By Joe Isenhower Jr.
ST. LOUIS — If this year’s LCMS convention adopts an overture that the Synod Board of Directors approved for submitting to the convention at its Feb. 24-26 meeting here, the Missouri Synod will join the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI) as an “official partner organization.”
As described in the overture, that initiative “is an unprecedented collaborative effort to mobilize the nearly 8 million Lutherans in the United States to join the battle against malaria,” which claims a million lives each year and puts almost half the world’s population — especially children in Africa — at risk of contracting it.
The Synod would participate in the initiative with Lutheran World Relief, Baltimore, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with financial support from the United Nations Foundation.
A goal of the initiative is to raise $75 million over the next five years ($20 million of that being the Synod’s suggested share) “to combat malaria through intensified and comprehensive efforts in education, prevention, advocacy, and mobilization of resources,” as stated in the Board’s overture.
The resolution proposing the overture “prayerfully commit[s]” the Synod to those ways of combating malaria; expresses LCMS support for the initiative “through its agencies, congregations, schools, universities, and seminaries,” and recommends that the Synod “join LMI as an official partner organization for five years, beginning in 2010.”
A “whereas” states that “funds raised by the LCMS for LMI will be channeled through existing partner churches and organizations in African countries where malaria is most prevalent, as we cooperate with and help to empower, engage, uplift, and support our partners in the battle to prevent and treat malaria.”
The resolution notes that last August, the Board “heartily endorsed the Lutheran Malaria Initiative as a priority of the Synod.”
Also in preparation for the 2010 LCMS convention, the Board selected Paul Pettit of Lincoln, Neb., as its nominee for vice president-finance/treasurer of the Synod. Pettit is currently treasurer/Lutheran Church Extension Fund vice president for the LCMS Nebraska District.
Dr. Thomas Kuchta, the Synod’s vice president-finance/treasurer since 2001, announced in August that he would not stand for re-election by the 2010 convention.
The Board also approved a report of the Task Force on Synodical Harmony that will be printed in the 2010 Convention Workbook. The task force includes representatives of the Board and the LCMS Council of Presidents (COP) who are developing strategies to address aspects of disharmony in the Synod.
As the report states, the task force “will ultimately present a plan” to the Board and the COP for strategies “that will enable us to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
For Concordia University, Portland, Ore., the Board approved a revised master facilities plan to include property in Boise, Idaho, where the university will operate a law school.
Board member Gloria Edwards pointed out in discussion of the proposal that Boise is one of the few state capitals without a law school.
The Board’s action also authorizes Concordia, Portland, “to purchase and adapt the property as needed to provide a suitable instructional facility at a cost of approximately $8.5 million using funds borrowed from individuals.” Background material for the action specifies that the university would repay those individuals, including interest, “within approximately seven years.”
The Board approved an expenditure of up to $150,000 for preliminary creative work — called a “Vision Phase” — and a feasibility study for the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg (ILSW) to look into the possibility of developing in Wittenberg an interactive museum that would focus on the Gospel-centered teaching of Martin Luther.
Rev. David Mahsman, managing director of the ILSW, has recommended exploring such an attraction as a way to “present the Gospel clearly, compellingly, and in a way that the average person can understand — in English and in German.” He said that he believes tens of thousands of visitors to Wittenberg could hear the Gospel in this way every year.
Mahsman’s recommendation led the supervisory board to approve a Vision Plan and feasibility study for such a facility, contingent on funding.
The Board of Directors resolution points out that the Board has concluded that the Wittenberg Project is a “synodwide opportunity,” and specifies that a grant of $100,000 be requested from the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans block grant to the Synod for the creative work and study. The remaining $50,000 will be covered by the Synod’s contingency fund account.
The ILSW was formed by the LCMS; its German partner church, the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church, known as SELK; and Concordia Publishing House to work together in Wittenberg, the city most associated with Martin Luther and the Reformation.
“We have a fantastic opportunity before us as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017,” Dr. Samuel H. Nafzger, director of church relations for the Synod and chairman of the ILSW supervisory board, told the Board of Directors at its February meeting. “I am convinced that this is the time for such an opportunity to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ through this project, if we do it right.”
Although minutes that document executive sessions are confidential and not usually published with minutes of Board meetings, the Board of Directors decided at this meeting that “it is in the best interest of the LCMS” to publish a February 2009 resolution concerning KFUO-FM.
The February 2010 resolution expressing the Board’s decision recalls that last October, “the LCMS entered into an asset purchase agreement with Gateway (Joy) to sell and transfer the KFUO-FM license to Gateway.
“Petitions were filed with the FCC objecting to the transfer of the KFUO-FM license to Joy, and issues have been raised concerning the resolution of the Board in February 2009,” a “whereas” states.
The portion of the executive session minutes to be published is as follows:
“Resolved, That the Board of Directors of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod does hereby delegate to and authorize the KFUO Committee of the board, as presently constituted, in its sole and absolute discretion, to take any and all actions of whatsoever kind or nature, without limitation, for and on behalf of the board, in its place and stead, with regard to KFUO-FM which it deems necessary and appropriate, consistent with the best interests of the Synod, including but not limited to disposing of some or all, or none thereof; and be it further
“Resolved, That the KFUO Committee is authorized to retain the services of Brashear, LLP to perform any legal services related thereto; and be it finally
“Resolved, that the Treasurer of the Synod work in concert with Breashear, LLP through the process.”
The February 2009 action came after a yearlong joint study and recommendations from representatives of the Board of Directors and the LCMS Board for Communication Services.
Also during its most recent meeting, the Board concurred with the Board for Mission Services’ approval to use two Synod-owned properties in Hong Kong as collateral for securing a loan through the Lutheran Church Extension Fund for the new Concordia International School Hanoi to buy land rights, build facil
ities, and use funds to cover other needs.
In another action, the Board unanimously passed a resolution
— on behalf of the Synod — thanking Merle Freitag for his service to the church and beyond.
The action gives thanks to God for Freitag, who retired Jan. 15 after 11 years as president of the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. It also “recognizes and gives thanks” for his prior 32 years of military service and with the staff of the American Red Cross, and points to “his service in numerous other positions and activities for and on behalf of the Synod at the district and local levels.”
Bruce Wurdeman, executive director of Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) since mid-2009, provided the Board with an update on LHM programs, including:
- “The Lutheran Hour” radio ministry, which at the time of Wurdeman’s update had weekly broadcasts on 963 stations reaching some 600,000 listeners. Wurdeman told the Board that in almost every community across the country on any given Sunday, there are more listeners to “The Lutheran Hour” than the number of worshipers in those communities’ churches, and that half of those tuning in are not Lutherans.
- International ministries, with 31 offices worldwide directed by indigenous workers. Those offices use media to generate responses for “telling people about Jesus,” he said, enroll listeners in Bible correspondence courses, and work with local churches for follow-up. Last year, the 31 overseas offices referred more than 54,000 new Christians to local churches.
- The Men’s NetWork, which rolled out this January, and now has more than 2,765 LCMS congregations and 750 other congregations registered to download materials.
- “Woman to Woman,” the half-hour Christian talk show featuring Phyllis Wallace, with more than 75,000 listeners.
As Wurdeman concluded his visit, Board Chairman Donald Muchow informed him that earlier in the meeting, the Board approved LHM and the Synod equally sharing a donor’s bequest of approximately $200,000.
“We’ll put it to good use,” Wurdeman said after thanking the Board.
Posted March 23, 2010