Monday, April 26, 2010

You Didn’t See Any of These in the BRTFSSG Recommendations

If you missed it, the Convention Workbook for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) 2010 Regular Convention is out, and can be downloaded here.

The most interesting section of the Workbook contains the overtures, found on pages 149-248. The overtures are broken down by section. I’ve included the number of overtures for each section, as follows:

p. 149    Missions – 11
p. 153    District and Congregational Services – 25
p. 165    Theology and Church Relations – 33
p. 179    Administration and Finance – 23
p. 189    Seminary and University Education – 36
p. 207    Human Care – 8
p. 211    Ecclesial Matters - 21
p. 221    Synod Structure and Governance – 81

The greatest number of overtures, by far, relate to the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synodical Structure and Governance (BRTFSSG). Having read through the list, I don’t think it would be too strong of a statement to say that confusion rules. It's going to take a whole room full of Solomons to figure out this mess. It's entirely possible that multiple resolutions could be passed at the convention which contradict each other. If these overtures are any indication of the overall feelings of the Synod, the BRTFSSG recommendations are going to be in for a rough ride.

While there are, significantly, six overtures which request that these decisions be postponed for further study over the next three-year convention cycle, one that requests they be rejected in toto, and one that recommends none of the changes to the Constitution be considered at this convention, it is the glowingly favorable overture of the Pacific Southwest District that is the first overture listed. They seem to think that the Task Force has allowed more than an adequate amount of time for the members of Synod to have considered the recommendations and be prepared to vote on them, although even they recommend that the language of Article II of the Constitution remain unaltered, because “it most fully expresses the confession of our church.” I wonder if the selection of this particular overture as the first one in this section is a blatant attempt to influence the delegates - call it a große Lüge.

There is one overture that really stands out in my mind as the best of the bunch – overture 8-13 of the Montana District. They really get to the core of the issue:


To Consider Alternate Restructure Plans and Proposals and Decline Recommended Changes to Synod Constitution

    WHEREAS, Concerns about the governance and structure of the LCMS gave rise to the Synod President’s forming of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance (BRTFSSG) to address areas which might need adjustment or correction; and
    WHEREAS, The proposed changes, as summarized by the BRTFSSG itself, go to the heart of who and what The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is, to wit:
       A. The Synod’s reason for existence;
       B. The Synod’s confession;
       C. The Synod’s mission and purpose;
       D. Conditions for membership in the Synod;
       E. The relation of the Synod to its members; and
       F. The process whereby resolutions are made and accepted by Synod in convention;
    WHEREAS, These proposals will profoundly impact and alter the Synod’s theology and practice, as well as its structure, process, and membership; and
    WHEREAS, The final proposals will not be available until the fall of 2009 after the district conventions, preventing the districts in convention from considering the final proposals; and
    WHEREAS, The currently proposed changes may well necessitate further and unforeseen changes, the BRTFSSG itself having stated that “it is likely that more constitutional paragraphs will require change depending on the outcome of the task force’s work”; and
    WHEREAS, The number, substance, and impact of these changes is unknown and impossible to predict; and
    WHEREAS, There has been no clearly demonstrated necessity for immediate action; and
    WHEREAS, There has been limited opportunity for broad-based timely analysis and discussion across the congregations and districts of the Synod; and
    WHEREAS, We in the Montana District would be unable to accept these proposed changes to the Constitution of the LCMS with a clear conscience, as has also been stated by the Wyoming district in convention;
therefore be it
    Resolved, That the Montana District in convention request the President of the Synod to suspend the current timeline for consideration of the current BRTFSSG proposals, and not to bring a plan for restructure before the 2010 convention, and to consider alternate proposals for addressing the problems plaguing the Synod, including the proposals put forward in the document “It’s Time: LCMS Unity and Mission II” by Rev. Matthew Harrison; and be it further
    Resolved, That the Montana District in convention memorialize the 2010 LCMS convention to consider none of the recommended changes to the Constitution of the Synod proposed by the BRTFSSG.
Montana District

Here’s a list of the titles of each overture of this section. I’ll comment on a few other overtures in the days ahead.

