Saturday, July 4, 2009

Districts Differ on How to Proceed with the Blue Ribbon Study

The current Reporter (the "Official Newspaper of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod"), contained a nice summary of 13 district conventions from the month of June. What struck me in particular were the resolutions concerning the Blue Ribbon Report that I began reviewing in my last post. In addition to the four mentioned here with resolutions on the Blue Ribbon Task Force, I will end the post with a reference to the most recent convention in Ohio.

The district in convention asked "the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance to complete its final report to LCMS congregations by October 15 so that congregations will have time to consider the recommendations prior to the 2010 Synod convention."

This district addressed "concerns about [the] Blue Ribbon Task Force proposals. Memorials to the Synod's 2010 convention included requests to: keep The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod name; make no changes to Synod's structure or bylaws that are not in alignment with Dr. C.F. W. Walther's 'Church and Ministry'; continue the current process of electing circuit counselors by vote of circuit congregations rather than involving the district president in the selection; ask for detailed reasons for task force recommendations and not consider adopting any final recommendations until LCMS congregations have a three-year convention cycle to study and discuss recommendations; retain the current number of districts and ask the task force to present a detailed analysis of the positive and negative points of any proposed changes to district structure at the next Synod convention after 2010."

This convention memorialized "the LCMS to ask the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance to delay its report until the 2013 LCMS convention so that congregations will have more time to consider its proposals."

This district asked "the Synod president to suspend the work of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance, so that a plan for restructuring would not be presented for action at the 2010 Synod convention. That resolution further requests that the 2010 convention 'consider none of the recommended changes to the synodical Constitution proposed by the [task force]."

From blogger Straight Schlueter in his report of the Ohio District Convention:
"Other resolutions were also before the convention. Of significance was a series of resolutions that had to do with allowing a vote in convention to commissioned ministers as well as ordained ministers serving a non congregational call (such as an RSO, a mission at large, a seminary, etc.). These resolutions were significant because they represented a shift in the way we conceive of the synod....The series of resolutions were divided into 4 separate resolutions to recommend a change to the BRTFSSG. The first two passed before the convention realized the theological shift that was occurring but then it turned down the second two. It is good that not all were passed. It is however somewhat unusual and ironic that the convention decided to grant a vote to commissioned ministers yet not to seminary professors.

A resolution was presented from the floor to memorialize the Synodical convention to refrain from voting on the recommendations of the BRTFSSG until 2013. This was accepted by a 2/3 majority and reflects a hesitancy on the part of the convention to rush in to radical changes in the structure and governance of the synod. This was good."

So far it would seem there is some unrest and uneasiness with the BRTFSSG throughout Synod. I hope the national convention next year hears the various concerns of the districts and seriously considers the wisdom of delaying any final action. I fear, as it also appears some throughout Synod share, that the administration and the task force members will present their findings with the message that time cannot wait for another cycle of conventions - Money is short. The mission calls. We need to act now! Yet haste often brings regret. Once changed the Synod will be hard to change back to its original form. The mission can very well continue without any national structure. We don't need districts and Synod ultimately to share the Gospel. This occurs every Sunday from countless pulpits, and more informally from the lips of dedicated people in their God-ordained vocations in the world. Let us hear the clarion call of caution from the districts and slow down. Such matters require much more thought.

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