TUCSON, ARIZONA – Representatives from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) met for three days of meetings in December 2013 in Tucson, Arizona, in keeping with the encouragement given by the 2013 conventions of both WELS and the LCMS.
The meeting—a follow-up to a similar meeting held in December 2012—was intended as an opportunity for informal discussions to clarify doctrinal positions and to gain a better understanding of current situations in each church body. While those who were at the meeting held various leadership positions in ELS, WELS, and the LCMS, these talks did not take place among the churches’ constitutionally established bodies for formal doctrinal discussions. No decisions were made and no formal declarations were adopted.
The major topic for discussion was Church and Ministry. Participants gained a better understanding of the doctrinal positions each synod holds when it comes to the definition of “the Church,” and also had the opportunity to discuss in some detail the perceptions and understandings of the public ministry. The talks helped to clarify some issues, remove some misunderstandings, and shed light on the various terminology used in the three synods.
The talks were cordial and beneficial. All involved are committed to striving for a better understanding of where there is agreement and where genuine differences remain. The group agreed to hold another meeting in the coming year.
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a member church of the International Lutheran Council and has approximately 2.2 million members. The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (380 thousand members) and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (20 thousand members) are American churches in full-fellowship with each other. WELS and ELS are member churches of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference.