LUTHERAN CHURCHES OF THE REFORMATION
The Lutheran Churches of the Reformation (L.C.R.) is a federation of autonomous, orthodox Lutheran local congregations that was formed in 1964. The occasion of the organization of this church body arose out of deep dissatisfaction with the doctrinal disintegration that has now become rampant in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. After individual pastors and laymen and congregations had protested the rising tide of liberalism in the L.C.M.S. through such groups as the State of the Church, the Chicago Study Club and the Confessional Lutheran Publicity Bureau it became evident to them that the old Missouri Synod of Walther, Pieper, Stoeckhardt, A.L. Graebner, Bente, etc. was no more. The L.C.M.S. had become a heterodox church body. In accordance with Romans 16:17-18 and Matthew 7:15 the founders of the L.C.R. marked and avoided the L.C.M.S.
The L.C.R. is a decentralized church body. It jealously guards the concept of congregational sovereignty. The self-government, property rights and autonomy of each local congregation is protected not only by the explicit language of the L.C.R. constitution (Note the name “Lutheran Churches of the Reformation”; synods are not churches in the Biblical sense of the term.), but also by the historical practice of the federation. However, while the L.C. R. recognizes as the only divinely sanctioned and instituted functioning unit of the Holy Christian Church the visible local congregation, we do acknowledge that the Bible does command orthodox Christians to “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), that is, practice church fellowship together. Thus the L.C.R. is a federation of mutual cooperation through which the members (congregations, pastors and teachers) carry out the work of the Kingdom of God at large (missions, publications, the training of pastors and teachers, etc.) under the discipline of God’s Word.
The government of the L.C.R. under its constitution is by annual conventions of congregational delegates. The business of the federation is administered by a Council of nine members (three of whom must be ministers, and three of whom must be laymen) elected to three year terms. Various commissions (Missions, Doctrine and Practice, Publications, Colloquies and Constitutions) and committees (Travel Assistance, Fiduciary) carry out the instructions of the L.C.R. convention. The offices of the L.C.R. are its Administrator, Coadjutor, Secretary, and Treasurer.
The geographical location of L.C.R. congregations and preaching stations is widespread. The L.C.R. Missionaries-at-Large and other L.C.R. ministers serve members of L.C.R. congregations from Canada to Tennessee and from California to the eastern seaboard. However, the bulk of our congregations lie in three regional areas: the Great Northwest (Colorado and Oregon), the Great Plains (Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota) and the Great Lakes ((Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Ontario, Canada).
The L.C.R. puts a great deal of emphasis on Christian Education. Our congregations support parochial day schools and Sunday schools. A number of L.C.R. families even operate home schools.
Special attention is given to traditional and proven pedagogical methods (as found in the writings of the great Lutheran educator and patriarch of the L.C.R., Dr. Paul Edward Kretzmann) and every attempt is made to use only orthodox literature in the training of the young. (The incidental errors of otherwise recommended textbooks are exposed to students and carefully compared with true doctrine.) The L.C.R. operates a seminary-teachers’ college located at Decatur, Indiana – the Martin Luther Institute of Sacred Studies (M.L.I.S.S.).
Sound Christian literature - orthodox publications - have always been the concern of the L.C.R. The federation publishes a monthly magazine of devotions, religious instruction and congregational news entitled One Accord (The Voice of the L.C.R.). For pastors and laymen interested in deeper theological insight the L.C.R. publishes a quarterly called The Faithful Word (A Journal of Doctrine and Defense). Both of these publications are available for the annual subscription rate of $24.00 and $14.00 respectively (domestic U.S. subscription rate) from P.O. Box 2486, Sioux City, Iowa 51106-2519. An independent affiliate of the L.C.R., Anchor Publications, located at the above address, has available many books, essays and tracts of orthodox character. Interested readers should send for their free catalogue or visit their website at: anchorbooksandtracts.com.
The federation is also active in Missions-both foreign and domestic. Individual pastors and the Missionaries-at-Large hold preaching services at various locations in order to serve members of L.C.R. churches who have moved away from their home congregations and have no local, orthodox Lutheran church in close proximity to minister to their spiritual needs. Such families receive service recordings and devotional literature from their pastors and congregations. Another reason for holding preaching and exploratory services is in hopes of gathering together like-minded Lutherans who are interested in forming new congregations. The L.C.R. also gives support to congregations in the African nations of Nigeria and the Congo. The L.C.R. has trained several pastors, sent over missionaries and provided much orthodox literature for these congregations.
The Doctrinal Position of the L.C.R. might be simply characterized as that of the old Missouri Synod or the old Synodical Conference. It involves strict adherence to the Holy Bible as the inspired and inerrant Word of God preserved in such faithful translations as Luther’s German Bible and the Authorized or King James Version. Faithful subscription to all of the historic Lutheran Confessions as found in the Book of Concord (1580) and to the Brief Statement (1932) are also hallmarks of the L.C.R. The congregations of the L.C.R. are well-known for their exclusive use of not only the KJV but also the traditional Small Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther (1943 “Blue” edition) and The Lutheran Hymnal (1941 edition). A compendium of Christian doctrine titled We All Believe in One True God by the L.C.R. pastor and professor, Wallace H. McLaughlin, is also a good summary of what our federation holds. Dozens of papers, theses, and essays on numerous doctrinal topics have been presented and adopted by L.C.R. conventions and pastoral conferences, many of which have been reprinted in One Accord or The Faithful Word. This body of teaching literature makes up the public doctrinal position of the L.C.R. While the L.C.R. teaches “all things” (Matt. 28:20) the Bible teaches- “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), it places the central doctrine of our faith – Objective Justification - at the forefront. The four great
Lutheran principles – Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone and Christ Alone- are constants in our theology.
The L.C.R. seeks to establish church fellowship with other orthodox Lutherans. Yet, in doing so the federation is careful to observe the Biblical principles of church fellowship in its dealings with other Lutheran bodies. To this end we invite any church body, congregation or individual interested in exploring the possibility of practicing fellowship with us to contact the Chairman of our Commission on Colloquies and Constitutions or any one of our pastors.
Lutheran Churches of the Reformation
Rev. Michael J. Bowers, Administrator
1614 Purvis Avenue
Janesville, Wisconsin 53548-1557