Commentary and Review of 2013 LCMS Resolutions by Martin R. Noland

Editorial comment: Pastor Charles Henrickson has done a great job working through all the resolutions and presenting comments on them. Pastor Martin Noland was asked by a friend to prepare his comments, and we felt another perspective might be helpful.

 

convention-2013All resolutions have my approval and should be adopted, except where otherwise indicated; but please note suggestions for amendments where given.

1. WITNESS (TB, pp. 48-59)

1-01: To Highlight and Strengthen the Global Seminary Initiative

Excellent! This is where the LC-MS has much to offer its partner churches where their seminaries are miniscule or poorly funded; it offers some of their students more advanced training in the USA at our two seminaries; and it also benefits mission fields who can send their candidates to partner church seminaries in neighboring countries, as is presently happening in some areas.

1-02: To Recognize and Give Thanks for Missionaries and Their Families

Recognition and thanks.

1-03: To Develop and Engage in a Synodwide Study of a Lutheran Theological Statement of Mission for the 21st Century

This is an educational campaign for the whole synod to study and be involved in the mission of the church. This is intended to be Scripture-centric following the example of the Bereans. I am looking forward to using this study in my congregation.

1-04: To Encourage Church Multiplication as Means of Making New Disciples

I like the emphasis on circuit congregations working together to plant new congregations. That approach is both cooperative and local.

1-05: To Free the Congregations and People of the LCMS for the Joy of Evangelization and the Making New Disciples

We always need to be about our Father’s business in the area of outreach, but I like this one, again, because it emphasizes the circuit level, which is both cooperative and local.

1-06: To Amend Bylaw 6.2.1 (d) re Sending Workers to Foreign Mission Fields

Excellent! This requires all LCMS Recognized Service Organizations (RSOs) and LCMS Auxiliaries (LLL and LWML) doing mission work to abide by the policies of Board for International Mission (BIM) and the church-and-country-specific “protocol documents.” Our Lutheran partners overseas want to deal with one person, or one board, when they work with the LCMS. We want to work with one church in a single country, based on mutually-agreed-upon policies (“protocols”), in order to avoid confusion or conflict. If RSOs or auxiliaries do not follow those policies and protocol documents, it undermines the relationship the LCMS has with the partner church and can easily produce conflict. If an organization does not want to follow BIM policies and protocol documents, it doesn’t have to be an RSO. This resolution needs to be adopted.

1-07: To Support The Wittenberg Project for the Quincentennial Celebration of the Lutheran Reformation

This is a long-term project that will take years to bear fruit, but is worthy of support. 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, will help move the project along, both in terms of interest, publicity, and funding.

1-08: To Work Together in Mission

This is the best way to help districts and congregations involved in mission projects reap the experience of the national mission offices. It will help protect our missionaries (both long and short-term) overseas and result in more effective work.

1-09: To Prepare LCMS Congregations and Pastors for Defense of Our Christian Faith

Our church has for too long assumed that the surrounding culture is Christian, and its evangelism tools have been developed with that in mind. LCMS Lutherans living in the metropolitan coastal regions have been dealing with “secularization” for a long time. It is time that the rest of the church wake up to this issue and “tool up” accordingly.

1-10: To Develop Spanish and Multi-Lingual Capabilities in the Synod

This requires all CUS church-work students, seminarians, and church-workers doing continuing education to learn Spanish or another immigrant language. Resolution could be improved (i.e., amended) by letting those who already have that ability to “test out,” since many students learn Spanish in high school or can acquire it through a self-study program.

1-11: To Recruit and Place More Career Missionaries

This emphasizes the importance of long-term stability in the mission field and the development of sophisticated and high level skills that only come through making mission work a career.

1-12: To Recognize and Give Thanks for Military and Institutional Chaplains

Recognition and thanks.

1-13: To Designate District Coordinators for Prison Ministry

Looks to be a good idea.

1-14: To Advance Native American Ministry

Missions to Native American people was the first mission work of the LCMS; and it deserves continuance today with these special people who are rooted in the history of our native land.

1-15: To Encourage Further Support for Campus Ministry

This gives synod recognition to all organizations involved in this area, as well as highlighting the new initiative known as “LCMS U.” Since campus ministry is normally supported at the district level, this is a very important reminder to district board of directors to take care of this work in their budgets, communications, etc.

1-16: To Encourage Captioning of All Video Materials

Looks to be a good idea.

1-17: To Respectfully Decline Overtures

Ov. 1-15: The University of Minnesota Lutheran Chapel issue has already been resolved by that district; although it continues to need financial support. We can’t let University Lutheran Chapel “die on the vine” due to neglect of its district; but support at the national level would change how campus ministry is funded. Alumni of the chapel and other interested individuals need to work together to build financial support.

 

2. MERCY (TB, pp. 60-68)

2-01: To Commend and Give Thanks for the Work of LCMS Disaster Response

Recognition and thanks.

2-02: To Give Thanks and Praise to God for LIRS 75th Anniversary

Recognition and thanks.

2-03: To Give Thanks to God and Encourage Support for the Ministries of Lutheran Services in American and Lutheran World Relief

Recognition and thanks.

2-04: To Commend the LCMS National Housing Support Corporation

Recognition and thanks.

2-05: To Allow Extension of Calls to Specialized Pastoral Ministers

The situation of “ordained and commissioned ministers currently serving in 26 ministries of chaplaincy, pastoral counseling, and clinical education without a divine call for ministry” needs to be resolved, and this resolution accomplishes that.

2-06: To Encourage a Strong Finish of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI) and Give Thanks for the Effect LMI Has Made in the Global Fight to End Malaria-Related Deaths in Africa

Recognition and thanks.

2-07: To Emphasize Biblical Teaching of Sexuality, Marriage and Family

It is difficult to find good materials on this subject, since Lutherans approach this subject through a Gospel emphasis that is often lacking in other Christian resources. Having distinctly Lutheran materials would be helpful.

2-08: To Challenge Congregations to Engage in Works of Mercy in Their Communities

Encourages congregations to be directly involved in charitable work, in addition to charitable work they support with their mission dollars.

2-09: To Encourage Christian Citizenship and Vigilance

Asks for support of synod’s “Religious Liberty: Free to Be Faithful” campaign. Aggressive legislation and executive mandates by the government against Christian churches and Christian morality indicates that this is a timely matter.

2-10: To Speak Out Against Violence in the United States

In some sense obvious, but raises the question of whether certain movies and video-games should have age restrictions. Resolution could be amended to be more focused.

2-11: To Encourage Districts and Congregations to Utilize the Planting Gospel Seeds While Serving Human Needs Training Process

Emphasizes the importance of doing evangelism with charitable work, and gives examples of how that can be done effectively and inoffensively.

 

3. LIFE TOGETHER (TB, pp. 69-83)

3-01: To Expand the Koinonia Project

As President Harrison commented on his July 12, 2013 “Issues, etc.” interview, many LCMS pastors and teachers from the mid 1950s to mid 1970s did not get proper training in Lutheran doctrine and practice. This project is successfully bringing those mis-education issues to light, and thus bringing a measure of healing that has long been overdue. “Koinonia,” in this sense, is a long-term project, and this asks the synod to continue supporting the work. I agree it needs to continue.

3-02: To Respect One Another and Put the Best Construction on All Things

I heartily agree that private conversation needs to precede filing charges or initiating discipline. Issues are often clarified, or resolved, when they are first confronted privately in this way. I think the main intent here is to curb improper-and-public Internet usage. Maybe that intent should be a bit clearer. Something should also be said about the fact that pastors are supposed to “rebuke and correct” in their job description (2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Timothy 4:2), but that there is a proper way to do this, depending on the case. The wisest counsel about the “rebuking and correcting” function of the pastoral office is found in John Gerhard, On the Ministry, Part Two, sections 268-272 (CPH ed., pp. 104-114). The resolution could use a bit of amendment in these ways.

3-03: To Support, Commend, and Increase Witness, Mercy, and Life Together Ministry of Lutheran Schools

Recognition and thanks.

3-04: To Authorize a Blue Ribbon Committee on Lutheran Schools

In my opinion, this is one of the most important resolutions for the convention. The old ways of financing parochial schools are failing, partly because parents are not satisfied with modest resources and doubled-up faculty (e.g., four teachers for 8 grades). If our parochial schools are going to survive, they need help in many ways, at the highest level, and a Blue Ribbon Committee is the way to do it.

