When the members of 18 floor committees gathered in St. Louis over the Memorial Day weekend (May 27-29) to draft resolutions for the 2016 LCMS convention, Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison explained why that number is so significantly higher than the seven committees who did that work for the 2013 convention.
It’s “to spread the work around more,” Harrison told the committees as they sat together in the chapel at the church body’s International Center for an opening Evening Prayer service, to hear the second part of the president’s three-part report to the convention and to get guidance and background on their assignments.
Harrison said at the beginning of his report that in 2013, “some committees had more work than they could comfortably and efficiently handle. We expect very strong, solid and excellent resolutions to be presented to the convention. We are directing each floor committee to focus on a narrower set of concerns, but in so doing, to go deeper and produce resolutions of greater substance.”
To form their resolutions, each floor committee combed through overtures submitted from throughout the church body and reports from task forces and other Synod groups and individuals. In all, the Convention Workbook for this year includes 336 overtures and 70-some reports.
The last floor committee to finish its work left its workroom May 29 — bringing the total number of proposed resolutions to 135 — 19 more than three years ago.
Those resolutions appear in the first issue of Today’s Business — the daily convention guide that is on the LCMS “Convention” webpage.
The printed issue of that firstToday’s Business — which also contains the text of the second part of Harrison’s report — is due for mailing by late June to the 1,135-some voting delegates for the 66th Regular Convention of the LCMS July 9-14 at the Wisconsin Center convention complex in Milwaukee. Also receiving it by mail will be convention advisory representatives and other Synod leaders.
“After receiving this mailing, delegates and representatives are encouraged to participate in meetings of the circuits or groups that they will be representing to receive reactions and suggestions regarding the business contained in this book,” according to the edition’s introduction from Synod Secretary Rev. Dr. Raymond L. Hartwig and several managing editors. Such responses may be submitted in writing to the respective floor committee chairmen whose contact information is provided in that booklet.
To hone their proposed resolutions, the floor committees will meet at the convention site twice before the opening service July 9. They will be in closed sessions July 8 and will hold open hearings on their proposals the next morning. Harrison is set to strike the gavel the next morning to begin the first business session of the convention.
In addition to developing proposed individual resolutions, the committees referred scores of overtures to be grouped in four “omnibus” categories: A — those that are the responsibility of others besides the convention; B — issues addressed by previous conventions; C — expressions of encouragement and gratitude; and D — those that they “respectfully decline.” By majority vote, the delegates could bring any of those overtures to the convention floor for consideration.
The first issue of Today’s Business also includes four “late overtures” that were submitted after the deadline for reports and overtures, but were accepted for the convention to consider.
The convention’s theme — “Upon This Rock: Repent, Confess, Rejoice” — is based on Matt. 16:18: “Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Posted June 23, 2016 / Updated June 30, 2016, with a clarification: The time for open floor committee hearings is set only for the morning of July 9.