Gathering the Force in Dearborn (2 of 2), by Glen Piper

December 20th, 2009 Post by

(Editor’s Note: This is from Glen Piper’s blog Territorial Bloggings. Glen is a delegate to the LCMS convention in 2010, so he attended the Regional Gathering in Dearborn, MI.) Part 1 of this article is found here.


Let the gathering breakdown continue!

If you haven’t already, you can check out Part 1 to get an idea about the nuts & bolts of how the BRTFSSG Gathering of the IN, OH, MI, & northern circuits of the EN Districts worked.

In Part 2 my goal is to lay out what was discussed & presented during the 25 hours of the gathering, i.e., the 21 TF Recommendations, their underpinnings, and also their defense (at times) by the TF.

This report will follow the flow of the gathering’s meetings, rather than a concise summary of each section of 6 recommendation groupings or of all 21 recommendations individually. I’ve chosen to do the report in this way for two reasons: 1) to give delegates at the 7 remaining gatherings an idea of what they will be encountering, and 2) to give non-delegates an idea of just how this restructuring process is being presented and “sold”.

I will endeavor to keep my commentary to an appropriate amount/minimum, and (at the very least) to clearly mark the difference between what was said by someone, and my comments. With all that said, let’s get on with it…

DAY 1

BRTFSSG Background & Overview (SP Kieschnick):

  • Total, aggregated, Synodical budgets are pushing $2 Billion/year
  • Change should not be feared
  • There are no hidden agendas
  • We are not enemies; we are all on the same team
  • No particular polity is proscribed by Scripture or Synodical founders – i.e., things can change to be updated & flexible…
  • “Growth often comes through disagreement.”

Comments:

The final bullet point struck me as very Hegelian. I was, and am, troubled by the way in which the dialectic (often through it’s “softer” counterpart, consensus) has seeped into our midst. When dealing with the absolute truth of the saving Gospel, I fail to see how the relativism-producing dialectic of “thesis->antithesis->synthesis” can move us forward.

History of BRTFSSG (Rev. Braunersreuther):

  • It’s all about congregations
  • LCMS has been unable to come to consensus on seamless changes throughout its entire history, and this has hurt congregations.
  • We have the future in our hands, to do something proactive… Finally.
  • “Our congregations are too important not to.”

Comment: This is where the constant drumbeat of “Congregations! It’s all about congregations! Congregational bias!” began, and it didn’t let up throughout the rest of the gathering.

Overview of the BRTFSSG Process (Rev. Bob Greene):

Comment: I heard this 10 minute spiel at the district convention this past July, and nothing had changed. I didn’t take any notes, because nothing jumped out at me as being worth noting…

Theological Basis for BRTFSSG (Dr. Will Sohns):

  • Overall context/format that emerged for the TF was one of a Doxological nature
  • The 1847 & 1854 (6 theological) Constitutional reasons for forming synod (see p. 3 of the BRTFSSG Final Report) were covered in detail, and linked forward into today’s context
  • “Being Confessional and being Missional cannot be separated…”
  • The Divinely instituted body is the local congregation
  • Synodical polity manifests this (immediately preceding point) theological underpinning through the “participation, voice, and support of the congregations.”

Comments: This was an interesting section. Dr. Sohns is a smart man, formidably so. A good choice to have on the TF, let the reader understand, because of his knowledge and his bearing. My tastes, though, run more to the sainted Kurt Marquart, who I think would’ve brought just as much knowledge, intellect, and passion to bear, but without being quite as intimidating as Dr. Sohns was a few times when he was challenged/pushed on some points.

There was also an interesting quote from C.F.W. Walther brought out (I was unable to catch the exact source…), in which it was implied that we risk becoming a sect if we don’t focus on the real task/mission of saving souls for Christ, instead getting bogged down by an inward focus. Frankly, this strikes me as, at best, an unfair shading of Walther’s intent when it comes to doctrine & mission.

Presentation of Recommendations (Rev. Greene & Dr. Sohns):

This section was a pretty straightforward reading of all 21 Recommendations put forth by the TF in the BRTFSSG Final Report. Nothing new really jumped out at me, except for one — #4 — that didn’t really register with me when I read through the report prior to the gathering.

