Here is How You Can Get Involved to Assure Better Leaders are Elected in Our Synod to Bring Us Better Theology, by Pr. Rob Jarvis

(Politics in the LCMS is not a bad thing. It is a necessary thing. On this website we are committed to supporting the theology of the Lutheran Confessions and one crucial way of doing that is to elect good confessional leaders. We received the following letter from Pastor Rob Jarvis. He wrote it to folks in his circuit in Northern Minnesota. It is an excellent call to all of us, pastors and laity alike to get active in defending good theology in our church by getting involved in the political process that elects our leaders. Please take this advice to heart. Pastor Jarvis is a member of the CLCC. Other posts from the CLCC can be viewed here on our Regular Columns archive. For more help on LCMS politics go to our LCMSpolitics wiki.)

Dear Faithful,

Our circuit, the Appleton circuit, has already put a date on the calendar for the circuit forum when we will select a delegate to go to the convention. All of us, speaking for our congregations, are going to have to ask two questions.

1) Who will be the lay representative who will be asked to attend the circuit forum? The wording in the handbook says this, “The privilege of voting shall be exercised by one pastor and one layperson from each member congregation of the circuit, both of whom shall have been selected in the manner prescribed by the congregation..” My guess is that in most congregations, the pastor selects whom he wants to attend the circuit forum. This could be the “manner prescribed by the congregation,” and is just the default. If your congregation doesn’t vote to select a representative, then volunteer to attend before he chooses someone, especially if your pastor is one who doesn’t tend to represent your ecclesiastical/political views. If you know who is likely to be chosen either by him or by the congregation and it is someone you trust, then let it run its course.

2) Who will your congregation nominate to be the delegates to the convention? A congregation is not obligated to nominate its own laymember. You want to make sure the one you nominate is present at the circuit forum, though. That name has to be submitted before the forum so there is a slate of candidates. Keep in mind the order of the election. First the pastoral delegate. That will have the effect of eliminating any lay delegates from his congregation. So make sure the lay delegate and the pastoral delegate you prefer are not from the same congregation. Then the lay delegate. Then the pastoral delegate alternate and then the lay delegate alternate. By the time you are done, you will have selected people from 4 different congregations, each one under a different pastor’s care (except for in the case of vacancies).

Copied below is the wording in the synodical handbook.

(c) The privilege of voting shall be exercised by one pastor and one layperson from each member congregation of the circuit, both of whom shall have been selected in the manner prescribed by the congregation. Multiple parishes shall be entitled to a lay vote from each member congregation. (Synod Handbook

(e) Prior to the meeting of the electoral circuit, each congregation may nominate one layperson, either from its congregation or from the circuit. These names must be submitted to the circuit counselor prior to the day of the circuit meeting and shall constitute the slate of candidates. All congregational nominees, except those who have been eliminated through the election of the pastoral delegate, shallbe eligible for election. (Synod Handbook, page 90)

As you can see, these paragraphs aren’t all that refers to the circuit forums and delegate selection in the handbook, but it gives you a general idea.

Easter joy,
Pr. Jarvis

This is duplicated on the site.

Posted in CLCC permalink

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Here is How You Can Get Involved to Assure Better Leaders are Elected in Our Synod to Bring Us Better Theology, by Pr. Rob Jarvis — 20 Comments

  1. I need to make a slight correction in the second paragraph. Congregations do not nominate pastors. It is my understanding all eligible pastors are automatically put on the slate, to be elected (along with a lay delegate) by congregational representatives at the forum.

  2. When the Titanic was sinking, choosing a new Captain and crew would have been of no benefit. The LCMS won’t be saved by politics. It is time to get in the remaining lifeboats and get away far away from the sinking ship.

    The LCMS is a dying and heterodox group.

  3. You want to make sure the one you nominate is present at the circuit forum, though.”

    This is critical for any nominee because of the following section in the LMCS Bylaws: Congregations shall not require their delegates to vote in accordance with specific instructions, but every delegate shall be permitted to vote according to his or her own conviction.

    Nominees should be questioned (interrogated?) prior to the vote, because once elected they are free to vote as they want regardless of any expressed views of the congregations they represent.

    Questions should not only relate to the nominees’ positions on theological issues, but also on their awareness of synodical historical polity as well as Robert’s Rules of Order.

    Attempts by the Chair or others to limit (or avoid) questioning of the nominees should be soundly refuted by reference to Bylaw and the need to understand the nominee’s convictions in general (and specific) areas.

  4. Carol,

    You’re right. The LCMS won’t be saved by politics, but only by returning to faithfulness to God and His Word. I believe we still have the God given right to be informed and active and try to elect people that are dedicated to staying faithful to God and His Word, in order to try to right this sinking ship the right way. Not through new programs, but with returning to the Word. God has always drawn His chosen back when they’ve strayed. I pray He will do that for the LCMS, otherwise, you’re right, we need to get in the life boats and get away from the sinking ship.

