Lutheran leader and ecumenist. Born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and raised in Rochester, New York, Fry graduated from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York (1921), and Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia (1925). He then undertook further study in Greece. He held pastorates in Yonkers, New York, and Akron, Ohio. His successive service to Lutherans at large tasks revealed his gifts. As president of the United Lutheran Church in America (1944–1962) and of the consolidated Lutheran Church in America (1962–1968), he linked confessional loyalty and ecumenical endeavor, emphasizing the oneness of Christ’s church. A founder of the Lutheran World Federation (1947), Fry was president from 1957 to 1963 and headed Lutheran World Relief from 1945 to 1968.
As vice chairperson of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, followed by two terms as chairperson (1948–1968 combined), he was fair, forthright and influential. In the National Council of Churches’ constitution (1950), Fry secured the inclusion of a Trinitarian “evangelical and representative principle” as a guide to membership and participation. Fry had rapport with the Eastern Orthodox as well as with the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. To many he was “Mr. Protestant.” With his family roots in the colonial era, Fry personified a fuller Lutheran participation in American religious life.
Bibliography. R. H. Fischer, ed., Franklin Clark Fry: A Palette for a Portrait, Lutheran Quarterly Supplement, vol. XXIV (1972); Mr. Protestant: An Informal Biography of Franklin Clark Fry (symposium) (1960).
E. T. Bachmann
Fuente: Dictionary of Christianity in America