Committees propose 97 resolutions for convention (Part 1)

Nine convention floor committees are proposing a total of 97 resolutions for delegates to consider at this summer’s triennial Synod convention, July 14-19 in Houston.

Eight of those committees met in St. Louis the weekend starting May 18 to form their resolutions.  The ninth — for Convention Nominations — submitted their only resolution earlier.

The proposed resolutions primarily respond to a total of 361 overtures from congregations, district conventions and boards of directors, church-worker conferences, circuit forums, and boards, commissions, and other official entities of the Synod.  Those overtures appear in the 2007 Convention Workbook.
For the last Synod convention in 2004, floor committees proposed 115 resolutions.

In his report at the beginning of the weekend, Synod President Gerald B. Kieschnick referred to the 2007 convention’s theme of “One Message — Christ!  His Love Is Here for You!” and to the Synod’s “One mission — to be Ablaze! — our hearts on fire in seeking the lost for Christ … .”

“It is both my counsel to you and my prayer to God,” Kieschnick said to the floor committees, “that every resolution you prepare for presentation to the convention of our Synod will reflect this theme and will enhance this mission connected to it, to the glory of God and for the salvation of many of the people of the world who do not now confess the name of Jesus.”

The floor committees’ resolutions will be printed in the first issue of the daily convention guide, Today’s Business.  That issue is to be mailed by June 15 to delegates and congregations.  The resolutions also are on the Web, at www.lcms.org/convention (click on “Resolutions,” then on “Today’s Business”).

The following is a summary of the resolutions, by floor committee:

Missions

Emphases on church planting and involving all congregation members in outreach are reflected in many of the 12 resolutions prepared by Floor Committee 1.

Just like three years ago, a good number of those resolutions are related to Ablaze!, the Synod-endorsed effort to share the Gospel with 100 million “unreached and uncommitted” people worldwide by 2017.

Resolutions that relate to the Ablaze! initiative ask the Synod to:

  • adopt a goal of praying and working for the “mission revitalization” of at least 2,000 existing LCMS congregations by 2017, and to support those revitalization efforts.
  • encourage “effective mission models” and develop “creative local partnerships” to start new ministries and congregations.
  • encourage the Board for Mission Services to provide training opportunities and manuals “to assist God’s people in mission development” and “intentional church planting.”
  • direct the Commission on Theology and Church Relations, in consultation with the Board for Mission Services, to prepare a comprehensive study document on the biblical teaching of the priesthood of all believers “in the light of the mission challenges of today.”  The document would be used “by the whole church, its congregations and church workers, and by LCMS seminaries and universities” to encourage Missouri Synod Lutherans to share their faith with others.
  • direct universities and seminaries to make “outreach for the lost” a top priority in their training of church workers.
  • receive from the Board for Mission Services a “detailed annual report” of donations received by Fan Into Flame, the $100 million campaign to support Ablaze! goals, and to publish that report Synodwide.

Other missions-related resolutions:

  • encourage “creative partnerships” between Synod districts and congregations and LCMS partner churches worldwide that would include prayer and financial support, the sharing of resources, communication, and encouragement.
  • commend LCMS campus pastors and other campus-ministry workers for “maintaining confessional integrity” as they serve college students, and ask the LCMS Praesidium to “continue to assess” LCMS campus ministries and their association with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and to submit a report to the next Synod convention in 2010.
  • commend LCMS military chaplains for their service and the Ministry to the Armed Forces for its supervision and support of military chaplains.
  • thank the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League for its 65 years of service and commend the LWML for its “primary target goals” and mission grants during the 2005-07 biennium.
  • commend Lutheran Hour Ministries for “its consistent mission focus and its pioneering efforts in adapting technology to the service of the Gospel,” encourage LHM in its plan to develop resources for congregational outreach, and ask LCMS congregations and individuals to support LHM and make use of its outreach resources.

District and Congregational Services

The first three of 10 resolutions from Floor Committee 2 concern worship.  Others address support for the LCMS National Youth Gathering, conflict in congregations, confession and absolution, and significant upcoming anniversaries in Lutheranism.

The committee’s top-priority resolution notes that although “previous conventions of the Synod have addressed the diverse viewpoints in our church body concerning worship, … tensions remain in our walk together.”

That resolution then calls for the LCMS Commission on Worship and the Commission on Theology and Church Relations to organize a model theological conference involving pastors and laypeople from all districts, along with representatives of CUS schools and the two seminaries, to “build a greater understanding of our theology of worship and foster further discussion of worship practices that are consistent with that theology.”

The resolution also encourages districts to organize similar conferences “to further discussion and understanding” and asks the worship commission to consult with the Council of Presidents and college and seminary faculties in preparing studies on the topic for circuits and congregations.

The second-priority resolution asks the Commission on Worship “to provide guidance and direction for the use of diverse/contemporary worship resources” — to quote its title — that reflect sound Lutheran theology.  This would take place through “Web-based resources,” seminars and conferences, a network of Lutheran composers “who write in a contemporary style,” and other means.

That resolution notes that currently there is “no means of gathering and disseminating these songs and resources that they might be shared with the church-at-large ….”

