(My toddler somehow deleted my first post on this, minutes after it went live, but I’ve managed to resurrect most if it from my iPhone. Apologies if you’re reading this twice.)
Members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod have elected a new president — the Rev. Matthew Harrison, the conservative choice compared to defeated incumbent Rev. Gerald Kieschnick. The LCMS has an estimated 2.5 million members, not to be confused with the larger and more liberal (especially recently) Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which has about 4.6 million members.
Tom Townsend, of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, reports that Harrison’s supporters hope his three-year term will focus on Scripture and maintaining the denomination’s unity, in contrast to the “nondenominational, evangelical megachurch model” they say Kieschnick favored.
I haven’t reported on the LCMS before, but this sounds like another case of intrafaith conflict between conservatives and liberals — a trend playing out in many Protestant denominations, though here the debate isn’t over polarizing hot-button social issues like gay/female clergy and same-sex marriage. Instead, it seems to concern a more general “modernism,” including reading the Bible in a certain way and steering clear of ecumenical involvement. (It’s not clear yet whether this leadership change will impact programs like Lutheran World Relief, which brings LCMS and ELCA members together for a common cause.)