More than 1,000 Lutherans from throughout North America will gather this week in Grove City, Ohio, to form a new church body for confessional Lutherans.
At this week's two-day gathering, members of Lutheran CORE will adopt a constitution that will give birth to the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), which the movement's director says "will embody the center of Lutheranism in America."
"The NALC will uphold confessional principles dear to Lutherans including a commitment to the authority of the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions," said the Rev. Mark Chavez, director of Lutheran CORE, in an announcement.
"We have a great opportunity before us," added the Rev. Paull Spring, chair of Lutheran CORE. "We not only want to look back toward the past, but to look ahead to the mission God has given us – to confess Christ faithfully, to witness to others, and to grow in God's mission. This is our opportunity now in Lutheran CORE and in the North American Lutheran Church."
Lutherans throughout the United States have been reacting to actions by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in recent years, including the approval of a policy to allow pastors to be in same-sex relationships and to officiate at same-sex union ceremonies.
Though national and international media have focused on the church body's struggle over sexuality issues, Lutheran CORE leaders note that the problems in the ELCA are really not about sexual behavior but rather about an ongoing movement away from the authority and teaching of the Bible throughout the ELCA.
"It was not our choice to leave the ELCA, but the ELCA has chosen to reject 'the faith once delivered to the saints,' so now we are acting to maintain our position within the consensus of the Church catholic," remarked Ryan Schwarz, chair of Lutheran CORE's Vision and Planning Working Group.
At the upcoming Convocation of Lutheran CORE, the proposals to be considered have been designed to provide a way for Lutherans who uphold biblical teaching to move forward together.
In addition to creating the NALC, Lutheran CORE's 2010 Convocation will also consider proposals for the continuation of Lutheran CORE as "a confessional and confessing unity movement" for traditional Lutherans regardless of their church body affiliation, including in particular those traditional Lutherans who will remain in the ELCA for the time being.
The convocation will open Thursday afternoon with Holy Communion at Grove City Church of the Nazarene in Grove City, Ohio, near Columbus, and conclude Friday with the installation of officers for Lutheran CORE and the North American Lutheran Church.
Preceding the convocation will be a theological conference in Hilliard, Ohio, featuring some of the most significant Lutheran scholars in America. The conference, with the theme "Seeking New Directions for Lutheranism," will be held Aug. 24-26.