Official Publication of the LMS-USA

August 1995

Volume 2, Number 3


This newsletter comes to you with a new name. As we have evolved, so

has the name of this newsletter, from The AALC Forum News, to the

Indianapolis Conference News, to what we now hope will be our permanent name,

Lutheran Table Talk.

You also note a slight change in our name. Our last newsletter informed

you that we were the Lutheran Synod and Ministerium - USA (LSM-USA). Now you

will notice our name is the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod - USA (LMS-USA).

The change came about when the Lutheran Student Movement - USA informed us

that they also use the LSM-USA letters. They incorporated under this name 25

years ago. Interestingly, they did not incorporate the LSM-USA letters so

our legal advisor informed us we could go ahead with the name we selected.

However, rather than making an issue of this matter, we felt it would be far

better, in a spirit of good will, for us to make the change.


Pentecost Sunday is always a special Sunday in the life of the church,

but this year it was especially significant for the founding pastors and

congregations of the LMS-USA.

In their respective morning worship services, Pastors Roy Steward, Ralph

Spears and John Erickson made subscription to the LMS-USA initial

subscription documents (i.e. The Anotated Indianapolis Statement on

Scripture, The Unaltered Augsburg Confession, Luther's Small Catechism, and

the LSM-USA Constitution).

The congregations of Faith Evangelical Lutheran and Barley Evangelical

Lutheran (Altoona, PA) and St. Matthew Lutheran (Indianapolis) also made

subscription. Christ Lutheran of Chetek, WI has set a congretational meeting

for July 16 to deal with the affiliation question and likely take a first



Two recurring Questions have been asked of us by several different

persons: 1) Why is LMS-USA Subscription only to the "Unaltered Augsburg

Confession" (UAC) and The Small Catechism of Luther instead of to the entire

Book of Concord? and 2) Is Subscription (Signing under) in the sense of

"Quia" (Because they are correct expositions of the doctrine of the

Scripture) or Quatenus (Only in so far as they agree with what is taught,

i.e. The Gospel)?

Yes the LMS-USA foundational documents which are the current

subscriptional documents emphasize only the "Unaltered Augsburg Confession"

and the "Small Catechism" of Luther from the Book of Concord. This might be

termed the "minimalist" subscriptional position. These two works from the

Book of Concord are understood by LMS-USA in the Quia sense and not in the

Quatenus sense. This means that we of LMS-USA subscribe to the Augsburg

Confession and the Small Catechism as being correct expositions of the

doctrine of the Scripture. They are the foundational Confessional beginning!

In emphasizing this "Quia" understanding of these particular Confessional

writings the LMS-USA begins at a much more conservative point than ELCA

Lutherans who affirm the Augsburg Confession and the Small Catechism from the

Quatenus position. Likewise the LMS-USA Confessional Beginning Subscription

begins at a much more conservative point than that held by most of the ELCA

predecessor bodies. By beginning with only the Unaltered Augsburg Confession

and the Small Catechism as the basic Lutheran Confessional documents viewed

with the Quia understanding the LMS-USA nonetheless resists moving to the far

right wing Lutheran orientation. Thus the "Conservative Middle" or "Moderate

Conservative" stance is emphasized at one and the same time in this

subscriptional focus.

LMS-USA will intentionally proceed to study and reflect upon the other

Symbolical Writings of the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of

Concord. Should these writings achieve a Consensus of support from LMS

pastors and congregations (in the "Quia" sense) in light of Holy Scripture

and in light of the UAC/ Small Catechism then addi-tional writings of the

Book of Concord will be added as consensus is achieved to the "Subscriptional

Documents" of the LMS-USA. As a new statement or document is added to this

basic corpus of writings all LMS-USA Pastors will be expected to subscribe to

any such additions.

