Convention 2013: Convention Workbook now out (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

 St. Louis, July 20-25, 2013

The 2013 Convention Workbook is now out! It was posted online yesterday and will be arriving in the mail soon. Over 450 pages from cover to cover! What’s in there? Lists of delegates, floor committees, synodical officers, etc. Reports from various officers, boards, and commissions. Over 250 overtures, organized into seven categories. CCM opinions, CTCR reports, SMP Task Force report. There’s a lot here to absorb! The art is in knowing what to skim over and what to study more closely.

Today I’ll give just a brief overview. In succeeding columns, I may focus on particular parts of the Workbook.

DELEGATES (pp. iv-xiv): Do you know who your circuit delegates are, both ordained and lay? You should. These are the people who will be voting for you in July. And you can give them your input before then.

FLOOR COMMITTEES (p. xvii): The first seven committees are the people who will be sifting through the many overtures and coming up with proposed resolutions to be included in Today’s Business and presented to the convention.

SYNOD REPORTS (pp. 1-133): The first two reports are from the Synod President, Matthew Harrison (pp. 1-13), and the Chief Mission Officer, Gregory Williamson (pp. 13-37). These reports will give you a good overview of what the Synod has been doing in the last triennium, what our general situation looks like, and where we might be headed in the next few years.

Harrison’s report, for instance, covers these topics: Baptized for This Moment?; Witness versus Doctrine?; Thankfulness: Has Our Love “Grown Cold”?; Is It Still Raining in Missouri?; So “What Does This Mean” for the 2013 Convention?; Can We Visit about the Mission?; Missouri’s Moment?; Restructuring; Values and Priorities; Financial Issues We Face; Koinonia Project; 2010 Resolutions Assigned to the President; Current International Mission and Partner Churches; Wittenberg Project; Our Great Demographic Challenge; Kingdom of the Left Issues; Compassionate Action for Those Struggling with Same-Sex Attraction; National Offering; Worldwide KFUO: The Messenger of Good News; SMP Task Force. The topics prioritized in the President’s Report, combined with similar overtures submitted to the Workbook–this will give you an indication as to the kinds of resolutions the floor committees will likely propose.

In addition to the reports from the SP and the CMO, there are also reports from a host of boards, commissions, auxiliaries, various synodical entities, and the 35 district presidents. The report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (pp. 77-88), for instance, touches on a number of important matters: Requests for Theological Opinions (e.g., on AC XIV and the carrying out of pastoral functions by laypersons, pp. 81-83); Expressions of Dissent (Becker, ACELC, p. 84); Church Relations (e.g., AALC, Wisconsin, ELS, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Sweden, pp. 84-87). The report of the Resolution 8-07 Task Force (pp. 129-133), which deals with future district function and reconfiguration, includes recommendations on visitation and ecclesiastical supervision, as well as an essay on “The Office of Visitation in the LCMS, Historical and Theological.”

OVERTURES (pp. 135-280): The first thing to say about the more than 250 overtures that have been submitted is that most of them will not appear in their original form as proposed resolutions in Today’s Business. But they do provide grist for the mill for the floor committees, which will come up with those proposed resolutions. The overtures tell the committees what sorts of issues need to be dealt with.

The second thing to say about overtures is that you can give your input to the floor committees–what you think about these overtures–before the committees meet on May 17. So there is value in reading these overtures. Express your comments to the Secretary of Synod, Ray Hartwig–again, before May 17.

As to the overtures themselves, they are gathered into seven categories: 1) Witness; 2) Mercy; 3) Life Together; 4) Theology and Church Relations; 5) Seminary and University Education; 6) Administration and Finance; and 7) Structure and Ecclesiastical Matters. In my cursory first look-through, certain overtures jump out at me. Some of them are good, some are bad, often dealing with the same subject. Here are some areas I’m noting:

Committee 2: Religious liberty, re HHS mandate (2-02 through 2-04).

Committee 3: Koinonia Project, mission and ministry emphases (3-08 through 3-23); Transforming Churches Network (3-31 through 3-34); worship practice (3-36 through 3-41).

Committee 4: Church fellowship (4-01 through 4-06); the role of women in the church, including rescinding 2004 Res. 3-08A (4-17 through 4-21); the pastoral office, licensed lay deacons (4-22 through 4-46); interfaith services, witness in the public square (4-47 through 4-55); closed Communion (4-56 through 4-63).

Committee 5: SMP program (5-17 through 5-34).

Committee 6: Overruling CCM Opinion 02-2309, on ecclesiastical supervision (6-25).

Committee 7: The office of visitation (7-01 through 7-03); district reconfiguration (7-04 through 7-07); Handbook issues (7-19 through 7-25); rescinding regionalization of elections (7-26 through 7-28).

APPENDIXES (pp. 281-453): CCM opinions from the past triennium, on a variety of subjects (pp. 281-337).

CTCR documents (pp. 339-400): Principles for Cooperation in Externals with Theological Integrity; Theological Dialogue with Other Christian Church Bodies; Theology and Practice of Prayer: A Lutheran View; Immigrants Among Us: A Lutheran Framework for Addressing Immigration Issues; Response to Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust; CTCR Response to Matthew Becker Dissent of 6/29/11.

First Amendment statement (pp. 401-402).

SMP Task Force Report (pp. 403-452): This report is particularly important, in view of the many overtures–and likely proposed resolutions–related to the pastoral office, the SMP program, and licensed lay deacons.

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