2013 LCMS Convention Overtures

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 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 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 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.


2013 LCMS Convention Overtures — 9 Comments

  1. Mr Norm Fisher, there will always be BAD resolutions
    mixed in with good resolutions for the delegates to
    sort out. However, at a convention how can we label
    some as BAD people? We are all brothers and sisters
    in Christ, who are both sinners and saints. Are the
    bad people those who do not agree with us?

  2. @Dave Likeness #1
    His meaning was clear. Where ever did you get the idea he might mean those who don’t agree with him? He very plainly indicated more than once that he is talking about those brothers and sisters in Christ who are of high or low integrity.

    “If you elect good people, but adopt bad resolutions, they will obediently obey the synod (because they have high integrity)…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.”

    I encourage you to explain his words in the kindest way and not read into his words unkind and baseless conjecture.

  3. @Dave Likeness #1

    Dear Pastor Likeness,

    I take full responsibility for this post. It was not Mr. Fisher’s wording at all; he posted it just as I wrote it.

    The conversation about “good” and “bad” people goes back to a previous post where I wrote about integrity. Pastor Crandall points that out in the context of the same paragraph you are criticizing (comment #2)

    You can interpret those terms however you want; and as a voter you have a complete right to your own criteria what constitutes a “good” or “bad” candidate. That is why I didn’t spell out the criteria for “good” and “bad.”

    But the fact is that personal integrity is a big part of public office in the church, just as important as qualifications, credentials, experience, and personal orthodoxy.

    I have known people of low integrity who are perfectly orthodox, perfectly heretical, and all stages in between. It is an “independent variable,” if you remember your algebra.

    It is not intended to imply that only the orthodox are ethically good and the heterodox are bad ethically. I think the context makes that clear. If not, I apologize for that, but you can’t explain everything in blog posts. Some things you just assume the reader understands. In Aristotle’s rhetoric, that’s called an enthymeme.

    Anyone who has a smidgen of LCMS history in their background will remember that Pastor Martin Stephan was perfectly orthodox in his theology according to Lutheran standards (although his polity was questionable). It was his handling of money and maidens that was bad. Does that mean all orthodox pastors and church officers are ethically bad? Certainly not. Are some? You betcha!

    That’s why any LCMS Lutheran layman or pastor should always pause to think about the integrity of the candidate, before they vote for a church officer or for a pastor to receive a call to their parish.

    To say otherwise is contrary to common sense.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  4. Pastor Noland…..Thanks for your explanation.

    My comment is this: At a Synodical convention if the
    integrity of a candidate for church office is some
    what questionable, then the nominations committee
    has failed to adequately screen the candidates.

    Perhaps I am naive or too trusting, but I assume
    that all candidates are orthodox and people of
    high integrity at a Synodical convention.

  5. @Dave Likeness #5

    Dear Pastor Likeness,

    You have a very excellent question, and should not feel ashamed for asking it. I think a lot of people wonder about these things. I think a lot of people assume that the Committee for Convention Nominations screens the candidates in the way that you suggest.

    Probably the two bylaws that pertain most closely to this issue are bylaw and bylaw 1.5.2 (2010 Handbook, p. 32-33). In summary, those bylaws absolutely require, no exceptions allowed, “the highest degree of integrity and honesty consistent with the Scriptures, Lutheran Confessions, the Constitution, Bylaws and resolutions of the Synod. . . .” (ibid.).

    That is where I originally got the use of the term “integrity”, and used it as the basis for making judgments about “good” and “bad” people. I wasn’t expressing my own opinion–these are our bylaws!

    The bylaws use the term “integrity” and demands it of “every board or commission member, officer, and all staff of corporate synod and every agency of the Synod” (ibid.). We normally don’t make such judgments of people in every day life, but you need to do that when considering people for public office, which is also called a “public trust” for good reason.

    The reality of present-day Synod is a far cry from the bylaws. Here is a bit of candor from a synodical official, about how things REALLY are in synod offices today: https://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=23423#comment-443492

    Notice that J.A.O. Preus Jr. warned Pastor McCain about these things. The cynicism comes from having to work with people of low integrity all the time, and having to keep your mouth shut about it. Eventually it “eats away at your insides” as some other long-experienced synod people have explained the experience to me.

