Funding the mission
God be praised for the report from the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission.
The most promising recommendation is the call for a “stewardship renaissance” based on biblical stewardship. A fresh LCMS stewardship emphasis, blessed by God, will yield a marked increase in funds that come from offering plates through congregations to districts and to the national office.
One hopes the fresh stewardship effort will also thank God for and commend the devoted donors currently providing $60 million annually in direct gifts to support the Synod’s operations. The giving of these faithful stewards is a beneficial example for the whole church.
The LCMS Foundation effectively links Christians with giving opportunities to support World Mission, World Relief/Human Care, KFUO Radio, and the seminaries. Expand that list to include LCMS administration, commissions, ecclesial supervision, national communications, and debt repayment. Offer an intentional emphasis to support all components of the Synod’s spending budget, including the “common good” services.
The task force recommendation calling for “aggressive communication” will inspire members when they learn how their prayers, encouragement, and financial support of the LCMS ministry of their choice will make a positive difference in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Faithful stewards do make choices.
If the task force report has a flaw, it is the recommendation that Recognized Service Organizations (RSOs) be charged a “partnership fee.” The mission and ministry goals of RSOs are the same as those of the Synod. Otherwise, they would not qualify to be RSOs. What RSOs provide for the church or on behalf of the church, the Synod does not have to spend money to provide.
May the implementation of the task force recommendations help members joyfully respond to the presence, power, pardon, peace, providence, and plenty of God in their lives. As faithful stewards, may they first devote to the work of the Lord a regular, generous, and proportionate share of all that God provides.
I read with interest the front-page story about the report of the Blue Ribbon Task Force in the September issue.
One of the items in that article that causes me concern is this sentence on Page 8: “The report recommends a review of the historic legislative representation system of two votes per congregation, saying the system does not represent the baptized membership in very large congregations and has ‘significant funding implications.’ ”
In recent years, I have heard several folks call for a representation system that would allot votes based on congregational size. It would seem that this is what the Blue Ribbon Task Force has in mind as well.
However, all such schemes run contrary to what the Synod is: a collection of congregations and their pastors. No individual layperson is a member of the Synod — each layperson is a member of a congregation, which in turn is a member of Synod. The Synod as Synod has no direct relationship to an individual layperson. That is why representation at district and synodical conventions is allotted by congregation/circuit, not by number of baptized laypeople.
Therefore, to allot representation to congregations based on their membership — rather than treating each congregation as an equal member of Synod — is not merely a matter of a “review” of the current way of doing things. Rather, it would amount to undoing and refounding the Synod based on a completely different ecclesiastical polity.
Rev. H.R. Curtis
From my perspective, the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission’s report does not clearly and fairly deal with the services that groups like the Central American Lutheran Mission Society (CALMS) give our church body. CALMS is actually helping to cover the LCMS budget shortfall by taking on parts of the budget challenge in some of the LCMS World Mission fields in Central America and the Caribbean.
And yet, now one of the Blue Ribbon Task Force recommendations calls for a fee to mission groups for being part of the Synod. How does that work? CALMS and many other mission societies are giving LCMS congregations and members valuable mission services and opportunities — something they want and desire. And mission societies like CALMS do a lot of work with very little overhead and administrative cost.
Don’t these things reflect valuable services that should be recognized and celebrated by the LCMS — including the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission?
Another thing that seems to be missing in the discussion is the understanding that Synod is more than just LCMS, Inc. In fact, as I see it, Synod includes the grass roots of our church body — the congregations and mission societies that are often closer to the people than the official Synod. I think that the early fathers of the LCMS would understand what I am saying. In fact, they would be concerned about the newer definition of Synod as made up of the official departments and bureaucracies of the church.
Finally, as a member of the Association of Lutheran Mission Agencies (ALMA) board, I do not remember any contacts by the Blue Ribbon Task Force seeking our perspective and insights as they prepared their report. ALMA, an umbrella organization representing almost 100 mission societies in the LCMS, seeks to work cooperatively with the Synod and has always been ready to dialog and cooperate with the church body. Yet, in this case, it seems that the task force did its work without bothering to talk to a large segment that will be impacted by its recommendations.
Rev. B. Steve Hughey
Executive Director, CALMS
Immigrants continue coming to the United States for the good reasons that our ancestors came — for family, work, or freedom. Unlike our ancestors, today’s immigrants encounter a broken immigration system that separates families, neglects human rights, and forces desperate people to live in the shadows.
U.S. immigration policy was established to foster family unity, to help meet the labor needs of our economy, and to protect refugees.
What follows are some important facts on the state of our broken immigration system.
Our current system does not keep families together. Even for those able to migrate legally, it can take up to 10 years or more for refugees or legal permanent residents to bring their families. The current backlog on processing petitions is huge, as is the number of new appl