Invited Guests from Around the Synod Take the BRTFSSG Survey and Share their Responses with Commentary ““ Today’s Guest: Dr. Bethany Tanis

We have invited over thirty people from around the synod to take the BRTFSSG survey and share with us their responses and comments. (You can take the survey yourself by clicking here.) Our list of invitees includes seminary professors, congregation chairs, lay elders, men, women, and even the top positions in the synod (yes, all the way to the top). The responses are starting to come in. We do not know how many will take us up on the invitation but hope it will be a good sampling of LCMS notables and regular folks. If you are interested in sharing your responses with commentary please e-mail me. We may not be able to post all responses but we would love to hear from you.

Today’s guest is Dr. Bethany Tanis. We discovered Bethany on our comments pges. She demonstrated such an accurate knowledge of church history that we asked her to write a series on Calvinism and Lutheranism.

The Survey on
The Blue Ribbon Task Force’s Proposals

1) Affirm in our governing documents the mission and purpose of Synod    Strongly Disagree
I see no problem with the currently existing objectives. Also, III.B.8 would apparently eliminate the phrase “encourage congregations to strive for uniformity in church practice” currently found in III.7. Since I think it is wise to use our Christian freedom to strive toward unity of practice (which will reinforce unity of doctrine), I do not approve of deleting this phrase.
2.1) Doctrinal resolutions of special significance and doctrinal statements will require a two-thirds vote at Synod convention.    Strongly Disagree
Fails to acknowledge that doctrine is determined on the basis of the Word of God, not on the basis of votes. Although I know that determining resolutions and statements are not exactly the same thing as the doctrine itself, I still think it would have been wise to reaffirm the basis of our doctrinal positions. This proposal also seems to eliminate the need for congregations to vote on doctrinal resolutions.
2.2) Reaffirm, clarify, amplify and strengthen constitution (Art VIII) and bylaws to enhance doctrinal unity.    Strongly Disagree
I am unclear as to how this proposal would achieve its stated goal.
3.1) Congregations are the voting members of the Synod.    Strongly Agree
3.2) Ministers of Religion (ordained and commissioned) are members of the Synod who are eligible to serve as delegates of congregations to conventions of the Synod and in districts.    Not Sure
I think “Minister of Religion” is a bad category, period. The only ministry is of Word and Sacrament and if you don’t do that you are a layperson.
3.3) Lay people, though not rostered members of the Synod itself, are closely linked to the Synod through their affiliation with member congregations of the Synod.    Agree
4) Consider a New Name for Our Synod    Disagree
Pro: Missouri Synod is probably baffling for people unfamiliar with the history of American Lutheranism. Con: Missouri Synod is known by many to stand for confessional Lutheranism. If the name changed, it would cause confusion. This is probably an especially bad time to consider a name change given the division and bitterness currently existing throughout the Synod.
5) Voting delegates at conventions shall be one of the called pastors of the congregation and one lay person or minister of religion- commissioned of the congregation.    Disagree
See above comments on “ministers of religion.” Nevertheless, I don’t think we want conventions to be dominated by professional church employees.
6.1) Multiple-congregation parishes being served by one or more pastors are entitled to one pastoral vote, with each congregation in the parish having one non-ordained vote.    Not Sure
Not sure how this one would play out.
6.2) Congregations with a pastoral vacancy are entitled to a vote by the vacancy pastor and one non-ordained vote.    Disagree
Congregations should be encouraged to call pastors (there are plenty out there waiting for a call!), not rely on the cheaper method of using a vacancy pastor or (much worst yet) lay ministry. We should not encourage pastoral vacancies.
6.3) Congregations with more than 1000 confirmed members are entitled to two additional votes, at least one being a lay person.    Strongly Disagree
I find this completely appalling. If the members of the Synod are congregations and if all congregations share equally in the gracious presence of our Lord, then why should some get more votes? Membership numbers are completely irrelevant to being a voting member of the Synod. This spells trouble for our theological understanding of the church as far as I’m concerned.
7.1) Establish a fixed number of total voting delegates to the national convention at approximately 650.    Strongly Disagree
Centralization of power – a bad idea!
