President Elect Harrison Names his Top Assistants

(From the Reporter Online)
Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, president-elect of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS), has named the following to new positions, effective Seharr-asst-collver.gifpt. 1:

Dr. Albert B. Collver III, director of Church Relations–assistant to the president. Collver currently serves harr-asst-vieker.gifas executive pastoral assistant for LCMS World Relief and Human Care.

Rev. Jon D. Vieker, senior assistant to the president. Vieker is assistant director of the LCMS Commission on Worship.

Barb A. Below, assistant to the president. Below is director of social ministry organizations with LCMS World Relief and Human Care. She is the first woman tharr-asst-below.gifo serve on the executive-level staff of an LCMS president.

Job descriptions for each of the positions are still under review.
“These three individuals bring a vast amount of experience to their new positions, both in terms of knowing how the International Center works and serving the broader church,” Harrison said. “I pray God will richly bless them as they continue their service to The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.”
Harrison, executive director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care, was elected July 13 by delegates to the Synod’s 64th Regular Convention. He will become the Synod’s 13th president when he takes office Sept. 1.

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.


President Elect Harrison Names his Top Assistants — 28 Comments

  1. I can vouch personally that two of these three picks are excellent (Collver and Vieker). I do not know Barb Below. If she is like the other two then this is a fabulous “cabinet.”

    Al Collver is one of the hardest working folks I know and will serve President Elect Harrison well. Al will bring an intensity to the president’s office that will guarantee that the members of the LCMS will get serious and complete service from the president’s office.

    I have known Jon Vieker for some twenty five years. There are few people who are as knowledgeable about the synod as Jon or as fair. Al Collver will bring energy to the office and Jon will bring a great measure of calm and deep discernment.

    The LCMS is very blessed by these picks and they are a sign of the wisdom of President Elect Harrison.


  2. Exactly, Tim. Jon is amazing in his calm; and Al in his energy. I’m delighted to see them both as part of the new team. And knowing Pr. Harrison, I’m just as certain that Barb is of the same sort: über competent! Pax!

  3. Most excellent.

    A very well-balanced team. All consummate professionals who will complement each other very well and serve Pres. Harrison tirelessly and faithfully.

    I had the pleasure of talking to Barb at length at the President’s Reception last Thursday at the convention in Houston. I was impressed with her intelligence, perception, and range of interests. And, of course, I let her know how much I appreciated the Harrison endorsement she gave us before the election over at Cross-Focused Leadership for Missouri. 🙂

    I’ve also known Jon Vieker for many years, going back to when he heard me speak at a “Great Commission Convocation” for the Central Illinois District shortly after he started to work for the Commission on Worship. And Al Collver is simply one of the brightest people I know.

    I believe it is going to take many years of patient work to bring unity to our synod. In picking such a capable, young, yet experienced team, President Harrison is preparing himself well for the long haul.

  4. Does anyone know if I am correct in my interpretation that Rev. Collver as “Director of Church Relations” seems to have taken over the recently created position for inter-church relations that had been held by Dr. Nafzger?

    I am also glad to see it clearly stated, “He will become the Synod’s 13th president when he takes office Sept. 1.” I had a frustrating conversation in Houston with some employees at the International Center, who were floating the idea that since Rev. Harrison is not installed until September 11 Rev. Kieschnick should remain President until that date. I was surprised at their confusion, because the Bylaws are quite clear that the newly elected officers and board members take office on September 1, regardless of when the formal installation is held.

  5. We pray that God will richly bless these three as they work with Pr. Harrison for unity, harmony, and solid confessional Lutheran doctrine.

  6. I will vouch for Barb Below. I worked with her for a year at the IC and also served at the parish that her and Rev. Mark Below served at in North Prairie, WI. I am excited to see how Pastor Harrison has chosen his assistants and for future ministry.

  7. Rev. Vieker is also a fine church organist.

    I guess it is too much to hope that I’ll someday hear a banjo+organ rendition of Mighty Fortress 🙂

  8. mbw :Rev. Vieker is also a fine church organist.
    I guess it is too much to hope that I’ll someday hear a banjo+organ rendition of Mighty Fortress

    Actually that may be construed as a contemporary styling on an ancient hymn and in some eyes may be considered ill advised. This being said of course Luther himself was said to be adept at fretted instruments.

    Tongue-Firmly-Planted in Cheek,

  9. I recall when Jon V first came out of sem. He ended up in MI and I recall the first time I met him there and heard him in action. It was a pre convention floor committee meeting. He and Alan Steinbeck were there probing and asking questions of the floor committee. I was very struck by Jon’s depth in the Lutheran Confessions and then it hit me…Jon and Alan came through St. Louis when Norman Nagel was at his best. I was only able to take Nagel for one class but it left its imprint. Those who were blessed to study under Nagel have a keen sense of Luther that those of us who went to StL earlier did not have. This is all to say that I think Jon will do well.

