Major unrest regarding Blue Ribbon Task Force proposals

The new “workbook” for the LCMS convention has just been released. You can read it in PDF form here. I just started looking through it but one of the things I find absolutely fascinating is the sheer number of overtures to convention that deal with the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance.

From pages 221 to 248, there is just overture after overture that asks the convention to delay, reject or otherwise put the kibbosh on the proposals of the Blue Ribbon Task Force proposals and process. It’s just a devastating indictment against the process and a major statement of “no confidence” in the current leadership of Synod.

I’ve put a quick listing of some of the first few overtures at the end of this post but it just got to be too many so I gave up.

This can not be good timing for the leadership that is pushing the proposals since I am hearing from multiple informed sources that there is a “confidential” consultant report that blows the lid off the BRTFSSG process. I hope to have the first of many reports on this confidential report this weekend.

Anyway, here are some of the titles from concerned Districts, Circuits and congregations from all over Synod. They always use parliamentary language and tend to be very diplomatic, but it’s clear that folks aren’t exactly pleased with the proposals:

To Allow Time for Reasonable Conversation and Consideration of Changes to Structure

To Foster Greater Unanimity in Decisions re Structure

To Postpone Consideration and Implementation of Task Force Report

To Exercise Care and Delay Implementation of Structure Changes

To Submit BRTFSSG Report to All Congregations for Study and Defer Action until Following Convention

To Proceed with Task Force Proposals Only If Full and Timely Disclosure of Proposed Revisions Is Provided

To Reject Blue Ribbon Task Force Recommendations

To Defer Proposed Restructure/Reorganization to 2013 Convention

To Retain Existing Synod Constitution

To Reject Proposed Changes to Articles II, III, and VI

To Reject All Proposals That Limit or Hinder Participation of Congregations

To Retain Congregational Orientation of Synod

To Retain Current Congregational Representation

To Maintain Present Form of Delegate Representation

To Retain Voting Delegates as Lay and Pastoral

To Retain Current Article V of Constitution

To Reject Any Proposed Changes re Voting Delegates to Synod Conventions

To Reject Proposed Change re Voting Delegates to District Conventions

To Reject Proposal for Advisory Boards


Comments

Major unrest regarding Blue Ribbon Task Force proposals — 23 Comments

  1. It is disappointing that the Indiana District’s Overture 8-09 didn’t include a “Resolved” to have the BRTFSS recommendations filed where the sun never shines.

  2. Here’s the whole list, good, bad and ugly…

    To Foster Greater Unanimity in Decisions re Structure

    To Postpone Consideration and Implementation of Task Force Report

    To Exercise Care and Delay Implementation of Structure Changes

    To Allow Time to Study Task Force Recommendations

    To Submit BRTFSSG Report to All Congregations for Study and Defer Action until Following Convention

    To Proceed with Task Force Proposals Only If Full and Timely Disclosure of Proposed Revisions Is Provided

    To Reject Blue Ribbon Task Force Recommendations

    To Defer Proposed Restructure/Reorganization To 2013 Convention

    To Delay Implementation of Certain BRTFSSG Proposals

    To Consider Recommendations of BRTFSSG as Separate Items to Be Voted on Individually

    To Consider Alternate Restructure Plans and Proposals and Decline Recommended Changes To Synod Constitution

    To Retain Existing Synod Constitution

    To Reject Proposed Changes to Articles II, III, and VI

    To Retain Current Constitution Articles II–IV, VI–VII

    To Align Synod Structure with Walther’s Church and Ministry

    To Affirm Integrity and Dignity of All Congregations

    To Respect All Congregations Equally

    To Give Congregation Overtures Equal Consideration

    To Reject All Proposals That Limit or Hinder Participation of Congregations

    To Retain Congregational Orientation of Synod

    To Remove Task Force Proposal re Constitutional Subscription

    To Delete Reference to Constitution from Proposed Article VII

    To Reject Coercive Language in Handbook

    To Use “between” to Describe Relationship of Synod and Its Members

    To Retain Current Congregational Representation

    To Maintain Present Form of Delegate Representation

    To Retain Voting Delegates as Lay and Pastoral

    To Retain Current Article V of Constitution

    To Reject Any Proposed Changes re Voting Delegates to Synod Conventions

    To Reject Proposed Change re Voting Delegates To District Conventions

    To Reject “Associate Members” Recommendation

    To Clarify Voting Rights of the Preaching Office

    To Preserve Fifty Percent Lay Vote

    To Expand Voting Membership to Other Members of Synod

    To Provide for Equitable Representation and Voice for Commissioned Ministers

    To Allow Ministers of Religion—Commissioned To Serve as Voting Delegates

    To Establish Process for Electing Commissioned Ministers as Voting Delegates to District Conventions

