Committee Recommendatons are Out – Let the Final Debate Begin, by Pr. Rossow

The official news source for the LCMS, the Reporter, has released a summary of the work of the convention floor committees who met this last weekend. Critics of this website have thrown up a constant smoke screen to cloud the concerns raised on this blog site by asserting that the final resolutions have not been released and so any concerns expressed ought to be dismissed. Well, the resolutions are now prepared for the convention and have been released so let the final discussions begin. What is glaringly evident in the release of the floor committee’s work is that the concerns raised here for the past year have not been imagined but are very real.

The job of a floor committee is to organize the resolutions submitted by the congregations, districts and boards of the synod so that they are more manageable for the delegates but instead, these committees appointed by President Kieschnick have politicized the process and edited, massaged, combined and in some cases even dismissed numerous resolutions submitted for the convention. Over the next few weeks we will offer news and commentary on the work of these floor committees, particularly Committee #8 (Structure and Governance). It is crucial for all delegates and all members of LCMS congregations to understand what the decisions of the floor committees mean for the synod.

First, it is now clear that our blogger Mollie Ziegler Hemingway was correct in her reporting yesterday that Committee #8 has indeed rejected all of the resolutions that would hinder, slow down or dismiss the proposals for restructuring produced by President Kieschnick’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Structure and Governance. Jesus First leader and supporter of President Kieschnick, Chuck Mueller, criticized Ziegler Hemingway yesterday on this website for jumping the gun and questioned her reporting. He was wrong. Committee #8 has done what Mollie’s sources told her they did and what she accurately reported. The Brothers of John the Steadfast blog site continues to be honored to have a blogger/reporter writing here with the credentials and integrity of Mollie Ziegler Hemingway. (Pastor Wilken has just posted a story that lists the dozens of resolutions that Committee #8 rejected.)

We will discuss some of the more crucial resolutions in future posts. For now let’s consider the interesting matter of the proposal to rename the synod. It is less important than many of the proposals but it is emblematic of the politicized work of the floor committees. Despite more than 50% of the survey respondents at the district conventions being opposed to a name change and/or ambivalent toward it, the committee has decided to go ahead with a resolution that will prepare a new name for the synod to be voted on at the ensuing district conventions and the next national convention.

Here is how the Reporter summarized the decision of Committee #8 on the renaming issue:

Stating that “a church body may periodically see the need for a name change to more effectively reflect its character, breadth, and mission,” another proposed resolution asks the Council of Presidents and Board of Directors to consider alternative names for the Missouri Synod from a suggested list and agree on two names that would be voted on by delegates at their next district conventions.   The alternative name receiving the most votes would be proposed as a resolution at the next national convention.

There are more important issues than a name change but we highlight this one because it so clearly illustrates how President Kieschnick’s committees work. Changing the name of a 160 year old institution is a big thing, particularly since Lutherans all around the world look to the name “Lutheran Church Missouri Synod” as the moniker of confessional Lutheranism and as a beacon of conservativism in the overwhelming flood of liberalism in worldwide Lutheranism.

Rather than respecting and preserving such, the Kieschnick appointed committee has decided to move ahead with this issue. We believe this is because President Kieschnick, according to his own words, opposes our grandfather’s church and instead favors a progressive approach to church that seeks to meet people’s felt needs, adjusts the style of the church to fit the whims of the pop culture and turns its back on the traditions that have served to preserve the Gospel for generations in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. “LCMS” stands for a church that preaches Christ crucified and delivers the means of grace in the 2,000 year old tradition of the church whether the culture likes it or not. “LCMS” stands for a humble group of immigrants that in 1848 rejected the errors of 19thcentury European enlightenment thinking and then one-hundred and twenty years later rejected the false teaching of the modernism that rejected the miracles of Christ and the authority of the Bible. “LCMS” stands for a group of humble believers that reject the pop culture version of Christianity today that reduces the faith down to a few common Methobapticostal principles of life-changing and feel good experiences of worship. But President Kieschnick’s floor committee is proposing that we come up with new names that would mean sacrificing the name that has stood for one-hundred and sixty years against the whims of culture. We are not surprised by this. This is what we have come to expect from President Kieschnick’s leadership. He promotes a new and alien style in the LCMS and his Task Force and now his Floor Committee #8 has decided to promote a divisive issue where surveys indicate that there is nothing remotely close to a mandate from the people to change a generations old moniker.

