Friday, June 28, 2019

2019 Synodical Convention: Overtures 3-06 through 3-09. Why Not Us Among The Immigrants?

For those who are tired of the often repeated tropes about Immigrants (which can mean, variously, Illegal Aliens, Undocumented Workers, Refugee, Asylee, ad nauseum) the 2019 LCMS Convention might offer a slightly different take on the matter. Unlike some churches in the United States and Canada which largely parrot open borders ideology but rephrase it with largely "context free" verses from the Old Testament, the LCMS contains within it a genuine difference of opinion. Should the Church take a specific position on public policy which is at odds with the legimately enacted laws of their country? Or should the Church avoid taking what is effectively a public policy position, and encourage the various levels of government to enforce those valid laws, especially when segments of the state are unwilling to do so?

This blog post grows out of a meeting held on Wednesday, June 26th by the Metro Northwest Circuit of the Minnesota South District with their voting delegates to the convention. It is not intended to be a comprehensive or verbatim reflection of the discussion on June 26th, so by all means corrections, additions, and further comments are welcome. Pay attention to the Acceptable Use Policy and our regulations for comments, and let us know what you think.


First things first, let's get it out of our systems right off the bat: "THE NAZIS DID EXACTLY WHAT THE UNITED STATES IS DOING TODAY! JUST LIKE THE CHURCHES DID IN NAZI GERMANY WE MUST WELCOME ALL IMMIGRANTS HERE TO THE UNITED STATES OR THEY WILL ALL BE SENT TO CONCENTRATION CAMPS!" Scream that a few times, put that up on Twitter, Facebook (or TwitFace) in ALL CAPS (you can copy and paste above!), and then take a few deep breaths, and take a look at overtures 3-06 through 3-09 in the 2019 Convention Workbook, pages 403-406 (435-438 in the .pdf file). There now; that's better, isn't it? These four overtures offer an interesting set of disagreements and points of view normally lacking in modern ecclessiastical discussions.

My bias, of course, is evident, so I leave it up to the readers and commentators to take me to task. Yet, some difficulties are obvious with some of these overtures. Overture 3-07 encourages support of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services ("LIRS"), an organization whose ideology (both theological and political) is cited in overture 3-08 as being unacceptable. It's hard to tell whether LIRS itself is aware that its politics is dictating its theology, which would make it an organization much like the "German Christians" of 1932-45 (somehow, from the dates, I'm guessing that did not end well), but perhaps a mirror image which replaces their national socialist ideology with that of cultural Marxism, class and state socialism. Those of us who reject socialism in general (soviet, national, marxist, democratic, etc., etc.) will find overture 3-08 wonderfully freeing. Individual Christians can, indeed, advocate for all kinds of policy positions. But the Church itself should encourage those who "bear the sword" to carry out and enforce the valid and legitimate laws of their country.

The understated point made in overture 3-08 was at one time commonplace among all churches, but the modern environment has made this a rare, radical and brilliant assertion: it is the duty of the government to enforce valid law especially when large parts of the government advocate lawless evasion of the laws they are sworn to uphold. And Christians and Churches are obligated to encourage them to do their duty.

But all is not lost for those of use (like the present writer) who believe that the LCMS and its members should redouble its efforts outside of our own borders. What could be more salutary and God pleasing than to help those in distress around the world in the places where they live now, as part of our effort to bring the Gospel to all corners of the globe? The challenges in this are vast, but a dollar spent overseas has vastly greater impact, economically, than a dollar spent in this country in an effort to further erode the rule of law in the name of a political ideology masquerading as compassion. Overtures 3-06 and 3-09 have much to recommend in this regard.

So chime in if you like below.

Gordon Bynum, Chaplain, The Saint Timothy Society for Lutheran Seminary Scholarship

Thursday, June 27, 2019

2019 Synodical Convention: Overtures 2-06 through 2-11. Congregations and Overseas Missionaries

So are congregations of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (hereafter "LCMS", for the acronym minded) allowed to send and fund overseas missions and missionaries, and if so, under what circumstances and conditions? This is a little bit of "inside baseball" being played within the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, and the next inning will be at the 2019 Synodical Convention held in Tampa, Florida, from July 20 - 25th.

