A conservative Lutheran group has reprimanded a Newtown, Conn., pastor for participating in an interfaith vigil after the Sandy Hook massacre.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod said the Rev. Rob Morris of Christ the King Lutheran Church inadvertently gave the impression he condoned joint worship by offering the benediction at a Dec. 16 event with other religious leaders for the elementary-school shooting victims.
The church constitution bars clergy from praying with representatives from other religions, including some other Lutheran groups, for fear of giving the appearance that theological differences about salvation and other doctrines aren’t significant.
The vigil included Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Baha’i leaders. President Barack Obama and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy attended.
In a statement posted last Friday on a denominational blog, the Missouri Synod president, the Rev. Matthew Harrison, said the Rev. Mr. Morris took “specific and commendable” steps to avoid violating the church’s constitution: Mr. Morris requested an announcement before the event that participating clergy were not endorsing one anther’s views, and he read from Scripture.
However, the Rev. Mr. Harrison concluded that the event was joint worship since other clergy wore their vestments and the vigil included prayers and religious readings.
Mr. Morris does not believe he engaged in joint worship but has apologized, Mr. Harrison said.
“I accept his apology,” Mr. Harrison wrote, and made what he called an earnest request that no one file a complaint against Mr. Morris under the denomination’s disciplinary system.