Christ Lutheran Church formally voted last Sunday to withdraw from the Lutheran Church-Missour Synod, of which it has been a leading congregation in this area since its founding 86 years ago.
The congregation made the move after extensive deliberation and prayer, said Pastor Edgar J. Mundinger, because of the LCMS "attitude of isolating ourselves with the intention of keeping ourselves pure."
The 300-member Christ CHurch has voted to join with the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, a body of fellow Lutheran churches, which split from the LCMS in recent years over doctrinal disputes.
"We have tried to understand each others differing viewpoints," said Fred Warther, a long-time memeber who voted with the minority. "We have shown gentleness and patience with each other," he said in a concession statement after the vote was announced.
Nationally, the LCMS has lost 111 congregations and 86,616 members in the past year, according to a report from the church's St. Louis headquarters.
The split was precipitated by demands of LCMS president J.A.O. Preuss that all church leaders adhere strictly to traditionally literalist interpretation of the Bible.
Pastor Mundinger said the local congregation distressed by actions of the LCMS biennial convention last summer to sever ties with other Lutheran bodies.
In contrast, the AELC, which Christ Church is joining, issured a call last week to all Lutheran bodies to work toward reunion into one church. This call came at its national meeting in Milwaukee.
Ironically, Christ Church, which has now left the LCMS, owns the property in which the regional South East District of the LCMS has offices, adjacent to the church at 5101 16th St. NW. The pastor said last Sunday's action is not expected to affect that arrangement.