Like many of you who read this blog, I have friends and relatives in various Lutheran congregations and synods. I have classmates who graduated with me from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo. who since have become pastors of the ELCA. The ELCA is made up of more than 10,000 congregations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. These congregations are divided into 65 synods in 9 regions.
A large group of congregations once affiliated with the ELCA have left to form new Lutheran synods. Some have even joined the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Here's the published reason Pastor Jeff Cottingham of First Lutheran Church, Paxton, Illinois, gives for his congregation's leaving to join the NALC.
First Lutheran Church has joined the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), a Lutheran synod or denomination that has been in existence for about 11 months and has already gained 250 congregations, most which left the ELCA. The NALC grew out of the rejection of the ELCA's decisions and was sponsored by the Lutheran CORE as it formed.
Other former ELCA congregations have joined together to form Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC). This group of congregations reaches across the United States and has a conservative Lutheran statement of faith.
Why can't we Lutherans all get along? Why must we once again divide? The answer to that question rests with the issues outlined above. Lutherans have traditionally said that we have but one authority for faith and teaching—the Holy Scriptures. Thousands upon thousands of pages have been written and published about that question. In later blogs I'll make my own attempt to outline those issues and point you to resources as you struggle with your personal beliefs and how they impact your relationship with family members, former members of your congregation and personal friends.
The links above will open you to many other resources for personal study.