by Rev. Jerry Kieschnick
The 2007 Synod convention, which just ended July 19, lived up to its theme: “One Message—Christ! His Love Is Here for You!”
Christ’s love was evident as delegates demonstrated their care—and the Synod’s care—for the spiritual, physical, and emotional well being of all people, and for each other.
The convention adopted a number of resolutions that advance our mission of reaching others with the Good News of Jesus and thanked the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League and Lutheran Hour Ministries, our two auxiliaries, for all they do to share Christ with others. Delegates also asked for a study on the natural knowledge that all people have of God. While such knowledge is not saving knowledge of God, it can be a starting place for our witness to the unreached and uncommitted.
Love for others also was shown in resolutions that addressed human-care needs. The delegates gave thanks for God’s care through our people over the past three years to the victims of such natural disasters as Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in south Asia. They also adopted resolutions that address stem-cell research, foster care and adoptions, undocumented immigrants, domestic violence and child abuse, and people with disabilities.
While I don’t have room here to share details about these and many other important actions, you will find more detail in the report on the convention elsewhere in this issue of The Lutheran Witness. Even more detail is available online at www.lcms.org/convention.
Of all the LCMS conventions I have attended (every one since 1971), none has exceeded or even equaled the evangelical and fraternal spirit of this year’s gathering in Houston. The delegates carried on frank discussions, even of issues over which they disagreed, with mutual respect and trust toward each other and between them and the chair and the floor committees.
Many resolutions were adopted with 80- and 90-plus percent of the vote. This is an indication of a huge sense of solidarity among the delegates, even on very difficult issues. While some percentages weren’t quite that strong, it was rare to see something adopted by a slim majority. And, it is well worth noting that something as significant as a resolution that could lead to a special convention in 2009 received more than 70 percent of the votes.
The proposal for a special convention, which would be called to build a stronger structure and more streamlined governance for the Synod so that it can more effectively carry out its mission and ministry, was the subject of considerable debate. In the end, however, the delegates directed me as president to meet with the Council of Presidents within 90 days—after consulting the Commission on Theology and Church Relations, the Board of Directors, the vice president-finance/treasurer, other officers of the Synod, and the Commission on Constitutional Matters. If the district presidents and I determine at that time to call such a convention, the delegates told us that they “stand ready to serve.”
On several occasions at this year’s convention, there were emotional exchanges between delegates and floor-committee chairmen that were followed by repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. These were reported to the convention and greeted with Christian joy.
The tone of the convention was far more positive than some expected. This was a great convention that demonstrated a level of harmony and agreement that will go a long way toward deepening our Synod’s commitment for reaching lost people with the Gospel.
All this sets the stage, not only for a possible special convention in 2009, but also for the next regular convention in 2010. That convention will have a theme tied to the Synod’s three-part vision, as did the last two. In 2004, it was “ONE Mission: Ablaze!” This year, of course, it was “ONE Message—Christ!”
In 2010, it will be “ONE People—???! Do you have any suggestions for a word to complete the theme? I would love to hear from you if you do.
May our Lord continue to bless you and our beloved Synod as we carry out our ONE Mission of reaching lost people for Christ, doing so as ONE People united by God’s love, as we proclaim the ONE Message that Jesus Christ alone is the Savior of the world! We have ONE Message—Christ! His Love Is Here for You!