The Dramatic Resuscitation of AC XIV

AC XIV RevivedWhen I heard President Harrison state at the Emmaus Conference in 2011 that the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod was a confessional Lutheran church body I raised an eyebrow. I no longer, and you no longer, need raise that eyebrow. My hesitation to agree with President Harrison was because of our continued and purposeful licensing of laymen to practice Word and Sacrament Ministry, a domain that our Confessions and Holy Scripture reserve for called and ordained pastors. On Tuesday, the LCMS in convention resolved to end that practice, begun in 1989. Resolution 13-02A, To Regularize Status of Licensed Lay Deacons, was adopted, 809 to 277.

Judging from the vocal opposition of a few delegates employing delaying tactics spanning two days, one might have expected a much closer vote. It was suggested from the convention floor in a variety of ways that there was such a minimal amount of time for delegates to digest such an important issue that we should refer the matter to the District Presidents for their measured (and thus postponed) response, though the delegates were being barraged by a full spread of opinionated salvos from some DPs for weeks prior to the convention. At one point on Monday, there were around eight DPs lined up in their own queue, expecting their chance to speak, but the delegates never granted them the opportunity. Thankfully, the large margin by which this resolution passed reveals a Synod that is moving in a much more confessional direction. This is, however, no time to gloat. It is rather, a time to pray. This will be a great time of stress for those men whose lives have just been involuntarily altered. We need to offer them our prayers and financial support as we move forward as a Synod.

This resolution has been a long time in coming. There are plenty of thanks to go around, including to the 2013 Resolution 4-06A Task Force, Floor Committee 13, the patient industry of President Harrison, multiple District Presidents, and the teaching of parish pastors who faithfully catechize their flocks. One well-known person, as a goad to coerce the delegates to vote against the resolution, mentioned that we’ll be talking about this again at the next convention. Indeed we will, because that’s what liberals do. The only problem with their plan is that they’re shooting with blanks. Pragmatic arguments lack one thing, the Word of God. Without that, they’ve got no argument. AC XIV is alive and well in the LCMS.


Here are the Resolveds from Resolution 13-02A. You can find the entire Resolution on the LCMS website in Part 2 of the July 10 Today’s Business, page 373, here.

   Resolved, That the LCMS recognize that “emergency knows no rule” and that no Synod action can or should prevent a congregation from taking reasonable and scripturally faithful steps necessary to provide for the Word to be proclaimed in time of emergency, while at the same time, every congregation of the Synod is required to address matters involving the Office of the Public Ministry in a way that is consistent with its subscription to Scripture and the Confessions, as well as its agreement to abide by the Synod’s Constitution; and be it further

   Resolved, That the LCMS affirm and give thanks for the men who have recognized the needs of the church and its mission, serving as licensed lay deacons, preaching and administering the Sacraments in keeping with 1989 Res. 3-05B, often without remuneration and at personal cost, lest congregations be deprived of the means of grace; and be it further

   Resolved, That the LCMS, while mindful of the need for continued conversation within the church, affirm the theological framework of the “2013 Resolution 4-06A Task Force Report,” namely, that a right calling to the office of public ministry requires that a man be properly prepared and examined regarding doctrine and life, be called by the congregation (or ministry) where he is to serve, and publicly appointed in a way so that the entire church fellowship recognizes the validity of his service (Acts 13:1–3; 14:21–23; 2 Tim. 2:24–26; Titus 1:5); and be it further

   Resolved, That the Colloquy Committee for the Pastoral Ministry establish and implement an expanded regional colloquy program (with appropriate regional colloquy committees) to regularize the status of current licensed lay deacons (LLDs) who are 50 years of age or older and who have been preaching the Gospel and/or administering the Sacraments publicly on behalf of the church for the past 2 years (de facto pastors), so that these servants of Christ can be called and ordained according to the order of the LCMS and be rostered as pastors with SMP status; and be it further

   Resolved, That exceptions to the SMP colloquy requirements with respect to age and years of service for LLDs may be granted by the appropriate regional colloquy committee with the approval of the respective district president and the plenary of the Council of Presidents; and be it further

