Delegates Beware Sweet Bullying from the Pulpit – Blue Ribbon Task Force Regional Gatherings Start this Week, by Pastor Rossow

The regional gatherings called by President Kieschnick for all the 2010 Synod convention delegates begin this week in Denver. The goal of the meetings is for the President and the Task Force to convince the delegates to adopt their proposals at next summer’s   convention. I remind the delegates to be very careful to not fall under the “charm offensive” of President Kieschnick and the members of the Task Force. Those who have spent a lot of time with the president attest to the fact that when he turns on the “schmooze” that he can be very persuasive. I have seen President Kieschnick at work at conferences, conventions, in a three-hour personal meeting with the two of us and five other people in the room, have interacted with him casually, have been read the “riot act” by him, and have exchanged e-mails with him.

The regional gatherings have one purpose and one purpose only: for the president and the Task Force to convince the delegates that these proposals are good for the future of the synod. The Task Force is done gathering opinions and surveying for input. They have formulated their proposals, they believe in their proposals and the purpose of these gatherings is to get you delegates to believe in their proposals.

The delegates need to consider several important points before the onslaught of presidential persuasion flows over them.

Look closely at how much authority the proposals transfers from congregations to the synod and its districts and the synodical president and then ask yourself why the Task Force keeps saying ad nauseum that they are promoting “the congregational principle.”

  1. The Task Force has ignored requests to air both sides of the proposals.
  2. The Task Force’s survey was severely flawed, not allowing discussion of the proposals before asking district convention delegates to respond to the survey questions.
  3. There are entire districts that have passed motions to petition the synod convention to reject the proposals.
  4. An entire district (Montana) has decided to skip the gatherings. They are simply sending a few representatives from the district to observe.
  5. The president decided on his own to call these gatherings even though the synod in convention already approved adding two days to next summer’s convention for the express purpose of debating the proposals.
  6. Beware that the resulting synod governance and structure from these proposals is eerily similar to the structure and governance in the ELCA that contributed to their recent votes for apostasy. (Like the Blue Ribbon proposals, the ELCA changed its structure to take the election of delegates out of the hands of the congregation and also shrunk the convention size to make for a more manageable and swayable group.)
  7. Recognize that the type of control being exercised over this process and the vast extent of changes that are being forced through the LCMS system in a contracted period of time are similar to the tactics being used in American politics today to bring about change with a highly managed and controlled media campaign.
  8. The cost for the gatherings and the Task Force has exceeded one million dollars which cost is being passed on to congregations and was also in part underwritten by Thrivent with money that could have been used for more important matters.
  9. The LCMS’s issues will not be resolved by addressing structure and governance but by serious theological discussion. The church is a family not a business. (See Rev. Matt Harrison’s “It’s Time” for an alternate approach to addressing the synod’s family struggles.)

Delegates, do not be taken in by the hoopla and persuasion. If you choose to support some or all of these proposals that is your decision but I rncourage you to approach these gatherings with the appropriate skepticism needed when viewing proposals that will drastically alter the family rules that have allowed the brothers and sisters of Christ in the LCMS to keep the family jewels of the holy word and sacraments as brightly shining gems for all these years.

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

Delegates Beware Sweet Bullying from the Pulpit – Blue Ribbon Task Force Regional Gatherings Start this Week, by Pastor Rossow — 28 Comments

  1. Pr. Rossow,

    So much for being persuaded by the Word of God. Can you tell me which districts have opted out? (good for them, by the way). Also, would you mind sharing some names with the rest of us for Vice-Presidents in addition to Harrison and Mueller? Thanks:)

    Pr Paul Becker

  2. Paul,

    Montana is the only one I know of that has opted out.

    Southern Illinois has some fine motions that seek to limit the proposals as do some other districts but I do not have those off hand.

    If you click on lcmspolitics on the right hand bar you will find some more names for VP.

    TR

  3. Pastor Rossow,
    What do you know about South Wisconsin district or the Northern Wisconsin district? At this point, I think it is best to speak openly & honestly, so those who have no vote, can choose to speak to those who do, according to their district. New elected reps, may also read here, and have no clue of background past this year.
    Do please specifiy which districts have cause to watch, more so than others.
    They are our reps, our voice & vote, we cannot speak if we do not know facts.

  4. As an elected delegate, I feel the responsibility to attend the “gathering”, even though it is a 500 mile/7.5 hour drive each way for me. (Airfare is ridiculously expensive for this route).