This blog post stems from a meeting held on Wednesday, June 26th by the Metro Northwest Circuit of the Minnesota South District with their voting delegates to the convention. It is not intended to be a comprehensive or verbatim reflection of the discussion on June 26th, so by all means corrections, additions, and further comments are welcome. Pay attention to the Acceptable Use Policy and our regulations for comments, and let us know what you think.


Sometime in 2014, the Commission on Constitutional Matters ("CCM", in acronym speak) was asked to give an opinion to clarify in what way was "Synod... [i.e., LCMS, the] Only Sending Agency” according to Bylaw 3.8.3 of the LCMS Handbook. The result was CCM Opinion 14-2724, which has it's own FAQ here: FAQ on CCM Opinion 14-2724. For those looking for the full text of this opinion, it can be found in .pdf format here, on pages 133-137 (the .pdf has those on pages 167-171) of the 2016 LCMS Convention Workbook.

The various resolutions which this opinion has generated are found in the first edition of the 2019 Convention Workbook on pages 395-399 (427-431 in the .pdf), specifically overtures 2-06 through 2-11. Some of these are pro, some are con, and while the wording may seem convoluted to those unfamiliar with the process, "con" means the LCMS in convention expunges and makes void the opinion, "pro" indicates the convention affirms the opinion.

It may be the case that this disagreement is a self inflicted confusion on the part of the LCMS. For example, this "Whereas" from 2-06:

WHEREAS , 1983 Res. 5-10A, “To Reaffirm Essential Congregational Polity of the Synod” (Proceedings, 181) in a “Resolved” clause states that “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod reaffirms that its synodical polity is essentially and principally congregational in nature ...”;

The reason this is confusing is perhaps due to polity, a discipline which is part art, part science, part black magic, and part other things. LCMS polity is synodical, which combines the worst features of episcopal and congregational polity, or best, depending on your point of view. Some have called synodical polity "Hegelian" in the sense that the thesis is episcopal, the antithesis is congregational, and the thesis (or synthesis) is synodical. Who knows, maybe that fits, but that's a different discussion. To the casual observer, doctrine comes first, followed by practice, followed by polity. This may, in fact, be accurate.

This blog post will be extended, edited, amended and footnoted as we learn more.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Saint Timothy Society is Now a Recognised Service Organisation (RSO) of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

Sometime back in 2007 the Evanglical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK) invited Rev. Tom Aadland to teach at their seminary in Matongo, Kenya following his last term as Presiding Pastor of the American Association of Lutheran Churches.  At the end of that year the Saint Timothy Society for Lutheran Seminary Scholarship was chartered and incorporated to support that work and become a 501c3 organisation in 2008 (for our readers outside the United States, that's one of those pesky codes for non-profits and charities that allow donors to deduct their contributions when paying their income tax; for our readers inside the United States, you have our empathy for having to deal with the current tax code).  We've chugged along for the past nine years doing a lot more than we thought we could largely due to Tom Aadland's excellent success in raising money.  This is often the way of Churches and Church societies; we fail to understand that we can't do what we intend to do, and due to that lack of understanding we manage to do those things anyway.

At some point the Saint Timothy Society decided to apply for what is known as "RSO status", that is, to become a Recognised Service Organisation (RSO) within the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LC-MS).  This came to completion in the beginning of July of 2016: the Secretary of the LC-MS sent the synod's agreement for RSO recognition to the Saint Tim Society Directors, which approved, signed and returned the agreement on July 8, 2016. In August of 2016 the Saint Timothy Society appeared on the LCMS.org website (and in the RSO directory).

Your humble writer (blogger? that's a word now, eh?) has gained even greater humility (and proud of it!) by being called as the Chaplain for the Saint Timothy Society, which I accepted on July 10, 2016.  So the sporadic postings here will become somewhat less sporadic and will include more information about the Saint Timothy Society, in addition to University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis.  And in the next week I hope to have comments and contact info working on this blog.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Saint Timothy Society Has Been Accepted as a Recogized Service Organization (RSO) of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS)

On July 5th the Saint Timothy Society was offered Recognized Service Organization Status by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Details to follow.

