In this entry, we complete our tour of the 106 proposed resolutions from the eight floor committees, as found in “Today’s Business.” To see the previous articles in this series, go to Henrickson’s blog at steadfastlutherans.org.
We now look at the remaining resolutions (8-27 through 8-34) proposed by Floor Committee 8, Synod Structure and Governance, and we wrap it all up with a Conclusion:
8-27: To Add A New Article XIV
This new amendment on the relation of Bylaws and Constitution seems unnecessary. And is there anything lurking in the phrase “binding regulations”? I don’t know. MAYBE.
8-28: To Clarify the Preamble of the Constitution
This last series of constitutional amendments (8-28 through 8-32) should have the least chance of passing, since the proposed amendments tinker with the foundational articles of our synod. Red flags should be raised. NO.
8-29: To Amend Article II of the Constitution
The Synod’s Confession? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. NO.
8-30: To Amend Article VI of the Constitution
There is a weakening of the conditions of membership: “Exclusive use” is changed to a mere “use,” and “doctrinally pure” is dropped. “Renunciation of unionism and syncretism of every description” is weakened to “Non-participation in activities which compromise. . . .” These are not changes for the better! NO.
8-31: To Amend Article III of the Constitution
All kinds of needless, unhelpful changes to the language of our objectives! The first objective of our synod, “Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith,” etc., is demoted in its ranking. NO.
8-32: To Amend Article VII
This adds language (e.g., “covenant of love,” “collective will,” “pledge support”) that raises questions about the advisory nature of Synod to its members and how this article would be used. NO.
8-33: To Amend Bylaws 2.1.1, 2.13.1, 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206, 2.14.3, 2.14.4, 2.18.2, and 2.18.1
Huh? One’s eyes glaze over. This should be voted down simply because it is so impossible to comprehend. NO.
8-34: To Respectfully Decline Overtures
Here we find listed all the many overtures (Ovs. 8-02, -03, -04, -05, -06, -07, -08, -09, -10; Convention Workbook, pp. 221-224; and Ov. 8-82; TB, pp. 27-28) from congregations, circuits, and entire districts–all calling for the restructuring proposals to be rejected or deferred–overtures that the floor committee is choosing to decline.
Finally we come to the end of all 106 proposed resolutions from the eight floor committees! And in particular, we complete our look at the 34 resolutions from Floor Committee 8 (their 33 proposals and one declination of overtures). Of that committee’s 33 proposals, for right now I am saying “MAYBE” to four of them (8-07, 8-09, 8-22, and 8-27) and a resounding “NO!” to all the rest. In fact, it wouldn’t bother me if we said “NO” to all 33! We wouldn’t be losing anything if those four “Maybes” didn’t make it. Really, the best thing to do would be to pass one motion to decline all of Committee 8’s proposed resolutions, every one of them. It would save us a lot of time, and we could get on to other business.
These restructuring proposals put forward by President Kieschnick’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, and now his Floor Committee, on Synod Structure and Governance–as a whole, these proposals would move power away from congregations and circuits and on up the ladder of synodical hierarchy. They would move power away from the Synod in convention and into the hands of the synod president. They would introduce ambiguity into the nature of our synod and its relation to its members. “Efficiency,” perhaps, but at what cost?
These resolutions are often misleading, couched in flowery language, but, as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details”: all those thousands of strike-through lines and additions of new text buried in the back of the book. I don’t know of any delegate, not one, who has had the time to work through all of those hundreds of pages of revised text. Much less have our congregations, circuits, and districts had a chance to examine carefully and weigh thoroughly the actual Constitution and Bylaw changes in their final form. Delegates should not approve what they have not read! Haven’t we learned that lesson from Congress passing Obamacare?
And so I know what I will be doing as a voting delegate next week. I will be pressing the “NO” button–a lot! My watchwords remain: “If it comes from Eight, you must negate”; and “Just say NO to restructuring!”
Dear friends, our problems are not structural, they are theological and spiritual. We’ve been bogged down in bylaws for too many years now. This is not the direction we should be going. It’s time to get on to higher priorities: Doctrine and practice, mission and mercy, unity and growth in the faith, all anchored in the Gospel of Christ. Let’s go with that! Let’s say “YES” to that!