''Letters'' April 2004

Let the Spirit guide delegates 

Does the LCMS believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is really in charge of His body, the Church, or does it not?  We speak of the “divine call” to serve as pastor, teacher, DCE, district or synodical official — but we act as if the Lord doesn’t know what’s best for His Church.
Do we think that the Holy Spirit is able to guide only voting assemblies in the local parish, and only as they call pastors and teachers for congregations?  Do we believe that the Holy Spirit cannot guide the delegates to the convention to select the man He wants to serve as Synod president, and with him, the vice presidents, directors, etc.? Do we know better than the Lord what qualities our Synod and district leaders will need?  Is this why it is so important to have “preferred lists” and label people as “liberal” or “conservative” and the like — because God doesn’t know who should be chosen, and the Holy Spirit cannot guide us in His ways? 
Let us cease circulating lists, promoting candidates, labeling nominees, plotting to elect “our” candidate, and all such skullduggery that has come to the fore over the past several convention cycles.  Instead, let us as a Synod — whatever label you may bear, whatever splinter group you may be a part of or agree with — let us instead pray.  Pray not that God would see to it that my candidate is elected, but that He will lead the convention to elect those He knows will serve His Church well during their term in office.  Let us pray that God’s will be done.  Let us pray in our congregations, in our groups’ meetings, wherever we gather, that the Holy Spirit will lead the upcoming elections and other balloting.
Let us put aside the notion that our candidate must be God’s man and ask the Holy Spirit to guide and direct delegates as He sees fit.

Rev. John Mueller
Saginaw, Mich.

The Board and the CCM
As a delegate to this year’s synodical convention, I was pleased to receive a copy of the March Reporter.  I read with interest the article on the opinions of the Commission on Constitutional Matters.  But what are the eight opinions in question?  It would be helpful if a future issue of Reporter provided even a one-sentence summary of each opinion so that readers such as myself would have some point of reference and be better prepared for the convention.  Thank you.

William J. Oehlkers
Providence, R.I.

Five of the eight CCM opinions that the Board of Directors in November said are “of no effect” define limits to the Board’s authority to direct how funds are allocated by the Board for Higher Education/Concordia University System; to direct the use of budgeted funds by the Board for Communication Services (BCS); to restrict the use of donor-designated funds by the Synod president; to reverse a Synod convention’s delegation of authority to the BCS for Synod-owned radio stations KFUO-AM and -FM; and to otherwise direct the programs of the BCS, including Reporter.  The other three opinions deal with “ecclesiastical supervision” and say that Synod membership cannot be terminated for an action taken with the knowledge and approval of a member’s ecclesiastical supervisor. — Ed.

Two different people
In the March “Letters,” Charles Gotta Jr. writes, “Joseph H. Constant wrote that he has been a member of a church where the minister’s wife was a member and it made no difference.  Has he been a member of a congregation where the minister’s wife was not a member?”  Maybe Joe hasn’t, but I have.  Some complained and whispered.  Most of us had the common sense to realize that the pastor and his wife were two different people: One was our pastor, and one was married to our pastor.
Like most directors of Christian education, I have been often encouraged to become a pastor.  Last year, I actually decided to take the plunge.  When I read on the DELTO Web site the requirement for wives’ membership, however, I gave it up without further thought.  Not because I couldn’t have asked my wife to become a member — she would have had I asked — but because I wouldn’t want her to become a member of a church body more concerned with an outward show of solidarity than having its pastors model a relationship based on love rather than obedience.

Tim Ihssen
Toronto, Ontario

The root of the problem
The Next Generation Task Force has five recommendations for making a positive impact on the number of teachers in LCMS schools that are not Synod-certified.  There is, however, an overall malady that also must be addressed: our difficulties in recruiting young people into the teaching ministry while retaining those Synod-certified teachers currently in our classrooms.
Our teachers are dedicated to their teaching ministry.  They ask only to be given the support necessary to provide for themselves and family in the places where we call them to serve.  Unfortunately, there are too many cases where the congregation’s dedication to their workers is not in place.
Fourth-source funding — balancing budgets on the backs of the workers — is too frequently the standard procedure.  Salaries are kept low; base salaries recommended by district boards are often reduced by 20 percent or more.  As if that was not bad enough, our Worker Benefit Plans continues to provide options by which our congregations can transfer an even greater financial burden onto their church workers.
Is it any wonder that some Lutheran teachers have had to leave their classrooms to search for work through which they can provide for their families?  And, I dare say it would be difficult to find a marketing agency that could develop a recruitment plan to encourage young people to enter a field where the workload and expectations are very high but the salary and benefits package may be less than the cost of one year of their undergraduate education.
If faith development in our children, as provided by our LCMS schools, is of the value we say it is, then we need a stewardship revival to move believing Lutherans to generously and vigorously support the schools and the teachers as well as all the ministries of the congregation.
Providing colloquy classes for the two-thirds of the teachers that are not LCMS-trained may indeed change those percentages.  However, if we do not address those worker-support issues that hamper recruitment and retention, this task force’s plan will prove to be only a Band-Aid while the root cause of the problem will continue to fester.

Glenn W

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The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Content is prepared by LCMS Communications.

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