Day 4 of the 2023 LCMS National Convention

We Preach Christ Crucified – Day 4 of the LCMS National Convention
Tuesday, August 1

Contributed by Pastor Steve Heinsen
Northwest District Secretary

Toothpicks pried between the eyelids. A sort of dull stare at nothing in particular. Occasional losses of logical thinking. This is something you are starting to see a bit more frequently as we enter day four of the LCMS National Convention. The combination of early mornings, late nights, and lots of significant decisions in between can begin to wear on a person. But the delegates from the NOW District are pressing forward knowing the significance of what is taking place here.

Our morning began as it has the past several days with a wonderful District breakfast in the Hilton Milwaukee City Center hotel at the scintillating hour of 6:15 a.m. Dust Kunkel opened the morning with a review of 1 Peter 3:13-14 and prayer.

Rev. Mike Von Behren led the delegates in a review of 1 Corinthians 2 that encourages us not to focus on persuasive arguments, but to focus on the cross. More specifically, the words of 1 Corinthians 2:12a that share, “We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God.” In our conversations, do we believe we know or do not know the truth? The act of listening is, in itself, an act of influence. “He who has ears, let him hear.” We are called to filter out the noise around us and hear Christ. What matters is not so much about convincing others but listening. Let the Spirit of God work in us. Who will you listen to and pray for at the convention today?

Rev. Jason Gullidge, pastor at St. Paul in Jerome, Idaho, shared his experiences on Floor Committee #6 – Pastoral Ministry and Seminaries. This is his first time serving on a floor committee. Other pastors and leaders that he consulted urged him to do it, so he said yes. He serves alongside four district presidents, two seminary presidents, and two former seminary presidents. It was very intimidating and nerve-racking, at first. Prior to meeting with the committee, he did his research. But he went in with the attitude of listening and hearing ideas. At times, he felt as though he was ignored and that the resolutions were decided in advance. Yet he focused on Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous.” As relationships were built, others did begin to listen. It was a positive experience.

Rev. Tim Winterstein, pastor at Faith in East Wenatchee, Washington, then shared his experiences on Floor Committee #9 – Structure and Administration. They had 51 overtures to sort through and narrow down. He was interested in listening to various perspectives and hearing where people were coming from. The open floor committee meetings were an opportunity to sharpen the language of the resolutions.

Rev. Mike Von Behren then ran through a number of resolutions that were coming up today and sought input from the group. He closed us in prayer.

Our delegates then made the journey from the Hilton to the Baird Center for the day. The morning began with Matins led by the Rev. Christopher Esget, the Fifth Vice President, Southeast Region Vice President.

We immediately moved into a second presentation of resolutions from Floor Committee #7 (University Education). Resolution 7-03 – To Call Concordia University Texas Leadership to Repentance has led to major discord in the days leading up to the convention. Several speakers brought up the need for reconciliation rather than the, in their words, “harsh wording” in the resolution demanding repentance of the leadership at Concordia Texas and full, immediate submission to the Synod Bylaws. A substitute resolution (that was published in the previous day’s business) and focused on the reconciliation aspect was offered. The Synod Secretary indicated that the Commission on Constitutional Matters reviewed this and indicated that it was out of order and not allowed to be considered. A motion was made requiring a change in the standing rules to allow Don Christian, the President of Concordia University Texas to be added as a delegate and allowed to speak. The motion passed and President Christian shared the Concordia Texas version of what happened. An amendment to remove the final three Resolveds in the resolution was offered and failed. The original resolution was put to a vote and was passed with a 71% yes vote.

The following resolution was adopted in the morning session for Committee #7:

Committee #7 – University Education
7-03 – To Call Concordia University Texas Leadership to Repentance – The leadership of Concordia University Texas has been called to repentance and required to submit to Synod Bylaws.

There was then a presentation by the Rev. Dr. Lawrence Rast, Jr., President of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana and the Rev. Dr. Thomas Egger, President of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri on “Serving the Synod’s Mission: The history and blessing of our two seminaries.”

Dr. Russel P. Dawn, President of Concordia University, Chicago, then shared an essay entitled “The Wisdom of God.”

A series of elections for various boards in the Synod was held. A vote was held to suspend the standing rules and instead give Chairman Matthew Harrison the right to call for votes on “less controversial issues” when he deemed it appropriate. The request that he made passed. An objection was shared that this would suppress the opportunity for the minority opinion to be expressed. It was denied.

