Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Report on the NOW District Convention, The Verbose Version

The Northwest District Convention met June 18-20 in Portland, Oregon. We began the Convention being one of the more liberal Districts, and we departed in the same condition. President Warren Schumacher retired after 15 years of service as the District President. Give him credit for longevity in a tough role. I hope President Schumacher and his wife Judy will enjoy their retirement, although he still has a bit of work left ahead of him, since he was elected to the Synod Nominating Committee. While he’s certainly a nice guy and ran an on-time convention, Rev. Schumacher’s theology and practice left many confessional Lutherans shaking their heads – especially those confessional Lutheran pastors whom President Schumacher called (in the Fall 2008 edition of “Northwest Passage”) “past-oriented museum-keeper colleagues.”

The general consensus among the confessional delegates is that neither of the two most confessional nominees was elected as President or a Vice President. Rev. Paul Linnemann was elected President. I wish him and his wife Cindy well as he transitions from parish pastor to District President.

The resolutions that were passed, as well as those that weren’t passed, offer another indication for how the Convention went. Resolution 2-07, “To Work with Other Christians to Reach Those Who Do Not Know Christ and Memorialize Synod to Do the Same,” which I previously discussed as being unionistic, died a well deserved death, since the allotted time expired before it could be passed. We were in the process of amending it to make it less objectionable when its timely death occurred. This was the brightest spot in the resolution story.

Two resolutions that would have memorialized the Synod to exercise care in implementing the Blue Ribbon structural changes were placed by the floor committee into Omnibus Resolution C (which is the Omnibus containing resolutions that they “respectfully decline” and recommend you do the same). This Omnibus was sent back to the committee for further consideration on Day 1, and, not surprisingly, never again made an appearance. The Convention wasn’t silent on the Blue Ribbon proposals however, instead passing Resolution 1-02, “To Support the Work of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance.” A couple of delegates voiced such glowing support for the task force and their ideas that their wives must have been jealous.

Resolution 2-01, “To Continue Tracking the Spirit as an Effective Movement of Outreach for the 21st Century,” passed by a large margin. This program (which I’ve blogged about previously), is another Law-driven program which puts us, rather than the Holy Spirit, in the driver’s seat.

Resolution 1-03a, “To Retain Licensed Deacon Program,” also passed by a large margin. This resolution continues the pragmatics-driven use of laymen to perform Word and Sacrament ministry, in conjunction with the NOW District’s Leadership Advancement Process (LAP), which would more truthfully be named Laymen As Pastors. This practice ignores Augsburg Confession Article XIV, which reads “Our churches teach that no one should publically teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call.” An amendment to this Resolution was brought before the delegates by one of the confessional pastors. If adopted, this amendment would have had these deacons ordained. Certainly, this pastor didn’t think these deacons were qualified for ordination, but this amendment would have caused a thoughtful delegate who favored the original resolution to vote in favor of the amendment, since they are already assigning the duties of an ordained servant of the Word to these deacons. The amendment was defeated by a large margin. So much for Augustana XIV and Order in the Church. Pragmatics drives this District, not doctrine.

These resolutions are an indicator of the theological mindset that permeates the Northwest District. To view the pre-Convention form of all the resolutions, go to the NOW District Convention page, scroll down, and click on “Section 8 - Resolutions.”


Robert Shipe said...

Just wondering, Mr. Diekmann; What are your thoughts regarding the general consensus of the clergy and laity toward resolution 2-07? I know it didn't pass because of time restraints and so forth, but do you think this will be brought up again at the Synodical convention or at the next NOW convention? Was there really a strong push for this? Or was it just an important minority who proposed it?

Scott Diekmann said...

Mr. Shipe, I heard from somebody that even the floor committee, which I don't think you could accuse of being conservative, didn't like 2-07 as it was originally worded. That explains why this resolution wasn't brought up until towards the end. The proposed amendment was significantly different from the original. The last Resolved read: "RESOLVED, that the Northwest District of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod memorialize Synod to provide direction as to how we can more effectively and appropriately encourage and work with other Christian church bodies in reaching out to those who do no know Christ while continuing to honor LCMS Constitution Article VI.1 and Article VI.2.c concerning Conditions of Membership." Several people spoke in favor of the amendment, although one undiscerning unfaithful Pastor made an impassioned plea to vote against the amendment. I suspect the amendment would have passed, although it's hard to say for sure. Had it not passed, I would have made a point of order, and pointed out to the chair that the resolution was in violation of Article VI, 2, c. of the LCMS Constitution. Had President Schumacher ignored the point of order, a number of other people were prepared to speak as well. I doubt it will be resurrected at the Synodical Convention, but since the original overture was brought by the Board of Directors, I wouldn't be surprised to see something similar three years from now.