3-05: To Address Responsible Internet Use in Congregations

Congregations and schools need this reminder, and some need help, in developing specific and realistic policies to serve as a “curb and guide” to all church workers, officers, staff, and volunteers.

3-06: To Adopt Mission and Ministry Emphases for the 2013-2016 Triennium

This resolution, or one like it, is required due to the 2010 restructuring. The “Witness, Mercy, Life Together” emphasis is just getting started, so I agree with continuing it.

3-07: To Further Promote Mission Awareness, Support, Collaboration, and Coordination for Rural and Small Town, Urban and Inner City, and Suburban Ministry

This resolution, or one like it, is required due to the 2010 restructuring. This gives guidance to the Office of National Mission.

3-08: To Reaffirm Faithful Church Revitalization as a Priority of the Office of National Mission

The seventh whereas reports that the “working group has identified strengths and weaknesses of TCN and called for a substantial review and rewrite” (my emphasis). This is progress. “Revitalization” is a necessary work, as important as starting new missions. There are behavioral or attitude problems that exist in some of our congregations or lay leadership; other problems are due to declining demographics or funding. Though not intractable, they are often difficult problems to resolve. More work needs to be done on developing better methods of handling various types of situations; and this resolution is a step in the right direction.

3-09: To Continue to Support and Promote Black Ministry in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod

This is a very important show of support for an important and historic ministry in the LCMS, dating back to the post-Civil-War Alpha Synod and the work of Rosa Young in central Alabama. The process of appointing a Director of Black Ministry is complicated, since it needs to involve the constituency. People don’t realize that Black Ministry was, more or less, eliminated by the 2010 restructuring. It is only because of President Harrison’s personal connections with many African-American leaders that this did not turn out to be a disaster for synodical relations with the African-American congregations and their pastors.

3-10: To Appoint a Task Force to Study the Call Process for Returning Missionary and Military Chaplains and Other Rostered Church Workers without a Call

This is long overdue. This seeks to improve the call process for returning chaplains and missionaries and for those church workers on candidate status (C.R.M.). The benefit to synod is that it retains experienced workers and talent. The issue of placement of C.R.M. candidates is much more complicated than it looks. From the “management” side of things, it is difficult for ecclesial supervisors (District President, Circuit Counselor) to determine whether church-workers are “at fault” at all, or to what degree they are “at fault,” when they are removed from office by a congregation/school or when they resign due to conflict. In almost every case, the congregation or school has plenty of arguments and “evidence” to justify their action; and the church-worker and his family has similar arguments and “evidence” to protest it. Such arguments and “evidence” from both sides are usually impossible to evaluate. Because it is a situation of one against many, the “one” loses. “Management” also has the problem of potential liability if it agrees with arguments and “evidence” from the terminating congregation or school, which turn out later to be slander or libel—as one district president recently discovered to his great chagrin. I think the best solution is the task force proposed by the resolution, which can consider and address all possible variables and cases, and make a proposal for 2016. In the meantime, the resolution could be amended to give chaplains, missionaries, and graduate students returning to parish/school duty a distinct status, or terminology, so that calling bodies don’t assume they are C.R.M. due to conflict or problems.

3-11: To Support Church Workers

This encourages congregations to meet district salary guidelines for called workers. Church-worker wives and children are praying that this one will pass.

3-12: To Affirm Our Worship Treasures Old and New and Commend the Document, Text, Music, Context

This commends a superb resource for evaluating worship materials, which follows the pattern set by the Lutheran confessions.

3-13: To Update Synod’s Catechetical Materials

This would update the 1991 edition’s “Explanation” section. It would also produce a more comprehensive adult edition, which in my experience, would be useful.

3-14: To Encourage Daily Family Devotions

This commends CPH resources for family devotions.

3-15: To Encourage Study of Lutheran Confessions to Celebrate Reformation

This authorizes the preparation of official resources to promote study of the Lutheran Confessions, especially looking toward the 2017 Reformation anniversary.

3-16: To Express Thanks to the Office of the President and Offices of National and International Mission

Recognition and thanks.

3-17: To Thank and Commend the Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Recognition and thanks.

3-18: To Commend Concordia Publishing House

Recognition and thanks.