NOTE: In the survey form that we got to fill out, indicating strong agreement to strong disagreement on a 5-point Likert Scale, each recommendation was broken down into several subcomponents, most likely mapping to what Floor Committee 8 (FC8) will grapple with in terms of resolutions.

Recommendation 4.1 read: “Direct the Synod President to convene a special task force to make recommendations with respect to the function, number, and configuration of districts, as proposed.”

In other words, re: changing the number of districts, the TF punted! Their recommendation is to have the 2010 Convention form another TF to deal with this issue, such that the earliest it’ll get resolved is 2013/14. Nifty…

Table Talk:

Not too much happened here. We had some ice-breaker type discussions, as well as some good chats about the overall tenor & direction of the gathering. I had the good fortune to be at a table with some good folks, none of whom were wearing mauve-colored glasses.

Dinner:

Good buffet. The beef was choice. Absence of Lutheran beverage was quite unfortunate.

Q & A w/Panel Respondents:

Respondents: Rev. Greene, Dr. Sohns, & SVP David Buegler

Question Readers: Rev. Braunersreuther & DP Larry Stoterau

Format: 60 min, written questions & 30 min, questions from mics

NOTE 1: Written questions came from cards filled out & submitted by delegates/participants during the first 4 hours of the gathering. Additional questions could be written & submitted throughout the gathering, and would be incorporated into the next day’s Q & A session. 135 questions were submitted prior to this first Q & A session.

NOTE 2: I didn’t write down each and every Q & A; rather, I took note of the ones that struck me as noteworthy. Therefore, please don’t consider the following list to be canonical.

  • The most questions were asked about Recommendation #18
  • Q: Re: 2 Mission Commissions; what about the role of LCMS WR & HC and the potential for overlap? A: No clear answer was given.
  • Q: Re: Fiscal savings, what about Treasurer Kuchta’s comments? A: Because no resolutions exist yet, purposely no specific projections on savings were made. This will need to wait until July.
  • Q: What happens if none of the recommendations are adopted? A: 1) Economic impact – the BOD will need to make VERY tough choices & cuts, and some ministries will not get funded (NOTE: SPK jumped in to answer this first part of the question), 2) Congregations will not be properly or fully engaged, and 3) We’ll go back to the status quo, facing the bullet points on p. 2 of the TF’s Final Report.
  • The choice is: Proactive Lean & Mean (Do what the TF says) vs. Reactive Lean & Mean (BOD cuts)
  • The resolutions put forth by FC8 will not be all-or-nothing; rather, each recommendation/resolution will be considered separately on its own merit
  • Q: (paraphrasing) What’s up with the Regional layer? A: Currently, the BOD already has ad hoc regional groupings. This would just formalize that, as it has proven to be useful. There would not, necessarily, be equal numbers of people/congregations in each region
  • Q: (paraphrasing) What’s up with VI.2 vs. VI.B.3 wording changes? A: The TF feels that the new wording is “stronger” than the old
  • Q: (paraphrasing) What’s up with extra District Convention votes for big congregations? A: COMMENT: As I recall, it was along the lines of, “congregational bias”, “equal representation”, “fairness”, etc… I must admit that all my notes say are: “The rationale of the TF is INFURIATING in its bad theology… Pig-headed & just ignorant…”
  • Q: (paraphrasing) Isn’t this all just a raw power grab by SPK & his cronies, to give him what he wanted? A: Of course not. It was/is “a spiritual exercise for the TF, and SPK didn’t ask for anything.” Also, a 1981 bylaw was read (at SPK’s request, re: “power grab” part of the question) as an example that Synod Presidents had more power in the past. COMMENT: I really wonder(ed) if this wasn’t a planted question. I mean, really, are any anti-SPK folks dumb enough to actually write down & submit a question like that? Using the words “power grab” & “cronyism”? Really?

At this point, the 60 minutes of read questions ended, and we moved into the 30 minutes of open mic, follow up, questions. Before I get to those Q & A’s, let me offer this comment on a potential contradiction in reasoning on the part of the TF…

During an answer defending the TF’s reasoning on lowering the number of delegates to the Synodical Convention, Dr. Sohns offered that quality of representation was of greater import than quantity. Reasonable point, that. In light of that, however, I wonder how the TF can justify pushing so hard to get big congregations extra votes at the district level (i.e., emphasizing quantity of representation over quality). Which is it, quality or quantity?

