Convention delegates reaffirm chaplains’ right to free exercise of conscience

Capt. Gregory N. Todd, a chaplain for the U.S. Coast Guard, presents a resolution for Floor Committee 2 on International Witness during the July 12 session of the Synod's 66th Regular Convention in Milwaukee. (LCMS/Michael Schuermann)

Capt. Gregory N. Todd, a chaplain for the U.S. Coast Guard, presents a resolution for Floor Committee 2 on International Witness during the July 12 session of the Synod’s 66th Regular Convention in Milwaukee. (LCMS/Michael Schuermann)

By Cheryl Magness

MILWAUKEE (July 12, 2016) — On Tuesday, delegates to the 66th Regular Convention of the LCMS easily approved two more resolutions from Floor Committee 2, International Witness.

Before bringing resolutions to the floor, the Rev. Dr. Donald J. Fondow, chairman of Floor Committee 2, shared an LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM) video summarizing the Synod’s priorities in the area of international witness.

He then introduced the Rev. Nabil Nour, fifth vice-president of the LCMS, who introduced Resolution 2-03, “To Commend and Support Synod’s International Schools and Their Role in the Church’s Mission.”

Key elements of the resolution are:

• prayers of intercession and thanksgiving for the mission and ministry of the Synod’s three international schools,

• encouragement to the international schools to “find ways to sustain and broaden their impact in their respective countries and regions,”

• encouragement to LCMS educators to apply for positions in international schools, and

• establishment of policies by the Board for International Mission (BIM) to guide the Chief Mission Officer and OIM in their work toward shared goals.

After a short period of discussion, Resolution 2-03 passed with 98.85 percent of delegates in favor and 1.15 percent against.

Also considered was Resolution 2-04, “To Reaffirm LCMS Military Chaplains’ Right for Free Exercise of Religion in Face of LGBT inclusion in Armed Forces.”

The resolution briefly reviewed the Synod’s history of providing “qualified, called clergymen to serve all servicemen, servicewomen, spouses, and children during wartime and peace” and noted the challenges to military chaplains’ ability to follow their consciences created by “recent Department of Defense and Armed Forces policies … promoting LGBT rights, recognition and celebration.”

It then resolved that the Synod:

• give thanks to God for the calling of LCMS clergy into the Armed Forces,

• reaffirm willingness to continue doing so,

• support section 533 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which recognizes military chaplains’ right to express their sincerely held religious and moral beliefs, and

• reaffirm the Synod’s position against the “espousing or promoting of LGBT matters” so that chaplains remain free to care for those serving in the military without compromising their own beliefs or the doctrinal positions of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

Resolution 2-04 passed with 99.32 percent in favor and .68 percent against.

The 66th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod meets July 9-14 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee.

Cheryl Magness is a freelance writer, copy editor and musician and a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Broken Arrow, Okla.

(Posted July 12, 2016)

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