By Kevin Armbrust
TAMPA, Fla. — Floor Committee 10, Ecclesiastical Supervision and Dispute Resolution, Chairman Rev. Dr. John C. Wille, president of the LCMS South Wisconsin District, presented the work of his committee to the 67th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) on Monday, July 22.
He began the committee’s presentation by quoting “The Power and Jurisdiction of Bishops” (paragraph 62) from the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope. Further explaining the work of the committee, Wille explained that we need dispute resolution because we are all sinners.
“You’ve heard President Harrison say that when he was elected, Synod kept its record clean. They elected a sinner,” said Wille. “You are a sinner, as I am a sinner. People think dispute resolution is a negative process, but it’s also a positive process of visitation.”
Wille further explained that in all of this, Phil. 2:5 admonishes all involved to approach situations with full humility.
Resolution 10-01, “To Amend Bylaws to Clarify Dispute Resolution Processes,” was introduced by the committee. According to the resolution’s preamble, “The Commission on Handbook, responding to a variety of observations from officers, agencies, and members of the Synod, has proposed substantive revisions of bylaws regarding dispute resolution processes of the Synod.” After some discussion, Res. 10-01 was adopted as presented.
The preamble to Res. 10-02B, “To Amend Bylaws to Clarify Call and Roster Matters,” states: “The Clergy, Call, and Roster Committee working with the Secretary of Synod and Commission on Handbook (COH 16-003), and in consultation with the plenary COP, has therefore produced a bylaw proposal intended to rearrange and restate the contents of several bylaw sections, which changes treat three broad topics.”
The topics addressed in 10-02B are “District Membership and Ecclesiastical Supervision,” “Calling Body Consultation with District President” and “Procedural Clarifications Regarding Inactive Status.” Res. 10-02A was adopted as presented.
On Thursday morning, July 25, Floor Committee 10 was invited to present Res. 10-03A, “To Give Thanks to All who Worked to Complete the Process Outlined by 2016 Resolution 12-14, ‘Regarding the Right of an Accuser to Appeal When a District President or President Fails to Act or Declines to Suspend.’”
To provide explanation for the resolution, the Rev. George J. Gude of the LCMS Commission on Constitutional Matters provided a brief overview (Gude offered to present a longer, 24-page explanation) of the ecclesiastical oversight process, especially removal from membership of the Synod.
The preamble to the resolution states, “Shortly before the 2016 Synod convention, the chairman of Floor Committee #12 (Ecclesiastical Supervision and Dispute Resolution) asked the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) … ‘In the event that a district president did not take action in matters of expulsion, was the process operative in the bylaws between 1956 and 2004, enabling the President of the Synod or the Praesidium of the Synod to initiate proceedings and present charges in an expulsion matter, in violation of the Constitution of Synod?’ The CCM’s answer (Opinion 16-2791) showed that not only was the President of Synod not in violation of the Constitution in such a case, but also that the President of Synod’s authority and capacity to act was inherent in the Constitution of the Synod.”
The lone resolve reads, “That 2019 Synod in convention give thanks to the COP, CCM, Secretary of Synod, COH, and BOD, who faithfully worked together to complete the task outlined in 2016 Res. 12-14 to bring the Synod’s Bylaws into line with the Constitution.”
Discussion followed the presentation of the resolution. Opinions were expressed by the voting delegates, advisory delegates, former district presidents, current members of the Council of Presidents and the secretary of the Synod.
After the allotted time for discussion, a delegate moved to postpone. This motion passed. Resolution 10-03A was postponed indefinitely.
“The CCM opinions and Bylaws are based on the history of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod,” explained Wille. “To say otherwise is a denial of who we are.”
Read an FAQ on changes to ecclesiastical supervision bylaws for further information concerning the changes addressed in 10-03A.
Posted July 29, 2019
The 67th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod met July 20–25 in Tampa, Fla., at the Tampa Convention Center under the theme “Joy:fully Lutheran.” For more convention news: