INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- A Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod representative told an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America assembly Monday that it is no longer considered ''an orthodox Lutheran church body.''
Secretary Raymond Hartwig said the Missouri Synod's July convention endorsed that view by a two-thirds vote after extended discussion. The Evangelical Lutheran assembly made no formal response.
The Missouri Synod opposes the Evangelical Lutherans' recent agreements for sharing ministers, sacraments and mission work with the Episcopal Church and four other denominations.
Despite its name, the Missouri Synod is a major national body with 2.6 million members. The Evangelical Lutherans number 5.1 million.
The Evangelical Lutheran assembly voted to become a ''partner in dialogue'' -- but not a full participant -- in an effort to negotiate a unity accord among nine U.S. Protestant denominations.
Churches Uniting in Christ is the group coordinating the unity effort.
That effort involves three denominations with which the Evangelical Lutherans have established unity agreements, the Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and United Church of Christ.
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