Delegates to the 44th LCMS Pacific Southwest District convention, June 24-26 in Irvine, Calif., elected on the first ballot the Rev. Dr. Larry A. Stoterau of Orange, Calif., to his sixth three-year term as the district’s president.
Also elected were:
- Rev. Timothy M. Klinkenberg, senior pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Orange, Calif., from Region 3, first vice-president. Klinkenberg was formerly second vice-president.
- Rev. Vincent R. “Vince” Harman, senior pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Yuma, Ariz., Region 4, second vice-president (formerly third vice-president).
- Rev. Lowell B. Kindschy, pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Santa Ynez, Calif., Region 1, third vice-president (formerly fourth vice-president).
- Rev. Kevin L. Kritzer, senior pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Long Beach, Calif., Region 2, fourth vice-president.
The newly elected officers were installed during the convention.
With the convention theme of “Chosen for This Moment,” based on John 15:16, Pacific Southwest District delegates adopted resolutions to:
- change a district bylaw concerning nominations for its regional vice-presidents. The bylaw referred to a slate of four nominees for each of the district’s regions, who consent “to live within the geographical boundaries of the regions if and when elected.” The new wording changes that to read: “to be an active member of a congregation of the region if and when elected.”
- affirm support for the Synod’s and the two LCMS seminaries’ Specific Ministry Pastor program. The resolution notes the “great benefit” those entities have seen since the Specific Ministry Pastor program began, the increasing need “for pastoral candidates to be trained and utilized in specific-ministry settings” and that the program “serves as a great model to refine and expand online and distance training.” In addition to affirming the district’s support, it also memorializes the 2016 Synod convention and “encourage[s] the Synod and our seminaries to further develop this training method for the sake of our clergy and the benefit of God’s church.”
- “Commend the Work of Licensed Lay Deacons in the Pacific Southwest District.” This resolution points out that the church “has benefited by the use of laity as Certified Lay Deacons and Parish Ministry Assistants” of the district and memorializes the 2016 Synod convention “to continue to support certified lay ministers in their respective districts in accordance with respect to the Augsburg Confessions, Article XIV [of the LCMS Constitution] and the Synod at-large.”
- overrule LCMS Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) Opinion 14-2724. That 2014 opinion clarified language in Synod Bylaw 3.8.3. As the resolution explains, the opinion “states in part, ‘Congregations may not send funds to mission societies and non-Synod entities for work in foreign areas without taking into consideration policies developed and determined for this purpose by the [LCMS] Board [for] International Mission as the only sending agency.’ ” After noting a number of points in defense of overruling the opinion, the district’s resolution calls on the 2016 Synod convention to overrule the opinion “and declare it null and void and of no effect insofar as it restricts the congregational right of self-government to fund and participate in such foreign mission activity as it deems correct and appropriate.”
- overrule LCMS CCM Opinion 13-2694. This 2013 CCM opinion, as stated in the resolution, “in effect amends Article II [of the LCMS Constitution] by requiring its members to abide by, act and teach in accord with majority-approved doctrinal resolutions and statements which are not mentioned in Article II.” The resolution gives a number of reasons why the district is calling for the 2016 Synod convention to declare the opinion “unconstitutional” and “null and void” and asks the Synod to “reaffirm its adherence to Article II as the sole confessional standard.” It also asks the Synod to “encourage districts to organize conferences of laity and ministers of religion to address and openly discuss the Scriptures and the [Lutheran] Confessions and inquire into their teaching with regard to those theological matters and problems that are currently contributing to theological disunity within the Synod.”
- ask the Synod “To Appoint a Task Force to Study Developing More Economic Models of Pastoral Formation.” Total enrollment at LCMS seminaries is “declining, and the costs to maintain and run seminaries are not declining,” the resolution points out. It also notes that Christianity is “in decline” in the country, that “there is a need for more laborers in the harvest” and that “students may not be attending the seminary due to the expense related to their education.” So the resolution memorializes the 2016 Synod convention “to direct” the Synod president “to appoint a task force to evaluate the pastoral formation processes of [the] Synod and develop recommendations that encourage more men to go into the ministry through more economically viable models.”
The LCMS Pacific Southwest District includes Arizona, the southern counties of California and the southern tip of Nevada.
Posted July 1, 2015