Entries tagged with “Convention”.


We continue to speak [the words of the Nicean Creed] because they continue to be true. What the First Council in Nicea confessed on the basis of Scripture, Christians today continue to confess: Jesus is God. He was not created. He has always existed. And because He is God, He has power to save sinners like you and me. It might be ancient history, but the confessions made at Nicea are forever relevant to our faith today.

Of course, the council in Nicea in 325 was not the first council in history. In fact, Christians had long been in the habit of gathering together to discuss issues of concern, to pray, and to make plans for the future. Even the Apostles hashed out issues in this way, discussing whether Gentile believers needed to follow the same rules (on circumcision and dietary laws) that the Jews did (see the story of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15).

In some ways, this might sound a little mundane. Surely God could guide the Church in a more dramatic fashion. Couldn’t we hold face to face discussions with Him like Moses did? Couldn’t He send signs and wonders to confirm what direction we should take? No doubt God could act in such a way, but the fact is He frequently chooses simpler ways to communicate with His people. He gives us a book—common paper, common ink—and yet infuses His own Word into it. He speaks over common water, pours it over our heads, and somehow claims us as His children. He takes bread and wine, mixes it with His words of forgiveness, and uses it to give us His own body and blood. He gives us normal run-of-the-mill pastors to speak God’s very own words of mercy to us on a regular basis.

The above is a selection from my recent column “Why we gather: A lesson from Nicea.” Check it out over at The Canadian Lutheran.


The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s recent actions are forcing many Biblical Lutherans in the denomination to reconsider where their allegiances lie. Already, congregations are making plans to leave ELCA. While some will undoubtedly look to other established churches like LCMS (Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod)  and, to a lesser extent, WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod), others are suggesting a new North American Lutheran church might be in the works. Are Bible-believing ELCA Lutherans about to follow the new Anglican Church of North America’s example? Read the following article written by an ELCA pastor who was a voting member at the recent convention for his thoughts on the subject. The original article appears at Texanglican’s blog.

Kyrie Eleison. Christe Eleison. Kyrie Eleison.

Minneapolis…there’s something about this city that leads church bodies into temptation, and to abandoning the faith of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

As a “voting member” to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), I’ve witnessed firsthand the agony of a faithful, orthodox, minority crying out like a voice in the wilderness. In the same room where the General Convention of TEC voted to part ways with the rest of the Christian church and affirm +VGR, this week the ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to “find ways for congregations that choose to do so to recognize lifelong, monogamous [sic], same-sex relationships”, and to ordain and “roster” (i.e. license) such persons as members of the clergy. It was no freak of weather that a tornado hit the convention center during deliberations, and broke the cross off the steeple of the church next door.

My overall feeling, after despair and righteous anger, was that this decision exposes an eschatological flaw in the structure of our “denomination”. The Scriptures, Ecumenical Creeds, writings of the Fathers, Magisterial works of the Reformers, and our Luthearn [sic] Confessions and catechisms in the Book of Concord all bear witness to the Truth, Jesus Christ, at work at present in his Holy Word and Sacraments in the power of the Holy Spirit within the life of the Church. Supposedly this Tradition is the norm of our proclamation, teaching, faith and life. In fact, the “social statement on sexuality” that also passed in Minneapolis, (by 66.6%!) frankly recognized that any vision of sexual relations outside of celibacy in singleness and chastity within marriage would be “in contradiction” and a departure from this lode of teaching and Tradition. The “bound consciences” of congregations, synods, and bishops to disagree with the ministry policy changes, and to retain traditionalist oversight over their own clergy and pastoral practices is enshrined within these changes, but as we know from Richard John Neuhaus, where orthodoxy becomes optional, it will eventually be proscribed.

Unfortunately, as in the case of TEC, this week’s small, supposedly representative deliberative body, became captive to the political designs of postmodernists dedicated to accomodating [sic] culture, appeasing sexual minorities, advocating for a gospel of “inclusiveness”, rejecting classical understandings of Scripture and tradition, and in general played into the wiles of the devil.

These decisions, quite frankly, do not represent the heart of American Lutheranism, which is made up of many different faithful streams, the vast majority of which are Scripture-centered, mere-Christian creedal, sacramental, Eucharist-centered, evangelical/missional, with a unique piety shaped by a classical Western liturgy, strong hymnody, catechisms, devotional Bible study, confession & forgiveness, daily remembrance of Baptism, and a larger social-ministry apparatus than any other U.S. Church.

My guess is about 10% of ELCA congregations, mainly urban, elite, and “progressive” will embrace these changes. The remaining 90% of congregations either see themselves too congregationally to care about this bizarre statement that has no authority under Scripture, or will be outraged at the rejection of the authority of Scripture, and the breaking of communion with our thriving orthodox Lutheran churches in the Global South developing world, our immigrant/migrant ethnic congregations (up until now the fastest growing within the ELCA), and grieve our creating a stumbling block for all Scriptural, Gospel-centered Christians: Protestant, Evangelicals, Anglican, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic alike.

Those who opposed these votes vehemently came from 2 particular streams, in ways that I think compare intriguingly to the faithful orthodox who have emerged from TEC into ACNA: the Scripture-centered Evangelical pietist Lutherans, and the evangelical catholic Lutherans; perhaps roughly comparable to the Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic parties who now comprise the ACNA.

Scandinavian Pietism, responsible for the vast number of Luthearn [sic] churches through the U.S. East and Midwest, focused on Scripture, discipleship, and holiness of life. The evangelical catholic movement within Lutheranism, particularly as represented by clergy in the Society of the Holy Trinity (STS, similar to SSC), see the Lutheran church more as a reform movement within the Western Church, destined for a relationship with Rome, liturgically maintaining the Western Rite with Gospel-centered proclamation of Jesus Christ, crucified.