The floor committees’ proposals are now on the table. Let the final discussion begin. Please share this website with your friends and neighbors and particularly those who are delegates, so that they can get the side of the issues that the floor committees are burying.

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

Committee Recommendatons are Out – Let the Final Debate Begin, by Pr. Rossow — 38 Comments

  1. Other than the proposals from Floor Committee 8, there are two resolutions that scare the living daylights out of me.

    From Floor Committee 3:

    acknowledge procedures in place for establishing formal altar and pulpit fellowship with well-established church bodies, and propose to amend a Bylaw to allow the Synod president, following consultation with the Praesidium and approval by the CTCR, to declare recognition of altar and pulpit fellowship with emerging or newly formed confessional churches, subject to endorsement of the subsequent Synod convention.

    (emphasis mine) I don’t think that the declaration of altar and pulpit fellowship is something that should be delegated to someone other than the entire Synod acting in convention. Levels of cooperation are possible outside of altar and pulpit fellowship, and I do not see any reason that emergency altar and pulpit fellowship must be declared before the next Synodical convention.

    And from Floor Committee 5:

    Following a 2007 convention resolution that called for a task force study of the Synod’s current lay deacon program, another resolution asks that the program be continued and includes recommendations for providing a “reasonable way through which deacons, who are preaching and administering the sacraments, might be examined, called, and ordained within three years of beginning their service.”

    So now we are adding another route to ordination! How many alternate route to ordination programs do we need?

    Two others that are of concern:

    From Floor Committee 1:

    urge districts and LCMS World Mission to work together to strengthen their commitment to new immigrants; encourage Concordia University System schools to recruit, train, and send immigrants to serve in immigrant communities; and encourage the LCMS seminaries to continue the expansion and development of the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology, the Center for Hispanic Studies, and similar distance-education programs.

    There are some concerns with how vicars from EIIT continue in their ministry. We are experiencing some difficulties with that in our district right now.

    Also from Floor Committee 1:

    encourage inter-district dialogue when new church starts, satellite worship sites, and specialized ministries are planned for sites that cross district boundaries.

    It is currently a requirement that all congregations, etc., within the borders of a district are under the ecclesiastical supervision of that District President (with certain exceptions for the non-geographic districts). Why, now that we are experiencing difficulties in this area, would we reduce this from “require” to “encourage”?

    Just a few initial reactions to the summaries in the Reporter. Hopefully the actual resolutions will be online tomorrow (oops, I mean later today) so that we can analyze that on which we will be voting.

    The PPPadre

  2. I was a district convention delegate last year. The Blue Ribbon Task Force survey was, shall we say, not exactly a scientific poll conducted in a manner following good standards of practice.

    But our convention did do something which was clear, unambiguous, and unmistakable: we passed resolutions urging the 2010 Synod in Convention to outright reject certain proposals and also to, at the very least, not pass or implement any BRTF proposals until the 2013 Synodical Convention. And we were not the only district to do so.

    It is disheartening and a terrible shame, to say the least, that the “powers that be” have chosen to outright ignore what the district conventions clearly said. If they ignore us now, how much more will the Synod ignore and neglect everyone down the line after restructuring? It’s a sign of things to come, I fear.

  3. No surprise on the name change…just look at the current LCMS logo on all official publications. Over the last nine years, the words “Missouri Synod” have been purposefully shrunk to the point of being unreadable. All very consistent with corporate branding strategies. It’s like gradually shrinking “Carnation” and enlarging “Nestle” on Coffee-Mate packaging, until Carnation gets eliminated completely, as it has now.