In earlier discussion leading to the formation of LMS-USA, some desired

that LMS-USA not be organized until all Theological issues and doctrinal

matters would first achieve Consensus. This methodology of course would run

counter to that of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. We agreed on the

basics and have committed LMS-USA to be a Forum for ongoing theological study

and reflection by its pastors and laity alike. The founders of LMS-USA chose

to begin with a Foundational Consensus upon the basics of "Holy Scripture",

"The Unaltered Augsburg Confession" (UAC); "The Small Catechism" of Luther;

"The Ecumenical Creeds" (Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian), as well as "The

LMS-USA Constitution". LMS-USA will in accord with its constitution proceed

to be a Synod and Ministerium engaged in ongoing study and reflection upon

all other doctrinal matters and Biblical/ Theological issues. Any future

additions to the Subscriptional Corpus of Doctrine for LMS-USA will be

understood in the Quia sense.

[Rev. Roy A. Steward]


After seven (7) months of life the new congregation in Littlestown, PA is

proving to be an exciting ministry. The new congregation rents the local

YMCA building. The Congregation's make up is very youthful. A Youth

retreat resulted in over 40 young people in attendance and a VBS program just

concluded with over 120 children in attendance.

Living Faith Ev. Free Lutheran Con-gregation is receiving Mission

sup-port from 3 of our LMS-USA congregations (Christ Lutheran, Chetek WI;

Barley Ev. Lutheran, Baker's Summit PA.; and Faith Ev. Lutheran, Altoona PA.)


People are inter-ested in the new opportunity for fellowship and mission in

the 'moderate' or 'middle' conservative Lutheran position.

You can help to spread the word. If you know of interested persons, share

(copy) this material with (for) them.


Our Lord, Jesus Christ, has fulfilled all that had been revealed

before His time !! As the WORD made flesh: He fulfills the covenant of

promises and the Law with the Good News, the Gospel - Faith Alone; He

justifies mankind with the Father, the Creator of all through humble

communion with Him - Grace Alone; and thereby leaves living witness of

Salvation's history 'since the foundation of the world' - Scripture Alone !

For this reason we know The Word to be totally reliable and true as

Jesus had promised to His Apostles in the latter chapters of John's Gospel by

the Holy Spirit, the revealed Word and the writ-ten Word having become ONE.

We do not take belief in the inerrancy of this Word lightly, or hold to it

because any outside authority says that we must . Rath-er by the gift of

faith, we JOYFULLY submit to its lifegiving authority and say with Luther,

"This is most certainly true!" - and not by our merit.

By prayer, study, reflection and CONSENSUS, we ask Him through the Holy

Spirit, to lead us into "all Truth" as a "faithful embodiment of the church

of Jesus Christ on earth" by Word and Sacrament! There is nothing further


Martin Luther did not seek to do anything of himself or to create a new

movement. Rather, he accepted the Call to center the Church again in Faith

in Christ Alone, by Grace Alone through the Scripture Alone.

So the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod - U.S.A. in like man-ner is doing

nothing of itself, nor is it seeking to begin a new movement. Rather, we

feel called humbly to center the Church once again in Christ with these age

old foundations of faith made new.

If we are to be called 'conservative middle' or 'moderate middle' for

our stance, so be it. Here We Stand, neither moving to left - where

anything goes; nor to the right - where the understandable desire for a

'righteous' church causes some to be defined OUT of the reach of grace.

Age old liturgies and forms have grown up with the Word which they have

come into being, to embody. Therefore they deserve our respect as a shape of

reverence which time has mold-ed. Yet we would not be unwilling to "Sing a

new song" in the worship of Our Lord who "makes all things New" in forms

appropriate to those given to our church !

And so by faith, prayer, study and consensus we humbly set the course of

the church firmly in Christ in these 'most interesting' times !! " Even so,

come Lord Jesus !"

TABLE TALK - Mailing List

This particular issue of Table Talk is being sent to a number of persons

not on our permanent mailing list. We want to give you an idea as to who we


At this time we plan to publish Table Talk quarterly. If, in a few

months, you find you are not receiving this newsletter, and you would like to

receive it - let us know!

(See address on back page)


Many church bodies have run into difficulties because their

constitutions allow for determined minorities to infiltrate and impose a

particular agenda or to force a compromise by the majority of the Church

Body. Majority rule is mainly a formula for political compromise. How can a

majority be put together in order to carry the votes? Often times coalitions

of minority views end up putting together a majority. While this may be a

good approach in the realm of secular politics it is a formula for disaster

when applied to the Word of God and the Christian Gospel. Secular politics

almost always seeks the least common denominator.

