Wow, that was easy.
Not only did the Central Illinois District elect Rev. Mark Miller to be its next president--an excellent choice--and put in a couple of fine vice presidents too, but it also passed a dandy of a resolution.
Perhaps it was because this was the first resolution we voted on, and some delegates were caught flat-footed, or maybe the Central Illinois District is just becoming that much more theologically aware, but in any case we just memorialized the Missouri Synod to fix the lay ministry fiasco that was foisted upon us when the Synod in Convention passed it in 1989 (a resolution that is wryly labeled among us as the Wichita Convention Amendment to the Augsburg Confession), and we did it without any debate, and with a resounding 199-23 vote. Hm, do you believe in miracles? Here’s the resolution, sensitive to the current situation, but unbending in its commitment to our confession. Kudos to the CID.
To Require Uniformity of Practice With Regard to Word and Sacrament Ministry
WHEREAS, St. Paul distinguished between overseers or bishops (1 Tim. 3:1-7) and deacons (1 Tim. 3:8-13); and
WHEREAS, The overseers of the Bible have usually been called pastors in the Lutheran Church, based on Acts 20:28; and
WHEREAS, St. Paul also warned, “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure” (1 Tim. 5:22) and “an overseer must be … not a novice” (1 Tim. 3:6); and
WHEREAS, In certain situations today, the Synod approves of preaching and administration of the sacraments by men who have not been publicly called to, and placed in, the office of the ministry (this position is expressed, e.g., in 1989 Resolution 3-05B, “. . . when no pastor is available, and in the absence of any specific Scriptural directives to the contrary, congregations may arrange for the performance of these distinctive functions [preaching and administering the sacraments] by qualified individuals”); and
WHEREAS, The Augsburg Confession's fourteenth article reads, “Concerning church government it is taught that no one should publicly teach, preach, or administer the sacraments without a proper [public] call” (Kolb-Wengert, p. 46); and
WHEREAS, The systematic theology faculties of both seminaries, acting jointly, have published a detailed statement on “The Office of the Holy Ministry” (Concordia Journal [July 2007]: 242-255), which states in part,
“The Confessions never use the truth that the whole church possesses the power of the keys to make the office of the holy ministry unnecessary or merely useful. On the contrary, this truth serves as the basis for the church's right to call, choose, and ordain ministers. . . . [T]he Treatise [on the Power and Primacy of the Pope] does not imagine churches without ordained ministers of some kind, even in emergency situations or when no one else will call and ordain men for the office. As confessors of the same doctrine, neither should we. . .
“'[C]all and ordination' are essential for conduct of the ministry. . . . What is the sign of authority for ministers today? It is their call and ordination, which assure that they act by divine right and on the authority of Christ. This truth makes such ideas as “lay ministers” invitations for difficulties and troubles to ministers whose authority is doubtful and to laypersons whose assurance of God's grace may be questioned.” (pp. 253-254, 255); and
WHEREAS, The two seminaries are now implementing the Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) Program mandated by the 2007 Synodical Convention; and
WHEREAS, The 2007 “Resolution 5-02 Task Force” reported in the 2010 Convention Workbook concerning situations currently served by licensed lay deacons, but after much debate 2010 Resolution 5-03A “To Address Lay Deacons” was referred back to committee and not brought back for action; therefore be it
Resolved, That the Central Illinois District in convention express its regret at the current situation in the Synod at large concerning men who are conducting Word and Sacrament ministry without being publicly called to, and placed in, the office of the ministry; and be it further
Resolved, That the Central Illinois District in convention memorialize the Synod in convention to direct the Council of Presidents to develop a plan and lay out procedures:
A) So that all men who are currently engaged in Word and Sacrament ministry without being publicly called to, and placed in, the office of the ministry may either be enrolled in the SMP program or cease from all forms of Word and Sacrament ministry by the end of 2019, and
B) So that all current Synod and District tracks, programs, licensing procedures etc. which train men for Word and Sacrament ministry without benefit of being publicly called to, and placed in, the office of the ministry can be phased out in favor of SMP by the end of 2019, and
C) So that the Council of Presidents can report on this plan to the 2016 Synod in Convention for approval, emendation, and adoption; and be it finally
Resolved, That the Central Illinois District in convention memorialize the Synod to make necessary changes in the SMP program in order to assure that the men enrolled in the SMP program be called “deacons” rather than pastors, and that they not be ordained or called as pastors until they complete the full SMP program.