Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Those Who Leave, Part III: Where They Go

This post is more an appendix to the other posts, for the reason that the destinations of those who leave is far more varied and in flux. Furthermore, I do not want to give the impression that I am necessarily “advertising” for any of these groups, communions, or Churches. What follows is a brief highlight of the some of the places where LCMS pastors have landed.

Another Lutheran Synod/Denomination

  • The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) is a choice for some, though they face similar issues as the LCMS.
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Synod is slightly more popular, though smaller destination for LCMS pastors and parishioners. Their practice is much more unified, and their confessional focus more intentional, though they, too, share in many of the features of American Lutheranism that many find troubling.
  • ELDoNA (the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America) is doing a publicity push right now. Their numbers are very low, being a rather new organization.
  • Various other Lutheran “micro Synods”

Independent Lutheran Congregations

  • A few pastors who leave have taken their congregation with them and so far are independent or loosely gathered in a “Ministerium.” I suspect that many of these congregations and pastors will land somewhere else eventually.

Roman Catholic Church

  • Perhaps surprisingly(?) some LCMS pastors have entered the Catholic church as laymen. This option seems more popular with the ELCA for whatever reason. Their argument is that the Lutheran Reformers never intended to form a new Church Body, and with the reforms of the Catholic church over the last several decades, they can “be good Lutherans” by “being good Catholics.” This destination usually involves giving up the sacramental ministry entirely, though rumors have it that some Bishops grant an exception to celibacy for Anglican and Lutheran pastors already married.

Eastern Orthodox Church

  • I’ve saved the most notorious for last–notorious because there have been several high-profile LCMS pastors who have very publicly converted to Orthodoxy in the last several years, and prior to that a small, but steady, stream of pastors have “gone East.” These pastors point to the many of the similarities between Orthodoxy and Lutheranism as a starting point. However, as with the “Catholic Option,” Lutheranism is not “Orthodoxy Lite” or “Orthodoxy German-style” but involves an intentional renunciation of certain Lutheran presuppositions and beliefs, mostly on an ontological or meta-theological level.

I’m sure there are many more destinations for those pastors who leave. I’ve not even begun to discuss those pastors who form “Independent Churches” having realized that they are more Methobapticostal than anything. Nor have I mentioned those pastors who are unable, unwilling, or too abused to meet the challenges of the office, or otherwise disenchanted and now sit in the pews at whatever church their wife likes, Missouri, Lutheran or whatnot.

Homework Assignment :)
If you have ever changed communions/confessions/tradtions/church affiliation, please add a comment describing how and why.