Congregations Matter suggests congregations and districts pass an overture to amend Article XI of the LCMS Constitution. This will in effect overrule and replace the decision last May of the Board of Directors that gave new, centralized ecclesiastical supervision power to President Harrison.
The best way for congregations to avoid centralization of ecclesiastical supervision power in the Synod President is to clarify the role congregations desire the Synod president to play.
We encourage every congregation to send this overture to the 2019 LCMS Convention in Tampa.
We do. Who cares about Ecclesiastical Supervision? Hopefully, all of us. It is a matter of our life and work together.
Who cares about an overture to the Synod about Ecclesiastical Supervision? Hopefully, all of us. It is a critical matter for our future together. Recent changes to Synod’s founding principles concerning ecclesiastical supervision have brought this issue to light.
CFW Walther Had It Right
Our first President, CFW Walther, likened ecclesiastical supervision in the Synod to a pastor in a congregation. 1 Peter 5:1-4 is the example.
And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly — not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. 1 Peter 5:1-4 (NLT)
A pastor, as a shepherd, is not to be domineering over his flock, the congregation. So also the Synod, exercising its care is not to be domineering over its “flock” (Synod members), the congregations and church workers. And as a pastor has a specific charge, so an ecclesiastical supervisor has a specific charge, an assigned portion.
It really matters! Just think what would happen if a congregation would allow divisiveness and confusion by someone who assumes the responsibility given only to the shepherd the congregation has called, and that intruder interferes in the responsibility and office of their called servant! What a mess! It’s not thinkable!
Synod and District Presidents Have Different Jobs
It really matters! The President of the Synod, as an ecclesiastical supervisor, is not to dominate, control or rule as the head of a secular government. The Synod President, like each District President, has a specific assigned portion (cf. 1 Peter 5), a specific assigned responsibility. A district president is to provide evangelical supervision, counsel, care, and protection for all congregations, pastors, teachers, and other church workers in his district. The Synod President is to provide evangelical supervision for those to whom he is given responsibility, and that does NOT include the pastors, teachers, and church workers for whom the District President is responsible. The Synod President’s responsibility is for the officers and employees of the Synod, the District Presidents, and the Districts themselves.
No one in our human institution of the Synod is to interfere and meddle in the work of another (see 1 Peter 4:15). It matters because it is more than unconscionable. It is unscriptural.
That is why Congregations Matter cares! Proper ecclesiastical supervision and this suggested overture overturning the recent modern reinterpretation of Synod’s founding documents concerning it matters! It really matters!