Convention Day Two – The Ugly

imageThe Second Day of the LCMS Convention is over. Today saw some good things happen, including fellowship agreements and elections. By the second half of the day, a rather vocal minority began using even more parliamentary tactics to delay debate on motions that they didn’t want to see passed. They came right out of the gate on Sunday with tactics to prevent debate on the matters delegates came to discuss. Their efforts have ramped up and are beginning to wear thin on delegates’ patience. Today’s obstruction meant resolution 12-01A, which is the Dispute Resolution Process revision that will restore an old practice of allowing an appeal from the accuser to reach the President of the Synod in the cases when the District President fails or declines to act. This is nothing more than a check and balance resolution that makes sure doctrinal integrity is secure, but one side which does not have the votes keeps delaying and stalling the issue, putting off the other good work of the Floor Committee in order to get their way through delay. I suppose the hope is that they may gain more delegates at the next convention and the work of the delegates at this convention — many of whom are likely not going to be at the next — will have been wasted.

I had a chance to get some feedback from some random delegates about what they thought of the past couple days silliness. On day one it was changing the schedule to make sure that 12-01 could be discussed. On day two it meant telling the delegation we need to discuss this while delaying discussion with motions and other efforts to delay and defer this well researched, well crafted, and well taught resolution (both the Task Force and Floor Committee have done excellent work). Much emphasis was made about needing the District Presidents to weigh in on the matter (even though many have used their morning breakfasts to do that very thing and have also sent out letters and emails to do so also), which in my mind is much like letting someone determine for themselves how they should be held accountable (how has that worked in national government?). The delegates were getting tired of the one side pushing for delay and deferral all the while blowing smoke about having discussion. They had prepared to discuss it, even a couple of them had come to the Floor Committee meetings to hear the concerns of all involved. Today they saw through the obvious attempts to distract from real discussion by way of parliamentary tricks and obstruction. Many delegates have taken their responsibility seriously and have prepared to actually get something done. I am sure there are other delegates who probably would agree with them.

12-01A is well researched and vetted – is nothing more than a check and balance measure (which is good government by the way). Tomorrow’s discussion will hopefully not be centered on ways to delay this or defer it or how the District Presidents should determine for themselves how they would like to be accountable to the Synod. Instead, I (and the delegates I talked to) hope the discussion will be on good accountability, rules made in the freedom of the Gospel for good order in the Synod. Delegates not interested in obstruction, delay, and distraction, let’s make Day Three a productive day.

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


Convention Day Two – The Ugly — 48 Comments

  1. What do they have to gain by delaying the proceedings?

    Find out what their overall reason is for stalling. I suspect there is something else they fear more down the road that they are hoping to avoid.

  2. Tell the DP’s to stuff it. They are much of the problem in the LCMS. End the filibuster and move on to accomplish something for confessional Lutheranism. Keep up the good work in the battlefield.

  3. As nauseating as I find ecclesiastical politics to be, I am grateful for your reporting, Pr. Scheer. Looking forward to your future reports.

  4. Under “The Ugly” (and “The Bad”), the delegates passed Resolution 3-05A (albeit with less than a rubberstamp vote: 748-227), approving support for LIaRS, a major federal contractor. This organization is headed for a major scandal in its rabid resettlement of insufficiently screened Muslims (including ISIS supporters) into U.S. towns ill-equipped to handle the endemic medical, cultural, criminal, and terrorist problems. Althouh not an RSO, that LIaRS scandal will impact the LCMS.

  5. Pastor Scheer: Who are these people clinging by a death grip to unauthorized power and where are they from? Can we get an official BJS “who’s who” on those employing parliamentary tactics to avoid checks and balances and who deserve censure? Can the names be published or would that be considered unethical? Must we be victimized by our Christian discretion?

  6. @Mark #4

    Wow. If the opposing party is using parliamentary tactics permitted by Robert’s Rules of Order, or other synodically-designated rules for conventions, I don’t for a moment see how you can judge such efforts as “clinging by a death grip to unauthorized power”. Still further, I don’t understand how a charitable spirit would seek to “out” them, particularly in a public forum.

    Check yourself before you wreck yourself, Mark.

  7. It is strange that we actually need a resolution stating that the Synodical President is responsible for supervising the doctrine of Synod. Districts are subdivisions of synod. They are not Synods. This is not ELCA.

    It is equally strange that some would object to the President being able to do his duty.

  8. I didn’t see what parliamentary tactics were being used yesterday, but what I saw today was designed to thwart the will of the convention and was illegal under the rules.

    President Harrison graciously polled the people on the obstructionist’s desires, and even after an overwhelming vote which affirmed how Harrison had been conducting the convention, other obstructionists came forward with identical demands. It’s shameful.

