On June 4, the Missouri Synod kicks off “District Convention Month,” with the remaining 26 (of the 35) conventions being held in a span of 34 days! (Here or here is a convention schedule.) At those district conventions, representatives of President Kieschnick’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance (BRTFSSG) will be allotted two hours of convention time, the first hour to make their presentation and conduct their survey, the second hour to take comments and questions from the floor.
It will be helpful for delegates and others attending the conventions to be prepared ahead of time. I encourage everyone to check out the materials linked on the BRTFSSG home page. In particular, please read carefully and critically the Current District Convention Report (either the 110-slide version or the 28-page version). This is the presentation you will be shown at your district convention (unless they have changed it . . . again).
Immediately after the presentation, you will be asked to respond to the BRTFSSG survey. There will be no time permitted for discussion between the presentation and the survey. So you will need to have thought through the presentation proposals and the related survey statements. I also enourage you to get some other views on the presentation and survey by going to the Interested Laymen’s site, blueribbonsurvey.org. And you can read my take on the proposals at steadfastlutherans.org. Those two sites are working with a previous version of the presentation and survey, so the order and wording won’t be exactly identical, but the gist of the content will be pretty much the same.
Which leads me to this. Here now, below, is the most recent version of the survey, with the wording and order as they appeared at the last convention held (CNH), in mid-May. (And here is a link to the pdf of the survey used at the CNH District Convention.)
Note: Section headings No. 1, No. 14, No. 15, No. 18, and No. 20 will call for your response on the scale of 5 (SA) to 1 (SD), as will of course all of the statements under all of the headings. The other section headings will not call for a response for the heading per se.
WALKING TOGETHER: THE LCMS FUTURE
______ DISTRICT CONVENTION FEEDBACK
RESPONDENT CATEGORY: (circle one)
1 – Voting Ordained, 2 – Voting Lay, 3 – Advisory Ordained, 4 – Advisory Lay, 5 – Advisory Commissioned, 6 – Other
Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with each of the following by circling the appropriate number:
5 = Strongly agree (SA), 4 = Agree (A), 3 = Not sure (NS), 2 = Disagree (D), 1 = Strongly disagree (SD)
No. 1: Affirm in Our Governing Documents the Mission and Purpose of Our Synod
No. 2: Emphasize the Importance of Doctrinal Resolutions and Doctrinal Statements
2.1 Doctrinal resolutions of special significance and doctrinal statements will require a two-thirds vote at Synod convention.
2.2 Reaffirm, clarify, amplify, and strengthen Constitution (Art. VIII) and Bylaws to enhance doctrinal unity.
No. 3: Clarify the Categories of Membership in Our Synod
3.1 Congregations are the voting members of the Synod.
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 its districts.
3.3 Laypeople, although not rostered members of the Synod itself, are closely linked to the Synod through their affiliation with member congregations of the Synod and are eligible to serve as delegates to conventions.
No. 4: Redefine Congregational Representation to District Conventions, Including Commissioned Members
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.
No. 5: Determine Equitable Congregational Representation to District Conventions
5.1 Congregations with a pastoral vacancy are entitled to a vote by the vacancy pastor and one non-ordained vote.
5.2 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.
5.3 Congregations with more than 1,000 confirmed members are entitled to two additional votes, at least one being a layperson.
No. 6: Determine Congregational Representation to National Conventions
6.1 Determine each district’s number of delegates according to that district’s exact percentage of the total number of congregations and confirmed members in the Synod.
6.2 Allow each district to determine how these delegates would be selected.
6.3 Whichever method or system a district uses to choose its delegates, it would choose an equal number of ordained and non-ordained delegates.
No. 7: Establish a Fixed Number of Delegates to the National Convention
7.1 Establish a fixed number of total voting delegates to the national convention at approximately 650.
7.2 Amend the Bylaws to delete the “advisory delegate” category from national conventions and reduce the number of “advisory representatives.”
No. 8: Amend the Process of Submitting Overtures to National and District Conventions
8.1 Encourage the submission of overtures from congregations to their district conventions through circuit forums.
8.2 Encourage the submission of overtures from congregations to the Synod convention through their district conventions.
8.3 While all overtures submitted would still be considered, resolutions from circuit forums and district conventions would receive priority at district and Synod conventions, respectively.
No. 9: Amend the Frequency of District and National Conventions
Hold the district and national conventions in a four-year cycle.
No. 10: Restore Circuits to Their Primary Purpose
10.1 Allow districts flexibility in determining circuit configuration.
10.2 Circuit counselors would not be elected but rather appointed by the district president with the concurrence of the district board of directors, praesidium, and in consultation with the congregations of a given circuit.
No. 11: Consider Future District Configuration
11.1 Under convention-adopted criteria, the 2010 Synod convention directs the Council of Presidents to submit to the next Synod convention a recommendation with respect to the function and configuration of districts.
11.2 Reduce the number of districts to 15-25, each comprising approximately 200-400 congregations.
No. 12: Provide Collaborative and Efficient National Synod Structure
12.1 Implement process for Quadrennial Synod Priorities.
12.2 Realign national Synod ministries into two Mission Commissions:
12.21 Commission on International Mission
12.22 Commission on National Mission
12.23 Council staff execs report to Synod President
12.3 Provide coordination with districts for certain ministries.
12.4 Transfer some responsibilities to districts.
12.5 Transfer most BUE and BPE responsibilities to regents and BOD. (CUS would continue with certain responsibilities.)
No. 13: Involve the Totality of Congregations in the Election of Synod President and First Vice-President
13.1 Involve the totality of congregations in electing the Synod President and First Vice-President.
13.2 President and First Vice-President elected as a team.
No. 14: Arrange for Five Geographical Regions in the Synod
No. 15: Elect Synod Vice-Presidents Regionally
No. 16: Amend the Composition of Synod’s Board of Directors
16.1 The Board of Directors be composed of 17 voting members, as defined in the presentation.
16.2 First Vice-President, Secretary, and VP-Finance/Treasurer are non-voting members.
No. 17: Provide Consistency of Terms of Office and Term Limits
17.1 Elect or appoint all Synod and district officers and board and commission members to four-year terms.
17.2 Have no term limits for district presidents.
17.3 Have no term limits for any nationally elected board and commission members.
17.4 Districts may determine limits for their board and commission members and other officers.
No. 18: Priority of Synod Governing Documents
No. 19: Expand the Certification Process for Pastoral Candidates
19.1 In a collaborative effort with the seminaries, expand the responsibility for the final certification of pastoral candidates to include congregations being served, their district presidents, and circuit counselors.
19.2 This process would follow policies developed by the COP in consultation with the seminaries and currently in use in the Specific Ministry Pastor program.
19.3 Seminary faculties would continue to certify seminary Graduates’ satisfactory completion of initial requirements for Pastoral ministry.
No. 20: Consider a New Name for Our Synod
(Please write in your suggestion: _________________________________)
Your comments for the task force: