Delegates vote to support, increase missionary force

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The Rev. Donald J. Fondow, chairman of Floor Committee 2, International Witness, greets the delegates of the 66th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod on Sunday, July 10, in Milwaukee. (LCMS/Frank Kohn)

By Cheryl Magness

MILWAUKEE (July 10, 2016) — On the opening day of business at the 66th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, delegates on Sunday adopted the first two of six resolutions being put forward by Floor Committee 2, International Witness.

Before bringing the two resolutions to the floor, the Rev. Dr. Donald J. Fondow, committee chairman, described the present day as a “crucial period in the world’s history” and stated “we cannot go forward by retreating.”

Resolution 2-01, “To Thank God for Faithful Service of LCMS Missionaries,” called for 1) singing the Common Doxology to give thanks to God for blessing LCMS mission work, 2) expressing appreciation to all who have served in international missions, and 3) coordinating a reunion for LCMS missionaries in the coming triennium at an estimated cost of $30,000.

The Rev. Harvey Kath of Nevis, Minn., kicked off discussion by speaking for the resolution, describing it as “inspiring and encouraging” in its potential to positively impact both recruitment and support of mission workers.

The Rev. Chad Touten of Fort Wayne, Ind., expressed concern about the cost of the resolution and moved to amend it by striking the third provision about the missionary reunion. After a short period of discussion, the amendment failed with 82.16 percent of delegates voting for it and 17.84 percent voting against.

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Tyler McMiller, LCMS missionary to Mexico, leads catechesis and a music lesson for young adults at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd on Feb. 13 in Mexico City. LCMS convention delegates adopted resolutions July 10 in support of missionaries. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

Resolution 2-01 went on to pass in its original form, 90.63 percent to 9.38 percent. Immediately afterward, Fondow invited all former missionaries in the room to stand and be recognized along with their spouses. Following a round of applause, the delegates and other convention attendees joined in singing a cappella the Common Doxology.

Also considered was Resolution 2-02, “To Thank God for Increase in Number of LCMS Career Missionaries and Invite Further Increase and Support for Synod’s Mission Work.” Resolution 2-02 noted that in 2013, Resolution 1-11 called for doubling the number of career missionaries and that since then the LCMS has increased its career-missionary force from 68 to 112 and has planted more than 40 new Lutheran congregations globally.

Also included in Resolution 2-02 were words of appreciation for the role of the TIM (Together in Mission) program and the NSM (Network Supported Missionary) model in facilitating and increasing awareness of missions and calls for prayers for the continued expansion of LCMS mission work, for missionaries and their families, and for an increase in financial and prayer support for LCMS missions.

During discussion it was noted by the Rev. Todd Roeske of Copper Center, Alaska, that the number of GEO (Globally Engaged in Outreach) missionaries, who typically serve for 1-2 years, has declined by approximately 50 percent. The Rev. John Fale, executive director of the LCMS Office of International Mission, observed that this was probably due to the increased focus on long-term missionaries in recent years. Discussion was ended soon after, and Resolution 2-02 passed, 93.50 percent to 6.5 percent.

Floor Committee 2 is scheduled to present additional resolutions on Tuesday, July 12.

The 66th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod runs through July 14 at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee.

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

Posted July 10, 2016 / Updated July 11, 2016 (attributing the observation in the third-to-last paragraph of the article to the Rev. John Fale, rather than to the Rev. Dr. Donald J. Fondow)

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