The WELS convention, by Rick Techlin
Rick Techlin, a BJS reader and a blogger is posting information about the Wisconsin Synod Convention (WELS) convention in Saginaw, Michigan on his blog. We will be posting periodic snippets here on the the BJS site; readers who want more frequent updates may want to visit his blog site or the WELS News Page. The convention runs M-F this week, and as stated below you can view it live on the WELS streaming site.
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) biennial convention convenes on Monday, July 27 in Saginaw, Michigan, and runs through Friday, July 31, 2009 A.D. There are many important issues at stake that will affect the future of our synod. Here are links to some important web sites and documents regarding the convention:
- 2009 Book of Reports and Memorials (BORAM). This document is a summary of “the business that will come before the convention.” It describes the activities, plans, and issues facing the synod; and also contains “formal requests from groups or individuals … to address specific issues.”
- Final Report of the Ad Hoc Commission. This commission was charged with evaluating the synod’s problems, and making recommendations to deal with those problems. Here is a sampling of some of the recommendations along with my comments:
- “We recommend that the 2009 Synod in Convention appoint a group to bring a comprehensive redistricting recommendation to the 2011 convention.” (Page 15).
Some districts are too large for effective pastoral oversight from the District President (bishop). Shrinking the size of a large district should better enable the local District President to actively deal with false doctrine and practice.
- “We recommend that a flexible program of continuing education with standards and minimum requirements for all called workers be developed …” (Page 24).
If implemented well, this could be very beneficial. Not only would it continually stress the importance of ongoing education, but it could also help our pastors maintain their essential language skills in Greek, Hebrew, German, and Latin.
- “We recommend that the Conference of Presidents initiate a synod-wide review of key doctrines and practical issues … in an effort to foster and preserve unity in doctrine and practice.” (Page 25).
- “We recommend that the … approach to study [of doctrine & practice] should incorporate insights from church fathers, Lutheran confessional documents, [and] insights from the history and experience of the Christian church through the ages…” (Pages 25-26).
The above approach uses the Lutheran (correct) understanding of sola Scriptura that teaches that the Scriptures are able to be rightly understood, not just by our generation, but by all generations. Saint Paul wrote to the Ephesians, that in “reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ.” (3:4). And Jesus promised that he would be with His Church “always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 27:20).
One of the areas of suggested study is “The Sacramental Life.” (Page 27). The report states:
Prior to the 1700s, the life of the evangelical Lutheran church was more immersed in and focused upon the sacraments as part of the Christian’s regular spiritual nourishment. German pietism in the 1700s downplayed the sacraments, and the Lutheran church has never fully recovered from pietism’s detrimental effects.
First, this study will emphasize that the gospel is primarily nourishment for the soul and not mere information. Second, this study will emphasize the very Lutheran understanding of daily baptismal awareness and Holy Communion as the tangible expression of the gospel. Third, the study will emphasize a thirst for and appreciation of confession and absolution. [Emphasis added].
- Finally, Streams will be carrying live coverage of the convention streaming over the internet.
In a recent article entitled, “Counting our blessings at convention time,” President Schroeder expressed thanks, that unlike the ELCA, the WELS “is committed to the truth of God’s Word in all we believe and do.” It is my prayer that God will guide the synod in convention and each congregation to make that commitment written on paper in the Book of Concord into a living commitment to do genuine Confessional Lutheranism in accord with God’s word and the best traditions of the historic Christian Church.
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