    On the other hand, I was also a delegate at our district convention and witnessed the BRTFSSG presentation there. I have also read as much as I can on all views of the report.

    I am struggling whether or not to attend the gathering.

    I am also/instead considering attending the Lutheran Concerns Association presentation in Ft Wayne on January 18 ( http://www.lutheranclarion.org/ ) . This event is scheduled to address the BRTFSSG report and also several other topics to be addressed at the Synod convention.

    Any thoughts for us delegates?

  5. Speaking as one who has attended the last few conventions, I think you should go to the “gathering.” I think the Lutheran Concerns meeting could be helpful. Will you be in Dearborn? If so, I’ll look you up.

    j

  6. Johannes,

    I am sorry, I thought you were talking to me.

    Jim,

    500 miles is a long way to go. The only positive I see in going is that you might be able to sway a vote or two.

    BTW – I am on the panel that is presenting at the LCA conference. Be sure to introduce yourself.

    TR

  7. @Pastor Tim Rossow #10
    I was talking to Jim, but you can listen in. I realize that 500 miles is a long way to go, but you need to gather all the information that you can. You never know what you might pick up, and you will meet some interesting and rather neat people. You may have your horizons expanded, and I’m sure you’ll find some like-minded folks that you can schmooze with, like myself.

    Altho not a delegate, I will be there. SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

    I will look you both up at LCA. Maybe get you to autograph my program or something.

    j.

  8. It will indeed be helpful if the “gatherings” are open to all interested parties in the gathering regions, as I assume they must be. It is the business of the Synod, after all. Surely, only invited participants would have their costs covered, with others attending at their own expense. Only such openness can assure that delegates are as fully informed as possible before the convention.

    It behooves all participants and anyone else who has a stake in the future of the Synod to read all the documents, especially Appendix 1 of the report, where the present Constitution and Bylaws are displayed side by side with the proposed Constitution and Bylaws. Armed with that information and such relevant background listening and reading as Dr. Schurb’s and Dr. Noland’s careful analyses, attendees will be able to make knowledgeable contributions to the discussion and pose probing questions, including that quintessential Lutheran query: What does this mean?

  9. David Berger :
    It will indeed be helpful if the “gatherings” are open to all interested parties in the gathering regions, as I assume they must be. It is the business of the Synod, after all. Surely, only invited participants would have their costs covered, with others attending at their own expense. Only such openness can assure that delegates are as fully informed as possible before the convention.

    Based on a previous BJS article (//steadfastlutherans.org/?p=7623), I don’t believe the gatherings are open to all interested parties, only the delegates (not even the alternates). Does anybody have any updates on this situation?

  10. When we met in our Circuit to elect delegates and alternates, the instructions for the December gathering in Dearborn was this was for delegates only. The instructions clearly did not make any provisions for alternates (or other interested parties) – in fact, they excluded everyone except the delegates.

  11. “in fact, they excluded everyone except the delegates.”

    It’s like one big happy executive session.

  12. “The cost for the gatherings and the Task Force has exceeded one million dollars which cost is being passed on to congregations …”
    and what if the congregations decided to pay only 90% of their Convention assessment in protest of this travesty? I am off to Denver in the AM. It’s costing me time from my family and a days wages. and for what? Travesty.

  13. This casual waste of funds should be the first topic for discussion at every gathering. How many seminarians could have had their tuitions paid for with the money used for these pointless meetings?

    And to close the meetings to non-delegates and video cameras is beyond ridiculous.

    I don’t care who the president or pastor is, the presumption should always be open up meetings and have few confidential matters. There isn’t that much that truly needs to be restricted in the church (ie, unproven allegations of misconduct, job performance for staff, somebody’s medical issues, etc.)

  14. Has the constitutionality of convening delegates before a convention been determined, e.g., by posing the question to the CCM? As I recall, the term “caucus” was dropped quickly and replaced by “gathering” (to make the events seem less official?). It seems to me that the question of constitutionality has come up, but I’m not aware of its being addressed to the CCM. Is there precedent for such pre-meetings of delegates for any purpose? Regarding the openness of the gatherings, I plan to show up at the St. Louis gathering as a member of the Synod and as a voting member of one of its boards.

  15. I chose NOT to attend the gathering because I did not believe it was a productive us of time or money. I am capable of reading and deciding how I will vote without going to this event.

  16. @David Berger #20

    Is it not true that the elected delegates are not officially delegates until the beginning of the convention and that they serve for 3 years? If so, then shouldn’t the 2007 delegates be the ones attending these meetings?

