Concordia President Asks for Regent Selection Flexibility

“The growth and development of our Concordia University System (CUS) is one of the most remarkable stories in all of U. S. higher education,” writes Concordia St. Paul President, Rev. Dr. Tom Ries. (For a full copy of Ries’ article, click here or the link at the bottom.) Our Concordia’s are asking for support from LCMS congregations.  They want Synod to change the governance model of our university system to allow greater flexibility in the selection of members of their Boards of Regents.  They ask that we pass a CUS overture at 2018 District Conventions and again in Tampa in 2019  (the CUS overture will be the subject of a future Congregations Matter article).  As Ries writes: “The greatest need for help from the church at the Concordia institutions today is a change in the governance model, specifically the formation and responsibilities of the boards of regents….Approval by the Synod in convention

Hands Holding Up the World

Overture to Protect Congregation Mission Dollar Decisions

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.

Big arm pulling pastor back using Ecclesiastical Supervision

Ecclesiastical Supervision: What’s the Big Deal?

In the past months, several District presidents wrote powerful pastoral letters in opposition to the recent Ecclesiastical Supervision contrived and enacted by the Harrison administration.  Use these links to review each of their letters. Council of Presidents Chairman, Rev. Ken Hennings, President of the Texas District. Past Council of Presidents Chair, Rev. Larry Stoterau, Current President of the Pacific Southwest District Rev. John Denninger, President of the Southeastern District  Other District Presidents have done the same.  More and more LCMS leaders are voicing their opposition to the unconstitutional change to Bylaw 2.14.  President Harrison sought this power.  But Harrison couldn’t do it alone.  With the support of the United List majority of the Synod Board of Directors (BOD), President Harrison and Secretary Sias bypassed the Council of Presidents and the expressed will of the Milwaukee Synodical convention.

Broken Egg -- Broken Promises

Seminaries Scramble to Cover Synod’s Broken Promises

In early 2017, our Fort Wayne (CTSFW) and St. Louis (CSL) Seminaries suddenly learned Synod was backing away from $400,000 in budget commitments to help with the two seminaries’ ongoing expenses for Synod’s Global Seminary Initiative (GSI).  With no warning, each seminary has to manage a $200,000 loss of promised financial support from the International Center. Worse Than a Budget Shortfall, It Was a Broken Promise All of us are familiar with budget shortfalls.  They happen.  But here’s the rub.  Both of our seminaries have been participating in Synod’s Global Seminary Initiative knowing that money to assist them with the real costs of these programs is in the LCMS operating budget.  The Global Seminary Initiative Has Been Successful Through the GSI, dozens of foreign students came to Fort Wayne and St. Louis to study.  These students received various amounts of seminary subsidies.  Fort Wayne and St. Louis professors traveled around

Denninger Stands with COP Chair

SE District President Denninger Also Opposes Dangerous Bylaw Change

With a letter to the congregations and rostered members of his district,  District President (DP) John Denninger of the Southeastern District joined the growing number of LCMS leaders voicing their opposition to recent and unconstitutional bylaw changes giving final ecclesiastical supervision to President Harrison.  At President Harrison’s request and Secretary Sias’ hand, the United List majority of the Synod Board of Directors (BOD) wrested the constitutional, historic responsibility of ecclesiastical supervision from District Presidents.  Without vote or action of the Milwaukee Convention, the BOD gave this responsibility to one man. The President of Synod now is the de facto ecclesiastical supervisor of the LCMS.  Harrison has taken ecclesiastical supervisory decisions away from our 35 District Presidents.  He relocated those life-changing decisions to his own desk inside the secretive International Center in St. Louis. Wrested Power Over Congregations First, Council of Presidents Chair, Texas DP Hennings stood his ground against this dangerous

Writing A Letter

COP Chair Challenges Ecclesiastical Supervision Decision

Last Friday District President (DP) Ken Hennings sent an unprecedented, public letter to the rostered members of his district. The letter explains the drastic change that the United List majority of the Synod Board of Directors adopted in May regarding ecclesiastical supervision. But Hennings did more. The letter explains why District Presidents in Synod are no longer the final ecclesiastical supervisors of churches, pastors, teachers, DCEs and other church workers.  Our new, changed reality? Synod President Harrison has taken that job for himself. District President Hennings clearly warns of the consequence this bylaw change brings: “It is necessary that I personally make you aware of the significant changes to the process of ecclesiastical supervision in our church body. The board of directors of the Synod has adopted bylaw changes that give the ultimate responsibility for your (and your congregation’s) ecclesiastical supervision to the President of the Synod. In other words, if

Concordia Portland

LCMS Asks Concordia Portland to Leave Synod

In a surprise announcement from Concordia University Portland (CUP) Board of Regents, CUP informed LCMS congregations that Synod requested that Portland leave the Concordia University System (CUS) and become an independent Lutheran university.  You can find the full text of the announcement HERE.  This announcement sent shockwaves throughout the Concordia University system of 9 colleges and universities and congregations across the nation. The Problem Isn’t Portland — It’s Synod’s Request Announced on the CUP website on the Friday afternoon of the Memorial Day weekend, Concordia Portland leadership assured the congregations and families it serves that they will consider any action on this request with great deliberation.  Congregations Matter© couldn’t agree more.  We have full confidence in President Schlimpert’s leadership of the CUP team in response to Synod’s request.  CUP will be blessed by his delayed retirement to handle this issue.  Dr. Schlimpert isn’t the problem.  Nor is Concordia Portland. The problem is the request. Congregations in the

Cathedral Crucifix

Power and Politics Meet Jesus

“Among You It Will Be Different”    It was a simple request.  A mother asking for positions of power and influence for her sons.  Then it all broke loose.  “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said.  The other disciples became indignant with James and John.  And the Master settles the issue with these words: 25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 (NLT) Jesus does not need political posturing.  He needs

Guest Essay: Are We a Top-Down Or Bottom-Up Synod?

From the beginning of our Synod, we struggled with big questions of relationships and governance polity.  Should the laity have authority over the clergy?  Should the clergy have authority over the laity?  Should a “bishop” have authority over the congregations? Questions like those formed the chaotic beginning of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod!  This essay will follow the decisions our Synod has made from its beginnings with quotes from C.F.W. Walther and our own LCMS Constitution. Top-down or bottom-up?  What is right-side up?