3-19: To Respectfully Decline Overtures

 

 

4. THEOLOGY AND CHURCH RELATIONS (TB, pp. 84-99)

4-01: To Endorse Altar and Pulpit Fellowship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia

Fellowship with the Liberian church was recommended by CTCR and declared by President Harrison, and should be endorsed by the convention. Declaration of fellowship is always a historic occasion and a time of celebration.

4-02: To Endorse Altar and Pulpit Fellowship with the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Fellowship with the Siberian church was recommended by CTCR and declared by President Harrison, and should be endorsed by the convention. There have been many German-Russians there for centuries. This is another historic occasion, this time with a Slavic-speaking church.

4-03: To Recognize Lutheran Church of Togo as an Independent, Self-Governing Partner Church

The Board of International Mission and CTCR recommend recognition of the “Eglise Luthérienne du Togo” as a partner church of the LCMS. This should be approved by the convention. This is another historic occasion, this time with a French-speaking church.

4-04: To Affirm Growing Mutual Relationships among International Lutheran Church Bodies

President Harrison has talked about a “tectonic shift” in world Lutheranism. That means that large “continents” (i.e., large Lutheran churches) once bound together or connected, are now separating. Where will they go? What will they do? This authorizes LCMS officials to continue discussions, while such churches are still open to listening to us. These types of opportunities only come once every one or two centuries. This may lead to fellowship or partner church status, or it may not, but if the resolution is adopted, we will be able to say that we did our duty of confessing our faith to our closest Christian neighbors, i.e., our fellow Lutherans.

4-05: To Encourage Further Discussion with Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and Evangelical Lutheran Synod

This authorizes formal discussions with former members of the Synodical Conference. The LCMS shares with the WELS and ELS a firm commitment to the same doctrinal authorities, i.e., the entire canonical Scriptures and the entire Book of Concord, as norms of doctrine and practice; and it once shared resources, schools, hymnals, and missions with them. President John Behnken admitted that the LCMS had not always treated WELS and ELS as partners when they were members together in the Synodical Conference. Maybe the LCMS has learned from that mistake–we will see.

4-06: To Address Questions re Service Apart from AC XIV

In my opinion, district-licensed lay deacons should all be moved into the S.M.P. program (on that program, see resolutions 5-03 and 5-04). The S.M.P. program will give them, in almost all cases, better training than what they had previously received. It will also ensure a uniform standard of doctrine and practice. How to accomplish this, while avoiding “applecart upset” at the congregations served, is a complicated task. Giving this to a task force to resolve all of the various issues is the right solution. At the end of the process, the goal should be that uniquely pastoral functions are regularly performed only by pastors, though training requirements for pastors may vary.

4-07: To Address the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Rostered Workers Communing at Heterodox Altars

LCMS church workers should not commune at ELCA altars. If they want to commune at an ELCA altar, they should join the ELCA—it is as simple as that, and is common sense. When you commune at an ELCA altar you are confessing that you are in intimate fellowship with a church that now has an openly gay bishop (R. Guy Erwin was elected May 31, 2013 to a six-year term as bishop of the ELCA Southwest California Synod). The gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender agenda is just the “tip of the iceberg” of problems in doctrine and practice in the ELCA. The ELCA today is a sad spectacle to watch, as one of the largest Lutheran church-bodies disintegrates before our own eyes. It is a historic occasion, of a different sort.

4-08: To Retain Trinitarian Formula When Baptizing

This is important, because many “Christian” churches are altering the baptismal formula, which becomes a problem for transfers from other church-bodies.

4-09: To Overrule Commission on Constitutional Matters Opinion “Interpretation of Constitution Article VI 2 b” (11-2598 CW pp. 300-303)

In my opinion, this is the most important resolution at this convention. The CCM was absolutely and clearly wrong on this one. There is no gray area in this issue. When a rostered church worker receives the Sacrament at a heterodox altar, it is always a violation of Article VI. LCMS Article VI is in agreement with the ancient and early church in this matter (see Werner Elert, Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries [CPH, 1966]), and with the Lutheran Confessions (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration X, 5-6 and VII, 33). This opinion must be overruled. If it is not overruled, then any church-worker can commune anywhere—which is just ridiculous! Then we will cease to be a church that confesses with its actions, but only with its mouth—and that may not last much longer, if we let Opinion 11-2598 stand. Church-workers who don’t intend to comply with Constitution Article VI should be honest with themselves, their church, and with God. If they cannot comply with a “condition of membership,” they should leave voluntarily—it is the right thing to do, in that case.

