A New User Guide to the
Church of the Lutheran Confession
By Pastor Bruce Naumann
©2012 by the CLC Board of Education and Publications
501 Grover Road, Eau Claire, WI, 54701
First Published: September, 2012
A “synod” or denomination is a group of congregations that share the same beliefs and organizational structure. Our synod is the Church of the Lutheran Confession. The word “confession” is in the name because of our emphasis on “confessing” to the world only the true teachings of the Word of God. The CLC is dedicated to proclaiming the Good News of Christ crucified for sinners. It is made up of congregations throughout the United States and Canada, as well as affiliated churches in other countries. Our teachings and practices conform to the Scriptures (the Holy Bible), since we bow to the authority of God's inerrant and inspired Word. The salvation won for all people through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the driving force behind our efforts as a confessional Lutheran church.
All CLC member churches confess that the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God. They confess the creeds of the Lutheran Church without qualification, as they are found in the Book of Concord of 1580. Scripture itself is the source and foundation of Christian teaching and faith — while the Lutheran Confessions faithfully set forth what the Bible teaches. The name of our church body is a witness to what we believe; it is a continual reminder of our responsibility to be truly Lutheran, and therefore Scriptural in our teaching and in our practice. This principle holds true among us: “If it is not scriptural, it is not Lutheran!”
We have 77 member congregations in the CLC.
They are served by 65 active-duty pastors.
We have 7,624 total souls in the U.S. and Canada.
Our sister churches in foreign fields have more than 58,000 members.
We operate 16 Christian day schools in the U.S.
- We have two high schools; one is Immanuel in Mankato, MN; Immanuel Lutheran High School, College and Seminary is located in Eau Claire, WI.
MAP OF CLC CONGREGATIONS
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A SHORT HISTORY
From 1872 until about 1961 there were various conservative Lutheran synods that made up a larger federation, called the "Synodical Conference." Originally, this included the Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Synod, the Norwegian Synod, and the Slovak Synod. Organizationally, these synods remained separate from each other, but were in fellowship together, and thus were able to exchange pastors and teachers, and commune in one another's churches.
This fine arrangement for like-minded Lutherans was spoiled, however, because of unscriptural doctrine and practice that grew in the Missouri Synod throughout the 1940's and 50's. Among other things, the Missouri Synod abandoned Scriptural practices concerning lodges and Scouting, and at one point declared its agreement with the liberal American Lutheran Church. Over many years the Wisconsin Synod protested these departures from Scriptural doctrine and practice in the Missouri Synod, but things grew worse instead of better.
At its 1955 Convention, the Wisconsin Synod identified the Missouri Synod as a false-teaching church body. The right thing to do at this point would have been to withdraw from fellowship with Missouri, as well as from the Synodical Conference. This would have been in simple obedience to the instructions that God has given us in Romans 16:17 to "note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them." They repeatedly failed to do so, however. Many who were conscience-bound to remain true to the Scriptures founded the CLC in 1960.
Some assume that the CLC is still a separate church body because we felt that Wisconsin should have separated sooner than it did. In point of fact, it was not an issue of timing. Instead, the central issue was—and still is—a doctrinal difference about the reason why a separation must take place. When the WELS and ELS did sever their fellowship with the LCMS, the reason given was not the fact of false teaching within the LCMS, but because they had become convinced, in their own human judgment, that further admonition would not be productive. This was a new and unscriptural fellowship principle. (For more information on this and other issues that separate the CLC from other Lutherans, see www.clclutheran.org/shared/thoughtdocs/welsclc.htm)
For more than 50 years since that time, the CLC has been a separate Lutheran church body, maintaining its own churches, schools, and publications. While we do not remain separate for the sake of being separate, we are convinced that the joint exercise of our faith should be reserved for those who are agreed on all the teachings of the Bible.
“Our right of existence as a church body has been established by our Lord’s commission to ‘preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15). Therefore we are committed to say with the Apostle Paul: ‘I am determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified’ (1 Corinthians 2:2).’ From the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose
From the start of the CLC, the members realized that there would be no future for the church body without a college and seminary. This was first established at Immanuel Lutheran in Mankato, MN. The Mankato school soon outgrew the available facilities.
Property became available in Eau Claire, WI. By God’s grace, the 85 acres of the former Ingram estate, along with the existing buildings and furnishings, were sold to the CLC for $85,000. Immanuel Lutheran College was relocated to Eau Claire the very next school year. Immanuel-Mankato has continued its grade school and high school up to the present.
Since that time, Immanuel Lutheran College (ILC) has been improved with dormitories, a gymnasium, a commons and cafeteria, and most recently with our new Academic Center.
ILC has a faculty of 12 full-time professors, as well as a number of part-time teachers. As of the 2012-13 school year, ILC had 124 enrolled in the high school, 25 in the college, and 6 in the seminary.
ILC has been essential to our church body, having provided fully trained pastors and teachers for our pulpits and classrooms, as well as soundly educated church members, for more than 50 years.
HOW WE ARE ORGANIZED
Christ Jesus is the head of His Church. Therefore all matters of teaching, as well as all practices which are governed by Scripture, are decided by the Word of God.
In all other matters, the style of church governance is “congregational.” This means that congregations govern their own local affairs, including calling their own pastor(s) and teachers.
