Proposed Resolutions: Committee 8, Structure and Governance, Introduction and Overview (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

We have been looking at 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.

Finally, we come to the resolutions proposed by Floor Committee 8, Synod Structure and Governance. Our first column on this committee will be an . . .

Introduction and Overview

Floor Committee 8, Synod Structure and Governance, is responsible for about one-third of all the proposed resolutions, 34 out of 106. This floor committee is bringing forward virtually all of the recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance (BRTFSSG).

Now it should be pointed out that President Kieschnick appointed the Blue Ribbon Task Force, and he also appointed Floor Committee 8. This is his baby–or, to use another image, this is the albatross around his neck. The Blue Ribbon Boondoggle has been the biggest waste of time and money in the history of Synod–thousands of man-hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars. None of these resolutions percolated from the grassroots on up. Nobody was asking for these changes. On the contrary, there were many overtures from congregations, circuits, and entire districts asking for these proposals to be rejected–or at least deferred, to allow more time to examine and discuss these sweeping changes in their final form. There was even a consultants’ report–commissioned by the Kieschnick administration, ironically enough, and to the tune of a half-million dollars–advising the Task Force against many of these ideas. But the Kieschnick administration has chosen to try to push them through anyway.

The resolutions proposed by Floor Committee 8 are an interconnected morass of Constitution and Bylaw changes that together would make for the most radical, massive restructuring in the Synod’s history. Taken as a whole, and many of them individually, these resolutions would shift power away from congregations and circuits and move the power up the ladder to district presidents and the synod president. There is a hierarchical thread running through these resolutions, as we will see.

Even so, the Task Force and the Floor Committee will claim, “It’s About Congregations.” At the head of every resolution, the committee prefaces each title with the phrase, “Congregations Walking Together in Mission. . . .” In the “Whereases” and in the “Resolveds,” the word “congregations” is used countless times–as though repeating the word often enough will make it so.

The way these resolutions are written, the titles and the “Whereases” are filled with flowery language–nice-sounding words (“enhance,” “strengthen,” “clarify,” “affirm”), but they do not necessarily correspond to the actual changes that are hidden in the “Resolveds.” You see, with many of these resolutions, you cannot even see all the changes that would be enacted unless you go to the back of “Today’s Business” and tediously plow through all the strike-through lines of deleted text and all the added words of new text. How many delegates have had the time to do that?

Now when you get to Convention, delegates, you will be told a number of things to try to get you to vote in favor of these resolutions. Here are a few you may hear:

“These people have worked so hard on this.” That may be true. And the people may be well intentioned; I’m sure they are. But that does not mean their proposals are good ones.

“Trust us, we’re from the government.” Don’t. It’s not about “trust,” it’s about changing the structure and governance of our synod in a drastic way.

“The survey says. . . .” Forget about it. Those surveys were bogus in the way they were worded and conducted. The survey statements were written in such a way so as to produce a positive result. And the surveys were taken often without a true pro-and-con debate being heard first. The “surveys” are basically worthless.

“Well, we’ve got to give them something.” No, you don’t. Nothing will be lost if we reject the Committee 8 proposals as a whole. We will still have a functioning Constitution and Bylaws.

“We came down here for two extra days, so I guess we have to pass something.” No, you don’t. See above. You will do a greater service to the Synod by preventing these resolutions from passing.

So those are some appeals you may hear. Don’t fall for them. Instead, remember the fundamental rule of medical treatment: “First, do no harm.” Have you read through all the strike-through lines and all the added lines in the back of the book? Has your congregation worked through them? Has your circuit? Has your district? If not, then you should not be ready to vote for these things. If they are good ideas, then let’s see if they “percolate up” over the coming triennium, rather than being handed down from above and rushed through by a president’s task force. “First, do no harm.”

For this voting delegate, the rule of thumb will be, to paraphrase the late theologian Johnnie Cochran:

“If it comes from Eight, you must negate.”

Or, in other words, paraphrasing Nancy Reagan:

“Just say NO to restructuring!”

Next up: A quick run-through of the Committee 8 resolutions themselves. This may take a couple of columns, since there are so many of them.