   Resolved, That nothing in this resolution shall be construed as impeding the training, recognition, credentialing or service of deacons who do not publicly preach or administer the sacraments, namely, those who serve in ministries of mercy, education, or visitation, and so forth, or in an outreach role, assisting in evangelism and church planting (but not in public preaching and administration of the sacraments); and be it further

   Resolved, That district presidents may continue to recruit, train, and credential new deacons for general varieties of service in the church that do not include public preaching and administration of the sacraments; and be it further

   Resolved, That until January 1, 2018, district presidents may train and annually license lay deacons to preach publicly and to administer the Sacraments. Beyond that date in exceptional cases, as defined in (1) and (2) below, the appropriate district president may annually grant licensure with the consent of the plenary of the Council of Presidents and the Colloquy Committee for the Pastoral Ministry.

(1) the deacon serves under the direct supervision of an ordained pastor and is currently enrolled in or preparing for one of the LCMS training tracks for the office of public ministry and participates in the public ministry as an aspect of his training, e.g., in preparation for SMP, EIIT, etc.); or

(2) the deacon serves in distinctive aspects of the office of public ministry (that is, preaching or administration of the sacraments) only during times of emergency or extraordinary need (when there is no ordained pastor available or able to serve), only on a temporary or occasional basis, and under the direct supervision of an ordained pastor; and be it further

   Resolved, That those deacons currently licensed for and serving in Word and Sacrament Ministry (that is, publicly preaching and administering the sacraments) shall have until July 1, 2018, to:

(1) apply to one of our seminaries for admission into an alternate route program,

(2) apply for entrance into an SMP program, or

(3) apply to the regional colloquy committee for admission to the SMP roster, unless granted a waiver by his district president, the plenary of the Council of Presidents, and the appropriate regional colloquy committee, and be it further

   Resolved, That the district president, the plenary of the Council of Presidents and the regional colloquy committees, in making decisions related to the three resolves above, shall do so in a fashion that no congregation or current ministry will be forced to close or discontinue; and be it further

   Resolved, That lay deacons licensed for Word and Sacrament Ministry who have applied for colloquy to the SMP roster prior to July 1, 2018, shall continue to serve under their current district licensure until the colloquy process is complete and certification is given by the Colloquy Committee; and be it further

   Resolved, That upon the certification of the Colloquy Committee, the licensed lay deacons will be eligible to be called by the congregations where they have been serving, ordained into the Office of the Public Ministry, and placed on the roster of SMP pastors; and be it further

   Resolved, That as recommended by the Res. 4-06A Task Force, the LCMS, in partnership with districts, congregations, and individuals, provide funding to ensure that financial constraints will not prevent any eligible licensed lay deacon from participating in an LCMS seminary ordination-track program; and be it further

   Resolved, That the First Vice-President of the Synod and three members of the Council of Presidents appointed by the Council be directed to draft by June 1, 2017, necessary policies and procedures for the implementation of this resolution, such policies and procedures to be finalized and approved by the Colloquy Committee for the Pastoral Ministry; and be it finally

   Resolved, That the LCMS thank and commend the Res. 4-06A Task Force for its work on the question of licensed lay deacons.

About Scott Diekmann

Scott is a lifelong LCMS layman. Some of his vocations include husband, dad, jet driver, runner, and collector of more books than he can read. Oh, and also chocolate lover. He’s been involved in apologetics for over a decade, is on the Board of Regents at Concordia Portland, and is a column writer for the sometimes operational Around the Word Journal. He’s also written for Higher Things Magazine, The Lutheran Clarion, and has been a guest on Issues Etc. as well as the KFUO program Concord Matters.


The Dramatic Resuscitation of AC XIV — 35 Comments

  1. Definitely a step in the right direction– thanks for reporting, Scott.

    It also seems like the resolution intends to finally distinguish a normative diaconate apart from Word and Sacrament which includes men. That would also be a step in the right direction.

