Lutheran Synods


#1

So whats with all these divisions of Lutherans?

I googled it and saw all these things like:
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)
North Carolina Synod
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS)
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)
Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS)
Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church (CELC)
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA)
(the list goes on…)


#2

[quote=Catholic Dude]So whats with all these divisions of Lutherans?

I googled it and saw all these things like:
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)
North Carolina Synod
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS)
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)
Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS)
Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church (CELC)
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA)
(the list goes on…)
[/quote]

Do you think all the Catholics are united? How about the Eastern Orthorox, Byzine Catholic, Episcopal(some will argue with that one) Polish National Catholic, Old Catholic, RomanCatholic,Independant Catholic and there are more. Just like the Lutherans different synods might have a little different beliefs and rules but still have the main Lutheran faith. Just like all the Catholic Rites taeach the main Catholic faith.


#3

[quote=chriswilliam]Do you think all the Catholics are united? How about the Eastern Orthorox, Byzine Catholic, Episcopal(some will argue with that one) Polish National Catholic, Old Catholic, RomanCatholic,Independant Catholic and there are more. Just like the Lutherans different synods might have a little different beliefs and rules but still have the main Lutheran faith. Just like all the Catholic Rites taeach the main Catholic faith.
[/quote]

Chris,

Yes, Catholics are united (easy question ;)). All 1.1 billion (+) of us. Just because someone claims they are Catholic doesn’t make it so… Either the Pope is the head of your Church or he isn’t. As far as Byzantine Catholics and other Eastern-Rite Catholics are concerned we are not separated from them, as they are Catholics.


#4

There are different rites of the Catholic Church,but all true Catholics, that profess the supremacy of the Pope, have the same beliefs.


#5

I can’t tell you much about the divisions of Lutherans, but I have a few friends who are Lutheran and they told me a little about it. There are three different kinds of Lutheran churches in my area–the Wisconsin Synod, the ELCA, and the Missouri Synod. I believe that the Wisconsin Synod is considered the most orthodox, next is the ELCA, and then the Missouri. My ELCA friend told me that there is much more kneeling in the Wisconsin Synod and that she is not allowed to receive Communion in that church because she is of a different synod. She says the Wisconsin Synod is more orthodox and they “worship more like Catholics” (her words, not mine). I don’t know anything about the other synods you mentioned, and what I told you about the three I listed is just based on what my Lutheran friends have told me. If I’m wrong about this, someone please jump in and correct me:D


#6

[quote=Catholic Dude]So whats with all these divisions of Lutherans?

I googled it and saw all these things like:
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)
North Carolina Synod
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS)
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)
Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS)
Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church (CELC)
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA)
(the list goes on…)
[/quote]

When Lutherans first came to this country, they organized themselves into regionally based synods (regionally based both in terms of where they came from in Europe and where they wound up in the U.S.). Most of these synods came together in a gradual process culminating in the later 20th century, forming the ELCA which is by far the largest Lutheran group. Of the groups that refused to join, the Missouri Synod is by far the largest. It’s the main representative of “confessional Lutheranism” (i.e., traditional, dogmatic Lutheranism) in the U.S. The Wisconsin Synod is a much smaller and even more conservative group. The ELS is somewhere between the LCMS and the WELS I believe.

These are the main divisions of Lutherans in this country. The other groups you list are tiny–I didn’t even know there was a “North Carolina Synod,” and I lived in North Carolina for years and visited Lutheran churches (both ELCA and LCMS).

Edwin


#7

[quote=Contarini]When Lutherans first came to this country, they organized themselves into regionally based synods (regionally based both in terms of where they came from in Europe and where they wound up in the U.S.). Most of these synods came together in a gradual process culminating in the later 20th century, forming the ELCA which is by far the largest Lutheran group. Of the groups that refused to join, the Missouri Synod is by far the largest. It’s the main representative of “confessional Lutheranism” (i.e., traditional, dogmatic Lutheranism) in the U.S. The Wisconsin Synod is a much smaller and even more conservative group. The ELS is somewhere between the LCMS and the WELS I believe.

