Notes on trust

I have been so busy talking with folks and watching the events on the floor that I have failed to keep you all updated. I did have some overall observations, some of which repeat what you might have read here already.

— BJS is read by a lot of people from all across the Synod. I can’t tell you how many people wished to discuss with me things that they had read here.

— I have been calling this the “Issues, Etc.” revolution. You are seeing that the folks who are being elected are the folks you might hear on Issues, Etc. Or maybe they even work for Issues, Etc. (Jeff Schwarz, producer, was just elected to the CTCR board). And, of course, it was the cancellation of Issues, Etc. two years ago — and the unceremonious firing of Schwarz and Todd Wilken during Holy Week — that made a whole generation of Lutherans realize that control of Synodical boards and offices actually DID have an impact at the local level. So again: This is an Issues, Etc. revolution.

— I have spoken with people from Kenya and Russia who are here at the convention. They report that the news of President Matt Harrison’s election was met with much rejoicing back home.

— That mood is definitely in play here, too. While there are obviously delegates who did not vote for Pastor Harrison, his election has changed the mood of the convention considerably. Last night Memorial Lutheran Church hosted a fundraiser for the two seminaries. Folks from across the church came to support these seminaries and the mood was electrifying. The folks who run the seminaries seem to feel that they’ve been given a new lease. They know the incoming president wants more support for the seminaries and he says that they are key to our church’s future.

— At this fundraiser, President Harrison praised the seminaries, discussed their importance, talked about how we can be doctrinally sound while also flexible in how we approach the challenges we face (for instance, bringing in seminarians from around the world to train them and send them back home to build vibrant churches). He admonished us all to be kind to each other, no matter our differences. And then we drank beer.

— For the last couple of days, the delegates here have been talking about how excited they are to have been participants in a “historic” convention. They definitely think that the election of Rev. Matthew Harrison has a deeper significance about the direction of Synod. Confessional Lutherans are hopeful about what can be achieved.

— On that note, you’re seeing a great deal of trust between the delegates and new administration. So, for instance, a vote to work with the ELCA on externals might have failed if the election had gone differently. When the new SP and 1st VP say that they share the assembly’s concerns but support continued work (to give very short shrift to their actual comments and the debate), the vote passes with near unanimity.

— Trust is the name of the game, here. With a new structure that further distances congregations from the work of the Synod, there is worry that the financial situation will further deteriorate. It is important that congregations support the Synod and work toward greater strength for Lutheranism here and throughout the world.


Notes on trust — 49 Comments

  1. Mollie,

    You nailed it! And as much as this is the “Issues, Etc. Revolution,” its also the “Mollie Hemingway Revolution.” Your work was instrumental in telling the world about how things really are in the LCMS and creating the conditions for positive change. We know you were attacked personally during those days as you used the power of your vocation to hold our leaders accountable.

  2. Great post Mollie! Thanks for all the hard work & thanks for the updates at Issues.
    Hearing from missions abroad, that are thrilled w/President Harrison’s election, is thrilling.
    Thanks bunches!

  3. Mollie,
    Where can I read more about the new SP and 1st VP’s remark that they “support continued work” with ELCA?
    Does anyone know why they don’t want to dissociate from LWR? It’s board has a female seminarian from Union Theological, NY, for heaven’s sake.

  4. Now it is time to have a serious debate about PLI, TCN, and alternate routes to the ministry and their use. We also need to revisit a number of items that were passed at the 2004 Synod Convention that many tried to repeal at the 2007 convention but were not allowed to come to the floor. Time to dust those off and resubmit them for the 2013 Convention.

  5. I really appreciated what you had to say Molly. Thank you for giving us a flavor of the mood and little snippets of what is happening. Even though many of us are not physically present, you are all in our thoughts and prayers.

  6. @Eric #6

    Is there any talk of moving to reconsider the reorganization of the synod?

    Eric, I don’t think we have the votes to do that. I think we take what we got, and let Matthew lead the synod from this point.
    Blessings Matt

  7. Hi everyone,
    re: #4
    Just to clarify. LCMS is not in fellowship with ELCA. However, because of our Two Kingdom theology, we have a very right understanding of, as Pastor Harrison rightly puts it, cooperation of externals. IOW, we don’t have to be in fellowship to love our neighbor together with other people. E.g., we are free to work with pagans, generic Christians, whoever, to do good for the community, such as work with right to life issues, or food pantry, HIV/AIDS, etc.

    We are free to join in with anyone who wishes to serve in the kingdom of the left, i.e. things that bring good things and order to people.

