History, heritage surround Synod leaders’ installation

LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison shakes hands with Missouri District President Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan, as Harrison is installed to be Synod president for the next triennium. Harrison was elected to a third, three-year term as LCMS president earlier this year.

LCMS Missouri District President Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan (left) extends “the hand of fellowship” to Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison as Harrison is installed to be the church body’s president for the next triennium. Harrison was elected to a third three-year term as LCMS president earlier this year. (LCMS/Frank Kohn)

By Roger Drinnon

ST. LOUIS — Lutherans from across the Synod and some international guests converged here Sept. 10 for a Service of Installation for the LCMS president, the vice-presidents, other officers and board and commission members of the Synod, at historic Holy Cross Lutheran Church on Miami Street.

For the service, the Rev. Dr. Roosevelt Gray Jr., director of LCMS Black Ministry, preached about acknowledging one’s own sin, as one reaches out to lost sinners with the Gospel — echoing the Synod’s 2016 convention theme, “Upon this Rock: Repent, Confess, Rejoice.”

“There are still those who are outside of the kingdom, and they’re waiting to hear from us — not from angry people about their pitfalls and sins, [but about] the loving, compassionate God with arms outstretched,” said Gray. “He reminds us of His love and His gracious mercy … Jesus embraces sinners. Jesus loves sinners.”

International guests attending the service represented Lutheran churches in Mexico, Guatemala and Ethiopia.

“We were privileged to have the [church] president from Guatemala. It’s his first time to St. Louis, and we’re looking to sign a protocol document with the Lutheran Church in Guatemala,” said the Rev. Dr. Albert Collver III, director of LCMS Church Relations. “We also had [with us] the president of the [Lutheran] Synod of Mexico [the Rev. Isaac Guadalupe Garcia Castillo], which is one of our mission starts going back to 1915 or so.”

A Protocol Agreement between the LCMS and Iglesia Luteranna en Guatemala (ILG) was signed by LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison and the Rev. Dr. Abdiel Orozco, ILG president, a lunch reception hosted by Concordia Publishing House after the installation service. (LCMS/Frank Kohn)

A Protocol Agreement between the LCMS and Iglesia Luterana en Guatemala (ILG) was signed by LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison (left) and the Rev. Dr. Abdiel Orozco, ILG president, at a lunch reception hosted by Concordia Publishing House after the installation service. (LCMS/Frank Kohn)

“It was very exciting — the part where [each leader being installed] was asked if they accept the position [its duties and responsibilities], those kinds of questions that were asked of President Harrison and the others — I felt very privileged to be [here],” said Dr. Haragewen Kinde, vice-president of Mekane Yesus University, an affiliate of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus.

“Kneeling before the grand old altar of historic Holy Cross, I was consumed with thoughts of my own unworthiness to serve this great church body,” said LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison. “Lord have mercy on me and all of us at this pivotal time in the history of the LCMS and all of world Christianity.”

Harrison was elected to a third three-year term as LCMS president earlier this year.

After the service, the Rev. Dr. Daniel Harmelink, executive director of Concordia Historical Institute, led a walking tour of Lutheran historical sites within walking distance of Holy Cross Lutheran Church. The tour included historic buildings still standing in St. Louis, such as the Concordia College Recitation Annex and a former Lutheran school that became an art center. Harmelink provided historical anecdotes throughout.

“I think there’s a renewed hunger for [Missouri Synod Lutherans] to know about their past,” he said. “I find it exciting to see this renewal in interest [to learn] about their past.”

Concordia Publishing House hosted a lunch reception where participants gathered in fellowship after the service. During that time, the Protocol Agreement between the LCMS and Iglesia Luterana en Guatemala (ILG) was signed by Harrison and the Rev. Dr. Abdiel Orozco, ILG president.

Listen to the service

Roger Drinnon (roger.drinnon@lcms.org) is director of Editorial Services and Media Relations for LCMS Communications.

Posted September 13, 2016 / Updated September 14, 2016

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