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.