    It seems to me, Two Kingdom theology is the backbone of how LCMS WR/HC under Pastor Harrison’s leadership did such a great job of showing mercy via the LCMS and maintaining a clear and faithful confession of the Lutheran faith.

    IMHO, the key to our work with LWR is the wisdom of Two Kingdom theology. We can confess the Faith and say what we will and will not participate in b/c of theological unionism or syncretism.

    Rev. Nunes understands LCMS theology and does want to work together where and when appropriate. He isn’t like what we’ve experienced with various “social ministry” personnel from the past, wherein there was an attitude of forcing LCMS to do things it shouldn’t, or, look down their nose at us for confessing our theology. This is why I think there is a possibility to work with LWR in various ways without compromising our theology.

    In the end, personnel is policy. Harrison and Nunes know how to work together and get things done in their respective areas respectfully.

    Just my 2 cents.


  8. Molly,

    You’re post is excellent. You are right. It is the Issues Etc. revolution. I continue to be amazed how Issues, along with Higher Things has instilled a genuine fervor for sound, solid doctrine grounded in Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

    Often, socioal scientists and others get perplexed at the direction people in their thirties and younger are going. And, indeed, in many sectors, there is cause for concern.

    Yet, this generation of Lutherans is craving and responding to the solidity of the faith “once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) In Pr. Harrison, we have elected someone who boldly confesses that faith in a very real and credible manner. My prayer for our beloved synod is that it can find as one the same fervor for Luther, for the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions which Pr. Harrison demonstrates. At the same time, I pray that as a synod, the Lord will open more opportunities for us to show His compassion to broken and down-trodden millions worldwide.

  9. Mollie, I was thinking along those lines myself. It is stunning and produces a sense of hope to see the near sweep of confessional candidates elected. Yes, your reporting certainly helped bring to light the direction the past leaders where taking the synod.

    Keep up the good work!

  10. If this convention is able to continue this stunning confessional sweep it may go down in history like the New Orleans convention in 1973. The 1973 convention set the course for the battle for the Bible. If the New Orleans convention had not taken the action they did we would be like the ELCA today.
    Remember we are in the Church Militant and not the Church Triumphant and there will always be more attacks on the truth of the Word of God. We must not set back and take life easy and let the new leadership stand alone. We must be in the Word and ready for the next battle.

  11. Michael M #15,
    Satan knew that long before Teusday. It was won by Christ, not by any hand in Houston.

  12. Growing up General Baptist I always thought denominations were boring. Given the battle for the Bible and our recent convention not so with the LCMS.

    I appreciate the updates Molly!

    God’s peace. †

  13. Issues,etc folks = the real sleeping giant.

    thanks Pres K, for waking this giant!

  14. Thanks Mollie for all your hard work. We met when we were protesting at the International Center on the cold day. I gave you my gloves. (I have extra so don’t worry about getting them back to me. Ha.) Anyway, I have followed you closely ever since and am so happy God is using you and your talents for the cause of right. Bless you and the family.

  15. I agree with Mollie about the “Issues Etc revolution.” Getting Rev Harrison elected by 9% margin, probably 80% of the United List elected, including Jeff Schwarz onto the CTCR, most of the BRTF resolutions scaled back, tabled or defeated, what more could we supporters of BJS possibly have hoped for? Sure, 8-08A went through, but the people who proposed it won’t be around to implement it. I voted against it for a number of reasons, but especially because there was no specific plan for implementation. Now Rev. Harrison and his team will get to implement this. Maybe they can restructure it with the proper checks and balances we wanted. So a confessional, orthodox Lutheran voting lay delegate, my only regret about the convention so far is that I haven’t met Mollie!

    So this leads me to a point I hope other voting delegates may consider. Late today a delegate tried to pull Overture 2-20 “To Support the Ministry of Issues, Etc.” out of the the Omnibus resolution. On Tuesday morning, I would have strongly supported this action. On Friday evening, considering how things have unfolded since as noted above, I think this is now unnecessary and in fact wold be counterproductive. As I understood it, IE got the first interview with the President Elect. We’re not outside looking in any more. We no longer need 2-20. It’s now time to let the Holy Week 2008 episode go. The battle is over. The delegates have spoken and they agreed with us. So if that delegate who wanted to make that motion reads this, I ask you to please reconsider. Let’s end the convention graciously. Please let this go. Thank you for your consideration.

  16. Mollie,

    You did not even interview me! 🙂 Give your Dad a big hug and be sure and kiss him on his bald head when you see him. It was great to finally get to see you. While the rest of the district seems to be out “seeing the town” I am in the room for a movie and some sleep. It will be a long drive home on Sunday, but a very joyous one.