On to the open mic Q & A’s…

  • All changes listed in Final Report Appendix 1.1 – 1.11 will need 2/3 ratification from both the 2010 Convention and LCMS Congregations in order to pass & go into effect.
  • Q: Follow-up on LCMS WR & HC duplication from earlier – would there be coordination & clarification, perhaps under the proposed CMO? A: Short answer, they don’t know yet
  • Q: Circuit Activities: w/Circuits’ new importance, how to deal with current dysfunction if these recommendations are adopted? A: The DP is responsible & has ecclesiastical oversight, in conjunction with the Circuit Counselor (CC – who is an Officer of the District)
  • Q: Would the CMO (need to) be ordained? A: This is not specified, and would be left to the SP/BOD to find the best qualified person. Also, the CMO would not have oversight of the seminaries
  • Q: Re: Confessional subscription & addition/elevation of Synodical Constitution to subscription status. A: (Dr. Sohns gave this answer) When joining Synod, signing the constitution = subscribing to it; i.e., this is the way it’s always been, and now we’re just putting it into the constitution, where it should have been all along.
  • Q: A mixed message re: CC as district officer and cohesion-builder in circuit? A: Perhaps, but more of a necessary balancing act. The CC is rightly the “arm of the DP in ecclesiastical supervision”
  • Q: What about implementation of all this? A: It’s not easy. 6+ months for Constitutional changes. FC8 will draft resolutions for convention; this will give more clarity. COMMENT: They basically don’t know yet…
  • Q: What’s the theological backing/basis for Commissioned Ministers not being Laity? A: TF Final Report, p. 27. CTCR, The Ministry (1981). IRS Code. Walther’s Church & Ministry. NOTE: Since the congregation has “the vote”, it’s not a problem for them to give the clergy vote to a Commissioned Minister of the congregation instead of an Ordained Minister. COMMENT: Huh?!?

District Caucus:

TF Rep in our midst: SVP Buegler

Closing out the 8+ hours of Day 1 was a caucusing of each district. Each district got to discuss the events of the day, delegates chatting with their DP, as well has having a rep from the TF in their midst to answer any questions that might crop up needing clarification. For the IN District, we got TF member & FC8 Vice Chair, SVP Buegler. We had a good caucus. The discussion was good. Our DP Dan May was great (as always – he’s a good man). I do, however, think that SVP Buegler was more than a little frustrated with us, as we were quite persistent in hammering on a few subjects like the proposed extra votes for big congregations & the removal of the electoral nature of circuits, and how those proposals really actually eroded the concept of “congregational basis”.

DAY 2

Q & A w/Panel Respondents #2:


NOTE: All information re: format & participants is the same as Q & A #1

  • Q: If SP can be elected by all congregations, why can’t more/all business be done by all congregations? A: This could be too complicated. COMMENT: This was one of the 7 questions I submitted (thumbnails at the very end of this post…)
  • Q: SP/Synod will have too much authority over individual congregations – fact or fiction? A: Fiction. This is a tough perception management issue/problem. This is NOT about power; it’s about congregational bias, and it’s why “congregation” was used so much in the TF Report. There is no agenda to gather power centrally. COMMENT: Another planted question? I have to wonder…
  • Q: Why is #3 so critical? A: Because of our theology & polity, where the “power” is at the grassroots; therefore, circuits MUST be restored for everything else to hang together properly
  • COMMENT: Much was said about the Word of God being the only “power” we have to convince others; however, what if there is no common agreement on what the Word of God says/means???
  • Q: Re: Regional VPs – why regional nominations but synodical elections? A: This is following the model & practice of many/most districts; also, the VPs are Officers of Synod.
  • Q: Re: the Franchise; What about categories of Licensed Deacons & SMP? A: Deacons are laity, not Commissioned Ministers, and are not rostered – no vote/franchise. SMP are ordained, but as currently constituted are not able to vote at Synodical Conventions; this could prove a sticky wicket if the changes wrt Commissioned Minister franchise are passed.
  • Q: How will questions & feedback from all the BRTFSSG Gatherings be incorporated by FC8? A: They’ll be considered just as they were all throughout the whole TF process, esp. via getting surveys at the gatherings.
  • Q: Re: Restructuring of Non-Geographic Districts. A: They’ll want to have a say, but it isn’t yet known how that whole district restructuring process will work
  • Q: Re: “Exclusive use…” vs. “In harmony with Confessional Basis…” — Doesn’t this seem to foster disunity? A: (Dr. Sohns answered) The TF feeling was/is that “In harmony with…” is “about as exclusive as it can get.” Also, (per Sohns) part of the thinking & justification for this is that much of the hue & cry over “exclusive” is sinfully binding over a rite/form, and thus a hindering of the Gospel (NOTE: linkage was made to the COP Theses on Worship, Thesis #7 here…).

