“The Congregation’s Ministry and Mission: Who’s in Charge Here?” will be the theme as representatives of the 35 LCMS districts gather for a second Model Theological Conference Aug. 23-25 at the Marriott Camelback Inn, Phoenix.
Districts have been invited to send three to five representatives, including the district president, a pastor, a commissioned minister, and a layperson. The representatives will serve as planning committees to organize similar conferences in their home districts.
The conference objective, according to Dr. Samuel Nafzger, executive director of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations, is “to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), to strengthen agreement in doctrine, and foster faithful and responsible application of doctrine for the sake of the church’s mission to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to the world. The conference planning committee includes five members of the CTCR and five members of the Council of Presidents.
“There will be no votes, no resolutions,” said Nafzger. “We will come together to talk and to listen to one another in a mix of participants, guided by trained facilitators.”
He said participants will be assigned seating for small-group discussion of plenary presentations and case studies that deal with the application of Scripture to differing roles of pastor and laity. Each day will begin and end with devotions, and communion, hosted by Christ Lutheran Church in Phoenix, will be celebrated during worship at the end of the second day. Opportunities for confession — mutual and private — will be available.
The conference follows a first conference held in 2002, which served as a model for district-sponsored conferences. Noting that these conferences provided a process for “honest and fraternal discussion on important and sensitive issues,” a resolution from the 2004 LCMS Convention urged the CTCR and COP to plan similar conferences during this triennium.
“By all accounts, we received extremely positive comments from the first conference and similar comments from the district conferences,” said Nafzger. “This conference will intentionally have a higher percentage of laypeople and women.”
Major essayists for the conference will be Rev. Ralph Blomenberg, senior pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Seymour, Ind., and Peter Hessler, Cleveland, Ohio, a member of Bethany Lutheran Church in Parma, and a member of the CTCR. Their presentations will be followed by small-group discussions by participants and a panel discussion. The panel will include Dr. David Buegler, Avon, Ohio, fifth vice president of the Synod and a member of the staff at Cleveland Lutheran High School; Deaconess Sally Hiller, Alexandria, Va., mission and ministry executive in the Southeastern District; Linda Reiser, Grand Island, Neb., LWML president; and Dr. George Wollenburg, Billings, Mont., Montana District president.
Dr. Andrew Bartelt, professor of exegetical theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, will lead Bible study based on 1 Peter 2:5 and other texts. Dr. Dean Wenthe, president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, will serve as chaplain. Serving as facilitator will be Ted Kober of Billings, Mont., president of Ambassadors of Reconciliation.
Posted May 31, 2005