The Board of directors of a district has an ethical obligation to apply the will of the synod in its place. This obligation applies also to the DP and to the convention. Here is the 1995 resolution on the name Lutheran. Forget about your own opinion. Just read the resolution and ask how this should be applied.
To Use the Name Lutheran
Overtures 3â€‘120–130 (CW, pp. .187â€‘91)
Whereas, We have been called Lutheran since the formation of our Synod (and since Reformation times) and are thankful for our doctrinal background and heritage; and
Whereas, The name Lutheran clearly identifies what the member congregations and The Lutheran Church ¾Missouri Synod believe, teach and confess; and
Whereas, Basic Christian honesty and integrity require that no deception of any sort be used in declaring the truth of the Gospel before all the world; as St. Paul declares: “Rather we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:2); therefore be it
Resolved, That all congregations and mission stations in our Synod boldly profess is their official title and/or name that they are “Lutheran”; and be it further
Resolved, That all congregations and mission stations of our Synod state in their materials (bulletins, newsletters, etc.) that they belong to The Lutheran Church ¾Missouri Synod; and be it finally
Resolved, That all LCMS congregations gladly proclaim our great doctrinal heritage to a world that needs the clear proclamation of the truth.
Action: Adopted (11).
(A request to restore words relating to “encouragement” to congregations to use the name Lutheran was not received. An immediate request for reconsideration following adoption was not accepted because there had been no intervening business. A later request for reconsideration was also declined. It would have stated at the end of the first resolve, except in special circumstances with the approval of the District President. The reason for the request was possible conflict with laws in foreign countries.)
Initially, as the BOD of MNS discussed the application of the Alley for membership in the synod we observed that the word Lutheran was not in its name. Subsequently we were informed that the legal name of the Alley was “The Alley Lutheran Church.” That was the name on the congregation’s constitution and its bylaws which were approved by the board. But the board was uncomfortable with the Alley because the name Lutheran did not appear on its sign, on its letter head, on its website or in its bulletins. This did not strike the board as compliance with the clear 1995 resolution of the synod. When speaking to the MNS district the Alley called itself Lutheran but in speaking to the world the label was dropped.
Obviously the congregation through its pastor and various lay representatives loudly averred their adherence to Lutheran doctrine and such a claim was accepted with joy. But the 1995 resolution requires more than the assurance that a church claims to teach Lutheran doctrine. It required the use of the name Lutheran. This The Alley does not intend to do. So we pretty much had to oppose the application of the Alley.
The impassioned speech made by its pastor on the stage of the convention made certain that the Alley intended to persist in its refusal to use the name Lutheran.
The 1995 resolution expressly refused to allow “exceptions in special circumstances with approval of the district president.” Yet any fair observer would have to say that the MNS district in convention allowed an exception because they perceived that the Alley was under special circumstances and the district president approved.
So we violated a resolution of the synod. But should we have made an issue of it?