From the Pastor . . .
Every three years our Synod meets in convention for the purpose of electing leaders and addressing issues that our churches and church body are facing. This year, this convention took place from July 9-14 in Milwaukee, WI. I want to give you a very brief summary of what took place and some of the resolutions that were passed. I was not there. I was not a delegate. And I was only able to follow along a bit because this took place during our very busy Vacation Bible School week! But here are some noteworthy items:
First, the entire praesidium (synodical president and vice presidents) were re-elected. Many other elections took place as well. Perhaps one of the most important was for a new Secretary of Synod. The current secretary is retiring after 15 years of service. Though I personally do not know him, those who do tell me that the man elected, Rev. John Sias, is excellent and will do a great job.
There were a number of resolutions to encourage and support outreach. One of these was for an effort titled "Every One his Witness." I guess we will be hearing about this soon!
There was a resolution to affirm the freedom of our military chaplains to serve according to the doctrine of our church. Our chaplains (like so many) are coming under great pressure to conform to the world's thinking and agenda. We need to support them and make sure they are always able to speak the truth of God's Word without fear of reprisal or discipline. There was also a resolution passed regarding the conscription of women into the military, giving our women the right to have "conscientious objector" status should this come to pass in our country.
A very important resolution that was passed dealt with "regularizing" the "licensed lay deacons" involved in Word and Sacament ministry in our Synod. Back in 1989, a practice was begun in our Synod of "licensing" laymen in some circumstances to function as pastors. This was usually in remote areas, or for churches that were too small, poor, or distant to have a pastor serve them. Over the years the practice grew and expanded and correspondingly the concern grew that this practice was in violation of our doctrine and Confession. The resolution passed would provide for a phasing out of this practice by either ordaining those men now serving, if qualified, or enrolling them in a program of education to become pastors.
Another important and much discussed resolution involved changes to the synodical dispute resolution process and ecclesiastical oversight. The delegates passed resolutions affirming the right of religious freedom and conscience in matters dealing with marriage and sexuality in our world today, as well as a desire to address the problem of indebtedness of our church workers. This last concern is something we can be proud of, as our congregation promises to get our seminarians through their four years of study debt free!
Finally, the convention declined a resolution to change how often our synod meets in convention from three years to four. This would save money, but it was decided that things move and change so fast in our world and society today that we cannot afford to meet less often than we do.
These are just some of the actions taken by the Synod. If you would like to read and learn more, or watch some videos from the convention, go to http://www.lcms.org/convention.
His servant and yours,