    Of course, the proof will be in the pudding. It will be interesting to watch how this actually gets implemented, if it ever does… particularly in those districts where so much was invested in undermining the pastoral office.

  2. “On Tuesday, the LCMS in convention resolved to end that practice, begun in 1989. Resolution 13-02A, To Regularize Status of Licensed Lay Deacons, was adopted, 809 to 277.”

    That certainly is the intent of Resolution 13-02A, but it may take some time and effort to achieve.

    First, as Scott pointed out, LLD advocates threaten to bring the issue back at the next convention and have claimed elsewhere, that pastors and congregations will ordain lay deacons on their own, which will “massively clog up the Synod adjudication process.”

    Second, LLD proponent tactics could include stretching out the colloquy process (as specified in 11th Resolved for years, during which time the lay deacon may continue to play pastor.

    Third, the 8th Resolved allows continuation of lay deacons playing pastor indefinitely in cases of “extraordinary need,” which could be exploited by pro-LLD DPs.

  3. And therein lies the problem. The Task Force and original Resolution were kind enough, but the modified version inserted what appears to be certain loopholes that might be exploited.

    And what really sucks is how the ecclesiastical supervision resolution got s***-canned. So I am not sure what kind of hammer is out there to encourage compliance. At least the benefit is the United List has swept the CTCR, BOD, and President (who appoint the CCM). Hopefully these leaders will reject the emotional appeals of too many DP’s seeking confederation and their own fiefdoms.

  4. @J. Dean #3: “Wouldn’t direct defying of this make those churches subject to synodical discipline?”

    What synodical discipline? And even if it were to exist, note the quote in Post#2 that pro-LLD advocates would clog it up anyway.

  5. The following quote comes from a paper written by Dustin Kunkel, the Executive Assistant of Northwest District President Paul Linnemann. President Linnemann encouraged delegates to read Kunkel’s article prior to the 2016 LCMS Convention. The quote illustrates the militant attitude of some in the Northwest District. The article can be found here:

    “Translated for the present concern, the ministry of supervised LLDs serving the need identified by local congregations is not an aberration; and if Synod adopts a protocol that removes the function of LLD, each congregation can and should decide for itself if it needs this function, or any other function supported by the Word of God for the Office of the Public Ministry to meet its ministry needs.” (italics in original)

  6. @Brad #1

    It would sound a whole lot better if they said “no more amateurs, starting today” and added a “be trained or step down by” limit.

    We will no doubt hear more of this…especially if the delegates don’t get the DRP appeal to the Praesidium established.

  7. Will #LayPastorsMatter protesters be blocking the aisleways used by delegates at the Convention?

  8. @J. Dean #3
    So it would shock you if the churches that are already “directly defying” Lutheran doctrine, practice and the almighty synod in convention on closed communion, unionism, non-Lutheran praxis, etc. were to “directly defy” the synod on LLDs?

    The NoW DP is “all in” on LLDs and he will do everything in, and beyond, his power to keep and expand them. The answer of course is for the SP to document any overreach and remove him from office when he tips the scales, but that has not historically been Pr. Harrison’s practice.

    -Matt Mills

  9. The Northwest has been in rebellion in what feels like forever.

    They were the ones who first and most ardently argued for Deacons. I get Alaska is the hinterlands with great challenges, but to take these exceptional cases and try to make them the standard for all of Synod…..

    Then the protecting of Matthew Becker. Even at Portland he was dissenting. Becker’s own blog he writes about being in contention for 21 of his 26 years with us. Guy always seemed to be agitating for a fight, believing he was smarter than everyone else in the church.

    Continuing, the district sends Becker to Valpo as a “missionary”, planting a person in someone else’s (Indiana) back yard. [this is also a reason why I am beyond ready to dissolve English and SELC] This is also partially related to districts/congregations sends oversee missionaries without using OIM, and the occasional legal and ethical problems that creates.