Round Table Discussion & Feedback:

During this time, each table was charged with discussing what we had learned up to this point, and developing two lists: 1) The 3 Most Important Topics for the 2010 Convention (i.e., the TF recommendations that needed to be discussed in Houston), and 2) The 2-3 Least Important Topics (i.e., “Don’t Go There!”).

At our table, the top 3 important were: #3 Circuit Reengagement, #9 4yr Cycle, & #12 Consistency in Terms. Why these? Well, theoretically, #3 is pretty important, and it wouldn’t hurt for it to be talked about down in Houston. The other two we chose, largely because we wanted to pick relatively innocuous “wins” for the TF to pass along to FC8 — IOW, we didn’t want to risk giving a tacit stamp of approval to a topic just by stating that it should be discussed. Cynical? Sure. But also wise as a serpent, I would think/hope.

The 2 least important (i.e., “Don’t Go There!”) for our table were: #20 Name Change, and #1 Constitutional wording & emphasis changes. Frankly, the name change is a no-brainer. And #1, while certainly an important subject/topic, is something that really doesn’t warrant a whole lot of time in Houston, at least in our table’s opinion.

The feedback from all the other tables was, as I’m sure you can imagine, all over the map. However, a few trends did emerge.

  • The name change is DOA. 19 listed it as “LEAST”; only 1 (a table with some District apparatchiks) as “MOST”
  • Circuit Reengagement strongly resonated. 13 listed it as “MOST”; 0 as “LEAST”
  • Delegates want to discuss the “omnibus” #18 (the 2 missions boards drove a lot of it) in Houston. 19 listed it as “MOST”; 2 as “LEAST”
  • No other recommendation got into double digits
  • The only recommendations that were evenly “matched” with more than two or three total votes were #1 (7 “MOST” vs. 6 “LEAST”), #4 (4 “MOST” vs. 3 “LEAST”), #5 (3 “MOST” vs. 6 “LEAST”).

COMMENT: As I alluded to above, I found/find the “MOST”/”LEAST” important way of voting & giving feedback to be very frustrating and fuzzy. First, it’s not a great way to give feedback, because it doesn’t really allow for the necessary nuance. Second, and perhaps most important, it lends itself to some misuse if it allowed to veer into the “good/bad” or “agree/disagree” realm. My prayer is that FC8 stands strong against the temptation to equate the feedback it receives via these “votes” (as well as the gathering surveys) with (dis)agreement/(dis)approval. Instead, it is my hope that they view this feedback as an indicator & reminder of the need to produced objectively neutral resolutions.

Wrapping Things Up:

After some closing remarks, and some housekeeping type business looking ahead towards Houston next summer, we closed with another devotion (there had been several throughout, I just didn’t show them in the timeline of this post…).

This was an interesting event. Did I learn anything new? Not really, at least about the TF’s recommendations. I got what I needed about those from the Final Report. It was, however, interesting to hear first hand some of the justifications they had for why they did what they did, and what they were thinking when they did it. I can’t say that it changed my mind, but it’s still good to know it.

The best part for me, I think, was getting to see & meet folks. The ride up with my circuit’s pastoral delegate & a member of our district BOD was very enjoyable, and we had lots of good & fruitful conversation. Likewise, it was good to see some familiar faces in the meeting room, along with getting to meet some new folks for the first time. I find that each time I go to one of these circuit/district/synod events, I get more comfortable with speaking up and being social. Lots of good people, even for a curmudgeonly introvert like me!