4-10: To Encourage Proper Oversight in the Administration of the Lord’s Supper by Visitation from Ecclesiastical Supervisors

This is the best way to get the LCMS back to its traditional, and thoroughly Lutheran, practice of closed/close communion.

4-11: To Request Commission on Theology and Church Relations Study of Proper Role of Men in the Church and Home

Like resolution 2-07, it is difficult to find good materials with a Lutheran and Gospel emphasis in this area.

4-12: To Thank God for the Faithful Service of Women

This calls attention to ways in which women can serve, and have served, in the church. An appropriate amendment could add something in the resolved section to encourage pastors and congregations to be more involved in the LWML.

4-13: To Encourage Confession and Absolution for Pastors

Pastors need this service as much, sometimes more, than any other Christian.

4-14: To Clarify the Doctrine of the Call

Called workers and congregations need to be clear on their mutual expectations. This adds some work to district presidents and circuit counselors, i.e., having meetings with congregational leadership with regard to mutual responsibilities of church-workers and calling body, but it is necessary “preventative medicine.”

4-15: To Reaffirm Synod’s Position on Creation

As the resolution says, LCMS has clearly and repeatedly rejected Darwinian evolution, theistic evolution, and related ideas. Since some members continue to disagree with the synod’s clearly and repeatedly stated position, it needs to be reaffirmed. Encouragement to the CTCR to work on this area helps puts that work among its top priorities.

4-16: To Respectfully Decline Overtures

 

5. SEMINARY AND UNIVERSITY EDUCATION (TB, pp. 100-25)

5-01: To Encourage Continued Faithful Witness by the Concordia University System

This is one of the most important resolutions the synod will consider. This authorizes the LCMS President to appoint a task force to strengthen confessional Lutheran identity of our Concordia Universities, and to also help strengthen their connection to congregations and their funding.

5-02: To Support and Encourage Participation in Post-Seminary Applied Learning and Support Initiative

The PALS program is for new pastors and their wives and is designed to help those folks transition into the challenges of ministry.

5-03: To Establish an SMP Oversight Committee

This authorizes the LCMS President to appoint an oversight committee for the SMP program. This needed due to the 2010 restructuring, which eliminated oversight for this program.

5-04: To Continue and Strengthen the Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) Program

This works together with resolution 5-03. It ensures that the SMP pastors serve where there is a real need, e.g., ethnic, isolated, and certain mission situations, instead of serving as “cheap hires” for large congregations. It ensures that residential education will not be jeopardized through lack of students and that the vast majority of our pastors will retain the high standards people have come to expect from LCMS clergy.

5-05: To Amend Bylaws Regarding Boards of Regents and Concordia University System Board

This requires that CUS Board of Directors members and CUS Regents have specialized qualifications in areas such as theology, education, finance, law, etc. This resolution restores the previous practice that first-time full-time theology CUS faculty appointments get approval at the national level. Schools would need to demonstrate that they are actively working to preserve Lutheran identity and to support the objectives of Synod. This resolution guarantees that the additional appointed members are always appointed by synod/district elected members, as is the practice at the seminaries (LCMS bylaw 3.10.4.2 (4)).

5-06: To Revise Bylaw 3.10.5.6 re College and University Faculties

This revises policies regarding faculty appointment, conduct, and termination–e.g., a faculty member removed from Synod is removed from the faculty also.

5-07: To Thank God for the Affiliation of Concordia University Wisconsin and Concordia University Ann Arbor

Recognition and thanks.

5-08: To Establish a Standard for Continuing Education of Pastors

I am all in favor of continuing education for all pastors, and other church-workers. But who is going to pay for it? Congregations will have to pay for it financially, and also in finding substitute service during a pastor’s time off for study. Wealthy or modestly endowed congregations, and their church-workers, will welcome this. Congregations with meager resources will be hard hit by this proposal—some are just barely getting by. If the congregation refuses to pay, will the pastor be penalized in some way? Professional organizations, e.g., lawyers, engineers, and doctors, can mandate continuing education because members of those guilds have some of the highest compensation in the USA. LCMS church-workers, in many cases, have some of the lowest compensation for people of their skill and degree level (master’s level). The church-worker should not be put into the position of “begging” for this benefit. I think this resolution does introduce some conflict into the church-worker/congregation relationship where there are meager resources. There should be some amendment to address such situations where financial resources are sub-standard to non-existent.

