The president of a conservative Lutheran denomination has apologized for reprimanding a Newtown, Conn., pastor who participated in an interfaith prayer vigil in apparent violation of the church’s constitution.
The Rev. Rob Morris of Christ the King Lutheran Church offered the benediction at the Dec. 16 vigil with other religious leaders — including Jewish, Muslim and Baha’i — for victims of the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod president Matthew Harrison subsequently reprimanded Morris, saying the synod constitution bars joint worship for fear of giving the appearance that theological differences about salvation and other doctrines are not significant.
On Monday, Harrison posted a video apology on the synod website, saying his actions had only made things worse.
“I exacerbated the problem,” a somber Harrison said. “I caused greater offense. I caused trouble for Pastor Morris and difficulty for the congregation and offense there in the midst of their suffering. Please forgive me.”
Morris said in an email Tuesday that all parties have reconciled.
He said the topic of interfaith participation “is a legitimate discussion of Christian ministry and there is a proper time and place for it. What breaks my heart is that this legitimate doctrinal discussion has now become yet another hurtful burden on my congregation and community.”
The synod, with 2.3 million members, is separate from the larger, liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, based in Chicago.