"Letters" February 2004

Take from districts?

I write in response to “Directors adopt policy in principle to set districts’ funding for Synod” in the December Reporter.

Some districts — certainly this one — have experienced stagnating and declining income from congregations for the past 30 years.  The problem of the Synod’s finances is not that districts are refusing to support the Synod, but that congregations are refusing to share more of their increasing income with both district and Synod.  In our district, the data show that congregational income has been increasing dramatically during the past 30 years, but the amount congregations send on to district, which then shares what it receives with the Synod, is declining.

The Synod Board of Directors’ proposed policy will, in effect, eliminate the districts as viable arms of ministry for missions in North America. The Board ought to focus on increasing the practice of Biblical stewardship within congregations rather than seek ways to take from districts, which are struggling to fund their own mission and ministry programs — such as starting new congregations, subsidizing mission efforts among immigrant peoples, funding campus ministry, funding ministry to the deaf, etc.  The Board’s proposal is shortsighted and destructive of mission and ministry throughout the Synod.

Dr. James H. Pragman
Executive Assistant
to the President
Minnesota South District
Burnsville, Minn.

I wonder why the folks planning this move have not considered the possibility that the districts are not forwarding a higher percentage to the Synod because they do not think that how the Synod spends the money is as appropriate stewardship of the resources as what the districts are doing?

In the face of such top-down decision making, the congregations may simply start forwarding less of their contributions to the Synod.  In light of how this decision is being fielded, as a pastor and as a contributor to the congregations, I certainly would cast my vote for such a move if the new policy goes through.

Dr. Charles S. Baldwin
High Point, N.C.

It seems to me that the time-honored system of funds coming to the district from the congregations, and then the district sending funds to the Synod, should not be abandoned without the congregations having a say in the matter.  I realize the convention delegates who will vote on the matter come from the congregations, but if the question were put to the laymen before the delegates are sent to convention, the delegates’ votes would reflect the will of the congregations
more accurately.

C.L. Summers
Atlantic, Iowa

The Board of Directors

The question begging an answer is whether the Synod’s legal counsel agrees with or disagrees with the opinion of outside counsel retained by the Board of Directors and which rendered the recent controversial opinions relative to the CCM opinions, powers of the Board of Directors, etc.  If the Synod’s counsel disagrees with outside counsel, the members of synodical congregations ought to be told in what way counsel disagrees.

Donald E. Snyder
Past member,
LCMS Board of Directors
Pittsford, N.Y.

A resolution adopted by the Board Sept. 18 resolves, in part, “that the opinion of the Synod’s regular legal counsel not be sought on this matter because of potential conflicts of interest and because it would place him in an awkward, difficult, and unfair position.” — Ed.

It is difficult to understand the recent actions taken by the Synod’s Board of Directors.  Executive sessions abound.  Little is done out  in the open.  Decisions are made despite the real concerns of at least four minority members of the Board.  The Board is concerned about Missouri laws but does not take into account the unique nature of the Synod as a church body.  Actions are taken that are in opposition to our Synod’s Constitution and Bylaws.  If my Church Board acted in the same way, there would be deep divisions in our congregation, and little work or ministry would be accomplished.

Rev. Fred Jacobi
Eden, N.Y.

The Board responds to such issues in “Board Briefs,” which may be found at www.lcms.org/?3990 on the Web. — Ed.

‘Emotional formation’

Thank you for your January article, “12 ‘themes’ to direct education of pastors.”  I was especially encouraged by the “theme” of “spiritual formation.”  To those entrusted with the nurture of future pastors, I would also commend the formation of their physical, emotional and mental wholeness.  All of these are necessary for one to serve with joy and to meet the expectations of a needy world.  I commend to the Synod’s Board for Higher Education the following criteria for emotional formation (maturity), written by William C. Menninger, M.D., co-founder of The Menninger Clinic:

  • The ability to deal constructively with reality.
  • The capacity to adapt to change.
  • A relative freedom from symptoms that are produced by tensions and anxieties.
  • The capacity to find more satisfaction in giving than receiving.
  • The capacity to relate to other people in a consistent manner with mutual satisfaction and helpfulness.
  • The capacity to sublimate, to direct one’s instinctive hostile energy into creative and constructive outlets.
  • The capacity to love.

Rev. Wilmer Reichmann
Cedarburg, Wis.

Pastor Reichmann writes that his letter is sent on behalf of the Ministerial Health Committee, South Wisconsin District. — Ed.

Our daily bread

Dr. William Meyer, executive director of the Board for Higher Education, hits the nail on the head in his plea for funding for the Concordia University System: “Where there is no money, there is no mission.”  This is a critical issue for every member of our Synod, for every congregation.  If we want the LCMS to survive, we must support our educational system.

However, tying up large sums of money in an endowment fund assumes that things of this world — securities, real estate, CDs, etc. — are better investments than the Kingdom of God.  Far better, I believe, to direct every dollar to God’s work the moment it becomes available.  We must, of course, be good stewards of His gifts, but needs exist now, when our Lord’s church is under daily attack and souls are dying in droves.  If needs are greater tomorrow, it likely will be because we failed to respond today. 

Furthermore, we do

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