    Remember when the LCMS logo looked like this, and you could actually read “Missouri Synod”?:

    http://www.signsourcecompany.com/graphics/churchlogos/055-lutheran-church-of-the-.gif

    New owners never like the taste of old Coffee-Mate. If they get their way on a new name for the Synod, the usual next step is a new logo…

    …that involves birds and fire.

  4. @Anonymous #2

    This is a good point. Why do the districts get to vote on the name change and the national convention vote on this change is put off for three years, but we have to rush to pass major structural changes in two months?

  5. wrl :
    If they get their way on a new name for the Synod, the usual next step is a new logo…
    …that involves birds and fire.

    As I understand it, the new logo involves lots of water droplets (priesthood of all believers) gathered around a white cross (i.e. the BRTFSSG logo). Oh, yeah – the water droplets are green.

  6. Pray for these delegates, most diligently. If there was ever, a more ominous & monumental moment, in Missouri’s history…it is this.

    That “logo” reminds me of the eye test or eye twisters…you have to look really hard, to find the Cross. Rather telling, me thinks.

  7. If you think the name change idea has even a snowball’s chance in … a very warm place … of going through, may I suggest that somebody quick do something to legally secure or preserve a right to use the name “Missouri” (or Missouri Synod, or whatever permutation) as a synodical/denominational name? While of course you don’t want it come to that, it isn’t hard to imagine a situation in which a renamed synod eventually loses a lot of confessional congregations and pastors who want to remain “Missouri”, but the renamed synod has tied up the rights to the name and won’t give them up.

  8. I pray that the delegates will not let the “line in the sand” be redrawn backwards from confessional Lutheranism. If the delegates pray for guidance and rely on God’s Word and not human folly, then God’s will be done. In the end, God will keep the faithful remnant in the true faith to everlasting life.

  9. I purpose that this name change resolution is being placed on the agenda for the following reason: 1. It will be voted down and 2. Some of the delegates will say they have already been negative and now should vote something positive. Watch carefully the order in which the resolutions will be presented.

  10. Delegates in past conventions have already approved the bylaws that allow the floor committees to promulgate the resolutions noted above as well as to completely ignore any overtures they decide to ignore.

    Confessional Lutheran delegates can still vote “No” on the resolutions, but their votes are up against the CGers, PLI sycophants, CEO wannabes, liberal ecumenicists, and flatlining fence-sitters (and probably not a few Loeheists, who, while opposing the current SP occupant, see the BRTFSSG polity as fitting their episcopist interests).

  11. Some of the Standing Rules from 2007 that will likely be used at the 2010 convention:

    No motion to reconsider or rescind shall be made or called up during the last day of the convention.

    No motion to amend, to lay on the table, or to call the previous question (close debate) may be made during the first two segments of floor committee presentation and debate on the main motion.

    Whenever an amendment is offered from the floor that seeks to make editorial or other helpful suggestions to a pending resolution coming from a floor committee, the chair of the floor committee shall have the option of accepting such an amendment and if it is accepted then the amendment is made without further debate or formal vote of the assembly.

    The privilege of granting delegates the right to record their votes in the minutes with respect to a particular resolution shall be granted by the assembly by a two-thirds (2/3rds) vote without debate.

  12. Rev. Roger D. Sterle :I purpose that this name change resolution is being placed on the agenda for the following reason: 1. It will be voted down and 2. Some of the delegates will say they have already been negative and now should vote something positive. Watch carefully the order in which the resolutions will be presented.

    It’s called a “red herring.” Good analysis.

    Johannes (herring-meister)

  13. @Carl Vehse #10

    @Carl Vehse #11

    Hey, hey, delegates and delegate advisors! Check out those convention standing rules. They should be in the first issue of “Today’s [Monkey] Business,” near the front. Read them over carefully, and get ready to make some waves. The standing rules have to be passed first. In 2007, some modifications were made (can’t remember what they were). It can be done, y’all. And when you make your motion, address the Chair as “Reverend Presdient”, smile a lot, be nice. You know the drill.

