Rev. Dr. John Sias for Secretary of the Synod — Another Encouragement

sias

Rev. Dr. Sias with his wife, Heidi

It is indeed an honor and a privilege to encourage the election of Rev. John W. Sias as Secretary of the LCMS. I have known Rev. Sias for approximately 3 ½ years, beginning with our service together on the 2013 Committee for Convention Nominations (CCN).

First, permit me to establish my perspective.  I am a lifelong member of the LCMS.  I have been a delegate to the Convention twice.  I have served on the Mission Floor Committee and the CCN twice. For 2013, Rev. Sias was Vice-Chairman of the CCN and I was Chairman, working closely with the Secretary’s office. For the past three years, I have chaired the Bylaw 3.2.5 Committee (dealing with synodical vacancies) and Rev. Sias was Vice-Chairman, working even more closely with the Secretary’s office.  I have served on the Board of Directors of Iowa District East twice, most recently as Chairman from 2001 to 2012. I have served on the Board of Governors of the Concordia Historical Institute, serving lastly as Vice-President. We have two sons ordained in the LCMS, one having attended each seminary. Our congregation has had two former Pastors elected as District Presidents. (I could go on….)

So, I believe I know “the lay of the land” pretty well, and have gotten to know Rev. Sias well.

Rev. Sias is one of the most unique and most capable men I have ever known. As soon as Rev. Hartwig said that he was not going to stand for reelection, I asked Rev. Sias if he would be interested.  I was privileged to enter a nomination for Rev. Sias.

He is confessional, brilliant, personable, a “quick study”, professional, energetic yet patient, hard working, and thoughtful, among other favorable attributes. He currently serves three congregations in Montana and was elected Second Vice-President of the Montana District. He seems to have an antenna for everyone and everything that goes on in the Synod. He is a good listener. His advance familiarity with the office of Secretary comes at least in part from the CCN work as well as from his service on the Commission for Constitutional Matters (CCM). He is at ease with electronic media, so important to the office in this age.  In fact, immediately upon earning his PhD in Engineering in 2005, he enrolled directly in the seminary.

I know and respect some of the other candidates listed for that office.  I would not speak against any of them, but I would clearly vote for Rev. Sias.  This man is very, VERY good!

 

                                                                                 Carl T. Egger, PhD

                                                                                 Muscatine, IA


Comments

Rev. Dr. John Sias for Secretary of the Synod — Another Encouragement — 18 Comments

  1. Why did all the Mighty Lutheran Men of Confessional Valor gravitate to Montana and not to the Mid-South District?

  2. Because he is a faithful pastor, it is best to not pull him from his flock where he is needed. Perhaps a pastor without a divine call should be elected to this position. It’s not a good idea to grab our faithful pastors of churches and put them in admin positions. God bless Pastor Sias and his flock with many more years together.

  3. @Mark #1

    Why did all the Mighty Lutheran Men of Confessional Valor gravitate to Montana and not to the Mid-South District?

    Maybe because they were more welcome in Montana?

  4. @Soldier of Christ #3: “Because he is a faithful pastor, it is best to not pull him from his flock”

    FYI – Rev. Sias has three congregations in Montana that are 30 and 50 miles apart.

  5. @Mark #1

    Mark,

    The Mid-South District is a theological cesspool. There are absolutely some amazing, confessional pastors here. However, they are few and far between. The DP, Rev Dr Paavola, is a confessional chameleon. He is quite political and wired to make his audience happy. He touts confessionalism to the “older” congregations, yet promotes 5-2 and TCN in other venues. In fact, his daughter is a key player in Woolsey’s 5-2 “movement.”

  6. @Randy #6

    Randy,
    I suspected as much. If only DPs would trust the power of God’s word instead of their own political maneuverings and splashy marketing techniques to grow and sustain the LCMS à la Rev. Christopher Esget and other Confessional stalwarts. But alas….

  7. @Mark #7

    Mid-south was driving out confessional pastors before Paavola.
    When it was decreed that DP’s could connive with a few dissidents, not telling Pastor or church officers, the carnage began… about 2004.

  8. @Soldier of Christ #3

    @Soldier for Christ, Carl Vehse, and Pastor Prentice,

    It’s a fine suggestion that we find a man without a parish to be secretary of Synod… in theory.

    However, the practical needs for the office are:

    1. Deep experience with the LCMS Constitution and Bylaws (Sias has been on the Const. Committee for several years)
    2. A solid confessional liturgical LCMS pastor who will see that the Constitution and Bylaws are not twisted to serve nefarious ends, but support and shine light on the Bible and the Book of Concord. (Look at Sias’ writings, publications, translations, and the respect he has from solid confessionals and sem profs)
    3. Courage to do the right thing when making rulings to be fair (Sias has always done this)
    4. Very high intelligence — a systematically thinking mind with attention to details of the law… (Sias has PhD in Electrical Engineering from one of the top 5 engineering schools in the world)
    5. …yet with the wisdom to promote the holistic meaning and spirit of the law. (In my experience, John has always had a good very of the big picture)

    As much as I would love to get good men off of the CRM purgatory they are in for being confessional faithful pastors, and into an office, I think these requirements are very hard to fill.

    Sias has all the requirements in spades, plus is young enough to serve for a long time. And, he has seems to have be able to manage his three little congregations as a circuit rider for the last couple of years, while simultaneously serving directly under Rev. Dr. Hartwig. Therefore, I would not be so worried that we are adding something to his plate that is foreign to him.

    Practically, it’s hard to find a pastor with a reasonable commensurate qualifications that would not have a congregation already, as Rev. Dr. Sias has.

