Day 3 of the 2023 LCMS National Convention

We Preach Christ Crucified – Day 3 of the LCMS National Convention
Monday, July 31

Contributed by Pastor Steve Heinsen
Northwest District Secretary

The delegates from the Northwest District to the LCMS National Convention, somewhat bleary-eyed but pressing forward, began the day at 6:15 a.m. with a breakfast and an opportunity to chat together about the day before. Dust Kunkel led the group in prayer, also remembering Cindy Linnemann as she recovers from cancer surgery.

Rev. Mike Von Behren, the 1st Vice President of the District, led the group in a review of 1 Corinthians 1:10, in particular the words “that there be no divisions among you.” As we work together at the convention, it is easy to focus on differing perspectives of the resolutions presented. Do I agree with this other person, or disagree? A moment of disillusionment can arise when you realize that the person next to you has a differing opinion.

But when those moments arise, we remember that we are bound together by the forgiveness that is offered to us through Jesus Christ. We preach Christ crucified and stand together, even in our differences, under the love of Christ.

Amy Schweim, the Director of Community Engagement from Immanuel Lutheran Church in Puyallup, Washington, shared her experience serving on Floor Committee #4 – Life Together. In yesterday’s session, this committee only had the opportunity to share one resolution, which was ultimately sent back to the floor committee for review. When she was first contacted to serve on this committee, she had three initial responses. Overwhelmed. Obligated. Intimidated. Yet she also felt blessed by the opportunity to serve. As she met with this group, she felt that she was heard. There was great conversation and dialogue. She had the opportunity to meet and know three other District Presidents that were also assigned to this community, in addition to our District President, Rev. Dr. Paul Linnemann. It was more than worth her time. She encouraged anyone who to embrace the opportunity if it is presented.

NOW District Directory of Ministry Leadership Dust Kunkel then asked all of the delegates to introduce themselves and where they had come from. Mike Von Behren then shared a brief review of some of the resolutions that would likely come to the floor today. The delegates were given an opportunity to share their thoughts on these resolutions. A group picture was then taken. It was time to head across the street, or over the skywalk, to the Baird Center to begin the morning festivities.

The Monday session of the Convention began with Matins led by the Rev. Dr. John Wohlrabe, Jr., the 2nd Vice President of the LCMS, Great Lakes Region Vice President. At 8:30 a.m., the delegates dove into a Floor Committee #9 (Structure and Administration) resolutions presentation. The following resolutions were adopted in the morning session for Committee #9:

Committee #9 – Structure and Administration
9-01 – To Amend Bylaws to Provide Clarity for Cross-Circuit and Cross-District Multi-Congregation Parishes – Multi-congregation parishes that reside in cross-circuits or cross districts will have their pastor/lay delegate be accredited in the convention of the district in which they hold membership.
9-02 – To Amend Various Bylaws to Provide Clarity or to Address Practical Considerations – A number of issues concerning elections of delegates and other structural issues for various boards of the Synod were “cleaned up” in this resolution.
9-03 – To Clarify Bylaws Regarding Appointment of Synod-wide Corporate Entity Chief Executive – This resolution clarified how chief executives of a variety of Synod-wide Corporate entities could be created or organized (appointment of the executive or by other means).
9-04 – To Establish Mission Board Responsibilities Regarding Mission Office Strategic Plan and Annual Budget Proposal – Prior to this convention, the Board for National Mission and the Board for International Mission did not have a process in place to review the oversight of their policies. These set parameters to do so.
9-05 – To Simplify Circuit Elections – Several issues pertaining to how circuit elections are organized were covered. A significant change is that each circuit has the right to determine whether they will start the elections with the pastoral delegate or the lay delegate, versus always starting with the election of the pastoral delegate.

A series of elections for the Synod Secretary and various Synod Board of Directors positions were held.

The Rev. Dr. Abjar Bahkou, professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, presented a Convention Essay titled, “The Power of God.”

The delegates then heard a series of resolutions from Floor Committee #1 (National Witness) for adoption.

The following resolutions were adopted in the morning session for Committee #1:

Committee #1 – National Witness
1-01A – To Stimulate Training for Witness – Districts are encouraged to assist congregations as they train members to share the Good News about Jesus.
1-02A – To Aid Small Congregations and Multi-Congregation Pastors and Parishes – The Office of National Mission is directed to work through districts to share any resources that aid small congregations.
1-03A – To Plant More Churches – The Office of National Mission will work with Districts to develop and implement resources to plant new congregations.
1-04A – To Continue to Address Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues – The ad hoc Created Male and Female task force formed in 2019 will be continued.
1-05A – To Increase Mission Efforts to Immigrants and Various Cultural Groups in North America – The Office of National Mission will assemble an inventory of existing efforts to bring the Gospel to various immigrant, ethnic groups, and non-Christian religious groups, and support outreach in these areas.
1-06A – To Direct Districts and Council of Presidents to Provide Strategic Plan for Addressing Wellness of Church Workers – District presidents and District Boards of Directors are to establish plans for the care of church workers and their families utilizing resources made available by the Office of National Mission and Concordia Plans.
1-07 – To Address Mental Health among Pastors and Other Professional Church Workers – Mental health among church workers is a significant issue that is being supported by our Districts and congregations. This encourages additional support in this area. An amendment was offered to this resolution requiring the Synod to provide funding to assist with this effort, which failed.
1-08A – To Promote and Commend the Synod’s Digital and Online Resources – Districts, congregations, and others are encouraged to use the resources available.

