2016 Convention Comments

Category: 2016 Convention

Synod Convention: Thursday

Greetings from Milwaukee!  I am writing this from the lobby of our hotel, where we will be waiting for the shuttle to bring us back to the airport for our flight home.  This has been an incredible experience, and I am very grateful to the circuit for giving me the opportunity to represent them here at Convention.  Our final business meeting was indeed busy, but there were plenty of opportunities for humor along the way.



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Synod Convention: Wednesday

Greetings from Milwaukee!  This Convention has flown by the last couple of days—not least because both the chair and the floor committees have been hammering their way through resolutions at a breakneck pace!  We have accomplished a lot of important things here, but a huge number of those “important things” today fall under one of two categories:  “We need to fix something in Bylaw X because it is [insert reason here],” or “Well, Legal told us to do it, so we’re doing it.”  And that’s before we had to elect people to national boards and college/university Boards of Regents! Those aren’t the most exciting resolutions to pass or elections to hold, but these kinds of nitty-gritty Constitution-and-Bylaw updates are necessary.  And the people we elect to these offices will have important responsibilities for the coming triennium.



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Synod Convention: Tuesday

Greetings from Milwaukee!  After yesterday’s business sessions got bogged down with arguments about the issue of Ecclesiastical Supervision and Dispute Resolution, it was nice to be able to really cruise through so much business today.  There were a few points of contention, but compared to some previous conventions, it’s my understanding that this one has been relatively smooth.



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Synod Convention: Monday

Greetings from Milwaukee!  We are just under halfway through the convention, but it seems like we still have an enormous amount of work left to do before we return home on Thursday.  Today the Convention heard an essay from the Rev. Roosevelt Gray, Jr., Director of LCMS Black Ministry, on the subject of repentance, before he and a few other pastors went to the site of the “Black Lives Matter” protest a couple blocks from the convention center in order to pray with those present.  Beyond the convention essay, 6 floor committees brought business to the convention floor (in addition to elections for Secretary of Synod and regional members of the LCMS Board of Directors), but we didn’t get through nearly as many resolutions as perhaps we would have liked.



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Synod Convention: Sunday

Greetings from Milwaukee!  Today was the first day of real business for the Convention, and we had a lot to accomplish.  Today’s business included elections for the Synod Vice-Presidents, floor nominations for Secretary of Synod, floor time for several floor committees, and our first Convention essay (presented by Dr. Lawrence Rast, President of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne).



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Synod Convention: Saturday

Greetings from Milwaukee!  We just arrived here for the Convention a couple hours ago, and I’m already excited.  However, the travel getting here was not fun.  First we got up at 3:30 for an 8 AM flight, but that got delayed until 10, meaning that our 3-hour layover turned into less than 1.  To make up for that, our next flight was delayed 30 minutes… meaning that for both flights we sat in the terminal longer than we sat on the airplane!



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Licensed Lay Deacons--Conclusion (Maybe)

At the end of my last article about the Licensed Lay Deacon issue, I indicated that this time around I will talk about the history of deacons, something which I have already discussed a bit in my previous articles.  The office of Deacon is the oldest “auxiliary” (helping) office in the Church, and one which has blessed the Church greatly over the centuries.



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Licensed Lay Deacons--Theology

Thus far I’ve discussed the background of the “Licensed Lay Deacon” issue, as far as this Convention is concerned:  the concern is with laymen who are serving in the pastoral office without being properly called and ordained as pastors.  I’ve also discussed the history of this issue:  in 1989 the Synod Convention permitted the licensure of laymen to serve in Word and Sacrament in emergency situations.  Today, I want to address the theological points associated with this issue:  the Office of the Public Ministry.



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Licensed Lay Deacons--History

The Licensed Lay Deacon issue is not something that sprang up overnight, so it certainly cannot be solved overnight, either.  The concept of a layman being licensed to serve in Word and Sacrament was first adopted by The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod at the 1989 Synod Convention in Wichita, Kansas.  At that Convention it was decided to permit men who had been trained and licensed by districts as “Licensed Lay Deacons” to preach, teach, and administer the Sacraments.  Since then most of our districts have created their own LLD training program (according to the Task Force report, all but eight districts employ LLDs (Convention Workbook (CW) p. 251)).



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Licensed Lay Deacons--Background

In talking about the Synod Convention, the one issue that comes to mind with the most frequency is the Resolution 4-06A Task Force.  In 2013, the previous Synod Convention adopted a resolution creating a task force to study the question of Licensed Lay Deacons and report back to the Synod with recommendations.  This is a huge issue which has caused a great deal of polarization within The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod over the last 30 years, and I don’t think it’s going to go away overnight.  My guess is that we will spend a lot of time at the Convention trying to figure this out in a way that is both faithful to our Confessions and faithful to the mission of the Church.



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