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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Glossy Fliers v. Real Results

Over the past couple of weeks, every pastor and congregation in the Synod has received multiple glossy fliers from the Coalition of Those Dissatisfied with Your Grandfather’s Church™. The election for President of Synod begins this Saturday, June 22, and the Coalition™ would like you to vote for either David Maier (MI District President) or Tim Klinkenberg (pastor of a big church in SoCal). In fact, the folks in SoCal want you to vote for Pastor Tim so badly that they encourage you to do so starting on June 20, two days before online voting opens.

In their final pitches to voters, Maier is for “Collaboration, Transparency and Trust” while “Pastor Tim Has a Plan”: Law & Gospel Preaching; LCMS Means Children-R-US; Reach out to Families; Expanding Lutheran Schools. 

Meanwhile in St. Louis, Harrison’s final pitch was more concrete: the Synod has retired the debt they took on from the Concordia University System. From the LCMS news story: “For the first time in many decades, perhaps in a century, the LCMS has no external debt,” said LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison. “During our tenure, God has blessed us richly. We began nine years ago owing $21 million, and now we owe nothing.”

That’s pretty good corporate leadership. And make no mistake, Harrison’s challengers have largely tried to make this election about corporate leadership rather than theological leadership. In fact, if you read through all the campaign literature, you’ll only find agreement from Maier and Klinkenberg that being confessional, being theological, being Law & Gospel focused, are very good things. 

But if Sie sprechen Missouri Synod, then you know how to read between the lines. You had better believe that this election, like every election for the chief teacher and overseer in the Synod, really is about theology. Why does Maier’s literature always talk about A) the priesthood of all believers and B) “safely and collegially discussing matters which challenge our unity”? Because A) he’s one of the greatest champions of anti-AC XIV lay ministry programs and B) he’s happy to let false teachers teach and debate with no threat of removal from Synod. 

As we said at the first, this will be a turn out election. The Coalition of the Dissatisfied™ is energized and engaged. They want this win badly. They know that this may very well be the last chance they have at gaining the leadership of Synod. If the Synod re-elects Harrison this time, the Coalition of the Dissatisfied™ may well break up for good. Will the large, wealthy, American Evangelical-imitating congregations stay in the Synod if it’s made clear to them yet again that the Synod as a whole doesn’t want their brand of leadership and doesn’t share their vision for the future of Lutheranism? 

On the other hand, there is reason to be concerned that the normal, average, middle Missouri parishes that make up Your Grandfather’s Church have been suffering from apathy. Will the pastor’s and lay leaders from these parishes show up to put Harrison over the top? We here at Gottesdienst certainly hope so because over the next four days, a pastor and a layman from each parish of the Synod will have the opportunity to set the theological direction of the Synod. These voters will choose the man who will: choose the next president of CSL; implement or impede the 2016 convention resolution to end anti-AC XIV lay ministry programs; give theological direction and oversight to whatever massive changes are in the offing with the Concordia University System and the various shenanigans at various Concordias; encourage the use of Lutheran liturgical worship from our actual Lutheran liturgical heritage or encourage discord and division by encouraging the use of other “styles” of worship that don’t retain the substance; etc., etc.