Manifesto: God's Call to the Church in Each Place
A Report of the Lutheran Church in America, 1966
Adopted by the Lutheran Church in America at its 1966
convention to be read in each congregation at all services on
Sunday, October 30, 1966.
THIS IS GOD'S WORLD: the object of God's love, the arena of
man's achievement, and the scene of man's struggles.
THIS IS GOD'S TIME: exciting and full of hope, confusing, and
plagued with anxiety.
THE CHURCH IS GOD'S PEOPLE: the new humanity in Christ, called
into being, sustained and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
God's people are sent into the world to speak his Word and to be
his agents of reconciliation.
As his people we confess that we are hesitant in our faith,
timid in our ventures, and halting in our obedience.
Yet the Church continues to be God's own people, the community
of faith and love and servanthood. Centered in Jesus Christ, this
community is continually renewed as it relives his life, death, and
resurrection in worship and mission.
Faithfulness in our day requires that the congregation come to a
clearer understanding of what it means to be the Church in each
place and welcome today's world as the given setting for its
Therefore, the Lutheran Church in America calls upon each
1. To support in prayer and uphold in proclamation the oneness
of the Church in all places and at all times.
2. To recognize that it shares in the oneness of the Church
through its union with other congregations in the Lutheran Church
3. To see in its own life the presence of the Lutheran Church in
America and in what this church does corporately in North America
and throughout the world, an extension of its own mission, assuming
a full and generous share of the responsibilities which this
4. To join with other Lutheran congregations, especially those
nearby, in mutual counsel and action, gladly extending the
fellowship of its pulpit and altar to all of them.
5. To engage in cooperative action with neighboring
congregations and councils of churches which with it confess Jesus
Christ as divine Lord and Saviour.
6. To be alert to the changing needs, moods, and currents of the
modern world in order to fulfill its ministry more effectively.
7. To adapt its methods and programs to the specific community
or communities which it is called to serve, recognizing especially
the dramatic increase in the proportion of youth in the general
8. To lift its voice in concord and to work in concert with
forces for good, cooperating with church and other groups
participating in activities that promote justice, relieve misery,
and reconcile the estranged.
9. To proclaim that God is present in mercy and judgment in
man's life and work, in his searching and striving, in his art,
science, and culture, and in the ordering of society and the
10. To welcome the new light shed on God's Word and world by
11. To strive to deepen the inner life of its members through
regular worship, the Sacrament of the Altar, the study of Scripture
meditation and prayer
12. To appreciate its rich heritage of worship and to be open to
new expressions of adoration of God.
13. To be the family of God in which those who suffer the
bruises of life find support and help, the complacent are stirred,
and the creative and venturesome are encouraged.
14. To equip its members through a deepened understanding of the
Christian faith to perform their ministries in the experiences of
daily life, at work and at leisure, in family and neighborhood, and
as responsible citizens
15. To seek, welcome, and involve in its fellowship all men
without regard to race, status, or background.
16. To examine its organizational life at regular intervals to
make sure that every part of it is an authentic expression of the
gospel and contributes to the fulfilling of its mission.
In this modern mass society and in these changing times there is
danger that our congregations may have lost touch with the central
dynamics of our society. If congregations are static and immobile
in spiritual life or in outward service to mankind, the church will
be irrelevant to this urban oriented culture and unable to grasp
its many and varied opportunities.
Each congregation must find the means and methods by which it
best fulfills God's call to be his people. No statement can in
itself be the final word. The faith is eternal. The forces with
which it must deal and the environment in which it lives are in
ferment. This is the natural climate and condition in which the
church carries on its work. These do not diminish its joyous
conviction that the Word of God is the power to redeem our day.
The following recommendations by the Commission studying the
Nature and Mission of the Congregation were also adopted at the
Kansas City convention and are included here for your
1. That the above manifesto be approved, and that the secretary
of the church be instructed to send a copy to each congregation for
use on the last Sunday in October, 1966 urging that it be read to
the congregation at all services on that day.
2. That the Executive Council be instructed to arrange for the
preparation of study materials based on the report and manifesto
for use in LCA congregations, and to devise procedures to achieve
their most effective use.
3. That the president of the church thereafter call upon each
congregation to undertake, under the guidance and assistance of the
synod, a study and judgment of its life and work, using the report
of this commission and the manifesto as its guide.
4. That each synod, as part of its constitutional
responsibility, initiate and intensify studies, conversations and
negotiations looking toward
a. strengthening each congregation as it seeks to carry out the
mission of the church;
b. increasing cooperation among congregations in geographical areas
to carry out the mission of the church more effectively and to
eliminate undue duplication of services and programs;
c. desirable alignment of congregations in pastoral charges;
d. desirable merger of congregations;
e. subsidizing congregations incapable of self-support when such
subsidy is appropriate;
f. disbanding congregations in accordance with the provisions in
the synod's constitution;
g. assuming temporary administration of a congregation by the synod
at the request of the congregation concerned or with its
5. That each synod
a. be encouraged to offer a ministry to special groups of
persons (e.g., persons under sheltered care in eleemosynary
institutions, persons in penal institutions, persons in
recreational centers, persons in educational institutions) and at
its discretion to organize such groups as congregations or, outside
the normal pattern of congregational life, as chapels;
b. be authorized to call ministers for the latter purpose;
c. establish a registry of church membership for individuals, not
under church discipline, who cannot establish or maintain a living
relationship to a congregation, as the Lutheran Church in America
has done for those who respond to our church's ministry in
Stockholm, Sweden, and for military personnel.
6. That this convention encourage the Lutheran Council in the
U.S.A. to develop its proposed Office of Research, Statistics and
Archives to provide information and guidance to our church and its
synods regarding the demographic and other forces affecting the
7. That the Lutheran Church in America resume in 1970 the study
summarized in this report renewing and re-examining for that
purpose the mandate given to this commission.
As used in this report, Church (with a capital initial
letter) refers to the entire Church of Jesus Christ, and
church (without a capital initial letter) refers to the
institutional church (the LCA, or another denomination, or a