Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Minnesota Buys Missouri

ST. LOUIS- St. Louisans were saddened to learn today that the board of directors of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod voted in favor of a proposed buyout by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Local St. Louisans have long been proud to call the Missouri Synod of Lutheranism their own. Now, however, with the buyout official, corporate ownership of the Missouri Synod will be moving to Minneapolis, MN. The warm affection even non-Lutherans had for this smaller, locally-owned Synod was witnessed by the neighborhoods in Kirkwood, the home of the LCMS corporate headquarters, with signs in the front yards saying, “Keep Missouri in Missouri.” To no avail.

The offer from the ELCA was to buy Missouri for $25 a person. With over two million members, that amounted to $50 million. Early speculation was that the LCMS Board of Directors would reject the offer, preferring to keep control of the synod in their hands. That rejection was expected to be met with a hostile takeover bid, with the ELCA offering $25 to each shareholder-member of the LCMS individually. Most church pundits speculated that Missouri’s shareholders would quickly jump at that offer, sensing their desire to get, as one anonymous Missourian said, “nothing for something.” Today’s decision, though, makes that reaction unnecessary.

Speculation about cutbacks in Missouri’s synodical officials were met with firm denial. Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, announced in a press release, “We will not eliminate any top-level bureaucratic positions. The strength of a church body is in the number of its officials ant the depth of their pockets. Only local clergy need to fear downsizing, which we prefer to call ‘accommodation.’”

Rumors about the new conglomerate’s name abound. Among the least popular suggestions is the Evangelical Lutheran Synodochurch in Amerimissouri. Something trendier like bigChurch might be catchier.