Pushing Restructuring Through

Remember a few weeks ago when we were commenting on all of the overtures submitted ┬áby Districts, Circuits and other entities of Synod? I don’t think that Districts, Circuits or Boards could have done much more to express specific concerns they had with some of the proposals being suggested by the Blue Ribbon Task Force.

But I have bad news.

I’m getting a ton of reports coming out of the recent meetings of floor committees (the groups that decide whether any of those overtures will ever see the light of day at the Synodical Convention in Houston) that indicate a great deal of politicking and an unfortunate lack of transparency.

When the nomination numbers came out in early April, I pointed out that even though the Rev. Matt Harrison had received an overwhelming majority of nominations, people shouldn’t count President Kieschnick out. Why? He’s truly one of the most effective political operatives I’ve ever seen. He’s just very good at getting what he wants.

And it looks like he got what he wanted out of the floor committees.

I’m told by numerous folks who were at the meetings this past weekend that President Kieschnick informed participants that restructuring had the overwhelming support of the church. He made this claim on the basis of those vague surveys conducted at regional gatherings months ago. Those were the surveys where everyone had the bizarre combination of 60 seconds and very little considered information before marking down their opinion on the proposals. The information provided at these meetings, it should be noted, heavily encouraged support for the proposals. It wasn’t like delegates had an honest airing of the pros and cons of each proposal before being forced to decide. And, it also bears mentioning, that the proposals changed over the course of the meetings so that delegates in one region were voting on a different proposal than those in another region.

In any case, since those meetings, a growing chorus — again, from all sides of the LCMS — has been voicing its opposition to the proposals.

And yet I’m told that President Kieschnick asked the floor committee to only put forth resolutions in support of Restructuring. When you look back and think of the 80-odd overtures submitted largely against restructuring, it makes it seem as if all of the districts, circuits and congregations who wrote overtures against restructuring are not important.

The overtures that were put forth by Floor Committee 8 (the one that had over 80 overtures submitted to it, almost all of them critical or questioning of at least part of the Blue Ribbon Task Force process or proposals) did as told. For instance, rather than respond favorably to the request from the Board for Human Care Ministries request posted on yesterday, Floor Committee 8 put forth a resolution recommending that all program boards be killed and that the Synod’s ministry areas be divided into a domestic and international mission commission. It’s hard to understate how much this conflicts with how interested parties in Synod responded to the Blue Ribbon Task Force Proposal to consolidate so radically.

Now, what’s the lesson here? There is an obvious parallel to how Congress recently shoved massive legislation through over the consistent and passionate objection of the people. But at the end of the day, who won that battle against the will of the people? Are President Kieschnick and his team willing to risk the ire of the Synod to achieve their goal? Remember, he’s very good at achieving his political ends and perhaps he thinks he can get the consolidation of power he desires without losing office. I don’t know.

Perhaps if he sees that delegates to Convention are upset at how the restructuring is being shoved down their throats, he’ll change course and recommend a vote against these unpopular proposals. Again, we’ll have to just wait and see.

But no matter what your views on restructuring in general and Proposal #18 in particular, I don’t think this thwarting of the will of the Synod (expressed properly in overtures from Districts, Circuits and Congregations) is a high mark in Synod relations.

It also shows how prescient the first commenter on yesterday’s post was:

Do you really think that the floor committee will take seriously this letter from Human Care? I don’t. It is my humble opinion that the “marching orders” have gone out and there will be a big push to accomplish this goal of our Synodical President. Some say that the proposals belong to all of us. I could not disagree more. My reasons: The president put the committee together with people he wanted; he told them what they should seek; he told them to cover everything; he told them he wanted answers for this convention. These are his baby and I personally don’t think he will let it die–no matter what has to be done.

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