    Carl, you’ve done us a great service. (I still think the rubber stamp thing is sadly funny).

    Johannes

  14. @Jeff Samelson #7
    …may I suggest that somebody quick do something to legally secure or preserve a right to use the name “Missouri” (or Missouri Synod, …

    Oh, I suspect that even this administration learned something from letting the trademark rights to “Issues Etc” lapse. 🙁

  15. Anybody know what they want to change the name to?

    I’d prefer a change to “Lutheran Church – Walther Synod” but I’d oppose any other change.

  16. Carl Vehse :Some of the Standing Rules from 2007 that will likely be used at the 2010 convention:
    No motion to reconsider or rescind shall be made or called up during the last day of the convention.
    No motion to amend, to lay on the table, or to call the previous question (close debate) may be made during the first two segments of floor committee presentation and debate on the main motion.
    Whenever an amendment is offered from the floor that seeks to make editorial or other helpful suggestions to a pending resolution coming from a floor committee, the chair of the floor committee shall have the option of accepting such an amendment and if it is accepted then the amendment is made without further debate or formal vote of the assembly.
    The privilege of granting delegates the right to record their votes in the minutes with respect to a particular resolution shall be granted by the assembly by a two-thirds (2/3rds) vote without debate.

    Carl-
    the 2/3 rule for registering dissent was changed to 1/3. I know I made the motion to amend the standing rules in that regard. And then got to put it to good use throughout the convention!

    There were a few other changes made too, but I don’t have my 2007 final report in hand.
    Pr. Ball

  17. the 2/3 rule for registering dissent was changed to 1/3

    Great! Thanks, Rev. Ball. Then “Today’s Business” should have the 1/3 rule in it.

  18. Carl Vehse :“the 2/3 rule for registering dissent was changed to 1/3”
    Great! Thanks, Rev. Ball. Then “Today’s Business” should have the 1/3 rule in it.

    Don’t count on it. The “standing rules” are a “moving target.” They are for each convention only, and can be amended, changed, etc., etc. I would guess that they’ll have to be amended again.

    johannes

  19. The parts that are of interest to me are specifically those reorging :

    “Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR), the Commission on Doctrinal Review, the Commission on Constitutional Matters, and the Commission on Structure”

    It seems that changing those, along with moving for a 2/3 majority to address controversial doctrinal matters and the subsequent new non geographic circuits combine to an unavoidable conclusion.

    The issues of gender in all its facets both of ministers and of marriage will begin to rise in the more liberal circuits/districts, using new cleverly worded ways around any existing resolutions. It will be impossible to condemn them w/o 2/3 which will not be reached. And the sacking of the above boards and replacing it with more moderate entities means no formal condemnation from the top will be forthcoming either.

    The spirit of unity and 80% agreement means that things will be tolerated but not approved, just like happened in ECLA a few decades ago.

    Am I wrong ?

  20. ” Lutherans all around the world look to the name “Lutheran Church Missouri Synod” as the moniker of confessional Lutheranism and as a beacon of conservativism in the overwhelming flood of liberalism in worldwide Lutheranism.”

    Changing the name of Synod is definitely a minor issue compared to other structure issues, but it makes another statement on where LCMS Inc wants to take the LCMS.

    I’m reminded of the two main branches of Presbyterianism: PCA and PCUSA. One is “conservative” and one is “liberal”. I never can remember which is which. If one was PCA or PCUSA and the other was PC-New Jersey, for example, I’d more easily remember which was which.

    One of Mollie’s threads had a list of website urls which had been reserved by the LCMS for possible future use. I think that one was LCUSA. How much more confusing for someone looking for a confessional church to beencounter similar acronyms like ELCA and LCUSA (which is which), than By LC-Missouri Synod. We’d be indistinguishable from other Lutheran bodies, which seems to be one of the goals of LCMS Inc.

    That or they’ll suggest we leave the name Lutheran out of the new name completely!

  21. ” Lutherans all around the world look to the name “Lutheran Church Missouri Synod” as the moniker of confessional Lutheranism and as a beacon of conservativism in the overwhelming flood of liberalism in worldwide Lutheranism.”

