The 2023 LCMS Convention was the best convention of all time! I’m prone to hyperbole. Seriously though, it was the best of the three synod conventions I have attended for these eight reasons.
1. We disagreed agreeably.
There were a number of potentially heated topics (CTX, CUS, ordination pathways, etc.). The delegates who went to the microphone were (mostly) reasonable, kind, well-stated and sincere in their love for the Lord and His Church.
President Matthew Harrison managed his impatience and anger better than I had seen at the previous two conventions. I was quite impressed. Leading a ginormous (Thank you Will Farrell in “Elf”) board of directors meeting with over 1,000 voices, often competing and interrupting, is no easy task. Well done, my brother.
2. 7-04 was passed with CUS president’s unanimous approval.
This was the longest resolution I have seen in the past three conventions. It was so complicated, and both the floor committee and Concordia presidents worked tirelessly to come to an agreement. Well done, my friends.
One dark spot. Early in the convention I was disappointed that President Harrison and Synod leadership did not express more responsibility for their contribution to the Concordia University Texas schism. A couple of substitute resolutions inviting mutual responsibility were rejected by the delegation. Nonetheless, on the last day of the convention, President Harrison expressed a verbal apology to the delegation, as he had previously given to President Don Christian from CTX. This was appreciated.
I am hopeful this show of humility will be once again shared with CTX leadership and the CTX Board of Regents, in the hopes of reconciling and reconnecting with the LCMS.
While I was anxious about a few of the Floor Committee 6 resolutions on pastoral formation and seminaries, I leave the convention with great hope. I am hopeful that the Pastoral Formation Committee will dig deeply into the theological journey through Competency-Based Theological Education (CBTE) in partnership with the Luther House of Study (LHOS). I am confident they will find the distance education curriculum to be theologically rigorous, highly contextual, and financially feasible. More than that, I am confident they will see how committed our students are to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.
Brothers, thank you for listening so well to the needs of the local church, especially for second-career, bi-vocational ministers of the Gospel.
4. Overall, there was a noticeable attempt by every floor committee to deeply listen to the District Presidents, Seminary Presidents, and lay and pastoral voting delegates!
Not much more to say here. It was refreshing! Thank you, floor committees!
5. I loved President Harrison’s comment regarding the need for “lay readers” to help vacant congregations.
There are still wounds from the LCMS discontinuing the national training of licensed lay deacons. This statement is one step in helping to heal that Synod wound.
6. Voters unanimously approved to recognize pastors’ wives!
The delegation initially sent this resolution back to the floor committee. That was awkward. Thankfully, the resolution came back and we unanimously approved. Pastors’ wives are amazing! Thank you, Alexa, and all pastors’ wives, for your selfless service to family, community, and the church.
7. Unity only comes through listening and deepening relationships with people who are different from you.
The convention is a microcosm of our entire church body. Toward that end, I witnessed so many brothers and sisters loving and listening to those with different backgrounds and opinions. It was quite extraordinary.
My deep prayer is that this love and charity will extend to our interactions on social media. If a brother or sister disagrees, sometimes heatedly, with something you say/write online, I would encourage you to direct message them and set up a one-on-one conversation. Like some of our podcasts are seeking to model, you might just learn something…namely, that you agree on more than you thought.
8. Finally, voting and advisory delegates now make our way back to our home contexts, united in making the love of Jesus Christ known through Word and Sacrament.
This is truly what matters the most.
I head home with a heart filled with love and gratitude for the Spirit of the risen Jesus being in our midst, sowing the bonds of peace and love.
Well done, LCMS!
Let the ULC know if we can help you strategically increase your love for your fellow Christian and pre-Christian neighbor. uniteleadership.org