Delegates adopt measures strengthening Concordias’ confessional identity

LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison helps recognize outgoing Synod Board of Directors members Rev. Dr. Victor Belton, center, and Warren Puck, right, on Tuesday, July 12. During the presentation of Floor Committee 7, Concordia University System, on Thursday, July 14, Belton expressed thanks to the assembly for past and ongoing support of Concordia College Alabama, Selma. (LCMS/Frank Kohn)

LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison helps recognize outgoing Synod Board of Directors members Rev. Dr. Victor Belton, center, and Warren Puck, right, on Tuesday, July 12. During the presentation of Floor Committee 7, Concordia University System, on Thursday, July 14, Belton expressed thanks to the assembly for past and ongoing support of Concordia College Alabama, Selma. (LCMS/Frank Kohn)

By Cheryl Magness

MILWAUKEE (July 14, 2016) — On the final day of business Thursday at the 66th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, delegates approved three more resolutions from Floor Committee (FC) 7, Concordia University System (CUS).

The Rev. Timothy J. Scharr, the committee’s chairman, began by introducing its members and thanking them for their work.

Committee Secretary Mark Stern, lay delegate from Oakbrook, Ill., presented Resolution 7-02B, “To Preserve Concordia Colleges and Universities as Institutions of the Church and Strengthen Their Structural Bonds with Synod.”

Reading that resolution, Stern highlighted the “decision of Concordia University Edmonton [CUE] … to renounce its Christian mission, sever all ties with Lutheran Church Canada [LCC], and become an entirely secular, non-Lutheran and non-Christian institution.”

He read the list of the resolutions “resolves,” which included 1) commending the 2013 Res. 5-01A Task Force for its work on this issue so far, 2) renewing the appointment of the task force to continue its work through the next triennium and to report to the 2019 convention, and 3) calling for two wording changes in the Synod Bylaws.

Stern then invited the Rev. Dr. Patrick T. Ferry, president of Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, to speak.

Addressing the delegates on behalf of all the CUS presidents, Ferry expressed appreciation to FC 7 and to the delegates for their “warm affirmation of our work together” and said the CUS presidents were united in their support of Resolution 7-02B, as modified, and unanimously encouraged its approval by the convention. Shortly after debate was opened, the question was called and debate ended.

There was one point of information from Chris Singer of the Texas District, who asked whether the resolution would create any issues in the area of accreditation. Scharr said it would not, and the resolution went to a vote, passing 93.84 percent to 6.16 percent.

The committee then presented Resolution 7-03A, “To Amend Certain Concordia University System Bylaws,” for the sake of updating and providing clarity to bylaws related to CUS faculty policies and dispute resolution. After Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison proposed going straight to a vote on the resolution, it was adopted by a margin of 95.29 percent to 4.72 percent.

Finally, Floor Committee 7 offered Resolution 7-06B, “To Assist Our CUS Institutions in Demonstrating Our Common Confession.”

Noting that the 2013 Synod convention “restored the prior approval process” for initial appointments to both seminary and CUS theology faculties but that the approval processes are different and that “the Boards of Regents and Presidents of all of our Concordia institutions have demonstrated their support of … prior approval for theology faculty by their adoption of the Lutheran Identity Standards,” the resolution provides for amending Synod bylaws to make the approval process for CUS theology faculty the same as that for seminary faculty.

There was some discussion, with delegates expressing concern about the potential cost and time involved and with one delegate calling the resolution “heavy-handed” and arguing that “we need to trust those on the ground” to implement the Lutheran Identity Statement outlined in Resolution 7-01A.

Harrison responded by observing that the prior approval process for CUS theology faculty would be the same as for seminary faculty, mostly consisting of reviewing names and documents and following up with conversations if necessary.

It was also asked whether the prior approval process would apply to other rostered workers such as directors of Christian education (the answer was no).

The resolution was adopted 79.42 percent to 20.58 percent.

In addition to the three Committee 7 resolutions, the convention heard from the Rev. Dr. Victor Belton — a member of the Synod’s Board of Directors and its special representative to Concordia College Alabama’s (CCA) Board of Regents — who expressed thanks for past and ongoing support of CCA.

The 66th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod met 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 18, 2016

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