What follows is a copy of an e-mail "blast" we are sending out this evening to every pastor in the Synod for whom we have a valid e-mail address, and who has not told us that they no longer wish to receive any communication from us. We started out with about 5,100 e-mail addresses, and after vetting them all through a process of allowing those who wished to "opt-out" to do so we ended up with about 4,200 e-mail addresses (approximately 600 of the addresses we had were not good, and about 300 people asked us to remove their names from our mailing list. You may also get the nicely formatted e-mail in addtion to this, but if you don't get it and would like us to add your name to that list as well, please send me a note and we'll make sure your name has been added. Replying to this e-mail will direct your response to me. Anyway, here's what we sent out. Please pass this along to everyone you know. Post it on blogs, mail lists, Facebook, Lutheran chat rooms or wherever. We want to make sure everyone sees it.
St. Paul writes: “For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” (I Corinthians 11:18-19)
Our Lord also prays for the complete unity of His Church when He says:
“…that they may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me…that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent me.” (John 17:21, 23b)
In view of the current doctrinal discord and disunity in the LCMS, the Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (ACELC) is forming as a group of concerned LCMS congregations who together are seeking to uphold and support the first objective of the LCMS, to wit:
“The Synod, under Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, shall . . . conserve and promote the unity of the true faith (Eph. 4:3-6; I Cor. 1:10) . . . and provide a united defense against schism, sectarianism (Rom. 16:17), and heresy.” (Article III, LCMS Constitution)
In order to work toward true unity in doctrine and practice in our Synod, the ACELC has identified many of the errors which are dividing us. We do this not to point fingers at those who are in error, but to identify the errors, demonstrate that these errors actually do exist among us, and work through our Synod’s elected ecclesiastical supervisors, agencies and procedures (whenever possible) to bring about Synod-wide, broad-based fraternal discussion to resolve them under God’s Word and our Lutheran Confessions. To that end, we hope that many will find our documents helpful as study guides for local pastor’s conferences, circuit forums, and in congregations.
On March 1-3, 2011, the ACELC will hold its Convening Free Conference at Trinity Lutheran Church in Kearney, Missouri. This event will have two purposes; first, through a series of speakers and panel discussions, to provide free and fraternal discussion of the issues we have raised, and secondly, to inaugurate the ACELC organization and develop a plan of action to advance the cause of unity within our Synod. We would therefore like to cordially and fraternally invite you and your congregation to attend this free conference, and also to consider sending representatives to the business portion of our conference for the inauguration of this association.
So that there will be no misunderstanding, we feel it is important for us to share with you what we are not doing:
Most importantly, we are seeking unity in our Synod over and against the unfortunate divisions that are already evident within our fellowship.
We therefore would like to encourage you to visit our website, carefully examine our documents, and consider joining our effort to heal our much wounded Synod. Also, if your parish is giving consideration to joining this effort, those of us who are forming the ACELC would be most eager to send a representative to your congregation to explain our work in detail. If this is something you would like us to do, you may get in touch with us by using the “Contact Information” link on the upper right corner of our homepage.
In view of the recent celebration of our Lord’s birth, the Prince of Peace, we are reminded that it is God’s will and desire for us as His people to dwell together in peace and unity. Hence we are inviting you to consider participating with the ACELC in our call for the members of the LCMS to come together under Scripture and the Confessions to sincerely and fraternally discuss the issues which currently divide us. And we also are asking you join with us in praying that our gracious God will once again bring the blessing of genuine peace and unity to The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
Yours in Christ’s service,
ACELC Steering Committee
P.S. While we were putting this introductory e-mail together we were able to finalize the list of guest speakers who will be appearing at our March Free Conference. You will be getting another e-mail in a week or so with an official invitation, but with the date of the Free Conference now less than two months away, we wanted you to have this information in hand just as soon as possible. We are very pleased with this most excellent lineup, and trust you will be, too.
Please note that not all our speakers have signed the Fraternal Admonition, nor does their appearance imply that they are endorsing the work of the ACELC (especially since two of them are Vice-Presidents of the Synod), but recognizing the validity of the issues we have brought forward in our Admonition, they only desire to discuss these matters in a brotherly way under the Scriptures and the Confessions, even as we do. The list of speakers (in alphabetical order) is: The Rev. Dick Bolland, The Rev. Brent Kuhlman, The Rev. Clint Poppe, The Rev. Scott Porath, The Rev. Daniel Preus, The Rev. Rick Sawyer, The Rev. Robert Wentzel, and The Rev. Dr. John Wohlrabe. You may download a copy of the Registration Form at our website by clicking HERE.