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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Synod President Campaign Update: LCMS Numbers and Leadership

The leaders of the Coalition of Those Dissatisfied with Your Grandfather’s Church over at Congregations Matter have revealed their platform for the final push into the LCMS Presidential election (online voting begins June 22): the Synod is shrinking under Harrison even faster than it shrunk under Kieschnick, so it’s time for a change. Therefore, vote either Maier or Klinkenberg in the first round of voting. If Harrison is denied a majority on the first balloting, then the run off (beginning June 29) would be between Harrison and one of the not-Harrison candidates.

This is all they have left because the other planks in CM’s anti-Harrison platforms have fallen pretty flat. 

Harrison is a tyrant! He wants power over every DP and every pastor to kick out people who don’t line up perfectly with his hardcore confessionalism! Query: Ummm . . . got examples? Nobody seems to have any stories. Indeed, you’ll hear many a pro-Harrison pastor long for a little more action on ecclesiastical supervision. Like it or not: Harrison has worked slowly on a number of fronts, keeping the pledge he made in his acceptance speech in 2010: “I will not coerce you.”

Harrison sold off Hong Kong mission buildings! After the COP slapped Congregations Matter around concerning their salacious, 8th Commandment-noncompliant reporting on Hong Kong (which got David Maier into a spot of bother on the Facebooks) it’s not surprising that they’ve gone dark on this one. For similar reasons, I think they will lay off the closure of Selma. Harrison and the Synod BOD demanded the COP set the record straight on Hong Kong . . . I assume CM is smart enough not to want a similar slap down regarding the sad, necessary, and long over due closing of that campus.

So . . . we’re left with the numbers. The Synod is shrinking. But as we pointed out in this space a few weeks ago: the only things shrinking faster than the Synod is the Michigan District and St. John, Orange. 

Stats available in the back of the 2011 and 2019 editions of The Lutheran Annual.

Stats available in the back of the 2011 and 2019 editions of The Lutheran Annual.

If David Maier has the secret to a growing Synod, why hasn’t he deployed it in Michigan? And why is Klinkenberg on the shrink if he’s got the fix for the church universal?

Well, thanks to Harrison possessing the intestinal fortitude to face the Synod’s decline head on and study it, we know the answer to that question. The decline of the Synod is a demographic reality that no one pastor, district president, or Synod official can change with a program, a sermon, a complaint, or fond wishing. It’s a phenomenon affecting all of American Christianity to one degree or another and it’s going to be a long haul to see the ship turn. 

So what is the election about?

Ministry. Finish the 2016 convention’s work of ending the anti-AC XIV lay ministry program via training, ordination, and attrition of those who refuse to be called and ordained vs. Make the Synod Michigan when it comes to lay deacons. And take a look at how President Harrison is doing on that front (from page 5 of the Convention Workbook).

Addressed the licensed lay deacon (LLD) problem of men serving as pastors without the benefit of call and ordination. Carrying out a colloquy process to the specific ministry pastor roster for those LLDs regularly preaching and presiding:

  • The 2016 Res. 13-02A established the process for bringing onto the roster those licensed lay deacons doing regular pastoral work. It was adopted with some 75 percent at the 2016 convention.

  • A policy manual and colloquy application process have been prepared and implemented by the First Vice-President and a committee appointed by the COP.

  • The Synod’s Colloquy Committee for the Pastoral Ministry, under the leadership of the First Vice-President, is working effectively with the various district presidents to form regional colloquy committees (as directed by Res. 13-02A) to interview licensed lay deacons applying for colloquy to the specific ministry pastor roster.

  • We plan to have at least 70 percent of the licensed lay deacons for whom Res. 13-02A applies (men who preach and preside on a consistent and continuing basis) through the SMP colloquy process before the 2019 convention.

  • The remaining 30 percent should be finished, God willing, within a year of the 2019 convention.

Overall direction of the Synod. Self-consciously confessional vs self-consciously American Evagelical.

CSL. Who do you want to pick the next president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis?