By Megan K. Mertz
ST. LOUIS — At its Feb. 2 meeting, the LCMS Board for National Mission (BNM) voted unanimously to extend a call to the Rev. Lynn A. Hanson, chief chaplain at the Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Affairs Hospital in Hines, Ill. This was only the second call the BNM has issued since delegates to the 2013 Synod convention authorized the board to call specialized pastoral ministers with the adoption of Resolution 2-05B.
Hanson requested the call in April 2014 after accepting the position as chief chaplain, effective June 1.
During the meeting, which was held at Concordia Publishing House here, the board also heard reports on several ministry areas within the Synod and discussed its role as a policy-making board in light of them.
The Rev. John Fale, associate executive director of LCMS Mercy Operations, noted the “increased effort to work collaboratively,” both within and outside the LCMS International Center in St. Louis. He pointed to the response to the recent tension in Ferguson, Mo., as an example. Working with the LCMS Missouri District and the pastors in the circuit, LCMS Disaster Response, LCMS Black Ministry, LCMS Urban & Inner-City Mission and LCMS Church and Community Engagement came together to respond to the situation and help plan for a new Lutheran presence in the area.
The “Hope Center,” as it is currently being called, will likely offer free groceries, job training, after-school tutoring, character-building and DARE programs, and town-hall meetings as well as Bible studies, pastoral counseling and transportation to LCMS churches. The Synod, the LCMS Missouri District and the Lutheran High School Association of St. Louis are in the exploratory phase of the plan, which will start with a feasibility study.
Fale also noted the proactive approach the Synod is taking to plan for the future of Veterans of the Cross (VOTC), a program that supplements the low or inadequate pensions of retired pastors or their widowed spouses to help them afford the cost of necessities such as medication, food and utility bills.
Requests for VOTC help will “continue to grow,” Fale told the board. “We met with Concordia Plan Services [which administers the program] and identified a basement threshold where we can predict future applicants for Veterans of the Cross.”
Later in the day, the board heard reports from the Rev. Steven Schave, director of LCMS Urban & Inner-City Mission and LCMS church planting, and the Rev. Ross Johnson, director of LCMS Disaster Response.
Schave presented a plan for the LCMS Office of National Mission’s church-planting initiative, which uses “Witness, Mercy, Life Together” as the framework and Luther’s marks of the Church as a way to plant distinctly Lutheran churches.
Johnson said that approximately 2,000 LCMS members received Lutheran Early Response Training (LERT) last year. LERT teams are trained in the theology of mercy, and they respond in the days and weeks following a disaster.
Between September and December 2014, LCMS Disaster Response also awarded $460,034 in domestic and international grants. This money was provided to LCMS districts, congregations, Recognized Service Organizations and international partner churches to respond to tornadoes, storms, earthquakes, famines and epidemics.
In addition, the board finalized the BNM policy manual after receiving feedback from the LCMS Commission on Constitutional Matters. Next, the policy manual will be submitted to the LCMS Board of Directors for final approval.
“We heard some very good reports from groups in the Synod we’re trying to write policy for,” said the Rev. Steven Briel, chairman of the BNM. “We’re still wrestling with being a policy-making board … and how we coordinate policy and the oversight of it. The Board for National Mission continues to enjoy a good working relationship with the Office of the President, and we are very excited and encouraged to hear the great things God is accomplishing through the various ministries of the LCMS.”
The next meeting of the LCMS Board for National Mission is set for June 1-2.
Megan K. Mertz (email@example.com) is a staff writer with LCMS Communications.
Posted Feb. 24, 2015