Religion: Thunderous Majorities for Union

Meeting separately, four U.S. churches move closer together

Lutherans in the U.S. have struggled for much of the 20th century to overcome divisions inside their ranks. Personality conflicts and doctrinal quarrels have divided the churches, which were made up mostly of German and Scandinavian immigrants and hence were also split by language and geography. But painstaking diplomacy, conducted among as many as 18 denominations that existed a century ago, produced by 1963 a melding into two giant branches: the American Lutheran Church (A.L.C.), a power in the Midwest; and the Lutheran Church in America (L.C.A.), with substantial membership in the Northeast.

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