Monday, July 29, 2013

A Fashionably-Late Take on the LCMS Convention

It got nice and cool exactly a week too late around St. Louis—the cooler weather would have been the perfect atmosphere for what was a truly conservative convention: as in circumspect, cautious, and considered. 

On the big issues—AC XIV, SMP, women in combat—the convention passed resolutions calling for the formation of a task force (AC XIV), an oversight committee whose oversight looks to be only advisory (SMP—the CCM said it could not set "policy"—so what exactly can it do? We honestly don't know.), and a referral to the CTCR (women in combat). Attempts to put more teeth in all these resolutions failed, as did attempts to weaken them even further or tilt them in a direction favoring the status quo. 

If anything qualified as a bombshell from this sedate convention it was when the chairman on seminary education announced some hard stats: 1/3 of CSL students are SMP students and 3/4 of all SMP grads are serving on staff at congregations large enough to have something called "a staff." 

The difference between careful planning and kicking the can down the road is in the outcome. The President of Synod obviously wants time to study and teach, especially on the biggest issue of all, AC XIV. He also wishes to convince those districts that are holding on to "lay ministry" for all they are worth that there is a better way. He wants to persuade, not overrule. May God grant all involved in these various studies wisdom and courage: they'll need both. 

But the grassroots must not merely wait: in this triennium those who treasure our Confession should make it a priority to study the AC XIV issues in circuit meetings, Bible classes, circuit forums, general pastors conferences etc. Surely we here at Gottesdienst will re-post several of the resources our editors have put together on this topic as well as the others as the months tick on (especially the comments of our sister churches overseas). If you serve in one of the 13 districts with "licensed lay deacons" and whatnot—now's the time to lobby your general pastors' conference planning committee to treat this topic this triennium with speakers from Gottesdienst or seminary professors who confess AC XIV or other appropriate teachers of the Word. If they won't bite, then you need to get your own conference going in your area: Gottesdienst loves going on the road, contact an editor and we'll get cracking.

The same goes for the other big issues - don't wait for some study document to come down from on high: arrange a conference and get brothers talking. Gottesdienst has done a lot of work on AC XIV—but many others are working on the roles of male and female in the three estates, SMP, etc.

In other news . . . the most open conflict at the convention came over seminary oversight with a public breech appearing between CSL (against it) and CTS (for it). In the end, the Synod returned to a pre-2010 model of oversight thus overruling the concerns of the CSL President and Regents. 

Other than that—the cupcakes at the Presidents' Reception were amazing.

The Editors


  1. I know it's not exciting, but I do think that passing 3-10A was a huge step in the right direction to address men who languish in CCM purgatory.


    1. CRM that is. And yes, you are correct. Just highlighting the problem before 500 active laymen from around the Synod is a huge step forward.


    2. Prayer during the opening service included a petition for "those church workers without a call who long to serve" so I agree this was a big step for CRM.

  2. Please republish Nagel's counsel on Vicars NOT being given to distribute the sacrament.

  3. I liked the peach cobbler the best.

    No banjo playing was also a good thing.

  4. Definitely the blueberry cobbler though I missed the cheese, crackers, and beer... had to go to the Ft. Wayne reception to get that...

    Mention should be maid that this was the best worship of any convention in memory (and I have attended 4-5 over the last 33 years)...

  5. Gaaah... dang keyboard on my tablet... MADE not maid...

  6. As I was preparing a report on the convention, as our circuit's pastoral delegate and member of floor committee 5, it occurred to me that we may have set ourselves up for an impossibly difficult convention in 2016.

    The list of very major topics for which there is to be study and possible action in 2016 is daunting indeed: lay deacons, SMP, CUS governance, etc. — any one of which would be about as much as a convention might realistically be expected to act upon. I don't see how it is possible for the Synod to digest them all in 2016 without undue negative repercussions, and I wonder about our wisdom in backloading so many important issues all to the next convention. Several of these resolutions specifically call for action at the 2016 convention, but insofar as possible I think it may be wiser to pick which matters are of overriding importance, focus on those in 2016, and postpone the rest to a future convention.

    This, by the way, is what I advised the BRTFSSG when they interviewed me (as vice-chair of a board) and I heard for the first time about the radical overhaul they planned in one fell swoop. I told them it was too much for one convention and suggested that instead they prioritize perhaps five things in the Synodical structure that they thought really, really needed changing and do only those in 2010. I predicted that otherwise the delegates would rebel against the incumbent administration.

    That frankly is what I fear could happen in 2016 with so many major issues piling up all at one convention.

    1. 2016? Hmmm... If I recall correctly, there might also be some kind of big Lutheran anniversary coming up soon after that, which might spawn a few (dozen) resolutions dealing with that anniversary, the plans, personnel, events, and costs involved in celebrating that anniversary, and transporting various Synodical staff to the celebration location. Better postpone those "major topics" to 2019, when the partying (and hangovers) have past.


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