Beliefnet
ST. LOUIS, March 24 (RNS) -- The Rev. A.L. Barry, president of the LutheranChurch-Missouri Synod, died Friday evening after sufferingfrom kidney and liver failure in a Florida hospital. He was 69.

Barry was the conservative Lutheran denomination's 11th presidentand the first to die in office.

Barry, who lived in St. Louis, went to Florida late last month tovisit his daughter and planned to stay a week but was admitted toOrlando Regional Medical Center Feb. 25 for pneumonia. The pneumonia wassuccessfully treated, but while in the hospital Barry contracted anantibiotic-resistant staph infection.

Wednesday evening the church officials announced Barry's kidneys hadfailed; later his liver also failed. Barry died with family members athis side.

Barry had been the LCMS president since 1992 and earlier in the weekwas still telling staff he planned to run for a fourth term at thedenomination's Synodical Convention scheduled for July in St. Louis,headquarters of the second largest Lutheran denomination in the United.States.

The LCMS has nearly 2.6 million members in more than 6,100congregations around the world.

In 1995 Barry was diagnosed and treated for a form of leukemia. Aspokesman for the LCMS said the therapies Barry received to battle theleukemia made it difficult for doctors to treat the staph infectionknown as methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which iscaused by staph bacteria that have developed a resistance tomethicillin, the medication Barry was taking.

"Doctors had to use a combination of powerful antibiotics to fightthe staph infection and the antibiotics overwhelmed his kidneys," saidDavid Strand, the church's director of public affairs.

The synod's first vice president, Robert T. Kuhn, 64, will lead thedenomination until a new president is elected at the denomination's Julyconvention. Kuhn had announced last May is intention to retire after hispresent term expires and is not expected to stand for election thissummer.

"Alvin Barry was more than my colleague -- he was my friend," Kuhnsaid. "We have known each other for more than 15 years and workedclosely for the past six. He was always ready to listen and available tohelp. The church will move forward without him, but he will be missedvery much."

The Rev. H. George Anderson, presiding bishop of the EvangelicalLutheran Church in America extended his sympathies to Barry's family andto the LCMS.

Anderson said Barry's goal "was to be a faithful disciple of JesusChrist."

"Despite his many administrative responsibilities, he never lost hispastoral heart," Anderson added.

Barry was known for publicly voicing his strong views on everythingfrom rejecting the Vatican's declaration that the Roman Catholic Churchis the only true Christian church to strongly condemning human cloning.

Most recently Barry had taken to task the popular series of "Left Behind"books by collaborators Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Barrywrote, "the fascinating book of Revelation is not meant to be read as aliteral account. Unlike the 'Left Behind' view of the `end times, St.John's vision of what will occur when Christ returns is not chieflycharacterized by mass confusion, chaos and hysteria."

Prior to serving as president of the LCMS, Barry was president ofthe church's Iowa District East for 10 years. He also spent many yearsworking with missions and stewardship programs, both at the district andnational levels.

Barry began his career as a parish pastor for 11 years in variouscongregations in Minnesota.

Barry was born Aug. 4, 1931 in Woodbine, Iowa. Ordained in 1956,Barry earned the Master of Sacred Theology degree from Lutheran Seminaryin St. Paul Minn. and finished his training through the WisconsinEvangelical Lutheran Seminary in Thiensvill, Wis. In 1960 he requested atransfer of pastoral membership from the Wisconsin Synod to the MissouriSynod.

Barry is survived by his three children, Kristin Becker of MerrittIsland, Fla., Beth Miko of Cleveland and Keith Barry of Cranston, R.I.and two grandchildren. His late wife Jean died in 1996 after a longstruggle with cancer. Funeral and burial arrangements are pending.

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