These are the main divisions of Lutherans in this country. The other groups you list are tiny–I didn’t even know there was a “North Carolina Synod,” and I lived in North Carolina for years and visited Lutheran churches (both ELCA and LCMS).

Edwin
[/quote]

I guess it makes sense that they came together according to nationality, but Im not sure what “more conservative” means in relation to “confessional, traditional”.

As for the North Carolina, I just came across it on google.


#8

Well, for one thing the WELS has an absolutely uncompromising closed communion position, whereas you can find Missouri Synod churches that will alow non-LCMS folks to receive communion if they believe in the Real Presence (I once received communion in an LCMS church). The WELS is also far more anti-Catholic, and from what I understand is very hostile to just about all other Christians.

Roughly speaking, the Wisconsin Synod would correspond more to SSPX and other ultra-traditionalist Catholic groups, whereas the Missouri Synod would correspond to the sort of Catholicism present on this board or promulgated on EWTN. That’s only a rough analogy, of course.

I googled “North Carolina Synod” and it turns out that they are a synod of the ELCA, as you can see from their website. I understand that this is confusing, since the Missouri and Wisconsin synods are separate denominations. But within the ELCA a “synod” is roughtly equivalent to a Catholic diocese. (I learn from the website that ELCA “synods” are divided into “conferences,” corresponding to Catholic or Episcopalian deaneries. This is confusing for me because in the United Methodist Church, with which I’m more familiar, a “conference” is the equivalent of a diocese/synod, and the equivalent of a deanery is called a “district.”) So this is not a separate group at all. As I said earlier, the ELCA was formed by the merging of many synods.

Edwin


#9

[quote=Semper Fi]Chris,

Yes, Catholics are united (easy question ;)). All 1.1 billion (+) of us. Just because someone claims they are Catholic doesn’t make it so… Either the Pope is the head of your Church or he isn’t. As far as Byzantine Catholics and other Eastern-Rite Catholics are concerned we are not separated from them, as they are Catholics.
[/quote]

I thought the Eastern Catholic weren’t united with the Pope. And the Pope said that the PolishNationalCatholics have Apostolic seccession so there fore even though they don’t follow the Latin Rite they are still Catholic.


#10

[quote=chriswilliam]I thought the Eastern Catholic weren’t united with the Pope. And the Pope said that the PolishNationalCatholics have Apostolic seccession so there fore even though they don’t follow the Latin Rite they are still Catholic.
[/quote]

Having Apostolic Succession does not make you Catholic, it just means that you have valid Holy Orders.

Eastern Catholics, not Eastern Orthodox, are Eastern churches which comprise the Catholic Church (i.e. they are united with the Holy Father).

God Bless,


#11

[quote=Catholic Dude]So whats with all these divisions of Lutherans?

I googled it and saw all these things like:
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)
North Carolina Synod
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS)
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)
Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS)
Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church (CELC)
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA)
(the list goes on…)
[/quote]

Dude,

Your question about the PNCC was easier to answer :smiley:

Edwin has given you some of the background involved in the modern-day organization of Lutheranism in the US. I’ll try and put some added perspective on the history. As mentioned, geographic locality and ethnic origin were prominent factors in the early structuring of the Lutheran faith in the New World; these considerations were super-imposed on a spectrum of religious outlook that ranged from traditional or conservative to liberal.

Over time, multiple consolidations, mergers (and schisms), and name changes have produced a difficult ecclesiastical family tree that would be considerably easier to illustrate if this forum supported graphics such as are ordinarily seen in organizational charts or family trees. It doesn’t :frowning: .

There are about 3 dozen separate Lutheran Church bodies in the US. The list that follows is the complete roster, last I knew - the first three in the list are the largest and are ordered by size. The smallest is probably still the Eielsen Synod, which is comprised of a single congregation. Other than the three largest, I’ve ordered the list alphabetically.

You will note that a few include “Catholic” in their ecclesial name - these are very “High Church” bodies, most of which have actively sought out episcopal consecrations that enhance the likelihood that their bishops would be deemed by Rome to be in Apostolic Succession. At least two of them (the AECC and ACC-AC) have a goal of ultimately entering communion with Rome; less obviously in active search of union, but very Catholic in praxis, are the ECC and ECC-L.