8-01 To Encourage Careful Consideration of BRTFSSG Proposals
8-02 To Allow Time for Reasonable Conversation and Consideration of Changes to Structure
8-03 To Foster Greater Unanimity in Decisions re Structure
8-04 To Postpone Consideration and Implementation of Task Force Report
8-05 To Exercise Care and Delay Implementation of Structure Changes
8-06 To Allow Time to Study Task Force Recommendations
8-07 To Submit BRTFSSG Report to All Congregations for Study and Defer Action until Following Convention
8-08 To Proceed with Task Force Proposals Only If Full and Timely Disclosure of Proposed Revisions Is Provided
8-09 To Reject Blue Ribbon Task Force Recommendations
8-10 To Defer Proposed Restructure/Reorganization To 2013 Convention
8-11 To Delay Implementation of Certain BRTFSSG Proposals
8-12 To Consider Recommendations of BRTFSSG as Separate Items to Be Voted on Individually
8-13 To Consider Alternate Restructure Plans and Proposals and Decline Recommended Changes To Synod Constitution
8-14 To Retain Existing Synod Constitution
8-15 To Reject Proposed Changes to Articles II, III, and VI
8-16 To Retain Current Constitution Articles II–IV, VI–VII
8-17 To Align Synod Structure with Walther’s Church and Ministry
8-18 To Affirm Integrity and Dignity of All Congregations
8-19 To Respect All Congregations Equally
8-20 To Give Congregation Overtures Equal Consideration
8-21 To Reject All Proposals That Limit or Hinder Participation of Congregations
8-22 To Retain Congregational Orientation of Synod
8-23 To Remove Task Force Proposal re Constitutional Subscription
8-24 To Delete Reference to Constitution from Proposed Article VII
8-25 To Reject Coercive Language in Handbook
8-26 To Use “between” to Describe Relationship of Synod and Its Members
8-27 To Retain Current Congregational Representation
8-28 To Maintain Present Form of Delegate Representation
8-29 To Retain Voting Delegates as Lay and Pastoral
8-30 To Retain Current Article V of Constitution
8-31 To Reject Any Proposed Changes re Voting Delegates to Synod Conventions
8-32 To Reject Proposed Change re Voting Delegates To District Conventions
8-33 To Reject “Associate Members” Recommendation
8-34 To Clarify Voting Rights of the Preaching Office
8-35 To Preserve Fifty Percent Lay Vote
8-36 To Expand Voting Membership to Other Members of Synod
8-37 To Provide for Equitable Representation and Voice for Commissioned Ministers
8-38 To Allow Ministers of Religion—Commissioned To Serve as Voting Delegates
8-39 To Establish Process for Electing Commissioned Ministers as Voting Delegates to District Conventions
8-40 To Establish Process for Electing Commissioned Ministers as Voting Delegates to Synod Conventions
8-41 To Provide for Commissioned Minister Representation at Conventions
8-42 To Allow Advisory Members to Be Named Voting Delegates in Place of Voting Pastors
8-43 To Have Every Congregation Represented at Synod Conventions
8-44 To Elect Delegates by Regions within Districts
8-45 To Allow Vacant Congregations Two Lay Delegates
8-46 To Retain Current Article III 7 of Constitution re Church Practice
8-47 To Amend Article III of Constitution
8-48 To Retain Current Wording of Article VI 4
8-49 To Return to Previous Definition of Function of Doctrinal Resolutions
8-50 To Strike “of Special Significance” from Doctrinal Resolution Proposal
8-51 To Conduct Feasibility Study for Model Merger of Districts
8-52 To Oppose Dissolution of English District
8-53 To Retain Present District Structure
8-54 To Retain Current District Alignment
8-55 To Retain or Increase Number of Districts
8-56 To Amend Bylaws re Formation of Circuits
8-57 To Amend Bylaw 5.3.2 re Voting Representation at Circuit Forums
8-58 To Continue Current Practice of Election of Circuit Counselors
8-59 To Return to Use of Title “Circuit Visitor”
8-60 To Increase Convention Quorum Requirement
8-61 To Change Terminology of National Convention
8-62 To Continue to Allow Congregations To Choose Vice-Presidents
8-63 To Elect Officers by Direct Vote of Congregations
8-64 To Change Composition and Increase Duties of Board of Directors
8-65 To Operate with a Board of Directors Serving as National Consistory
8-66 To Establish Chief Executive Officer Position
8-67 To Give Careful Consideration When Addressing BRTFSSG Recommendation 18
8-68 To Delay Implementation of BRTFSSG Recommendation re National Office Structure
8-69 To Reject Proposal for Advisory Boards
8-70 To Consolidate Current National Boards and Commissions
8-71 To Assign Oversight of Program Boards To First Vice-President
8-72 To Provide for Orderly Transition for District and Congregational Services
8-73 To Retain Board for Pastoral Education
8-74 To Reject Any Proposal for Name Change
8-75 To Keep the Name “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod”
8-76 To Retain Name “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod”
8-77 To Decline Further Study of LCMS Name Change
8-78 To Retain the Name “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod”
8-79 To Reject Any Proposal to Change Pastoral Candidate Certification
8-80 To Amend Bylaws 7.1.1 and 7.1.2 re Amendments To Bylaws
8-81 To Retain CAO and CCM Representative on Commission on Handbook

HT: Editor


Anonymous said...

After three conventions in a row, I'm not sure I'd want to be a delegate this year. It's going to be a grueling few days. I can't think of anything in the BRTF's proposals that is worth voting for, and voting "no" might give me some pleasure, and well as voting for a new president.

We need to pray for our delegates, and indeed for the entire Synod.


IggyAntiochus said...

Off subject a little bit, but contrary to Resolution 3-14, page 169, Word Alone and LCMC are NOT in a state of faithful confession.