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 Presidents 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.<
- encourage the concept and use of sabbaticals for professional church workers.
- urge districts to develop intentional ministry plans for reaching out to Armed Forces personnel and their families.
- encourage congregations, schools, and other LCMS employers to adopt “The Church’s Plan,” the new package of health, life, disability, and retirement benefits offered through Concordia Plan Services, and to do so by Jan. 1, 2008, so their workers receive past service credits.
Planning and Administration
Most of the 13 resolutions prepared by Committee 7 involve Bylaws changes that would:
- allow candidates for Synod president and first through fifth vice presidents to include brief personal statements with their biographies in the Convention Workbook.
- clarify roster eligibility of church workers.
- clarify the process for filling vacancies on elected boards and commissions.
- require emeritus members of the Synod to submit annual reports containing contact and other information to their district presidents.
- clarify the separate roles of the Commission on Constitutional Matters and the Board of Directors regarding the review of program boards’ and commissions’ policy manuals.
- clarify definitions used in the Handbook.
- add a process for removing individual members from a board or commission because of neglect of duties, “conduct unbecoming a Christian,” or other reasons.
- streamline the doctrinal-review process for certain study documents.
- specify the process for making convention floor nominations of candidates for election.
- equalize term limits for appointed members of the Board for Black Ministry Services and for all elected and appointed members of all LCMS boards and commissions.
Other resolutions seek to:
- allow Synod members to request and receive the official minutes of LCMS program board or commission meetings.
- reaffirm the use of the Synod’s dispute resolution process and condemn the use of secular remedies, such as lawsuits.
Synod Structure and Governance
From 71 overtures, Floor Committee 8 drafted 12 resolutions to bring to the convention.
Its first resolution proposes Synod Bylaw changes following the report of a special “Resolution 7-02A Committee.” One proposed change provides that cases of conflict or uncertainty relative to laws of the State of Missouri be resolved in accord with the Synod’s Constitution and Bylaws.
Other changes specify the business, property, and legal actions of other boards and commissions regarding which the Board of Directors may request, review, and, if necessary, require modification or revocation; provide that the Synod president’s appointments to the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) be ratified by a majority vote of the Council of Presidents; and establish a procedure for resolving situations when CCM opinions are thought by the Board of Directors to be contrary to state law.
Another resolution calls for a special Synod convention to consider proposed changes in structure and governance. The resolution encourages the President of the Synod to call the convention in 2009 after LCMS districts complete their conventions. A related resolution encourages response to a study document from the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synodical Structure and Governance. The document offers theological principles underlying LCMS structure and governance. The task force asked for responses by Jan. 1, 2009.
- affirm the current process for resolving disputes, disagreements, or offenses.
- recognize that congregations may use the words “inspired,” “inerrant,” “infallible,” or “revealed” in reference to the Word of God in their constitutions or bylaws.
- encourage study of Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) documents on public rebuke of public sin.
- call for a special task force to report to the 2010 convention after studying the composition of panels that hear cases of disputes and ecclesiastical supervision.
- specify a process for reconsidering an opinion of the CCM.
- add a Bylaw that the Commission on Structure shall consider Handbook issues referred by a convention, the president, the Board of Directors, or another agency.
- request the CTCR to study 10 overtures expressing scriptural concerns about three CCM opinions and, after consultation with the CCM and Council of Presidents, report to the 2010 convention.
Committee 10 dealt with a single overture, and ended up with a single resolution that asks the convention to affirm two names for consideration during the floor-nomination process for possible election to the Board for Black Ministry Services.
(Click here to read first part of story.)
Posted June 4, 2007