The ACELC exists "to give a united voice against errors that are officially adopted in convention, tolerated, and/or promoted in the LCMS.”


The Missouri Non-Synod?

A few years ago, I took a road trip across the country to bring my daughter home from her first year at university. The trip had us on the road on Sunday; so before I left, I sought recommendations from friends as to where to attend Divine Service along our route. Before leaving home, I researched the recommendations and chose one based on geography and the fact that it had an 8:00 a.m. service (so we could get back on the road and get some miles under our belt).

As often happens with such road trips, we got started later than we had hoped and had some minor delays along the way, so we pulled into the fairly rural midwestern town where we planned to attend church and got into our motel at nearly midnight. The next morning, I got out my smartphone and opened the LCMS app to find the church. The app showed a church less than 5 minutes away, but even in my groggy stupor, the name seemed wrong—not what I remembered.

What had I done? Had I stopped in the wrong town? (Being a West Coast Lutheran, it didn’t immediately occur to me that there would be more than one LCMS church in a town of only 11,000 citizens.) I checked the church’s website. This was definitely not the church which had been recommended to me (or if it was, my friend was going to be in big trouble). The website emphasized the congregation’s value of variety in their worship and their traditional, contemporary, and blended services. My immediate reaction (for good or for ill) was, “Nope. Not going there.”

It was then that it occurred to me that I was in the heartland of American Lutheranism. Could it be that there was another LCMS church in town? I went back to the LCMS app and zoomed out a bit, and there it was—the church which my friend had recommended to me. My daughter and I attended a delightful, “say the black; do the red” Divine Service with a solid, law-gospel sermon and got on the road to home.

But the whole experience got me thinking. My curiosity got the better of me, and I started looking for data. In this rural, Midwest town of 11,000 citizens, there were two LCMS congregations. These congregations were a whopping 1.3 miles from each other. Google Maps said it would take five whole minutes to travel from one to the other. One congregation reported an average weekly attendance of 358 with a baptized membership of 1054 and confirmed membership of 889. The other congregation reported an average weekly attendance of 245 with baptized membership of 750 and confirmed membership of 666. From attending the one congregation and perusing both their websites, I could observe that both congregations had nice facilities and large enough facilities that all the 603 average attendees from both congregations would fit in either facility. So, why were there two congregations a mere five minutes from one another in this town?

Simply put: For every person like me who looked at the website of the one congregation and said, “Nope. Not going there,” there is also someone who looks at the website of the congregation we attended and says, “Nope. Not going there.”

This rural, Midwest town is a microcosm of the LCMS. The truth is that in many ways, we do not walk together. In many ways, we are not united in our doctrine and practice. And we all know it. We are at least two synods living together and pretending we’re one. We attend congregations and services which square with our doctrine and practice and avoid the ones which don’t. We attend conferences which align with our doctrine and practice and avoid the ones which don’t.

How did we get to this point? Could it be that part of the issue has been a history and a culture of inadequate (and sometimes even errant) catechesis in our homes, in our congregations, in our day schools, and in our universities?

The 2022 annual free conference of the ACELC intends to examine this question.

Please join us for “Christ for Us: Catechesis and Synodical Unity” July 12 and 13 (with our annual business meeting on July 14), 2022 at Grace Lutheran Church in Grand Island, Nebraska. Our speakers are:

  • The Rev. Peter Bender presenting “What Is Catechesis: Insights from the Church’s History”
  • The Rev. Dr. Daniel Gard presenting “Quo Vadis Synodus? Catechesis and Lutheran Higher Education: Can the LCMS System Serve Evangelical Lutheran Confessionalism?
  • The Rev. Kevin Johnson presenting “Lutheran Homeschooling: Catechizing an Evangelical Worldview at Home
  • The Rev. Stephen Kieser presenting “Why LCMS Schools Are Struggling and What To Do About It”
  • The Rev. Dr. Martin Noland presenting “The Parochial School in Missouri Synod History, 1839 to the Present
  • The Rev. Dr. Christian Preus presenting “Bad Company Corrupts Good Morals: The Only Way To Keep a Lutheran College Lutheran”
  • The Rev. Mark Surburg presenting “The Rite of Confirmation: Teaching Lutherans to be Lutherans for Life?”
  • And finally, our banquet speaker, the Rev. Brent Kuhlman presenting “Worldly Catechesis—You shall be as god!”

Registration details are available at

In Christ,

Pastor Daniel Freeman

Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church, U.A.C.

Chehalis, WA


2022 Free Conference

Christ for Us: Catechesis and Synodical Unity
July 12-14, 2022
Grace Lutheran Church, Grand Island, Nebraska

Register for the Conference

More Information

Past Conference Presentations:

Ecclesiastical Supervision, 2021

The Church's Mission & Evangelistic Task, 2019

Unionism & Syncretism, 2018

The Order of Creation, 2017

Dispute Resolution, 2016

Unbiblical Removal of Pastors, 2015

Office of the Holy Ministry, 2014

The Divine Service, 2013

The Lord’s Supper!, 2012

Addressing Error in The LCMS, 2011


This video serves as a great discussion prompter for congregations, gatherings of circuit pastors, districts—all who care about the spiritual well-being of our brothers and sisters in Christ within the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. It spells out clearly the issues of doctrine and practice that continue to cause division within our synod and threaten our ability to walk together. It also shows our desire assist in the return to faithfulness within our synod.

We encourage you to watch this video, and use the study guides, as we together seek to deal with such issues, guided by the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. We pray that these resources, and others available through the ACELC website, will be a blessing to you and our synod. We welcome your feedback.

Contact Us


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    Idaho Falls, Idaho 83403-2688
  • Phone 816.651.8047
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