AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

The Voice of Confessionalism and Inter-Lutheran Relations : The Influence of the Missouri Synod in the Baltic and Ingrian Lutheran Churches, 1991-2001

by Kalle Kuusniemi

Institution: University of Helsinki
Department: Faculty of Theology
Year: 2015
Keywords: teologia
Record ID: 1135503
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/154532


The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) had no contacts with the Baltic and Ingrian Lutheran Churches in the Soviet Union. It was virtually impossible for the Missouri Synod to make connections because of its narrow view of ecumenism, its anti-communism, and its non-membership in the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), which communicated to some extent with the churches of the USSR. However, the collapse of the Soviet Union made it possible for the Synod to establish totally new contacts with post-Soviet Lutherans. I examine how the Missouri Synod influenced the Baltic and Ingrian Churches between 1991 and 2001 in the context of inter-Lutheran relations. The starting point of the study is when the Missouri Synod first made contact with the Baltic and Ingrian Lutherans. It set up initial connections in 1991 through the LCMS auxiliary organizations in cooperation with the Finnish sister organization, the Confessional Lutheran Church of Finland. However, the first direct official Missourian contacts with the Lutherans in those countries were established in 1992. The Estonian Church, being more developed, more self-sufficient and strongly supported by the Finnish Church, was not so needful of support from the Missouri Synod. Having a more liberal theological approach it had allowed women to become pastors, and continued doing so, whereas the positions of the Ingrian, Latvian and Lithuanian Churches were and continued to be more open to cooperation with the Missouri Synod. The Latvian Church, for example, which allowed the ordination of women, overruled the decision in 1993 so that the problematic question of women´s ministry no longer hindered cooperation between the Latvians and the Missourians. As a result of the cooperation and of fellowship discussions between the Missouri Synod and the Ingrian Church, an altar and pulpit fellowship agreement was signed at the 1998 LCMS convention. Significantly, this was the very first time an existing member of the Lutheran World Federation entered into fellowship with the Missouri Synod. One could say that this fellowship became a model for the two Baltic Churches that later signed the agreement with the Missouri Synod. From the Missourian side, fellowship with the Ingrians meant that the Missouri Synod had developed a more tolerant and more open attitude towards its partner Churches and their pluralism. The end point of the study is July 2001, when the Missouri Synod´s convention delegates voted to declare church fellowship with the Latvians and the Lithuanians. Of most importance was the theological, financial and moral support the LCMS gave to the Ingrian, Latvian and Lithuanian Lutheran Churches, and to the Estonian Church to a lesser degree, and it also exerted the most significant influence in these areas. Theological support was the top priority. The LCMS extensively supported theological education in the area for two basic reasons. First, the Missouri Synod had reaffirmed its positions on many theological questions and was not as progressive as the German and…