By Kevin Armbrust
MILWAUKEE (July 12, 2016) — “Through the Word and the sacraments as through instruments the Holy Spirit is given, who effects faith where and when it pleases God in those who hear the gospel.” (AC V). In concert with the theme of the 66th Regular LCMS Convention — “Upon This Rock: Repent, Confess Rejoice” — the constant refrain in Milwaukee has been the proclamation of the Gospel.
Resolution 13-02A — “To Regularize Status of Licensed Lay Deacons Involved in Word and Sacrament Ministry” — takes seriously the public ministry of these gifts entrusted to the Church.
This resolution was written to address the role of the Office of the Holy Ministry and the role of licensed lay deacons in the LCMS. According to the resolves, Resolution 13-02A does not address lay deacons who do not engage in public Word and Sacrament ministry, aside from encouraging district presidents to “continue to recruit, train, and credential new deacons for general varieties of service in the church that do not include public preaching and administration of the sacraments.”
Addressing the concern of those who feared this resolution threatened the future existence of licensed lay deacons in the synod, the Rev. Dr. Roger C. Paavola, chairman of Committee 13: Routes to Ministry stated, “This does not discontinue the availability of licensed lay deacons in any district.” The goal of the resolution, he continued, is “to enlist, encourage, and enable these men to be able to receive what it is that is necessary so they can proclaim the Gospel.”
Resolution 13-02A provides three options that deacons currently publicly preaching and administering the sacraments can choose to pursue by July 1, 2018:
1) apply to one of the Synod’s seminaries for admission into an alternate-route program;
2) apply for entrance into a Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) program; and
3) apply to the regional colloquy committee for admission to the SMP roster, unless granted a waiver by the applicant’s district president, the plenary of the Council of Presidents, and the appropriate regional colloquy committee.
The resolution states that care must be taken to ensure that no congregation is left without a man to serve it in Word and sacrament ministry during this process.
Following the presentation of the resolution to delegates, civil and collegial discussion ensued for several minutes before the vote on the resolution — a 74.49 percent majority to adopt it.
The clear communication of this resolution was aided by the Rev. Dr. Russell L. Sommerfeld’s presentation on Sunday, in which he read the “Report to the Synod, 2013 Resolution 4-06A Task Force To Address Questions Re: Service of Licensed Lay Deacons.”
The Rev. Larry Vogel, chairman of the 2013 Resolution 4-06A Task Force, and Committee Chairman Paavola both noted the importance of communication throughout the Synod over the past year and during the convention in order to bring concord on this issue.
To further address the need for Word and Sacrament ministry in all LCMS congregations, Resolution 13-03 established a task force to “To Address Future Church Leadership Needs in Light of Current and Future Challenges.”
After two friendly amendments were made to the first resolved — one to add the exploration of free seminary education and the other to change the wording to include Canada — the motion passed 874-147.
Dr. Kevin Armbrust is manager of Editorial Services with LCMS Communications.
(Posted July 12, 2016)
Watch — Livestream and on-demand video
View — Photo galleries