Thus when the secular political process has been brought into the

Christian Churches it has resulted in majorities voting what they think the

Word of God should say. Thus we have seen strong Bible and Confessionally

sound churches abandon the Scripture as well as the Confessions. The truth

of God's Word in fact is often not the winner of majority votes. A better

way of organization we believe is the way of seeking unanimity or consensus

by all the pastors and all congregations of a church body in light of Holy

Scripture and in light of the Lutheran Confessions. Human consensus could

become simply human com-promise that everyone agrees to, but when we add "in

light of Holy Scripture and in light of the Lutheran Confessions," this makes

it a very different matter. What does Scripture say on the matter? What do

the Lutheran Confessions state on the matter in witness to Scripture? The

achieving of consensus along these lines involves study and reflection upon

God's Word and the Confessions.

Our LMS-USA Constitution emphasizes "Consensus in Light of Scripture and

in Light of the Luther-an Confessions." This is a fairly unique church

constitutional provision which we believe to be soundly Biblical. "Have this

mind among yourselves."

In our constitution we also have worked to keep a balance between clergy

and congregations (laity). Our body is to be a balance between the "

Ministerium " (an old Colonial Lutheran word referring to the gathering of

pastors) and the "Synod" (the traditional Lutheran word referring to a

gathering of congregations). This type of balance is not much seen in our

day. The tendency has been to either emphasize "hierarchicalism" and the

wider church as owning the congregations as well as their property with the

pastors seen as "hirelings." or to see the local congregation as the sole

entity of the church with the pastors again seen as "hirelings". In these

two current and common models the pastors are subtly encouraged to please

either the congregation or the hierarchy rather than to preach the Word of

God in its full truth.

Our LMS - emphasizes the autonomy of the local congregation (all

congregations have sole title and authority over their property) but at the

same time we acknowledge that we need others in order to struggle to be

faithful to our Lord's Mission and also that we ourselves may be challenged

to stay focused upon God's Word alone and also upon our Lu-theran


Our LMS-USA pastors are not seen as hierlings of a congregation or as

servants of a hierarchy. They are seen as those who have been called to

preach and teach the Word of God. They are undershepherds to Christ. The

ministerium serves an important function because pastors need the fellowship

of other pastors for all of the same reasons just cited for congregations.

Congregations likewise need a roster of clergy from which to call future

pastors and they need to know that the clergy of the church body are united

in basic doctrine, Biblical and Confessional understanding, as well as in

basic ministerial practice. Again, the Ministerium serves an important

function. Congregations also need the encouragement that comes from knowing

that they have fellowship with other congregations of like minded


Our LMS-USA constitution guards against two dangers. In majority/minority

vote situations - persons (pastors and laypersons) with very different

notions from the founding purposes of a church body can take over and

completely change the direction of the church body simply because majority

rules - or because persuasive and dynamic leaders triumphed over genuine

concern, and the majority went along unsuspectingly. In our Constitution,

the " Consensus in light of Scripture and the Confessions mechanism" guards

against this very thing. We have put it in place intentionally for this very

purpose. New ideas or new introductions must gain consensus approval in

light of Scripture and the Confessions before becoming the doctrine and/or

practice of our Church body. This will be a very big help in guarding

against the danger of "reducing Holy Scripture" to what is popular at the


The other danger that is guarded against is the danger of legalism.

Very often conservative church bodies have tried to insure that all members

in the church (congregation or church body will be "true believers"). Thus

they have enacted rules, principals, and methods of examination that go

beyond the Scripture. Our LMS-USA Constitution begins with what is

essential and basic. It can be called "bare essential" or "basic minimum

Doctrine". We thus emphasize our Statement on Holy Scripture, The Three

Ecumenical Creeds, The Unaltered Augsburg Confession, and The Small Catechism

of Dr. Martin Luther. In doing this we are following the clear intent of the

Augsburg Confession which set forth the basic minimum essentials that could

not be compromised. Now our "Consensus in Light of Scripture and the

Lutheran Confessions" comes into action precisely by emphasizing that no new

items can be added to our basic subscriptional statements unless consensus in

light of Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions has been achieved. Thus

our LMS-USA Constitution we believe is a unique guard against these two

deadly dangers: Legalism on the one hand and the "watering down of Scripture

and the Lutheran Confessions" on the other.