    Pastor Me 🙂

  17. @Matt #8

    I’m probably over stating things, but perhaps this reorganization thing is a Rom 8:28 situation.

    I sure they will use the unexpected power well. Then, perhaps, at the next convention, that power can be taken away again and returned to where it should be held. Hopefully, that will be one of the goals over the next few years…figuring out how to make that happen.

  18. I’ll second what Rev. Harrison said on Tuesday about being proud of the delegates of this convention. Well done.

  19. This may be slightly off-topic, but since there aren’t any ways to START topics on this blog, and since it is slightly related to some of the posts here, I’d like to ask:

    1) How many congregations (represented here as BJS Readers) have stopped sending in ANY offerings to district/synod as a “protest” against the Kieschnick direction for the LCMS?

    2) With all of the hoopla about Rev. Harrison being elected, will your congregations start to send generous offerings to the synod through the district — or to the synod directly?

    3) What will happen if pro-Kieschnick congregations start to withhold all their offerings to district and synod as a protest against Rev. Harrison’s direction for the LCMS?

    Caveat: I have used Pres Kieschnick’s name here as a sort of shortcut for everything which the common BJS Reader thinks is wrong with the LCMS: Church Growth, Contemporary Worship, Disconnect of Doctrine from Practice, Adopting Reformed Culture, and Questionable Administrative Spending Practices. I suppose that isn’t entirely fair to Pres. Kieschnick to heap all of that on his name and I apologize. Perhaps someone can give me a better “shorthand” term to use. Thank you.

  20. Rev. Wilken –

    Just that it seemed unnecessary. In addition to all that I mentioned above, Overture 2-17 had been added to Omnibus Resolution D already which thanked IE, in Sunday’s Today’s Business. Trying to add the similar 2-20 seemed the equivalent of a touchdown dance in the endzone or piling on.

    The Pirate Lutherans have taken control of the ship. We’re no longer the pirates, but the captain and crew.

    I fully support all that you do and hope to see IE as an RSO or back officially in the LCMS if you wish soon.

  21. @Terrence #25
    The congregations of the readers you are referring to are still sending offerings to LCMS agencies like the Seminaries, Lutheran relief efforts, missionaries etc., but many have tried to bypass the middle man of Synod, Inc.. I think that the LCMS will become stronger if Synod, Inc. becomes weaker. I am sure the administrative and support staff at the International Center and LCEF Building do much good work. They are working behind the scenes, so I have to admit that I am not sure what they do. I do see pastors, and missionaries and relief efforts, so I am more likely to desire that church resources be given as directly to these efforts as possible.

    If more congregations decide to withhold their gifts from Synod, Inc., Synod, Inc. will keep shrinking. While I do not like to see anybody lose their jobs in the short term, I do think the shrinking of Synod, Inc. is a good thing in the long run.

  22. God bless President-Elect Harrison. He’s got a lot of work to do, but he is the man for “such a time as this.”

    On the van to the airport was another delegate. He told me he didn’t know how to vote until two weeks ago. JF Delegate letter #9 slamming Pr. Harrison and WR-HC cinched it for him. He was appalled as well that Pres. K did not come out and defend WR-HC. I suspect that letter flipped more than one delegate.

    The opening worship service as well turned people off. It was loud, with a lot of electronic music and swirling strobe-light effects. A delegate I met at the regional gathering saw me on Monday and told me she wasn’t sure how to vote and then asked what I thought of the service as she was turned off by it. I spoke to her, gave her some stuff to read and by Tuesday morning she was voting for Harrison.

    I do give Pres. K a lot of credit though. It is not easy to preside over the election where you are voted out of office and then immediately move on with the orders of the day. That had to be very difficult.

  23. The convention is over. The theme of this convention was forgiveness. I guess we need to really look into that. A lot of things were said and done in the months leading up that were not too God honoring and beneath us as Lutherans. I know my faults in this. If part of being a delegate is to help you to see and think differently, then that was accomplished for me. I have learned much…to see things further than just the small, struggling parish I am blessed to be part of. My parish and myself have been fighting against our DP for many years. I met with him the past few days and told him as for myself, I will try to do better. I want to do better with the help of God. I am happy with the change in president, but at the moment the results came, I was keenly aware of how terrible it is to vote out a sitting president. Sweet and sour to be sure. So, back to the theme. We really need to find a way to forgive. We are, after all, Lutherans of the Missouri Synod. We must do better.