For those who are fond of acronyms, that means the Saint Timothy Society has been accepted as an RSO (Recognized Service Organization) of the LCMS (The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod). For the rest of us, it means that the Saint Tim Society will continue its efforts to help support Lutheran Seminary scholarship and education overseas, most notably as part of the work Tom Aadland does at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya's seminary in Matongo, Kenya. As of this date, we're still waiting to hear in which District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod the Saint Timothy Society will reside. This writer is a member of the clergy roster of the LCMS as a member of the English District, and we're waiting to hear back from them if they would like to be the home of the Saint Timothy Society.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Convention Materials on Google Docs; Readable in Browser or Download

We here at Friends of University Lutheran Chapel Minneapolis have devoted much of this blog to making available to the public the documentation related to University Lutheran Chapel and the chapel's effort to bring the sale of the campus ministry property to a vote by the Minnesota South District Convention.  Along the way, we discovered that Google Drive (formerly Docs) and Google Picassa Web can be very useful in displaying documents either "in-line" or in a new browser window.

So why not do the same for the 2013 Convention Materials for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod meeting this week in Saint Louis?  The "LCMS" (as it is abbreviated) already does an excellent job in making available its convention materials on its own website at http://www.lcms.org/convention/downloads and at http://www.lcms.org/convention.  Why not make some of these available as readable in the browser? The documents are already publicly available, so unless we're asked to remove them, we'll put the links in this post.

As usual, there are many, many caveats, disclaimers, and various other dire warnings, consequences and cautionary tales that go with the the use of the blog and whatever you find here.  See our Acceptable Use Notice (the link is displayed on the right) and read the "fine print" at the bottom of this post.

This may take a long time to load, depending on your bandwidth, connection speed, and the overall load on google apps servers, but feel free to try to view the
If that doesn't work, you can try to


The First Issue of Today's Business is a smaller file, and you might have more luck viewing
Or you can try to


And now the "fine print". The versions of these documents here may be incorrect, inaccurate, out of date and suffer from various other defects. Refer to the official website of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (URL's given above) or to the convention officers for complete and accurate versions and other documentation. The server host provider(s) for this blog also have limitations and restrictions, including limited bandwidth and availability depending on your location and connection speed.

Which means that at some point the downloads and views may (and probably will) exceed the quota for this account on Google Apps for Business, and the links will no longer work, the page may not load, etc. Until then, we hope this is of some use.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

No Secrecy or Non Disclosure Here - The Settlement Between ULC and the District

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) meets in convention on July 20th.  Here at Friends of ULC we have been trying to help those involved by sharing the relevant documents concerning University Lutheran Chapel and its struggle to have the Minnesota South District Convention vote on the sale of the campus ministry property in Minneapolis.  In our last post we dissected one erroneous reason why the LCMS should not vote on convention workbook memorial 1-15, and urged that this memorial go to the delegates for a vote.

In this post we dissect yet another erroneous reason why the LCMS in convention cannot  - or should not - vote on memorial 1-15, "To Commend and Support Campus Ministry at University of Minnesota".  That would be that the legal settlement between University Lutheran Chapel and the Minnesota South District involves some sort of secrecy or non-disclosure.  We don't know if that reason has been suggested to the floor committee or others at the upcoming convention.  We hope not, but we have heard and seen this speculation elsewhere, and it would not be surprising if this were offered as an excuse to decline to consider the memorial.

In the same way that some have made demonstrably false oaths, affidavits, and sworn statements exposed elsewhere on this blog, this line of argument could prove ultimately very embarrassing to the arguer.  The first question to them should be, can you produce the text of the settlement and show us where it supports what you say?  Even if the text of the settlement were not available, it would be a shame to make this case to any deliberative body or convention.  They would want the delegates to decline to consider a memorial based on a settlement whose terms we cannot know, whose text we cannot see, and hidden from us by a non-disclosure or secrecy clause we cannot examine.