    To Establish Process for Electing Commissioned Ministers as Voting Delegates to Synod Conventions

    To Provide for Commissioned Minister Representation at Conventions

    To Allow Advisory Members to Be Named Voting Delegates in Place of Voting Pastors

    To Have Every Congregation Represented at Synod Conventions

    To Elect Delegates by Regions within Districts

    To Allow Vacant Congregations Two Lay Delegates

    To Retain Current Article III 7 of Constitution re Church Practice

    To Amend Article III of Constitution

    To Retain Current Wording of Article VI 4

    To Return to Previous Definition of Function of Doctrinal Resolutions

    To Strike “of Special Significance” from Doctrinal Resolution Proposal

    To Conduct Feasibility Study for Model Merger of Districts

    To Oppose Dissolution of English District

    To Retain Present District Structure

    To Retain Current District Alignment

    To Retain or Increase Number of Districts

    To Amend Bylaws re Formation of Circuits

    To Amend Bylaw 5.3.2 re Voting Representation at Circuit Forums

    To Continue Current Practice of Election of Circuit Counselors

    To Return to Use of Title “Circuit Visitor”

    To Increase Convention Quorum Requirement

    To Change Terminology of National Convention

    To Continue to Allow Congregations To Choose Vice-Presidents

    To Elect Officers by Direct Vote of Congregations

    To Change Composition and Increase Duties of Board of Directors

    To Operate with a Board of Directors Serving as National Consistory

    To Establish Chief Executive Officer Position

    To Give Careful Consideration When Addressing BRTFSSG Recommendation 18

    To Delay Implementation of BRTFSSG Recommendation re National Office Structure

    To Reject Proposal for Advisory Boards

    To Consolidate Current National Boards and Commissions

    To Assign Oversight of Program Boards To First Vice-President

    To Provide for Orderly Transition for District and Congregational Services

    To Retain Board for Pastoral Education

    To Reject Any Proposal for Name Change

    To Keep the Name “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod”

    To Retain Name “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod”

    To Decline Further Study of LCMS Name Change

    To Retain the Name “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod”

    To Reject Any Proposal to Change Pastoral Candidate Certification

    To Amend Bylaws 7.1.1 and 7.1.2 re Amendments To Bylaws

    To Retain CAO and CCM Representative on Commission on Handbook

  3. Any bets as to any or these making it to resolution status, or better yet to the floor of the convention?

    I’d say chances are “Slim and None, and Slim just left town.”

    How many overtures are there that support structure changes? I’m sure PoliticsFirst has had their say.

    j

  4. OOPS. Missed it. “Good, Bad, and Ugly.” Senior moment–or episode–or lifestyle.

    Whatever….

    j

  5. Dutch :
    And we wonder at LCMS confessional members leaving for WELS. See TW’s post at #4.

    Dutch,

    Not sure we have to wonder in some specific cases. Here in our congregation, there was a doctrinal issue in the local LCMS church in the 1980s that saw 5 families leave for the WELS church. The families decided to take the “This We Believe” class and made the decision on their own. The district president called the WELS pastor and asked he not steal the LCMS sheep! Why this phone call to the WELS pastor, when the DP would not call the LCMS church elders to task on false doctrine?

  6. Another set of numbers that I see as a direct vote of (no) confidence:

    Rev. Matthew Harrison: 1,332; Rev. Gerald Kieschnick: 755

  7. Dear Mollie,

    Thanks for the great post on the workbook! I too just received it!

    WOW! You are so right about the number of overtures calling for rejecting the Blue Ribbon proposals altogether, or for delaying all of them till later. There are also a good number rejecting or delaying specific Recommendations.

    I don’t have the Workbook in front of me right now, but it seemed like the only group in favor of the Blue Ribbon Task Force Proposals in toto was the Pacific Southwest District. Isn’t that District President the chairman of the floor committee which will present the Task Force proposals to the convention? Or have I got something mixed up? Isn’t that a “conflict of interest,” since the chairman is supposed to be, at least officially, neutral according to Robert’s Rules of Order? Who knows parliamentary procedure here? Help me out on this one.

    It was very interesting to see that entire district conventions voted to oppose or delay the Blue Ribbon Task Force. I don’t think any proposal from synod has had such a strong opposition from so many District Conventions in a long time, probably since the days of the Seminex struggles. District conventions opposing or asking to delay include:

    Missouri District, Iowa East District, Indiana District, South Wisconsin District, Minnesota North District, Montana District, Wyoming District, Southern Illinois District, and English District.

