There are a few elections that I would like to spotlight here at Steadfast in the coming week leading up to the Convention (if I have time). The first one I want to focus on is for the office of Secretary of the Synod. This position is vital and endures beyond Presidential administrations. The longer a man can serve in it the greater blessing for the LCMS. There are five good men on the ballot and I have read about a floor nomination that intends to be made as well, but in the end I want to speak in favor of the man I think is going to be best for the job in the long run – the Rev. Dr. John Sias.
This will be a very personal recommendation. If you want the more technical one with credentials and so forth, check out the United List bio. (Some have been critical of the “anonymous” nature of the United List, but frankly put, look at the names they recommend, many of which I know, good folks willing to serve).
I met John Sias in my first summer at seminary. He was in my Greek class, and yet more than just a student (which he was) he was also already tutoring in it. He had the ability to both take in teaching (often highly technical matters) and learn it so thoroughly that he could teach it to the rest of us. That was just a small amount of his skills. He had a high level of attention to detail, could talk within the realm of that detail, but even more praiseworthy he could speak about the same technical matters in common terms, bringing in more and more understanding. This is a great skill to have for being the Secretary of Synod who help do so much on the technical side of Constitution/Bylaws, etc. but then also has to communicate it to people (like delegates) in common language. Dr. Hartwig has done this, Dr. Sias would continue to do it.
John has a great intellect and can lead a academic classroom, but he is also at home on the ranch or with children in a bible class. He has served in Montana since his placement, showing devotion to the position God has given him. He has been serving a triple-point parish, requiring coordination of three congregations and also the wisdom to know where he can maximize his efforts between the three by coordination. He has also developed excellent curriculum for instruction, showing a very technical and yet practical understanding of pedagogy with the Scriptures and Catechism.
I have also worked with John in his work with publications at Lutheran Legacy. He has a great skillful eye for details. He helped organize and add some great footnotes to probably one of the best books on Justification – “Justification of the Sinner before God” by Eduard Preuss. I had an old copy of the work from Concordia Theological Monthly, but the new edition that Dr. Sias was involved with added much in technical detail and also in clarification. He can work with the intricate and make it seem so clear.
John has also written for Concordia Publishing House. He wrote “5 Things You Can Do To Witness”. He cares for taking the doctrine he knows so well out into the world, each baptized Christian a witness. Again, great and deep knowledge but taught in a way that everyone can understand. Dr. Hartwig has been very good at this. Dr. Sias would continue that.
Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to have John on “Concord Matters”, a great radio show on KFUO Radio. We talked about the Fifth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer in the Large Catechism. During the show he was able to cite from memory portions of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession but also speak of great mysteries using very clear and simple illustration. Here is the link to the show. Here is a great snippet of Dr. Sias proclaiming the Gospel.
The last major thing that I want to make a comment about is character and conviction. John is a man of both. In this life our best friends are not the ones that always agree with you, but sometimes they are the ones who criticize or correct you. That is a Biblical friend. John has been that to me on a couple of occasions. We are not close friends by any means, but on a couple occasions John has offered correction to me, a guy on the “same team” of the Confessional movement. He has principles. He acts on them. He does not show favorites. That is vital in a position like Secretary, especially in a highly politicized organization like the LCMS. We need a man who can stand firm on convictions no matter what side of the Synod is in power. In this way Dr. Sias is a lot like Dr. Hartwig.
There are several minor things which I will add. His age allows for him to serve for a long time (something that has been a real blessing in the length of Dr. Hartwig’s service). He has served already on the nominations committee for Synod. He has served his own Montana District. He has served on the Committee on Constitutional Matters. These things all add to the total picture of this man who I believe would be a great Secretary for the LCMS.
Of course, because of his humble character, John will deny or downplay much of my praise of his virtues in what I have just written.
In my honest opinion, a vote for Dr. Sias is a vote to continue the great work of Dr. Hartwig in the Office of Secretary for the LCMS.