By Stacey Egger
TAMPA, Fla. — On Tuesday, July 23, at the 67th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), Floor Committee 11 on Church and Culture passed resolutions regarding racism, care for immigrant neighbors, and sexual-orientation and gender-identity issues.
“These issues are in the headlines every day, and our people … are confused by what they hear,” said Floor Committee 11 Chairman Rev. Terry Forke, president of the LCMS Montana District. “They want to hear the clear Word of God.”
In accordance with resolutions passed in 10 prior Synod conventions since 1959, delegates unanimously passed Res. 11-04A, “To Affirm the Common Humanity of All People and Ethnicities.”
Through its support of this resolution, the LCMS:
- “Publicly [condemns] the sin of racism in all its manifestations”;
- Asserts that this sin “has its roots in the sins of pride and arrogance,” that it is “contrary to the law of love,” and that it “denies the biblical truth that all humanity has a common origin in Adam”; and
- Encourages its members “to work toward racial reconciliation and equality within the Church and within society-at-large, praying that those who advocate racist ideologies and those who are deceived by them be brought to repentance, and that justice and healing come to those who have been wounded.”
Harrison reminds delegates of ‘two kingdoms’
LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison counseled the body as Res. 11-05A, “To Encourage Responsible Citizenship and Compassion Toward Neighbors Who Are Immigrants Among Us,” was brought to the convention floor.
“We live in two kingdoms,” said Harrison. “We don’t all agree on the specifics of immigration laws in this church. Those are not mandated by the Bible. … I may have views on the left-hand kingdom [civil authority] that are very strong in one way or another. In the right-hand kingdom, the kingdom of the Church, I have Jesus’ mandate of the Good Samaritan. My neighbor’s need is my vocation to mercy.”
Harrison urged the body to set aside their political views and consider their Christian vocation to serve their neighbor as they considered the resolution: “You may very well believe in building a wall in one kingdom, but in the other kingdom, my neighbor’s need is my call to mercy.”
Compassion toward immigrant neighbors
Res. 11-05A was met with a positive response from the delegates in discussion, who largely sought to strengthen the wording of the resolution, to help ensure freedom of conscience for the members of their churches to care for any and all of their neighbors in need.
An amendment to the resolution, which added a resolve that “members of the Synod give bold witness, in keeping with the Scriptures and Confessions, against inhumane treatment and attitudes towards immigrants, war refugees, and minorities,” was suggested and passed on the floor.
Among the other points of the resolution are:
- Encouragement of LCMS members to recognize “their calling to see the immigrant and the stranger as their neighbor”;
- Resolve “not to allow political divisions to become church divisions”; and
- Commendation of the 2012 LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations report Immigrants Among Us: A Lutheran Framework for Addressing Immigration Issues.
The amended resolution passed with 89.4 percent of the vote.
Forke felt that this resolution was timely and important because “there is so much confusion and concern. Our people want to love their neighbor, but they also want to be obedient to the laws of the land. So we hope that we gave some direction today.”
Sexual orientation and gender identity
The committee also brought Res. 11-03A, “To Encourage Synod to Develop Resources to Aid Congregations and Schools regarding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues,” which passed with 96.8 percent of the vote.
Among the points of the resolution are:
- Reaffirmation of “the biblical truth that God created humanity as male and female”;
- Condemnation of “acts of abuse” committed against all those people — “our neighbors, beloved of God” — who experience sexual-orientation or gender-identity issues;
- Thanksgiving for those who experience these issues yet “continue to live chaste and decent lives in repentant faith”;
- Encouragement for LCMS congregations, districts and Synod entities to seek the counsel and leadership of these individuals in creating ministry resources;
- Resolve to “minister compassionately” to those experiencing sexual-orientation and gender-identity issues and to their families and friends; and
- Direction to the Office of National Mission, Concordia Publishing House, the seminaries and the Concordia University System to continue to develop resources “that enable the church to confess the truth boldly and minister compassionately” to those who experience these issues and those who care for them.
“[These issues] are in people’s lives every single day,” said Forke. “They don’t know how to handle it, they’re afraid. … So we thought it was very important to encourage our people to recognize these issues as a way to demonstrate the love of Christ to people who are lost and confused and need a word of help.”
Posted July 23, 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: