Report on the Northwest District Convention, Part 1, by Scott Diekmann

(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.


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.


Report on the Northwest District Convention, Part 1, by Scott Diekmann — 7 Comments

  1. With the licensed deacon programs continuing both in the NW and the RMD, so much for the discussions at the 2007 Synodical Convention that these programs were to be done away with. This was in light of the SMP program that has now started at both seminaries. I don’t remember what time was given and don’t have the proceedings in front of me. Of course, this could have just been the conversations I had with the seminary representatives at the convention who thought that the programs would die a self death. But then I realize that with no true Scriptural or Confessional footing for either program–both will probably continue to exist side by side until the Synod does finally split.

  2. The Atlantic District also has Licensed Lay-Deacons. These lay-deacons can be men or women, so by nature they cannot all be ordained as an SMP.

    This is from their guidelines…

    3.1 Members of the district diaconate are men and women who have been selected by the Church to serve after the example of our Lord Jesus. They are Christian people in their usual employment and life who are trained and formed by additional study and prayer for a special ministry to the Church and to the world on the Church’s behalf.

    NOTE the duties do impinge on the Office of the Holy Ministry. Moreover, the district does not distinguish between male deacons and female deacons. Historically, women (deaconesses) have had their own “office” that held a different function from that of male deacons. I was amazed to read this directly from the AD’s own documents. See the points below…

    4.3 Members of the district diaconate shall neither preside at the Holy Eucharist nor exercise the Office of the Keys. In the absence of an ordained pastor and with approval of the pastor and congregation, the deacon may serve at the divine service including the communion liturgy using reserved sacrament. This practice should be used sparingly so as to not confuse the “Office of Deacon” and the “Office of Pastor.” The deacon may officiate at funerals under the direction of a supervising pastor. The deacon may proclaim the Gospel in formal and informal settings after he/she has received training in homiletics and while remaining under the supervision of an ordained pastor.

    4.4 However, members of the diaconate are urged to lead the congregation in such historically diaconal roles as the Kyrie, the Prayers of the Church, preparation of the altar for the Lord’s Supper, and receiving the offerings of the people. These tasks are not to be undertaken to usurp the privilege of other congregation members to serve as assisting ministers but rather to serve wherever possible as a living example and reminder to the congregation of our common baptismal calling to priestly service in the world.

    Mr. Diekmann’s quote from the Augsburg Confession needs to be thoroughly examined and prayed over before implementing such broad duties to male and female lay deacons.

    Here is the link to the Atlantic District’s Deacon Guidelines.

  3. Even the SMP program is too cumbersome for the Northwest District. They claim it is too expensive. They also argue that our district is unique, due to the large area that must be covered in the State of Alaska. Because of these reasons, it is therefore acceptable, even desirable, to ignore Scriptural mandates on how we may obtain this faith, and instead do whatever works.

  4. With the expansion of evangelicalism in the form of misapplied CG, the ad hoc approval for openly homosexual members, the PLI and the use of outdated management by objective or goal mangerment, and a Presidnet of Synod who seems to lack ethics in his dealings with a small radio station and his manipulation of the election process; I have to ask; are we a Confessional, orthodox Lutheran church any longer? Why should we not be uniting with WELS? Make no mistake about it we are in serious trouble and it is sad as I watch the LCMS leaving us.

  5. WELS has many of the same troubles. They have many pastors into the church growth movement, lay ministry by virtue of parochial school teachers acting as pastors, and a general Pietism that afflicts many areas of church life.

    ELDoNA would be a much better choice, or at least a new synod that doesn’t repeat the errors of previous synods. But a lot of these problems with the LCMess are not recent. The problem is that everytime a new controversy arises, pastors and laity wake up to the problems. But the new problem is that they think the fight just started with them and then they drag the thing out over and over on things that had been already tried and failed.

  6. I response to Rev Bauer, as a former LCMS and now a WELS layperson, I do not find the Church Growth movement as an issue in WELS. There is no synodical movement like ABLAZE in LCMS. I would never deny the potential exists, but WELS pastors that I know from our Minnesota District are faithful preachers. There are no school teachers in WELS acting as pastors.

    As a confessional Lutheran currently also in the WELS, I pray for God’s blessings on the LCMS. There are some in WELS that only see the synod and its errors, but most WELS also know that the invisible church contains many of our LCMS brothers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.