  9. As for the question of who the objectors/delayers are: more or less a reconstituted Jesus First, if you remember that group. Charlie Mueller is organizing, so that crew. They obviously don’t have many lay delegates (or clergy delegates for that matter) but have the bureaucratic expertise of how to use parliamentary procedure. Apart from whether it’s good or bad to use such tactics, it’s pretty much all they have in their toolbox since so few delegates are with them.

  10. I am at convention and do not agree with the characterization of yesterday afternoon’s proceedings by Pastor Scheer.

    Resolution 12-01A has some significant problems and does not appear to have been communicated to the 35 district presidents before it was presented to delegates to consider at convention for their input which is very odd.

    The chair of the committee has brought in the district presidents into a closed-door session this morning to see if this resolutions and its details can be worked out with the district presidents’ feedback. Apparently 21 of 35 district presidents requested this action.

    This resolution will probably be tabled until it has been discussed more thoroughly and I am yet undecided about favoring (or not) the resolution.

  11. Mollie,

    You’re right, but it’s also worth mentioning that they aren’t even using those parliamentary tactics properly. Harrison could shut them down completely and be entirely within his rights as chair of the convention.

  12. Expect to see more. The word up here in AK was that Lay-Ministry is a hill the NoW District is willing to die on.

    I hope they get their chance.
    -Matt Mills

  13. @Matt Mills #10

    After passing Res. 13-02A, and some cross-related resolutions, the hill is there. A big trick will be the ecclesial supervision. If/when that one passes (and how amended), the NoW District may then be FORCED to also engage on that hill. Could be some serious blood letting…

    @Rev. Charles Lehmann #11

    And when the battle begins, well it is already over. It will be interesting to see how the mop up gets conducted.

  14. By the way, we should call the Charlie Mueller crowd what they are: non-Lutherans.

  15. I’m at the hospital having just visited a member, but if you go to LCMS’s webpage and then go to the convention page, there is a place where you can access all of the resolutions and the action that’s been taken on them.

  16. @Matt Mills #14

    Best can quickly do is this:

    It is the pdf for Today’s Business. You will have to scroll down a ways. If you have read the previous Task Force 4-06A Report, Res. 13-02A is pretty much that. It does call for an END to preaching deacons, moving them into SMP or get out of the pulpit. Using the Synod Resolutions link on the home page, and finding 13-02A, reading that page mentions related resolutions.

  17. The Chairman may warn a disruptive delegate(s) that he is out of order and will be seated. If the disruption continues, another delegate can make (or the Chairman may ask for) a motion to remove the disruptive delegate from the meeting. If the motion is seconded and passed by the assembly, the person can be removed. Other penalties are also available, if the majority of the assembly approves.

    From Robert’s Rules of Order Revised, Fourth Edition, Art. XIII. Legal Rights of Assemblies and Trial of Their Members:

    73. Right of an Assembly to Eject any one from its Place of Meeting. Every deliberative assembly has the right to decide who may be present during its session; and when the assembly, either by a rule or by a vote, decides that a certain person shall not remain in the room, it is the duty of the chairman to enforce the rule of order, using whatever force is necessary to eject the party.

    The chairman can detail members to remove the person, without calling upon the police. If, however, in enforcing the order, any one uses harsher measures than is necessary to remove the person, the courts have held that he, and he alone, is liable for damages, just the same as a policeman would be under similar circumstances. However badly the man may be abused while being removed from the room, neither the chairman nor the society is liable for damages, as, in ordering his removal, they did not exceed their legal rights.

  18. @Robert #5

    I’m fresh out of charity, Robert, when it comes to the demolition of the Synod by rogue elements who run roughshod over the Confessions and treat their district as a personal fiefdom to which they are entitled, unchallenged by and unaccountable in any tangible sense to the rest of us, much to our ecclesial discomfort. Ironically, the rogue DPs masquerading as American Evangelicals are a little too Romish for my sensibilities, and I hope they and their supporters can be stymied. You may trust them and approve what they’re doing to the detriment and disunity of the Synod. If anything is being wrecked, it’s the integrity of the Synod and the conservative Reformation. It’s a sign of open defiance when it becomes necessary to filibuster a six-day convention. Now let’s get on with it and let the democratic process run its course.

  19. @Jason #16: Res. 13-02A is pretty much that. It does call for an END to preaching deacons, moving them into SMP or get out of the pulpit.

    Well, not exactly. The so-called “END” of lay deacons playing pastor is in January, 2018, but in fact, under the 11th Resolved, the licensed lay deacon “shall continue to serve under their current district licensure until the colloquy process is complete and certification is given by the Colloquy Committee.” That may take several years… or more, depending on the training and courses required by the Colloquy committee, and looking the other way by sympathetic DPs.

