LCMS synodical conventions have two essential matters of business: elections and resolutions. Both have to go well to have good fruit. If you elect good people, but adopt bad resolutions, they will obediently obey the synod (because they have high integrity) and put those bad resolutions into effect. If you elect good people, but adopt inconsequential resolutions, they won’t be able to accomplish much. If you elect bad people, but adopt good resolutions, they will simply ignore those resolutions, or reinterpret them in any number of ways, because they have low integrity. If you elect bad people and adopt bad resolutions, you just make them happy and feel like they are God’s gift to the world.
Synodical conventions are usually a mixed bag and send mixed signals—they are sort of like the sinner and saint in all of us! But just because conventions are a mixed bag, doesn’t mean the good people in synod should give up on them. If Christians are supposed to add “salt” and “light” to dark places, they most certainly should do that within their own church denomination.
I previously encouraged folks who read this BJS blog to send in nominations with these words:
If you are an LCMS layman or church-worker, you still have time, up until October 20th, 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 soon. 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!
Now I want to encourage you to send in overtures. Much of what follows is directly from Secretary Hartwig’s notice, Mailing #11, August 31, 2012. Other directions are from the 2010 Handbook (pp. 104-105, 197, & 202) or are my own explanations and helpful hints.
Overtures are the original documents that result in convention resolutions. The deadline for overtures is March 2, 2013. The Secretary’s office has encouraged submission of overtures by February 1, 2013 so they can be published in the “Convention Workbook.”
Overtures may be sent in only by the following groups: member congregations of the LCMS, circuit forums, district boards of directors, district conventions, official district church worker conferences, faculties of LCMS universities-colleges-or-seminaries, LCMS boards, LCMS commissions, and committees established by previous LCMS conventions.
For most of you, that means you can submit an overture through your congregation or circuit forum. Circuit forums have now been scheduled in most places, so use that opportunity now before it passes.
Overtures are “recommendations in the form of proposed resolutions requesting action on the part of the convention” (bylaw 188.8.131.52a). Look at previous Convention Proceedings to see samples of the proper form. Click on this link for the 2010 edition of the Proceedings.
An overture has three parts: title, rationale, and proposed action. The title should be in the form: infinitive verb, followed by the object of the action, e.g. “To Study Frogs.” The rationale is given in discrete paragraphs, each paragraph explaining one reason for the action, preceded by “Whereas.” E.g., “Whereas, frogs are interesting species that are indicators of the health of natural habitats, and . . . .” The proposed action is also given in discrete paragraphs, each paragraph explaining a discrete part of the action, preceded by “Resolved.” E.g., “Resolved, that the committee study frogs and report back in three years.”
What should you not do in an overture? “Overtures addressing matters in dispute resolution, or which contain libel or slander, or may subject the Synod or its officers to civil action for the same cannot be accepted” (cf. bylaw 184.108.40.206b). Thus you can’t tell the synod, or its officers, to do something illegal or that puts it into a position of legal liability. Also “overtures which contain information that is materially in error, or which misrepresent the truth cannot be accepted” (cf. bylaw 220.127.116.11c). The President of the Synod makes determination in such cases of errant overtures.
Another thing, please! Keep your overtures short and to the point. If you write the original overture, have someone else edit it for conciseness and clarity. The better the overture is, in terms of conciseness and clarity, the less likely it will need to be edited by the floor committees.
An electronic template for overtures is available here.
When submitting an overture from a congregation, the signature of a congregational officer is required on the copy received by the synod. So even if you use the electronic template, you should print it out, get it signed, save a signed copy, and mail to the Secretary’s Office: ATTN: Office of the Secretary – Overtures, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, Saint Louis, MO 63122-7295. Make sure you include your return address and contact info, in case the Secretary or Floor Committees have any questions. When submitting an overture from a circuit forum, a circuit forum officer’s signature and return address/contact info is required.
Overtures maintained by BJS writers and readers can be found here. Be sure to submit your own overtures there.
Again the deadline is March 1, 2013, with encouraged deadline of February 1, 2013.