By Adriane Heins
Following the 66th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, July 9-14 in Milwaukee, Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison offered a few thoughts on how the convention went and the importance of confessing Christ in a shifting society.
He also addressed whether or not LCMS Montana District President Rev. Terry Forke has the best mustache in the Synod (compared with Harrison’s) — a subject at the convention beginning with a lighthearted vote that Forke’s was the best. That led to the final convention action calling for a Synodwide contest to raise a goal of $2 million for LCMS colleges, universities and seminaries. (Read a related story, “Convention endorses ‘mustache’ funding resolution.”)
Q: What is your gut reaction to this convention, in 50 words or less?
Harrison: What an amazing event. Delegates were informed, patient, determined and faithful. The unity demonstrated was frankly astounding. I’ve been attending conventions since the 1980s and I’ve never seen anything like it.
Q: Several issues — for instance, the conscription of women into military service — were discussed at the previous convention, but actually voted on this time around. What changed?
Harrison: I have been convinced that the Synod could basically reach 85 percent unity if we take our time and work carefully through significant issues in preparation for a convention. Careful work was done on most issues; the delegates came well-informed. And the result has been tremendous.
Q: Most of the issues voted on this year passed by a substantial majority. What does that indicate to you?
Harrison: It indicates that the LCMS is and can be most united around its longstanding doctrinal positions. The confession of the Synod is biblically sound. Our pastors and people recognize the very challenging social situation in this country and the world. They are determined to stand tall, confess Christ and His blessed Gospel and remain faithful to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, come what may.
Q: What are your top three goals for the Synod, for the next triennium?
Harrison: 1. Be faithful, patient and kind. And do no harm. 2. Continue to urge and encourage domestic outreach and international mission. 3. Stand tall at home and abroad in both the civil realm and in the Church. Continue to be an even brighter beacon to rally faithful, creedal Christians and the new emerging block of Lutheran churches worldwide who share our confession and mission. These are very exciting times.
Q: Let’s talk about the mustache vote. Will you be demanding a recount?
Harrison: [laughing] It was a fun ending to a whole lot of preparation and work. If some 60 percent of Synod members really believe LCMS [Montana] District President Forke’s mustache is the best in Synod, well, I want to see the proof! If we can raise a million for seminary and church-worker education, I’ll gladly let Forke shave my mustache. In fact, I’ll be glad to be shaved completely bald if we can get to a million!
Adriane Heins (firstname.lastname@example.org) is managing editor of The Lutheran Witness and the Journal of Lutheran Mission.
Posted August 30, 2016 / Updated October 26, 2016 / Updated January 5, 2017 (Information on how to vote and donate to the “mustache” initiative is deleted, since the initiative ended Dec. 31, 2016.)