I have a confession. I was brainwashed. Though I have been a persistent critic of the Lutheran CORE and a skeptic regarding their grandiose claim to “reconfigure North American Lutheranism”, I confess that I bought into their hyperbole, or at least, I failed to question the implication that CORE would become the focal point and landing spot for Lutheran congregations that choose to depart the ELCA.
CORE’s lengthy statement released a week ago, called A Vision and Plan for the North American Lutheran Church, (NALC for short) stated in its introduction:
we are now also proposing the formation of a new denominational body for confessing Lutherans: the North American Lutheran Church (NALC).
Does this not imply that CORE expects to become the home of those departing congregations who vote themselves out of the ELCA? Is this not the implication of CORE’s visible presence at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly (CWA09), their much ballyhooed Convocation in September, their frequent press releases and blog postings, their slate of rabble rousing appearances at ELCA gatherings around the country, and in their professed commonality with the dissident Lutheran organizations that have been around for a decade?
Oops. Wait a minute. There’s a hint of trouble. More than a hint, actually. Right here in River City. Trouble with a capital “T”. And that rhymes with “LCMC” and that stands for Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ! (My apologies to the Music Man).
I caught the hint in a comment to my Saturday posting about the Anatomy of Lutheran CORE. An anonymous commenter, calling himself LCMCer, said:
Core has no official relationship with LCMC. There is an agreement to work together in the future and look for ways to support each other. But LCMC has been around for almost 10 years, and is its own organization …
it sounds like [CORE and NALC] expect the LCMC congregations to be integral parts of their network–almost as if LCMC is a temporary landing spot until NALC gets organized.
And, LCMCer replied:
In my interactions with many LCMC folks, I have yet to talk to anyone that sees LCMC as a “temporary landing spot”.
I dug deeper into the potential conflict or competition between CORE/NALC versus LCMC, and I found a Google discussion group called “Friends of LCMC”. Whew. There’s a lively discussion going on there in response to CORE’s announcement of the formation of NALC.
On February 19th, LCMC pastor Bradley Jensen of Duluth posted his open letter to CORE (NALC):
Most of what the NALC is proposing already exists in LCMC.
Many congregations who (a) are seeking dual affiliation with confessional
Lutherans while remaining in the ELCA or (b) are seeking to leave the ELCA
will have already done so by joining LCMC long before the NALC’s August 2010
constituting convention. Furthermore, LCMC has proved itself as a viable
on-going entity whereas NALC has not. In light of these issues, I have two
questions at this time:
1) What, specifically, does the NALC offer that LCMC DOES not or CANNOT
2) Given that many, if not most, traditional ELCA Lutheran congregations
will have affiliated with LCMC long before 08/2010, what will NALC do if
there are, say, less than 100 congregations who formally affiliate with
NALC? In other words, what will you do if the NALC fails to become an
established, on-going entity?
The next day, he posted the following:
I’m giving these reflections a title: “NALC: Lutherans ‘Waiting for
Godot'” In Samuel Beckett’s play, two characters wait for the arrival of
Godot—who never arrives. I’m arguing that the NALC is will host its
constituting convention and then wait for in influx of congregations who,
like Godot, won’t arrive. The number won’t be a bleak as “zero,” but I
don’t believe that very many congregations will either (a) establish dual
affiliation with NALC or (b) actually leave the ELCA for single affiliation
with NALC. Here is why: I think that traditional Lutherans are too
optimistic about how many congregations will leave the ELCA (it won’t be
that many) … Thus, LCMC and NALC will be splitting a small pie. LCMC
is up, running viable for the long haul, and receiving new congregations
every week. NALC is not. … I think that the energy for dual affiliation/leaving the
ELCA is rapidly dissipating. Most of the action will happen prior to this
summer … NALC will have its constituting convention in August.
Too late. I expect that the NALC will be “waiting for Godot.”
Indeed. Stay tuned.