    And then there is the 8th Resolved that contains the Continue-To-Play-Pastor Card under the subtle phrase, “extraordinary need.”

    Think of the Yankee Stadium heresy and other subsequent syncretic practices, like the Newtown heresy, all crammed in a file under the Synod’s Once-In-A-Lifetime situation.

  20. Sigh, if there’s an “extraordinary need” clause then nothing will change in the NoW District, ever. Swing and a miss folks.
    -Matt Mills

  21. If memory serves, at the 2004 Convention the Jesus First/Daystar leadership all wore coordinated outfits (typically Hawaiian shirts). After they knew w/o a doubt they had the majority, they kept calling the question. Before we could even point out the Lutheran Confessions, Synodical history, or the Scriptures.
    Since the bulk of the resolutions I have seen this time **are** in accord with the Confessions, maybe our delegates should do the same thing:
    Call the question. Get the important stuff done.

  22. @Matt Mills #24

    Were you seriously expecting the problems to be “Regularize[d]” in a Resolution with eighteen spin-doctored Whereas statements and thirteen tap-dancing Resolved statements, and the following members of the Res. 4-06A Task Force and Floor Committee 13?

    Res. 4-06A Task Force
    Executive Director of Pastoral Education—presently vacant (at
    the time of the initial appointment, Dr. Glenn Thomas was serving
    in this position and served as the first chairman of the task force).
    Synod Chief Mission Officer—Rev. Kevin Robson (Rev. Greg Williamson was CMO at the time of the initial appointment; Rev. Bart Day served for a time as interim CMO and was for that time a member of the task force).
    Rev. Dr. Carl Fickenscher, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.
    Rev. Donald Fondow, President, Minnesota North District.
    Rev. Wayne Knolhoff, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
    Rev. Dr. Herbert Mueller, First Vice-President, Task Force
    Chairman (when Dr. Glenn Thomas accepted a call to the parish, the
    task force elected Dr. Mueller as chairman).
    Rev. Dr. Richard Nuffer, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort
    Rev. Dr. Leopoldo Sanchez, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

    Floor Committee 13: Routes to Ministry
    C: Roger Paavola (MDS);
    DP: Vice chair: Allen Anderson (RM);
    VOM: Paul Clark (MI); Roger Gallup (NI); Kent Schaaf (CNH); Aaron Schian (EA);
    VL: Donal Pugh (RM); George Trammell (SI);
    AOM: Bruce Keseman (SI);
    ACM: David Berger (MO).

  23. @Carl Vehse #20

    It might not be *perfect*, but it is a whole lot better than what we have going on at the moment. With time these non-pastors doing the work of pastors will be phased out and they’ll be pastors.

  24. @Carl Vehse #26

    You listed the 5-14A task force that dealt with the routes to ministry.

    the 4-06A task force was:

    Rev. Larry Vogel, CTCR Associate Director, Task Force Chair
    Rev. Russ Sommerfeld, then Nebraska DP, now Seward prof, Task Force Secretary
    Rev. Dr. Herb Mueller, LCMS First Vice-President
    Rev. Dr. Roger Paavola, Mid-South DP, who became FC 13 Chair
    Rev. Dr. James Voelz, CSL, exegetical department
    Rev. Dr. Roland Ziegler, CTSFW, systematic Dept., and CTCR member
    Jason Kiefer, LLD (Comm. Lay Minister), New Jersey District

  25. @Carl Vehse #30

    But yes, Floor Committee 13 pulled all the stuff from both 4-06A AND 5-14A. So you were so close. (close enough to count?)

    Working hard to win as many as possible, the Deacon Task force report was nuanced and irenic, even offering certain fig leaves to opponents. That was 34 pages long, and okay a year ago.

    Res. 13-02 got too long trying to imitate the appeal to broad support. And 13-02A got even longer, and I do not like the changes. I think they further softened a resolution that was soft enough. The idea was to not do a scorched earth proposal that would die an ugly death, likely entrenching deacons even further.

    Over the last two convention cycles, some fences have been hemmed in. Increased visitation, probable end to ALL preaching deacons, better clarity about the Office of Holy Ministry… I am praying for the ecclesiastical supervision to pass, since that is a critical piece in the discipline process.

    And with the apparent collapse of the Jesus First voting lists and activity, since the Seminxers are existing stage left, our most liberal and vocal voices are fading away. I think the LCMS is on a good trajectory, but we must be steadfast to continue our (slow) return to faithfulness. That is my hope.