Comments

Proposed Resolutions: Committee 8, Structure and Governance, Introduction and Overview (by Pr. Charles Henrickson) — 8 Comments

  1. Another reason that may be mentioned to try to convince delegates to pass these proposals is the money aspect. ‘If we do not pass these proposals there will be major reprecussions because Synod will not be able to pay for anything.’ I guess the response to this is that the Synod will be short of money either way; and most of the proposals don’t save any money any way.

  2. Of all the overtures listed, how many of them are worth spending the millions of dollars and resources being spent on the Houston convention? How many of the overtures need to be voted AGAINST?

    Prior to the convention, synodical members ought to vote on which overtures THEY’D like to consider. Besides that, there are so many other critical issues which aren’t even getting a mention.

    When all is said and done by July 17, how many overtures will have been passed — and how many of those were necessary? How many were devlined? Is it possible that we needed to have a convention to STOP things from happening (like structure and governance) when we ought to be convening to move the work of the Gospel forward?

    There are still too many naive people who think that if the “synod” is recommending it, then it must be good. Kyrie eleison.

  3. Pastor Hendrikson said, ““It’s About Congregations.” At the head of every resolution, the committee prefaces each title with the phrase, “Congregations Walking Together in Mission. . . .” In the “Whereases” and in the “Resolveds,” the word “congregations” is used countless times–as though repeating the word often enough will make it so.”

    This brings to mind the phrase “repeat a lie often enough and pretty soon people will believe it.” I did a word search on the word “congregation” and in number 8 the word is used 594 times that is about 3 times per page. In the resolution section alone in is used 160 times at almost 6 times per page. I certainly hope the delegates see through this deception and vote it down.

  4. I did read through the resolutions and the by-law changes in the back and was nothing short of horrified. I URGE every delegate to just try it. You’ll get the gist very quickly. The changes are sweeping and there is a disturbing lack of detail in the resolutions themselves. In several instances there is very little correlation between the title of the resolutions and the “resolved” and the actual changes proposed.

    I can’t in good conscience vote for any of the proposals. It would be like voting for “Door Number 3.”

    And DO NOT fall for the “This will save us money” argument.

    — The savings reported is $1 million. On a $84 million budget, that’s nothing. (If you can’t make an $84 million budget, you can’t make an $83 million one either.)
    — Tasks will be delegated to the District and Congregations. No additional cost to the Districts have been factored in.
    — 40 – 50 people be laid off at the International Center if this goes through, but there is no detail of the new positions that will be created. (There must be. 40 – 50 employees cost far more than $1 million.)

  5. The use of the term “congregations” reminds me of the Reformed description of the term “saved” in their concept of “Limited Atonement” (the “L” in TULIP).

    We would both say something like: Jesus died to pay for our sins of the world.

    To the reformed, Jesus saves only those for whom he died, those the Father predestined.

    In John 3:16, the “world” does not mean the whole world.

    In FC8 resolutions “congregations” does not mean ALL congregations – just those congregations that the committee has in mind, the congregations whose power and influence would gain as a result of passing many of these resolutions.

  6. Congregations, is now, apparently a relavent term. Not all true congregations, any longer.
    Just a term used to imply the compliant.
    Vote NO!

  7. As a diligent delegate, I have been reading and searching through all the resolutions and making notes, and in the case of committee 8, also looking in the back at the handbook and making notes. It is true that the title of the resolutions are repetative in trying to get the power to the congregations, but it’s not evident in the resolveds. I haven’t made it all the way through 8 yet but hope to get to that today.
    One thing that should be brought up is that now we have all the information before us in black and white, which we didn’t have before, so now we can take a serious look at all the proposals. Before they were just some ideas, now they are down on paper and we can see what they look like. So, let’s postpone voting until we take a look at them as a Synod walking together and thoroughly discuss them. There may be some good. But just because you spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours on them doesn’t make them good enough in and of themselves. There are some very scary things in there if people could see them. So, if they won’t listen to us and table the matter, we must vote NO on resolutions from committee 8. There is no other choice. See you in Houston soon.

  8. If these proposals give power to the congregations, why does JF also want to have the SP election first in order to shoot down the proposals in case their guy doesn’t win?

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