5-09: To Revise Bylaw 3.10.5.5.2 re Election Process for College and University Presidents

This revises the process so that electors meet at the beginning of the process to discuss expectations. CUS President would participate as a guest in the election.

5-10: To Amend Bylaw 3.6.6.5 re Procedure to Consolidate Colleges/Universities

The CUS Board of Director will replace Council of Presidents as a decision-maker in procedure to consolidate, relocate, separate, or divest a school.

5-11: To Amend Bylaw 3.10.4.7.3 re Appointment of Seminary Faculty

Initial appointments to seminary faculty will require advance approval, which was the historic practice in the LCMS until it was eliminated in the 2010 restructuring.

5-12: To Encourage, Promote and Support the Recruitment of Hispanic and Spanish-speaking Students and Faculty, into Church Work Professions

The largest and fastest growing ethnic population in the USA seriously needs church-workers who are adept in that culture and language. The LCMS has done some excellent work in this area, but we can hardly keep up with the opportunities.

5-13: To Encourage the Recruitment of the Highest Caliber Candidates for Pastoral Ministry

The definition of “young men who are regarded as the highest caliber among their peers” is vague. High school and college youth often think this means athletic men with sexual prowess and experience. Candidates for the pastoral office need to be self-controlled in sexual matters, among other things. And youth are not always the best judges of character. Perhaps the committee did not mean “regarded as the highest caliber by their peers,” but “of the highest caliber in comparison to their peer group.” The ethical and character standards of pastors is superbly explained by Johann Gerhard in On the Ministry, Part Two, sections 275-284 (CPH ed., pp. 116-131). The resolution should be amended to clarify its vague expressions.

5-14: To Conduct a Study of the Alternate Routes to the Pastoral Ministry

This resolution authorizes the LCMS President to appoint a task force to study the eight non-M.Div. routes to pastoral ministry, and make recommendations.

 

6. ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE (TB, pp. 126-143)

6-01: To Promote Financially Healthy Universities, Seminaries, and Church Workers

This is definitely an important and worthy resolution, primarily addressing the issue of debt.

6-02: To (Joy)fully Fund Career and GEO Missionaries

Good resolution, and helps fill a growing need and gap in missionary service.

6-03: To Address Board of Directors Budget and Management Responsibilities

Good – from the Commission on Handbook.

6-04: To Restore the Secretary of Synod as a Voting Member of the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM)

The Secretary has more, and better, knowledge of the inner workings of the synod than just about anyone else. His presence on this commission should count for something.

6-05: To Revise Definitions in the Handbook

Good – from the Commission on Handbook.

6-06: To Address Synod Handbook Issues re Synodwide Corporate Entity Governing Instruments

Good – from the Commission on Handbook.

6-07: To Address Synod Handbook Issues Regarding Required Background Checks

Good – from the Commission on Handbook.

6-08: To Clarify the Appointment Process for Various Representatives and Offices

Good – from the Commission on Handbook.

6-09: To Clarify the Process for Appointment of the Executive Directors of the Offices of National and International Mission

Good – from the Commission on Handbook.

6-10: To Clarify Appointment of Chief Executives of Synodwide Corporate and Trust Entities and Executive Director of Commission on Theology and Church Relations

Good – from the Commission on Handbook.

6-11: To Strengthen Nominations Process for Boards of Directors of Synodwide Corporate Entities

Good – from CPH. The idea of specific skill sets is a good one. The Committee for Convention Nominations needs to know what skill sets those are, which might change in a triennium. This keeps the Committee for Convention Nominations up-to-date with the needs of these entities, each of which has distinctly different work.

6-12: To Amend Bylaw 3.7.1.3 re Membership on Concordia Plans Board

Good – from the CPS.

6-13: To Amend Bylaws re Removal and Filling of Vacancies of LCEF Board Members

Good – from LCEF.

