Once an advocacy group within the ELCA, Lutheran CORE cut ties to the ELCA immediately after the 2009 Churchwide Assembly and in 2010 formed its own denomination, The North American Lutheran Church (NALC). That denomination meets this week in Ohio for their second annual convocation.
From their website and their recent newsletters, it is clear that CORE/NALC continues to self-define as opposition to the ELCA. To the question Who are you? the answer would appear to be, we are not the ELCA, and ELCA bashing continues to be the coin of their realm. A recent post on the CORE blog contains the entire letter of resignation from the ELCA by a pastor, who happens to be the blog moderator, and he graciously acknowledges that “many” of his former pastoral colleagues in the South Dakota Synod (not “most” and certainly not “all”) are “faithful Christians”. A newsletter article written by NALC Bishop Paull Spring asks, “What is to prevent the North American Lutheran Church from reverting to what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is?”
The brochure announcing the Convocation and the accompanying theological conference contains the following:
- Yet, some Christians and churches act as though …
- This conference will seek to reaffirm the strong teachings of classical Lutheran theology, rather than follow the more fashionable trends of various liberal and liberation theologies.
- it is time for Lutherans to reverse the direction of current mission policy, which is backed by a faulty theology.
The conference will feature the usual suspects that are continuously recycled–Braaten, Benne, Nestingen–and also a special guest speaker … a leader of the schismatic Episcopal group (ACNA).
Recent issues of the NALC newsletter suggest the denomination now numbers 200 congregations and 100,000 members. For comparison, the ELCA has roughly ten thousand congregations and 4 million members, the Missouri synod has 2.4 million members, and the Wisconsin Synod nearly 400,000 members. The other dissident organization that has split from the ELCA, Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) apparently has over 300,000 members.
The newsletters also note that CORE/NALC meets a couple of times a year with LCMC, “to consider how the two church bodies might better work together” but nothing substantial comes from these meetings other than “all those present were grateful for the chance to talk, listen and grow in their appreciation for each church body, better appreciating our similarities and differences. There was also a sense of hope for a developing partnership in mission and ministry.” My prediction is that too much turf would have to be surrendered by one or the other organization to form a meaningful partnership. As one LCMC pastor candidly acknowledged back in 2009 “LCMC and NALC will be splitting a small pie”.