Synod boards and commissions in a fight for their existence

Of the various proposals suggested by the Blue Ribbon Task Force, one of the most radical is #18.

That’s the one that would eliminate all program boards and consolidate them under the office of the Synodical President. There would be a national mission commission and an international mission commission. Supporters of this proposal argue that it would save money and make things run more efficiently.

But opponents say it would do the opposite and they’re worried that it would seriously harm some of the Synod’s best programs. Opposition doesn’t come from one “side” of the LCMS or another but it does seem that those doing some of the best work of Synod are most concerned.

Well, today the Board for Human Care Ministries — which includes a wide variety of folks — actually went so far as to publish a letter sounding the alarm about the proposal. You can read it here (PDF) on the Synod’s web site for LCMS World Relief and Human Care.

The letter is addressed to the floor committee 6, which oversees the WRHC board. Incidentally, floor committees are meeting right now to prepare for the convention and someone told me that one of the members said during a nearly day-long meeting haggling over (what else) Proposition 18:

“If we don’t understand this, how can we expect the delegates to understand it?”

It’s a good question, albeit one that makes me just a bit concerned about the stakes! Anyway, the letter to Floor Committee 6 explains that the entire rationale for the restructuring doesn’t make sense for the Board for Human Care Ministries. That’s because BHCM receives no assistance from Synod and raises all of its own funds. I’ll just quote from a portion of the letter, which was unanimously adopted last week by the BHCM:

We discussed at length the  capacity  that  BHCM  has  developed over  the  last  decade in  order to  fulfill  the requirements  of  the  Board  under  Synod  bylaws  (please  see  the BHCM  2010  Convention Workbook  Report, pages  102- ­â€112). That  capacity  has  been  a  blessing to millions  in disaster situations and to  many  of  our  partners that used our good offices  to  help in emergencies as well.

The capacity  that  we have  developed has  been worldwide and extensive,  and the  expertise developed is not easily duplicated.  The church has embraced the development of that capacity  and the  people in  the  pew  have voted for  it with  their offerings and gifts.

We believe that not enough attention has been paid to the consequences of losing an organization  that has the operational  capacity the BHCM  has developed.

We  are  asking  that  Floor  Committee  6  support  BHCM  Overtures  4- ­â€23  and  8- ­â€67 that have been assigned to Floor Committees 4 and 8, respectively. We request your assistance in support of this important mercy arm of the church, functioning in the name of Christ.

Emphasis mine. There are many things I love about our Synod but the wonderful work done by our Board for Human Care Ministries is certainly one of them. The overtures referenced can be found in the workbook. The first overture asks Synod to allow BHCM to keep the interest earned off the funds it raises rather than have that interest subsidize other Synod operations. The second asks convention delegates to please consider the potential downside to Proposal #18.

That certainly seems like the least convention delegates can do as they prepare for this important convention.

I’m preparing another post on what this all means — the significance of a public letter and the latest on what President Kieschnick told floor committees during the recent meetings. Some of it might alarm you.

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