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.