By Megan Mertz
ST. LOUIS — The LCMS Board for National Mission (BNM) met June 3-4 to prepare for the upcoming LCMS national convention and continue its discussion of “the kingdom of the left hand” and the Synod’s place in the public square.
Among the items on the docket was a conference call with Timothy Goeglein, an LCMS Lutheran and vice-president for External Relations at Focus on the Family. Goeglein, who has worked in Washington, D.C., for more than 25 years, encouraged the LCMS to have a presence in the nation’s capital to speak on issues vital to the church, such as the biblical definition of marriage, the sanctity of human life and the “massive” debate on religious liberties and the right to conscience.
“We are living in a time when the culture is not just aggressively secular, but it is increasingly crowding Christians out of the public square,” said Goeglein.
“To impact the culture, you have to be involved,” he continued.
“Our primary work is to proclaim the Gospel,” the Rev. Dr. Herbert C. Mueller Jr., first vice-president of the Synod, said later in the meeting. “Making sure that we still can proclaim the Gospel and practice our lives and our faith according to the Word of God, that’s the part that’s sometimes under fire.”
Maggie Karner, director of Life and Health Ministries, also spoke to this issue during her report on the work of the two LCMS ministries: “One of the reasons we’re so involved on the issue of religious freedom is to explain to the world that the Church is an important corporate citizen. In my work, I see how the Church is involved in providing care and mercy work in the public sector.”
This discussion was woven throughout the meeting, as the BNM approved three policies to forward to the LCMS Commission on Constitutional Matters for review.
Among the BNM policies tentatively approved was one encouraging the LCMS to strengthen members to participate in the public square at all levels. The board also addressed policies regarding ministry to young adults serving in the military and supporting veterans through Operation Barnabas.
In addition, the board revised and approved its self-governance policy.
During the two-day meeting, the board agreed to prepare letters to Floor Committees 2 and 7 to offer guidance on resolutions that have been developed for the LCMS national convention in July that impact the work of the board.
The BNM also heard reports from the Rev. William Weedon, LCMS International Center chaplain and director of Worship; Chief Mission Officer Rev. Gregory K. Williamson; and the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the Office of National Mission. Day introduced “Strong Faith, Fervent Love,” the name chosen for the Office of National Mission’s work to “revitalize congregations, schools and church workers through the LCMS’ mission priorities.”
The Rev. Dr. Reed Lessing, associate professor of exegetical theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, led the board in a study on the Book of Jonah.
“We discussed a very timely topic on how we live in the public square and came up with a policy statement,” BNM Chairman Rev. Steven C. Briel told Reporter after the meeting. “I hope it will advise members of the Synod on how to deal with this issue.”
The next meeting of the Board for National Mission is set for Sept. 12–14 in St. Louis.
Megan Mertz is a staff writer for LCMS Communications.