On November 28-30, 2017, representatives from the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod met in Jacksonville, Florida, for the sixth annual meeting for informal discussions. Main topics covered were the Doctrine of the Call and a comparative review of the recently published catechisms by the WELS and the LCMS. The last version of the catechism in the ELS (2001) also was used in discussing the new editions of the explanations to the Small Catechism. In this 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation we especially treasure the work of Dr. Martin Luther in composing his Small and Large Catechisms of 1529.
The three synod presidents provided updates on the respective work of their church bodies. Challenges and blessings also were noted in respect to pastoral training, the filling of congregational vacancies, and the relationships with international churches. The LCMS is part of the ILC (International Lutheran Conference), while the ELS and the WELS are members of the CELC (Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference).
None of the participants at these informal meetings anticipates in the near future a restoration of church fellowship between ELS/WELS and the LCMS. Yet, the sessions themselves were once again helpful as areas of agreement as well as specific differences were addressed in a cordial but candid manner. The representatives of the three synods have decided to gather once again in the fall of 2018.