“Thanks and praise to God” for the Synod’s new Lutheran Service Book, its companion volumes, and the electronic Lutheran Service Builder, and for those who prepared the resources, is the gist of the other worship-related resolution, which also calls on congregations and others to continue to buy and use those resources.

If adopted, Resolution 2-04 would authorize the Synod president — working with the Board for Mission Services and the Synod’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Hispanic Ministry — to appoint a “director for strategic development of Hispanic ministries” as soon as funding is available.

That was the top recommendation from a National Hispanic Summit in the Synod earlier this year.

The resolution calling for continued support for National LCMS Youth Gatherings notes that in the 30-year history of 10 such Gatherings, “more than 200,000 people have been blessed by God … and impacted … by these events, and thousands more have been touched through the stories and experiences … shared through their congregations back home.”  It asks the Synod to “give thanks to God” for these Gatherings, continue its support for them, and calls for expressing appreciation to the LCMS Board for District and Congregational Services and the National LCMS Youth Gathering Executive Team/Steering Committee.

Congregations in conflict — especially those where “conflicts are left unresolved and unaddressed because congregations are unaware of possible resources” — would benefit from resources to “help identify conflict in its early stages,” according to a resolution that asks the Council of Presidents, circuit counselors, and the Commission on Ministerial Growth and Support to develop such resources.

The resolution encouraging individual confession and absolution asks pastors and congregations to conduct studies that might lead to making that practice available regularly, and asks the seminaries to “provide additional guidance.”

Two separate resolutions call for resources and events to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in 2017, as well as the 200th birthday of Wilhelm Loehe in 2008, Friedrich Wyneken in 2010, and C.F.W. Walther in 2011.

Theology and Church Relations

Committee 3’s top-priority resolution, should delegates adopt it, would have the Synod formally declare altar and pulpit fellowship with The American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC), a Minneapolis-based church body formed in 1987 by pastors and congregations concerned about doctrinal positions of the church bodies that eventually established the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

If the resolution is adopted, the Synod also would recognize the AALC as a partner church — a relationship it currently has with no other church body in the United States.

The fellowship and partner-church proposal comes after doctrinal discussions held in 2005 and 2006 between representatives of the two churches.  Even before that — between 1988-98 — five meetings took place for sharing information “and exploring areas of agreement in official documents,” according to the “Preamble” of the resolution.

At its Feb. 14-16, 2007, meeting, the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) unanimously adopted a resolution recommending altar and pulpit fellowship between the LCMS and the AALC.

The AALC has 79 congregations, 107 active pastors, and 14,137 baptized members.

Another resolution asks the CTCR to “develop a plan for confessional leadership that basically would involve coordinating “fundamentally constructive and intentionally supportive efforts such as theological symposia, conferences, and other opportunities for study of confessional Lutheran theology, to uphold and nurture confessional Lutheranism.”

Members of partner churches and others would be invited to participate in such programs.

Noting that “all people have a natural knowledge of God but such knowledge is not saving knowledge,” a proposed resolution asks the CTCR to prepare a study of “the natural knowledge of God, and especially its implications for our public witness, in consultation with the seminary faculties.”

A “whereas” of that resolution states that an understanding of the natural knowledge of God “can assist members of the congregations of the LCMS in their witness.”

The CTCR would address environmental issues if a resolution is adopted which asks the commission to “develop a biblical and confessional report on responsible Christian stewardship of the environment for use by Synod entities including our schools and churches as they develop resources for the church at-large.”

“The Synod has consistently encouraged its pastors and congregations to continue to abide by the practice of close(d) Communion,” begins a resolution which also notes that “social and cultural changes in recent decades have presented new challenges for pastors and congregations as they seek to administer the Sacrament in faithfulness to biblical principles and norms in a way that communicates the loving and pastoral care that informs this practice.”

The recommended action commends “for study and guidance” the CTCR’s 1999 report on “Admission to the Lord’s Supper” and asks the commission “to continue to provide practical guidance for responsible pastoral care in the administration of the Sacrament of the Altar, especially at the parish level ….”

Circuit conferences are encouraged to use the “Faithful and Afire” Bible studies prepared by the Synod Praesidium in a resolution asking pastors to “provide leadership in celebrating and strengthening … unity by their full participation in their circuit pastoral conferences as places for theological dialogue and for the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren.”

Another proposed resolution calls  for study of CTCR reports relating to the service of women in the church. It asks the convention to commend Section 3 of the commission’s “Response to Expressions of Dissent (2004-06),” and calls for

a Synodwide study of the CTCR’s report on the scriptural relationship of man and woman after its expected completion in 2008.

Other resolutions from Floor Committee 3:

  • ask the CTCR to coordinate preparation, in consultation with the International Lutheran Council, of renewed study of the Lutheran Confessions and the ecumenical creeds, in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in 2017;
  • ask the commission to provide discussion and guidance on the matter of serial prayer.
  • encourage use of the CTCR’s Web resource on “Religious Organizations and Movements.”
  • encourage publication of theological literature.
  • call on the Board for Pastoral Education and the LCMS Council of Presidents to study situations currently served by licensed lay deacons to determine whether the need continues for this position, and to give a report with recommendations to the 2010 Synod convention.

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Posted June 4, 2007

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