Worker wellness merits its own committee

The Rev. Dr. David P.E. Maier, chairman of Committee 18 and president of the LCMS Michigan District, encourages church workers to take care of themselves as part of his introduction for the resolutions on worker wellness on Thursday, July 14, at the 66th Regular Convention of the LCMS in Milwaukee. (LCMS/Michael Schuermann)

The Rev. Dr. David P.E. Maier, chairman of Committee 18 and president of the LCMS Michigan District, encourages church workers to take care of themselves as part of his introduction for the resolutions on worker wellness on Thursday, July 14, at the 66th Regular Convention of the LCMS in Milwaukee. (LCMS/Michael Schuermann)

By Sarah E. Ludwig

MILWAUKEE (July 14, 2016) — Worker wellness was at the top of the agenda on Thursday, the last day of the 66th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Up for approval were six resolutions from Floor Committee 18, Worker Wellness.

The Rev. Dr. David P.E. Maier, the committee’s chairman and president of the LCMS Michigan District, introduced the resolutions by noting that church workers tend to not want to focus on themselves.

“One of the major problems in the church over the last number of decades has been clergy and professional church worker burnout,” he said. “What sort of person are we becoming? Are we like someone giving classes on car maintenance while driving around in a dangerous, battered, old beater ourselves? Are we like a music teacher too busy to tune our own violin?”

Resolution 18-01, “To Commend Work of Concordia Plan Services [CPS] and Its President and CEO James Sanft,” was brought to the floor first. It was adopted with a 97.37 percent majority, after which the assembly stood and sang the Doxology. Sanft thanked a number of people, including his wife; the CPS board of directors, staff and community; and the convention delegates.

The next resolution presented was 18-02A, “To Task Board for National Mission to Develop Policies for Assessing Worker Wellness and Making Recommendations for Worker Care.” This resolution exhorts the board to work on policies addressing issues such as the promotion and funding of worker wellness, developing opportunities for sabbaticals, finding weak spots in wellness throughout the Synod and providing resources on specialized worker-wellness programs. The resolution passed with 98.47 percent in favor.

Up next was resolution 18-03A, “Addressing Indebtedness of Church Work Professionals,” a call to the Concordia seminaries, colleges and universities to look into alternative funding sources and provide financial counseling to church workers, as well as to congregations and districts to financially support church leaders in training.

A friendly amendment to include current church workers in the last “resolve” — to read, “Resolved, that districts of the Synod be encouraged to develop means by which they may financially assist current church workers and students preparing for church work careers” — was accepted by the committee. The resolution was passed by a 98.45 percent majority.

Likewise, Resolution 18-04, “To Encourage Congregations, Ministries, and Church Workers to Develop an Intentional Wellness Care Plan”; Resolution 18-05, “To Encourage District Presidents, Circuit Visitors, and Congregations to Utilize Resources Already Established for Ministerial Wellness”; and Resolution 18-06, “To Respectfully Decline Overtures,” were passed by 95.71 percent, 97.57 percent and 97.46 percent, respectively.

Some 1,500 people, including about 1,125 voting delegates, participated in the 66th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod July 9-14 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee.

Sarah E. Ludwig is a freelance writer and copy editor and a member of Concordia Lutheran Church in Cresbard, S.D.

Posted July 18, 2016

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