I was tempted to title this article, “What’s wrong with the LCMS, Inc.?” Then, as I thought about it for awhile, I realized “LCMS, Inc.” is in a whole lot better shape than it has been for a long time. To imply a complaint with that type of title would be a form of ingratitude to God, who has certainly answered my prayers for “better days.” These are better days for the LCMS, so let’s say that!
For one, on a matter that would be close to the heart of many BJS bloggers: While Issues, Etc. remains independent, the show is buying airtime on KFUO in its old afternoon time slot. KFUO has a new manager, the Rev. Rodney Zwonitzer, who accepts Todd and Jeff’s special talents and role in our church. KFUO has a new web-page that is much easier to navigate (see kfuo.org; for “Issues, etc.”, see issuesetc.org). And KFUO will soon be located at the International Center, along with Classic99.
For two, also close to BJS minds and hearts after the sad case of University Lutheran Chapel-Minneapolis, the Revs. Marcus Zill, Ian Pacey, and Jay Winters have been called in part-time capacity to restore the functions of the national campus ministry office. That office was dissolved in 2002 after 62 years of continuous service and support. A conference on campus ministry is planned called “Unwrapped,” for January 3-5, 2013. For more info, see unwrapped2013.org.
For three, the restructuring at the International Center has proceeded pretty smoothly. The Rev. Gregory Williamson is now on task as the Chief Mission Officer; the Rev. Bart Day is on task as the executive for National Mission; and the call process for the executive for International Mission is moving forward. Both Williamson and Day are perfectly suited for their roles. Due to restructuring, managers and executives further down on the “line and staff” chart will be more accountable to these men, the President’s office, and the synod. The national offices thus look pretty good after their recent fiscal and personnel “diet.”
For four, the LCMS is now in partnership with thirty-four churches around the world, and potential partners keep coming. An enormous amount of work and travel is done in this regard by the Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, III, the LCMS director of Church Relations. You can follow his fascinating travel-blog here. Although Dr. Collver has not said so, I think fellowship and partner opportunities are opening up because many post- colonial Lutheran churches have had their fill of Lutheran World Federation attempts to neutralize key Lutheran doctrines (e.g., the 1999 Joint Declaration on Justification) and recent LWF attempts to push the gay agenda.
For five, I know that President Harrison’s “Koinonia Project” is making measured progress. Although I am not involved, I know a few folks that are. It is really about time that the synod comes together on the contested points of doctrine and practice, instead of frittering away morale and good will through endless arguments. I am looking forward to the President’s report on this in the upcoming Convention Workbook.
For six, the LCMS has a new national office chaplain and worship director, the Rev. William Weedon, who brings vast knowledge, many skills and the perfect temperament for that type of work. For examples of what I mean, see Pastor Weedon’s blog.
Ummm . . let’s see, did I forget to give President Harrison credit for using his official authority and/or influence for all of the above? If I didn’t, he does get the credit and my personal thanks for his appointments, selection of personnel, and wise decisions he has made on a daily basis. He has an interesting blog where he reveals what he is studying, finding in archives and old books, and translating (see here).
In the realm of church and state, I will give President Harrison kudos for his stand on the H.H.S. mandate. For more on that topic, see here. The Lutheran Hour Ministries has gotten behind the LCMS President in this matter, as seen in their new video “The Intersection of Church and State“.
If you want to learn more about the present state of the LCMS, see the latest issue of the Lutheran Witness, which is also now available by subscription online. Click here for a free copy.
This sounds like a glowing review, but you might remember my first idea for a title on this article. That idea came because I know there is still plenty of “wrong” in the LCMS. That “wrong,” in my opinion, are the people in LCMS positions who lack integrity.
It is essential that officers, board and commission members, staff, and other persons given authority in the church have integrity, both doctrinal and ethical integrity. I find it interesting that doctrinal and ethical integrity are almost always closely related in individuals. You can have the best doctrine in the world (we do!), sound canon law, and excellent business practices, but if you have officials without integrity, you might as well not have a synod at all!
I remember being at the 1992 convention when President Barry was elected. Shortly after Barry’s election, I saw a lay delegate packing his bags to go home. I asked him why he wasn’t staying for the rest of the convention. He said he had cast his vote for Barry, and the rest didn’t matter. I told him it certainly did matter; because if Barry was the only person in Saint Louis with doctrinal and ethical integrity, he would not be able to accomplish much.
And this is exactly what happened. Barry was frustrated throughout his tenure as President by synodical executives and district presidents who thwarted his every move. Barry was able to bring in two great guys: Paul McCain and Ken Schurb; but that was about it in terms of an effect on the national and district offices.
A lot of people don’t understand how their vote for various synodical positions actually effects what happens in the synod. Here is how it works. If you elect low integrity people to a board, and they form a board majority, those people will do all sorts of underhanded and unethical things contrary to our synod’s doctrinal position and contrary to Christian ethics. The low-integrity-board-majority will find a low-integrity executive officer to run the department (or school), and he/ she will eventually replace the high-integrity staff members with low-integrity staff members.
Then the people of the church start to notice that this department (or school) is saying or doing things contrary to synod’s doctrinal position and the people in that department (or school) are saying or doing things that are just unchristian. The people of the church wring their hands and say, “What can we do?” My response is typically, “If you had paid attention to your board elections several years ago, you wouldn’t have this problem today.”
You can help turn the tide against people of low doctrinal and ethical integrity by nominating and electing people of high integrity to synodical office. If you are an LCMS layman or church-worker, you still have time, up until October 20 th, to nominate people for synodical offices, boards, and commissions. For information on how to do that and the required forms, go to the LCMS nominations page here).
If your congregation is LCMS, it can nominate persons for President, 1st VP, Regional VPs, and Regional Board of Directors when you receive the forms from Secretary Raymond Hartwig later this year. These particular nominations are important, because the five names with the most nominations for each position will become the ballot. For more information about the convention and its procedures, see the synod’s website here.
Don’t just complain about the LCMS on BJS. Do something about it, by nominating and electing people of high integrity to serve your church!