I hope that this lengthy tome has proven to be of interest and use, and if you’ve made it all the way through it to this point, I thank you for your interest, your attention, and your perseverance! If you have any questions, just let me know.

-ghp

P.S., here are the promised thumbnails of the questions I submitted…


IMG_0058IMG_0057IMG_0056IMG_0055IMG_0054IMG_0053IMG_0052






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  1. Rev. Gregory Hinners
    December 20th, 2009 at 22:29 | #1

    Giving the pastoral vote to a “commissioned minister”:
    1) The IRS has no bearing on this (red herring).
    2) I can’t put my finger on it, but it seems that Walther is being misapplied here (along with the 1991 CTCR doc.). But either way, NONE of the reasons they gave for this by-law change necessitate the by-law change. The by-law could just remain “ordained ministers” only.

  2. johannes
    December 20th, 2009 at 22:56 | #2

    Re: The District “Caucuses”. David Buegler was not pleased with his Indiana District caucus experience. You must have given him a harder time than others. Way to go!

    The Round Table feedback session was, I think, more meaningless than you have portrayed, Glen. The fact that a given proposal was “important” says nothing about its merits. I think there may have been a tendency to equate “importance” with “approval” but that does not necessarily follow. Who knows what they’ll do with it?

    Look out for Article VII.B!! It got no play, but it’s very dangerous.

    j

  3. December 21st, 2009 at 01:15 | #3

    @Rev. Gregory Hinners #1
    I think think the IRS code comes into play due to the deal that was brokered back in the 1950’s, whereby non-ordained “Ministers of Religion” — and, thus, LCMS Commissioned Ministers! — became OK with the IRS, and the LCMS gained some tax benefits. As far as the IRS is concerned, all LCMS “Ministers of Religion” are “clergy” (i.e., no theological distinctions here…). Thus, it would seem, that this is now being brought to bear on the franchise question/issue.

    I don’t agree with it, but I think that this is part of the reasoning behind it…

    @johannes #2
    Johannes, re: equating importance with approval, you just aren’t quite the cynic I am, I guess… ;)

    But, I agree wholeheartedly about the danger of VII.B!

  4. Concerned
    December 21st, 2009 at 11:39 | #4

    Quick question for my own clarification/edification:

    Can a commissioned minister of religion be chosen or elected (however it is done) to serve as a lay delegate?

  5. December 21st, 2009 at 11:48 | #5

    In the proposals, no. A new category has replaced the traditional “clergy” category. The new category includes all ministers of the Gospel, ordained or commissined.

    TR

  6. Concerned
    December 21st, 2009 at 16:59 | #6

    Thank you Rev. Rossow. What I meant to say is this: Can commissioned ministers, right now (ignoring any recommended changes in Synod’s constitution or structure) serve as a lay delegate to either a district or a synodical convention; or are they truly ‘disenfranchised’ (unable to serve/vote) in a convention setting?

  7. December 21st, 2009 at 17:15 | #7

    Concerned,

    No, they cannot. They can only be non-voting advisory delegates. This is why it makes sense to allow them to vote but as the layman that they are.

    TR

  8. Concerned
    December 21st, 2009 at 17:55 | #8

    Thank you. I didn’t know.

    What was the thinking behind allowing them to serve only as non-voting delegates? I know several day school teachers who have a marvelously clear grasp of Lutheran theology due to their education and experience (they have to in order to teach the truth to fifth and sixth graders who are constantly asking, ‘Why?’ But, Why?’). It seems terribly disingenuous that we claim to value their service and their Concordia-system training, but then block them from from putting those gifts to use in a convention setting.

    I am not an advocate of putting commissioned ministers on par with ordained clergy who in many cases have eight or ten years of formal theological education behind them. I agree that they should be allowed to serve and vote as a lay delegate. I also think the current system goes beyond a two-class vote and shoves commissioned ministers to the back of the bus (or below the waterline if we were on the Titanic). This makes no – NO – sense to me.

  9. Rev. Gregory Hinners
    December 21st, 2009 at 18:04 | #9

    Something that Dr. Ken Shurb brought out on the commissioned minister as a voting delegate. Under the present set up, as advisory delegates the commissioned ministers cannot vote, but they can approach the mics during discussion (so they have a voice in the conventions). Of course then the ordained pastor and laymen have the power of the vote and can also approach the mics during discussion.

