Interfaith Conversation with Bishop Dean Nelson
The Rev. Dean Wesley Nelson was elected Bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Church in America (ELCA) in June, 2001. In June, 2007, Bishop Nelson was elected to a second term as Synod Bishop.
Bishop Nelson was born in Chicago, Illinois, and is a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota and Luther Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota. Ordained in 1970, he served as pastor of First Lutheran in Torrance, California for 6 years; Our Savior’s Lutheran in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for 12 years; Park View Lutheran in Chicago, Illinois for 9 years; and Faith American Lutheran in Enid, Oklahoma for 4 years.
Bishop Nelson served as chair of the Synod Outreach/Mission Partners and Dean of the South Bay Conference as well as Voting Member to the 1995 and 1999 Churchwide Assemblies.
Bishop Dean Nelson gave some historical information about Martin Luther and Reformation of the church which was initiated by Luther. Dean Nelson said Luther was excommunicated from the church of Rome because he rejected the practice of selling indulgences. He also pointed out how Ottomans postiviely affected the birth and expansion of Lutheran reformation. He said that the diversion of Turks who have attacked Vienna helped Lutheran church’s establishment by changing the direction of the possible opposition to the Reformation to themselves. He continued in his historical part of the speech by pointing out that how there was a misconnection and misunderstanding of Muslims which led Lutherans to call Muslims “Muhammedans”. He said people of the time interpreted Islam on the basis of Gospel which misled them to see Prophet Muhammet’s position in Islam inappropriately.
He said there are about 4 million baptized Lutherans who are under the Lutheran church. He said Lutheran church is not centralized as one church commands and leads others. However, he added there is a confederation of churches which helps churches to cooperate. He pointed that there is need for dialogue and the Lutheran Church dialogue ties are based on three different reasons. He pointed a Lutheran Bishop who, is an influential voice in Middle East and USA, actively is trying help establish bridges of understanding.
Since 1960 Dialogue with Lutherans and Jewish people is an ongoing process and Lutherans in Holy land, muslims in America and 911 made Lutherans go on to the road of dialog with Muslims.