There was then a presentation on “International Missions: Spread the Gospel.”

After a full morning, it was time for a lunch break. Following the lunch break, the Rev. Benjamin Ball, the 6th Vice President of the Synod, and Central Region Vice President, led the assembly in Midday Prayer.

Floor Committee #5 – Theology and Church Relations then took the floor for a second time.

The following resolutions were adopted in the afternoon session for Committee #5:

Committee #5 – Theology and Church Relations
5-06 – To Clarify and Simplify Bylaws regarding Routes to Altar and Pulpit Fellowship – As the title indicates, this resolution cleans up some of the language in bylaws concerning this issue.
5-07 – To Recognize that the Synod is Not in Altar and Pulpit Fellowship with the Japan Lutheran Church – This is only the second time in the history of the Synod that a resolution has passed withdrawing altar and pulpit fellowship with a fellow church body.

Next up was Floor Committee #8 – Finance.

The following resolution was adopted in the afternoon session for Committee #8:

Committee #8 – Finance
8-01 – To Respectfully Decline Overtures – This committee received two overtures, both of which they recommended be declined.

The Committee for Convention Nominations then took the floor. There was balloting for a number of other Synod Boards, the Commission on Theology and Church Relations, various Boards of Regents, and Synod-wide entities.

Floor Committee #7 – University Education then had the first of several opportunities to take the floor. As the resolution giving thanks for the work at Concordia College – New York came to the floor, an amendment came to the floor seeking to have an outside group investigate reasons why three Concordias have closed lately, seeking any trends or similarities in why this happened. This amendment was defeated.
When the resolution giving thanks for Concordia University, Portland came to the floor, Mike Von Behren proposed an amendment seeking that Synod establish a memorial fund for incoming Concordia University students in memory of Concordia Portland. The amendment failed. Resolution 7-02A was then voted on and passed. A video remembering both Concordia New York and Concordia Portland was then shared with the assembly. About three minutes of the video that was produced for our District Convention was shared in this combined video. It received a standing ovation.

The following resolutions were adopted in the afternoon session for Committee #7:

Committee #7 – University Education
7-01 – To Recognize and Give Thanks for Work at Concordia College – New York – Concordia – New York ceased operations at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.
7-02A – To Honor and Give Thanks for Ministry of Concordia University, Portland

The next Committee to take the dais was Committee #10 – Ecclesiastical Supervision and Dispute Resolution.

The following resolutions were adopted in the afternoon session for Committee #10:

Committee #10 – Ecclesiastic Supervision and Dispute Resolution
10-01 – To Amend Dispute Resolution and Expulsion Bylaws to Address Practical Considerations and Clarity – This will clarify several points in the Synod Operating Manual concerning dispute resolution issues.
10-02 – To Amend Bylaws to Clarify Application of Pre-Call Consultation and Call and Be Served By (Bylaws 2.5.2-3) beyond member Congregations – The strengthening the role of the District President in the calling process for Ministers of Religion and auxiliaries was passed.
10-03 – To Provide All Standards of Accountability to Members of Synod – The Council of (District) Presidents will be transparent by providing a summary of Council of President meeting notes as a way of fostering trust.
10-04A – To Direct Revision of Council of Presidents Policy regarding Placement – Currently, Bylaw allows the interim placement (between regular meetings) of a (first call) candidate to as few as one man versus the entire board. The Council of Presidents will now revise its policy in a way when a situation like this occurs that a method more fully representative of the entire Council of Presidents is followed.
10-05 – To Speak to Spiritual Care of Victims of Sexual Misconduct by Individual Members of the Synod – This will begin a process of revising policies to address the spiritual needs of both victims and the individual members of the Synod when an accusation against individual members of the Synod is made.

The final Committee up for this afternoon was Committee #9 – Structure and Administration. They picked up from where they left off this morning, beginning with Resolution 9-06.

The following resolutions were adopted in the afternoon session for Committee #9:

Committee #9- Structure and Administration
9-06A – To Appoint Task Force to Evaluate Current Electoral Circuit Parameters – A task force will be formed to seek ways of revising the formation and requirements of electoral circuits for Synod Conventions. They will report their findings and recommendations at the next Synod Convention.
9-07 – To Provide for Continuity of Service in Regional Positions – People elected to serve in a regional position (at Synod level) who move out of their region would be allowed to retain their position so long as they retain membership in a congregation of the Synod, verses being forced to resign when they leave their region.
9-08 – To Strengthen Nonvoting Advisory Delegate Participation at Conventions – The Synod and its Districts are encouraged to include more representation of its advisory delegates, especially commissioned ministers, on floor committees of their conventions.

The session concluded with Vespers led by Rev. Sean Daenzer. Tomorrow, we will have another District Breakfast at 6:15 a.m. followed by the continuation of the Convention beginning at 8 a.m.

Please continue to pray for the convention itself and the delegates, that we would all be guided by the Holy Spirit in making decisions that are God-pleasing and that focus us on the mission of connecting people to Jesus.

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