Blunt Opposition to a Key Blue Ribbon Proposal Comes from a Surprising Source, by Pr. Rossow

Twenty nine LCMS Children’s Ministry consultants from twenty nine different districts around the country have signed a petition to the synod asking that Blue Ribbon Proposal #18, the keystone proposal, be rejected by the Synod in convention this summer. You can read the petition and see the names attached to it at the end of this post.

Proposal #18 is certainly the most far reaching of the proposals. It eliminates all of the ministry boards of Synod and more significantly it replaces them with two overarching boards that report to the synod president and not to boards elected by the members of synod. Many who have studied this matter are convinced that this places far too much authority in the hands of the synod president and removes the oversight that synod members are able to currently exercise through election of board members. The Children’s Ministry consultants have added another reason to reject this keystone proposal. They have figured out that Proposal #18 means the end of much of the work the synod is currently doing under the existing structure. The alternative proposed by the Task Force is to add  expense to the districts by increasing their staff, which of course defeats one of the main goals  of the Task Force which is  to find cost savings. (I argued this same point a few months ago.)

President Kieschnick appointed the Blue Ribbon Task Force and one would think that his appointments would sufficiently represent the Synod so that such a broad based group as the LCMS Children’s Ministry consultants would support and not condemn the key proposal. We may not all agree on what synod boards and professional staff we ought to have but these Children’s Ministry consultants have rightly figured out that with one fell swoop and without the right kind of input from the various corners of synod called for by such  sweeping changes, President Kieschnick’s Task Force is totally remaking the way we have organized ourselves and not in a useful way.

The members of synod are slowly but in a convincing advancing wave figuring out that the proposals are not good for the Synod. The Task Force has been telling us until they are blue in the face that they have solicited endless piles of input on these proposals. This petition from the LCMS Children’s Ministry consultants proves what we have been saying all along. The input has been contrived, controlled and even in the case of the million dollar consultants that “we” hired, the input is being ignored.

Here is the petition and the signers.

Support to Continue Children’s Ministry and Family Ministry at the National Level for Congregations and Districts, May 10, 2010

A section of Recommendation #18 of The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance proposes that the Departments of Children’s Ministry and Family Ministry be taken from the National Synodical Center and transferred as the responsibility of the individual Districts.

We, as early childhood consultants, feel strongly that this recommendation is detrimental to the next generation, the future of our church. Research shows that; the early years are the most significant opportunity for character development, which also includes faith development. In today’s society, young children often spend many of their waking hours in the care of non-family members. Parents, both churched and unchurched, often look to the teachers and caregivers for support and guidance of their children in all areas of development, including faith and character development.     The 2009-2010 LCMS school statistics show that 17% of the students in our Lutheran schools have no church home. The percentage of unchurched children in many of our early childhood centers is much higher than the average for all schools, making these centers a major mission field

Pastors, educational administrators, teachers, congregational volunteers, children’s and family ministers, and district early childhood consultants need and want to have knowledgeable advocates who do the necessary research and discern the information that is most in alignment with the overall mission of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. To place this responsibility at the District level puts an undue burden on many offices that are already short of staff, overburdened, and who may lack training and/or experience in the specific areas of ministry to children and families

Some of our districts do not have Education Executives, either paid or unpaid, which would leave some congregations without appropriate leadership and/or guidance in the area of Children’s and Family Ministry. Some congregations, which have Children’s or Family Ministry positions, are not connected with an Early Childhood Program or an Elementary School. Without the expertise that is currently provided by the National Synodical Office, the professional and volunteer leaders would lack the support, encouragement, training and resources needed for strong ministries for families with children. The significant number of children and their families in our 6,123 congregations and 2,300 early childhood programs would be negatively impacted by the loss of this national leadership in Children’s and Family Ministry.

Churches, early childhood centers, and schools of the LCMS cherish the distinct mission that characterizes all they do as they serve God and His people. Having a central voice for Children’s and Family Ministry leading us has been helpful and supportive in building consistency and passion across the many varied districts.   Having that central voice continue is essential for the support, quality and future growth of Synod’s fastest growing ministry.

 Therefore, we ask delegates to vote against dissolving the Departments of Children’s and Family Ministry on the National level and transferring these responsibilities to the Districts as proposed in restructuring recommendations.

We also ask that delegates vote to continue District and Congregational Services Children’s Ministry and Family Ministry at the National level in resolutions that come from Overtures 2-21 and 2-22 in the Convention Workbook (p. 161 and 162).

 LCMS District Early Childhood Consultants:

Janis King, California/Nevada/Hawaii

Linda Gerlach, Eastern

Kathy Knudtson, Florida-Georgia        

Sue Boepner, Indiana

Judy Grotelueschen, Indiana

Peggy Seeber, Iowa East

Debra Fink, Iowa West

Kelley Fehn, Michigan

Judy Williams, Michigan

Angela Shirley, Mid-South

Brenda Lovhaug, Minnesota South

Jan Stockman, Minnesota South

Drew Gerdes, Missouri

Cheryl Haun, Missouri

Patricia Stricken, Montana

Eunice McCarty, Nebraska

Lois boring, New Jersey  

Julie Klopke, Northern Illinois

Marilyn Lindeman, Northern Illinois

Martha Weniger, Northwest

Karen Wrye, Northwest

Bonnie Stottlemyer, Ohio  

Lynne Rose, Pacific Southwest

Gwen Marshall, Rocky Mountain

Jessi Moeller, South Dakota

Linda Kennell, South Wisconsin

Dottie Kringel, Southeastern

Kathy Schamber, Southern

Marian Hamre, Texas

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