North American Lutheran Church
|North American Lutheran Church|
|Theology||Moderate to Conservative|
|Polity||Mixed episcopal and congregationalist polity|
|Leader||Bishop John Bradosky|
|Branched from||Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada|
The North American Lutheran Church (NALC) is a Lutheran denomination with congregations in the United States and Canada, counting approximately 140,000 members. As a Confessional Lutheran church, the NALC believes all doctrines should and must be judged by the teaching of the Christian Scriptures, in keeping with the Lutheran Confessions. The NALC is committed to shaping its life around four attributes: Christ-Centered, Mission-Driven, Traditionally-Grounded, and Congregationally-Focused. It was established on August 27, 2010.
The North American Lutheran Church was officially formed in August 2010 as the culmination of a process begun by Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Renewal), a confessional Lutheran body which crosses denominational lines. This action came in response to the dissatisfaction of theological conservatives within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), which were perceived as moving away from the authority of the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions. A major issue of concern for these groups was a 2009 decision by the ELCA which changed its teaching and policy on sexual ethics, allowing pastors to be in committed same-sex relationships. Following Lutheran CORE's national convocation in September 2009, which resolved to pursue the "reconfiguration of North American Lutheranism", the organization's leaders released a plan for organizing the North American Lutheran Church on February 18, 2010. It was felt that a new church body was needed for those Lutheran congregations who declined to join already existing groups, such as the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ.
The new church was constituted in Grove City, Ohio, at the Lutheran CORE national convocation of August 26–27, 2010. A constitution was adopted and provisional leaders were elected, including the Reverend Paull Spring of State College, Pennsylvania, a retired ELCA bishop, to serve as bishop of the NALC for its first year. The congregations that joined the NALC elected their own leaders at the church body's first annual meeting August 11–12, 2011, in Hilliard, Ohio. The Reverend John Bradosky of Centerville, Ohio, NALC General Secretary, was elected as bishop of the NALC at that meeting to serve a four-year term.
The North American Lutheran Church understands itself to be part of the one holy, catholic, and apostolic church and holds that the Scriptures are the highest standard by which doctrine and practice are to be judged. It accepts the ecumenical creeds and the Lutheran Confessions as "true witnesses to the Word of God". It ordains both men and women clergy.
The North American Lutheran Church officially disapproves homosexual relationships and same-sex marriage. Bishop John Bradosky joined other religious leaders in the open letter, "Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together - An Open Letter from Religious Leaders in the United States to All Americans", released in January 12, 2012, on his support for the protection of marriage as the union between a man and a woman and in opposition to same-sex marriage. John Bradosky was one of the signants, among other American religious leaders, of the open letter "Free Exercise on Religion: Putting Beliefs into Practice", expressing his support for the Roman Catholic Church in her opposition to the HHS mandate.
The Joint Commission on Theology and Doctrine of the North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran CORE endorsed a pro-life stance on abortion in the document "The Lord Is with You" - A Word of Counsel to the Church - The Sanctity of Nascent Life", on December 14, 2012.
The membership of the North American Lutheran Church is composed of congregations and ordained ministers who have subscribed to the church's constitution. Provided that member congregations' beliefs and practices are compatible with the NALC, congregations can simultaneously affiliate with other Lutheran church bodies. Ministers and elected lay delegates represent their congregations in the annual convocation. This body elects the bishop, executive council, and other leadership positions. It also approves budgetary items and teaching statements. Certain actions of the convocation, such as constitutional amendments and teaching statements, must first be ratified by a majority or, in some cases, a two-thirds majority of NALC congregations before they take effect. The North American Lutheran Church is divided into 20 mission districts, usually based on geographical groupings of congregations. Regional deans, who may also serve as pastors of local congregations, work with the bishop to provide oversight and pastoral care to pastors and congregations within their mission districts.
The bishop is an ordained minister elected by the convocation. The bishop serves as "pastor for the pastors and congregations of the NALC" and as the church's chief executive officer. Together with the executive council, the bishop authorizes all ordinations and normally conducts the rite of ordination. The bishop serves for a four year term and is eligible to serve for a maximum of three consecutive terms. The general secretary is appointed by the bishop and confirmed by the executive council. This officer manages the day-to-day administrative functions of the NALC. The executive council consists of the bishop, four clergy and four lay members. Its duties include implementing the work and policies of the NALC in between sessions of convocation, and its actions are subject to review by the convocation.
A seven member Court of Adjudication, elected by the annual convocation, has jurisdiction to decide appeals of church disciplinary actions and has authority to interpret church governing documents. The convocation can overturn the court's interpretation of a governing document by amending the document in question.
Relations with other churches
The North American Lutheran Church approved a resolution to seek membership at the Lutheran World Federation in their 2012 General Convention by the required majority of two thirds of the voters. It has been decided also to establish ecumenical dialogue with other Lutheran church bodies, like the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, as well as with the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church in North America and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The NALC passed a request to the Anglican Church in North America to share clergy where there were vacancies, which was accepted.
- North American Lutheran Church List of Congregations
- North American Lutheran Church Official Website
- Julia Duin (Nov. 19, 2010), "Lutherans Second Church to Split Over Gays", Washington Times. Accessed October 27, 2011
- A Vision and Plan for The North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran CORE, a Community of Confessing Lutherans, Lutheran CORE, February 18, 2010. Accessed October 27, 2011.
- North American Lutheran Church, "History", accessed October 27, 2011.
- North American Lutheran Church, "Confession of Faith", accessed October 27, 2011.
- Bishop Bradosky joins American religious leaders in defending marriage and religious freedom, January 12, 2012
- Free Exercise of Religion: Putting Beliefs into Practice - An Open Letter from Religious Leaders in the United States to all Americans
- "The Lord Is with You" - A Word of Counsel to the Church on the Sanctity of Nascent Life", Joint Commission on Theology and Doctrine of the North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran CORE, December 14, 2012
- Constitution of the North American Lutheran Church, Article 6.01. August 15, 2011. Accessed October 27, 2011.
- Constitution, Article 7.
- Constitution, Articles 7 and 17.
- List of North American Lutheran Church Mission Districts. North American Lutheran Church. Accessed May 22, 2013.
- Constitution, Article 11.
- Constitution, Article 8.
- Constitution, Article 9.
- Constitution, Article 10.
- Constitution, Article 15.
- LWF Ratification Results, Letter by Bishop John Bradosky, 22 February 2013
- An Initial Statement on the Ecumenical and Inter-Lutheran Commitment of The North American Lutheran Church (Revised), April 6, 2011