    Eric

  9. If the Synod is not intentionally disciplined and confessional, it will naturally slide into an association where everyone does what is right in his own eyes. It already has to one degree or another. Why wouldn’t it? That is the way of nature and its dynamics. It takes effort to retain pure Reformation doctrine and none at all to forsake it. Where is the pressure coming from, the conscience or the culture? It apparently becomes a “no-brainer” to chase after a vision purportedly from the Bible in an attempt to generate congregational, dare I say it, enthusiasm for mission. Anyone opposed to the extreme church makeover is a disturber and a regressive. One of the Revitalization pastors from District announced that “It’s not about you!” addressing long-time communicant members and their place in the hierarchy of church priorities. Their favorite church analogy is the difference between a cruise ship and a battleship. It’s neither. A church is more akin to a hospital and there should be an abundance of pastoral care and visitation of established members, not an aloof CEO too busy running his corporation to tend the sheep. CGM pastors have been convinced that dwindling membership in their churches can be addressed and must be addressed outside of the tried and true ministry of Word, Sacrament, and Vocation (aka Lutheran Confessions). They view the negative demographics as something that can be fixed by exertion of new techniques and measures but have lost confidence in the old ecclesiastical, liturgical model. They suppose that if only the church can make itself more attractive to the outside world, it will be given due consideration in the community and even favorable attention, not realizing that their human efforts make no difference to this crop of skeptics. If only we’re nicer and not so self-absorbed, so goes the narrative. But if the church meets the perceived needs of certain people, they are recipients of charitable acts of mercy. If the church provides exciting, pulsating contemporary music in its services, the audience is entertained. But are people properly catechized? You can’t disciple people on a comic book understanding of Holy Scripture. Unfortunately, people will settle for a cursory overview of the faith they claim to hold and will not go for the deep dive into doctrine and theology. Too many LCMS clergy are sympathetic to them in their approach to adult information and youth confirmation classes, careful not to make it too challenging for either group. Gradually, the LCMS has deferred to the busy schedules and demands on its members and those seeking membership, making discipleship more convenient for soccer moms and their stressed out kids. Memory work from Luther’s Small Catechism is almost an anachronism in many an LCMS congregation. There just isn’t enough time in the day to squeeze in much religion. Besides, the parents are mindful of what is reasonable and what is over-the-top excessive when it comes to religious training of their children. But maybe the church isn’t the problem. Sure, other denominations are guilty of preaching too much law and not enough gospel, while still others are guilty of the opposite. This can vex many a potential church member. Maybe people are just in a state of apostasy and no longer tolerate the church’s sound teaching when and where they can get it. Maybe there is a general post-modern contempt for institutionalized religion. Maybe the people the church wants to evangelize don’t have a stomach for a savior because they’re not so bad. Maybe they live in a different world that only God can reach if he chooses and if it so pleases him. Maybe God will use His Word and Sacrament to break through to those unaware they are heading for the wall at breakneck speed. What if Confessional Lutheranism is the pure Gospel and what if the LCMS would be well advised to keep their Confessions at the forefront and use them to exhibit the powerful Word of God to the unbelieving world in need of them now more than ever?

  10. @Mark #11

    I came to the LCMS from out of nowhere, and I thank God for it every day. Whenever I find myself wondering what a normal person who has no background whatsoever in liturgical worship settings must think of when they visit one of our churches for the first time, I have only to remember my experience. I loved it! So will they who are called by God into our fellowship, and others will wander away. Let them go, and let us be true. We have a gift from God, let us protect it. I want others to experience what I have experienced… True Christian worship, and fellowship with Christ within this wonderful fellowship of believers!

  11. @helen #13

    Eric Hiller perhaps does not personally know many (or any) pastors who have been on CRM/CA status. The only “deficiency” many of them have are liberal or otherwise unsupportive DP’s.

  12. @Rev. Robert Fischer (Emeritus) #14

    Eric Hiller perhaps does not personally know many (or any) pastors who have been on CRM/CA status. The only “deficiency” many of them have are liberal or otherwise unsupportive DP’s.

    Pastor Fischer, it would appear that Pastor Sias already has one foot on the bureaucratic ladder, via various boards, committees and commissions. It helps!

    [If I were a delegate, I would ask when he was on the CCM, in view of the mischief done by that body, 2001-2010.]

    I agree with you that most CRM/CA are qualified ordained men who ought to be considered ahead of any “alternate route” (and are not, for the reason you state).
    Following our Confessions would make us a more united, Lutheran church.

    With the decline in membership, the excuse for “alt. routes” no longer exists, if indeed it ever did. That is what this convention is supposed to settle, if delegates are allowed to do that, but they may be as circumvented and bamboozled, by floor committees “stacking the deck” for things the DP’s want passed, as they were the first time.

    Meanwhile, CRM/CA’s are likely to get another “study” which will allow more time for them to be pushed off the roster. 🙁

    Lord have mercy!

  13. @Eric Arno Hiller #10

    If you will look again, you will notice that I did not propose CRM/CA for any synodical office, but that the [CA] pool should be tapped for any replacements needed because of others’ moves to synodical office… taking Pastor Sias as an example.

  14. @helen #16

    Helen,

    Yes, I think I may have misread that. It thought the suggestion was that we overlook pastors who do have a parish and who are very qualified for a high level office (e.g. Sias) for an synod office.

    If you are saying we should back fill a vacant spot with a CRM candidate, I am all for that, provided they are a solid confessional liturgical man.

    Eric

    p.s. I am well aware that the CRM contains some group of pastor who may not be fit for office or need time to sort life out, but that CRM also has become a prison cell for many good confessional men who ran afoul of a lib DP or other lib with authority to incarcerate.

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