The CLC is divided into five area conferences: Great Lakes, Minnesota, Pacific Coast, Southeastern, and West Central. Each conference elects a “Visitor,” who serves as a pastor to the pastors and is available to help with disputes at a congregation’s request.
Each congregation may elect two delegates (along with pastors and male
teachers) to attend the CLC Convention which meets every even-numbered
At the CLC Convention, officers and board members are elected to conduct the synod’s work. The Convention is the final authority (in matters not bound by the Word of God) for all of our mutual business for God’s kingdom. The President is responsible for doctrinal supervision, among other things.
Between conventions, members of the various CLC boards attend to their various areas of service. Representatives from each board meet twice yearly as the “Coordinating Council,” along with the synod officers.
It is worth noting that the CLC provides salaries for only a few administrative positions. All of the CLC officers, as well as members of boards and committees, are unpaid for their synodical work. This is a labor of love for the Savior who bought us and has commissioned us to proclaim His Word.
CLC STRUCTURE CHART
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The CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose declares: It is our single purpose to be a Christian church which strives to proclaim the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible, by which alone man can know the true God and the way to eternal life." In order to carry out our Savior's Great Commission, the CLC has active stateside and overseas mission programs.
Currently, there are six congregations in the U.S. and Canada that receive a monthly synod subsidy. This financial subsidy decreases over time so that new missions can be added.
The CLC’s “Traveling Vacation Bible School” sends flier teams to promote VBS in CLC congregations, followed by teaching teams, to augment the VBS efforts of small CLC congregations.
We have sister church bodies in India, Africa, Nepal, Myanmar, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Kenya, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Additionally, we assist individual congregations and contacts in Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Sudan.
There are more than 58,000 members in our sister churches overseas, where more than 100 men are being trained for pastoral ministry, with hundreds more attending monthly pastoral seminars.
The CLC calls and supports two full-time overseas missionaries who are based in India. They also serve churches in other countries. Two U.S. pastors serve as visiting foreign missionaries to East Africa.
The main emphasis of our overseas mission efforts is on the training of local men for the pastoral ministry. We support seminaries in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, and two areas of India.
We also focus on providing Bibles and Luther’s Catechism in local languages.
For a number of years the CLC “Mission Helper Program” has taken groups of CLC members from the U.S. to teach and evangelize among our sister churches overseas. Such trips have served our fellow believers in India, Nepal, and in East Africa.
Through Project Kinship, CLC members provide monthly contributions to support overseas orphans (currently 48), along with support for 168 students, some of whom are AIDS orphans, at St. David School in Etago, Kenya. Sponsors also provide for the education of 78 seminary students. Numerous projects are also funded from Kinship general funds.
SUPPORTING THE CLC
The majority of the work of our church body is done through contributions to the CLC General Fund. Each year, congregations estimate their monetary contributions to the General Fund. This is called the “Cooperative Budget Plan,” or CBP. Each board sets its budget according to this plan. How these funds are used is shown in the diagram below.
The CLC also has four auxiliary funds, to which CLC members can contribute:
- The ILC Improvement Fund (IIF), which provides capital improvements to our campus at Immanuel, Eau Claire. Also in this category is the ILC Building Fund, which is currently repaying the loan for the ILC Academic Center;
- The Mission Development Fund (MDF), which funds special projects in our overseas and U.S. missions;
- The ILC Student Aid Fund (SAF), which provides loans, grants and scholarships to students attending Immanuel High School, College, and Seminary;
- The Church Extension Fund, which provides loans to CLC churches and institutions for building projects. (As of this writing, the CEF is not actively seeking donations.
There are also several endowment funds: The Student Aid Fund Endowment, the CLC Foundation, the ILC Scholarship Endowment, and the Public Ministry Preparation Endowment.
CLC members most often contribute to these funds through their local congregational offerings. Your offering envelope may have several of these funds listed, or you can write on your envelope to direct contributions to a particular fund. Contributions can also be mailed directly to: CLC Treasurer, 501 Grover Rd., Eau Claire, WI 54701.
The CLC publishes a monthly devotional magazine, the Lutheran Spokesman, featuring timely articles on Scriptural subjects, as well as announcements concerning synodical matters. You may subscribe ($18/yr) through your local congregation, or by writing to: Lutheran Spokesman, 2750 Oxford Street North, Roseville, MN 55113.
The Journal of Theology is a quarterly publication, featuring scholarly articles by CLC pastors and professors. Subscriptions are $18/yr by mail at: Journal of Theology, 2750 Oxford Street North, Roseville, MN 55113.
CLC Ministry by Mail is a weekly publication of the CLC which offers the Gospel of Christ through printed sermons. Subscriptions are free by email, or by regular mail ($42/yr). Contact Pastor Wayne Eichstadt at firstname.lastname@example.org. The mailing address is: 417 Woodhaven Lane, Mankato, MN 56001.
CLC LINKS and RESOURCES
Official online site of the CLC....................................www.clclutheran.org
Immanuel Lutheran College.................................................www.ilc.edu
“God’s Hand” Sunday school series.....www.clclutheran.org/godshand.htm
CLC Missions Online.........................................www.lutheranmissions.org
Statement of Faith and Purpose.........www.clclutheran.org/library/SFP.pdf
The CLC Book House.............................................www.clcbookhouse.org
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