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Historical Markings

Where Have We Been?

Where Are We Going?

” . . . In the search for mutual encouragement and edification, a meeting was called by a congregation in Lyons, Nebraska in October 1957. This meeting was attended by seven pastors, one teacher, and a number of laymen. It was commonly recognized that a great deal of confusion had been introduced into the doctrine of fellowship during the previous twenty years. A re-study and re-thinking of this doctrine was imperative. This small group decided to start an intensive study of the doctrine of fellowship. All who were interested in contributing to this study were invited to participate freely. Pastor Winfred Schaller was chosen as the scribe.

” . . . The Cheyenne meeting was held in May 1958 as a sequel to the Lyons and Mankato meetings. The first draft of the essay on church fellowship was thoroughly reviewed and examined in the light of Scripture. Certain changes were proposed and received by the essayist. After more polishing, the document on fellowship was again read and then accepted as to its essence at the Spokane Conference in August 1958. From that time until its adoption at Mankato in January 1960, the statement on fellowship was reviewed again and again. We wanted to present this doctrine to the glory of God . . . .

“There were other doctrines in controversy in the Synodical Conference after the turn of the century, especially the doctrines of Church, Ministry, and the Authority of the Keys. We wanted to express ourselves as clearly as possible on these doctrines. An essay limited to the controversy in the Synodical Conference was assigned at the 1958 Cheyenne Conference to Pastor Gervasius Fischer with Pastor Leonard Bernthal as the alternate. Because of the failing health of Pastor Fischer, the assignment fell to Pastor Leonard Bernthal. The essay on the doctrine of the Church was first delivered at Spokane in 1958, and the essays on the Ministry and the Authority of the Keys at subsequent conferences. The essays were ‘accepted’ at the Watertown convention in 1960.

“The formal propositions on these doctrines were drawn up by Professor Edmund Reim, edited by Professor Egbert Schaller, and adopted in convention in 1960. These essays as well as the formal propositions were a fruit of faith, and we dedicate them to the glory of our God of grace.”

–From ‘TEN YEARS OF GRACE’ (Pastor M. J. Witt, 1970)