By Joe Isenhower Jr.
The Synod’s Board of Directors says it will withdraw two resolutions declaring eight opinions of the Commission on Constitutional Matters to be “of no effect” if the commission withdraws those opinions, “so as to allow the issues involved to be addressed by the 2004 synodical convention.”
The Board in the same resolution also refers to the Commission on Structure “for consideration any necessary changes to the Constitution and Bylaws so as to add clarity to … the extent that there is any ambiguity, inconsistency, confusion, or conflict with Missouri law.”
Five of the eight CCM opinions the Board declared “of no effect” in resolutions last November define limits to the Board’s authority and three deal with “ecclesiastical supervision.”
CCM Chairman Walter Tesch told Reporter Feb. 24 that he was not aware of the Board’s resolution, and that the CCM, which usually meets via telephone conference call, had not scheduled its next meeting.
Synod Secretary Raymond Hartwig — also secretary for the Board — said that “nothing changes” if the CCM does not accept the Board’s proposal, which he said “was made in the interest of peace in the Synod.”
The last “resolved” of the Board’s resolution “encourages the members of the Synod to place the best construction on the actions of both the Commission on Constitutional Matters and the Board of Directors, and urges all, especially those in positions of influence, not to distribute information that will cause confusion or unnecessary division.”
Board member Edwin Trapp asked that his vote against the resolution be recorded. The Board did not act on his request, but later approved a change to its policies that “opposition shall be expressed during discussions and not by the recording of negative votes in the minutes (unless … by vote of the Board) and never by a so-called ‘minority opinion.'” Hartwig said the policy change is “in line with parliamentary rules of order.”
In a separate resolution, the Board agreed to forward to the CCM, “on a strictly confidential basis,” the outside legal opinions regarding the Board’s authority under Missouri law that the Board obtained last year.
In other matters, Chairman Robert Kuhn noted that the Board does not have a funding proposal for the 2004 Synod convention to consider.
Later, the Board asked the Administrative Team (the Synod’s full-time officers) “to begin working on a report to the convention and, ultimately, to the entire Synod … [to] include changing trends in giving, resulting challenges and opportunities to the Synod’s work, options considered by the Board of Directors to address issues, and potential outcomes if no changes are made in funding trends, so that the Synod’s members … are properly informed and given opportunity to provide feedback” to the Board.
Dr. Thomas Kuchta, the Synod’s vice president–finance/treasurer and interim chief administrative officer, told the Board that the Synod anticipates receiving about $1 million less than projected in unrestricted funds for the current fiscal year from the 35 LCMS districts.
Kuchta said that would indicate cuts of a similar amount at the national level for the 2004-05 budget. The Board plans to set that budget at its next meeting, scheduled for May 20-24 in St. Louis.
Based on discussion at a joint meeting earlier in the month with the LCMS Council of Presidents (COP), the Board passed a resolution calling for greater emphasis on stewardship throughout the Synod. It referred the matter of stewardship education back to the COP, saying that it is more a responsibility of the districts.
On Feb. 18, the Board of Directors met with the Synod’s Board for Higher Education for a second time to discuss the financial difficulties of the 10 LCMS colleges and universities. Their first joint meeting was in August.
As a result of the later meeting, the two boards agreed on a statement that says they will “work together to assess short-term funding trends and needs, and implement plans to meet funding challenges in light of current trends and forecasts.”
The joint BHE-Board statement also resolves that the BHE will help the Board in its current evaluation of all of Synod assets, and that the boards will “work together to implement a communication strategy” and will “develop contingency plans to address urgent operational challenges that may occur before long-term solutions are implemented.”
Among other actions, the Board of Directors:
- finalized its decision from an earlier meeting to nominate Kuchta for re-election as vice president–finance/treasurer at this year’s Synod convention;
- decided to interview in October candidates for the full-time chief administrative officer position;
- took measures to strengthen reversionary clauses that have to do with the Synod’s ownership of property in the official documents of Synod entities; and
- approved a mortgage on property of the Hong Kong International School to finance expansion at Concordia International School Shanghai.
Posted Feb. 25, 2004