Delegates to the 19th convention of the LCMS Mid-South District returned the Rev. Dr. Roger C. Paavola of Memphis, Tenn., to the district’s presidency by acclamation. The only candidate nominated, Paavola begins his second consecutive three-year term in that office.
The convention met June 26-28 in Memphis.
Delegates also elected the following as district vice-presidents:
- Rev. Charles J. Neugebauer, senior pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church and School, Memphis, re-elected as first vice-president from Region 3.
- Rev. James C. Walter, senior pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Little Rock, Ark., newly elected second vice-president (Region 2).
- Rev. Paul E. Hass, senior pastor of Bella Vista Lutheran Church, Bella Vista, Ark., re-elected third vice-president (Region 1).
- Rev. Richard M. Elseroad, senior pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Knoxville, Tenn., re-elected fourth vice-president (Region 4).
Paavola and the vice-presidents were installed during the convention.
With the convention theme of “O God Our Help in Ages Past, Our Hope in Years to Come,” based on Psalm 90, delegates also took up 17 resolutions via electronic balloting (a first for a Mid-South convention). Among the most significant resolutions they adopted were actions to:
- amend the district’s deacon program by developing guidelines for deacons who are currently conducting Word and Sacrament ministry, specifying that they either apply for colloquy or enroll in an LCMS seminary Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) program by July 2016. The resolution also calls for the district to establish an SMP/colloquy scholarship fund for deacons seeking ordination. It notes that beyond July 2016, no applications for deacons working in Word and Sacrament ministry will be accepted. The resolution cites the Synod’s ongoing review and forthcoming recommendations regarding deacons and the conducting of Word and Sacrament ministry. Deacons currently involved in visitation outreach (as well as worship lay assistants) will continue without change.
- affirm the need for the district’s church-planting efforts, citing the Synod’s goal of establishing 2,000 new LCMS ministries by the year 2020. The resolution emphasizes several priorities to guide the district’s church-planting efforts, such as increased fiscal accountability, ongoing assessment of newly planted ministries, increased representation of the district’s Church Planting Committee and encouragement of new churches to plant new churches. The resoluti*on also cites the Mid-South District’s solid history of establishing new ministries that focus on reaching the lost.
- support the district’s continued work with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania’s Southeast of Lake Victoria Diocese (SELVD) to encourage those in that diocese in their Lutheran identity. The action includes providing $12,500 in district funds for LCMS-led theological training for pastors and lay evangelists in Tanzania, as well as a scholarship fund of $12,500 for SELVD pastors to study for higher degrees from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. The resolution also calls for Mid-South District congregations and schools to be encouraged to continue supporting humanitarian efforts in Tanzania through short-term mission trips.
- support the district’s continued involvement with Trinity/HOPE, an organization based in Lebanon, Tenn., that raises funds and administers programs to provide hot, nutritious daily meals to the children, teachers and cooks in Christian schools in Haiti. Through the resolution, the district commends Trinity/HOPE and its supporters for their work and encourages Mid-South congregations and schools to be in support of this work, blessing children in need by feeding them both physically and spiritually.
The Mid-South District convention opened on the day that the United States Supreme Court rendered its far-reaching opinion on same-sex unions. That topic dominated the Sunday-morning question-and-answer session with LCMS Third Vice-President Rev. Dr. Daniel Preus, the Synod’s representative to the convention. Preus centered much of the discussion around LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison’s official response to the opinion in the form of a letter to the church, which Preus read to the assembly.
The LCMS Mid-South District includes Arkansas, Tennessee and southern counties of Kentucky.
Posted July 2, 2015 /Updated July 7, 2015