Delegates vote to support school, rural, black ministries; church revitalization, workers

By Paula Schlueter Ross

LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison chairs the Wednesday morning session of the convention during a presentation by the floor committee on Life Together. (LCMS Communications)

LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison chairs the Wednesday morning session of the convention during a presentation by the floor committee on Life Together. (LCMS Communications)

ST. LOUIS (July 24, 2013) — The ministries of early childhood, elementary and secondary Lutheran schools were highlighted today among a whopping 13 “Life Together” resolutions adopted by delegates to the Synod’s 65th Regular Convention here:

  • Resolution 3-03A calls for increasing the “witness, mercy and life together ministry” of Lutheran schools by making proclamation of the Gospel “a major focus of the ethos” of schools. The resolution, adopted by 99 percent of delegates, also “passionately” encourages all church leaders (ordained, commissioned, lay) to “support and increase,” at the Synod and local levels, the education ministry of Lutheran schools.
  • Resolution 3-04 authorizes the Synod’s Office of National Mission to convene a blue-ribbon committee on Lutheran schools to identify ways to help congregations embrace schools as a “critical ministry” and to support schools in the 21st century.

An amendment was proposed to change a “resolve” that calls for the development of “a set of collaborative and creative options for the future of Lutheran schooling in the 21st century” — adding “including homeschooling and/or homeschooling methods.” As convention chair, LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison declared the proposed amendment a “substitute motion,” or separate proposed action, adding that he is “very supportive of homeschooling.”

The original resolution was adopted by 97 percent.

Two Floor Committee 3 resolutions drew significant debate from delegates prior to their adoption:

  • Resolution 3-02B asks LCMS members to “respect one another and put the best construction on all things.” The resolution also asks that differences be addressed “personally and privately before making our disagreements public or bringing formal charges against each other.”The resolution — which was sent back to Floor Committee 3 on Sunday, July 21, by a vote of 75 percent (click here to read a related story)— was amended by the committee to delete the offending second resolve and add another: “That even when there seem to be clear violations of God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions, that harsh characterizations be avoided and that these issues be addressed in a spirit of gentleness.” The amended resolution was adopted by a vote of 88 percent.
  • Action on Resolution 3-13A included discussion on a failed (66 vs. 34 percent) amendment that called for Concordia Publishing House (CPH) to reprint the 1943 translation of Luther’s Small Catechism with the revised Explanation. The adopted (by 92 percent of delegates) resolution calls for updating the 1991 An Explanation of the Small Catechism and asks that a “more comprehensive and apologetic” catechism for adults be produced. (This resolution does not refer to Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation; it refers only to the 306 questions and answers that supplement the Catechism.)

This “catechetical compendium” will be “more comprehensive and apologetic in scope,” according to the resolution, and is to be produced under the auspices of the LCMS president’s office in cooperation with the Commission on Theology and Church Relations and CPH. It will “address issues that we face in the 21st century,” explained floor committee Chairman Rev. Dr. Donald Fondow, president of the Synod’s Minnesota North District.

Other “Life Together” resolutions that were adopted today are:

  • Resolution 3-05, which addresses responsible Internet use in congregations in light of temptations such as pornography. The resolution, adopted with 97 percent of the vote, includes calls to LCMS congregations and schools to “establish and implement Internet usage policies and employ Internet accountability software.”
  • Resolution 3-06A, which embraces Witness, Mercy, Life Together as the church body’s “mission emphasis” for the 2013-16 triennium. Passed with a 97 percent vote, the resolution includes six priorities: plant, sustain and revitalize Lutheran churches; support and expand theological education; perform human care in close proximity to Word-and-Sacrament ministries; collaborate to enhance mission effectiveness; nurture the spiritual, emotional and physical well-being of church workers; and “enhance” education from preschool through high school, including youth ministry.
  • Resolution 3-07A, which calls for promoting “mission awareness, support, collaboration and coordination” for rural and small-town, urban and inner-city, and suburban ministries. The resolution asks the Office of National Mission (ONM) to report to the 2016 convention on “the resources developed, their distribution and coordination,” and asks for respect for the gifts and authority of all congregations, regardless of size.
  • Resolution 3-08A, which reaffirms “faithful church revitalization” as a priority and directs the ONM to “review, evaluate and recommend” revitalization resources for districts and congregations. The amended resolution, passed by nearly 96 percent of delegates, had called for the ONM to increase its focus on “sustaining and revitalizing congregations,” but the word “sustaining” was dropped at the suggestion of a delegate.
  • Resolution 3-09, to support and promote black ministry, which asks the ONM to appoint a director of black ministry before the 2014 Black Ministry Convocation, if possible, and to produce a “formal historical account” of black ministry in the Synod.

The final resolution, adopted by a 95 percent vote, added a “resolve” that the convention acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Rosa Young — the “mother of black Lutheranism in the Black Belt” — and support the Rosa Young film project now in production.

  • Resolution 3-11A, which calls for supporting professional church workers through thanks, prayer, salary, continuing education and the establishment of “worker wellness committees” in every congregation. The resolution, adopted with more than 98 percent of the vote, asks the ONM to provide guidelines and resources to help districts and congregations accomplish these tasks.
  • Resolution 3-12A (with 70 percent of the votes), which affirms LCMS worship resources “old and new” and commends the Commission on Worship document Text, Music, Context for use throughout the Synod.
  • Resolution 3-15, which calls for producing resources for the study — and asking congregations to hold regular studies — of the Lutheran Confessions, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. The resolution was adopted unanimously by voice vote.
  • Resolution 3-16A, which thanks the LCMS Offices of the President, National and International Mission, and the Synod secretary, for their work and efforts in implementing the 2010 LCMS convention resolution to restructure the Synod. Res. 3-16A, adopted by a vote of 97 percent, also acknowledges the sacrifices of those who were reassigned or whose positions were eliminated in the restructuring.

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

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