  24. Rev. Wilken,

    I don’t know the story of what led 2-17 to be taken out of the declined resolutions of FC2 (Res. 2-06), and added back into Omnibus Resolution D, revised (page 352 of Sunday’s Today’s Business: Ov. 2-17 To Give Thanks for the Dedication of Issues Etc.).

    From the original volume of Today’s Business p.61, the reason for 2-17 being declined was “BCS in its April 2008 meeting commended Issues, Etc. for its work.” The other overtures regarding IE seemed to be related to current version of IE, which were therefore declined on the basis of “Issues Etc. is not an RSO.” So maybe FC2 was trying to thread the needle of thanking the KFUO-AM version of IE when it WAS an official LCMS program, but not “supporting” the current version of IE which is not.

    The revised Omnibus Resolution D including 2-17 was approved this morning 877-31. I don’t know what you get for being thanked in Omnibus D. Maybe you’ll have a certificate coming in the mail soon to hang on the wall. Anyway, this delegate was happy to cast a vote of thanks for IE this morning.

  25. I didn’t originally realize that the IE thanks that was approved was (apparently) for the KFUO-AM version and perhaps not the current version, but I think that was a distinction lost on the delegates and probably will be lost on anyone who reads Omnibus D. Anyway, I have a lot of thanks to offer God tomorrow morning regarding events at the convention this week. Glad to be home, however.

  26. STV,

    So the convention delegates gave thanks for the KFUO-AM archives?

    We’ve fought the past LCMS BoD and the current management of KFUO-AM to take the Issues, Etc. archives OFF the KFUO-AM website. They told us to screw off in no uncertain terms.

    Now they get thanked. Nice.


  27. Todd et al: Here is the original resolution. It sure doesn’t read to me to be the KFUO-AM archives: This is overture 2-17 from the convention workbook.

    To Give Thanks for the Dedication of Issues, Etc. Personnel

    Whereas, The work of the Gospel and the salvation of the lost is to be the priority of all members of the LCMS and of all who hold dear the Christian faith; and

    Whereas, Many who have come to the knowledge of salvation have attributed the proclamation of the Gospel by Pastor Todd Wilken through Issues, Etc. as the witness through which the Holy Spirit brought them to faith in Christ Jesus; and

    Whereas, The salvation of even one lost soul, as in the parable of the lost sheep, causes our Lord and all the hosts of heaven to rejoice; therefore be it

    Resolved, That the LCMS Minnesota South District in convention rejoice in the saving work of the Gospel which our Lord has done through Pastor Wilken and Issues, Etc.; and be it further

    Resolved, That the district in convention give thanks to God for the efforts of Pastor Wilken and Mr. Jeff Schwarz to seek and save the lost through the broadcasts of Issues, Etc. and encourage its congregations to listen to Issues, Etc. online at; and be it finally

    Resolved, That the LCMS Minnesota South District memorialize the Synod in her 2010 convention to give thanks to God for the efforts of Pastor Wilken and Mr. Schwarz to seek and save the lost through the broadcasts of Issues, Etc.

    Minnesota South District

  28. STV,

    You wrote, “I don’t know what you get for being thanked in Omnibus D. Maybe you’ll have a certificate coming in the mail soon to hang on the wall.

    Actually, all I want is the truth, finally.


  29. The single line in the Omnibus Resolution D mentioning Overture 2-17 and the word “Thanks” over in the second collumn is probably all you’ll get.

    In the same Omnibus it has “Commend” next to Higher Things. That’s really cool.

  30. Thanks for posting the overture, Norm, that refreshed my memory. While at the convention I thought Ov. 2-17 was commending IE and Rev. Wilken and Jeff Schwartz for their ministry in general and not just their past work at KFUO. In my post at #32 late last night I was trying to come up with some logical reason why Floor Committee 2 added Ov 2-17 to the Omnibus D but not the other similar resolutions like 2-20 that the delegate had raised based on what appeared in volumes of Today’s Business. Presumably only one was necessary, but why this one was picked and not another, I don’t know. It appears that my theory above is incorrect.

    From the timing of the change of Omnibus D, it appears that comments may have been made at the FC2 open hearings on Saturday (July 10) that persuaded FC2 to add 2-17 to Omnibus D in Sunday’s Today’s Business but still leave the others as declined in Res 2-06 on the basis that “IE is not an RSO.” So it would be interesting to know what happened in FC2 open hearings Saturday that led to the change. Perhaps FC2 can be asked that question, and thanked for including at least 2-17 in Omnibus D.

