North Dakota delegates elect Baneck president

Delegates to the 55th LCMS North Dakota District convention, meeting Jan. 18-21 in Minot, elected a new district president — Dr. James Baneck, 47, of Mandn-dak-baneck.gifan, N.D.

North Dakota is the first of all 35 LCMS districts to hold their triennial conventions this year.

Baneck, pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Mandan for the past 16 years, was elected on the sixth ballot.  He and others elected were installed later in the convention.  Baneck is a 1987 graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.

Dr. Larry Harvala, the district’s president since 2003, left the position last year after accepting a call to the Fort Wayne seminary faculty.  Rev. Patrick O’Brien, who had served as interim president since then and who chaired this year’s convention, declined his name’s appearing on the ballot for president.  Delegates recognized O’Brien’s service by singing the Doxology.

They also elected two new regional vice presidents — Rev. Roger Sedlmayr, first vice president, for the district’s Eastern Region; and Rev. Arie Bertsch, second vice president, Western Region.  Sedlmayr is senior pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Fargo; and Bertsch is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Minot.

Among significant resolutions adopted during the convention is one that calls for exploring establishment of a new mission congregation in Grand Forks, the state’s third-largest city.  This would be the district’s third new mission start since 2007.

In other significant action, delegates unanimously passed a resolution that authorizes raising funds to forgive student loans through a Church Workers Assistance Program.  Specifically cited was the debt carried by seminarians.

Encouraging study of the priesthood of all believers and use of laity in ministry, another adopted resolution calls for increased support for rural ministry and Gospel outreach.

Representatives of the LCMS Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance presented the task force’s preliminary proposals and possible recommendations — as they will do for all 35 district conventions this year.  After they presented recommendations in each of several categories, convention participants prioritized those recommendations through a printed survey that the task force will consider as it continues its work.  Delegates also were given time to participate in a question-and-answer period with the task force members, and to make suggestions point-by-point.

Synod First Vice President William Diekelman served as convention essayist.

Posted Feb. 26, 2009

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