[list]*]ELCA - Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
*]LCMS - The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
*]WELS - Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod

*]TAALC - The American Association of Lutheran Churches
*]ALCA - Apostolic Lutheran Church of America
*]AFLC - The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (or Churches)
*]AIELC - Association of Independent Evangelical Lutheran Churches
*]ACC-AC - The Athanasian Catholic Church of the Augsburg Confession
*]ALC - Augsburg Lutheran Churches
*]AECC - The Augustana Evangelical Catholic Communion
*]AOELS - Augustana Orthodox and Evangelical Lutheran Synod
*]CLBA - The Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America
*]CoLC - Church of the Lutheran Confession
*]CLC - Concordia Lutheran Conference
*]CLA - Conservative Lutheran Association
*]ES - Eielsen Synod
*]ECC - Evangelical Catholic Church
*]ECC-L - The Evangelical Community Church - Lutheran
*]ELCM - Evangelical Lutheran Conference and Ministerium
*]ELS - Evangelical Lutheran Synod
*]FoCLC - Fellowship of Confessing Lutheran Churches
*]ILC - Illinois Lutheran Conference
*]ILF - International Lutheran Fellowship
*]LLC - Laestadian Lutheran Church
*]LELCA - The Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
*]LELCiD - Lithuanian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Diaspora
*]LCoCG - Lutheran Churches Of Calvary Grace
*]LCoR - Lutheran Churches of the Reformation
*]LCCF - Lutheran Conference of Confessional Fellowship
*]LCS - Lutheran Confessional Synod
*]LCMC - Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ
*]LEPC - Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church
*]LMS-USA - The Lutheran Ministerium & Synod - USA
*]LOC - The Lutheran Orthodox Church
*]TPC - The Protes’tant Conference (that apostrophe in the name is not a typo)
*]RLC - Reformation Lutheran Conference[/list]

Many of the smaller Churches represent historical breaks from the three largest ones or their predecessor Churches and, in an interesting turn of events not often seen, a few were formed from groups that sinultaneously broke with different of the larger Churches - merging with one another despite very different prior theological outlooks.

The larger bodies are the culmination of a series of mergers, some as recent as a few decades ago, others a century or more old.

There’s a wonderful Lutheran site that offers links to websites for almost all of those listed above. I can’t locate the link right now, but will try to post it for you tonight. Meanwhile, if I can answer any other questions about any of the Lutheran Churches, please ask.

Many years,

Neil


#12

There’s a book called What’s Going on Among the Lutherans? by Patsy Leppien and J. Kincaid Smith (Northwestern Publishing) which does a very good job of explaining what is really going on and why there is the range of beliefs.

It really isn’t fair to put it this way. In every synod you have confessionals, conservatives, and liberals. Missouri takes a much more uncompromising posistion with close(d) communion, etc than WELS does. However, enforcement depends on the pastor at the church. Some are more willing to enforce than others, and some just do as they like. Take a look at King of Kings Lutheran in Omaha, Nebraska kingofkingsomaha.org/ This is the prototype for the LCMS church of the future. Their FAQs are extremely interesting.

A confessional would be the equivalent of a solid Catholic, someone who knows what they believe and why. A conservative would be more like the SSPXers (Lutherquest is an example of this), and the liberals would be cafeteria Catholics and beyond. I have been researching the link between the liberals in the Catholic Church and those I’m most familiar with (Daystar, Jesus First,and Renewal In Missouri (RIM)) and I don’t think most people realize that the liberals in every group (Catholic, Protestant, etc) are joining ranks. You can’t judge what a synod is by what a pastor does anymore. That’s why there are so many smaller synods, many pastors are trying to find unity.

TinaK
Lifer Lutheran, 9+ generations


#13

I’m aware of that. But generally speaking my point is that LCMS is more mainstream conservative while WELS is ultraconservative and ELCA ranges from very liberal to moderately conservative. A liberal in LCMS is going to be conservative or at least middle of the road in ELCA. (I know one Lutheran scholar, for instance, who left LCMS because they were too conservative for him, and joined ELCA, only to convert to Catholicism a few years later–last I heard he was in RCIA but he may have been received by now.)

