DALLAS — Discussion about the benefits of face-to-face communication for mutual trust and understanding characterized a three-hour meeting of the LCMS Board of Directors and Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) here Nov. 16.
That’s somewhat of a different approach for the two groups, after several years when they more frequently disagreed in writing over matters centered on conflicts of authority.
As several speakers here noted, the change came as a result of this summer’s Synod-convention delegates adopting Resolution 8-01, which put into place amendments to the Synod’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws addressing matters of authority.
The conflicts mainly surfaced with actions of the Board over the previous two triennia, CCM opinions that regarded certain Board actions as going beyond its authority, and the Board’s disagreeing with some of those opinions and declaring them “of no effect.”
Those matters were addressed, along with recommendations for 2007 convention action, in a widely accepted report of a “Resolution 7-02 Committee” chaired by Walter Tesch, former chairman of the CCM and a member of the Board of Directors. The convention delegates adopted Resolution 8-01, which addressed the report and recommendations.
“Under the grace of God,” Tesch said during the joint meeting last month, “this could not have been done and accepted as it has been if it hadn’t been for discussions and help from CCM members — via face-to-face talking, not written communication.”
“What a blessing that we can meet with the Board of Directors under the current circumstances,” said Dr. Albert Marcis, current CCM chairman.
Marcis earlier noted that the purpose of the joint session here was “to get to know one another and talk about matters related to our responsibilities … for the sake of the church’s mission.”
“I appreciate this chance to get together,” said Dr. Wilbert Sohns, a commission member who added, “The CCM wants to remain within its responsibilities … and I look forward to observing the Synod Board of Directors doing its work for the sake of the Gospel.”
When current Board Chairman Donald Muchow asked what “learnings” could be realized from the past six years, former Board Chairman and Synod President Emeritus Robert Kuhn responded “exactly what we are doing this morning.” Kuhn noted that “this is only the third time we’ve talked like this.”
“There were times when things were tense,” Board Vice Chair Betty Duda observed. “But after going through that, we have learned more about the CCM, our Bylaws and our Constitution. I’m not an expert, but I certainly know our Synod better.”
Vice President-Finance/ Treasurer Tom Kuchta recalled that “the former Board was divided along party lines. I’ve been with this Board a day and a half, and I haven’t seen anything political.”
Kuchta said that the “lesson to learn from this [is that] all our boards should be apolitical in doing the work of the Lord. If we can be and do that, the church cannot be stopped.”
“I don’t think you guys are infallible,” Kuchta said to the CCM members. “But when we do have differences, we can sit down and discuss our differences.”
“Meeting eye-to-eye is always God-pleasing,” said Walter Brantz, a new member of the Board elected at the 2007 Synod convention. “I believe that diverse opinions should be considered in making decisions for our Synod. We have to view everything from all aspects, in order to make decisions that are God-pleasing, and therefore best for the Synod.”
“In the past two triennia, different Board members with different personalities didn’t always ‘gee and haw’ together, getting us off to an uneven start,” said Synod President Gerald B. Kieschnick.
“We’re sinful human beings,” Kieschnick reminded the group. “But with the kind of fraternal spirit evident during the first two Board meetings of this triennium, this is indeed a new day for us.”
The Board hosted the joint meeting in conjunction with its own Nov. 15-16 meeting, when it acted on a number of resolutions. The day before the meeting with CCM members, the Board and the Council of Presidents met together to address ways of restoring “harmony” in the Synod (see related story).
Also during its Nov. 15-16 meeting here, the Board adopted a number of resolutions.
They included actions:
The Board of Directors endorsed the concept of the project in May, “subject to resolution of organizational and legal issues relative to the project,” which have now been resolved.
The Board also heard a progress report on the Fan into Flame campaign from Jeff Craig-Meyer and Leonard Fiedler, associate executive director and senior principal gift officer, respectively, with LCMS World Mission.
Craig-Meyer reported that, as of Nov. 15, pledges to the campaign totaled $26.1 million, with $9.2 million in cash received.