District Presidents Squelch Input on Blue Ribbon Proposals, by Pr. Tim Rossow
A group of LCMS laymen have grown concerned that the Blue Ribbon Task Force’s (BRTF) approach to getting feedback is not as complete as it could be and so they have made the BRTF’s survey available to a wider audience. The council of presidents is not happy with their efforts and during their meeting last week decided to discourage people from taking the survey. We talked recently to the laymen who put the survey on line to find out more about their efforts.
To take the survey go to http://blueribbonsurvey.com. It takes at least 45 minutes but it is set up so that you can log in and out and finish as you have time. The survey consists of the word by word presentation of the BRTF and their exact survey that they used at the Southern Illinois Convention. The “interested laymen,” as they have dubbed themselves, did it that way so that no one could complain that they had somehow tainted the work of the BRTF.
The one thing they added is what they call “other thoughts to consider.” One of the reasons they are frustrated with the BRTF is that during the district convention presentations they are not allowing time for questions and comments before people take their survey on the proposals. To remedy that, the interested laymen have gathered comments from various sources and pastors around the synod to balance out the proposals. The BRTF provides a rationale in support of each proposal (included on the survey site) and so the interested laymen, for the sake of balance, provided other comments to consider which identify potential problems with each proposal. The BRTF is also not publishing the results of the surveys that they are taking at the conventions. It seems like a very closed process which is why the “interested laymen” are bringing the survey to the world wide web for all to take.
They have also made the survey available to the public because the issues involved in the Blue Ribbon proposals affect all of the church. They are also concerned that the input is not public. Members of the synod are encouraged by the BRTF to provide feedback on the synodical website but these comments are not public. They are hidden. In a further effort to be fair and balanced the “interested laymen” have made sure to include a link to the synod website so that survey participants can also speak directly to the BRTF.
We have been informed that the Council of Presidents in their meeting last week decided to discourage people from taking the survey even though it is very fair and contains all of the presentation material from the BRTF and their very survey word for word. Here is the letter that I and all the other pastors in the Northern Illinois District received from our district president discouraging us from taking this open, public and accurate survey.
Dear Timothy Rossow,
An invitation has been distributed to individuals in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod to respond to the topics under consideration by the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance through an unofficial web survey. This invitation encourages individuals to express their opinions on topics to those who have no relationship with the BRTFSSG or any responsibility concerning the work of the task force. All members of the synod are encouraged to respond directly to the task force after reviewing the current work of the task force as posted on the synod web site, click on “Walking Together.” After accessing and reviewing the “Current District Convention Report” and other documents posted on this site, your comments can be sent directly to the task force by email. The email address and phone number are posted on the front page of the BRTFFS web site. The members of the task force encourage your response.
Together Serving Him,
Rev. Dan P. Gilbert, President
Northern Illinois District LCMS
It is very disturbing that the District Presidents have taken such an overbearing approach toward the “interested laymen’s” efforts to bring the survey to the entire church and to get more involvement from pastors and the laity. The “interested laymen” are doing the work the BRTF should have done in the first place, which is to see to it that input is fair, public and from as broad a base as possible. The District Presidents must be opposed to the average laymen and pastor having input if they oppose this very fair and transparent survey. Maybe the District Presidents are in favor of the proposals and that is why they have acted this way. After all, the Blue Ribbon proposals themselves are overbearing and seek to centralize power and control in St. Louis and also take representation away from the congregations.
If you have received a similar e-mail from your district president please let us know. Also, we here at the Brothers of John the Steadfast think this survey is a good thing and encourage you to let your voice be heard. You can take the survey at http://blueribbonsurvey.com.