President Harrison sent handwritten postcards on January 3rd and 4th from the President’s Office at Synod expense to the pastors of select congregations. Three pastors shared their postcards with Congregations Matter. They believe there’s something wrong with it. Congregations Matter agrees.
Has President Harrison tainted his nominations by interfering with Voter’s Assembly rights?
Why Harrison felt the need to do this is unclear. How he chose the pastors is unclear. But two things are certain.
- President Harrison encouraged select pastors (not all) to circumvent a congregation’s role in the nomination process. He punctuated it with his imperative: either “Important” or “Important, Bro!”
- When President Harrison used his office to send postcards at Synod expense to fish for nominations from select, friendly pastors in this way, he interfered in the nomination process for Synod President and put Synod’s election process at risk.
It’s the Congregation’s Right to Nominate
Harrison told his friends to take powers that rightly belong to the congregation as a whole.
Unless congregations have in their constitutions something specific about a Church Council, Board of Directors or other group being responsible for day-to-day administration, ONLY CONGREGATIONS AS A WHOLE may nominate for Synod President because ONLY CONGREGATIONS HAVE THAT RIGHT (Bylaw 3.12.2(a)).
And aren’t Elders supposed to “assist the pastor in the spiritual life of the congregation?” Why would a congregation’s spiritual leaders be able to conduct business on behalf of the congregation?
How Will We Know If Harrison’s Nominations Are Valid?
How will Secretary Sias fulfill his Bylaw 3.12.2(b) responsibility to “provide a secure and verifiable method that will offer opportunity to every congregation of the Synod to submit nominations?” [emphasis added]
Will Sias contact the congregations nominating Harrison to determine if they nominated according to their constitutions or followed Matt’s direction? And if they didn’t follow their constitutions, will he declare them invalid?
What’s Wrong With Harrison Contacting Friends?
Nothing. If President Harrison wanted to send a personal note from his kitchen table asking for their support, that wouldn’t be a problem.
However, Harrison sent at least 500 presorted, official postcards from the Synod President’s office on January 3 AND 4 (500 is the minimum requirement for “Presorted First Class” postage). And in his own handwriting he advised something which runs contrary to our Synod’s own sample constitutions.
Here’s what our Synod suggests:
“The voters assembly, as defined in this congregation’s bylaws, shall be its governing body and shall be empowered to…administer and manage its affairs as specified in the bylaws” [Emphasis added]
Harrison’s assertion that Elders and others may nominate candidates for Synod President, circumventing a congregation’s Voter’s Assembly, runs contrary to Synod’s own sample constitutions and our history.
All to secure more nominations for president at Synod’s expense.
It’s About Harrison’s Labels and List
As you can see, in his hand-written and label-produced postcards, President Harrison affirms the fidelity of the select recipient pastor. Bravo! He should do that for all of the pastors of our Synod. Fidelity to Scripture and the Confessions is hard but vital as pastors and followers of Jesus.
So how did President Harrison choose the pastors to receive his personal encouragement?
More importantly, who helped him? (It IS presorted first class mail using labels after all.)
How Did Harrison Know Which Pastors to Contact?
How did President Harrison know which particular congregations have not yet sent in their Synod President nominations – or did he just guess?
- Does he have information from the accounting firm which is receiving the Presidential nomination forms? (That’s supposed to be secret!)
- Does Harrison have another source? (Click here to read Clint Poppe’s letter about his “Machine” experience!)
- Or does President Harrison have the cooperation of either the Office of Rosters and Statistics or the Secretary’s Office? (Those are the places one has to ask to receive mailing labels for the thousands of pastors in the LCMS.)
And one has to wonder, with thousands of pastors in the LCMS database, are there codes on select pastors’ records that enabled certain labels to be printed?
Will Harrison’s Nominations Be Valid?
The answer is yet another question: “How can we ever know for sure?”
When President Harrison’s postcard advice disregarded congregation’s Voter’s Assemblies rights, he brought into question any nominations he receives. His postcard interferes with a valid nomination process.
This is going to be a mess. And cause an additional, unnecessary expense to assure the Synod that only proper nominations from member congregations are counted!
And more. If Secretary Sias chooses not to authorize such work, President Harrison’s postcard is opening Synod to appeals which could delay the election and the possibility of expensive lawsuits by pastors and congregations that our Synod has suffered in the past.
This is just poor stewardship of our Synod’s precious finances. It’s bad business.
It’s Time for a Change
We need a leader with character and leadership ethics who will not put our Synod at risk in order to garner more nominations — or use Synod funds to do it — or tell select pastors to skirt their congregation’s constitutions to do it.
Congregations…and our Synod’s nomination process…matter.