In a March 1 letter to pastors of the Synod, LCMS President Gerald B. Kieschnick announced plans to appoint a “Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synodical Structure and Governance.” The task force is to report its findings and recommendations to the 2007 Synod convention.
Kieschnick told Reporter he envisions a “broad and comprehensive” charge to the task force, “focused on relationships, representation, accountability, responsibility, and authority.”
He said one reason for appointing the task force is his experience with numerous layers of responsibility and accountability that have evolved over the Synod’s history. He said that in the Synod there is some confusion and disagreement about what the Synod is, what it does, and how it functions.
In his letter, the president expressed concern that internal disagreements weaken the witness to “the oneness that is ours in Christ.” He wrote: “One matter causing contention during and following the 2004 convention relates to the limits of authority of the Synod’s Board of Directors.”
Kieschnick’s letter noted that Amendment A — the proposed amendment to the Synod Constitution regarding the authority of the Board of Directors — failed to receive the two-thirds majority necessary for ratification. Because both supporters and opponents of the amendment sought to influence the voting process, the president wrote, “Pastors and people reported to the district presidents confusion, consternation, and uncertainty regarding the issues at stake and how best their congregations might respond. The people are not at peace in their place!”
In the interview with Reporter, Kieschnick observed that 56 percent of the Synod’s congregations voted on Amendment A. While 52 percent voted to affirm it, a 66 percent approval was required.
He noted that the convention did approve amendments to the Synod’s Articles of Incorporation and bylaws with regard to the Board of Directors’ authority. Among these changes was insertion of language in Bylaw 1.04 c that limits the board’s authority “to the extent management authority and duties have been delegated by the Constitution, Articles of Incorporation, bylaws or resolutions of a synodical convention to other officers and agencies of the Synod or to separate corporate or trust entities.”
Kieschnick also observed that the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) opined in October that failure to ratify the amendment “would not affect the implementation or validity of any other resolutions or changes to the bylaws passed at the 2004 convention.” The Board of Directors has asked the CCM to review this opinion.
In its resolution adopting the bylaw changes, the convention also directed the president and Board of Directors to appoint a committee to address officer and board responsibilities and report to the 2007 convention. The board has proposed the committee include the president, first vice president, secretary, treasurer, and chief administrative officer. It addition, it will include two board members, two district presidents and two executive directors of boards and commissions — one of each appointed by the board and the president.
The board chose board member Walter Tesch; Rev. Ron Garwood, president of the Wyoming District; and Rev. Matthew Harrison, executive director of LCMS World Relief/Human Care. Kieschnick has chosen board member Dr. Jean Garton; Dr. William Meyer, executive director of the Board for University Education; and Dr. Lane Seitz, president of the Minnesota South District.
“Because this committee is narrowly focused and there are so many governmental, structural issues that do not enhance and sometimes frustrate the objectives of the Synod, I chose to appoint the Blue Ribbon Task Force to study the issue more broadly and comprehensively,” Kieschnick told Reporter.
Kieschnick said, “People have different opinions on how the Synod should operate. My interest is that, to the greatest extent possible, the mission of the Synod, under God’s grace, in accord with Scripture and the Confessions, ought to be enhanced.”
Posted March 31, 2005