By a vote of 1,496 to 517, LCMS congregations have ratified the 2013 LCMS convention’s approval to amend Article XII of the Synod Constitution.
That vote of approval from the convention and the congregations changes the term “circuit counselor” to “circuit visitor” in two paragraphs of Article XII.
On March 5, Synod Secretary Rev. Dr. Raymond L. Hartwig announced the congregation’s vote of approval, which was by more than the two-thirds margin called for in Article XV of the Constitution. March 1 was the deadline for congregations’ ballots to be received by the secretary’s office. That was six months after his office submitted the ballots to the congregations.
Hartwig noted in a March 2 “Witness, Mercy, Life Together” online post that with congregations’ voting completed, “yesterday marked the final official action remaining from our Synod’s 2013 convention.”
The 2013 Synod convention adopted Resolution 7-02A, titled “To Return to Use of Title ‘Circuit Visitor’ ” by a vote of 704 to 257. A two-thirds majority “yes” vote also was required at the convention, before the measure could be voted on by the congregations.
Visitation circuits are grouping of congregations established by LCMS districts according to geographical criteria. A “circuit visitor” is a clergyman who, among other responsibilities, visits each congregation in his circuit when requested to do so by the district president.
In his written report on the congregations’ vote, which appears as a Reporter “Notice,” Hartwig lists a breakdown of the vote by each of the 35 LCMS districts, which Article XV also requires providing.
The 2013 convention also adopted Resolution 7-01A, titled “To Set Fort Clear Mutual Expectations in Carrying Out Office of Visitation.”
A Reporter and Reporter Online summary story about 2013 convention actions stated the following about Resolutions 7-01A and 7-02A:
“Committee 7 Chairman Rev. Richard Boche, president of the LCMS Wyoming District, described Resolution 7-01A as a move to ‘emphasize the importance of visitation.’
“That action, adopted by an 83.1 percent majority, lays out clear expectations for the Synod president, district presidents and circuit counselors (‘visitors’) of at least one visit per triennium with church workers and congregations under their ecclesiastical supervision and spiritual care. That resolution also encourages visitation beyond the minimum number.”
“[Resolution 7-02A] drew long queues of speakers at microphones — including [LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C.] Harrison, who left the dais to address it in his position as assistant pastor of Village Lutheran Church, Ladue, Mo.
“'[Martin Luther] bases the entire structure of Lutheran church government on the word “visitation,”’ Harrison said from the floor. ‘It’s about caring for one another. … Our Constitution is completely based upon visitation.’”