Many LCMS members are confused about the recent vote by the Concordia Texas (CTX) Board of Regents (BOR) to change to a local governance model. Some suggest this is the latest move of “woke” leadership in the LCMS. They are wrong. The CTX BOR vote wasn’t about looming doctrinal issues at CTX. Nor was it about a cultural agenda — or even a desire to leave the LCMS. The BOR vote was about implementing local governance to help CTX fulfill its mission as a university serving the LCMS. Unfortunately, it was precipitated by secrecy and delay by Synod leaders.
CTX leadership is fully committed to the Confession of the LCMS.
At least, that’s what Texas District President Michael Newman reports. He should know. Newman is the ecclesiastical supervisor of the rostered University workers and serves as the local District President on the BOR. He was in the proverbial “room where it happened.”
Newman Lays Out the Facts
In his Thanksgiving Eve letter to the Texas District, President Michael Newman assured all of us in Synod about the true nature of the CTX BOR vote. You can download and read the whole letter here. Together with FAQs at the bottom of the CTX Lutheran Identity page, it explains a lot.
One thing Newman wrote should encourage all of us about CTX’s future:
“The CTX Board of Regents and leadership team are committed to the confession of the LCMS. CTX is not leaving the LCMS. The CTX Board of Regents is seeking dialog about sound governance as the Synod reshapes its approach to its universities. This is a governance discussion.” [Emphasis Added]
Secrecy Doesn’t Help Anyone
For months CTX leadership asked for a discussion regarding the future governance needs of CTX with no meaningful response from LCMS leaders, according to Newman and CTX leadership. Then, in October, Concordia University System (CUS) President Wenthe disclosed CUS was bringing a resolution to the November 18th Synod Board of Directors (BOR) meeting regarding CTX. The problem? Wenthe would not share the resolution with CTX.
Is that how brothers and sisters in Christ are supposed to work with one another? Newman explains the resulting response:
“With no information revealed, and, understanding that the CUS might be recommending that CTX be closed or consolidated with another system university, the CTX Board of Regents wanted to prevent any possible demise of CTX. The only path forward was to vote for sole governance responsibility.” [Emphasis Added]
It’s Not Over Yet
Concluding his letter, DP Newman explained the next steps. He was encouraged, and his report should encourage all of us:
“CTX remains committed to collegial dialog with the leaders of our beloved church. President Harrison has committed to this dialog. The LCMS Board of Directors is designating representatives to engage in conversation with the CTX Board of Regents. I was encouraged by the spirit of President Harrison and the Council of Presidents in my meetings last week. While there is much work to be done and conversation to be had, I see a commitment to serve the church, the university, and all God’s people as we move forward.”
Open and Public Conversation Will Help the LCMS
The work and spirit of the last Council of Presidents (COP) meeting positively impacted the situation, Newman reports. Hours were spent on the issues surrounding CTX, CUS, and the upcoming 7-03 decision.
Our Congregations, Our Synod applauds the decision by the Council of Presidents (COP) to discuss the CTX BOR vote in an open session. Generally, in the COP, issues such as CTX are hidden in “executive sessions” during the meeting. That means no notes, statements, conversations, or results can be shared with the other members of the LCMS. That doesn’t build understanding, support of Synod members, and trust. Transparency does.
Using executive sessions to hide controversy only makes sense if one believes Synod needs protection from the truth – and members of Synod (both congregations and individuals) need to be kept in the dark. While executive sessions may be appropriate for personnel and legal protections, their overuse adds to the cloud of secrecy that hangs over us.
We are people of the light (Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 5:14-16), called on by Jesus to something more – something better.
Don’t Let Fear Change Facts
By their reporting, some groups in the LCMS seem to be trying to change the narrative regarding the CTX BOR vote. They describe the BOR request for a conversation about local governance as “secession” or doctrinal differences here, here, and here. Others suggest it is a ruse to cover the “woke” movement in the LCMS, different teaching on LGBTQ+ issues, or a repeat of our sad SEMINEX history here and here. Their pejorative terms conjure up our worst fears of losing more Concordias — this time to institutional rebellion and opposition to LCMS teaching.
Don’t let fear change the facts. Read the documents for yourself. Hear your leaders when they speak openly.
Trust that the people we’ve elected to serve on the CTX BOR are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ — just as faithful as our other elected Synod leadership.
CTX Responded to Silence and Delay
The CTX BOR may have a different opinion regarding the local governance of LCMS universities than our national Synod leadership. Their model may have merit when compared to the 7-03 proposal. However, when faced with the threat of a secret resolution from CUS to the Synod BOD, they acted in what they believed was in the best interests of both CTX and the LCMS.
Don’t let people tell you differently. Read the original documents.
You can read more about the story in these Our Congregations – Our Synod articles:
- Concordia Texas Regents Vote for Improved Local Governance
- We Are A Synod Together and We All Have Standing
- Synod, Universities, and Ascending Liability
And, as Texas District President Newman reminded us,
“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
All of our Concordias need all of us to care about them. After all, it’s Our Congregations – Our Synod.