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Lutherans/ELCA vs Methodist-Presbyterian-Episcopalian

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Question
There is no longer an ELCA church in my immediate area. Of the three (Methodist, Episcopalian and Presbyterian),  which is most similar to ELCA-Lutheran as an alternative?

Answer
Ryan,

Thanks for your question.  I apologize for my delay in responding.  Several demands in my congregation have kept me away from the office for the past several days.  

The degree of similarity between the denominations you mention will depend a great deal on what elements are most significant for you and what sort of ELCA congregation your background is in.  Because of the high degree of variety in the ELCA, its congregations range from liturgical to contemporary in worship, from quite strict to extremely liberal on morality, and from distinctively Lutheran to generically protestant in theology.  

Depending on the type of Methodist and Presbyterian denomination the congregations in your area may also exhibit similar variety.  If they are members of the Presbyterian Church - USA and the United Methodist Church (the largest denominations of these two types) then they are both in full communion agreements with the ELCA, as is the Episcopalian Church, and all likely are very similar theologically.  

I would begin your deliberation by considering what element you are seeking most.  If you come from a liturgically traditional ELCA congregation, and that is something you desire to continue in, the Episcopal Church may be the most comfortable to you.  If you are oriented toward charity or social justice, then the Methodists might best provide the most opportunities to work in such areas.  The Presbyterians may be more inclined toward Bible study than the others.  

However, these are just general trends, and because of the broad diversity of all the denominations in question, your best bet will be to visit the congregations and look in their literature or website for information regarding their beliefs.  Then you will know where in the diverse spectrum within those denominations the particular congregation stands and compare that to your expectations and priorities.

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Rev. Jason P. Peterson

Expertise

I welcome the opportunity to answer questions regarding the beliefs and practices Lutheran Christians, especially questions comparing Lutherans with other Christian denominations or questions which contrast between various kinds of Lutherans. I am especially familiar with the more conservative Lutheran denominations (LCMS, ELS, WELS, etc.). I also take a great interest in examining new Christian movements and popular trends in Christianity from a Lutheran perspective. In addition, I can answer most questions about the original Greek text of the New Testament and its meaning, as well as questions regarding liturgy, evangelism, and preaching. A special area of interest in my ministry is race track chaplaincy/ministry, and I would love to provide information and guidance for anyone interested in this area.

Experience

I have been a pastor in the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod for the past six years at St. John's Lutheran Church in Burt, IA. I currently serve as chairman of the Commission on Ministerial Growth & Support of the Missouri Synod's Iowa District West and as Track Chaplain at Algona Raceway in Algona, IA. I also write as a religion columnist for two local newspapers.

Organizations
Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Publications
Algona Upper Des Moines (newspaper) Bancroft Register (newspaper)

Education/Credentials
B.A. Concordia University - Ann Arbor, MI (Biblical Languages) M.Div. Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN (Exegetical Theology, Pastoral Ministry & Missions)

Past/Present Clients
Zion Lutheran Church (Columbia City, IN) Zion Lutheran Church (Altamont, IL) St. John's Lutheran Church (Burt, IA) Zion Lutheran Church (Lu Verne, IA) Algona Raceway (IA) Fairmont Raceway (MN) Hancock County Speedway (Britt, IA) Clay County Fairgrounds Raceway (Spencer, IA)

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