Ithcus :LOL Ok, whew, I was wondering what I'd missed, LOL! Yes, I think being on this board and being conservative is a bit unusual.
I'm pretty conservative with my religious views, but much different from my church friends as far as discipline, food, environmental issues, etc. I started a thread about "Are you weird at church" awhile back.
And you're welcome for the welcome!
snailmama - YES! Do Lutherans ever sing, LOL! I think Ithcus would concur that's one of the things we're best at. (I say "we" b/c of my Lutheranness at heart, although I no longer attend). Mostly hymns (hundreds of years of hymns!) but I think most churches make a stab at doing some more contemporary stuff :LOL. We also have what you call a "liturgy," which are sung resposes in certain parts of the service, i.e., Glory To God, Lamb of God, and a lot of "Aaaaamen"'s.
It's a little disconcerting if you're not used to it, but everything's laid out for you in the bulletin (program). Personally I love the liturgy and that's one of the things I miss - everyone singing these responses together.
Ok - I'm going to give a synopsis of why I consider the synods conservative, liberal, etc. But please realize I'm coming from a mainly Missouri background, so I'm describing the others in relation to it...
LCMS - This is the "middle-of-the-road" synod, but still very conservative from a secular viewpoint, i.e., no women pastors, strong pro-life views, "closed" communion (meaning you must be a confirmed member of LCMS to take communion, although this is not always upheld, IME. My dh was not confirmed but was allowed to commune after talking with the pastor), liturgical, non-ecumenical (meaning, LCMS pastors can't preach at a ELCA or WELS church or a different denomination and do not usually join in in "community" services or what not - they would hold their own service). They do allow prayers etc. by pastors from a different denomination, women to hold high positions in the church, etc.
WELS - (Ithcus, correct me if I make a mistake!) More "conservative" from both Lutheran and secular viewpoints. They have much of the same ideas as LCMS, but they require "full agreement" (believe everything in the doctrine) in their services whereas LCMS only requires it in Communion and the preaching, i.e., a vocal soloist or person praying can be from the "outside," :LOL whereas in WELS they would need to be in agreement with WELS doctrine. The other "biggie" is the role of women in WELS - they are not allowed to be in a position of authority over a man, this often translates into not being able to read the scriptures from the lecturn (at front of church) in the service, not being able to be on the church board, not being able to vote on board issues, not being able to serve on certain committees, and even in everyday life not being in a position of authority over a man (i.e., president of a company). BTW - those examples are from the WELS website, b/c I went searching through it last night after Ithcus posted the link.
ELCA - the most "liberal." They have never made an official stand against abortion or homosexual pastors, so they are generally viewed as more supportive of these things. They are ecumenical, meaning they will participate at functions held be other churches (i.e., I went to a Lenten (before Easter) service that had Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, and ELCA Lutherans), and women can be pastors. They are still liturgical and have choirs, organ etc. They have "open-communion," meaning that if you are Christian of any denomination (or no denomination, for that matter) you can commune with them. I also think (NOT positive) that they don't not believe in the infallability of scripture (i.e., look at the Bible as more of a guideline for living rather than everything is exactly right, which is what WELS and LCMS believe).
OK - YIKES! I hope I didn't just confuse the issue.
snailmama, if you found out what synod your friend is, that would probably help us out (not in order to talk you out of it, by any means, but just to know a little more where she's coming from, since you can see there are many forms of "Lutheranism.")
All in all, there are a lot of denominations out there and I don't think any one denomination has a particular hold on the "right" way, LOL. We believe things according to our interpretation of scripture. Sure, my parents would love that I was attending a LCMS church, but they understand my reasons for not and choose to attend worship with us when they're in town.