2024 AFLC Annual Conference

On June 12-15 I attended the Annual Conference for our Association of Free Lutheran Congregations on the campus of the Free Lutheran Bible College and Seminary in Plymouth, MN. The whole family went. It was the first time all five of us have gone. We also went a day early so we could watch the Twins beat the Rockies in a 17-9 slugfest.

As usual, it was a good conference. It is always enjoyable to reconnect with old friends and meet a few new ones. The business was good too. I’ll give you my summary of what happened. I also encourage you to watch for the official conference report, which will be available at aflc.org. You can also find the pre-conference booklet, which includes all of the reports and financials.

Pastor Lloyd Quanbeck was elected as vice president of the AFLC. Pastor Brett Boe was reelected as secretary. Both offices are one-year terms. Pastor Micah Hjermstad was elected to a three-year term as president in 2022.

We heard reports from all the departments of the AFLC. A few noteworthy items: AFLC Home Missions is supporting new church plants in Ankeny, IA; Fargo, ND; and Bismarck, ND. The Nate Jore family and the Brent Raan family are both leaving the mission field in Uganda. Pastor Jore will be working state-side with the International Orality Institute. The Raans are unsure where they will go, but another mission field seems likely. The Free Lutheran Bible College will begin offering a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible and Ministry. It’s not a change from the two-year Bible college vision of the school. But since many students come with college credits in hand, it does not take much more to give an opportunity for those students to obtain a four-year degree. They will be adding classes such as English composition, Philosophy, and a history general. Math and science classes will still need to be completed elsewhere. Parish Education recently released two new noteworthy books. From Freedom to Life is a history of the AFLC, written by Pastor Robert Lee. Jesus A-Z is an illustrated children’s book by Leslie Hall. I picked up copies of both for the church library. Check them out.

One of the highlights of the conference was a short organ concert in the schools chapel by Marian Christopherson. The schools upgraded their pipe organ about ten or fifteen years ago. It is a grand machine. We have a nice electronic organ at Trinity, and we have been blessed with wonderful musicians. But the sound of a real pipe organ cannot be rivaled. And Marian plays it masterfully. It is a grand and powerful sound. If you ever get a chance to hear her play it, you need to take it. Another highlight was a lecture from President Hjermstad. I missed it, since it overlapped with the Schools Corporation meeting, but I heard it was very good, and the transcript will be in the official report.

There were three resolutions that garnered some discussion. One was a resolution allowing the president’s office to solicit pastoral salary date from congregations and pastors. No one will be required to submit data (that’s not the way the AFLC works), but it will allow the president to give churches that are seeking pastors some information about salaries in their area. Another resolution was for the Coordinating Committee to authorize a biblical study on divorce and remarriage, particularly as it applies to the clergy roster. This is something that many were asking for as far back as the 1960s, but no such study has ever been done in the AFLC. The Coordinating Committee has simply been following a policy they set in the 1980s to not permit on the roster any pastor who is divorced or is married to a divorced woman. A third resolution was to change the terms of the Colloquy Committee to five years instead of one. The Colloquy Committee consists of five pastors who interview candidates for the clergy roster and make recommendations to the Coordinating Committee. Currently, all five positions are elected annually to one-year terms. This resolution will change them to five year terms, with one position elected each year. All three resolutions passed.

Next year’s conference will be June 11-14 at the Association Retreat Center, Osceola, WI. I highly encourage any of you to attend. Every AFLC member (18 and older) has full voting privileges at the conference. The business is important, but it’s not all business. There are evening worship services, lectures from seminary professors and others, and elective sessions where you can learn more about specific departments of the AFLC. There is also plenty of opportunity to meet and visit with other AFLC Christians. There is a nursery for infants and toddlers, Vacation Bible School for preschool and elementary age kids, and youth events for teenagers. I hope some of you can join us there.

The peace of Christ be with you all,

Pastor Dan Antal