Someone just wrote and said that we make this stuff too complicated.   Let’s make this simple.  There is a discussion among us and probably always will be, where one side says that we as members of a church should not participate with other churches in doing anything.  If we do that they say we “water down” our confession and give the impression that there are no differences in what we believe about other things.  Yet the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has said that we can cooperate with other churches and even non Christian organizations in meeting human need without messing up our confession of the Gospel.

Here is an example –

The Pit at Ground Zero

9/11 Memorial

Our Board of World Relief and Human Care was invited to attend the memorial for 9/11 in 2008.  Why?  Because we were one of the first organization to “do something”.  We did not know what to do so we sent money to use “as needed”.  The money was sent to Lutheran Disaster Response of New York.  They showed their appreciation to us by allowing us to go down into the pit with the families and lay wreaths observe a moment of silence.  It was an incredible and touching event.  We sat up in an office building looking at the vast hole in the ground where the World Trade Center had once been and listened to the stories of that day from people who had been there.  Pastor Harrison wrote on his blog (from which I borrowed the pictures) “We were particularly moved to hear that the head fireman on duty at the station across from the towers when they went down was an LCMS man.  He lost his life that day while serving honorably in his vocation. It was also great to see the visitors’ center next to the “pit” which is a memorial to the victims. You can see the sign for the “Tribute Center” next to the fire department. LDR NY used some of our dollars to put the first 100,000 dollars on the table to open that space which has served the community, another admirable “cooperation in externals” project. As the church participates in such “cooperation in externals” projects, the doors are open the church and residents recognize the value of the church as a good citizen in the neighborhood.  And ears are also open to Christ and his gospel”.

The externals are things outside of worship and mission activity.  They usually involve the alleviation of human suffering.