    Oh…I too would like to hear an organ/banjo fugue. It would be a refreshing. I had the joy of a little time in a hotel room with Matt, he with his banjo and I with my guitar. I believe Jon V was there also back in MI days.

  10. I am sure you could utilize the banjo stop on the organ. That may quell some controversy over using more than the organ to accompany hymns.

  11. krusty :I am sure you could utilize the banjo stop on the organ. That may quell some controversy over using more than the organ to accompany hymns.

    But only with a tremulo.

  12. If memory serves, Nagel advised both Vieker and Collver for their graduate theses (Vieker’s STM and Collver’s PhD). Also worth mentioning is that Norman Nagel translated the We Confess Anthology by Herman Sasse. Can you think of anyone else who has translated Herman Sasse into English?

  13. Pastor Tim, Can you in layman terms tell me why it’s ok for a lady to serve in Pres. elect Harrison’s office? Would it be because she is an adviser and has no authority over men? Please don’t read anything into this, I’m just tired of fighting off women suffrage in my congregation. I really like my grandfather’s church. Thank You Matt

  14. Matt,

    That is a very good question. Different conservatives would answer it differently.

    I believe some conservatives would say that any administrative service in the church would be exercising authority over a man. I understand that position and admire its consistency. it gives me much pause for thought.

    I do not hold that position. We currently have women voters in our congregation but I would have no problem living without it and there are plenty of women in our congregation who would agree with that.

    We also have women on our temporal boards (Finance, School Policy Board, Trustees). We do not allow women on our Elders which is clearly identified in our constitution as the board that handles spiritual matters. If there are ever spiritual matters of finance, church property or day school, the elders take the lead on such matters. For instance, we are currently working on a stained glass project for the sanctuary. Even though that is a property issue, the elders have the lead role.

    Apparently President Harrison is in this same camp.

    I am willing to be more strict on this issue if that is what it takes to unify the synod. I could not be any more loose on it such as allowing women elders, chairs, and communion assistants.

    In short, as you mentioned, the role of women comes down to spiritual authority over a man, among other things.

    Hope that helps. Others may chime in on this one.


  15. The President’s office will have secretaries, too. It’s a long time since secretaries were men exclusively. The buck will stop, as it always has, on the President’s desk.

  16. We took theology course with him at our church and it was on church music. It was excellent and learned much. Speaking of playing the have to hear how he tickles the keys on the piano and sing TOO! He is a fine choice . Thank you Pres. Harrison!

  17. Elephantschild : Not a Baby Boomer among them.

    Actually, Jon Vieker IS a Baby Boomer, and Barb Below might be right on the cusp. Al Collver is the young whippersnapper of the bunch.

    Matt Harrison himself is a Baby Boomer, too, the first of that age cohort to become LCMS president. (GBK is a pre-boomer.)

  18. As one married to a strong, theologically-minded woman who is quite comfortable with her vocational restrictions that God has established, I applaud Rev. Harrison for choosing Barb to this position. I am sure he knows the proper role of a woman in the church (as he has stated in “Women Pastors? The Ordination of Women in Biblical Lutheran Perspective” CPH 2008).

    Finally we have a president who is willing to show us all of the marvelous ways that women CAN serve in our church instead of parsing verbs and make up definitions to allow women to do all of the things that a pastor does as long as we don’t ordain her.

    With this appointment, as well as his great continued support of deaconess service, at last we have a theologian-president who will lead our synod into a period of encouraging women to work in the “field,” and be proud of their order in creation. Frankly, I think they will be so busy doing all that God has intended them to do as female Christians, that they will not have a desire to push the Synod toward women elders, ordination, or other inappropriate leadership positions.

  19. The United States Census Bureau considers a baby boomer to be someone born during the demographic birth boom between 1946 and 1964.

    @Helen #24
    The census bureau gives the “Boomer” designation to a couple of more years than I have seen elsewhere. I remember seeing ’61 or ’62 but for convenience I exonerate
    those born in 1960 onward. 🙂
    Elephantschild must read the same things I do. 😉

  20. Pastor Rossow-
    You wrote:
    “I do not hold that position. We currently have women voters in our congregation but I would have no problem living without it and there are plenty of women in our congregation who would agree with that.”

    What do you do when it comes time to remove a man from the church roster (i.e. lack of attendance), excommunicating a man, or calling a pastor? These are all activities that are typically carried out by the voters assembly (not the elders), and they seem to me to be matters of exercising spiritual authority (rather than tending to the temporal affairs of the church?
    My intention is not to hijack this thread, but since the topic has been brought up (and since this is an issue we are dealing with in our congregation) I would like to hear your thoughts.

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