Rev. Jacob Sutton
Pastor, Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church
Terre Haute, Indiana
Floor Committee #6 – Seminaries
I have been asked to write about the recent floor committee weekend in St. Louis for this blog. In order to be fair to those I worked with, I will address only general and public observations during the time spent at the LCMS International Center on Memorial Day weekend. The results of all of the specific, “inside” work and discussion now can speak for themselves, published electronically as the first edition of “Today’s Business”.
I was impressed by the great planning and organization of our LCMS leadership and staff at the International Center. No details were left out in making provisions for the eighteen floor committees to do their work efficiently and on time. The Synod’s officers, staff, and various commissions were all on hand to advise and be of service and help. We were provided with a well done orientation, proper accommodations, equipment, meals, and anything else we needed. The staff in St. Louis obviously worked very hard for the sake of these floor committees, and for that I am grateful. It made being away from home and family for a few days to do intensive and detail oriented work all the more palatable.
The assembled delegates also prayed and sang their praises to God, hearing the Word of God preached in Evening Prayer, Matins each morning, and one Divine Service on Saturday evening. Solid Lutheran hymns were sung with great joy: “Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord”, “O How Great is Your Compassion”, “Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart”, and others.
I was impressed by the good people who came to work and serve – from the delegates to all of the Synod officers and commissions present. Everyone came with a desire to serve and do their best. Eighteen committees, each with at least nine members, filled the International Center. Our committee was composed of two district presidents, four parish pastors, and three excellent and thoughtful lay delegates, all of whom brought their talents, expertise, and experiences to the table. I am certain of all the other lay delegates who came to serve in other committees were no different.
Interestingly, at the opening night’s orientation, the question was asked, “How many of you have never served on a convention floor committee before?” I estimate that at least 75% or more of the people raised their hands. I think that is a very good thing. I also estimate that most of the delegates serving on these committees were my age or younger (43), which I also think is a very good thing.
To me, this says that younger, talented, God-fearing people in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod are seeking to be of service to the Church for the sake of the Gospel. It says that our congregations, pastors, and circuits are doing a good job of seeking and encouraging younger, talented people from many vocations to be involved and act out their faith in Christ. I believe it also speaks to the leadership of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod that both Lutheran laypeople and clergy appreciate the biblical, faithful direction in which our Church is being led, and they are enthusiastic enough about that direction to put their time, talents, and treasures behind that.
Finally, I’ll share a few words of strong leadership from the President of the Synod from part two of his report (which one can read in the first edition of Today’s Business), which communicate what we were encouraged to do as floor committees for the convention. “Let’s be bold…” said the President, as bold as Peter’s confession of Christ as the Son of the Living God. What we are doing in convention should be a bold confession that we believe in a Savior who came for sinners. That we “boldly confess the Gospel and all its articles of faith! No compromise!” That through these resolutions, we “Hold fast the confession” of our faith in Christ (Hebrews 4:14) in these difficult times in today’s anti-Christian world.
This worked itself out in the floor committees, President Harrison says, in that the Synod expects “very strong, solid, and excellent resolutions to be presented to the convention… we are not at all afraid of significant and thorough ‘whereas’ statements in the resolutions, leading to action in the resolves… We are looking for substantive resolutions that draw as many people as possible to them, so that we are more united around the Word of God and our confession of Christ before the world.” (Emphasis original)
How well the floor committees did in being bold for the sake of Christ and His Church will have to be judged by the Synod at large as it reacts to the resolutions presented. Finally, the Synod in convention will have its say. However the results of that turn out, our prayer should be that in all things the truth of God’s Word is rightly confessed and upheld for all the world to see.