We Preach Christ Crucified – Day 5 of the LCMS National Convention
Wednesday, August 2
Contributed by Pastor Steve Heinsen
Northwest District Secretary
Upon awakening to the chirping of my travel alarm this morning, I realized something: Today is the final full day of the LCMS Convention. In some ways, that sent a feeling of relief and hope surging through me. But it also brought to the forefront the reality of how much significant work is yet to be accomplished. The good news is that the Lord will continue to guide the delegates as we work together to connect people to Jesus around the world. One significant change this morning is that we did not have a NOW District delegate breakfast today. That has been a rallying and focusing point for our delegates – and, of course, a great source of fuel for the system to get the day going.
Opening worship at 8 a.m. was Matins led by the Rev. Dr. Ely Prieto. A Convention essay with the theme “The Redemption of the World” was shared by the Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola.
Floor Committee #7 – University Education led the way this morning. Resolution 7-04B – To Revise Bylaws to Revisit and Renew Relationship of Colleges and Universities with the Synod came to the floor first. This involves a significant restructuring of the Concordia University System and raised controversy prior to the convention. Since this involves changing Synod Bylaws, the Synod Secretary reminded the delegates that any proposed amendments would need to receive prior approval from the Commission on Constitutional Matters. Dr. Michael Thomas, president of Concordia University Irvine, explained the lengthy process that was followed to get the resolution to this point. He shared that there was very meaningful discussion – and multiple changes made – among the delegates of the committee and the university presidents. He sees this as being workable and good for both the universities and the Synod.
The following resolutions were adopted in the morning session for Committee #7:
Committee #7 – University Education
7-04B – To Revise Bylaws to Revisit and Renew Relationship of Colleges and Universities with the Synod – A significant overhaul and reworking of the Concordia University System will take place. A major part of this is the increase of Synod oversight of the universities.
7-05A – To Bring Accountability to Concordia Boards of Regents and to Improve Doctrinal Fidelity and Amenability to Ecclesiastical Supervision – Appointed regents to Concordia University Boards of Regents will not be allowed to vote on appointing other regents for the Board. In addition, this increases the role of Synod in vetting regents who are appointed to the various Boards of Regents.
7-06B – To Support Colleges and Universities of the Concordia University System – Congregations and districts are encouraged to encourage enrollment in as well as provide spiritual and financial support for the Concordias.
Up next was Floor Committee #11 – Church and Culture.
The following resolutions were adopted in the morning session for Committee #11:
Committee #11 – Church and Culture
11-01A – To Encourage Appropriate Use of Social Media – Church workers and leaders are expected to exercise caution in their use of social media and lead by example. In addition, Christians are encouraged to exercise charity and patience in considering what their neighbor shares on social media, interpreting everything in the kindest way.
11-02A – To Reject All Forms of Racism and Affirm Our Witness to All People
11-03A – To Love and Disciple People of All Ethnicities, Languages, and Skin Colors
11-06 – To Oppose Mandatory Registration of Women into the Draft – Our church body will continue to support the right of conscientious objection on the part of individual women.
11-04 – To Address Abortion and Use of Fetal Tissue in Vaccines – The Commission on Theology and Church Relations will address the changing nature of abortion, specifically the use of fetal tissue in vaccines.
11-05 – To Address the Relationship Between Church and State in an Increasingly Hostile Environment
A series of elections for various boards in the Synod was held.
The delegates were ready for the lunch break.
Following the lunch break was the sharing of a video for the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. Those workers who have gone home to be with the Lord for eternity since the prior convention were highlighted. It is a time of both sadness and thankfulness as we remember those who faithfully served the Lord and connected people to Jesus. I saw several church workers who were integral to my faith development and for support in the ministry over the years being honored and remembered. “The golden evening brightens in the west; Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest; Sweet is the calm of paradise the blest. Alleluia. Alleluia.”
Floor Committee #5 – Theology and Church Relations then took the dais.
The following resolutions were adopted in the afternoon session for Committee #5:
Committee #5 – Theology and Church Relations
5-13A – To Address Uses of Online Technology – The Council of Presidents and Commission on Theology and Church Relations will establish a process to prepare a theology of technology, including practices of virtual worship, Bible studies, and other online ministries.
5-09 – To Review Guidance on Admission to the Lord’s Supper – Recognizing the doctrine and practice of close(d) communion and asking the seminary faculties to evaluate what “extraordinary circumstances” are for the distribution of the Sacrament.
5-15 – To Uphold Proper Elements and Reverential Administration of the Lord’s Supper – Concerns have been raised about pre-filled communion cups and wafers in worship. The Commission on Theology and Church Relations is instructed to take up these concerns.
5-10 – To Articulate Theology and Philosophy of Lutheran Education – The Commission on Theology and Church Relations will develop principles of Lutheran education rooted in Lutheran doctrine.
5-11 – To Reaffirm Synod’s Biblical Position on Marriage and Sexuality
5-12 – To Address Lutheran Theological Principles of Mission and Ministry in Post-Christian Context
A final round of elections took place.
Following the elections, Floor Committee #10 – Ecclesiastical Supervision and Dispute Resolution was up.
The following resolutions were adopted in the afternoon session for Committee #10:
Committee #10 – Ecclesiastical Supervision and Dispute Resolution
10-06 – To Amend Bylaw 126.96.36.199 regarding Candidate Status – Those on Candidate status are required to file an annual report with their District President by January 31 to maintain their status. This means they have to work on the report around Christmas. The filing date has now been moved to July 31. In addition, Candidates are currently allowed to remain on that status for no more than 10 years before being removed. The resolution now allows for the candidate to be continued on the roster for five years at a time versus having a 10-year limit.
A presentation was shared with the theme “International Missions: Show Mercy.”
A special presentation was shared by Flame.
The final committee up for the day was Floor Committee #6 – Pastoral Ministry and Seminaries. Resolution 6-03A concerning the Specific Ministry Pastor program and its relation to the Master of Divinity program had significant discussion. The resolution calls for the Master of Divinity program to be the “strongly preferred route” to ordination and the Specific Ministry Pastor program (among others) only be used in “exceptional cases.” Several speakers spoke strongly in support of allowing a variety of options for pastoral formation.
The following resolutions were adopted in the afternoon session for Committee #6:
Committee #6 – Pastoral Ministry and Seminaries
6-03A – To Affirm and Strengthen the Synod’s Commitment to Well-Formed Clergy for the Sake of the Gospel – The residential seminary route to ordination is the strongly preferred route to ordination.
The day’s sessions were concluded with Responsive Prayer.
We have one more morning to go, including all of two hours for the remaining unfinished business, of which there is much still to be done. Any resolutions that are not dealt with prior to the end of the convention “die on the floor” and will not be acted on.
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.