Missouri takes a much more uncompromising posistion with close(d) communion, etc than WELS does.

Than the Wisconsin Synod? Are you sure about this? Granted, all I know of WELS is hearsay or Internet discussion. But everything I’ve heard indicates that they are considerably more hardline than LCMS.

However, enforcement depends on the pastor at the church.

Right. I know that the LCMS church I visited in NC was quite liberal for the LCMS. It wasn’t really that different from the local ELCA congregation.

Some are more willing to enforce than others, and some just do as they like. Take a look at King of Kings Lutheran in Omaha, Nebraska kingofkingsomaha.org/ This is the prototype for the LCMS church of the future.

Very interesting. This certainly seems to be the kind of church that is booming these days. But prediction is a tricky business–I try to stay away from sentences of the form “X is the Y of the future.”

A confessional would be the equivalent of a solid Catholic, someone who knows what they believe and why. A conservative would be more like the SSPXers (Lutherquest is an example of this),

We’re using words differently. I use “conservative” very broadly and in a very relative sense. I for instance am a conservative Episcopalian, but I would be a moderately liberal Catholic. I’d be conservative if I were ELCA, but liberal if I were LCMS. And so on, and so forth.

“Confessional” on the other hand means something quite specific in a Lutheran/Reformed context (or Methodist or Anglican, although there the debate between “confessionals” and others is whether you can be a “confessional” member of those traditions). It means that someone holds staunchly to the traditional confessions rather than trying to interpret them through more liberal and ecumenical trends of the past century or so. The equivalent debate in Catholicism is over whether Trent has in some way been annulled by Vatican II or whether Vatican II must be interpreted so as to agree with Trent. (The priest supervising the RCIA program I attended, for instance, claimed that Vatican II had contradicted Trent’s doctrine of original sin.)

and I don’t think most people realize that the liberals in every group (Catholic, Protestant, etc) are joining ranks.

Well, liberals have always tended to join ranks. The difference today is that some conservatives want to join ranks as well. But of course it’s harder for conservatives–and therefore, in my opinion, more worthwhile.

Edwin


#14

[quote=TinaK]. Take a look at King of Kings Lutheran in Omaha, Nebraska kingofkingsomaha.org/ This is the prototype for the LCMS church of the future. Their FAQs are extremely interesting.

[/quote]

This is one of the reasons that my husband and I left the Lutheran Church. It may appeal to some people but my husband is a life long Lutheran and he feels like his church is abandoning him by trying to become non-denominational. The last straw was when we went to the regular (traditional) service and instead of being the regular service, they had a band with a power point presentation. No communion, no sermon just praise music and testimonials. My dh told the Pastor that if he wanted to go to a Baptist type church that’s what he’d do and never went back. He feels that the Catholics are the only one’s who are still reverent and we are in the process of converting.


#15

[quote=Contarini]I’m aware of that. But generally speaking my point is that LCMS is more mainstream conservative while WELS is ultraconservative and ELCA ranges from very liberal to moderately conservative. A liberal in LCMS is going to be conservative or at least middle of the road in ELCA. (I know one Lutheran scholar, for instance, who left LCMS because they were too conservative for him, and joined ELCA, only to convert to Catholicism a few years later–last I heard he was in RCIA but he may have been received by now.)

Than the Wisconsin Synod? Are you sure about this? Granted, all I know of WELS is hearsay or Internet discussion. But everything I’ve heard indicates that they are considerably more hardline than LCMS.

Right. I know that the LCMS church I visited in NC was quite liberal for the LCMS. It wasn’t really that different from the local ELCA congregation.

Very interesting. This certainly seems to be the kind of church that is booming these days. But prediction is a tricky business–I try to stay away from sentences of the form “X is the Y of the future.”

We’re using words differently. I use “conservative” very broadly and in a very relative sense. I for instance am a conservative Episcopalian, but I would be a moderately liberal Catholic. I’d be conservative if I were ELCA, but liberal if I were LCMS. And so on, and so forth.

