‘It’ and the English language
Regarding the debate on Amendment A to change Art. XI. F. 2. of the Synod’s constitution (Oct. ’04 Reporter), the following observations:
Anyone with a sense of English syntax has no difficulty seeing that the pronoun “it” refers throughout to the Board of Directors, including the phrase “except in those areas where it [i.e., the BOD] has delegated such authority to an agency of the Synod.”
Why is “it” so obvious?
- The very next clause in the same sentence clearly states that the Synod convention can assign specific areas of responsibility to entities other than the BOD. The authority of the Synod is not at issue.
- In the previous sentence, “delegation of such authority to an agency of Synod” is spoken of specifically as a function of the Board of Directors. As the custodian of the Synod’s property, the BOD may delegate that authority to (other) agencies of Synod. The third sentence restates and expands the principle.
- In XI. F. 2., “it” is used four times. No one claims that the antecedent of “it” in the first three instances is ambiguous. The fourth “it” is not ambiguous in a context that is specifically describing the duties of the BOD. The Synod is always referred to as “Synod” in the article. Only the BOD is referred to as “it.”
Finally, the Article distinguishes between “delegating” authority (the BOD) and “assigning” authority or responsibility (the Synod). The wordsmiths who wrote this article probably included a lawyer or two among them. Nothing is left to chance. There is no ambiguity. Test “it” on someone who knows nothing about the political context of Amendment A.
The proposed amendment would change the substance of Article XI. F. 2. The article means what it says: As custodian of the Synod’s property and supervisor of the Synod’s business affairs, the BOD may delegate its authority to another agency of the Synod, just as the Synod in convention may assign certain responsibilities to other agencies or entities.
David O. Berger
St. Louis, Mo.
I actually doubt whether the majority of our members/readers fathom what the differences of opinion regarding the word “it” is all about. But there should be no question that the word “it” in the present constitution refers to the Synod, not to the Board of Directors.
The key phrase is, “delegated such authority to an agency of the Synod.” That has to mean that the Synod has done the delegating, because the Synod itself is not an agency of the Synod, whereas the Board is an agency of the Synod. To say that the Board of Directors has delegated authority to an agency of the Synod would be to place the Board outside such agencies, which is patently untrue. So in this case, language does have a built-in mechanism for clarity.
Rev. Donald Hoeferkamp
St. Louis, Mo.
God’s work in God’s way
I commend Dr. Bruce Hartung for his clear and strong support of quality health care for church workers (“Pressure Points,” Oct. ’04). The Worker Benefit Plans are among the finest health and retirement care packages available to church workers in any denomination. Hartung correctly points out some of the weaknesses with other, so-called competitive, plans (e.g., long-term coverage for aging workers). The Concordia Plans are our plans, designed to take care of the long-term needs of our workers.
Let me add another important consideration. Congregations desiring to balance their budgets by lowering the cost and quality of health and retirement plans for their workers are applying a short-term financial fix. Such a funding strategy will call for more similar moves in the future. The challenge is to address the larger issue of good stewardship. Someone once proposed the axiom that “God’s work done in God’s way will not lack for support by God’s people.”
Hartung dealt with the cost of Concordia Health Plans, but other financial challenges can be added. Budget shortfalls usually point to the larger question of whether or not we are doing God’s work in God’s way. When members are growing in their faith relationship with Jesus and are convinced that the ministry of their congregation is God’s work done in God’s way, they are much more inclined to support it generously with their time, talents and financial resources.
Doing God’s work in God’s way does not mean there will be no more struggles, conflicts and financial problems, but it does mean that we go to God’s Word and counsel, not our own wisdom, for instructing and inspiring our people to be God’s stewards who freely and joyfully manage all of life and life’s resources for God’s purposes.
Rev. Larry Reinhardt, Director,
LCMS District and Congregational Services — Stewardship Ministry
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Posted Oct. 28, 2004