced the American Lutheran Church (1960-1988), now a constituent part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Periodicals: During most of its life, the conference published Lutheran Outlook (originally the Journal of the American Lutheran Conference).

Sources:

Dolvin, O. E. The American Lutheran Conference. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press, 1935.

Stavig, L. M. "The Genius of the American Lutheran Conference." AL Conference Report (1944): 100-115.

Wiederaenders, Robert C., and Walter G. Tillmans. The Synods of American Lutheranism. St. Louis, MO: Lutheran Historical Conference, 1968.

364

Lutheran Council in Canada

302-393 Portage Ave.
Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3B 3H6

The Lutheran Council in Canada began in 1952 as the Canadian Lutheran Council to serve the churches in Canada affiliated with those Lutheran churches in the United States which were affiliated with the National Lutheran Council (namely the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) and the American Lutheran Church (ALC)). In the early 1960s, the LCA and the ALC entered into negotiations with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which led to the discontinuance of the National Lutheran Council and the inauguration of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. at the beginning of 1967. In anticipation of this action in the United States, the Canadian Lutheran Council disbanded in the summer of 1966 and reformed as the Lutheran Council in Canada. It began to function officially on January 1, 1967, as did its American counterpart.

In 1967 the American Lutheran Church released its Canadian parishes, who organized as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada. In 1986, in anticipation of the merger of the ALC and LCA in the United States, the Evangelical Lutheran Church merged with the three Canadian synods of the Lutheran Church in America to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Then in 1988 the Canadian synods of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod became autonomous as the Lutheran Church-Canada. The Lutheran Council in Canada serves these two Lutheran bodies.

Sources:

Wiederaenders, Robert C., and Walter G. Tillmans. The Synods of American Lutheranism. St. Louis, MO: Lutheran Historical Conference, 1968.

365

Lutheran Council in the U.S.A.

(Defunct)

The Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. was founded on January 1, 1967, at which time it superseded the National Lutheran Council. The National Lutheran Council had been founded in 1918, growing out of the successful cooperative activity of the Lutheran Church in America (then split into a number of autonomous synods) during World War I. Over the next two decades, it provided a nexus for cooperative activities and fellowship and a context in which mergers could and did occur, the primary one being the formation of the American Lutheran Church (1930-1960) in 1930.

World War II led to heightened action in the area of relief efforts, work with refugees, and after the war, the reestablishment of relations with European Lutheran churches through the formation of the Lutheran World Federation. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, though not a member of the council, cooperated with its relief efforts. In the 1960s formal talks were opened with the Missouri Synod on their joining with the National Lutheran Council. After some years of discussion, the way was seen clear to disband the National Lutheran Council in favor of a structure to which the Missouri Synod could relate, the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A.

Through the 1980s events conspired to cause the disbanding of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. Most importantly, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, which had split from the Missouri Synod in 1967, joined with the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. That merger was consummated on January 1, 1988. It brought all of the major Lutheran bodies other than the Missouri Synod into a single ecclesiastical organization. In the meantime, the Missouri Synod had taken a more conservative stance, having lost most of its prominent liberal voices in the 1976 split. Thus the need for continuing the Lutheran Council seemed to many to have been dissipated, and it was disbanded.

Sources:

Bonderud, Omar, and Charles Lutz, eds. America's Lutherans. Columbus, OH: Wartburg Press, 1955.

Wiederaenders, Robert C., and Walter G. Tillmans. The Synods of American Lutheranism. St. Louis, MO: Lutheran Historical Conference, 1968.

366

Lutheran World Federation

℅ Office of Ecumenical Affairs
Evangelical Lutheran Church
8765 W. Higgins Rd.
Chicago, IL 60631

Alternate Address: International Headquarters: 160 route de Ferney, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland.

The Lutheran World Federation was founded in 1947 but emerged out of the prior work of the World Lutheran Convention, which had first met in 1923. The convention grew out of World War I, during which time many American Lutherans had felt the sting of having originated from Germany–the country America was fighting–or being closely identified with it. As soon as the war ended, they initiated plans to help those ravaged by the war and began relief efforts in 20 European countries. The desire for closer Lutheran association developed in this post-war atmosphere. In 1921 the National Lutheran Council considered the recommendation for a World Lutheran Federation and after consideration launched plans for an international conference of Lutherans, which met in Eisenbach, Germany, in August 1923. After its initial gathering, two additional meetings of the convention were held in Copenhagen, Denmark (1929) and Paris, France (1935). The 1940 meeting, the first scheduled for the United States, was blocked by the beginning of World War II.