    However in the Blue Ribbon proposal, somebody is going to lose their voice at the conventions. I am not sure but I think in the original proposal, the commissioned ministers would no longer be advisory delegates but be allowed to be the lay-delegate. This would mean that either the commissioned ministers would lose their voice at the convention completely (if a lay person who was not a commissioned minister was sent from the congregation that had commissioned ministes). This proposal however will potentially silence the ordained pastors at the convention if the comissioned minister is sent in their place. This is NOT the hot set up.

  10. Conv. Delegate
    December 21st, 2009 at 19:15 | #10

    Yes, the original proposal had it the other way — the comm. minister as a lay delagate. I disagreed with that as comm. ministers are professional church workers and would have a different perspective than a pure lay delegate. Also currently in our (and perhaps all) districts the comm. ministers are supposed to attend the district conventions. Given the tight financial times, I think most congregations that have comm. ministers would be encouraged to send them instead of the lay delegate and thus save the expense. Thus more than 50 percent of the voting delegates would be professional church workers.

    I do see the weakensses in having the comm. ministers replace ordained clergy. It is a conundrum. But the whole discussion seems more of a distraction.

    If you read PK’s original charge to the BRTF, the voting status of commissioned ministers was not discussed as an item to address. It seems like this proposal is opening a can of worms that is not going to cure what ills the LCMS.

    I’m afraid so much of these proposals are just distractions. It’s Time.

  11. revfisk
    December 21st, 2009 at 20:21 | #11

    ” Q: SP/Synod will have too much authority over individual congregations – fact or fiction? A: Fiction. This is a tough perception management issue/problem. This is NOT about power; it’s about congregational bias, and it’s why “congregation” was used so much in the TF Report. There is no agenda to gather power centrally.”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Yes…if you look back on the wordle, they did say “congregations” a lot. But they said one particular and very significant word even more often….By their own logic, they are big fat liars.

    *Not that they ARE big fat liars, just by their own logic. XD

  12. johannes
    December 21st, 2009 at 20:38 | #12

    @revfisk #11

    Would that word be “power”?

    I’m not willing to go the “liar” route, but the “big lie”-type strategy is in place: Keep repeating the magic word, “congregations”, and pretty soon people will start to believe it.

    For those who have attended the “gatherings” I wonder if anyone else noticed a certain arrogance among the task force representatives/lobbyists. I noticed it at a meeting in mid-summer, and I noticed it in Dearborn. Perhaps it has been already spoken to.
    Just wondering….

  13. revfisk
    December 21st, 2009 at 23:41 | #13

    The only word bigger than “congregations” is “synod.” By their logic, (that is, “the word we say so much is what we’re really trying to give the focus to,”) they are, in fact, consolodating power, in spite of their bold statements to the contrary. Now…maybe they are not consolodating power, but then they should not argue that we should believe them on the number of times they repeat words.

    I do very much intend the meaning of my statement not to be to call anyone a liar, but that the logic used, if applied consistently, would make them liars.

  14. PPPadre
    December 21st, 2009 at 23:58 | #14

    Something to keep in mind… Ordained pastors do NOT have the right to vote at district conventions. Only sole/senior pastors of congregations. At our District Convention, a former Synodical Presidential candidate commented on this proposal. Having spent his entire pastoral career (until last year) as an assistant/associate pastor or chaplain, he was nearly elected Synodical President without ever having been able to vote at a district or synodical convention.

    A few years back, there was a pastor in our area that was close to retirement. He was senior pastor and the congregation was in the process of calling an assistant pastor. As the District Convention (and his retirement) approached, he convinced the congregation to call him as the assistant pastor, ostensibly so they could extend a call to a senior pastor who could help rebuild the staff. A side “benefit” was that as assistant pastor, he couldn’t vote at the District Convention, so he didn’t have to go.

    As we discuss this, let’s not lose sight of the fact that many, many ordained pastors cannot vote, either. Seminary professors cannot be elected as delegates from their congregations, nor can any of the ordained pastors who are on staff at CPH, or any of the universities.