    Pres. Linnemann gives a speech about how he WAS Handling the Becker situation, pretending we did not know things about how he was trying to win Becker back. But we do know, because Matt Becker WOULDN’T SHUT UP ABOUT IT. Becker relayed how Linnemann told him he was not wrong and was always dismissing the charges. Quite honestly, Linnemann should have canned him for insubordination, making his job as DP harder. But that was not ideologically possible….

    And the 4-06A task force was aware of the number of papers, questions, videos, etc coming out of the Northwest. Again this rebellious district has been leading the charge to keep deacons, their hill to die on. One of the louder voices has been Jonathon Dinger (has been to mike at the convention), the 1st VP. So if you deal with Linnemann, the next guy up is way more outspoken.

    That is how I have observed things.

  10. @Matt Mills #9: “The answer of course is for the SP to document any overreach and remove him from office when he tips the scales, but that has not historically been Pr. Harrison’s practice.”

    Or could the answer be the Koinonia Project?

    Mister Trouble never hangs around
    When he hears this Mighty sound.

    “Here I come to save the day”
    That means that Koinonia is on the way.

    Yes sir, when there is a wrong to right
    Koinonia will join the fight.

    When DPs show their disdain
    It uses dialoguing to constrain.

    We know that when there’s danger, we’ll never despair;
    Because we know that when there’s danger it is there…
    On the land on the sea in the air.

    We’re not worrying at all
    We just listen for its call

    “Here I come to save the day!”
    That means that Koinonia is on the way.

  11. @Carl Vehse #11
    @Matt Mills #9

    Sounds like a call for more stringent and swift discipline for those things that are clear dissentions in doctrine. It’s like seeing a child misbehave flagrantly and then watch the parents bicker with each other while the kid is tearing apart the house.

  12. @J. Dean #13

    I think it’s clear that in the NT church the Apostles, and some of the pastors they appointed (1 Tim 1:3) had rather a lot of doctrinal authority over others. Perhaps it’s dangerous to argue from silence, but I don’t know of a letter back from the Corinthian church telling Paul to butt out, that they would do as they liked w/ the Lord’s Supper (and while we’re at it: stop imposing your Hebrew morality on the Greek churches.) There’s no evidence that the result of the Council of Jerusalem was seen as a suggestion to be endlessly debated in hopes of getting a more “Missional” replacement to St. James. The Apostolic Church had some profound problems, but it appeared to be under Apostolic authority in a way that our Synod is not. How many times have we affirmed closed communion in binding Synodical votes? How’s that working for us? Ditto for syncretic worship, and yeah we can probably add LLDs to the list now. Frankly, we don’t look or act like an Apostolic Church, we look and act like a high school model UN.

    Maybe this belongs on the Bosporus thread, but I think I do understand why folks “swim” the Tiber or the Bosporus. I don’t think they leave looking for a more works-centered doctrine of justification, or a more Aristotelian view of the real presence. They leave looking for a Church that looks and acts like an Apostolic Church. They leave looking for leaders that act like churchmen under authority and not politicians or AMWAY salesmen. I’ve said it before, but the sad truth is that a bunch of our congregations probably are less Lutheran than the Pope in Rome, or the EO church down the road and that should freak us out.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  13. @Matt Mills #14

    How would we go about choosing our new Apostles? Who could we trust with that kind of power? Walther’s address to the 1848 Synodical Convention says it all:

    “Perhaps all of us, the one more, the other less, are filled with concern by the thought that our deliberations might easily be unproductive; I mean the thought that, according to the constitution under which our synodical union exists, we have merely the power to advise one another, that we have only the power of the Word, and of convincing. According to our constitution, we have no right to formulate decrees, to pass laws and regulations, and to make a judicial decision to which our congregations would have to submit unconditionally in any matter involving the imposing of something upon them. Our constitution by no means makes us a consistory, by no means a supreme court of our congregations. It rather grants them the most perfect liberty in everything, excepting nothing but the Word of God, faith, and charity. According to our constitution, we are not above our congregations, but in them and at their side. Have we not thereby been deprived almost entirely of the possibility of exercising an energetic, salutary influence upon our congregations? Have we not perhaps, by adopting a constitution as ours is, made ourselves a mere shadow of a synod? The relationship into which we have entered being what it is, shall we not exhaust ourselves with labors that may easily be lost entirely, since nobody is forced to submit to our resolutions?
    You surely all join me in answering this question with a decided No!”
    (House of My Fathers, Harrison, Page 2)