    You know, I could give plenty of specific examples of low integrity, but it wouldn’t do much good. The Dispute Resolution Process is designed to protect people of low integrity. Waldo Werning told me about that at the convention in 1992, and after I reviewed the proposal, he was right! I can’t remember whether Waldo was praising or faulting the process when he said that.

    I think the testimony of someone as experienced as J.A.O. Preus, one of our wisest LCMS presidents (Matthew 10:16), and the continued testimony down to the present-day by Pastor McCain tells us “We have a problem, Houston!”

    The Committee for Convention Nominations does a pretty good job at doing its assignment. I am not complaining about that. They do “background checks,” which means checking on whether candidates have been accused of embezzlement or child molestation, or other crimes. They contact the “references” listed, including the Circuit Counselor and others listed. And they do a lot of paperwork between October 20th and the convention.

    The problem is that a person of low integrity can make their nomination form and references look very good. This includes both matters of ethics and orthodoxy. Why would a person of low integrity be honest on such a form? The definition of “low integrity” is partly “not dishonest all the time, but dishonest whenever it counts.” Only a person of very high integrity would include persons for references who are their worst critics. So there is, under the present system, no way that the Committee can really find out whether people are of high or low integrity, unless they have a police record somewhere, and that is only a negative result for the worst types.

    The Committee then looks at the candidates, asking each other, “Do you know these guys or gals?” As you would expect, the Committee members don’t know all 2 million members of synod. Then they pick the people, on the basis of their work experience and organization-and-participation-credentials, whom they think will work best for synod. If you have a better system, I am sure that the Synod would be interested in hearing about it. You still have time, by the way, to put that idea into an overture. 🙂

    The best way, the very best way, to improve the system is to put into the Nomination System as many high integrity candidates for as many positions as possible. That’s why I wrote the post about “How to Improve the Synod” recently. You have until October 20th to submit candidates for offices whom you know have high integrity.

    Get busy at it, folks! You are running out of time!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  6. call for 6000 congregations led by Martin Luther faithfulness to HIS Truth-is this wrong????

  7. Since the original intent of this post was the topic of convention overtures, I would like to point you to this link: http://www.acelc.net/page/proposed_overtures

    The ACELC is not a political organization, but as a service to the church at large we have encouraged folks to send ideas ond overtures to share and continue the conversation. To date we have many fine overtures for you to consider and use in any way you like. Here is a portion of the website:

    “Below you will find links to Convention Overtures we at the ACELC have been working on so that you might use them as models for Overtures to submit at Congregational Voters’ Meeting or Circuit Forums (these links will allow you to download the file). Please feel free to modify or change them as you see fit. We certainly don’t believe we have said all that can be said, or that we have said it in the best way. We pray you will find them to be helpful for your situation. If you do use any of them, do not attribute them to us, as we put these forward only as a public service to the Church. If you have any suggestions for changes, other Overtures you might like to see, or Overtures you might like us to consider, please drop us a line and let us know what you think.
    •To Officially Acknowledge Closed Communion As Official LCMS Practice
    •To Reject and Condemn Errant Communion Practices
    •To Encourage Harmony in the District’s Worship
    •To Address Lay Ministry according to the Lutheran Confessions and the Constitution of the LCMS
    •To Address The Nature of the Pastoral Office and the Unbiblical Removal of Men from that Office
    •To Ask the CTCR and Seminaries to Evaluate Transforming Churches Network
    •To Cease District Promotion and Involvement in Natural Church Development
    •To Increase Communication between District Office and Pastors regarding Church Member Contacts
    •To Declare it Contrary to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions to Join in Prayer with Those who Deny Only Way to the True God
    •To Promote Unity in Worship at District Conferences and Conventions
    •To Request that Synod State that Women are not to Have Authority Over Men
    •To Clarify Synod’s Reaffirmation of Close(d) Communion
    •To Reaffirm that the Standard for Pastoral Admission to the Lord’s Supper remains Full Agreement in All Articles of Christian Doctrine”

    Thanks, Clint

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.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.