A Fashionably-Late Take on the LCMS Convention
It got nice and cool exactly a week too late around St. Louis—the cooler weather would have been the perfect atmosphere for what was a truly conservative convention: as in circumspect, cautious, and considered.
On the big issues—AC XIV, SMP, women in combat—the convention passed resolutions calling for the formation of a task force (AC XIV), an oversight committee whose oversight looks to be only advisory (SMP—the CCM said it could not set "policy"—so what exactly can it do? We honestly don't know.), and a referral to the CTCR (women in combat). Attempts to put more teeth in all these resolutions failed, as did attempts to weaken them even further or tilt them in a direction favoring the status quo.
If anything qualified as a bombshell from this sedate convention it was when the chairman on seminary education announced some hard stats: 1/3 of CSL students are SMP students and 3/4 of all SMP grads are serving on staff at congregations large enough to have something called "a staff."
The difference between careful planning and kicking the can down the road is in the outcome. The President of Synod obviously wants time to study and teach, especially on the biggest issue of all, AC XIV. He also wishes to convince those districts that are holding on to "lay ministry" for all they are worth that there is a better way. He wants to persuade, not overrule. May God grant all involved in these various studies wisdom and courage: they'll need both.
But the grassroots must not merely wait: in this triennium those who treasure our Confession should make it a priority to study the AC XIV issues in circuit meetings, Bible classes, circuit forums, general pastors conferences etc. Surely we here at Gottesdienst will re-post several of the resources our editors have put together on this topic as well as the others as the months tick on (especially the comments of our sister churches overseas). If you serve in one of the 13 districts with "licensed lay deacons" and whatnot—now's the time to lobby your general pastors' conference planning committee to treat this topic this triennium with speakers from Gottesdienst or seminary professors who confess AC XIV or other appropriate teachers of the Word. If they won't bite, then you need to get your own conference going in your area: Gottesdienst loves going on the road, contact an editor and we'll get cracking.
The same goes for the other big issues - don't wait for some study document to come down from on high: arrange a conference and get brothers talking. Gottesdienst has done a lot of work on AC XIV—but many others are working on the roles of male and female in the three estates, SMP, etc.
In other news . . . the most open conflict at the convention came over seminary oversight with a public breech appearing between CSL (against it) and CTS (for it). In the end, the Synod returned to a pre-2010 model of oversight thus overruling the concerns of the CSL President and Regents.
Other than that—the cupcakes at the Presidents' Reception were amazing.