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WordAlone convention considers —constitution for new association

Dr. Christoper Hershman (Allentown, Pennsylvania)

March 2001

photo of Dr. HershmanThe WordAlone Network, meeting at its second annual convention in Phoenix, AZ, had a busy day discussing portions of the constitution for Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC), a new association of congregations being organized to ordain pastors, organize congregations and assist congregations to reach out to the unchurched.

Although a model constitution was presented to the convention by the WordAlone Network board of directors, an alternative constitution was also presented to the convention by a group of WordAlone members who had concerns regarding representation, authority and other issues. Mark Menacher, Au Gras, MI, advocated an alternative organization entitled Fellowship of Confessing Lutheran Churches (FCLC).

Governance committee chair, Barry Anderson, a Minnesota judge and board member who moderated the meeting discussing the constitution, suggested that Menacher be given time to present the FCLC constitution to convention delegates. Discussion followed which affirmed aspects of both constitutional models, but which also appeared to support the creation of one organization with a common board that followed the LCMC constitution proposal, but which also integrates some ideas gleaned from the FCLC constitution.

The convention heard Bud Thompson, a pastor from Spokane, WA, and managing editor of the Lutheran Quarterly journal, present Bible reflections on Moses and the Hebrew captivity in Egypt. Thompson compared resistance to Called to Common Mission (CCM)--an ecumenical agreement that requires Lutherans to accept Episcopalian structures for ministry--to that of the midwives that refused to allow Hebrew babies to be killed, as well as the role of Moses, who was given voice by God to call for freedom.

Dale Wolf, a pastor from Atonement Lutheran in Fargo, ND, spoke about resistance, questioning what ELCA leaders had done with "our church?" He said that if WordAlone has any chance of changing directions in the ELCA it must stand together, renew commitment to teach the Lutheran confessions, support others, advocate the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, get congregations to join WordAlone and LCMC, redirect benevolence, fight the notion of "irregularity," elect bishops that will not submit to CCM, and consider the importance of the issue for the future of Lutheranism. Wolf concluded by expressing his concern for his children if CCM is implemented.

A survey was taken of delegates, asking them to rate themselves on a scale of one to five; whether they would hope that the ELCA would straighten out its problems with CCM to leaving the ELCA. Responses were clustered around three to five, with the highest number being four.

Sam Pascoe, an Episcopal priest from Orange Park, FL, and a participant in The Anglican Mission in America, spoke about resisting the doctrinal corruption that has plagued his church and which now seems to be laying waste to the ELCA. Pascoe's talk was entitled, "Three Mooses and a Mule."

Paul Erickson, Sioux Falls, SD, spoke on the potential influence of even one person on the whole. He suggested WordAlone members teach congregations, run for bishop, contact churchwide assembly delegates with concerns and tell the world about the battle.

The day was concluded with musical presentations and comedy led by Mark Luther Johnson, a pastor from Donnelly, MN. Some of the humor was satirical, for example, using the form of a radio program telling the history of the English Reformation, in which it was demanded that English Christians accept changes in the church they did not believe, the tradition of benevolence redirection from the pope was inaugurated, the authority of the King over the church was to be considered a gift, and non-confomity to church rules were rewarded by burnings at the stake and the creation of the Baptist, Methodist, Congregational and Quaker churches in the New World.

Christopher Hershman