Unique for this present day and age is our emphasis upon

"subscription to" or the "signing under" the basic beginning documents and

Constitution of the LMS-USA by all Pastors and Congregations wishing to be

voting members of the LMS-USA. This simply means we put our names on the

line that we truly agree to the basic doctrinal and organizational positions

of the LMS-USA. We want no masquerading or make believe in this vital area.

Those not ready to fully accept all that has been heretofore approved may

become associate (non-voting) members of LMS-USA. Our stress is that

congregations take this matter as seriously as pastors. Congregations where

the lay people understand and agree to the basic teachings of our church body

are very important in maintaining our Con-fessional stance.

A further unique result of our emphasis upon "Consensus in light of Holy

Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions" is the fact that we do not need

elaborate representational schemes for Synod or Ministerium meetings and

voting gatherings. Each subscribing congregation gets one vote and each

subscribing pastor is entitled to one vote. Actions are not adopted unless

there has been consensus. Thus our decisions are intended to be inclusive of

all members of the the church body. Oligarchy - or dominance by one or two

strong personalities - is thus guarded against in our constitution. The head

of our church body is to be Jesus our Savior and none other. It is the Word

of God that is to lead, guide, and direct us. The Lutheran Confessions are,

we believe, the correct exposition of that Word.

A final unique feature of our LMS-USA Constitution for mention here, is

the focus upon study. We intentionally understand our gatherings for both

the Ministerium and the Synod to be a "Forum for Study" of God's Word and the

Lutheran Confessions for both Laity and Clergy. We thus refer to ourselves

as a "Synodical and Ministerial Forum" (Forum meaning a place for dialogue

and discussion). As we study and reflect on important issues down through

the years we are also committed to sharing the results of our deliberations

with all other Lutheran Church bodies asking for official comment and

response from them to help us in our ongoing reflection and study. Rev.

[Rev. Roy Steward]


For those interested, the presentations given at the First Indianapolis

Conference on Biblical Inerrancy, and the Second Indianapolis Conference on

the Holy Spirit and His Gifts are available in booklet form.

Inerrancy Booklet Contents:

* Conservative Elements Holding to the Biblical Inerrant, Infallibility and

Confessional Positions within Eastern Lutheranism

* Principles of Biblical Interpretation

*Two kinds of Authority, One Abiding Purpose

*The Divinely Inspired, Inerrant and Infallible Original Autographs - But Can

We Say More?

* The Minneapolis Thesis? A Question of Spiritual Adequacy

Holy Spirit Booklet Contents:

* A Biblical Basis

* Apostolic Uniqueness

* The Holy Spirit in the Means of Grace

* The Orthodox Lutherans

Indianapolis Conference Presentations Cost is $5.00 per booklet (includes

postage) - write or call: Rev. John Erickson, P. O. Box 31, Chetek, WI

54728; Phone/Fax 715-924-2552


In the first place it refers to our understanding of Holy Scripture, that

upon which we, as a church body, seek to base all our teachings and

practices. Our view of Scripture can be found in both our brief statements

and in our more detailed, Indianapolis Annotated Statement on Scripture. Put

simply, we accept the Word of God, the Bible, as being divinely inspired,

inerrant, and infallible. Holy Scripture is not something we are free to

interpret as we please, or apply as we please, depending on our circumstances

or the time in which we live. Neither are we free to decide what portions of

Scripture we must hold to as true and nonnegotiable versus other portions on

which we can negotiate and label as 'folklore' or 'fable.' For us, all of

scripture is true and trustworthy even when it has to do with matters of

history and science.