    I too would like the answer to Rev. Wilken at #35. At the convention, Treasurer Tom Kuchta was explicit at two points that KFUO-FM was sold because LCMS Inc. needed the cash THIS fiscal year (and I think he said KFUO-FM was determined to be the salable asset that had the least Gospel outreach, which has been one of Rev. Wilken’s main points all along). So perhaps the answers about the the finances of KFUO-AM will also come out in due course.

    My original comment on this point was that with the convention in a testy mood on Thursday but with everything at that point generally going the way BJS had hoped, I did not think that was a helpful time to open a debate on the floor on IE by trying to add another commendation to IE on the floor. This was just the opinion of one delegate not knowing how to contact the delegate in question and make a private request. If my public posting was unhelpful, I apologize to the delegate and Rev. Wilken. I hope though that it has been helpful though that this exchange has led to the recognition that “Synod in convention” formally encourages congregations to listen to online! Maybe Norm can post Ov 2-17 on the home page for all to see.

  31. STV,

    While we (pastor and congregation) never preferred Gerald Kieschnick for Synodical President (2001,2004,2007,2010), we also never stopped supporting the synod with a percentage of our offerings. It certainly is possible that our offering to Synod may go down under Matt Harrison’s administration since there will no longer be LCMS World Relief/Human Care to support.


  32. @Dan #39

    True that there is no longer an organization named LCMS World Relief/Human Care, however, the function of that organization will continue under the two new boards. How? I don’t know, but we were assured at the Convention that the functions will continue.


  33. Regarding 2-17 vs. 2-20: On Saturday morning as Omnibus Resolution D was being debated, someone at the podium–perhaps the chairman of FC2, but I’m not certain since many Floor Committees were represented at the podium in that discussion–gave the reason why 2-20 was not included in the resolution.

    Apparently there is some rule that prohibits the Floor Committees from bringing forward resolutions which encourage financial support for non-RSO’s. Because 2-20, if approved, could be taken as an encouragement to congregations to support IE financially it was not included. 2-17 gave thanks for IE, specifically naming Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz, encouraged people to listen to the program, but didn’t say anything about “support”. Because of this it didn’t run afoul of the rule.

    This was explained to the delegate who had offered the amendment to place 2-20 in Resolution D. In the discussion someone pointed out that 2-17 had already been included. The maker of the amendment then withdrew his amendment, satisfied that IE was thanked. (There was no reading of the resolutions at that point. The delegates were simply working from the titles: Overture 2-17 – To Give Thanks for the Dedication of Issues, Etc. Personnel and Overture 2-20 – To Support the Ministry of Issues, Etc.)

  34. Thanks, Rev. Wilken. Thanks John also for the clarification, I’d not picked up on the significance of the term “support”, the discussion actually went pretty quickly (though I still wonder what prompted 2-17 being added back on Sunday). Dan, I’m not sure what of my comments prompted yours.

  35. @Stv #37

    > So perhaps the answers about the the finances of KFUO-AM will also come out in due course.

    What I don’t understand is, if the FM was bleeding funds off from the AM, why the AM-only staff were against selling the FM.

  36. mbw,

    Simple: the AM management bought into the myth that the FM supported the AM, and that the AM couldn’t survive without the FM.

    Ironically, had AM management fought to make the AM station the top priority, the FM station might not have needed to be sold.


  37. @mbw #45
    The way I’d propose putting this would be that the ministry of the Lutheran church should have had top priority in both stations.

    AMEN to that.
    Now we are in the awkward position of self-financing a ministry which will work against confessional Lutheranism! 🙁

  38. @helen #46

    Dear Helen,
    You know a lot more than I do, but the radio station just does what it’s told, and (I would add) tries to ensure its survival no matter who wins. Issues Etc. was indirectly opposing misguided synodical efforts (on doctrinal grounds). Without a top-down desire to get rid of Issues, I don’t see how it could have happened otherwise. It might be less disturbing to put the reponsibility for what happened lower down, but that doesn’t work for me. I will try to make this the last thing I say about radio stations on this thread.

  39. Stv :
    … I still wonder what prompted 2-17 being added back on Sunday…

    From what I understand, the floor committee received A LOT of feedback regarding these overtures. One of the members of FC 2 was a delegate from my district. I bent his ear for quite a while about the inconsistency of declining even giving thanks for Issues, Etc. while advocating financial support for the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (which also is not an RSO). At our first delegate breakfast, this FC member pointed out that the overture of thanks was moved into the omnibus resolution to be more consistent with the work of other floor committees and in response to the comments brought by others with regard to these overtures.

  40. PPPadre – That seems to be the missing piece of the puzzle. Thanks for the information, and thanks for your role in getting 2-17 into Omnibus D!

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