  15. lccm
    December 21st, 2009 at 23:58 | #15

    From the original post:

    “BRTFSSG Background & Overview (SP Kieschnick):

    Total, aggregated, Synodical budgets are pushing $2 Billion/year
    Change should not be feared
    There are no hidden agendas
    We are not enemies; we are all on the same team
    No particular polity is proscribed by Scripture or Synodical founders – i.e., things can change to be updated & flexible…
    “Growth often comes through disagreement.” ”

    Sounds like Obama to me. :)

  16. lccm
    December 22nd, 2009 at 00:07 | #16

    Another quote:
    “Q: What happens if none of the recommendations are adopted? A: 1) Economic impact – the BOD will need to make VERY tough choices & cuts, and some ministries will not get funded (NOTE: SPK jumped in to answer this first part of the question), 2) Congregations will not be properly or fully engaged, and 3) We’ll go back to the status quo…”

    Hmm. Sounds like Obama again.

  17. lccm
    December 22nd, 2009 at 00:15 | #17

    Re: “Exclusive use…” vs. “In harmony with Confessional Basis…” — Doesn’t this seem to foster disunity? A: (Dr. Sohns answered) The TF feeling was/is that “In harmony with…” is “about as exclusive as it can get.” Also, (per Sohns) part of the thinking & justification for this is that much of the hue & cry over “exclusive” is sinfully binding over a rite/form, and thus a hindering of the Gospel (NOTE: linkage was made to the COP Theses on Worship, Thesis #7 here…).

    I’m just a dumb layperson, but isn’t contemporary worship and its’ practice a rite/form also? If so, couldn’t someone make the argument that contemporary practices are sinful and a hindrance to the Gospel, too? Or am I misreading it?

  18. jb
    December 22nd, 2009 at 11:53 | #18

    “The Divinely instituted body is the local congregation”

    I know I am stepping out on thin ice with this, but it is an important point to make.

    This statement is wrong.

    The divinely instituted body is the church.
    The local congregation is the gather of the saints in that place; ie church.

    I’m not a strict congregationalist; there are others, far wiser than I, who have made a similar point.

    Jeff Kloha on the Concordia Journal Currents pointed out that Scripture talks about church (singular) referring to several congregations.

    Joel Bierman has argued that we are reading Walther apart from a historical understanding; he sounds congregationalist because he is dealing with a hierarchical church.

    In The Church and Her Fellowship, by Marquart, one of the main points is that church is not congregation only, but pastor and people. If you don’t have the pastor, you don’t rightly have the church. If you don’t have the people, you don’t rightly have the church.

    In Church and Ministry, the collected papers of the 150th convocation, there are similar arguments made. This book is sitting in most congregations’ shelves.

    I bring all this up because the appeal to “It’s all about the congregations” is a red-herring. And we are chasing after it like it’s the best bait in the bucket.

    While the Word of God does not prescribe any polity, the proposals do not reflect our theology. In fact, the proposals act contrary to our theology; The office of the Holy Ministry is absent from the proposals.

    (stepping down and putting the soapbox back away)

  19. December 22nd, 2009 at 14:58 | #19

    “If you don’t have the pastor, you don’t rightly have the church.”

    That’s a Loeheist view. Matthew 18:20 says otherwise. For if two or three are not the church, then they could not rightly call one of them (or another) to be their pastor.

  20. Helen
    December 22nd, 2009 at 16:10 | #20

    “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20

    How?
    In Word and Sacrament.

    How is this done?
    When one of the “two or three” is Pastor.

    The church is not pastor or people, but Pastor and people together.

    [Loehe's missionaries were responsible for a large part of what became "Missouri" synod. Walther was, I think, glad to have them.]

    Loehe was not a Baptist or a German Methodist (Walther’s problem and perhaps ours to this day).

  21. December 22nd, 2009 at 16:44 | #21

    “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20

    This is not restricted to a church congregation and pastor at a worship service. The two or three Christians are a church before they (or someone) calls a pastor to serve them.

    According to Walther’s Thesis I, on the Church: The church in the proper sense of the word is the communion of saints, i.e., the community of all those who, having been through the Gospel called from out of the lost and condemned human race by the Holy Ghost, truly believe in Christ and are by such faith sanctified and embodied in Christ.

