Delegates pass resolutions on study of licensed lay deacons, Lord’s Supper oversight

By Gretchen Roberts

The Rev. Stewart Crown, secretary of the Theology and Church Relations Floor Committee, reads Resolution 4-03 to the delegation. (LCMS Communications)

The Rev. Stewart Crown, secretary of the Theology and Church Relations Floor Committee, reads Resolution 4-03 to the delegation. (LCMS Communications)

ST. LOUIS (July 24, 2013) — After lengthy debates today on both the resolution itself and two proposed amendments that ultimately failed, delegates passed Resolution 4-06A, “To Address Questions Re: Service of Licensed Lay Deacons,” by a margin of 920 to 100.

The resolution quotes a portion of Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession that states, “Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call,” and resolves that the president of the Synod establish a task force to develop a plan “to resolve questions about individuals who are not rightly called (prepared, examined, called and ordained) serving congregations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.” The task force will include members from the Commission on Theology and Church Relations, the Council of Presidents, the Praesidium and seminary faculties.

Speaking from the floor, LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison asked delegates to allow the Synod to study the issue. “I know full well people in remote places need care, and we have to have faithful people to provide it,” he said. “We can do that while also being faithful to our fundamental confession, the Augsburg Confession. I plead it for Jesus’ sake. Thank you.”

Queues at the microphones were long to debate both the resolution itself and two proposed amendments. The Rev. Robert Sundquist, a pastoral delegate from the Northwest District, spoke in favor of the resolution. “I think it’s a great idea to have a task force on this issue. It’s no small thing; some 13 districts and 3,900 people are affected. So study it and study it well, and come back with some great recommendations,” he said.

One amendment from the floor proposed changing representation on the task force from the entire Council of Presidents to only those district presidents who are currently using licensed lay deacons in their districts. After a debate regarding whether those who don’t use licensed lay deacons are best equipped to study this issue or whether a broader pool of experience would be desirable, the amendment failed.

A second amendment from the floor proposed changing the reporting deadline of the task force from one year before the 2016 convention to before the next round of district conventions, which would move the deadline from July 2016 to January 2016. This amendment also failed, and the resolution passed intact.

Also passed Wednesday was Resolution 4-10, “To Encourage Proper Oversight in the Administration of the Lord’s Supper by Visitation from Ecclesiastical Supervisors.” This resolution calls for each district president to “be encouraged to address the congregation’s administration of the Lord’s Supper in his visits; and … that those practices which are not in harmony with the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions be addressed fraternally and evangelically.”

After several delegates spoke in favor of the amendment, the resolution passed with a vote of 769 to 215.

Resolution 4-03, “To Recognize the Lutheran Church of Togo as an Independent, Self-Governing Partner Church,” was affirmed by the convention with the singing of the Doxology. Read more about the LCMS partnership with the Lutheran Church of Togo.

Read more about actions taken by the assembly under the Theology and Church Relations Floor Committee previously this week.  The committee is scheduled to return Thursday, July 25, with more resolutions.

The 65th Regular Convention of the LCMS is meeting July 20-25 at the America’s Center Convention Complex under the theme “Baptized for This Moment.” Among convention participants are some 1,200 clergy and lay voting delegates.

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2 Responses to Delegates pass resolutions on study of licensed lay deacons, Lord’s Supper oversight

  1. Helen E. Jensen July 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    Rather than allow the appointment of unqualified people [“licensed lay ministers”] , a practice which is against our Lutheran Confessions, why don’t the Districts support (with salary and benefits), ordained men as “circuit riders” to serve the people with Word and Sacrament? It was done early in our history; why not again?

    Between visits by the Pastor, there are ample Lutheran services to be listened to on line, or if that is not possible, books of sermons to be read, a practice also not unknown in former times.

    This might incidentally solve the problem of some of our Pastors who are waiting for a call.

  2. chad August 18, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    Or we could make seminary education more accessible to men who sense the call to ordered ministry but are not able to relocate to one of the LCMS seminaries. I know that I have discerned a call to pastoral ministry for years but as a husband, father and homeowner, I can’t pull up stakes to attend seminary. Not to mention the cost at this point in my life is prohibitive. I think many men who seek and receive the diaconate license are in a similar situation as me.

    I don’t however belive that either the Deacons office or the SMP program are the right solutions to this. We need our pastors (all of them) to continue to be educated in the centuries old tradition of seminaries. We just need to find ways to make it so more called men can do this in our Synod.

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