We continue with the 106 proposed resolutions from the eight floor committees, as found in “Today’s Business.” To see the previous articles in this series, go to Henrickson’s blog at steadfastlutherans.org.
After our previous Introduction and Overview, we now begin a quick look at the actual resolutions proposed by Floor Committee 8, Synod Structure and Governance. We start with the first 12 of their 34 proposed resolutions:
8. SYNOD STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE
8-01: To Amend Article V of the Constitution
Compared to bylaw changes, constitutional amendments have a higher bar to hurdle: two-thirds approval at the convention, and then two-thirds ratification by the congregations that respond (compared to a simple majority at the convention for bylaws). So most of the proposed constitutional amendments are “backloaded” in the later resolutions of Committee 8. But this proposal to amend Article V is put at the head of the line.
What is not stated in the “Resolved”–it’s buried in the back of the book–is that this amendment would allow “commissioned ministers” to take the place of ordained pastors as voting delegates to conventions of the Synod, thus fundamentally changing Missouri’s historic clergy-laity balance at our conventions. This amendment would be needed to enable later resolutions on convention delegates. NO.
8-02: To Restore Circuits to Their Primary Purpose
This is a prime example of a nice-sounding title disguising a significant shift in power. It’s misleading, because there is nothing preventing circuits now from “promoting the unity of faith” and “carrying on mission and ministry.” But what this resolution would do–again, it’s buried in the back of the book–would be to take away the right of circuits to elect their own delegates to national conventions! It would eliminate electoral circuits! Also, circuits could be formed by criteria other than geography, so you would probably have “church-growth” circuits that don’t want to associate with bothersome “traditional” congregations–when, really, we need to be talking to one another more. NO.
8-03: To Elect Circuit Counselors
The district president “shall nominate” candidates for circuit counselor? More power to the DPs. Greater likelihood for “yes men.” NO.
8-04: To Enhance District Convention Representation
This resolution would change the historic clergy-laity balance of delegates to our conventions, by making “commissioned ministers” eligible to supplant ordained pastors as voting delegates. On top of that, it would give extra votes to larger congregations, thus reducing the power of smaller to mid-size congregations, contrary to Missouri’s traditional view that a congregation is a congregation is a congregation. NO.
8-05: To Elect Delegates to the Synod Convention
Delegates to national conventions would no longer be elected at the circuit forums (see 8-02), but rather at the district conventions. Power is being moved away from the grassroots level of congregations and circuits and moved up the ladder to the district level. Your circuit might not get any delegates. NO.
8-06: To Give Priority to Circuit and District Overtures
This proposal is pretty laughable, since President Kieschnick’s floor committees have repeatedly declined overtures precisely passed by multiple circuits and entire districts! Also, some of the new limiting language in the back of the book could lead to more overtures not getting published. And not mentioned in the resolution itself, but buried in the back of the book in the actual bylaw changes (220.127.116.11.4; TB, p. 233) is this new provision: The synod president could submit his own overtures! Too much power to the president! For that reason alone, this resolution should be defeated. NO.
8-07: To Study Future District Function and Configuration
This one would not be so bad, since it would only “study” and not change anything yet. Some district reconfigurations might be OK (e.g., absorbing English and SELC congregations into their respective geographic districts). But it would create another task force. And it could produce “turf wars.” But it’s not a big deal if it does or doesn’t pass. MAYBE.
8-08: To Realign the National Synod Ministries Around Two Mission Boards
Along with 8-02 and 8-05, this might be the worst resolution of the bunch. It would eliminate elected, administrative program boards, and in their place create two new “mission offices,” reporting to the president. Forget the talk of “silos”; even the consultants’ report says that’s not a problem. If 8-08 passes, power moves away from the Synod in convention and flows into the hands of the synod president–an enormous amount of power! More “efficient”? Yes. But at the cost of checks-and-balances, and it would vastly increase the power of the president. NO.
8-09: To Develop Process for Developing Quadrennial Mission and Ministry Emphases
“Synod-wide mission and ministry emphases”? Don’t know that this would do much. MAYBE.
8-10: To Amend Constitution Articles X and XI
Treasurer appointed instead of elected? (See also 8-08.) More power moving away from the Synod in convention. NO.
8-11: To Adopt Process Leading to Consideration of New Name for Synod
Silly and unnecessary. Over 163 years, “Missouri Synod” has developed a reputation we should be proud of. It stands for our confessional commitment, and there is no need to change it–not to mention all the costs involved. NO.
8-12: To Direct the Board of Directors to Amend the Bylaws as Necessary
I’m wary of how this “elastic” power might be used, and this resolution assumes we will be making all these bylaw changes–which, I hope, we won’t. NO.
Next: Continuing at 8-13.