    Not to be argumentative as I would love to say the LCMS is a moniker for confessional Lutheranism, but I would say that moniker belongs also to ELS, WELS, CLC and other smaller and/or independent Lutheran bodies in the confessional Lutheranism realm.

    If the line in the LCMS beach sand continue to be drawn backward away from confessional Lutheranism stance we all espouse here on BJS and elsewhere, I am not sure people will continue to see God Word proclaimed in every LCMS church. Of course the same is true when and if WELS or any other synod lets the line in the sand be redrawn. The ocean tide is like the devil always working against or line in the sand or perhaps our sand castle. We need to anchor ourselves to the Rock to stand against these ocean tides.

  22. @jim_claybourn #20
    How’s about THE Lutheran Church? I have seen alot of materials out of the International Center that have the equivalent of THE LUTHERAN CHURCH-missouri synod upon them. I pointed this out to the most senior of all officials in our beloved synod who said he had not noticed that. I must say I kinda digged it myself. We all firmly believe that we are the “true” lutherans out there… so why not THE Lutheran Church?

  23. Dear BJS bloggers and LCMS delegates,

    The Debate Begins Now and Ends at the Closing Gavel!

    Comment #14 from Johannes is REALLY IMPORTANT! He is not kidding.

    If you are a delegate, please behave yourself at the convention and especially if you have an opportunity to speak to the convention.

    1) Use the standard forms of address found in Robert’s Rules “Mr. Chairman” etc.

    2) Do not refer to the “last speaker” as if you want to argue with him or her.

    3) Stick to the issues, and avoid every discussion of personalities.

    4) If you make a motion, be sure you know whether or not you can speak to it (Debatable or Non-Debatable Motions).

    These four points help everyone keep a lot “cooler,” which is important in the Houston heat. 🙂

    If you don’t think this restructuring business is a “fair debate,” get over that right now. The President of synod has used his powers legitimately, according to synodical canon law (i.e, bylaws), to get his way. All that the convention can do is, after some debate, decline the bad recommendations; or accept them. There is no third option now.

    Some of us have, over the years, pointed out (in lectures and publications) how the Synodical President exerts enormous control over the conventions, thereby giving the executive branch excessive control over the legislative branch. We have made some suggestions for improvements, but these have been ignored. What we have, right now in synodical canon law regarding the powers of the President, is apparently what the people in the synod want.

    It is very unfortunate, really, that the President has now tied his will so clearly to the particular course of action found in the Blue Ribbon Task Force. The Task Force recommendations are now as much about the President as the actual restructuring. This is not good, any way you look at it!

    It would have been much, much better if the Council of Presidents had selected the members of the Task Force, or if the president had used the Commission on Structure (which is its job!). It would have been much, much better if the Task Force had released the Bredholt Report as soon as it received it; and if it had followed the recommendations of Bredholdt and Roozen, instead of mostly ignoring them. That’s all water under the bridge now!

    At least Task Force Chairman Bob Greene got it right, at some of the regional gatherings or district conventions, when he said that he had no vested interest in the outcome. Maybe he got scolded for that comment, because he didn’t say it later.

    I also have to express my sympathy for some of the Task Force members who have taken a heap of abuse, when all they have done is faithfully serve the synod. Some members had no choice; others found out too late in the game what was really happening.

    I also have to express my sympathy for the President’s Assistants (Larry Krueger and Jon Braunesreuther) who are very competent and dutiful men. Please say some kind words to them, and thank them for their service at the convention when you see them. These last two years have been impossibly stressful for them and their families, I am sure.

    Finally, in all of these debates, whenever you discuss what concerns you, remember that those who disagree ARE your brother or sister in Christ and in the Lutheran faith. If you don’t know how to have a civil discussion with your brother, what are you doing at a CHRISTIAN church convention?

