Dr. Jon Diefenthaler of Columbia, Md., was re-elected on the first ballot to his third term as president of the LCMS Southeastern District at the district’s 35th convention May 1-3 in Norfolk, Va.
“One Name Jesus” — based on the words of Acts 4:12 — was the convention theme.
Pausing nine times throughout the three days for “listening prayer,” delegates adopted a number of resolutions and also re-elected Dr. John Denninger of Springfield, Va. (representing the district’s Central Region), as first vice president; and Rev. Scott Johnson, Conover, N.C. (Southern Region), second vice president. They elected Rev. David Maack of Severn, Md. (Northern Region), to his first term as the district’s third vice president.
Deaconess Sally Hiller, mission and ministry executive for the district, described the “listening prayer” process as “stopping, reflecting on a verse of Scripture, table group discussion, and silent prayer … so that delegates were focused on seeking God’s direction for the future of the district.”
A key resolution they adopted makes faith sharing the district’s “priority emphasis” over the next three years. Its main goal is for members to share the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ with 750,000 individuals by the time of the 2012 district convention.
For its part in the Synod’s Ablaze! initiative to reach 100 million people with that message by 2017, more than 311,000 faith-sharing “events” have been reported to date within the district, Diefentaler told the convention. The district’s goal by 2017 is 2.5 million such events.
Diefenthaler also reported on progress toward other district Ablaze! goals, including 2,001 Mission Prayer Partners (with a goal of 3,000 by 2017); 38 new ministries (goal: 100); nine Mission Outreach Teams in place (goal: 60); and 36 percent of the district’s 205 congregations in six states and the District of Columbia involved in outreach-training events (goal: 50 percent).
He recognized congregations that have completed the congregational phase of the district’s “Ablaze! For God’s Mission” emphasis, with pledges of nearly $5.9 million toward a $6 million goal. The campaign correlates with the Synod’s Fan into Flame emphasis to generate $100 million by 2017 to support mission outreach.
Later, delegates adopted a resolution encouraging members and congregations to commit tithes (10 percent) toward the district’s “Mission Partnership Support,” with amounts beyond those tithes providing for “other mission work through healthy congregational stewardship awareness.”
Delegates also adopted a resolution calling for a process for congregational renewal to help pastors, other leaders, and congregations explore “fresh perspectives [that] can be of great benefit to the mission and ministry of the congregation.”
Prayer is at the center of that resolution, as congregations are urged “to prayerfully examine their current spiritual life and missional focus” to determine if they would benefit from such a process. The resolution also encourages “all congregations, as a means of renewal … to re-emphasize the importance of personal prayer, meditation, and Bible study by pastors, leaders, and members.”
Delegates also adopted resolutions to accomplish the following:
Other adopted resolutions call for encouraging outreach efforts through Lutheran schools, new partnerships in urban areas, and support of a Mission Development Academy to prepare teams in congregations or circuits (involving a number of congregations) to start new missions.
After hearing a report on the work and preliminary proposals of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance, delegates passed three resolutions related to that group’s work, which is expected to culminate at the 2010 Synod convention in Houston.
One of those resolutions asks the task force to “include in its recommendations appropriate organizational structures for mission and ministry to all minorities with significant populations, such as African-Americans, African immigrants, Hispanics, and Asians.”
Another resolution addresses task force proposals for the formula for delegate representation at Synod and district conventions. The action calls for withdrawing a proposal to increase representation for larger congregations at district conventions, instead retaining the “present form and practice of selecting delegates to Synod conventions,” and encourages delegates to the 2010 Synod convention “to prayerfully and diligently review all the proposals of the task force” that have to do with convention representation.
A call for prayer in the year leading up to the Synod convention is at the center of the third structure and governance-related resolution adopted by Southeastern District convention delegates.
In addition to encouraging “prayer and study concerning LCMS restructuring proposals” throughout the church, that action calls on Synod convention delegates “to prayerfully study all documents discussing issues involving all points of view in preparation for their voting.” In addition, it urges that “individual members of the Synod and lay leadership of all congregations within the Southeastern District similarly fully inform themselves on these matters as they participate in the ratification process” and that “congregations and members of the [district] commit this next year to prayer for discernment and guidance in our Synod in this time of preparation for the 2010 convention.”
Posted May 13, 2009