Many LCMS people have heard President Harrison’s version of the closure of Selma: he’s sorry, but it’s everyone else’s fault. A few facts line up with his story. But what is the fully true story of Selma’s closure? Those who know are starting to speak up.
In 2010, the LCMS adopted sweeping changes to the Handbook of the Synod. Here’s the strange twist: while the convention adopted the “Blue Ribbon Taskforce” changes, delegates also strangely (and certainly ironically) then elected as President a man who opposed the changes, Matthew Harrison. Delegates wanted Synod’s work to be more responsive to the congregations of the Synod. What have we gotten instead?
From an April 12 email sent to Concordia Irvine faculty and staff, it appears Matt Harrison is hijacking the search committee’s final steps and is interfering in the selection of the next President of Concordia University Irvine. Three of five highly-qualified finalists were black-balled. Why weren’t all five approved?
During his speech to the Southern District Convention on March 9, Synod’s current President rejected any and all personal responsibility for the closure of Concordia College Alabama. In 45 minutes of well-presented Q & A, (Matt IS an engaging, quick-witted speaker after all), Harrison also admitted a ballooning internal debt, pitted the needs of urban and rural congregations against those of suburban Christians, and proposed a plan of planting successful churches in zip codes “amenable to the LCMS” in order to fund struggling ministries. Not bad for a Friday morning in March. The Blame Game Continues According to Matthew C. Harrison, everyone but himself is to blame for the closure of Selma. Listen for yourself to his speech by clicking on this link: http://southernlcms.org/75th-convention-livestream-its-all-about-jesus/ Here is a Harrison quote from the 1:11:15 to 1:11:35 marks on the live stream link shown above: “I stood throughout with Selma. I fought for
Sadly, on February 21, Concordia College Alabama announced it will close its doors at the end of the spring 2018 Semester. This tragedy puts an exclamation mark on the ineffectiveness of our current Synodical leadership. Our Synod’s only historically black college is shutting down. The closing of Selma is heart-breaking to tens of thousands of faithful people in the LCMS who faithfully supported Concordia Alabama for generations. The problems that led to Selma’s closing — and Concordia Portland’s problems with student clubs and their community — can be traced back to the United Lister leadership that currently controls our Synod. Selma’s Closure Happened during this Synod Leadership’s Watch Who is responsible for the loss of one of our Concordia’s? Fingers will be pointed at many people for the closure of Selma. In the end, Selma’s closure is due to failed leadership at the top of our Synod (CLICK HERE to
The Selma Times-Journal broke the story on February 6: Unless investors are found immediately for Concordia, Selma, the school will close. Click here to read the full story. That’s not what happened with Concordia, Ann Arbor, when that school was in distress. Heroic efforts were made by Michigan District President David Maier, the Concordia University System Board and other Synod leadership to find a solution. If Selma is in desperate need of an investor, why isn’t the LCMS investing? It seems that Concordia College, Selma, is being left by our leadership to go bankrupt. Is that how Synod under President Harrison and the United List majority on the Concordia University System Board make decisions now about the future of our Concordia’s? No vote of a convention. No information shared. Congregations are left in the dark. Is Synod’s leadership so secretive now we must read a local newspaper to find out
Reliable sources in the U.S. and Hong Kong tell Congregations Matter that President Harrison and his United Lister Board for International Mission (BIM) are selling a reported $35 million of LCMS Hong Kong properties to bail out Synod finances in St. Louis. Quietly, and without contacting our partner church in Hong Kong, the BIM is moving their Asia headquarters to Taiwan to ready the Hong Kong property for sale. According to sources in Hong Kong who saw a note on the door of the headquarters building, the move out of Hong Kong and into Taiwan will be completed by March 1st. It seems that Synod’s chose Hong Kong properties for sale because of their high value — and because it is one of the few locations where expatriation of money to the states is allowed after the sale of properties. Have such plans been approved by the LCMS Board of
LCMS Boards populated by members whose names were on the infamous United List were elected at a 90% rate at the 2016 Milwaukee convention. It’s been eighteen months since their elections. What do we know now about their decisions? We know United Listers have increased centralized control. Contrary to our Constitution and Bylaws, they’ve handed ecclesiastical supervision to one man to enforce a dark conformity over congregations, pastors and rostered workers. In May, 2017 United Listers on the LCMS Board gave powers to the Synod President which radically changed Synod. Membership is plummeting — 68% faster than ever before. How did this hierarchical, centralized takeover of our Lutheran church happen? A United Lister named Sias became Secretary at Milwaukee. He disagreed with decades of precedent and wrongly advised the United Lister Board it is OK to take ecclesiastical authority away from District Presidents (DPs). Many brave DPs sent public letters
“Faithful churches cultivate character.” Thus writes Concordia Seminary Professor Joel Biermann in his book, A CASE FOR CHARACTER: Towards a Lutheran Virtue Ethics. 1 Rev. Dr. Biermann recounts how Lutherans are unfairly portrayed as soteriological reductionists pitting law and gospel against one another. Some critics say Lutheran theology and ethical teaching simply don’t fit together. Biermann admits some Lutheran preachers have indeed spent too little pulpit time on clear Scriptures regarding how we Christians ought to live. Dr. Biermann’s prescriptions for re-emphasizing our Lutheran Confessions’ solid commitment to character and virtue ethics are valuable. His book’s message is also timely as we witness widely-known men losing leadership positions due to their wrongful actions toward women as revealed via the #metoo movement. Joel reminds fellow pastors, “Christian people need to be trained in virtue. A noble character does not simply happen.” He also believes community can still shape and sustain a
The History, Theology and Practice of Congregational Self-Governance in the LCMS In terms of governance and order, the Missouri Synod has throughout its history balanced power between the baptized and the ordained. We have made our decisions at conventions through votes mediated by an equal representation of clergy and laity. These votes were not to be viewed as mandates, but as carefully crafted and thoroughly dialogued advice. In a fun, tongue-in-cheek essay, the Editorial Staff of Congregations Matter has provided another brief history of the LCMS on one issue: Congregational Self-Governance as opposed to the current Synod trend towards hierarchialism. The essay reviews our history, theology, and the unfortunate, current tendency of our Synod to move from prizing the Priesthood of All Believers and Congregational Polity toward a foreign, non-Lutheran emphasis on maintaining and growing the structure itself and fulfilling its needs at the expense of the our “first love”: