Congregations Matter extends its congratulations to President Harrison on his victory in last week’s Synod presidential election. We join the church in praying for God’s richest blessings upon him as he carries out his important responsibilities over the next three years. He must work to collaborate with the WHOLE Synod to provide more transparent, fiscally responsible, and trustworthy leadership.
Despite all the happy talk, it is clear that not all is “joyful” in the LCMS. Several district conventions, representing hundreds of congregations, adopted overtures asking the 2019 Synod convention to remedy some of the monumental leadership failures of President Harrison and his United List allies.
In a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, the LCMS is accused of institutional mobbing against church workers who dare to speak up about problems and increasing divisions in our beloved Synod. Harrison dismissed the article, characterizing it as “sadly bizarre” and “disconcerting.” Does his response prove the point?
The Constitution and By-laws of the Synod describe a very important working relationship between the Synod President and District Presidents. Sadly, during the past eight years, President Harrison broke that relationship. It’s time for a change in Synodical leadership.
If you like the way our Synod is going, thank the United List. United List Candidates are in control. Now in 84% of LCMS elected positions, United List candidates almost totally control the presidium, boards and regents of our Synod. Who creates “The United List”? Just read list of constituent groups. Think about how Synod is going. Ask yourself, “Is their influence good for my congregation?”
On June 15, Synod President Matt Harrison was called to task by a staggering 79% margin of delegates at the Texas District Convention. Delegates adopted a resolution criticizing Harrison for ignoring a resolution brought to the 2016 Milwaukee Convention to overrule a CCM opinion restricting congregations in foreign mission work. But Texas wasn’t done.
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?
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
In the past months, several District presidents wrote powerful pastoral letters in opposition to the recent Ecclesiastical Supervision contrived and enacted by the Harrison administration. Use these links to review each of their letters. Council of Presidents Chairman, Rev. Ken Hennings, President of the Texas District. Past Council of Presidents Chair, Rev. Larry Stoterau, Current President of the Pacific Southwest District Rev. John Denninger, President of the Southeastern District Other District Presidents have done the same. More and more LCMS leaders are voicing their opposition to the unconstitutional change to Bylaw 2.14. President Harrison sought this power. But Harrison couldn’t do it alone. With the support of the United List majority of the Synod Board of Directors (BOD), President Harrison and Secretary Sias bypassed the Council of Presidents and the expressed will of the Milwaukee Synodical convention.
Last summer, District President (DP) Larry Stoterau of the Pacific Southwest District wrote a powerful pastoral letter in opposition to the recent Ecclesiastical Supervision bylaw change. You can download a copy of it here. Several District Presidents have addressed their concern with the centralization of control in the Synodical President’s office, especially as it relates to the recent changes in the area of ecclesiastical supervision. Pacific Southwest District President Larry Stoterau’s letter to his District clearly outlines their cause for concern. IT IS TIME TO ACT More and more LCMS leaders are voicing their opposition to the unconstitutional change to Bylaw 2.14. First, Council of Presidents Chair, Texas DP Hennings stood his ground against this dangerous development in Synod. DP Hennings was voted by a majority of the Council of 35 District Presidents, the Synodical President and the Regional Vice Presidents as their trusted leader. You can read the Congregations Matter article