KIRKWOOD, Mo. (AP) -- Gerald Kieschnick has been installed as the 12th president in the 154-year history of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Kieschnick, 58, was elected in July to succeed Alvin Barry, who died in March from complications from leukemia. Kieschnick served for 10 years as president of the church's Texas district.
The installation ceremony was held Sept. 1 at the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus on the grounds of Concordia Seminary in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton.
In his installation speech, Kieschnick called on Lutherans to revitalize the denomination. He noted the drop in the number of clergy, and the decline in membership and Sunday school enrollment in many congregations.
The Missouri Synod is the ninth-largest Protestant denomination in America, with 2.6 million members.
''The reality is that the LCMS is not, at the present moment, on the top of the heap when it comes to church bodies that demonstrate vibrancy and significant impact on the worldwide Christian scene,'' he said.
He also urged Lutherans to reach out to people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, while working to resolve doctrinal differences within the denomination in a collegial manner.
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