A Well Reasoned Comment on the Convention Before the Convention by Martin Noland

Marty Noland wrote an excellent comment on Klemet Preus’s post on the pre-convention convention. It is worth sharing with the all our readers in case you have not been following this string of comments. You can see the post and all the other comments by clicking here.

#25 by Martin R. Noland — September 25, 2009 @ 11:11 am

I am trying to understand what the calling of these meetings means.

First, they are not supposed to be “caucuses.” The term means meetings designed specifically to promote a candidate or issue prior to, or in the midst of, a legislative assembly. The president of synod stated that the purpose is only “to review” the final proposals, not to advocate for them. I assume he will adhere to that purpose.

Second, I don’t remember these meetings being part of the original plan for the Blue Ribbon Task Force.

Third, I thought that two extra days were being added to the synodical convention, so that time would be provided for reviewing the proposals and discussing them, prior to taking action.

I believe that the meetings have been called due to the administration’s feeling of necessity, which is not possible for anyone else to assess, until we see the final proposals. That should be October 16th, at the lcms website.

One possibility is that the final proposals are so complex that a long review session is the only way people are going to understand them. This is what happens when you try to make too many changes in bylaws at once.

Another possibility is that the responses to district convention presentations were either negative or indifferent. As far as I know, probably two-thirds of the conventions went that way. This may have alerted the administration to the fact that the proposals will fail, unless they are more actively promoted to the actual people who will vote on them.

Another possibility is that the new electronic media, such as this web-site/blog, has been effective in dissecting the original proposals and their ideas, so that the administration realizes it needs a counter-action.

It would be too bad if the good proposals fail, because the bad proposals color the whole process. So having extra time to “digest and discuss” is a good thing, if it results in better educated delegates.

Although I am always in favor of more discussion, and a better educated set of delegates, the BIG PROBLEM HERE is the constitutionality of the meetings.

I don’t think the president has the authority to call such a series of meetings, on his own. The Special Sessions clause, Constitution VIII.B., is not being invoked and can’t be invoked in this case.

Bylaw 4.9.1 would allow the district presidents, in unison, to call such meetings which would “not be regarded as official conferences.” I assume that the president received the unanimous approval of the district presidents at a Council of Presidents meeting for these special caucuses. If not, the meetings are unconstitutional.

Furthermore, since they are not official conferences, NO ONE CAN BE ASSESSED COSTS FOR THE MEETINGS. Those who attend will have to bear their own costs, unless the synod Board of Directors or all the district Board of Directors voluntarily pay for these meetings out of their own budgets. I also don’t think there was provision for these meetings in the 2007 resolution, but my 2007 proceedings are still packed away, so I can’t answer that question for sure.

At the present time, synodical congregations or circuits cannot be assessed, unless the synodical convention delegates pass a resolution that approves an assessment for specific purposes (such as synod and district conventions, which is a standing practice). If the present action is allowed to stand, then the president of the synod (or Council of Presidents) will be allowed to assess congregations however and whenever they want. I think that the administration wants this power of unilateral assessment, and that may be one of the most significant powers it is seeking in the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Synodical Structure and Governance.

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.

Comments

A Well Reasoned Comment on the Convention Before the Convention by Martin Noland — 11 Comments

  1. “It would be too bad if the good proposals fail, because the bad proposals color the whole process. So having extra time to “digest and discuss” is a good thing, if it results in better educated delegates.”

    As one who views the process and proposals darkly, I would be interested in hearing more about the good proposals.

  2. Write the CCM. Write the BoD. Write the Treasurer of Synod. Write the COP. Contact those who will be delegates to the upcoming convention.

    Still, the way that Fanning the Flame and Ablaze! subgroups are structured, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Kieschnick has funds at his disposal which don’t have to be accounted for through the Synod.

    A few years ago, Kieschnick held a meeting of all circuit counselors. A conservative estimate maintained that it cost between $750,000 to $1,000,000 to hold such a meeting covering flights, hotel and meals — and to what end? Was it worth it? Is this good stewardship?

  3. P.S. – Even if the synod IS paying for Dr. Kieschnick to make all these travels, and even if it is only Dr. Kieschnick, there IS still a budget which synodical officials have to follow, isn’t there?

    If Obama’s health care promotions can be met with “tea parties,” I wonder if these caucuses could be met with a Lutheran version of protests (even though Lutherans are not Protestants).

  4. Marty wrote, “the BIG PROBLEM HERE is the constitutionality of the meetings…

    That is the big problem not only here. I have recently learned in private dealings with Synod Inc. that operating outside the synodical Constitution is commonplace. When I have complained privately about it, I have been told –by liberals and conservatives– that this is just the way it is.