On the other hand, we do not want to find ourselves in the

'fundamentalist' camp. We do not believe it is possible to understand all we

find in Holy Scripture. There may even be things we have a problem accepting

as being possible or reasonable (thinking in areas of history and science for

example) but for us, that is okay. We don't have to be able to figure

everything out. We don't need to have an answer for every question that

comes up. It's okay to have some unanswered questions. We believe what the

Word says, and we accept it as true and reliable because God never lies; his

Word is truth!

In the second place, it has to do with our practice of the faith. We

hold to the three great Reformation tenets, Scripture Alone, Grace Alone,

Faith Alone. We are in the middle because we don't want to add anything to

what God's Word plainly says concerning God's relationship to us and our

relationship with him. On the other hand, we don't want to take anything

away either. It is not the gospel plus some church imposed restrictions,

duties, or whatever. Nor is it overlooking the fact that obedience to Christ

is costly, i.e., "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and

take up his cross daily and follow me." There is no room in our

middle/moderate position for 'cheap grace.'

Our middle or moderate position also speaks to our worship practice.

God and his Word is to be central to our corporate worship experience.

Anything that would take away, cheapen, or distract from God and his Word is

to be avoided at all cost. We believe that an order and practice of worship

such as that found in the Common Service provides an appropriate and

meaningful worship experience. We are not 'locked' into every detail of this

service order. There may well be additions or deletions to this service

which may be appropriate. But such a service serves a solid 'backbone' which

one may carefully 'flesh out' to meet particular needs and tastes. Our point

is this - when one visits one of our congregations, they should have a good

idea of what to expect by way of worship style and practice. And, there

should be the sense of a tie to Lutheran tradition, not for tradition's sake,

but because the 'traditional' has proven to be a powerful vehicle for

centuries of Christian worship. [Rev. John Erickson]


Indianapolis, IN - The LMS-USA National Office has received the first

application for membership on the clergy roster. It is exciting to note

indication of two more pastors and one additional congregation ex-pressing a

desire for application and a third pastor and congregation making serious


Enquiries have been received concerning the possibility of Associate

Membership. Yes we have provided for such a status of membership for both

Pastors and Congregations.

Application forms for pastors and congregations can be obtained by writing:

LMS-USA President/Pastor (See address below)

Officers of the LMS-USA are : President/Pastor - The Rev. Ralph Spears; Vice

President/ Pastor - The Rev. Roy A. Steward; Ministerium Secretary - The Rev.

John S. Erickson; Steering Committee Secretary - Mrs. Joane Messerschmidt.

Altoona PA - Faith Lutheran is looking to voting on acquiring a church

building and property. The congregation, organized in November of 1991 and

Incorporated on Dec. 23, 1991 has been renting space for Worship since its

inaugural worship service of January 5, 1992. The Board of Deacons and

Elders has recommended the purchase of 2 acres of property and a building to

be remodeled for church use. Faith Congregation hopes to be in the new

Church home by mid autumn at the earliest and by Christmas Eve at the latest.

Bakers Summit, PA - Barley Ev. Lutheran Church officially closed the charter

membership period of the congregation after a one year period on June 10,

1995. Barley congregation was begun as mission effort of Faith Evangelical

Lutheran Church, Altoona PA with a core of 7 persons. The congregation as of

the Charter Closing had surpassed 125 membership.

Chetek, WI - Christ Lutheran Church took their first vote at their

congregational meeting on Sunday, July 16, to subscribe to, and affiliate

with, the LMS-USA. Their second vote is set for August 20th.

The LMS-USA is a 'Forum by Subscription' in the Moderate Conservative or

Middle Conservative position in American Lutheranism. As a 'Forum' the

intent is that there will be an ongoing discussion of theological issues and

concerns among clergy and lay alike. The LSM-USA meets annually for a

Theological Conference and this publication, besides carrying news of the

Ministerium and Synod, functions also as a vehicle for this continuing


For information or to make comment contact:

President/Pastor, LMS-USA

2837 East New York St., Indianapolis, IN 46201

AOL & Internet Contact: LMS

Table Talk

P. O. Box 31

Chetek, WI 54728