By Megan Mertz
ST. LOUIS (July 22, 2013) — “As John the Baptizer bore witness to Christ … that’s what we are all about on this committee,” said the Rev. Dr. James A. Baneck, chairman of the 2013 LCMS convention floor committee on Witness, as he addressed the convention this morning.
“Committee 1 brings before you bold, faith-in-action, Christ-centered resolutions that are vital to the church for this moment and for our children and grandchildren in the moments to come for future generations,” he continued.
Among the three resolutions discussed was Resolution 1-01A, “To Highlight and Strengthen the Global Seminary Initiative.”
This resolution calls for the LCMS “to recognize that the Global Seminary Initiative agrees with the Synod’s mission priority of strengthening confessional Lutheranism by providing confessional Lutheran theological education around the world.” This includes sending qualified instructors to teach around the world, as well as making it possible for future church leaders from other countries to study at LCMS seminaries.
In a video message, the Rev. Hailu Yohannes Bulaka, president of the Southern Ethiopian Synod, a district of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), discussed the urgent need for trained pastors for his church body. The EECMY has some 6.2 million members. The Southern Ethiopian Synod, one of 25 synods that make up the EECMY, has some 603,000 members in 1,320 congregations, but it only has 155 pastors and 285 evangelists.
The Most Rev. Christian Ekong, president of The Lutheran Church of Nigeria, and the Rev. Alexey Streltsov, rector of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church’s seminary, also addressed the convention in person.
“You have the resources, by the grace of God, to assist us in getting through all the challenges we are facing now,” Ekong said.
During his speech, Streltsov said, “Speaking about Global Seminary Initiative, I would like to describe two types of mission work. One is called imperialistic or colonialistic, and we believe it has no future. Another approach is the Christ-like approach. Basically, sharing what we have, that is, the resources, professors and expertise. Then, by raising understanding and theological awareness of the other churches, we invest into our own future as a global church and we collect treasures in heaven. This is the right way to go, as it was in 16th century Germany when students would come from all over Europe to get their education and then spread the Reformation to their countries. So today, we believe it can be in exactly the same way.
“Let us all remember there is only one church of God in heaven and we are all members in this church, so by supporting each other we support and strengthen our beloved church, the Bride of Christ,” Streltsov continued.
Following a time for discussion, delegates adopted the resolution by a 986-12 vote.
During this morning’s business, delegates also adopted Resolution 1-06A, “To Amend Bylaw 6.1.3 (h) 6.2.1 (d) Auxiliaries and Recognized Service Organizations to Respect Church Relations Protocol Documents,” in a vote of 867 to 119.
The purpose of these amendments is to encourage “good order and unified practice” in the work of auxiliaries and RSOs and the agreements already reached by the Synod with its partner churches.
“Church relations protocol documents have been in existence for more than 70 years,” said the Rev. Dr. Albert Collver III, director of LCMS Church Relations, in answer to a question from the floor.
“We will be posting on the Synod’s website a sample template of what a church-relations protocol document looks like for people to see, and to RSOs and auxiliaries, we will provide the actual signed protocol documents between the Missouri Synod and her partner churches,” he continued.
After a special presentation honoring missionaries, the convention also adopted Resolution 1-02, “To Recognize and Give Thanks for Missionaries and Their Families,” by a voice vote, and all in attendance stood to sing “Lift High the Cross” to celebrate the service of past and present missionaries and their families.
“What a joyful time in the life of our church,” Baneck commented, following the hymn.
The 2013 LCMS convention floor committee on Witness is scheduled to continue its business on Wednesday.
The 65th Regular Convention of the LCMS is meeting July 20-25 at the America’s Center Convention Complex under the theme “Baptized for This Moment.” Among convention participants are some 1,200 clergy and lay voting delegates.
Updated July 23, 2013