September 17, 2014

Our LFL board of directors asked me to do a series of articles on the pan-Lutheran nature of LFL. As an aside here, the people who make up our board are some of the finest, life-affirming folks you would ever want to work with. They come from a variety of vocations, Lutheran traditions, and geographic areas. I am honored to work with them.

LFL intentionally began as a pan-Lutheran entity. Seventeen people attended a meeting in St. Louis on May 24, 1977, initiated by Dr. Ralph Bohlmann, Rev. Sam Nafzger, and Dr. J.A.O. Preus. As a result, a committee consisting of Jack Eichhorst, ALC theologian; Jean Garton, LCMS laywoman; Leigh Jordahl, LCA professor; and Eugene Linse, LCMS professor, met at Concordia College, St. Paul, Minnesota, on August 22, 1978, to consider an organizational structure. A name was chosen; a philosophy was adopted; and officers were selected. Garton became President; Eichhorst, Vice President; Jordahl, Secretary; and Linse, Executive Director.

As its first official act, Lutherans For Life sent letters of announcement to the presidents of the American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, the Lutheran Church in America, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church. A request was made of the presidents to urge their members to observe October 1, 1978, as Respect Life Sunday and “with prayer and meditation express thanks for their own lives and also sadness for the lives of pre-born children that have been terminated because they were unwanted.”

As you can see, of the original four executive officers, three different Lutheran bodies were represented. Obviously, the Lutheran landscape has changed dramatically since then. However, one thing has not changed. In spite of theological differences, the majority of Lutheran bodies share a common desire to acknowledge and uphold the God-given value of human life from the moment of conception. These bodies also desire to educate their members on the life issues from a Gospel-centered, biblical perspective, and to encourage appropriate actions to influence fellow Lutherans and our society.

The Lutheran bodies currently served by LFL include:

  • The Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America (CLBA)

  • The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC)

  • The American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC)

  • Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC)

  • The North American Lutheran Church (NALC)

  • The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS)

  • The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)

  • The Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) (Note: Our relationship with the WELS and ELS is good, but minimal since they have their own life ministry—Christian Life Resources.)

The official life statements of these groups may be found here.