The shattered unity caused by the war was reconstituted in 1947 by the organization of the Lutheran World Federation at Lund, Sweden. Forty-nine churches from 22 countries joined in the effort. A Department of Lutheran World Service was created to aid suffering and needy Lutheran groups. However, the federation quickly turned to the broad areas of church life and thought and created work areas for theology, world missions, student life, liturgy, theology, and others concerns. Over the years, increasing interest has been placed on Lutherans in traditionally non-Lutheran settings in the Third World.

The Lutheran World Federation has taken a lead in the modern ecumenical movement and has its headquarters in the World Council of Churches building in Geneva, Switzerland.

Membership: The Lutheran World Federation includes the more liberal wing of Lutheranism worldwide and in North America counts the following among its members: Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Exile; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and Lithuanian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Exile.

Periodicals: Lutheran Reports and DocumentationLWF Information.

Sources:

Bachmann, Mercai Brenne, ed. Lutheran Mission Directory. Geneva: Lutheran World Federation, 1982.

Nelson, E. Clifford. The Rise of World Lutheranism. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982.

Schjorring, Jens Holger, Prasanna Kumari, and Norman A. Hjelm, eds. From Federation to Communion: The History of the Lutheran World Federation. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997.

Wolf, Richard C. Documents of Lutheran Unity in America. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966.

367

Synodical Conference

(Defunct)

The Synodical Conference was formed in 1872 by the more conservative synods of American Lutherans–Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and the Norwegian. The synods opposed both liberalizing trends in some of the other Lutheran bodies, which were looking toward union and opposed to Freemasonry. Their initial ambitious plans for cooperation were interrupted in the 1880s by a major doctrinal controversy over predestination, which caused the Ohio Synod to withdraw permanently and others to withdraw for a brief period. Others joined soon after the turn of the century.

In 1950, by which time the majority of American Lutherans were moving toward the mergers that would produce the American Lutheran Church (1960), the Lutheran Church in America (1962), and eventually the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (1988), the Synodical Conference consisted of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Norwegian Synod, the Slovak Church, and a set of African-American parishes that had emerged from a missionary effort in the American South beginning in the 1980s. The conference had also established a mission in Nigeria and welcomed the fellowship of several independent conservative Lutheran churches in Europe.

In the wake of the mergers of 1960 and 1962, the several larger Lutheran bodies, including the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, entered into discussions that led to the creation of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. In 1963, during the process of approval of this plan, the more conservative members of the conference felt that they could no longer fellowship with the Missouri Synod, and the Norwegian (now known as the Evangelical Lutheran Synod) and Wisconsin Synods withdrew from the Synodical Conference, an action which effectively disbanded it.

Sources:

Meyer, Carl S. The Synodical Conference–The Voice of Lutheran Confessionalism. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1956.

Wiederaenders, Robert C., and Walter G. Tillmans. The Synods of American Lutheranism. St. Louis, MO: Lutheran Historical Conference, 1968.

368

U.S. National Committee for the Lutheran World Federation

℅ Dept. for Ecumencial Affairs
Evangelical Lutheran Church
8785 W. Higgins Rd.
Chicago, IL 60631

The U.S. National Committee for the Lutheran World Federation began during World War I. Lutherans found it expedient to cooperate in caring for the spiritual needs of Lutherans serving in the armed forces. Thus in 1917 the National Lutheran Commission for Soldiers' and Sailors' Welfare was founded. Most Lutheran bodies cooperated and the success of the venture led to the suggestion that a more permanent cooperative structure be created. Several meetings led to the formation of the National Lutheran Council in 1918.

The major Lutheran bodies participated in the council. Following the adoption of a constitution by the Lutheran World Federation in 1952, the National Lutheran Council was designated the "National Committee for the Lutheran World Federation in the United States," and the council proceeded in 1956 to establish a Division of Lutheran World Federation Affairs. In 1967 the National Lutheran Council was superseded by the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A., which continued its support of the Lutheran World Federation. With the recent disbanding of the Lutheran Council, the work of the committee has been supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the committee has its headquarters in that church's Department for Ecumenical Affairs.

Membership: The Lutheran World Federation includes the more liberal wing of Lutheranism worldwide and in North America counts the following among its members: Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Exile; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and Lithuanian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Exile.

Sources:

Bonderud, Omar, and Charles Lutz, eds. America's Lutherans. Columbus, OH: Wartburg Press, 1955.

Wolf, Richard C. Documents of Lutheran Unity in America. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966.

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