This came to my attention the other day. It is a good overture to try to restore faithfulness to our Lutheran Confessions in our use of vicars. Any member congregation can submit an overture to the LCMS Convention. For more information on overtures and the LCMS Convention click here.
For vicars without a Regular Call no longer to appear to rightly administer the Sacrament of the Altar
Whereas, Christ has publicly instituted within His fellowship (koinonia) of believers the Office of the (Holy) Ministry, whereby He delivers with absolute certainty His gifts of the forgiveness of sins and so also life and salvation through His Spirit-empowered Word and Sacraments, whereby He works to create in sinners both repentance from sin and faith in Christ crucified for sinners; and
Whereas, our Lutheran Confessions state: “nobody should publicly teach or preach or administer the sacraments in the church without a regular call (rite vocatus).” (Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), Augsburg Confession, Article XIV, page 36); and
Whereas, the historical understanding that rite vocatus includes the whole process of examination, call, and ordination and that none of these three aspects is negotiable or unnecessary, even though they may be implemented in various ways, was affirmed by the report of the Synod’s task force studying the use of SMP pastors and licensed lay deacons in response to 2013 Resolution 4-06A (page 10); and
Whereas, the original intent of using vicars in the LCMS was to help train up and examine laymen before they were extended a Regular Call into the Office of the Holy Ministry but not to use them as though they already were rightly-called ministers serving in the Office of the Holy Ministry; and
Whereas, during the past 60-years or so the practice began of misusing some vicars by sending them to congregations in order to satisfy the desire of congregations to rightly receive the Sacrament of the Altar, but has introduced confusion of the nature of the Office of the Holy Ministry, and has introduced uncertainty in the reception of Christ’s gifts through the institution of the Office of the Holy Ministry; and, in some cases, vicars have even been coerced into apparently consecrating the Sacrament of the Altar against their consciences under threat of failing their vicarages; and
Whereas, the Synod in convention has never recognized vicars as men who have received a Regular Call (rite vocatus) to consecrate the Sacrament and conduct all the duties (including hearing confession and pronouncing holy absolution under the Confessional Seal) that are associated with helping prepare communicants to rightly receive the Lord’s Body and Blood to their benefit and not to their harm and judgment; and
Whereas, the 2011 convention of our sister synod, Lutheran Church–Canada (founded 1988), with whom we share full altar and pulpit fellowship and mutually share and study documents produced by each others’ Commissions on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR), has set a good and faithful example by adopting as amended resolution 11.1.10 as a statement for “Reference and Guidance”, which concludes: “Since historically the celebration of Holy Communion publicly has been a unique function of the Office of the Holy Ministry, and since a Vicar is a [layman] in training for the Office of the Holy Ministry and not a Pastor, and since no incidence of an ‘emergency’ can be suggested in which the historical practice of the Church should be abrogated, therefore, Vicars should not be allowed to celebrate Holy Communion other than as an assistant to the presiding Pastor who alone has the right by means of his Call and Ordination to speak the Words of Institution …”; therefore be it
Resolved, that LCMS vicars who do not have a Regular Call no longer be allowed nor compelled to appear as though they are rightly administering the Sacrament of the Altar.