The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod has its own legal operating documents which define how it is to behave. Every officer, executive, or agency of the Synod is responsible to them. Now sometimes, this seems really strange for those who want to think about things theologically, but it is a matter of “good order” within such a large body of congregations. The current legal operating document is the 2010 Handbook of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. This handbook includes the Articles of Incorporation, Constitution, and Bylaws of the Synod. Of particular interest is a bylaw which is tucked away and describes a specific duty of the Synod President.
Bylaw 188.8.131.52.c (page 113 of the Handbook) states an administrative responsibility and duty of the President:
(c) He shall call up for review any action by an individual officer, executive, or agency that, in his view, may be in violation of the Constitution, Bylaws, and resolutions of the Synod.
(1) If he deems appropriate, he shall request that such action be altered or reversed.
(2) If the matter cannot be resolved, he shall refer it to the Synod’s Board of Directors, the Commission on Constitutional Matters, and/or the Synod in convention as he deems appropriate to the issues and party/parties involved.
(3) This provision in no way alters the President’s constitutional duty to report to the Synod those who do not act in accordance with the Constitution and do not heed his admonition, as prescribed in Article XI B 2 of the Constitution.
Please note that this has to do with the President of Synod’s duty to administratively oversee the officers, executives, and agencies of the Synod. This provides a lot of authority to be exercised in relation to those working for LCMS Inc. Of particular interest is that if the Synod President has tried to correct someone or some entity within Synod privately, the whole matter could become very public if the person or entity refuses to listen to his admonishments. According to 184.108.40.206.c.2 the President of the Synod may bring an erring officer, executive, or agency up to the Synod in Convention if he deems it appropriate.
We live in a Synod that lacks unity. This has expressed itself over and over again in the political mess of resolutions and elections. This matter of the bylaws is one way in which some theological and discipline (which is theological) matters could be administratively settled and those individuals or entities who would disregard our beliefs and practices (which are firmly expressed and affirmed in the Constitution of the Synod) could be shown their error. Please note that the Synod President has this duty (also note the “shall” language of the bylaws). This means that he is bound to do this if he cannot resolve matters in another way.
What would it be like if this happened at the convention in just a little time? What would be the outcome of having an officer, executive, or agency of Synod brought up before the Convention by the President in order to address their conduct which has been out of line with the Constitution, Bylaws, and Resolutions of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod? I think it could be interesting and helpful. One thing about error is that unless it is exposed and discipline enforced, there is no curb on similar behavior by others. Could this be a good step in bringing the curb back into the LCMS? This past election season we have seen some very bold and presumptuous actions already by officers of the Synod. We have also seen some very bold rulings by some agencies of the Synod. Could it be that these bold actions may have crossed that line, causing the President of the Synod to dutifully “have to” do something publicly before the Convention? We will have to wait and see. Pray for President Harrison that he may have the wisdom necessary to handle not only our theology (something he usually excels at), but also that he would handle our legal operating documents.
If you are a delegate, you may want to review these things called bylaws, especially 220.127.116.11.c.