Dear fellow delegates:
I’m looking forward to our time together in Milwaukee! I pray our message of Christ Crucified for All People will ring out in all we do and say!
As a part of our ongoing service to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Our Congregations — Our Synod will provide delegates and Synod members-at-large with information about reports and resolutions considered during the 2023 Milwaukee Synod Convention. I’m personally sending this to you as the Editor of the OC-OS team. I’m a pastoral advisory delegate as well as serving two smaller congregations as an intentional interim pastor.
Our Congregations — Our Synod will post daily happenings, responses to all the changes in Resolutions from the original Today’s Business 1, and give our best advice on things to consider and nominees to serve the LCMS.
Other groups have been contacting delegates without identifying who they are and what their agendas are. I, too, have gotten their emails and letters. For years, now, Congregations Matter, the publisher of the Our Congregations — Our Synod news and opinion articles, has clearly stated our objectives:
- A return of our Synod to its historic role of providing congregations with advice, encouragement, and resources to carry out their evangelical role of teaching and baptizing in their communities, as they see best fit for their own circumstances.
- We believe our Synod has gotten away from its historic role and is more focused on concentrating all authority, direction, and control in the International Center in St. Louis and in the hands of a few. That is not healthy for our Church. The health of our Church is our local congregations.
You can read more about this on our “About” page.
Our desire is to help conversations happen in the LCMS prior to decisions. We are working to change the climate and the culture of the LCMS from “Fight, Fight, Fight” to “Talk, Talk, Talk.” We agree with our forefathers in the LCMS who respected the natural and normal diversity of God’s gifts to all of us. Sadly, hearing “both sides” of an issue is not the norm in our denomination. That doesn’t reflect the will or the words of our founding fathers as they began our Constitution with these words:
Reason for the Forming of a Synodical Union
The example of the apostolic church. Acts 15:1–31.
Our Lord’s will that the diversities of gifts
should be for the common profit. 1 Cor. 12:4–31.
As delegates review resolutions standing before our 2023 Milwaukee convention, leaders and delegates will have to decide if they want to talk, listen, and reconcile — or fight, denounce, and condemn. Some have already drawn the battle lines, suggesting conflict is necessary. We don’t believe that’s true.
You see, Our Congregations — Our Synod believes congregations need transparency and trust — even though that means sometimes we need to talk about hard issues, something that’s gone wrong or been ignored, or call one another to account.
With that in mind, it seems many of the resolutions proposed by Synod leadership call for increasing accountability to our leadership and governance system, but not as much from them to congregations in the form of reporting and transparent activity.
You can read more about our hopes for change in the article “Talk or Fight – Which Will Win at Convention?”
I’m looking forward to this convention because all of us involved in the Congregations Matter movement believe this can be a starting point for a more open, transparent, and responsive Synod. This is especially true regarding the needs of congregations outlined in Article III of our Constitution.
We believe our Synod culture can move from handling crisis after crisis (just think of losing three — and now perhaps four — of our Concordias in just a few years) by blaming others rather than with humility, repentance, and taking responsibility for our part of the crisis. We also believe the secrecy of decisions made in Executive Sessions, months of silence from St. Louis when a conversation would have helped, and top-down control can give way to openness, trust, reconciliation, and unity.
Don’t you think our witness to and preaching of Christ crucified for all people would bear more harvest if we in the LCMS were known for living in peace, loving one another in word and deed, being transparent, and having unity in all we do? Just think what God could do through a church like that to reach His world with His love for us in Jesus Christ!
What’s next? You can sign up for a daily email from Our Congregations — Our Synod by going to our website and subscribing to the Newsletter using the form in the sidebar on the right side of the website. The website and newsletter will be updated each day of the convention. You can also keep up with Our Congregations — Our Synod updates on our Facebook page. In addition, we will be rolling out a new “text to connect” project right before the convention begins. You may get one more personal email from me, but after that, it will be up to you to connect with us. We think what we have to say is important for our Synod. We hope you’ll agree.
I’m praying that all of us will leave this convention listening better to God and to one another, humble of spirit, repentant for some of the past, and unified for the bright future God has planned for us! Let His Kingdom come and His will be done — in our lives!
Together in His service,
Rev. Dr. Charles S. Mueller, Jr.
Editor, Our Congregations — Our Synod