The 51% Solution

In a recent post I recommended that all officers of synod be required to serve a congregation.  After the jump is the first draft of my proposal, written in “convention-ese”.  Because of voter’s meeting schedules, my congregation will not be submitting this, so don’t expect to see it in the workbook.

Preamble

Throughout the history of the church, men have served congregations, while holding other positions of responsibility in the church.  Saint Augustine was not only bishop of Hippo, but was also a pastor while simultaneously fighting one of the great heresies of the church, Pelagianism.

As our confessions note, through time the temporal duties of “Ecclesiastical Supervisors” were increased until they no longer had time to serve parishes.  This practice our confessions reject as un-churchly. (Treatise of the Power and Primacy of the Pope)  During the Reformation era, men such as Martin Chemnitz not only served a parish full time, but also visited parishes, and managed to evaluate the Roman Council of Trent, explain the two Natures of Christ, and serve as primary author of one of our churches Confessional Symbols.  During the early days of our synod, Dr. Walther served simultaneously as synod president, seminary president, and pastor of multiple congregations in Saint Louis.  Dr. Peiper served in a similar capacity, while also authoring what is still the authoritative text in the LCMS on dogmatics.

In time, additional duties of “Ecclesiastical Supervision” were added, so that today only three District Presidents serve in parishes.  In addition, many executives at both the synod and district level serve outside of the parish.

Whereas, the synod is facing a funding crisis, as evidenced by the recent “Blue Ribbon Task Force on Funding the Mission” and the “Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance,”  (BRTFSSG) both of which were formed to help our synod be the best stewards of the resources that are available, and

Whereas, unrestricted funding continues to decline in our synod, making it increasingly difficult to support the current structure,  and

Whereas, the number of congregations which are in long-term or permanent vacancy status continues to grow, having reached five percent of total synod congregations, as of the COP meeting on 11-17-09, and

Whereas, the synod has over 8000 pastors, but only about 6000 congregations, and

Whereas, the BRTFSSG has indicated a desire to reinforce the synod’s commitment of a congregational structure, and

Whereas, nothing focuses a man on the congregational nature of our synod as much as serving in a congregation, and as evidenced by the bylaws of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod allow a sitting synod president to serve part time in a parish, therefore be it

Resolved that all ordained and commissioned ministers of synod, excepting seminary and college professors, be required to serve at least 51% of their time in a local congregation, and be it further

Resolved that, in recognition of this service, they be required to receive at least 51% of their total compensation from the congregation, including any salary, honoraria, housing and utility allowance, and excluding travel expenses, which are to be paid at no more than the actual cost of travel or at the level approved by the Internal Revenue Service, and be it

Resolved that at least 51% of participation in the Church’s Plan also be paid by the congregation which is served, and be it

Resolved that the Synod’s Board of Directors be empowered to hire technology consultants to investigate the prospects of synod executives serving their positions long-distance (telecommuting), and be it

Resolved that a Blue Ribbon Commission on Administration (BRCA) be formed to evaluate the duties of the officers of synod, and to recommend readjustment of those responsibilities so that they can continue to fulfill their constitutional and bylaw required duties while also serving faithfully in a congregation, the Commission to be composed of six persons chosen by the President of the Synod, according to the following manner : One District President, One of the District Presidents who, at the time that this resolution is approved be serving both as a District President and in a congregation,  a Vice President of the Synod, a parish pastor, a faculty member from the Concordia University System who teaches business or administration, and a member of the Commission on Constitutional Matters, and be it

Resolved that the final report of the BRCA be delivered to the synod no later than the beginning of the first District Convention in 2012, for possible adoption at the synod convention in 2013, and be it

Resolved that in the interim, in order that the duties of the synod president may be fulfilled, the President of Synod be given the authority to appoint the vice-presidents of the synod to fulfill  his constitutional and bylaw mandated duties without further approval from the synod, as long he announces on the synod’s web page each instance of his doing so, within 48 hours of the appointment, and that District Presidents be given the same authority in their own districts, and be it

Resolved that all currently rostered members of the synod who are not serving congregations, colleges or universities, be given 12 months from the date of approval of this resolution to either be placed in a congregation, or be removed from the roster of synod, and be it

Resolved that nothing in this resolution be so construed as to apply to emeritus members of the synod.

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