  14. Despite frequent allusions by President Harrison to the first of Luther’s 95 theses, he is often given to say that the first need of the LCMS is to repent, I find no language of repentance for our past sins against Scripture and the LUTHERAN Confessions respecting Augustana XIV. Seems to me if we have been violating the Word of God and our Symbols since 1989, we ought to confess our sin, and then set about living in that repentance by doing the right thing. However, as good as this is, it appears that just doing the right thing negates the need for repentance. Also, it should be pointed out that what we have is merely words, not actions. The proof of our new-found fondness for Augustana XIV will be seen when and if those DP’s, pastors, and congregations who thumb their noses at this resolution (as some have already indicated they will), are placed under discipline and either recant their error or are invited to leave our Synod.

  15. @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #16
    My man, “ease up a bit”. We in convention have done a real good thing to bring good order to this situation. Yes, there will be err, and it will be dealt with. Give all a chance. FYI, we have had repentance all week and good dosage of worship with some great preaching.

  16. “The Dramatic Resuscitation of AC XIV” was aided to some degree by the numerous BJS articles on the licensed lay program as a violation of AC.XIV, over the past several months, and the responding comments from various pastors and laity (And there were other blogs by confessional Lutheran pastors with similar articles or discussion). BJS can rightly congratulate itself on its part in informing the pastors and laity (some of which are delegates to the 2016 convention).

    And BJS can thank God that the LLD issue did not come up later, like in the next convention, because Resolution 12-07A was also passed (684 – 244) by the delegates at the 2016 convention.

    Resolution 12-07A would have forbidden BJS from posting any of the LLD/AC.XIV articles and comments from pastors.

    Resolution 12-07A would have forbidden pastors from raising or discussing any LLD/AC.XIV issues with their congregations or other laity.

    Resolution 12-07A established a Bylaw that requires individual members of the Synod to only disagree with Missouri Synod positions on doctrinal issues (like LLD/AC.XIV) within the fellowship of peers (other LCMS pastors). Even discussions with laity hold Ph.D. degrees in theology would be forbidden. Violating such a Bylaw could lead to suspension or removal as an LCMS member.

    But since ALL LCMS official positions are now in 100% agreement with Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions (and Resolution 12-07A forbids pastors from indicating otherwise to the laity), and such positions will never change, there are no LCMS issues the pastors would ever need to discuss with the laity anyway….. right?!?

  17. @Brad #19 Yes, thanks to 12-07A, the LCMS is now in the business of enforcing a speech code like the precious universities for whom free speech is a terrible thing.

  18. @Tim Wood #20

    Lord have mercy…

    That quite frankly sounds like the last nail in the coffin, declaring the LCMS to be more fully subscribed to its bureaucracy than to the Scriptures and Confessions. There can be no more public friction to slow the propaganda machines, and the Party of “Our Beloved Synod” demands all public fealty.

    What a tremendous sadness.

  19. Some of you insist that our non-ordained elders should no longer assist with Communion. I see no instance in Scripture stating that only pastors and ordained-deacons should serve the Lord’s Supper.
    The Bible was inspired by God. Lutheran doctrinal practices are inspired by the wisdom of men who, though they did their best, were not infallible. Surely you do not think their work is as inspired and inerrant as God’s word, and the only true explanation of all Scripture? Only the Bible is the true explanation of itself.
    Please read it in context, not as a pretext. Pastors claim that they do not want to be placed on a pedestal, but the attitude toward the laity at times seems to lean toward exactly that.