  5. One of the problems we face is that those who just had an awakening about the problems with the LCMS and get actively involved think they are basically the first round of the efforts, when the reality is that these same things have been tried and failed for umpteen conventions.

    When confronted with a sinking ship one should get off of it. Trying to steer a sinking ship probably makes it sink quicker. Righting a ship’s direction ends with the hole in the boat or it being fatally swamped.

    But we need to realize that the only reason we’d go down with the sinking synod is if we keep ourselves lashed to it. We’re already in the lifeboats, if we are in parishes which faithfully preach the Word and administer the sacraments. Where they’ll remain unfaithful is if they keep fellowship with those in error (2 John 4-11; Romans 16:17). Keeping control of synodical infrastructure is not the same thing as preserving the marks of the church. Stewardship of the mysteries of God is the primary task here.

    The amount of time, money, and such spent on these triennial exercises could easily be put toward new confessional institutions. Better stewardship.

    But go ahead and do what you think wise for 2009-2010, but then be done with it. A new synod is not the worst thing. Synods come and go but the truth and the Church does not. Lets think beyond the next convention to the next generation.

  6. I was the lay delegate to our district convention and our congregation extends that to the circuit forum. My pastor, also circuit counselor, has asked me to be a nominee for the lay delegate to the national convention. He was the previous pastoral delegate with a layman from a liberal congregation. His hope is to get me as the lay delegate and one of the confessional pastors as the pastoral delegate. Two confessional votes out of the CNH might be two more than anyone would expect 😉

  7. The subject of this thread is how to elect good delegates at the circuit forums. It is not about giving up and leaving the synod. If you find a thread on “staying or leaving,” that would be the place to post those comments, instead of trying to hijack this thread.

  8. For whatever it’s worth, I simply cannot imagine a scenario where the current Synodical President and others are voted out of office and are replaced by confessional leadership. I would love to be convinced I’m wrong. But short of direct divine intervention, I do not think it is possible to elect a solid slate of confessional candidates.

    Bethany Tanis

  9. “I would love to be convinced I’m wrong.”

    Alright, Bethany, here goes: The current Synod President has, in three tries, received 51%, 53%, and 52%. So it is certainly not beyond imagination–indeed, it is quite a realistic possibility–that he can be beaten. Therefore, electing good delegates at the circuit forums becomes very important.

  10. BTW, it isn’t about “giving up” but what Scripture says about fellowship with those who teach differently (where “synod” doesn’t exist). Getting the right people elected doesn’t produce “synod” or “save the synod.” “Synod” is recognized where there is already doctrinal agreement but not made by majority vote getting right head of a left-hand organization.

  11. I do find it funny that as much as we like to cite the fact that Luther didn’t voluntarily leave the Roman Catholic Church (though he did advocate no longer sending money and other support, and much else outside official channels before and after his excommunication), his avenue for reform wasn’t organizing to get this guy elected bishop or that guy elected pope, and passing this canon law. Even while hoping for a council (as evidenced in Smalcald Articles) it never happened, and only Trent happened. Trent kind of sealed the deal that there was no more dialogue. Seems like so much of a Simon Peter cutting off an ear. It shall not be so among you.

  12. Bethany Tanis posted, “For whatever it’s worth, I simply cannot imagine a scenario where the current Synodical President and others are voted out of office and are replaced by confessional leadership.”

    Why not? The synodical convention elected Jack Preus in 1969, replacing Oliver Harms, and Alvin Barry in 1992, replacing Ralph Bohlmann. Of course it would be presumptuous to expect a compete, 100-percent replacement at a single convention. But the goal of any amount of change in corporate leadership of the Missouri Synod will require the efforts of confessional Lutherans at the congregational and circuit level as Rev. Jarvis has urged.

    I hope this and Rev. Henrickson’s comments will enable the education director at First Lutheran Church to provide positive encouragement to the young college members in the congregation. I know that Rev. Dutzman did when my daughter and her future husband attended church there a decade ago.

  13. Thank you, Pr Henrickson and others. If you think about it, trying to get good delegates to the convention, done at the circuit level, really doesn’t take a lot of time and effort. It just takes concerned people in the local area who take an interest for the sake of others in the circuit. And this is where it needs to be because so much can be done at that level.

    Looking at strictly the political side of it, getting good delegates isn’t even just about electing one guy. If you have knowledgeable delegates, more can be done when they are in Houston. Can they turn over the boards? Probably not. But they can elect board members who will challenge those who want to follow the synod’s current direction. I could also see them defeating all of the unhelpful proposals of the BRTFSSG, and maybe passing some good resolutions.

    But more permanent is the activity that can happen at the local level. Venues like BJS, Issues Etc. and many others have been capturing the attention of many people, and giving them information they would not have had otherwise. As a result, I have been watching people become more familiar with the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. This can only have a positive effect on our synod. I have also seen individuals, as they have become better catechized, reaching out to fellow members in their congregations, to help them see why it is important they also know the faith.

