Representatives of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod met November 29 through December 1 in Jacksonville, Florida. The meeting was the fifth in a series of annual informal discussions intended to improve mutual understanding of the respective doctrinal positions of the three synods, to clarify matters of doctrine and practice, and to establish and maintain lines of communication.
This year’s meetings focused on the efforts of each of the synods to help and encourage Lutheran church groups around the world to move toward stronger confessional Lutheran doctrine and practice. Another major topic of discussion was the role of men and women in the church. Participants reviewed written statements of the three synods and discussed the doctrinal positions of each synod in the areas of women teaching men in the church, the proper exercise of authority, and the biblical prohibition of the ordination of women. While many areas of agreement were identified, it was also clear that significant differences remain.
The informal meetings have proven to be a blessing in many ways, and plans are already underway for another meeting in 2017. The discussions remain informal, however, since all parties involved realize that formal doctrinal discussions with the aim of re-establishing fellowship are not possible at this time.