“Confessional” on the other hand means something quite specific in a Lutheran/Reformed context (or Methodist or Anglican, although there the debate between “confessionals” and others is whether you can be a “confessional” member of those traditions). It means that someone holds staunchly to the traditional confessions rather than trying to interpret them through more liberal and ecumenical trends of the past century or so. The equivalent debate in Catholicism is over whether Trent has in some way been annulled by Vatican II or whether Vatican II must be interpreted so as to agree with Trent. (The priest supervising the RCIA program I attended, for instance, claimed that Vatican II had contradicted Trent’s doctrine of original sin.)

Well, liberals have always tended to join ranks. The difference today is that some conservatives want to join ranks as well. But of course it’s harder for conservatives–and therefore, in my opinion, more worthwhile.

Edwin
[/quote]

I would agree with Edwin… at least here in Illinois it seems that the MOST ultra conservative (closed communion - no women praying in church - no women serving on any boards etc.) is Wisconson Synod - then there’d be the Misouri Synod which are conservative but not quite so much - then the ELCA - which is totally liberal, woman pastors, NOT pro-life etc. We have each of the 3 in our town and that’s where they stand. I suppose it varies though, depending on the Pastor?


#16

[quote=Contarini]I’m aware of that. But generally speaking my point is that LCMS is more mainstream conservative while WELS is ultraconservative and ELCA ranges from very liberal to moderately conservative. A liberal in LCMS is going to be conservative or at least middle of the road in ELCA. (I know one Lutheran scholar, for instance, who left LCMS because they were too conservative for him, and joined ELCA, only to convert to Catholicism a few years later–last I heard he was in RCIA but he may have been received by now.)
[/quote]

Generally speaking, OK. Things have gotten so complex in Lutheran circles that it’s hard for me to generalize. I’m in too deep.

Speaking soley on an official stance, yes, the LCMS is more hardline. The LCMS has always officially been more hardline. I have cousins who left the LCMS for WELS and always claimed that it was more strict, but when I started to look at WELS as an option for when the LCMS splits, I found it to be otherwise. Then again I live in Michigan, and we are known for being more liberal.

It is documented (and I have it somewhere around here) that the LCMS synod president Kieschnick has applauded King of Kings and has set it up as a model. I know what I see going on in my own church — the focus is on size, the larger the better, and doing whatever it takes to make it happen. I was there when the synod came into my congregation and told us what we were doing wrong and what we should become.

We’re using words differently. I use “conservative” very broadly and in a very relative sense. I for instance am a conservative Episcopalian, but I would be a moderately liberal Catholic. I’d be conservative if I were ELCA, but liberal if I were LCMS. And so on, and so forth. …

OK, I’ll give you that. I was speaking from a confessional Lutheran viewpoint.

Well, liberals have always tended to join ranks. The difference today is that some conservatives want to join ranks as well. But of course it’s harder for conservatives–and therefore, in my opinion, more worthwhile.

True. My point was that it is rather disconcerting when you see Lutheran groups working for women proests in the Catholic Church. Liberal or not, that has not been common, at least among the LCMS. As Hamlet said, “Something’s rotten in Denmark.”

carol marie, All I know of with Illinios is that there is an extremely confessional movement going on in part of the state, one to rival the original synod founded by CFW Walther. If a synod should arise from it, it will make WELS look liberal. As for women, many LCMS churches still do not allow women to pray in church or vote even though the synod gave them the option to. It does depend on the pastor.

Ryniev, your post hit home. :crying:

TinaK


#17


#18

Dude,

As promised, Pastor Zip’s Lutheran Links is a site maintained by Steven Tibbetts, pastor of an Evangelical Lutheran church. It has a plethora of links that cover virtually all of the Lutheran bodies, even the tiny Eielsen Synod. (He also has a number of other pages with an excellent selection of links to various church bodies and religious topics.)

Many years,

Neil


#19

As a Missouri Synod Lutheran I was given the rudiments of religion (creeds, 10 commandments, rites etc.) but had practical teaching of walking with Jesus only barely touched on.

Thankful for what I got, wish I had been raised in a less litugical setting though.


#20

[quote=TinaK]but when I started to look at WELS as an option for when the LCMS splits
[/quote]

Tina, Just curious about this because you state it as if its a matter of fact. Is it true?


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