Late last week the Secretary of the Synod mailed out to each congregation the official nominating ballot for the offices of President, First Vice-President, and Other Vice-Presidents. That official ballot is one of the most important pieces of mail your congregation will receive. Which names receive enough nominations to make the final slate of candidates, and how many nominations they receive–this is where your congregation can play an important role.
The envelope your congregation has just received from the Office of the Secretary will have in it three items: the official nominating ballot; a printout of the bylaw (3.12) covering Nominations and Elections; and an envelope for your congregation to return your completed ballot. Your congregation has until the March 10 deadline to make its nominations and return the completed ballot in the envelope.
The official ballot has three sections for nominations: for President, for First Vice-President, and for Other Vice-Presidents. Your congregation may nominate (one or) two ordained ministers for President, (one or) two ordained ministers for First Vice-President, and (up to) four ordained ministers for Other Vice-Presidents. You can nominate the same man for more than one office, but you can nominate that man only once in each category.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say your congregation wants to nominate a certain pastor–oh, let’s call him “C. F. W. Walther”–for Synod President, and another pastor, a “Friedrich Wyneken,” for First Vice-President. But you get to nominate two names for each office. You can’t nominate Walther twice for SP, and you can’t nominate Wyneken twice for 1VP. So here’s what your voters’ assembly decides to do. You nominate Walther and Wyneken for SP, and then you nominate them both again for 1VP. Those sections of the ballot would then be filled in as follows:
PRESIDENT 1. Nominee: C. F. W. Walther; City, State: St. Louis, Missouri
PRESIDENT 2. Nominee: Friedrich Wyneken; City, State: Baltimore, Maryland
FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT 1. Nominee: Friedrich Wyneken; City, State: Baltimore, Maryland
FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT 2. Nominee: C. F. W. Walther; City, State: St. Louis, Missouri
But really, the order of how you list them within each category, Walther-Wyneken or Wyneken-Walther, doesn’t matter. Either way, it counts the same toward that person’s total number of nominations for that office. (By the way, if you don’t know the city where an ordained minister lives, go to Directories, Church Workers, at lcms.org.)
After SP and 1VP, your congregation then may nominate four pastors (by “pastors,” I mean any ordained minister on the LCMS clergy roster; they could be sem profs, for example) for Other Vice-Presidents. You end up selecting these four:
1. Henry Schwan; Cleveland, Ohio
2. Francis Pieper; St. Louis, Missouri
3. Friedrich Pfotenhauer; Hamburg, Minnesota
4. Friedrich Wyneken; Baltimore, Maryland
Again, the order in which you list them within that category doesn’t matter. You’re not ranking them as to which VP slot they would get; you’re just trying to get them into the pool of names from which the convention will then pick four and rank them.
(A tip on nominating Vice-Presidents: It doesn’t make much sense to nominate a sitting District President for “Other Vice-President,” since it is almost certain he would decline such nomination. A man can only hold one elective office at a time, and he would not resign being a DP in order to become a 2-5 unpaid VP. A sitting DP may very well accept nomination for the full-time positions of SP or 1VP, but not for 2-5VP.)
Once your voters’ assembly has made their nominations, and the slots have been filled in, at the bottom of the ballot the date of the meeting is written in and your congregation chairman and congregation secretary sign their names. Then mail the ballot back in the envelope provided (adding postage).
The five names that receive the most nominations for Synod President will be on the ballot in July in Houston. Likewise with the five names that receive the most nominations for First Vice-President. The top twenty names for Other Vice-President will comprise the pool for Vice-Presidents Two through Five.
The number of nominations a candidate receives not only gets that name on the final ballot, it can also “send a message.” A large number of nominations can help a candidate going into the convention. So if you have a particular candidate you’d like to see elected, don’t just assume, “Well, he’ll have enough nominations to make the ballot anyway.” He may, but the more nominations the better. If you think your congregation would be willing to nominate “your guy,” then suggest that synodical nominations be included in a voters’ assembly agenda between now and early March. Many congregations don’t even bother to submit nominations unless someone suggests it.
Nominating good candidates for Synod President and Vice-Presidents is one of the most important things your congregation can do to affect what happens at the convention in July–and thus to affect the future direction of our synod. Make use of the nominating ballot!