By Paula Schlueter Ross
ST. LOUIS (July 21, 2013) — In their first official action of the 65th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod here, voting delegates adopted a resolution that encourages widespread support and participation in the Koinonia Project, the synodwide effort launched in 2010 to bring harmony to controversial areas and relationships.
Koinonia is a Greek word meaning “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.”
Prior to the adoption of Res. 3-01A, “To Expand the Koinonia Project,” the Rev. Timothy Yeadon, president of the Synod’s New England District, addressed the convention and LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, speaking about the district’s “tough year” dealing with three major blows: Hurricane Sandy; the Newtown, Conn., school shootings; and the Boston Marathon bombings.
“President Harrison, Jesus found a way … I think for you and me and Pastor [Robert] Morris to stand at the foot of the cross,” Yeadon said. “And that’s what makes all the difference in the world.”
Yeadon said Satan “tried to divide us,” and “we didn’t always see eye to eye on how to handle every division,” but added that “Satan has failed to divide us from one another, and we will never be divided from Jesus, and we will never be divided from each other.”
Harrison was involved in a controversy surrounding the participation of Morris in a community prayer vigil/service two days after the Newtown shooting.
Yeadon told Harrison that “the New England District wanted you … to know that we love you in the Lord and we wish you all the best as you lead us in the next three years, into what I believe with all my heart will be the finest days of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.”
Yeadon presented Harrison with a Boston Red Sox jersey.
The Koinonia Project resolution calls for “widespread support for, and participation in” the Koinonia Project “throughout all levels of the Synod,” and asks the Synod president to develop a website for the project as well as more resources and “ways for study groups to share results across the Synod.”
The adopted resolution — which received 89 percent of the vote — was amended to add two “Resolveds” calling for:
- the Synod president to divide district presidents and LCMS vice-presidents “into three study groups who will, by random draw, study Koinonia together,” with progress of the study groups to be reported on the newly developed website.
- circuit counselors to use part of their monthly meetings “to foster the kinds of theological discussions the Koinonia Project seeks to foster.”
The Life Together floor committee also presented two other resolutions during the first business session of the convention, but neither was adopted.
Resolution 3-02A, “To Respect One Another and Put the Best Construction on All Things,” was ultimately sent back to the committee for further refinement after several delegates questioned a portion of a Resolve they found “confusing” and “unclear” (in italics here): That Resolve states that “members of the Synod be encouraged to put the best construction on each other’s words and actions and avoid negative judgments and charges against each other in such circumstances except where there has been a clear violation of the Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions.”
Floor Committee 3 is expected to bring the resolution back to the convention after it has had a chance to discuss the delegates’ concerns and make appropriate changes.
Also presented, without final action, was Resolution 3-03A, to increase the “witness, mercy and life together ministry” of Lutheran schools by making proclamation of the Gospel “a major focus of the ethos” of schools. A proposed amendment that would urge LCMS congregations to “make it a priority” to staff their schools with Synod-trained teachers rather than “contract teachers” was declined by delegates after some discussion.
Delegates speaking against the amendment said there aren’t enough LCMS teachers available, and not hiring contract teachers “would bankrupt our program.”
Action on that resolution will continue when Floor Committee 3 is again called to present later in the week.
The convention is meeting through July 25 under the theme “Baptized for This Moment,” from Acts 2:38-39.