Convention fast approaches. A good thing some District Presidents and Synod President Harrison have done is to emphasize the need for administrators to stay connected to the local parish. This resolution helps to set that goal for all administrative positions.
To Return to a Pastoral-Based Model of Governance.
Whereas, regarding church governance, we confess, “Therefore the Church can never be better governed and preserved than if we all live under one head, Christ, and all the bishops equal in office (although they be unequal in gifts), be diligently joined in unity of doctrine, faith, Sacraments, prayer, and works of love, etc., as St. Jerome writes that the priests at Alexandria together and in common governed the churches, as did also the apostles, and afterwards all bishops throughout all Christendom, until the Pope raised his head above all.” (Smalcald II:IV, par 9) and
Whereas, the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod (LCMS) has accepted C.F.W. Walther’s Church and Ministry as a correct explanation of our Lutheran Confessions, in which we state, “The holy ministry, or the pastoral office, is an office distinct from the priestly office, which belongs to all believers…. The ministry is the highest office in the Church, from which, as its stem, all other offices of the Church issue.” (C.F.W. Walther, Church and Ministry, Theses 1&9) and
Whereas, the Lutheran Church, in her official confession, makes the following complaint against the Roman Church, ” they neither are, nor wish to be, true bishops, but worldly lords and princes, who will neither preach, nor teach, nor baptize, nor administer the Lord’s Supper, nor perform any work or office of the Church…” (Smalcald III:X, par 1) and
Whereas, over the years, the LCMS has allowed District Presidents to leave the pastoral office in the congregation in order to serve as “Ecclesiastical Supervisors”, which means that we remove men from “the highest office in the church”, giving them so many worldly, duties that they are no longer officially connected to the pulpit, font, and altar of a congregation, which means that they do not have opportunity to regularly “preach, nor teach, nor baptize, nor administer the Lord’s Supper”, but rather must serve in an office that is first and foremost beholden to the bylaws of synod, rather than the Word of God, and
Whereas, the Apostles themselves rejected this practice, choosing instead to labor in the word and prayer, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” (Acts 6:2) and
Whereas, our synod president has set an admirable precedent by accepting a call to a local parish to serve as a pastor, thereby continuing to preach, teach, baptize and administer the Lord’s Supper, as our confessions admonish us to do, and
Whereas, a majority of districts have at least one, and often several, pastors who have been asked to leave service at the altar and pulpit of a congregation in order to serve as synod officers or executives, and the national synod allows for the same exclusively extra- congregational service, and
Whereas, the Word of God, in Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, extolls the reverse of this practice and admonishes against our current practice, therefore be it
Resolved that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod begin the process of returning to a parish based model of governance, and be it further
Resolved, that a temporary Blue Ribbon Commission on Synod Administration (BRCSA), be formed, which will be considered an ad hoc committee for purposes of synod service, and that this Commission be empowered to evaluate the duties of the officers of synod, and to recommend such changes as are necessary so that they can continue to fulfill their constitutional and bylaw required duties while also serving faithfully in a congregation; the Commission to be composed of seven persons chosen by the President of the Synod, according to the following manner : One District President serving full time, One District President who, at the time that this resolution is approved be serving both as a District President and as a parish pastor, a Vice President of the Synod, a parish pastor, a faculty member from the Concordia University System who teaches business or administration, a member of the Commission on Constitutional Matters or Commission on Handbook, and a layperson, and be it further
Resolved that the BRCSA report will recommend the necessary operational changes such that Bylaw 2.11.1 may be amended at the 2019 convention, by deleting sub paragraphs (d), (e), (f) & (j), and that the following words from subparagraph (k) “An executive or professional staff member ” be replaced with “a deployed missionary or teacher” and be it further
Resolved that the final report of the BRCSA, with recommendations for returning to a pastoral-cased model of governance, be delivered to the synod no later than the beginning of the first District Convention in 2018, for consideration at the synod convention in 2019, and be it finally
Resolved that nothing in this resolution be so construed as to apply to emeritus members of the synod.