To ensure education and character standards of SMP candidates

Whereas the “Specific Ministry Pastor” (hereafter SMP) program was adopted in 2007 to replace the “Distance Education Leading to Ordination” (hereafter DELTO) program, which itself was intended to “provide ordained pastoral service to congregations that cannot support a full-time pastor, ordained pastoral service to contexts where English is not spoken, ordained missionary personnel where finances and/or conditions do not permit calling a full- time missionary.” SMP also added to the DELTO program “such categories as church planter, staff pastor, and others as needs arise” (Resolution 5-10B Convention Proceedings 2007, 63rd Regular Convention, The LCMS, Houston, TX, July 14-19, 2007 [St Louis: 2007], p. 133-136); and

Whereas, in the SMP program to-date, 70% of the students in the program are identified as “staff pastors” of congregations already being served by other pastors (2010-11 enrollment statistics), which could lead to conflict of interest and less than objective supervision and critique by the sponsoring congregation or clergy mentor; and

Whereas, the SMP program has altered the pastoral training admissions process, so that the local congregation and district offices are heavily involved in the admissions process with the seminaries, and this inhibits the seminary admissions offices from fulfilling their vocation of ensuring that candidates for seminary admission meet the biblical requirements for admission to the pastoral ministry 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9; and

Whereas the LCMS has considered an educated clergy to be a benefit in guiding practice and refuting error, in accordance with the Pastoral Epistles: “command certain men not to teach false doctrine” (I Timothy 1:3); “what you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching” (II Timothy 1:13); “appoint elders in every town . . . an elder must be blameless . . . he must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:5-6 and Titus 1:9); and

Whereas, currently the SMP candidate completes the requirements for ordination with less than half of the academic education of MDiv students (The simplest basis of comparison is credit hours required for completion of the program. Education includes academic course work, field education, and vicarage. According to CSL 2011-2012 Academic Catalog, resident MDiv students are required to take 119 hours of academic course work and field education, and 18 hours of vicarage; while SMP requires 17 academic courses, i.e. 51 hours. According to CTSFW 2011-12 Academic Catalog, MDiv students are required to complete 136 academic credit hours, and 3 hours of field work/vicarage, while SMP requirements are16 academic courses, i.e., 48 credit hours. Furthermore, it should be noted that SMP students do not have to be graduates of high school or college);

therefore, be it

Resolved, that that the () District in convention memorialize the 2013 Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Convention to require the seminaries to develop and increase the amount of academic course work required of the SMP students so that all students received for the pastoral ministry, in any program, have the same process and same rigorous examination of fitness for ministry; and be it further

Resolved, that the () District in convention memorialize the 2013 Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Convention to require each District President to appoint at least three traditionally-trained and Called clergy serving within their District to evaluate, monitor and supervise the teaching, preaching, and practice of each SMP student in their District, with these mentors making summary reports to the District President and student’s seminary SMP counselor every 6 months of the students first four years of service, and once a year thereafter. It would be appropriate that the three mentors would include the SMP’s Circuit Counselor, and no more than one of the staff of the congregation in which the SMP serves; and be it finally

Resolved, that the () District memorialize the the 2013 Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Convention to require the President of the Synod to appoint a Task Force from faculty members of both seminaries and members of the Council of Presidents, to review the SMP program, assess its graduates, and to report its findings and recommendations to the 2016 synodical convention.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.