New Lutheran church body established

A year of turmoil in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) culminated Friday, August 27 with the creation of a new denomination: the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). Delegates from across North America converged on Grove City, Ohio for the Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Renewal) conference where the historic vote was held. Its effects are expected to resonate not only in the United States but also in Canada.

Since August 2009 – when the ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to affirm couples living in homosexual relationships and opened the ministry to non-celibate homosexual clergy—an internal battle has rocked the 4.6 million member church. Lutheran CORE and WordAlone, organizations in the ELCA who had opposed the vote, condemned the open rejection of scriptural authority. Congregational reaction began immediately, with churches voting to suspend funding to the national church and contemplating a final break from the denomination.

In the year following, more than 500 congregations have held first votes on separation from the ELCA, with 384 reaching the necessary two-thirds majority. Of these, 199 have further passed the required second vote to officially separate from the ELCA. Most have subsequently joined Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) which first broke from the ELCA in 2000.  

Bishop Paull Spring of the North American Lutheran Church

Solid Ground, a confessional movement within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) notes that there has been at least one informational meeting in Canada about Lutheran CORE and the NALC led by Bishop Paull Spring (who was elected as the first bishop of the NALC). Representatives from Solid Ground and other Canadian confessional Lutheran entities, including Lutheran Church–Canada, recently met to discuss the theme “Toward a Confessional Lutheran Network in Canada.”

Some confessional congregations in Canada involved in such a network might find themselves associating with the NALC. The new denomination, in conjunction with Lutheran CORE, envisions itself as “a community of confessing Lutherans that crosses denomination lines and national boundaries.” For Ryan Schwarz, elected to serve on the NALC’s Executive Council, the new denomination represents a way for “faithful, confessing Lutherans in North America to remain connected to each other and to the vast majority of Lutherans and Christians globally who reject the theological innovations of the ELCA and ELCIC.”

The creation of the NALC was also praised by representatives from the LCMC, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania and the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus.

Posted By: Matthew Block
Posted On: August 30, 2010
Posted In: International News, National News,

More Resources