  20. Dear mr Diekmann,

    You stated: When I heard President Harrison state at the Emmaus Conference in 2011 that the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod was a confessional Lutheran church body I raised an eyebrow. I no longer, and you no longer, need raise that eyebrow

    Of course I am happy for this decision which may correct the LCMs former practice concerning CA XIV. However, this decision does not make the LCMS a confessional church body. Pres. Harrison’s statement is incorrect. It is not confessional to have 26 % openly against the Biblical, Lutheran doctrine within the church body. To be confessional is to have those 26 % and those who agree with them “placed under discipline and either recant their error or” be forced “to leave our Synod.” (to slightly change the words of Pr Bolland’s comment, #16)

  21. @Scott Diekmann #24

    Rev. Fjellander, You bring up a good point. It’s certainly not acceptable that 26% of delegates appear to uphold an aberrant practice.

    What now? Do laymen comment on what they see going on, among themselves, since “members” are not allowed to talk to them? John the Steadfast was a layman.
    Or will Synod issue a set of blinders and earplugs to pewsitters so we don’t see it?

    How in the world did they sell 12.07A to the lay 50% of that convention!?
    Does nobody remember that it was lay pressure that pulled the plug on Seminex?

    If 80% of the United List got elected, I hope some of them are in a position to rescind this bit of censorship!

    Of course, we could ignore it, like the liberals ignore Scripture and the Confessions… but no doubt there would be a different result with CCM decrees!!!

  22. @Pastor Prentive #17

    My man, “ease up a bit”. We in convention have done a real good thing to bring good order to this situation. Yes, there will be err, and it will be dealt with. Give all a chance. FYI, we have had repentance all week and good dosage of worship with some great preaching.

    Rev.Prentice, if you were egotistical enough to vote for 12.07A (and I would bet on it!) you’d better repent some more. You’ve just declared the majority of LCMS Lutherans too stupid to know the time of day. [Or calculate a tithe, maybe?]

  23. A couple of delegates would have to bring a motion and second to reconsider or rescind 12-07A, but that would open a can of worms on other passed resolutions. Expect Purple Palace opposition.

    I suspect 12-07A and the Bylaw will stand until the next convention, and then the Bylaw will likely be protected by some Floor Committee.

  24. So, when can we say we have 85% agreement? There won’t be any discipline. Therefore, separation.

  25. @Sue Wilson #22 From the LCMS web site: “We accept the Lutheran Confessions as articulated in the Book of Concord of 1580 because they are drawn from the Word of God, and on that account we regard their doctrinal content as a true and binding exposition of Holy Scripture and as authoritative for all pastors, congregations and other rostered church workers of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.”

    True, binding, authoritative – for all who are in the LCMS.

  26. @Sue Wilson #22

    “We do not claim that our Confessors were infallible. We do not say they could not fail. We only claim that they did not fail.

    The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, Krauth, Charles Porterfield, CPH 2007

  27. I am surprised they did not have a phase-in period judging from how you described the abrupt ending of the program. I would also like to see dedicated financial support to those effeted in such a way as to help them pave their way to ordination. How am I doing so far?


    “dedicated financial support”

    I join you in that sentiment. In passing this resolution, was there discussion on just much it will cost each LLD to complete the SMP process – including all the books which must purchased and read, classes attended (both online and at the seminaries), etc.? Or was it simply assumed that the LLDs would have to go out and raise their own funds – the way we make our missionaries do? If you suspect I’m irked by this particular aspect of the resolution, let me assure you…I am. (Oh no! I hope I’m not violating Res. 12.07A with this dissenting rant.)


    Sidney, There is a phase in period of sorts, and will vary depending on circumstances. As far as financial support goes, I would suggest that somebody start up a fund with which to receive contributions to assist the LLDs. The Synod says it will contribute at least $340,000, which is way too little. I would be willing to contribute to the fund.

  30. “Synod says it will contribute at least $340,000”

    I agree with the sentiment that that amount is way too small. Especially if much of it is absorbed into covering the administrative costs, like the expenses of whomever will be supervising the transitions, etc. I hope the synod will be transparent with its accounting, so that members can see how this will impact those most impacted.

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