By Kevin Armbrust
ST. LOUIS — As the LCMS Board for National Mission (BNM) began its Sept. 8-9 meeting, the Rev. Steven Briel reminded fellow board members of the importance of the centrality of the Gospel in all that the board will do in the new 2016-19 triennium.
At this meeting, the board welcomed three new members, held a joint session (as it does at the beginning of each triennium) with the Board for International Mission, and got an overview of the work of the separate ministries of the LCMS Office of National Mission — for which the Board develops policy.
The new BNM members, who were elected at the Synod’s convention in July, are the Rev. Peter C. Bender of Colgate, Wis.; Crysten Sanchez, Solon, Iowa; and Carol A. Hack Broome, Santa Clara, Calif.
Briel told the board during an opening Matins devotion that God demands that each person’s “old Adam” must not simply be domesticated or tamed but must die every day, and that the Lord Jesus gave His life and everything He is to save us.
Briel, who has served as chairman of the board since 2010, was re-elected chairman for the current three-year term, as well. Newly elected were Vice-Chairman Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espenosa and Secretary Julia Habrecht.
Providing the overview of the ONM’s work were most of the directors of the office’s 18 ministries and its executive director, the Rev. Bart Day.
The Rev. Mark Wood, director of LCMS Witness and Outreach, began the presentations by introducing his ministry’s two new programs — re:Vitality and Every One His Witness. “The LCMS outreach plan is based on the belief that we plant, we water and God makes it grow,” Wood said. Day emphasized the foundation of revitalization for the work of all ONM ministries.
Two reports covered ministries in diverse rural/small-town and urban settings. “There is a lot of vital work to be done in rural America,” observed the Rev. Todd Kollbaum, director of LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission. The Rev. Steve Schave, director of Church Planting and Urban & Inner-City Mission and its Mission Field: USA initiative, told the board that “in the next decade or so, 80 percent of our population will be living in urban centers. … These are some of the greatest mission fields on the face of the earth.” He also spoke about the Synod beginning domestic mission work in Ferguson, Mo.; Philadelphia; Toledo, Ohio; and Brownsville, Texas.
Terry Schmidt, director of LCMS School Ministry, reported on recent statistics for Lutheran schools and announced the debut of the new LuthEd.org website that has replaced the Lutheran School Portal.
Noting that next year will mark 140 years of black ministry in the LCMS, Director of LCMS Black Ministry Rev. Dr. Roosevelt Gray spoke about the work being done in that area and encouraged the board to support and enlarge that ministry.
Two ministry directors reported on developments related to the active role that the Synod seeks to play in young people’s lives. The Rev. Marcus Zill, director of LCMS Campus Ministry/LCMS U, noted that young adults need to remain in contact with their church body. And the Rev. Mark Kiessling, director of LCMS Youth Ministry, said, “Our goal is to be a champion for parish education and those things that connect our young people to the Church.” Kiessling also reported on the formation of the Lutheran Young Adult Corps, a new program that targets the “gap” year during which post-high school or college youth look for opportunities to serve.
Director of LCMS Disaster Response Rev. Ross Johnson explained the Church’s role in disaster response. “The spiritual care is what makes us unique as the Church doing helpful work,” he said. He noted that since LCMS Disaster Response receives no government funding, the Gospel can be proclaimed freely. Johnson also introduced “Camp Courage,” the ministry’s new program to bring comfort to children affected by disaster through God’s Word, the catechism and song.
LCMS Chief Mission Officer Rev. Kevin Robson reported to the board and conducted its elections.
Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison updated the board on the state of the Synod and answered members’ questions.
At the meeting’s end, Briel indicated that the BNM members were excited and thankful to see how all the BNM directors are not only enthusiastic about their work but “are very committed to the doctrine and practice of the LCMS. We are most thankful for this.”
For more information about the ministries of the ONM, visit lcms.org/board-for-national-mission.
Dr. Kevin Armbrust (email@example.com) is manager of Editorial Services for LCMS Communications.
Posted September 22, 2016