MoDist Gains: Convention Review, Part One (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

Last week the Missouri District held its convention, and, I am happy to report, it went even better than expected! In terms of elections and resolutions, we made more than “MoDist Gains.”

ELECTIONS

True, the incumbent DP was reelected, but that was entirely predictable. The candidate we were backing, though, was elected First Vice-President, and another candidate we supported was elected 2VP. These two men are nine and thirteen years younger, respectively, than the current DP, who turns 65 this year, so this bodes well for the future. We also did well, for the most part, on the rest of the elections (officers, boards, committees).

One election with national implications was for our Missouri District delegate and alternate to the Synod’s Committee for Convention Nominations. That committee will prepare the lists of nominees for all the various offices, boards, commissions, etc., to be elected at the national synod convention in 2010. There were four candidates for these two positions: two well-known Jesus Firsters and two “confessional guys.” The difference could not have been clearer. And the “confessional guys” won both slots! So yours truly now is the alternate for that committee. Since I was trailing a very well-known Jesus Firster going into the last ballot, I was the most surprised guy in the house!

RESOLUTIONS

The meaty resolutions dealing with issues in the Synod all were assigned to Committee 2, Theology and Church Relations. Three years ago, the Missouri District passed a number of strong resolutions, memorializing the Synod on these subjects, but that was with a different floor committee, appointed by a different district president, and that floor committee was in favor of the overtures that had been submitted. This time around, though, the floor committee either declined or gutted most of the overtures we submitted. So we had our work cut out for us. What happened? We were able to override the floor committee and get our resolutions passed anyway! In fact, we ran the table! I’ll mention three of them here:

Res. 2-01, “To Memorialize Synod to Review the Role of Women in the Church”: The floor committee neutered the original overture by taking out the key resolved, “that the Missouri District memorializes the Synod to rescind 2004 Res. 3-08A. . . .” We put that resolved back in by moving the original overture, and it passed with a 78% vote!

Res. 2-02, “To Memorialize Synod to Direct the CTCR to Restudy Guidelines for Participation in Civic Events”: The floor committee declined this overture “because the CTCR issued a response. . . .” However, the CTCR’s “response” was really a non-response: “it is impossible to provide specific guidance” on the matter of serial prayer. So we moved the original overture, and it passed with a 68% vote!

Res. 2-04, “To Memorialize Synod to Overrule CCM Opinions 02-2296; 02-2320; and 02-2309”: The floor committee declined this overture, as well as a similar overture (2-05), calling for the CCM opinions on Ecclesiastical Supervision to be overruled. We first moved a substitute resolution, which avoided the objections the floor committee raised but still kept the key resolved, that the Synod overrule the CCM opinions. The delegate read this long, well-reasoned substitute resolution, but then, all of a sudden, the DP said, “I rule this resolution out of order, because the title, ‘To Ask Synod . . .’ does not agree with the wording of the resolved, ‘that the Synod overrule. . . .'” Well, this seemed awfully nitpicky to most of the delegates–there was an audible groan across the hall. I was about to move to amend the resolved to read, “that the Missouri District ask the Synod to overrule . . .” when another delegate got the floor and moved the original overture, which was even stronger than the substitute resolution. And here is where the story takes a surprising twist.

President Kieschnick asked to address the convention. He said that he appreciated the tenor and tone of the overture, and that he would support . . . overruling the CCM opinions! Did we hear him right?? These were the opinions of the CCM he himself had largely appointed! These were the CCM opinions that dealt with the ecclesiastical supervision he himself had employed to get DP Benke off the hook! These were the binding CCM opinions that many, many overtures to the 2004 and 2007 conventions had sought to overrule–and which Chairman Kieschnick’s own floor committees had buried! And now, President Kieschnick would go along with overruling them??

I stood up and said, “I am gobsmacked! I never thought I would say this: I agree with President Kieschnick . . .” (that got a big laugh) “. . . on the matter of Ecclesiastical Supervision. I look forward, President Kieschnick, to you giving this resolution the highest priority at the 2010 convention, so we can overrule these erroneous CCM opinions.” The resolution then passed with a 78% vote!

So why would President Kieschnick throw us this bone on the CCM opinions? I can think of two possible reasons. One is that he lets us pass this resolution but then he will have his floor committee bury it, just as what happened to so many similar overtures and district resolutions in 2004 and 2007. That is possible. But something President Kieschnick said in passing raises a different possibility. He mentioned the changes to the Dispute Resolution Process that were made at the 2004 convention. Putting two and two together, therefore, it’s possible that they think they don’t need the CCM opinions anymore! The DRP has been changed to such an extent that the DPs and SP are pretty well insulated against any discipline, even without the CCM opinions! Perhaps that is why Kieschnick is willing to let the CCM opinions go now. In any case, we should hold Chairman Kieschnick to his words and still seek to get these bad and binding opinions overruled.

You can find the texts of these resolutions (2-01, 2-02, and 2-04) by going to the Missouri District Convention webpage, clicking on the Convention Workbook, and finding the original overtures submitted (not what the floor committee tried to do to them).

There were two other important resolutions that we passed, and they dealt with the Blue Ribbon restructuring proposals. But I will save that for Part Two of my convention review, where I will focus on our convention’s reaction to the Blue Ribbon Task Force’s presentation.

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