My Hour with Lutheran World Relief President John Nunes – A Sign of Things to Come with a Harrison Presidency? by Pr. Rossow

(Note – I do not speak for Matt Harrison. Believe it or not I have never spoken to Matt Harrison at any length although he did see me on the convention floor Tuesday and thanked me for BJS’s reporting and commentary. Over the next few months we will continue to report and comment on the LCMS but we are far from an official voice of Harrison. If I ever speak at length to him about synod issues I will let you know but otherwise what I write here is my personal analysis and insight.)

Tuesday morning at the LCMS convention I had the great pleasure of meeting John Nunes the President and CEO of Lutheran World Relief (LWR). It was the second most enjoyable hour of the convention for me. The most enjoyable hour was the presidential election. We had a wonderful discussion covering a wide variety of topics ranging from philosophical metaphysics, worship styles and even our favorite style of painting. I was also able to meet his lovely wife during the course of our discussion. The two of them have been blessed by God with incredible gifts of leadership and charisma. The primary point of our discussion was directed at whether or not those gifts were being properly channeled through LWR.

We have posted some stories on BJS that call for the end of interaction with the ELCA in mercy programs. Rev. Nunes, a brother LCMS clergyman, was interested in clarifying some of these issues since LWR serves both the LCMS and the ELCA. I was very impressed that Rev. Nunes has been a reader of this BJS blog for quite some time and that he takes very seriously the point of view expressed on this blog and is often in agreement with us. He recalled the arguments of my critique of the Convention Divine Service even better than I did myself and is in basic agreement with my critique.

Getting back to the issues with LWR – point blank, we have called for an end to joint efforts with the ELCA. (As I write this, President Elect Harrison is addressing the convention floor and asking that we not totally dissolve our connection to the ELCA. He will need to convince me that some connection is still advisable. We will give him time to think through this issue and clarify to us exactly what level of connection he endorses before offering critique.) Rev. Nunes and I have some noteworthy disagreements but he did offer some helpful clarification on matters that were discussed in our previous posts. He wants the BJS readers to know that LWR’s relationship to the United Nations is limited to the passing on of resources and that LWR is not in anyway obligated in mission to the ideals of the United Nations. He also wanted us to know that we do not directly interact with the ELCA in the Lutheran Malaria Initiative.

My point here is not to judge the truth or relevance of Rev. Nunes’ insights. For the most part I accepted them and if the issue arises again we can discuss these matters here on the site. The point in my blogging about our conversation is to illustrate the way in which President Elect Matt Harrison will be working to bring about greater unity in the LCMS. It was an associate of Rev. Harrison that actually brought Nunes and I together. That speaks volumes for how Harrison will lead us toward unity. According to “It’s Time” Harrison will be focusing on bringing people together to do just what Nunes and I did – talk. After the talking there will need to be a lot of deciding, but the deciding will be based on the talk. Harrison is not so naïve to think that we will be totally unified but he does think that we will reach near 85%. That is better than it is now.

President Elect Harrison does not want structure and by-laws to be the basis of unity but instead discussion and truth. Rev. Nunes and I discussed things and sought to arrive at what the truth is concerning joint mercy activities. We both learned a lot. On a personal level I can also add that I grew more appreciative of Rev. Nunes and he grew more appreciative of me. Rev. Nunes also convinced me that he is persistently striving to make sure that LWR’s work passes the test of Scriptural fellowship principles.

I could write volumes of critique on the work and mission of LWR and may do so in the future but for now I ask you to consider the little tete a tete I had with Rev. Nunes to be a clear sign of how unity discussions will be handled under President Harrison’s leadership.

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