Are We Resolved? Or Not?

During the 2013 National Convention of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod, the convention passed Resolution 3-10A, “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 July will bring with it the deadline for the report of the taskforce established by the resolution. Readers can view the publicly available information regarding the taskforce’s work thus far here.

When you view that page, you will be presented with a link to “the full text of this resolution, including taskforce membership.” On that page, you will be able to read 8 “RESOLVED” statements from the original resolution (reproduced below):

Resolved, That each district president be encouraged earnestly to give specific and individual attention to LCMS professional church workers on both candidate and non-candidate status; and be it further

Resolved, That the President of the synod appoint a task force to address these matters; and be it further

Resolved, That this task force study the need for a placement process for returning military chaplains and missionaries; and be it further

Resolved, That this task force also study the candidate status and non-candidate status of all church workers to aid and encourage congregations and other entities in calling qualified candidates in a timely manner; and be it further

Resolved, That this task force include but not be limited to rep-resentatives from the Council of Presidents, the seminaries, and the Concordia University system; and be it further

Resolved, That this task force make a report and recommenda-tions to the synod no later than one year prior to the 2016 synod convention; and be it further

Resolved, That the office of national Mission be encouraged to continue its service through soldiers of the Cross; and be it finally

Resolved, That synod congregations and their members be encouraged to give to the soldiers of the Cross annual fund drive.

In 2013, this issue was more than a curiosity to me as economic conditions in metro-Detroit prematurely ended my first call as an Assistant Pastor in 2011 and I was one of the 207 ordained candidates mentioned in the WHEREAS section of the resolution not serving in a call. To say the least, when I heard about this resolution, I was grateful for the love, care, compassion and concern shown by the delegates of the 2013 convention in its passage.

By the grace of God, I have been permanently deployed into the Lord’s Harvest once again and pastor a faithful congregation of God’s saints in rural Michigan. Sadly, many of my ordained brothers as well as the 611 commissioned church workers referenced in the same resolution remain “candidates” without permanent calls.

While this situation is never far from my mind, it was brought to the forefront of my mind when I read the recent news that “the Synod’s Council of Presidents (COP) . . .did not have enough certified candidates for first pastoral calls to fill all the requests of congregations and Synod-related entities in North America.”

While we ought always pray for workers for the harvest and encourage those who aspire to the office of overseer as those who desire, “a noble task,” I began to wonder about the 200+ certified candidates for pastoral calls that remain without calls about whom the delegates of the 2013 Convention said, “It is poor stewardship that these gifts from God are not being fully utilized because a call has not been received in a timely manner” (Resolution 3-10A, WHEREAS #4).

As a candidate, what made me most grateful at the time of the passage of 3-10A was the text published in TODAY’S BUSINESS as RESOLVED #2, “RESOLVED, That LCMS congregations be encouraged to give prayerful consideration to calling professional church workers who are on candidate or non-candidate status and who desire a call.”

Now, a careful observer will notice that this RESOLVED does not appear in the list quoted above from the page on the web that describes resolution 3-10A and the work of the Taskforce established by that resolution.

However, this statement does appear in TODAYS BUSINESS for July 21 (p. 245) in which the original resolution was published as well as the PROCEEDINGS of the convention (p. 121-122) published subsequent to the convention. According to these sources, the list of RESOLVEDs begins as follows:

. . . therefore be it

Resolved, That each district president be encouraged earnestly to give specific and individual attention to LCMS professional church workers on both candidate and non-candidate status; and be it further

Resolved, That LCMS congregations be encouraged to give prayerful consideration to calling professional church workers who are on candidate or non-candidate status who desire a call; and be it further

Resolved, That the President of the Synod appoint a task force to address these matters . . .

According to the PROCEEDINGS of the convention, there were no amendments to resolution 3-10A, and “The resolution was adopted as presented [Yes: 884; No: 25].” (PROCEEDINGS, p. 44).

This prompts me to ask the question contained in the title of this post. With the absence of RESOLVED #2 from the re-publication of resolution 3-10 on the taskforce page and no mention made of it in the article indicating thirty known unfilled vacancies, are we resolved to fully utilize the gifts that God has given by raising up candidates to serve as laborers in His harvest field? Or are we not resolved to do so?

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