The next group of the morning was Floor Committee #12 – Schools, Family, Young Adults, and Youth.

The following resolutions were adopted in the morning session for Committee #12:

Committee #12 – Schools, Family, Young Adults, and Youth
12-01 – To Produce Uniform Set of Lutheran Academic Standards for Our Schools – The LCMS School Ministry is to coordinate the systematic preparation and production of biblically faithful Lutheran academic standards across all areas for our schools.
12-02 – To Confess Authority God Gave to Fathers and Mothers – This reaffirms our church body’s stance on the Biblical roles and responsibilities of fathers and mothers with their families.
12-03 – To Address Commissioned Minister – Teacher Student Debt – Congregations of the Synod are encouraged to support their workers by assisting them in the repayment of their student debt.
12-04 – To Commend and Give Thanks for Lutheran Schools – Congregations are encouraged to support the continued operation and support of Lutheran Schools.
12-05A – To Encourage Family Devotions, Young Men, and Lutheran Fathers
12-06 – To Encourage Use of Current Research and Resources for Ministry to Youth

The next group of the morning was Floor Committee #5 – Theology and Church Relations.

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

Committee #5 – Theology and Church Relations
5-08A – To Affirm In-Person Communion – Congregations are encouraged to reject and condemn the practice of virtual (online) Communion.

It was time for lunch. Following the lunch break, Midday Prayer was led by the Rev. Nabil Nour, 4th Vice President, Great Plains Region Vice President. Another round of elections for various boards in the Synod was held.

A presentation was then led by Paivi Rasanen and the Rev. Juhana Pohjola, both from Finland, with the theme “Persecuted For Your Faith.”

Up next to share a series of resolutions was Floor Committee #2 – International Witness.

The following resolutions were adopted in the afternoon session for Committee #2:

Committee #2 – International Witness
2-01 – To Commend, Strengthen, and Give Thanks for Alliance Missionary Program – This program has supported missionaries in more than 20 countries and their partner churches.
2-02A – To Give Priority and Advocacy for Office of International Mission – Congregations and entities looking to support international mission activity are encouraged to work through the Office of International Mission.
2-03 – To Strengthen Pastoral Care of Missionaries and Clarify Ecclesiastical Supervision – The Synod administration is directed to assess and revise policies related to ecclesiastical supervision for the Synod’s missionaries.
2-04A – To Commend Synod Seminaries for Work in International Witness – Congregations are encouraged to support our seminaries for pastoral formation on a worldwide level.
2-05 – To Provide Resources for Discerning Validity of Requests to Support International Mission Work
2-06A – To Study Synod membership for International Lutheran Congregations – The Synod will develop a mechanism to receive independent Lutheran congregations in foreign mission areas into membership in the Synod.
2-07A – To Commend Use and Attendance of FORO’s – A FORO (Spanish for forum) is a model the Office of International Mission uses to plant Lutheran mission churches in foreign mission areas.

A presentation was shared concerning “International Missions: Plant Lutheran Churches.”

Floor Committee #6 – Pastoral Ministry and Seminaries then took the dais. Resolution 6-02A received considerable discussion. An amendment was proposed to encourage additional routes to ordination beyond the currently available routes. It failed.

The following resolutions were adopted in the afternoon session for Committee #6:

Committee #6 – Pastoral Ministry and Seminaries
6-01 – To Affirm and Strengthen Set Apart to Serve in Word and Action – All agencies in Synod are requested to endorse, advocate, and engage with the Set Apart to Serve initiative to recruit and train pastors.
6-02A – To Encourage Proper Pastoral Formation through our Synod’s Seminaries – District Presidents and seminaries are strongly encouraged to direct men to residential pastoral ministry routes at our Synod’s seminaries as the preferred option. In addition, districts and members of Synod are directed to use and promote Synod programs and not create independent programs of pastoral preparation.

The Rev. Craig Muehler then shared a presentation concerning Military Chaplains.

The final group up for the day was Floor Committee #3 – Mercy.

The following resolutions were adopted in the afternoon session for Committee #3:

Committee #3 – Mercy
3-02A – To Increase Awareness among Synod Congregations of Human Trafficking
3-03A – To Continue the Synod’s Efforts to Address Mental Health and Mental Illness
3-04A – To Commend and Give Thanks for Synod Work regarding Disaster Response

The day’s sessions then concluded with Responsive Prayer.

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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