Proposed Resolutions: Committee 7, Structure and Ecclesiastical Matters (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

“I hold in my hand . . . the last envelope.” Audience cheers wildly. Carnac stares at audience.

I now come to the last floor committee. But instead of cheering wildly, I want you to pay close attention. Because while “Structure and Ecclesiastical Matters” may sound like a real snoozefest–and, no doubt, there is much eye-glazing-over material in here–one must not let down one’s guard, lest some significant change for the worse sneak through. And this floor committee does propose a couple of the worst resolutions out of all 116 in Today’s Business.

And so let’s join Ed and Carnac for that last envelope:

Carnac holds envelope to forehead, to divine the answer to the question sealed inside.

“The Creature from the Blue Cocoon.”

Ed repeats answer. Carnac is not pleased. Carnac tears open envelope, blows in it, and pulls out the question.

“What Past Blue Ribbon Fear could emerge to do damage now, if we’re not careful at this convention?”

And with that caution in mind, we now proceed to Committee 7. (Note: My comments on 7-10 through 7-14 have been revised since original posting.)

For reference:

Today’s Business
Convention Workbook
2010 Handbook

7. STRUCTURE AND ECCLESIASTICAL MATTERS (TB, pp. 144-81)

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

Expectations for visitation of SP (and VPs) to DPs, DPs (and VPs) to CCs, and CCs to pastors/congregations.

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

Circuit counselor to be called circuit “visitor,” emphasizing importance of visitation.

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

Districts may establish visitation circuits different from electoral circuits. Could this be the return of non-geographical “affinity clusters” in disguise? But that bad idea should be prevented by Bylaw 5.1.2, “Districts shall establish circuits according to geographical criteria.”

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

Guidelines for forming, consolidating, or dividing a district of Synod. Each district to evaluate itself by 2016.

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

To avoid traveling long distances for a brief voting meeting, e.g., a circuit forum to select circuit counselor or elect convention delegates. But face-to-face is better. And the circuit forum could be planned to include other aspects, so as to make the trip worthwhile.

7-06: To Provide Process for Placement of Candidates

COP to help place the 217 ordained ministers without calls. Don’t hold your breath, though, expecting all the DPs to actually follow through on this.

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

The Creature from the Blue Cocoon! The Past Blue Ribbon Fear! The Return of 8-05B! No, no, no! This was a bad Blue Ribbon idea in 2010. It is a bad idea now. At the 2010 convention we managed to get this bad resolution shunted off to the Commission on Handbook, where we hoped it would die. But now it has been brought back, in slightly modified form, to this convention. Let’s hope it never makes it to the floor, but if it does, just vote NO. As I wrote in 2010: “Delegates to national conventions would no longer be elected at the circuit forums, but rather at the district conventions. Power is being moved away from the grassroots level of congregations and circuits and moved up the ladder to the district level. Your circuit might not get any delegates. NO.”

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

The Return of 8-05B continues! Again, no, no, no! This is the companion piece to the previous resolution; they’re joined at the hip. Both need to be voted down. Delegates to national conventions would be elected at district conventions, not by circuit forums. Bad Blue Ribbon idea in 2010. Bad idea now. NO.

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

Clarify language in bylaws.

7-10: To Adopt Four-Year Convention Cycle

There’s too much to do to wait that long between conventions! Many important issues at this convention are being deferred to the 2016 convention, and that convention may not get to them all. It will take several conventions to get to all the important business that is needed to be done, so let’s not stretch out the convention cycle. This resolution is the return of another bad Blue Ribbon idea. NO.

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

I am wary of anything coming from this committee in conjunction with the Commission on Handbook. Default mode on 7-11 through 7-14 should be “No,” unless satisfied that there are no hidden problems.

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

I am wary of anything coming from this committee in conjunction with the Commission on Handbook. Default mode on 7-11 through 7-14 should be “No,” unless satisfied that there are no hidden problems.

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

Problem in A: By striking “fellow,” it would open up the circuit counselors coming from outside the circuit. That is not good. Problem in B: This resolution would let DPs appoint circuit counselors at the district convention, if a circuit selection has not been made previously, whereas currently the circuit could caucus there to elect their circuit counselor. There may be other problems with this resolution as well.

7-14: To Address Handbook Issues re Synod Conventions

Problem: On p. 175, lines 53-55, clarify “individual members,” so as not to exclude lay members of LCMS congregations.

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

Ecclesiastical supervision of workers outside U.S. International congregations seeking district membership.

7-16: To Strengthen District Boards of Directors

District BODs could appoint up to three voting lay members, for added skills. But should non-elected appointed members be able to vote?

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

Appointed officers’ expenses covered to attend convention.

7-18: To Study Doctrinal Training for Reconcilers

Referred to COP, CCM, and Secretary of Synod for study and recommendations.

7-19: To Respectfully Decline Overtures

Declines rescinding regional VPs. I was opposed to the regionalization of VPs and BOD, but maybe we can get to this next time. Declines restoring pre-1992 adjudication process. We do need to fix the Dispute Resolution Process, but, again, maybe down the road.

– – – – – – – – – –

So now we have taken a brief look at all 116 proposed resolutions from the seven floor committees. Here are three ways you can give your feedback on any of them, before the convention begins:

First, write to the chairmen (and members) of the floor committees. They are listed on page 11 of Today’s Business and page xvii of the Convention Workbook. They would like your input ASAP–preferably even by today–so you might try e-mail as well as snail mail. For DPs, ordained ministers, and commissioned ministers, you should be able to find e-mail addresses and postal addresses at the lcms.org church worker directory.

Floor Committee Chairmen, with their e-mail addresses (as listed at lcms.org)
1. Witness: James Baneck, [email protected]
2. Mercy: David Benke, [email protected]
3. Life Together: Donald Fondow, [email protected]
4. Theology and Church Relations: Scott Murray, [email protected]
5. Seminary and University Education: Dale Sattgast, [email protected]
6. Administration and Finance: John Wille, [email protected]
7. Structure and Ecclesiastical Matters: Richard Boche, [email protected]

Second, talk to your circuit’s two convention delegates, one ordained and one lay. They’re supposed to listen to your input. Or talk to any other delegates you may know. They’re all listed in the Convention Workbook, pp. iv-xiv.

Third, you can speak at the open hearings of the floor committees, Saturday morning, July 20, 8:30-noon, at the locations listed on page 10 in Today’s Business.

So that’s it for now on the resolutions. Click on my blog from the side menu to see the preceding columns on the proposed resolutions from the other floor committees. I may write one more column on resolutions next week, recapping and highlighting just the most important ones that need to be passed, amended, or defeated. And I do plan to write next week about the elections, which in some ways are even more important than the resolutions.

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