A Constitutional Amendment and a Convention Review (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)
Today, two things coming out of the recent LCMS Convention:
First, the convention approved, by over a two-thirds vote, Resolution 7-02A, “To Return to Use of Title ‘Circuit Visitor.'” This resolution would change the title “circuit counselors” to “circuit visitors.” In my opinion, as a circuit counselor/visitor myself, this is a good thing. It puts the emphasis on the important work of visitation.
Since this resolution would change the language in one of the articles of our constitution, it requires a constitutional amendment. So now, that amendment to Article XII has been been sent out to the congregations for possible ratification, in the form of an official ballot. If the amendment is to go into effect, it needs to be approved by two-thirds of the congregations responding, using the official ballot that was sent out, by March 1. You can read more about this amendment process in the Reporter article, “Official Notice: Constitutional amendment (September 2013)”.
Second, right after the convention I posted a review article here on BJS, “The Boring-Isn’t-Bad Convention”. Now I’ve got another convention review article out, in the September issue of the Lutheran Clarion, as follows:
Moving the Ball Down the Field: The 2013 Convention
Moving the ball down the field? Or kicking the can down the road? Maybe a little of both. That’s my take on the 2013 LCMS Convention. Overall, good, but could have been better. President Harrison, the floor committees, and delegates did move things in the right direction. But in seeking to avoid conflict, show patience, and bring people along for the long haul, Team Harrison passed up opportunities to deal more directly with some of our thorny issues.
The convention did put people and pieces in place to deal more directly and decisively at the next convention, and that is a good thing. But I think there were a few steps we could have taken already at this convention without being overly aggressive. Take, for example, the issues of lay deacons and the SMP program. The convention established a task force and an oversight committee to look into these matters, and they will bring recommendations for action at the 2016 convention. And those committees likely will be filled with good people who will recommend some needed changes. But we stopped short of making any substantial changes at this convention. That was somewhat disappointing. I think we could have at least put a freeze on any new lay deacons and tightened the funnel for admitting new men into the SMP program. But those fairly modest measures were not acted upon.
A huge issue that came up at this convention, but which truly will take years to deal with, is the whole question of Lutheran identity at our Concordias. The tendency of church-created colleges to drift away from their founding churches is well documented in American history, and the Missouri Synod is not immune from this problem. Again, task forces and committees were created to address the concerns. Also, a resolution was passed to see that new faculty at our seminaries receive prior approval from a screening committee beyond the seminary itself. This is not flashy, but it should help prevent leftward drift.
A happy note: The delegates drove a stake through the heart of the few Blue Ribbon proposals that dared to make a return appearance.
Elections went well. The United List choices won about two-thirds of the contests. The conservative/confessional side ran the table on the Praesidium. President Harrison’s VPs are Herb Mueller, John Wohlrabe, Daniel Preus, Scott Murray, Nabil Nour, and Robert Kuhn. This clean sweep could tip the balance on the Council of Presidents. We ran the table on the Fort Wayne Board of Regents. We gained Christian Preus and Kathy Schulz on the LCMS Board of Directors. We gained Shawn Kumm and Walter Dissen on the St. Louis Board of Regents.
Yes, we kicked some cans down the road at this convention. But it seems President Harrison’s approach is to first build trust and consensus and not try to ram things through by resolutions that narrowly pass. We will see how that plays out. But especially when you consider where we were headed from 2001 to 2010, I thank God that now we are moving the ball down the field in the right direction.