(The other posts in this series can be viewed by clicking on the Editor’s Blog in the Brother’s Cafe.)
So far we have considered several components of the Northern Illinois District (NID) convention including a motion passed in support of Issues, Etc., the questionable opening devotion, and President Kieschnick’s presentation. I will consider two more parts of the convention. In this post I will review the Blue Ribbon Task Force presentation and the final post in this series will be a review of the Ablaze grants in the NID. One of the most interesting comments in the two hour presentation was Rev. Greene’s assertion that he does not care how all this turns out. That assertion came during the Q & A period which we will review later in this post.
What struck me most about the presentation was how quickly it was given. This is not an exaggeration. Chairman Greene had to speed read to get through all of the information on the slides. I was very well versed in the proposals before getting to the convention but even I had a problem marking each survey question before Rev. Greene would put up the next slide and move on to the next proposal. This is why we refer to the convention surveys as nothing more than a giant push poll. (Push-polling is a device used by political campaigns to conduct surveys by asking questions in such a way that they get the results that will favor their candidate or issue.)
Consider this scenario. Most of the delegates have not seen the proposals nor even heard of them before arriving at the convention. They hear President Kieschnick speak for an hour about how unified the synod is and see his slick video that tells heart-wrenching success stories from the world of Ablaze and then they get a professionally crafted presentation from a well spoken Rev. Greene about changes that will make the synod more efficient and save us some money. (This is music to the ears of pragmatist Americans and frugal Lutherans.) Then each proposal is speed read with the last words heard by each delegate being the nicely written rationale as to why this proposal should be adopted. The question and answer period happens after the survey. There are no downsides or negatives heard about any of the proposals until after each delegate has filled out their survey. Now, how do you think the delegates are going to vote in general, in favor of the nice-sounding proposals that are presented as changes that will make their church more efficient and save money or will they vote against them?
This is why it is very important that you take the time (right now, before you finish reading this post even) to fill out the Interested Laymen’s survey. It is the very survey put out by the Task Force with their rationale but includes some further thoughts on each proposal that give the reader a chance to consider both sides of each issue before voting. You can also take the survey at a more reasonable pace and think about your answers. So far over 1,000 people have registered at the site and 500 have completed the survey. It will be important at the 2010 convention for the Interested Laymen to report a few thousand responses and so they need you to complete a survey.
Rev. Greene is very professional and direct. During the question and answer period he did not dodge any questions but gave very direct and clear answers. I have also found him to be very professional and respectful in the numerous e-mail exchanges I have had with him. (I will share some of those e-conversations on future posts.)
About 90% of the questions/comments from the convention floor were critical of the proposals. Again, it is important to stress that these comments were not allowed until after the presentation and survey were completed. The critical majority is not surprising. Even though the NID is one of the most liberal districts in the synod, there is little motivation for anyone to get up and say good things about the survey. If you are in favor of these proposals you were able to say such via the survey. The confessional pastors and laity of the district did a good job of asking probing questions.
After hearing several critical comments and questions Rev. Greene played the ultimate trump card. He told the convention that he does not care how all of this turns out. How are we to understand that? Is he truly neutral? That seems unlikely. Why would President Kieschnick appoint someone who really does not care about structural revision in the synod to head up this task force on structural revision in the synod? Maybe Todd Wilken is correct. He claimed on a comment string a few days ago here at BJS that President Kieschnick himself would ultimately distant himself from this process. Maybe Rev. Greene’s comment is along those lines. Maybe he too is beginning to distance himself from this silly exercise of artfully imposing structural change on the synod? Maybe he is tired of trying to defend the indefensible.
Let me repeat, you can make a difference by filling out the Interested Laymen’s survey. Even if you support the proposals, we encourage you to go the website and take the survey. It only seems right that everyone should hear both sides of the issue before registering their opinion. If you think these proposals are harmful for the synod that is even more reason to take the survey. If you are not sure what to think about all of this then you certainly should go the website, learn more about these fundamental and significant changes that are