    In 1853 Loehe broke with the Missouri Synod (and his former sendlings) on this and similar confessional positions articulated by the Missouri Synod in Kirche und Amt.

  22. mike ames
    December 22nd, 2009 at 20:21 | #22

    There are no hidden agendas? Do we look stupid to you PK? Have you not learned that lieing is a sin?

  23. Rev. Steven W Bohler
    December 22nd, 2009 at 20:32 | #23

    I believe that associate pastors ARE currently able to serve as pastoral delegates to coventions; assistant pastors are not.

  24. PPPadre
    December 23rd, 2009 at 00:18 | #24

    @Rev. Steven W Bohler #23
    Thank you for the correction, Pr. Bohler. I overstated a bit when I limited it to senior/sole pastors. I am under the impression that in multi-staff parishes, the senior pastor is the one who exercises the pastoral vote of the congregation unless the congregation specifically designates an associate pastor to do so because of the absence/inability of the senior pastor to fulfill that duty.

    The broader point being, just because you are a pastor doesn’t mean that you get to vote. The voting is tied to the congregation. This proposal removes the voice of advisory delegates, be they commissioned ministers or associate/assistant pastors.

    And maybe this is just the small parish pastor in me (and I’m probably going to get into a lot a trouble by saying this) but commissioned ministers seem to me to be much more specialized. Parish pastors (with the exception of those in some of the very large, multi-staff parishes) must be general practitioners. The advice given by those who specialize (hence, advisory delegates) is invaluable, but a generalist to piece everything together in a big picture context seems a better candidate for delegate. (And I realize that completely ignores the bigger question of “office.”)

  25. Mr Chagrinned (formerly Annoyed, Angry)
    December 24th, 2009 at 13:46 | #25

    johannes :@revfisk #11
    For those who have attended the “gatherings” I wonder if anyone else noticed a certain arrogance among the task force representatives/lobbyists. I noticed it at a meeting in mid-summer, and I noticed it in Dearborn. Perhaps it has been already spoken to.Just wondering….

    Yes, it did catch my attention. They were ‘never’ wrong. Anyone who publically disagreed were patronized or just dismissed. I did not care for their tone in Denver.

  26. Alex
    December 25th, 2009 at 11:48 | #26

    After I saw GKs response to the proposals one thing that stuck out to me was that regarding the consolidation of power he said that it was not the intention of the task force nor his desire for the proposals to have such an effect. If this is true then shouldn’t the proposals have been written to better reflect what was intended? The feedback from delegates and others who have heard the task force indicate that they are very prepared and professional. The consolidation of power is such a glaring consequence that I find it difficult to believe that it was unintentional, especially from such a thoroughly prepared group. When they are voted on at convention it is not the intentions that will go on the books but the actual wording of the proposals, am I wrong in thinking this, I am not familiar with the whole process? If the proposals are not what will be voted on then why thoroughly inform the delegates about them? If extra time is needed to review such comprehensive changes then shouldn’t it be with what would actually be voted on? It seems like waiting until that is available, if the task force’s final report is not such, would help the delegates to be much better informed as well as answer many questions and clarify any misunderstandings.

    These pre-gathering gatherings seem to be used as an opportunity to clarify intentions that would have no real bearing on the effects of the proposals. Educating delegates seems like a nice excuse to get more time to try and convince them to pass the proposals and get feedback for use in the floor committee to plan a strategy for their passage. We were told that the feedback from the district conventions were to help them shape the proposals, which would have been a good use since they were otherwise useless. They were especially useless for any sort of statistics but that is exactly how they were used in the final report. I’m not sure what the rationale is for feedback and ratings at these gatherings. Isn’t the task force done? This feedback can’t be used to shape the proposals. It is only useful for planning a strategy for the convention. All of these pre-gathering gatherings give them lots of useful information, even the sort of questions that are asked. Knowing the questions and concerns of the actual delegates now will give them plenty of time to prepare a solid defense for when it really counts.

  27. Helen
    December 28th, 2009 at 10:53 | #27

    @Carl Vehse #21

    I defer to your more extensive knowledge of Missouri history, Carl.
    I’ve only spent half my life in synod. You were there. :)

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