But the text of the settlement is available, just like almost every other document from the legal action.  It was part of the order dismissing the eviction and litigation.  And there is nothing in the settlement to prevent the synod, or any district, from acting on this memorial, or, for that matter, just about anything else they would like to address regarding the Minnesota South District or University Lutheran Chapel.  The only limitation the settlement mentions is that University Lutheran Chapel and the Minnesota South District will no longer litigate against each other on the specific grounds of the legal actions dismissed by the settlement.  The synod in convention can do a vast number of things (especially so in convention) just like the Minnesota South District Convention was correct in wanting to vote on the sale, but was prevented from doing so by their former district president.

But don't take my word for it. Read the text of the settlement agreement
or
.

If you find the legalese too dense, get a lawyer to explain it to you (as I've said earlier, unlike many other pastors, I know I'm not a lawyer). Some individual names and the signature and exhibit pages (giving the legal description of the property) are redacted in this digital copy (including the last 10 pages of the 23 page document), but anyone interested can ask the Minnesota South District for a full copy. If for some reason they wont give it to you (it should already be available to all their pastors and congregations as members of their corporation), ask if University Lutheran Chapel will give you a copy. Or get a copy from the 4th district court records office (that's my favorite method; it's a charming trip to the downtown Minneapolis courthouse, and the records office is part of the scenic underground parking ramp!).

Why not just let the delegates vote on the original workbook memorial 1-15? Conventions and floor committees have a lot of work to do. Spurious reasons for not allowing the delegates to vote on memorials are a distraction, and waste everyone's time. Conventions and floor committees have more than enough to do without having to sift through speculative theories which are not established by the documentary evidence.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Another Convention, Another Chance to Vote on ULC? Let's Make that Happen.

Visitors to our humble little blog are probably aware that we've been doing what we can for some years to help University Lutheran Chapel (ULC) and get the word out about the sale of the campus ministry property by the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.  We don't claim any credit for any of the good things that have happened so far, but we're glad to play some small part.

It appears as if we have another chance to do some good, or, more accurately, all of you have a chance to do some good before and during (and after, if you like!) the upcoming convention of the The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod July 20 - 25 in Saint Louis.  The good news is that there is an excellent memorial in the Convention Workbook on page 139 "To Commend and Support Campus Ministry at University of Minnesota":




So the convention will get to vote on this, right?

Well, maybe, maybe not.  This gets a little arcane, but the process goes something like this.  Memorials to a synodical convention are sent to one of several floor committees.  In this case, that is floor committee #1 (also called "Witness"; I won't try to explain this beyond saying the names are apparently an attempt to designate the general topic area of the committee).  So floor committee #1 should do their thing, and decide what to do with the memorial.

The process might involve taking a memorial, then fashioning it into an overture, which then may or may not become a resolution (more details later will be added to this very rough description).  Floor Committee #1, however, has decided to ask the convention to decline to consider this memorial in the First Issue of Today's Business:





The reason given for their action is "Issue has already been resolved by Minnesota South Distr", which apparently means the Minnesota South District.  But this is precisely what did not happen.  From 2008 to the present, the district president, directors and officers of the Minnesota South District refused to let their district "resolve" in any way the question of the sale of the campus ministry property in Minneapolis, or Mankato.  In fact, the district president refused to let his own convention vote on the matter by ruling a motion to do exactly that out of order.  And to make matters worse, the officers and directors of the Minnesota South District continue to refuse to discuss the sale, or to respond to the process in the LCMS Handbook which specifies how to "resolve" disputed issues (dispute resolution).

More posts will follow, but please consider contacting Floor Committee #1 to have them send the original memorial 1-15 to the convention delegates to have them vote on it.  If you do, make sure you are courteous, polite, respectful and follow the words of Scripture, "Speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). From what I can tell, the floor committee is open to more information, and is willing to correct whatever incorrect data it has been given to date. If it helps, you can
I sent to Floor Committee #1 on 2013 June 17 or
it as a .pdf file. If you are interested in the supporting documentation, you can see the other entries on this blog, or you can see the dispute resolution letter from
or
the .pdf File. The dispute resolution letter from
is online here, and is also available for