Lutherans understand God’s Word as always at work in both law and gospel, together. The law kills, exposes sin, convicts of guilt, and declares God’s righteous judgment. The gospel comes as promise, as forgiveness for Christ’s sake, by grace alone without any merit on our part, and as a word that accomplishes in the hearer a new creation in Christ.

Perhaps this Churchwide Assembly and the ELCA as a whole now experiences the “law”, and rightly so. But for those who are faithful at the foot of Christ’s Cross, something new will emerge on the 3rd day.

A gathering of congregations in Indianapolis in September under the oversight of 6 or more retired bishops, seeks a new biblical, confessional, orthodox, missional Lutheran body in North America. Dozens of very large congregations, large swaths of evangelical catholic congregations, scores of rural pietist congregations, long-alienated Canadian congregations, and many African and Asian immigrant congregations will be represented. Do not expect an immediate “leaving” of the ELCA, or individual Synods (Dioceses) to withdraw, but the gradual emergence of a robust and faithful ecclesial substance. There have already been overtures to this group from streams of Christendom that have surprised me. In Christ, the future is bright.

Pray for us, dear readers. Know that under the “accidents” of this week’s actions, the “form” of Christ’s true church will yet be found within the Lutheran witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, within the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. Ora pro nobis.

Kyrie Eleison. Christe Eleison. Kyrie Eleison.

The Rev. Ryan Mills, STS


Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Grand Prairie, TXS

The vote is cast. ELCA has voted to approve the ordination of non-celibate homosexual people.

My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
       I say, “When will you comfort me?”

 Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
       for your law is not obeyed.

My harp is tuned to mourning,
and my flute to the sound of wailing.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

In an update to my last post, I report with a sad heart that ELCA adopted the proposed report on human sexuality on Wednesday. In a vote that required a 2/3 majority, they got exactly that: 2/3. One more vote against and the measure wouldn’t have passed.

But that’s not all that occurred in Minneapolis yesterday. It appears that a tornado just happened to form at just the same time that the session with the vote on the human sexuality report was about to begin.

And it just happens that the tornado moved downtown, oddly enough, right to where the convention is taking place. It fell upon the convention centre’s roof and significantly damaged it. Across the street, Central Lutheran (the church where worship for the convention is taking place) was also struck hard. Here the tornado split the steeple. As you can see in the picture below, taken from John Piper’s blog, the cross of Christ has been left hanging perilously from its previously firm foundation.


The metaphor is poignant: if we remove the church’s Scriptural foundation, on what will the message of grace stand?

Now I don’t think we should go around suggesting that every natural disaster is sent as a specific judgment from God for specific sins. Jesus makes it pretty clear that this kind of thing doesn’t just happen to people who are “worse offenders” than anyone else. It can happen to anyone, anytime because we are all sinners (Luke 13:1-5). But in this case, I think it’s fair to say that if the tornado was just a “coincidence”, it still seems to be a divinely appointed one.

John Piper might, just might, be right in his conclusion about this particular incident: “The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.”

What we can do is praise God that a full 1/3 of the voting members at ELCA’s convention refused to vote in favour of the resolution. However far that church has fallen from its original Lutheran roots, there still appears to be a sizable minority who remain committed to the Word of God as the ultimate authority. Let’s keep them in prayer.


For more pictures of the destruction wreaked by the tornado, view Central Lutheran’s website here.

This week the LCC Central District Convention is taking place in Regina, Saskatchewan. Whereas my classes are over for the semester, and whereas I don’t begin my summer job until May 4, be it resolved that I take advantage of my spare time to volunteer at the convention.

Er… perhaps you should ignore the “whereas” and “be it resolved” statements in that last sentence – apparently I’ve got Convention Resolution lingo stuck in my head.

The event began, for myself anyway, Monday April 27 at 7:30 p.m. That night, about 250 people packed Grace Lutheran Church to passionately praise God in song, hear the Word proclaimed in faithfulness, and receive strengthening of their faith through the sacrament of Holy Communion. LCC national President Robert Bugbee brought a powerful sermon based on Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” To put it mildly, the message was incredible and inspiring. It’s only unfortunate that LCC’s national website hasn’t (at least at the time of this writing) posted a video of said sermon. In everything, whether in times of sorrow or in joy, we must in both word and deed act in the name of Jesus Christ.

President Bugbee’s words transitioned well the next day (Tuesday) into guest-speaker Dr. Gene Edward Veith’s first lecture (of three) on the theology of vocation. He first challenged the audience to reconsider what “vocation” means. Too often we misinterpret “vocation” to mean our “jobs” – but the truth of the matter is far different. Our vocations instead include every aspect of our lives – our callings as members of the state, our callings as members in our families, and our callings as members of the Church. All of our roles, whether as citizens, congregants, sons or daughters, mothers or fathers, employee or employer, and so forth are part of our vocations. In each of these circumstances, God has called us to serve others. And in each of these circumstances, it is not we ourselves who fulfill our vocation. Rather, it is God “hidden” in us who actively works through us to serve others. This idea, that vocation is God at work in us rather than us at work for God, is certainly thought-provoking. Veith’s book on the subject (God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life) was given free to many (all?) the voting lay-members at the conference. It sounds like a fascinating work, and I’m certainly considering purchasing a copy myself. [For more information on Veith, see the mini-bio here.] You can watch Veith’s lectures at the Conference here.

Of course, there were more business-oriented aspects to the Tuesday sessions. Votes for executive positions were taken, a report by (newly re-elected) District President Prachar was given, and resolutions were considered. But I thought I’d just share some of the highlights as I see ’em thus far.