Local congregations have been heavily involved in mission work, local and world-wide, for generations. This has been going on without interference from the Synod in St. Louis. Congregations used to be thankful that they belonged to a grouping of like-minded, confessional Lutherans who believed congregational autonomy was Biblical — and important — and who were strenuously opposed to any interference from a Synod hierarchy. Sadly that’s no longer true.
Congregations Matter proposes an overture to protect the decisions of local congregations regarding their mission offerings and where and how to share the Gospel. We believe local congregations can and should determine where to send their mission money and what it should accomplish for God’s Kingdom. Click here to download a copy of the overture to protect mission dollars by overturning CCM Opinion 14-2724.
HARRISON DOESN’T TRUST CONGREGATIONS
President Harrison doesn’t trust congregational decisions regarding their mission offerings or where and how to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can read below how his words and actions prove it. Harrison (who appoints the Commission on Constitutional Matters or CCM) and Secretary Sias (who leads the CCM) both believe congregations should not control their offerings. CCM Opinion 14-2724 unconstitutionally restricts congregations from making a prayerful, Spirit-led decision about where their missions dollars should go. That’s not what CFW Walther believed.
CFW WALTHER BELIEVED CONGREGATIONS ARE FREE
Our first president, CFW Walther, said, “Throughout the existence of the Missouri Synod we have had to battle arduously to preserve freedom of the congregations; therefore, we intend to continue our united front and help them defend their freedom.” (1879 essay at the the Iowa District Convention)
This is why from its beginning, our Synod Constitution clearly assigns to the Synod an “advisory” status toward the congregations. Never was the Synod to have direct control of any congregational activity! That’s why the recent rewriting of our hallowed history and reinterpretation of our Constitution by our current leadership is so troubling. We are clearly headed toward an hierarchical structure in our Synod. In fact, we are there.
UNCONSTITUTIONAL OVER-REACH BY THE CCM
Several years ago the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) changed the relationship between congregations and Synod. President Harrison appoints CCM members. They are now led by Secretary Sias. Against the clear words of Synod’s constitution, Opinion 14-2724 unconstitutionally restricts the decisions of local congregations regarding where their mission dollars are spent.
Congregations who send members into the mission field or who support international mission work directly (and there are many, if not most!) know that the Synod is overreaching with this ruling. It is something like the religious leaders in Jesus’ day who enforced laws that controlled people. Jesus opposed this and even broke those man-made laws. Remember how our Lord healed on the Sabbath — something opposed by the religious leaders because their rules forbid it? He knew that healing a person was of huge importance and no man-made law could overrule the Biblical mandate to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Even so today, no Synodical hierarchical system of laws and orders that restrict the congregation’s right to share that Gospel can overrule the local congregation’s right to share the saving gospel of Jesus with those in the world who do not know it or those who need the encouragement that only the Gospel can supply.
ONLY A CONVENTION CAN FIX THIS…
Not only did the CCM unconstitutionally restrict the freedom of congregations, Synod Convention Floor Committees appointed by President Harrison will not allow God’s people in Synod to vote to change this ruling. Nor will President Harrison complete his responsibility to uphold the resolutions passed at our national conventions! How can this be true? Here’s four pieces of evidence.
- First, Article XI.B.4 of Synod’s Constitution states “The President shall see to it that the resolutions of the Synod are carried out.” President Harrison has not done this.
- Second, the 2010 Synod Convention Resolution 8-32B required the Synod President to implement a study of Article VII of the Constitution, including study of “Congregations and Synod, Background Material on the Advisory Nature of the LCMS” along with opinions of the Commission on Constitutional Matters related to this topic between the 2010 and 2013 convention of the Synod (Adopted Yes: 858; No: 271). That national study hasn’t happened — a majority vote ignored.
- Third, the 2013 Synod Convention in Resolution 1-08 requires the President of Synod to produce a “best practices” mission document before the 2016 Convention, so that districts and congregations “engaged in mission projects” can be assisted by Synod to “help them better to carry out their mission in their life together” (Adopted Yes: 738; No: 31). This Synod document hasn’t been produced — a majority vote again ignored.
- Finally, only votes at a Synod Convention can overrule a CCM Opinion — even an unconstitutional one. Bylaw 18.104.22.168(c) requires that all Overtures regarding CCM Opinions be considered by convention Floor Committees and be included in a specific report to the convention for the convention’s consideration. President Harrison ignores that bylaw. Harrison and the 2016 Convention Floor Committees he appointed ignored resolutions from four Districts, three District BOD’s, one circuit and seventeen congregations. This represents more than 700 congregations of Synod! Harrison ignored the bylaws regarding CCM Opinions and refused to allow the 2016 Convention to consider these resolutions.
Really. More than 700 congregations ignored by President Harrison!
What Can You Do?
Read the proposed overture “To Overrule CCM Opinion 14-2724” carefully. What Synod in St. Louis is doing to restrict a congregation’s rights regarding their mission money will shock you. Pass the overture in your local congregation and send it to your District for inclusion in your District Convention workbook. Then pass the overture at your District Convention to move it on to the Synodical convention in 2019. President Harrison can’t ignore mission-minded congregations forever. We will come to the 2019 Convention to ask President Harrison and Secretary Sias to follow our Constitution.
We must stop this hierarchical move to take away a local congregation’s rights. The mission of Christ is not subject to man-made control!