To adopt “Worship in Our Congregation” as the correct understanding of worship and to encourage sister congregations to adopt it and put it into practice
Whereas, there exists in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, including the South Dakota District and the Sioux Falls Circuit, a diversity of worship practices,
Whereas, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod at its 2001 convention adopted Resolution 2–05A, “To Continue to Foster Discussion on Worship,” that stated:
That congregations and their pastors, musicians, and other worship planners be reminded that worship practices in their local setting have broader implications which affect other congregations throughout the Synod and the church-at-large.
Whereas, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod at its 1998 convention adopted Resolution 2–10, “To Build Consensus in Worship,” that stated:
That we remind one another of the promise we have made to use “doctrinally pure agenda, hymnbooks, and catechisms,” both to preserve the truth and for the sake of good order.
That everyone heed the advice of Dr. Martin Luther who, in writing to the Christians in Livonia, penned words that speak directly to our time and place:
I pray all of you, my dear sirs, let each one surrender his own opinions and get together in a friendly way and come to a common decision about these external matters, so that there will be one uniform practice throughout your district instead of disorder. (Luther’s Works, 53, 47)
Whereas, Dr. Martin Luther, in the above quoted letter to the Livonian Christians, also states:
Now when your people are confused and offended by your lack of uniform order, you cannot plead, “Externals are free. Here in my own place I am going to do as I please.” But you are bound to consider the effect of your attitude on others. By faith be free in your conscience toward God, but by love be bound to serve your neighbor’s edification, as also St. Paul says, Romans [15:2], “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him.” For we should not please ourselves, since Christ also pleased not Himself, but us all.
But at the same time a preacher must watch and diligently instruct the people lest they take such uniform practices as divinely appointed and absolutely binding laws. He must explain that this is done for their own good so that the unity of Christian people may also find expression in externals which in themselves are irrelevant. Since the ceremonies or rites are not needed for the conscience or for salvation and yet are useful and necessary to govern the people externally, one must not enforce or have them accepted for any other reason except to maintain peace and unity between men. For between God and men it is faith that procures peace and unity.
Nevertheless, both you and your preachers should diligently seek to promote unity and to hinder this work of the devil, because God appoints the devil to do this in order to give us occasion to prove our unity and in order to reveal those that have stood the test. For in spite of all our efforts, enough factions and disunity will remain. St. Paul also points this out when he says, 2 Timothy 2 [:20], that there are both noble and ignoble vessels in the same house, and immediately adds, “If a man purge himself of such people, he shall be a vessel sanctified for noble use, useful to his master and ready for every good work” [v. 21]. (Luther’s Works: Liturgy and Hymns, J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed., vol. 53, pp 47–50. Fortress Press: Philadelphia)
Whereas, our Synod’s first constitution stated:
Synod holds in accordance with the seventh article of the Augsburg Confession that uniformity in ceremonies is not essential; yet on the other hand Synod deems such a uniformity wholesome and useful, namely for the following reasons:
a. because a total difference in outward ceremonies would cause those who are weak in the unity of doctrine to stumble;
b. because in dropping heretofore preserved usages the Church is to avoid the appearance of and desire for innovations;
Furthermore, Synod deems it necessary for the purification of the Lutheran Church in America, that the emptiness and the poverty in the externals of the service be opposed, which, having been introduced here by the false spirit of the Reformed, is now rampant.
All pastors and congregations that wish to be recognized as orthodox by Synod are prohibited from adopting or retaining any ceremony which might weaken the confession of the truth or condone or strengthen a heresy, especially if heretics insist upon the continuation or the abolishing of such ceremonies. The desired uniformity in the ceremonies is to be brought about especially by the adoption of sound Lutheran agendas (church books).
Whereas, our congregation’s practices are, by God’s grace, faithful to Holy Scripture and the Lutheran confessions,
Whereas, our congregation has recently studied the theses contained in the document, “Worship in Our Congregation,”
Whereas, our congregation desires to give witness to the correct understanding of worship to fellow–members of our Circuit, District, and Synod,
therefore be it
Resolved, that Christ Lutheran Church adopts “Worship in Our Congregation” as the correct understanding of worship,
and be it further
Resolved, that copies of “Worship in Our Congregation” be made available for anyone who desires to read and study it,
and be it finally
Resolved, that congregations in the Sioux Falls Circuit, the South Dakota District and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod be encouraged to likewise study and adopt these theses and put them into practice so that peace and unity may again prevail in our midst, according to God’s mercy.
Adopted, with no dissenting votes cast, on September 8, 2002.