    Are these gatherings meeting in executive session? If so, why? If not, then shouldn’t any member of any LCMS congregation, as well as pastors and other members of the synod be allowed to attend as observers? If not, what would be be the basis for excluding them?

    Our district president has held pre-meetings with the delegates-elect at the district office to inform them how he wants them to vote. I think, again, that all members of LCMS churches and LCMS members within the district should be allowed to attend these and observe and be allowed to inform people what goes on there.

  17. @Stan Slonkosky #22
    We can complain all we want, but the deal is done, so simply make the best of it. The first meeting is going on, and another will follow shortly. I’m sure the reports will be forthcoming, and we’ll all be filled in. It promises to be interesting and very revealilng. History is being made—and we are a part of it. You have to wonder what the future historians will write about all this.

    I keep wondering just how these changes are going to be presented to the convention and voted upon.

    j

  18. The meeting in Denver
    It was civil. It was well orchestrated by Synod Inc and predictably controlled. SP Kieschnick stayed mostly in background and kept a low profile throughout. It was not real productive but more productive than I thought it would be. Panel of 3 involved in the task force took written and oral questions on specific areas of the proposal. They rarely gave an inch, listened and gave an answer…not always to the point. Again, the proceeding was civil and no fist fights. I did learn a few things while there but nothing that would sway my opinion much, but it does give me a bit more to think about as I go over this again. The delegates were able to point out some items that the floor committee will have to take into consideration. There were two members of the floor committee present. Since these days they like to use business terms to describe things, I would say we did not get the bang for our buck. It was somewhat helpful, but for the cost, no way. Speaking of cost, it was brought up and Inc. gave a off the top guesstimate, but then quickly pointed out that Thrivent had contributed $500K to the process. Why would they do that? (Thrivent) If you go, it will be quickly paced and run right on time to the minute. They will split folks up having pre-assigned seating. They will give seemingly rehearsed and defensive answers, though they do go to offense at times. Nothing will be accomplished but you will have a better idea of what they were thinking, and will see what the opinions of others are. I believe I was able to identify two plants during the verbal questions. Of everything, it seemed that the name change proposal is going to be DOA at convention. The hot buttons are proposed changes to by-laws; number of, who is, and how delegates are made in future; how elections are handled-nomination and voting; adding regions on top of districts as well as more decision making at district; floor committees having power of what overtures make it for consideration. SP made a not so subtle threat of doom and disaster should this thing get shot down completely. So if you are going to one of these, put away your swords and bring your best verbal A-Game because this is going to get talked to death. The best thing, I made new friends and allies as I am fairly new to this. That’s how I saw it, hopefully you will get other views to give a bigger panaramic picture of this. Over and out.

  19. …and best comment overheard at the “Gathering”…

    “This isn’t your Grandfather’s Blue Ribbon Task Force”!

  20. @formerly mr angry now just annoyed #24

    Speaking of cost, it was brought up and Inc. gave a off the top guesstimate, but then quickly pointed out that Thrivent had contributed $500K to the process. Why would they do that? (Thrivent)

    Thrivent gave a block grant to the LCMS of this money — it could have been used for something less useful like supporting missionaries or seminary students. It was LCMS, Inc’s decision to use it for the BRTFSSG.

  21. I tried to give the digest version, and I am hoping more who went will post here as others would have different perspectives. If you have a specific question I will try to answer best as I can. It did go very fast and a lot happened in the 11-12 hours of actual meeting. I tried to keep up with notes but after a while it just was not possible to participate and record.

  22. jim_claybourn :As an elected delegate, I feel the responsibility to attend the “gathering”, even though it is a 500 mile/7.5 hour drive each way for me. (Airfare is ridiculously expensive for this route).
    On the other hand, I was also a delegate at our district convention and witnessed the BRTFSSG presentation there. I have also read as much as I can on all views of the report.
    I am struggling whether or not to attend the gathering.
    I am also/instead considering attending the Lutheran Concerns Association presentation in Ft Wayne on January 18 ( http://www.lutheranclarion.org/ ) . This event is scheduled to address the BRTFSSG report and also several other topics to be addressed at the Synod convention.
    Any thoughts for us delegates?

    I was 550 air miles from the “place of the gathering”. District is paying for the airfare. I think it enough I gave up a days pay for this. It’s their party, their invite. Of course, like the Federal Government, Synod does not actually have “money”. Not their own. Every congregation is chipping in to cover this.

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