  26. Dear BJS,
    So far, so good, been here all week…we are making good and solid progress. I think all resolutions are pretty good…I have notes. but we are making progress to becoming a very confessional body.
    Yes bot sides have tactics, but the Word of God is solidly coming through all our wrangling.

  27. Dear BJS,
    And I sat with Pastor C. Mueller tonight, a good man. In fact, I made the circles with many. We are making progress and working together for the good of the LCMS.

  28. 232 colleges and universities already have received religious exemptions from Title IX.

    However, Resolution 7-07, To Encourage Concordia University System Institutions to Request Religious Exemptions, was withdrawn for the stated reason “to allow further consideration.”

    Does anyone know the real (or more detailed) reason?

  29. You talk about delay tactics, trust me, all sides use tactics, but that is the way it is. I despise “calling the question” too early…we need the debate. But in the end, the LCMS is the model for confessional and doctrinal purity. Nuff said…

  30. @Pastor Prentive #35

    “But in the end, the LCMS is the model for confessional and doctrinal purity.”

    I think anyone who has spent time deep in study of the Confessions, and perhaps the ACELC together with other concerned folks, would beg to differ. I don’t imagine for a moment that Luther and his compatriots ever envisioned that what has become of the LCMS should be the model of confessional and doctrinal purity. A model of bloated bureaucratic ecclesio-politics, perhaps, but certainly not doctrinal purity.

  31. @Brad #36

    I think Pastor Prentice is taking very seriously the recently passed Resolution 12-07A, and the warning at the end of yesterday’s Reporter article.

    From now on you can expect more carefully worded and nuanced responses from LCMS members on controversial Synodical topics.

  32. @Carl Vehse #37

    I think my response would and will continue to be, much more akin to the famous Johnny Cash poster… perhaps I’ll make that my pictoral icon for a while.

  33. If it’s the 1969 photo at a San Quentin State Prison gig where Johnny Cash expressed what he thought of prison authorities, good luck in getting that past the BJS moderators.

  34. @Carl Vehse #37

    From the end of the Reporter article:

    Any “public teaching” — including on blogs and Facebook pages — that is contrary to the established doctrinal position of the Synod “shall place in jeopardy membership in the Synod.”

    Do you suppose this means LCMS members of ACELC and WIKI Five Two will be disciplined?

  35. Do you suppose this means LCMS members of ACELC and WIKI Five Two will be disciplined?

    What it means is that the ACELC will be disciplined but Five Two will be allowed to continue on with business as usual.

  36. LW and GaiusKurios,

    See this BJS comment about the ACELC documents on its internet website.

    I don’t know what Five Two will do, especially if they have the strong backing of prominent DPs.

    BTW, Texas DP Ken Hennings is the Chairman of the COP.

  37. @GaiusKurios #41

    I suspect you’re right. A gag order against critique has much more opportunity to be leveraged against a critic of current aberrant doctrine and practices, than against heretics who claim to support the Scriptures and Confessions while innovating new doctrines. The innovator has the benefit of pretending to hold the old while undermining it with the new.

  38. @Carl Vehse #37

    @Brad #36
    Yes, words must and should be carefully thought out and said, I myself do blurt out at times.
    Nothing is perfect, except Jesus and the heaven we will go to (and a few others not mentioned for length of time).
    Yet, the LCMS is in a fight and we are doing battle. Perhaps for every complaint, start with a thanksgiving for the work being done…Eh?

  39. …for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  2Tim1:7

  40. @John Rixe #47

    Yes, John. And sometimes that power, love, and self-control is used rightly to overturn tables of money-changers in the temple and drive them out with whips made of cords, or to publicly refute even the most established pastors (like St. Paul did to St. Peter, when he was in error) so that the truth of God’s Word is not lost or obfuscated by sinful man’s constant penchant for abusing it. In either case, it’s less about the comfort or reputation of the pastors, ecclesiastics, or hierarchy, and much more about preserving the people’s faith in the Word of God.

    I stick by my Johnny Cash response. As a patriot and a veteran, I subscribe to the US Consititution, and offer the bird to any government which would usurp powers not delegated to it through their own hubristic bureaucratic gymnastics. Likewise, as a Lutheran, I subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions, and offer the same unflinching response to any ecclesiastical bureaucracy so arrogant and presumptuous as to do likewise.

    Frankly, had Luther respected this kind of asinine gag order during his time, there would never have been a Reformation… He would have had his little secret trial among his “competent peers,” who would have promptly burned him at the stake like they did Jon Huss a hundred years earlier. From a process perspective, free and open debate seems much more the Scriptural and Reformation principle; hidden tribunals and gag orders against the bureaucracy seem much more in line with the worst of Rome’s historic abuses.

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