Eight convention floor committees, meeting in St. Louis May 21 and over the weekend, prepared a total of 115 proposed resolutions for consideration by this summer’s triennial Synod convention.
The proposed resolutions were prepared largely in response to a total of 494 overtures from congregations, circuits, districts, boards, commissions, faculties and other sources.
In his report at the opening of the weekend, Synod President Gerald B. Kieschnick told those present, “It is both my counsel to you and my prayer to God that every resolution you prepare for presentation to the convention of our Synod will reflect this mission theme and will enhance this mission accomplishment, to the glory of God and for the salvation of many of the people of the world who do not now confess the name of Jesus.”
The proposed resolutions will be printed in the first issue of the daily convention guide, Today’s Business, which is to be mailed this month to delegates and congregations. They also will be available by June 4, on the Web, at www.lcms.org/convention (click on “Resolutions,” then “Today’s Business”).
Here’s a summary:
Emphases on “reaching the lost” and involving all Synod members in outreach are reflected in most of the 10 resolutions prepared by Floor Committee 1 (Missions).
A good number of those resolutions are related to Ablaze!, LCMS World Mission’s effort to share the Gospel with 100 million “unreached and uncommitted” people worldwide by 2017, and to recommendations of the Mission 21st Century Task Force, which spent more than a year researching why the Synod has lost members and how those losses can be reversed.
The top two resolutions prepared by Committee 1 “affirm the Mission 21st Century response to the Great Commission” and promote the “mission outpost” attitude endorsed by the task force. Those resolutions call upon the Synod to:
- be “confessional and mission-minded in a world that continues to change”;
- affirm the “priesthood of all believers”;
- expand outreach in “numerous cultures and among various people groups”; and
- prepare laypeople for outreach among various cultures.
Resolutions that relate to the Ablaze! initiative ask the Synod to:
- “commit to the task of working together to share the Good News of Jesus with 100 million people” by 2017;
- support the Ablaze! fund-raising effort to raise $100 million by 2010; and
- set a national goal to start 2,000 congregations by 2017.
Other missions-related resolutions call for:
- increasing outreach efforts in urban areas and among ethnic groups.
- organizing “mission teams” in LCMS circuits.
- encouraging Synod members to take part in short-term mission opportunities.
- encouraging “responsible contacts” with other Christian groups for theological discussions and for cooperative endeavors that “further our faithful witness to the love of Christ.”
District and Congregational Services
If delegates adopt a resolution proposed by Floor Committee 2 (District and Congregational Services), Lutheran Service Book and its Agenda being prepared by the LCMS Commission on Worship will become an official service book and hymnal for the Synod.
The 1998 convention encouraged the commission to start work on a new hymnal and Lutheran Service Book — scheduled to be published in 2006 — is the result.
Another Committee 2 resolution would have Scripture references in the translation of Luther’s Small Catechism approved by the 1986 convention appear in the English Standard Version (ESV), with few exceptions. That catechism will be in the proposed Lutheran Service Book. The worship commission, which has adopted the ESV for Scriptural passages throughout the hymnal, is recommending that the ESV be used for the catechism in future editions of the hymnal.
A separate resolution asks the convention to “affirm respect for diversity in worship practices as we build greater understanding of our theology of worship and foster further discussion of worship practices that are consistent with that theology.”
A new task force is called for in another resolution, to decide “appropriate nomenclature” for ethnic groups, determine their ministry needs and make recommendations to the 2007 Synod convention.
One resolution recalls “many memorable events and achievements worth celebrating” in Black Lutheranism and asks the Board for Black Ministry Services to start preparing for the 130th anniversary of Black ministry in the Synod, in 2008.
Commending LCMS District and Congregational Services — Youth Ministry for “many successful and spiritually uplifting Synod youth gatherings,” a resolution urges that more regional youth gatherings be held as an alternative to the more costly national gatherings.
Also among the 14 resolutions drafted by Committee 2 are resolutions:
- reaffirming Lutheran educators and schools;
- changing a Synod bylaw to require that pastors and commissioned church workers on the Board for District and Congregational Services be parish-based;
- strengthening Lutheran doctrinal education;
- supporting parish-pastoral ministry;
- encouraging spiritual discipline in the church; and
- establishing a task force to study styles of parish governance which would report its findings to the 2007 Synod convention.
Theology and Church Relations
Among the 15 resolutions Committee 3 (Theology and Church Relations) has prepared for convention action are calls to:
- declare altar and pulpit fellowship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya;
- foster “peace, harmony and trust” within the Synod for the sake of Christ’s mission;
- urge the continuation of Synodwide theological conferences that were initiated by the “model” theological conference in Phoenix in August 2002;
- affirm marriage as the “lifelong union of one man and one woman”;
- continue theological discussions with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and
- pursue ecumenical dialogues with other Christian church bodies.
Another resolution asks the Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) to prepare a study on “biomedical issues related to unborn human life, with particular emphasis on birth-control methods.”