    Therefore, I encourage you to look at the coming synodical convention as a catalyst, a catalyst for more confessional and catechetical activity as well as political activity. To start, seeking a good delegate forces people out of the safety of just chatting on the internet, into taking action at the local level. So really, getting ready for this convention actually gives us an opportunity for much more than we may first think.

  14. As one who attended a Missouri Synod high school and had parents who both grew up in the synod (and left during after high school – even when JAO Preus came in – it didn’t make a big impact on them), I want to especially emphasize the role that schools can have in keeping orthodoxy in this church body.

    The tendency toward evangelical theology throughout my Lutheran high school and other local Lutheran grade schools (and churches) did not convince me to become a Lutheran. It was only when I received a classical, liberal arts education in the Western tradition, that I encountered the Gospel.

    It seems as though schools in the synod are run by those who hold to various tenets of John Dewey’s educational philosophy. They do not look back to the past to answer fundamental, first principle questions about the nature of God, the nature of man, or how man knows of God. Furthermore, many of these teachers think of education in terms of job training. It is not an education that seeks to know and love the true, the good, and the beautiful.

    Sturm and Melanchthon, as part of the Reformation, developed a classical curriculum for schools throughout Germany. That model of education is rooted in fundamental principles regarding man’s sinful nature and the need for man’s habits and reason to be rightly ordered. The model of education throughout the synod today (with the exception of a few classical Lutheran schools) is far different. The Lutheran understanding of man’s nature and the world must return to our schools. This is a much more difficult task, but one with far-reaching results.

  15. Dan,

    You are so right. We have a great school where I am called. The teachers are all very supportive of a good confessional congregation. However, as to educational philosophy they are very much schooled in Dewey and the other American pragmatists.

    Check out the stories on the top of the home page of this website. Have you read the series of stories on the Concordia professors signing the petition in support of William Ayers? Just as spooky as there support for a terrorist is their support of his humanist philosophy of education which is clearly summarized in the peitition.


  16. Dan,

    You raise a good point about the role of schools preserving orthodoxy. From what I had understood (although your report on your parents makes me question my understanding), many of the laity who were involved in the 70’s conflict had been educated through the synod’s school system. Back then (again, as I had thought), they catechized them to be Lutheran. As it is today–there is little question–too many have sold out to American Evangelicalism. This means if it should be our Lord’s gracious will for us to go on this long, we will look to them later in the long run, to raise another generation of Lutherans. In the short run, however, we need to rely on pastors and laity trying to reach other laity, with the simple message that it is important they know the faith.

    I had suggested this convention could be a catalyst. I chose that word very intentionally. We have a lot of things going in our favor, politically speaking. We have a good candidate for president. We have had a leadership that has been making a lot of mistakes. We have the technology to publish this information widely and quickly. Getting people motivated to be involved in the local politics could be considered first level, on our way to the more important matters, like encouraging others to know the faith.

    So, let’s use it. I think people see the political picture, but still might feel unqualified to get involved. We have a good entry level for interested people to step out of their comfort zones, and start bringing what they are reading and discussing into their congregations. Think about the circuit forum. It is important that they attend their circuit forum so they can speak for and select the best delegates to attend the convention. From there, they can go on and look at others in their congregation who might be interested, and invite them to start confessional reading groups, listen to Issues Etc., visit good websites, read good Lutheran material or attend conferences where they can learn more about what is at stake, like the ones the ACL (Association of Confessional Lutherans) and the CLCC (Confessional Lutherans for Christ’s Commission)offer.

    Throughout all of this, I would suggest we would pray diligently so the devil does not use any of this to distract us from the real purpose, the proclamation of forgiveness in Christ.

    Having said all this, maybe I’m too much of an optimist. But what I have described, at least in my mind, doesn’t seem too far-fetched. I hope others will agree.

  17. Carl Vehse made a helpful post above regarding the allowance for questioning of nominees prior to vote/election for convention. My followup question to this is simply whether or not one can legally inquire from the elected nominees how they actually DID vote on certain overtures at convention after the fact. Anyone know?

  18. Pastor Henrickson, I apologize but feel compelled to chime in on the discussion above about deserting the LCMS. Bethany, I urge you to take the long view. Dan is right about schools being a key to the future of the Synod. A huge part of that is our seminaries. My own experience is very limited, but the handful of recent seminary graduates have impressed me as solid confessional young men who are serving with energy and heart. If they are a representative sample of the young pastors that are entering service in our Synod, then our future is very bright.

  19. I do agree that there are many opportunities at the upcoming convention. However, let us not forget to nominate and elect conservative, confessional educators to the boards of the Concordias and not just focus on the office of the president.

    Again, more important than the offices at the top, churches should bring their schools back to the classical model schools had at the time of the Reformation. If churches do not have schools, they might consider starting schools or encouraging parents to send their children to local classical schools and then send them to true, classical, liberal arts colleges (i.e. Hillsdale College).

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