The Synod’s Council of Presidents (COP) has set Sept. 12-14, 2006, for a National Circuit Counselors Conference. It would be the first such conference since 1991.
President Gerald Kieschnick and the COP’s Program Committee recommended to the COP that the conference be in September 2006, shortly after the next triennial round of district conventions. That would allow new district presidents and new circuit counselors elected at those conventions to attend, they said.
Kieschnick raised the possibility of a circuit counselors conference with the COP at its September 2004 meeting. The council set the date for the conference at its Feb. 19-22 meeting in St. Louis.
The intent of the conference is to bring together the Synod’s 640 circuit counselors, 112 district vice presidents, and the COP — the Synod’s president, five vice presidents, and 35 district presidents.
“We will focus our efforts on the responsibilities of a circuit counselor in the context of prayer, devotions, and Bible study,” Kieschnick told Reporter. “We’ll also share ideas about what can be done, under the Spirit’s guidance, to strengthen our circuits and thus help foster a greater degree of unity in doctrine and practice in the Synod.”
Kieschnick told the COP that estimates set the cost of the conference at nearly $800,000, including travel, lodging, meals, and other expenses. He said his office would provide $515,000 — $490,000 from a block grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, allocated by the Synod’s corporate executives, and $25,000 from the Synod budget. To make up the balance needed, the COP agreed that each district would find a way to pay $350 for each of its attendees.
According to the Synod’s bylaws, the circuit counselor is the “principal officer” of the circuit of congregations. The bylaws also list a number of duties in his relationships with congregations, pastors, other called workers, and the district president.
“Our Synod has been organized into circuits for a long time, and they have fostered collegial relationships, the study of Scripture and the Confessions, and discussion of cases of casuistry,” Kieschnick observed. “Circuit counselors are the right arms of the district presidents and very important officers of the Synod. But we hear reports that not all circuits are as actively engaged as we would like them to be.
“By the time we meet, it will have been 15 years since the last national conference,” he said. “It’s past time for another.”
Posted Feb. 25, 2005