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  24. @Martin R. Noland #22

    Martin Noland is a loyal LCMS statesman. All delegates should print out his comments here (and elsewhere) and keep them in front of them while in Houston. I have had the pleasure of speaking with him, and listening to him explain some very complicated and dicey issues–he did so with winsomeness, grace and great clarity. And never once did he engage in personalities, or trashing those with whom he disagreed. He stuck with the issues. Much of the advice I hand out here I learned the hard way or from him.

    Thank you, Dr. Noland for your helpful comments. I’m sure I speak for all the contributors here. Perhaps you should write the next “Delegate to Delegate” letter.

    Johannes

  25. @Martin R. Noland #24

    I agree about remaining Christian and not getting personal.

    However, I also know that it will be difficult to vote for any of these restructuring proposals because they are generally supported by Pres. K. I mean if I’m convinced that Pres. K should be replaced. It’s not personal. In fact, I’ve met Pres. K and spoken with him and he seems like a nice fellow. I just think it’s time for another president who could build a consensus around our common confession of faith as contained in the Book of Concord.

    BTW, I have read the proposals pretty closely. Most of them are simply not good ideas. Some are probably innocuous.

  26. So what happens if all the restructuring gets passed AND Rev. Harrison gets elected? Could the restructring be overturned?

  27. According the Special Standing Rule from the previous convention, not on the last day.

    The restructuring would still require 2/3 approval in voting by individual congregations.

  28. @Carl Vehse #30

    Only the changes/amendments to the Constitution are subject to a vote of the congregations. Bylaw changes are made by the convention. Can you imagine the chaos that will ensue if the congregations vote down any of the constitutional changes, but the corresponding new bylaws are in effect? We’ll need another special convention. Oh, I forgot. Maybe the COP can figure it out. Or the CCM.

    j

  29. Question: In the Part 2 of the “Committees propose 104 resolutions. . .”, 7. Ecclesial Matters, when they talk about members, are they talking about members of Synod (congregations) or members of congregations?

  30. “Members” of synod are (1) Congregations and (2) called pastors. In reading thru the section you referenced, it would seem that the members referred to are the called pastors. Much of this Reporter article is vague, however the fuzzy language does much to raise suspicion that more tinkering is going on, and things will be more troublesome.

    Johannes

  31. @L S Conv Delegate #32
    @johannes #33

    To be a little more precise, “members of Synod” are the congregations and all rostered church workers. Voting membership is limited to congregations and their sole, senior, administrative, executive, or associate pastor (but not assistant pastors, SMP pastors, EIIT pastors/vicars, lay ministers, teachers, DCEs, DCOs, DFLMs, DPMs, PAs, and all the other alphabet soup of commissioned ministers).

    The reference to members in the resolutions of Floor Committee 7 is to the members of Synod (congregations and rostered workers).

  32. How about the proposed resolution that allow the President to declare fellowship with another church body before convention action???? That’s pretty drastic change!

    Dan

  33. To PPPadre #34, et al.: In fact, one of the changes we will be voting on (but the TF doesn’t consider it a change, really) is the definition of “member”. They say that *pastors* have *never* been “members” of synod, only congregations, and that the new language of “associate member” for all rostered church workers “clarifies” this “fact.” The one thing they conveniently fail to do is provide a definition for *congregation*. You can argue that the congregations–the local churches–laity and pastor–are the members of synod. But you can’t argue that pastors have *never* been “members” or “voting members” of synod.

  34. Well, the “final debate” in the Q&A session in the June of the Lutheran Witness is now available to see, particularly in the SP nominees’ answers to the question:

    Q: During this year’s convention, delegates will consider proposals to restructure the way the Synod is organized. What is your opinion of the recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance?

    Rev. Harrison does point out that “it’s not a good idea,” which is as close as one could expect to concluding that the BRTFSSG recommendations are worse than crap . Dr. Gard also expresses some strong concerns.

  35. Regarding his forthright statements on the BRTFSSG recommendations, Dr. Gard explained on the ALPB Forum, “There is a certain liberation that comes from knowing that there only two viable candidates and that I’m not one of them.”

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