    TW

  5. Pastor Brondos,
    WHAT A WONDERFUL IDEA!!!! Pewsitters, who know what is being done & going on, metaphorically nailing theses to signs, Wouldn’t it be STELLAR, to have a groups outside these venues, with signs like, “Give me back my Grandfather’s Church” “I knew my Grandfather, & you are not and know not my Grandfather”, “Marketing does not equal Missions” “My name is in His Book, He hasn’t forgotten me, why have you?”. Imagine the possibilities, pew sitters, picketing, demanding answers from those who are charged with their pastoral care?! Won’t happen, but would be lovely to have the chance to ask. One would only hear crickets chirping, but it would be great to make a stand. Many have, & departed, but oh, we would love the opportunity. Many have had it, & missed it, tolerated what was A-BIBLICAL & A-LUTHERAN, & now here we are. I would be there like a shot, if someone asked me or offered.
    GREAT IDEA!!!!!

  6. What would you call your protests?
    “D parties” — demanding Discussion, Debate, Disclosure ?
    “C Parties” — demanding Constitutionality ?
    “See Parties” — demanding that the whole process be opened for inspection and discussion?

    What would your slogan be?
    “No Transformation without Repristination?”

    🙂

  7. Why not “Door” parties . . .

    . . . as in “Wittenberg Door” having the same type of an historical referent and precedent as a Boston Tea Party.

    (NOT to be confused with http://www.wittenburgdoor.com/ — although, I would be among the first to nominate Dr. Kieschnick to receive WD’s “Green Weenie Award”)

    You could inscribe horseshoe nails with little sayings.

    You could give “door” prizes.

    “No Transformation without Repristination”? I like that. But if Kieschnick gets his Blue Ribbon plans through we may actually have taxation (assessments) and transformation without representation.

  8. #4 by Todd Wilken — September 26, 2009 @ 9:07 am

    Marty wrote, “the BIG PROBLEM HERE is the constitutionality of the meetings…

    That is the big problem not only here. I have recently learned in private dealings with Synod Inc. that operating outside the synodical Constitution is commonplace. When I have complained privately about it, I have been told –by liberals and conservatives– that this is just the way it is.

    Many of the leaders of LCMS Inc. already play fast and loose with God’s Word. Why would they let something like a constitution get in their way? Especially when there appears to be no way to hold them accountable for their actions.

  9. Herr Wilkin

    This is an area that begs for documentation. How many times have you heard a DP say, “The congregation (voters) can do anything they want”, etc. I would label this standard practice. Yet reading the lawsuit against the California women, I hear, “To the Law, to the Law!” The most flagrant violation I recall, was when the synod in convention agreed as to Robert Preus’ presidency, but the powers that be blatently ignored the decision of synod in convention. They also ignored the Otten decision. How is it that those looking for a call are told, “You have to go through proper channels”, and “You have to wait on the Holy Spirit”, if ever, while a retiring district president can get a cushy call in a manner of weeks?

    The lawyer for those California women would have a field day if he knew how things really worked.

    michael

  10. Two questions:

    How does a delegate get to address one of the regional BRTFSSG pep rallies? Is there a floor committee?

    Could the Brothers help send Pastor Harrison to the pep rallies so he could do some politicking of his own, to counter the politicking by Pres. K.?

  11. Pastor Harrison counters President Kieschnick’s politicking not with counter politicking but with the Word of God rightly divided. That’s what’s so refreshing.

    But it would be nice to have answers to your questions so that the rest of us can address regional meetings in the same manner, exposing the practices which “have a form of godliness but deny its power” (2 Timothy 3:5), practices which “indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility . . . but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:23).

    I still can’t help but think, however, that the Lord may be scoffing at the plans of men. Wouldn’t it be ironic for the BRTFSSG to be successful and centralize power in the office of the president only to have President Kieschnick defeated and Pastor Harrison elected, empowered constitutionally to deal with practices and practitioners which are vain and vile in the LCMS?

    In my mind, that would bear some resemblance to the Lord using death to destroy Death if Harrison could use Kieschnick’s rules to undo everything Kieschnick has perpetrated in the LCMS.

    If Kieschnick wins and the BRTFSSG goes through, that would be good because it clarifies for me the direction we must take.

    If Kischnick loses and the BRTFSSG goes through, that would be all right because Harrison could use the BRTFSSG for good.

    If Kieschnick loses and the BRTFSSG fails, that’s just fine.

    I’m not going to lose any sleep over it; I’ll just use every opportunity to proclaim Law and Gospel, confessing the truth in love.

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