7.2) Amend the bylaws to delete the “advisory delegate” category from national conventions and reduce the number of “advisory representatives”.    Not Sure
This is probably not a very good idea, but I’m not totally sure.
8.1) Determine each district’s number of delegates according to that district’s percentage of the total number of congregations and confirmed members in Synod.    Strongly Disagree
More centralization of power and eliminates congregational representation by replacing it with district representation. Since congregations are the member bodies delegates should function as their direct representatives.
8.2) Allow each district to determine how delegates would be selected.    Strongly Disagree
Again, damages the concept of congregational representation and will end uniformity.
8.3) Whichever method or system a district uses to choose its delegates, it would choose an equal number of ordained and non-ordained delegates.    Not Sure
Not totally sure about this, but I would probably disagree
9.1) Encourage the submission of overtures from congregations to their district conventions through circuit forums.    Strongly Disagree
Damages congregational representation and would probably stifle the overtures of congregations out of theological lockstep with their circuits as a whole.
9.2) Encourage the submission of overtures from congregations to the national convention through their district conventions.    Strongly Disagree
Damages congregational representation and would probably stifle the overtures of congregations out of theological lockstep with their districts as a whole.
9.3) While all overtures submitted would still be considered, resolutions from circuit forums and district conventions would receive priority at district and Synod conventions, respectively.    Strongly Disagree
Damages congregational representation and would probably stifle the overtures of congregations out of theological lockstep with the Synod as a whole.
10) Hold district and national conventions in a four year cycle.    Disagree
I think there’s enough business to keep everyone busy every 3 years.
11) Allow Flexibility of Circuit Structure    Strongly Disagree
This will undoubtedly create special interest groups and make fellowship based less on doctrine and more on accidental qualities of LCMS congregations.
12) Consider future district configurations (give the job to the COP to report to the 2013 convention)    Not Sure
13) Establish Five Regions in Our Synod    Strongly Disagree
I really don’t see the point in this besides creating yet another level of bureaucracy. This could also tend toward the centralization of power.
14.1) Implement process for quadrennial Synod Priorities    Not Sure
Not sure, but leaning more toward approve.
14.2) Realign national Synod ministries into two Mission Advisory Councils    Strongly Disagree
Smashes organizations with different objectives into unhelpful conglomerations. This would also centralize power.
14.21) International Missionary Advisory Council and National Mission Advisory Council.    Strongly Disagree
See above 14.2
14.22) Council staff execs report to Synod President    Strongly Disagree
A serious centralization of power in the office of President.
14.3) Provide coordination with districts for certain ministries.    Not Sure
I’m not sure what this would mean
14.4) Transfer some responsibilities to districts    Not Sure
See above 14.3
14.5) Transfer most BUE and BPE responsibilities to regents and BOD (CUS would continue with certain responsiblities) .    Not Sure
What does the BUE even do? Which responsibilities would be transferred?
15.1) Involve the totality of congregations in selecting candidates for the Synod President and First Vice President    Not Sure
I don’t understand what the problem and the point of this is
15.2) President and First Vice President elected as a team.    Strongly Disagree
Another major centralization of power
16) Election of Synod Vice-Presidents Regionally    Strongly Disagree
Election of VPs should be based on ability, not geographic origin.
17.1) The Board of Directors composed of 17 voting members, as defined in the presentation.    Strongly Disagree
30% seems like an awful lot to appoint.
17.2) First Vice President, Secretary and VP-Finance/Treasure are non-voting members.    Disagree
It makes no sense to me that these members would be non-voting
18.1) Elect or appoint all Synod and district officers and board members to four year terms.    Disagree
Irrelevant if you don’t want the new 4-year cycle.
18.2) Have no term limits for district presidents    Strongly Disagree
This is a setup for the concentration and potentially abuse of power
18.3) Have no term limits for any national board and commission members.    Strongly Disagree
See above 18.2
19) Expand the certification process for pastoral candidates.    Strongly Disagree
Should not take certification away from seminaries.

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.

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