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People have always found different ways of relating to the Earth around them. That’s why, around the world, there are hundreds of religions. However, even within these religions, different denominations are formed, such as Catholicism and Lutheranism. And within those denominations, still more variations arise. One such subgroup is the Lutheran Congregations in Missions for Christ, or LCMC, formed in the hope of acknowledging differences while still uniting all their congregations by adherence to the Old and New Testaments and the Lutheran Confessions.

They started back in 1999, when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted the Call to Common Mission. After two years of organizing, the group of 46 congregations finally held their first national convention in 2001 in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Then, three years later, on this date, the LCMC held their 4th annual convention at Atonement Lutheran Church in Fargo. By then they had grown to include 105 congregations in 26 states, 3 congregations in Mexico and 14 in Vietnam. At this convention, the Reverend Gene Appel talked to 300 attendees about guiding change in a church without totally dismantling it. He emphasized that congregations may not be able to please everyone, but that pastors should embrace their unique approaches to leading worship.

Appel’s message must have been strong, for LCMC continued to grow for years after. They held another convention in Fargo in 2009 that had over 700 attendants. By this point, 238 Lutheran congregations had signed on. The convention’s theme was, “The Invitation: Receive, Return, Rejoice,” and it focused on how to welcome new people to the organization. It must have been a success, for today, the LCMC has grown to include over 900 congregations around the world and has over 300,000 members. Perhaps they will be even larger the next time they gather in North Dakota.

Dakota Datebook written by Lucid Thomas