Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain – Despite their Claims the BRTFSG is Squelching Congregations and Elevating Synod/District, by Pr. Rossow

The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Structure and Governance (BRTFGS) continues to stretch the limits of language and logic by claiming that their proposals promote the congregational principle when all the while they are squelching congregations by expanding the authority of the districts, synod, and the office of the presidency. In essence they are asking all of us plain-speaking and thinking folks from Missouri, Ohio and other states to ignore the man behind the curtain and ignore what he is saying.

The Task Force  has published a new question and answer page on the synod’s website. Here is Question E5 and its answer.

E5:  How can congregations get more involved since it seems the districts will be taking on a larger role?

All of the task force recommendations have been developed to reinforce our congregational polity. The recommendations include such items as restoring circuits to their primary purpose, broadening congregational voice by allowing commissioned ministers to serve as voting delegates to district conventions, establishing more equitable congregational representation at district conventions, encouraging the study of future district configuration, suggesting the designation of regions and electing Synod vice presidents from those regions – all so congregations are better served and more equitably represented. We encourage those who have not yet done so to review the recommendations in the task force’s final report and then contact your representative to the 2010 convention to share your opinion.

The man behind the curtain is staring you right in the face in the form of their question. “How can congregations get more involved since it seems the districts will be taking on a larger role?” What do they mean “it seems?” It is very clear that the districts, synod and synod president will  take on huge, new, larger roles if their proposals are passed. (I am preparing a chart that shows the numerous transfers of power from congregations to the district, synod and synod president in these proposals and hope to have it ready in a few days.)

Look at what they wrote in answer to this question:

  1. “Restoring circuits to their primary purpose.” What they mean here is having circuit congregations meet together for local action councils. That is a nice thought but it has been tried before and simply  does not work. How many congregation members do you know  who are already burnt out in the local parish and have time to add circuit activities to their busy schedules?
  2. “Broadening the congregational voice by allowing commissioned ministers to serve as voting delegates.” How does adding commissioned ministers to the voting roster better represent the congregation? The intention is to have commissioned ministers replace pastors. Are the pastors not representing the congregations?
  3. The Task Force is also proposing that  more delegates be given to  the larger congregations. This does not increase the congregational principle. It trashes it. The congregational principle asserts that the local parish is the fundamental element of the church. By giving more votes to larger congregations  this proposal makes some congregations (larger ones)   more equal than others.

Here is the simple point I want to make. These proposals need to be voted down. The language in which they are presented is vague and bureaucratic in nature. The logic used to support them and answer our frequently asked questions is flawed. They claim to be doing one thing (promoting the congregational principle) but the proposals actually do the opposite (take authority away from the congregation). This is bureaucratic deception. Why would you want to trust so much to this Task Force? We need straight talking leaders.

I suggest that delegates vote these proposals down and elect a leadership that will communicate with us in common sense language of brother to sister and sister to brother. The church is a family not a business.We need leadership that says what they are actually doing and does not hide behind the shadowy curtain of  inconsistent language and logic  as illustrated by their own words:

E5:  How can congregations get more involved since it seems the districts will be taking on a larger role?

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