A week ago, the synodical convention was well underway in Houston. One of the most important resolutions passed involved altar and pulpit fellowship between the LCMS and the AALC. The LCMS was once in fellowship with the American Lutheran Church (ALC) from 1969-1981. (The ALC has a heritage of German, Dutch, and Norwegian churches). The American Association of Lutheran Churches is a remnant of the ALC. The AALC did not enter the merger that begat the ELCA.
Fellowship resolutions don't just appear from thin air. They are the end result of discussions between church bodies. The LCMS and the AALC have been talking about doctrine and fellowship for almost twenty years. Once a fellowship resolution hits the convention floor, all the "i"s have been dotted and the "t"s crossed.
The discussion that ensued over this resoltion was healthy. There are still some issues to be discussed (such as, what about those LCMS pastors who were rightly removed from the roster and who have now been accepted on the roster of the AALC).
The LCMS and the AALC seem to be on the right doctrinal page and walking down the same road. The same is not true between the LCMS and the ELCA. When the ELCA meets in assembly this August, we may find our paths have diverged even farther apart. I know some ELCA pastors who wish they had sided with the AALC at the merger. I am sure there are other pastors and congregations in the ELCA who are thinking the same thing.
We should keep the LCMS and the AALC in our prayers, asking God to keep us firmly grounded on the Scriptures and the Confessions. When we err, may the Holy Spirit reveal this and guide us back to pure doctrine and practice. When we are right, may the Holy Spirit keep us on the orthodox path. Let us not forget the pastors and congregations in the ELCA who need our prayers, too. They have some contentious items on their agenda. May the Spirit guide them to be pure in doctrine and practice.