    Then I counted twelve district pastor’s conferences or circuit forums opposing or asking to delay, from the following districts: North Wisconsin District, Missouri District, Southern Illinois District, Pacific Southwest District, Nebraska District, Northwest District, Southeastern District, South Wisconsin District, and Northern Illinois District. Also one layman’s group, the Central Illinois Board of Directors.

    Wow! I am really surprised by this outpouring of disaffection with the Blue Ribbon proposals and solidarity with our time-tested Constitution and structure. I am glad that our pastors and lay leaders have taken the effort to be involved in the process and discussions.

    What really doesn’t make sense to me, then, is the headline article for April 2010 REPORTER “Delegates give feedback on task force proposals.” That article gave the impression that the majority of delegates favor the proposals, except for the proposal to give congregations with 1000+ members more votes at conventions.

    Maybe someone can explain to us how it can be that so many of these districts and pastors conferences and circuit forums were so clearly against the Blue Ribbon proposals, but the REPORTER gives the impression that everyone is in favor. How can the delegates be so far out of line in their surveyed opinions from the grass-roots of the synod?

    Is this a reflection on the delegates personally? Why didn’t they express the opposition voiced at the district conventions and forums and conferences? I don’t get it. I am not a delegate, so I don’t understand why their survey came out so different from the district conventions.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  8. Martin,

    If they are referencing the surveys taken by the BRTFSSG, it is fairly easy to explain the difference in results. The surveys were vague, allowed little discussion, especially critical discussion, and changed from one place to another. The results of such surveys are worthless for showing what delegates think about the proposals. I think they were more helpful in helping the task force gauge how effective their presentations were. They were supposed to be for helping the task force refine the proposals, which explains why they changed from one place to another. For that purpose the surveys may have had some use. For the purpose of showing support for proposals that had not even been completed, it is grossly misleading.

  9. Alex is correct. The so called surveys were simply spin-doctoring tools as we have reported numerous times here on this website. The so-called surveys were pushed through without giving the delegates time to think about them, discuss them, or hear pros and cons. The only thing people heard before takng the surveys was the pro presentations by the Task Force.

    TR

  10. @Pastor Tim Rossow #12

    AND—-Not everyone at the “gatherings” was necessarily a delegate. I was there, and I am not a delegate and I know of at least five others from my district who attended, but were not delegates. To be fair, the gatherings were probably 90% delegates.

    But, as you said, Alex is correct. Spin-meisters did their jobs.

    j

  11. Question of parliamentary procedure for those who have been to previous conventions and/or better know the inner workings of the Synod:

    Is it in order for a floor committee to draft a resolution for which it has no overtures? The Blue Ribbon Task Force submitted no enabling overtures to implement their recommendations. So is it permissible for the floor committee to bring forth by-law and constitution changes that haven’t been submitted?

    Also, one other document that I did not realize needed to be amended as a result of the task force proposals were the Articles of Incorporation. I haven’t had a chance to go over those modifications yet to see if it is anything of substance, or just a little tweaking of language, just changing a few numbers (like the term between conventions). Anyone else have thoughts on the modifications to the Articles of Incorporation?

  12. It is also my understanding that about 1/3 of the delegates didn’t even show up for the “gatherings.” Whether it was because they already had their minds made up or something else going on, I do not know.

  13. Timothy C. Schenks :

    Dutch :And we wonder at LCMS confessional members leaving for WELS. See TW’s post at #4.

    W/ELS is no more or less confessional than the LCMS, Dutch.

    Dutch,

    Perhaps a better statement is: “No wonder why some LCMS confessional Lutherans look for and leave LCMS churches that have lax doctrine and practice.” Mr. Schenks is right in that within those congregations faith to confessional Lutheran principals, the LCMS, W/ELS, CLC, etc… have a common faith.

  14. Personally, I can’t wait to see how quickly the delegates will clear the deck of this potpourri of preposterous proposals. Is that a train whistle I hear coming?

  15. @Martin R. Noland #10
    Martin,
    You wonder if it isn’t a conflict of interest that the chairman of the floor committee is the President of the District so in favor of the Task Force. I worse conflict of interest in my mind is that the chairman and the vice chairman of the floor committee were both members of the Task Force. The fox is guarding the hen house.

  16. Has anyone else noticed that the link to the PDF of the convention workbook is no longer working. Not in this article nor that of Charlie????

  17. I just went to the LCMS web site and it is down for maintaining—but they would not say what!!!
    🙂

  18. 6PM Saturday night through 6AM Sunday morning, according to the website announcement. A very bad time to schedule website maintenance. That’s the peak time for people who are traveling to check the LCMS directory for a church to attend.

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