6-14: To Amend Bylaw 3.6.5.2.1 re Terms of Office of LCMS Foundation Board Members

Good – from LCMS Foundation.

6-15: To Amend Bylaws re Removal and Filling of Vacancies of LCMS Foundation Board Members

Good – from LCMS Foundation.

6-16: To Encourage Conversation and Education About Commission on Constitutional Matters Opinions

I have to admit that I have lost confidence in the CCM, especially due to its Opinions 11-2598 and 13-2699. I cannot tell if the problem is with the members of the commission, with its many powers, or its processes. This resolution will at least require that the CCM defend its actions before other synodical leaders before things get out of hand. I would like someone to give me a clear explanation why this commission needs to have the power of “binding” opinions, and if so, for what cases. This resolution does not solve the problem, but it should be adopted.

7. STRUCTURE AND ECCLESIASTICAL MATTERS (TB, pp. 144-181).

7-01: To Set Forth Clear Mutual Expectations in Carrying Out Office of Visitation

This came from the 8-07 Task Force. It returns the LCMS to its original ideas about what we today call “ecclesiastical supervision.” This is an excellent resolution.

7-02: To Return to the Use of Title “Circuit Visitor”

This resolution accompanies 7-01, and is also good.

7-03: To Establish Visitation Circuits to Best Meet Needs of Congregations

This also came from the 8-07 Task Force, and is also good.

7-04: To Adopt General Principles for Judging Viability of Districts

Good – from 8-07 Task Force and three districts.

7-05: To Allow E-Meetings for Voting by Circuits, Districts, and Synod Agencies

Good – from 8-07 Task Force and three districts.

7-06: To Provide Process for Placement of Candidates

Good – from 8-07 Task Force and three districts.

7-07: To Respond to 2010 Res 8-05B To Change Process for Electing Delegates to Synod Conventions

Not a good idea, it should be declined. This was one of the proposals in the 2010 restructuring that got tabled. “Electoral caucuses” is just inviting more “politics.” I thought these people despised “politics in the church.” Go figure!

7-08: To Respond to 2010 Res 8-05B To Establish Number of Delegates to Synod Conventions

Same as 7-07, from the same source, and should be declined.

7-09: To Resolve Bylaw Issues Remaining from 2010 Convention Restructuring Decisions

Good – from Commission on Handbook.

7-10: To Adopt Four-Year Convention Cycle

I like the three-year cycle of synod, district, and circuit. We have barely got used to the circuit gatherings, and we are going to change the cycle again? If we add another year before conventions, that means another batch of mandatory business that will need to be handled at the convention, and the other business will be tabled. I would decline this resolution.

7-11: To Address Handbook Issues re Expulsion Process (Bylaws 2.14, 2.15, 2.16, 2.17)

Good – from Commission on Handbook, but it should be amended so that in cases of expulsion (bylaws 2.14 and 2.15), ALL MEMBERS of final hearing panels should be REQUIRED to be theologically trained (see my comments on resolution 7-14).

7-12: To Address Handbook Issues re Dispute Resolution Process (Bylaw Section 1.10)

Good – from Commission on Handbook.

7-13: To Address Handbook Issues re Bylaws Pertaining to District

Good – from Commission on Handbook.

7-14: To Address Handbook Issues re Synod Conventions

Good – from Commission on Handbook.

7-15: To Address District Membership/Ecclesiastical Supervision Issues (Bylaw 2.12 et al.)

Good – from Commission on Handbook.

7-16: To Strengthen District Boards of Directors

Good, it brings this set of boards in line with synodical agencies and boards in the matter of member skills sets.

7-17: To Amend Bylaw 3.1.4 to Include All Officers of the Synod

Good resolution, to cover the expenses of appointed officers, who were always present at the convention. This covers an oversight of the 2010 restructuring.

7-18: To Study Doctrinal Training for Reconcilers

Good – many, if not most, of the cases that come before dispute reconcilers have an element of theological or church practice involved. How can these reconcilers adjudicate these affairs, if the last theology they studied was the Catechism prior to Confirmation? Congregations don’t require their members to study theology beyond that. This resolution is good, because it asks for a study of this issue.

7-19: To Respectfully Decline Overtures

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