Program and Finance
Recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission spawned five of the 15 resolutions drafted by Committee 4. Given highest priority is Res. 4-01, which calls on the Council of Presi-dents and the Board of Directors to hold a summit “of respected leaders throughout the church” to unanimously adopt a “symphony” demonstrating how the Synod can provide a “God-pleasing witness of our confession and practice.”
The resolution grows out of an observation by the task force that no funding plan can succeed in an organization “that is seriously divided and engaged in issues that divert their energies away from the ‘mission.’” The task force was requested by the 2004 convention.
Other “funding the mission” resolutions endorse current and proposed activities toward “stewardship renewal”; request the Council of Presidents to develop a clergy-mentoring and training program on “biblical whole life stewardship” to present to the 2010 convention; encourage LCMS budget support from Recognized Service Organizations; encourage participation in Concordia Plan Services, Lutheran Church Extension Fund, and the LCMS Foundation; and affirm efforts to achieve efficiencies through triennial fiscal conferences and regional clusters of districts.
Two resolutions reflect the establishment of Concordia Plan Services (CPS) as a separate corporation in 2005. CPS administers benefit plans such as health, retirement, disability, and survivor benefits for the Synod. One resolution updates the Bylaws regarding the corporation and name changes. A second would allow CPS to expand its board of directors from 10 to 13 members, adding more laypeople with benefit, investment, and finance expertise.
Other resolutions proposed by the committee:
- amend Bylaws to shift financial management responsibility for surplus funds of LCMS colleges and seminaries from the vice president finance—treasurer of the Synod to the Concordia University System.
- call for the Synod to continue direct funding to seminaries; undiscounted tuition to allow seminaries to better predict their income; and support from individuals, congregations, circuits, districts, corporate Synod and agencies to assist students in paying tuition.
- encourage the Board of Directors to seek additional funding to maintain and expand the Center for Hispanic Studies, now funded solely by Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, after the Board for Mission Services and Board for University Education eliminated support.
- recognize the 50th anniversary of the LCMS Foundation.
- allow Concordia College—New York to provide for property reversions in its bylaws rather than articles of incorporation.
Seminary and University Education
Of 38 overtures submitted on seminary and university education, Committee 5 has developed 11 resolutions for convention action.
Topping the list is a resolution that would create a new distance-education seminary track for “specific ministry pastors” who would serve as church planters and in other specific ministries. The Specific Ministry Pastor Program is endorsed by both LCMS seminaries, the Board for Pastoral Education, and the Council of Presidents. It is seen as a way for the seminaries to meet the expanding missional need for pastors as the Synod attempts to plant 2,000 new congregations by 2017 as part of the Ablaze! outreach initiative.
- call for a study of the ministries currently served by licensed lay deacons to determine if there continues to be a need for the program that certifies these workers — nearly identical in wording to a resolution offered by Committee 3.
- allow each seminary’s and each college and university’s board of regents to appoint up to four additional voting members.
- encourage all LCMS pastors to take part in continuing-education opportunities and ask congregations to support the continuing-education plans of their pastors by granting them study leaves, covering the cost of such studies, and providing additional compensation.
- propose Bylaws changes to prevent employees of LCMS colleges, universities, and seminaries from serving on either the Board for Pastoral Education or the Board for University Education because of possible conflicts of interest.
- amend the Bylaws to change the Concordia University System from an individual-member structure to a corporate-member structure.
- clarify the responsibility of the Board for Pastoral Education regarding LCMS Recognized Service Organizations.
- propose Bylaw changes that streamline the process for electing the president of an LCMS college or university.
- remove ambiguous phrases from Bylaws about appointing faculty members to LCMS institutions and granting faculty promotions.
Floor Committee 6 is proposing 10 resolutions.
Its first-priority proposal is to thank and praise God for the many LCMS members, congregations, and organizations that, in a “historic display of compassion and unity,” have given generous amounts of time, talents, and material and spiritual assistance to those affected by the numerous natural disasters which have occurred in the past triennium, including the 2004 South Asia tsunami and Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast.
Another resolution asks the Synod to help congregations provide legal and counseling services to undocumented immigrants responding to legislation enabling them to become residents and citizens. Committee 6 also asks the Commission on Theology and Church Relations to research the historical and theological foundations relevant to the “difficult and potentially illegal decision” of ministry to undocumented immigrants.
The floor committee proposes other resolutions to:
- emphasize that God alone is to give and take human life, urging LCMS members to give public witness against the destruction of human life in stem-cell research, while supporting adult stem-cell research, which does not take a human life.
- refrain from knowingly placing adopted or foster children into any “intrinsically sinful situations” where individuals and families are not living in accordance with the Lord’s natural law.
- provide materials and trained leaders to help districts, congregations, and schools address abuse aimed at women and children, and minister to the spiritual needs of those struggling with the effects of abuse.
- include people with disabilities in all aspects of the church’s life, and to educate church-work students for ministry with people with disabilities.