ST. LOUIS — Delegates to the 62nd Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod today (July 13) commended the Council of Presidents for their commitment to seeking peace in the Synod and requested materials to foster “peace, harmony and trust” in the church body.
In other resolutions brought by the floor committee on theology and church relations today, the delegates voted to urge continuation of conferences throughout the Synod to discuss theological issues, and to express support for the International Lutheran Council.
The convention said the Council of President (COP) — the Synod’s president, vice presidents and district presidents — “has committed itself to working for peace in the Synod for the sake of Christ’s mission to the world.” It commended the COP for its leadership in that regard.
An amendment added by the convention to the resolution says that the Mission 21st Century Task Force “has identified both inadequate attention to doctrine and the Synod’s difficulties in dealing with internal controversies as hindering the fulfillment of the Great Commission.” The task force looked at reasons for membership losses in the Synod.
The resolution, adopted 990-155, also:
* asks that Synod members “commit themselves anew to live in love in accord with the truth of God’s Word and to ‘make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities, and the world,’” a quote from the Synod’s mission statement;
* asks the COP, with the faculties of the Synod’s two seminaries, to develop materials based on Scripture — 1 John, Matthew 18 and Romans 12-16 were cited — and the Lutheran Confessions, for use in congregations and circuits, “which will foster such peace, harmony, and trust that together we may more effectively and faithfully fulfill the mission the Lord has entrusted to us”; and
* asks the COP “to lead those under their care to a renewed understanding of distinctive Lutheran doctrines, including the proper distinction of the Law and Gospel and the use of the Means of Grace, and their applicability to current issues.”
Most of the debate surrounding the resolution had to do with various amendments that were offered from the floor.
In a somewhat related resolution, adopted 990-155, the convention urged a joint committee of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations and of the COP to continue planning the sort of theological conferences that were held throughout the Synod over the past two years. It also encouraged conferences that are open not only to pastors, but also to lay people.
“During the past triennium, the president of the Synod called for a series of theological conferences for the purpose of discussing issues of concern and disagreement in the LCMS as a way of promoting greater unity, trust, and harmony in the Synod,” the resolution says. Those conferences began in August 2002 with a “model” event held in Phoenix.
The delegates said “we give thanks to God for the way in which these conferences have contributed to the goal of promoting honest dialog, greater understanding, and growing consensus on difficult and sensitive issues currently facing the LCMS.”
Delegates who opposed the resolution said conferences they attended did not provide real opportunity for study of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions and did not provide a vehicle for actually resolving differences.
Rev. Ronald Biel of Marco Island, Fla., commended the conferences, saying that the only way to peace “is to speak to one another.”
In other business brought by the floor committee, the convention voted without debate, 1,131 to 35, to “express appreciation for the International Lutheran Council as it boldly and faithfully confesses our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The ILC is a worldwide association of 29 confessional Lutheran church bodies, including the Missouri Synod. The leaders of other member church bodies have been in St. Louis as part of the kickoff for Ablaze!, the worldwide effort to reach 100 million unreached people with the Gospel by 2017.
The delegates said, “we pledge our ongoing prayerful commitment to partnership with the ILC as we work together to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations.”
Posted July 13, 2004