Does ULMA plan on starting a seminary at some point to train doctrinally faithful preachers, teachers, etc.?
Members of a synod, conference, or similar structure that train their own clergy and teachers can assure other members that their staff meets certain requirements in belief and practice. With such a process a divine call can be issued without question as to their qualifications, beliefs, and practice.
The ULMA is not a synod, does not have a seminary or teaching college, or a certification board. We rely on calling men who were trained in conservative, confessional Lutheran bodies with which we have no formal relationship. The divergent practices and beliefs that have sadly been witnessed to some degree in these synods have necessitated the use of an interview process with potential candidates for a call. This practice is similar to the same certification process used by the seminaries of most synods. Once this process is successfully completed, the pastor may be considered a candidate for a divine call to an ULMA member congregation or mission.
Since Walther Theological Seminary is established by a member congregation of ULMA and her professors are also connected to ULMA, we accept their certification process without an interview.
The distinction is pretty straightforward if you think about the purpose of the ULMA, i.e., to start Mission congregations. Members of the ULMA are defined in Article II of the Constitution of the United Lutheran Mission Association.
In general, the Members of the ULMA are those congregations and pastors who help run the organization in terms of starting Mission congregations. The Mission congregations are sponsored by the Members of the ULMA. However, the Mission congregations are not Members. They may vote to become Members once they have left Mission status.
Our congregation is not a member of ULMA, but I would like to help. How can I contribute to ULMA's work?
Are the member congregations of ULMA in altar and pulpit fellowship with one another and with mission congregations established by ULMA?
If member congregations of the ULMA adhere to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions in Commission work, and if there is nothing to manifestly indicate that they do otherwise in their respective congregations, then nothing should prohibit them from entering into altar and pulpit fellowship with one another and with mission congregations that have been established by the association.
More information may be found in our document, The Issue of Fellowship.
We have been asked whether ULMA’s member congregations commune members of congregations belonging to heterodox Lutheran bodies. If so, under what circumstances? We have amended the above-mentioned fellowship document to answer this question along with background material.
I would like to promote ULMA/ULMA mission(s) at our church or neighborhood. Do you have any bulletin inserts or other promotional material?
Our website and News Releases from Yahoo!Groups have been our primary method of official promotion since we began. Our copyright statement grants free license to reproduce and distribute material from our website as long as it is done free of charge.
If you would like something for your own congregation to distribute within a bulletin, door-to-door, etc., please contact us. We would be happy to talk to you about ULMA and fashion the appropriate material to your own area and needs. No charge! If an ULMA Mission is in your area, please contact them for current information since locations and service times may be subject to change.
Your missions are in areas that already have Lutheran congregations. Aren't you engaging in sheep stealing?
Missions are established like any venture, in areas where there is a need. It could be due to something practical like a population change. Or it could be something doctrinal like the need for confessional, liturgical churches where none currently practice what they confess. (You could push the point that sin is everywhere, thus there are no limits to where a mission may be started.)
ULMA starts missions where concerned laymen have contacted us with a need in their area. The reasons may vary but the goal is the same — to preach Christ and Him crucified. The outreach of the mission is to anyone, regardless of their spiritual or denominational background.
Yes. The ULMA has no financial interest in any buildings, parsonages, property, leases, rental agreements, etc. While the ULMA may choose to fund such expenditures for a mission or church that we are supporting, that is the extent of our involvement.
A Commission, composed of lay representatives (voting authority) and pastors (ex officio) from member congregations, operates the ULMA. As stated in item (G) of “Article VIII Power and Limitation”, from the Constitution of the United Lutheran Mission Association:
“The Commission shall not own equity in any mission congregation it establishes or maintains.”
The ULMA is certainly not a cult or a sect, since it does not stand for doctrines of its own, nor does it follow anyone but Christ, but simply confesses and teaches what the Lutheran Church has always done. Our focus is starting/supporting traditional Lutheran congregations in line with that historic foundation, standing firmly on the Holy Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions.
* Hubert F. Beck in his booklet How to Respond to . . . The Cults says on page 6, “A cult, then, cannot be considered merely a peripheral statement of an original faith pattern compared to a sect which at least marginally participates in the basic faith within which it has its roots. A cult takes its point of departure from the religious thought of a major religion, but twists and warps that pattern of faith until it has something essentially new and different from what it was originally.”
** Francis Pieper is more exacting when he defines the Lutheran Church, giving mention to the definition of a sect. In Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I, p. 32, he says the following (emphasis added): “By ‘Lutheran Church’ we do not mean all church bodies that call themselves Lutheran, but only those that actually teach and confess the Lutheran doctrine as it is taught and confessed in the Confessions of the Lutheran Church. And by ‘sects’ we mean church bodies which have established themselves as separate organizations on the basis of unscriptural doctrines. The terms being thus understood, the Lutheran Church is certainly not a sect, since it does not stand for doctrines of its own, but simply confesses and teaches that which according to God’s will and order all Christians should confess and teach.”
Some see our mention of “tradition” in reference to our style of worship or church setting and get the idea that everything we approach is merely because it’s “always been done that way”. This is not so. The worship style and church setting for “traditional” Lutherans is indeed quite old. It was developed over the centuries based on the Old Testament practices under Judaism and the New Testament practices of the early Christian church. In other words, it’s derived from Holy Scripture.
Our doctrine, likewise, is stated in the Book of Concord, aka the Lutheran Confessions. These documents were drawn up during the Reformation of the 16th century in order to explain what we teach, from Scripture, as opposed to the teachings and practices of Rome and other churches at that time.
We accept the Lutheran Confessions as a true representation of Christian doctrine because (Latin: quia) they agree with the Bible. Several churches who use the name Lutheran claim the confessions in so far as (Latin: quantenus) they agree with the Bible. In other words, they pick and choose what parts they agree with. The result is at best a watered-down Christianity and in the worst case something that’s not Christian at all! Our congregations accept the whole, complete Book of Concord because all of its doctrinal teachings are a truthful and accurate exposition of the Bible. This is known as having a quia subscription to the confessions.
Today there are groups who say they are “Confessional Lutherans”. It used to be a given that this referred to those who had a quia subscription to the Book of Concord. Sadly, today it’s necessary to ask, “What does this mean?” when using the word “confessional”!