By Katie Schuermann
MILWAUKEE (July 14, 2016) — Committee 4 on Life Together brought six resolutions before the convention on Thursday morning, and all of them were adopted, including four with more than 90 percent of the delegate vote, during the final day of the 66th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
“As believers, we are already united in Christ,” said the Rev. Dan P. Gilbert, committee chairman and president of the LCMS Northern Illinois District. “We want to bring resolutions that lead us to reflect that unity so that His body can do the work He has prepared for us to do.”
Heading the “Life Together” committee’s four resolutions brought to the floor was Resolution 4-01, which called for celebrating significant anniversaries of the two LCMS auxiliaries — the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) and International Lutheran Laymen’s League (Int’l LLL).
It notes that the LWML is observing 75 years and the Int’l LLL 100 years “of ministry and service to the Church.”
In accordance with the final resolve calling for those at the convention to “stand and sing the Common Doxology with all glory to God in praise and anticipation of LWML and [Int’l LLL] future ministry initiatives,” President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison bypassed the usual electronic voting system and simply encouraged all delegates in favor of the resolution to “rise and sing the Doxology.”
With its next proposed resolution, the committee asked the convention to reaffirm Witness, Mercy, Life Together as the Synod’s mission-and-ministry emphasis for the next three years. That also is the priority for the current triennium.
The resolution observes that nine LCMS districts submitted convention overtures suggesting emphases and calls for reaffirming the current emphasis by including the Synod’s six priorities.
It also asks that a seventh priority be added — to “strengthen and support the Lutheran family in living out God’s design.” It also calls for “special focus” on “ministry to and with people of all nations and races, preaching and Bible study, [and] visitation.”
The resolution passed with a 97.61 percent majority — 859 voting yes and 21 voting no.
The third-priority resolution of this floor committee asked delegates to approve convening a task force to “review” the Synod’s Recognized Service Organization (RSO) program and bylaws.
Currently, the program involves more than 300 RSOs, including social-services agencies, mission societies, camps and schools.
This resolution notes several significant changes in the 30-plus years of the program, especially for social-service agencies, and speaks of concerns over such matters as the objectives of the program and policies and procedures with administering the program.
One “whereas” states, “Current state and federal laws may negatively impact an RSO’s ability to ‘not act contrary to the doctrine and practice of the Synod’ ” and that “recent same-sex marriage rulings [have] serious implications for programs and services of RSOs especially in the areas of foster care, adoption, aging, and housing.”
The resolution gives the task force five specific assignments, asks for it to “begin work immediately following this convention” and calls for it to issue reports and recommendations before the 2019 Synod convention.
The resolution passed with a 92.87 percent majority — 742 voting yes and 57 voting no.
The fourth-priority resolution of Committee 4 appealed to LCMS congregations, workers and institutions “within Christian freedom and for love’s sake to retain a common order of service for the Lord’s Supper.”
Following discussion from the floor, Gilbert assured delegates that “no Jedi mind tricks” were hidden within this resolution, but that it commends, “for love’s sake,” the Order of Service to Synod congregations when celebrating the Lord’s Supper.
The resolution passed with an 84.49 percent majority — 795 voting yes and 146 voting no.
The fifth resolution brought to the floor by Committee 4 encouraged continuation and expansion of the Koinonia Project, assigning oversight of the project “to the Synod Praesidium” and resolving that “when there is a disagreement regarding doctrine and practice the baptized will come together through their unity in Christ to live out that unity as they study the Word of God and pray.”
“The Koinonia Project,” Harrison explained, “is an opportunity for people to come together to reach consensus on those issues which have divided us for decades.”
The resolution passed with a 95.65 percent majority — 879 voting yes and 40 voting no.
The final resolution brought to the floor by Committee 4 called for celebrating and commemorating the 75th anniversary of The Lutheran Hymnal.
“I think it’s good for our Synod to remember the heritage of that hymnal from a time when our Synod was in fellowship with the other confessional church bodies,” said Mark Stern, voting lay delegate Oak Brook, Ill. “It’s something that has stood the test of time. It’s something that served our church during its period of greatest numerical growth, and it still continues to inform the hymnals that are being used today.”
Stern also said he hopes that the LCMS will “remember these resources and continue to make them available for future generations so they can be incorporated into liturgical use.”
The resolution passed with a 94.21 percent majority — 830 voting yes and 51 voting no — after which delegates stood and sang “God’s Word Is Our Great Heritage” (TLH 283).
The 66th Regular Convention of the LCMS met July 9-14 at the Wisconsin Center convention complex under the theme “Upon This Rock.” Among 1,500 convention participants were some 1,125 clergy and lay voting delegates.
Katie Schuermann is a freelance writer, author, musician and a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Sherman, Ill.
Posted July 19, 2016
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