(Scott’s other posts are archived on the Regular Columns page of the website under the title “Apologetics – Aply Liberally to the Affected Area.”)
The Northwest District Convention met June 18-20 in Portland, Oregon. We began the Convention being one of the more liberal Districts, and we departed in the same condition. President Warren Schumacher retired after 15 years of service as the District President. Give him credit for longevity in a tough role. I hope President Schumacher and his wife Judy will enjoy their retirement, although he still has a bit of work left ahead of him, since he was elected to the Synod Nominating Committee. While he’s certainly a nice guy and ran an on-time convention, Rev. Schumacher’s theology and practice left many confessional Lutherans shaking their heads – especially those confessional Lutheran pastors whom President Schumacher called (in the Fall 2008 edition of “Northwest Passage”) “past-oriented museum-keeper colleagues.”
The general consensus among the confessional delegates is that neither of the two most confessional nominees was elected as President or a Vice President. Rev. Paul Linnemann was elected President. I wish him and his wife Cindy well as he transitions from parish pastor to District President.
The resolutions that were passed, as well as those that weren’t passed, offer another indication for how the Convention went. Resolution 2-07, “To Work with Other Christians to Reach Those Who Do Not Know Christ and Memorialize Synod to Do the Same,” which I previously discussed as being unionistic, died a well deserved death, since the allotted time expired before it could be passed. We were in the process of amending it to make it less objectionable when its timely death occurred. This was the brightest spot in the resolution story.
Two resolutions that would have memorialized the Synod to exercise care in implementing the Blue Ribbon structural changes were placed by the floor committee into Omnibus Resolution C (which is the Omnibus containing resolutions that they “respectfully decline” and recommend you do the same). This Omnibus was sent back to the committee for further consideration on Day 1, and, not surprisingly, never again made an appearance. The Convention wasn’t silent on the Blue Ribbon proposals however, instead passing Resolution 1-02, “To Support the Work of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance.” A couple of delegates voiced such glowing support for the task force and their ideas that their wives must have been jealous.
Resolution 2-01, “To Continue Tracking the Spirit as an Effective Movement of Outreach for the 21st Century,” passed by a large margin. This program (which I’ve blogged about previously), is another Law-driven program which puts us, rather than the Holy Spirit, in the driver’s seat.
Resolution 1-03a, “To Retain Licensed Deacon Program,” also passed by a large margin. This resolution continues the pragmatics-driven use of laymen to perform Word and Sacrament ministry, in conjunction with the NOW District’s Leadership Advancement Process (LAP), which would more truthfully be named Laymen As Pastors. This practice ignores Augsburg Confession Article XIV, which reads “Our churches teach that no one should publically teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call.” An amendment to this Resolution was brought before the delegates by one of the confessional pastors. If adopted, this amendment would have had these deacons ordained. Certainly, this pastor didn’t think these deacons were qualified for ordination, but this amendment would have caused a thoughtful delegate who favored the original resolution to vote in favor of the amendment, since they are already assigning the duties of an ordained servant of the Word to these deacons. The amendment was defeated by a large margin. So much for Augustana XIV and Order in the Church. Pragmatics drives this District, not doctrine.
These resolutions are an indicator of the theological mindset that permeates the Northwest District. To view the pre-Convention form of all the resolutions, go to the NOW District Convention page, scroll down, and click on “Section 8 – Resolutions.” A report on the final disposition of all the resolutions, including others I haven’t mentioned, can be found here and here.