Almost 3 years ago, I was a delegate to the 2004 LCMS convention in St. Louis.
I left with an overwhelming impression of anger among Missouri Synod Lutherans. I'm posting this not to criticize, but to try to get a feel for this, and to understand what's behind it. (I'd also like to corrected, if others don't have this impression).
The impression is a mental picture. Every morning, outside of my hotel at the convention, there were young people (mid teens, I'm guessing) passing out flyers for one of several groups in the synod. I was overwhelmed with how nastily these teens were treated. One doesn't have to agree with a particular side to be courteous to other Christians. One doesn't even have to take the handout. A polite, "No, thank you," works quite well. But the reactions to the handouts was sometimes venomous.
Where is this venom coming from?
I remember hearing the late Kenneth Korby say that the events of the 1960s and 1970s in the LCMS had made everyone mistrust each other, that lay members were suspicious of pastors, pastors of each other, and of synodical officials, and that the events had corrupted the walking together that had once characterized the synod.
I have no way of knowing about those times. I was a long way away from even becoming LCMS at that point. But I would be interested in hearing the thoughts of others about this. Surely the atmosphere around the synod has not always been this poisoned. I'd like to hear where it came from, and when.