The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) Board for National Mission (BNM), Board for International Mission (BIM) and Council of Presidents (COP) met Sept. 12–13 for the first time in the new triennium, holding two days of both individual and joint meetings.
Board for National Mission
The BNM welcomed two new board members, Janis McDaniels of Greensboro, N.C., and the Rev. Dr. Dien Ashley Taylor of The Bronx, N.Y. By a vote of the board, all three BNM officers were re-elected for another triennium: the Rev. Steven Briel as chair, the Rev. Dr. Alfonso O. Espinosa as vice-chair, and Crysten Sanchez as secretary.
LCMS Office of National Mission (ONM) Executive Director Rev. Robert Zagore spoke on the continuing emphasis within the ONM, and the Synod at large, to work toward the Synod’s seven mission priorities.
“We need to work together for the sake of the church, to do the work of the church,” said Zagore.
The BNM also heard short presentations from ONM ministry directors, including:
- The Rev. Dr. Mark Wood, director of LCMS Witness & Outreach Ministry, who highlighted a new Spanish-language version of the Every One His Witness® evangelism program;
- Dr. Rebecca Schmidt, director of LCMS School Ministry, who noted that 2,249 children have been baptized through the ministry of LCMS schools over the past year;
- The Rev. Dr. Steven Schave, director of LCMS Urban & Inner-City Mission, who discussed the upcoming Denarius Project, a resource which will guide “workforce development” for those trapped in poverty or addiction; and
- The Rev. Dr. Ross Johnson, director of LCMS Disaster Response, who spoke about the success of district-level disaster training across the LCMS, which enables relief efforts to be carried out immediately and by local churches.
The board also heard from the Rev. Marcus Zill, director of LCMS Campus Ministry; the Rev. Dr. Roosevelt Gray Jr., director of LCMS Black Ministry; Amy Gerdts, project coordinator for LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission; Deaconess Dorothy Krans, director of LCMS Recognized Service Organizations; the Rev. Heath Curtis, coordinator for LCMS Stewardship Ministry; and the Rev. Mark Kiessling, director of LCMS Youth Ministry. LCMS Chief Mission Officer Rev. Kevin Robson reviewed outcomes of the Synod convention, the current state of Synod finances and a new, sustained recruitment initiative aimed at CUS and seminary students preparing for church-work careers.
Board for International Mission
The Synod convention re-elected all of the incumbent members of the BIM for another triennium. By a vote of the board, all three BIM officers were also re-elected for another triennium: the Rev. Bernhard Seter as chair, John Edson as vice-chair and Alan Voss as secretary.
During its meetings, the board extended calls to two educators, Danielle Mizel and Jennifer Rizzo, to Concordia International School Shanghai.
The board also called a new active duty Army chaplain and a chaplain for the Connecticut National Guard.
Robson discussed the “tremendous” Synod convention in July, including its many acknowledgements of the Synod’s 125 years of overseas missions, and its resolutions pertaining to the Office of International Mission. Reiterating his prior comments to the BNM about church-worker student recruitment, he stated that “God’s provision of church workers, well-prepared and well-formed, is going to be crucial to the future of our Synod in our ability to carry forward our mission, both to the U.S. and overseas.”
Robson also reviewed the status of searches for Head of School candidates to serve the Synod’s international schools in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Joint board meeting
The BNM and BIM held their triennial joint meeting on Sept. 13.
The boards discussed Res. 4-04A, “To Expand and Strengthen the Input with Which the Synod’s Triennial Mission and Ministry Emphases Are Determined,” passed at the 2019 Synod convention. This resolution charged the BNM and BIM with two joint assignments: to provide a report to the district conventions offering guidance for proposing mission emphases to the Synod convention, and to provide a joint overture to each Synod convention regarding amendments to the mission emphasis and priorities of the Synod.
“These two boards are really the ones who can help to set the goal,” said Zagore.
The boards assembled a joint committee to write the report, which will be submitted to the districts prior to their conventions.
The boards also discussed the triennial mission emphasis established at the convention, Making Disciples for Life (MDFL). The purpose of this emphasis, which will include an online resource database, regional conferences, and other efforts to increase communication and collaboration, is “to involve the entire Synod in a conversation,” said Zagore.
“It [MDFL] means that evangelism and outreach are vital,” said LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, “and so is retention. We must love one another, share Christ with one another and keep one another in the church until eternal life.”
Council of Presidents
As the COP meeting opened on Sept. 13, LCMS Secretary Rev. Dr. John Sias reviewed the actions taken during the 2019 LCMS convention, especially those resolutions that pertain specifically to the COP.
Newly elected LCMS First Vice-President Rev. Peter K. Lange updated the COP on the colloquy process for Licensed Lay Deacons, which was begun by the Rev. Dr. Herbert C. Mueller Jr. and which Lange will continue. Lange also presented the work assigned to his office by the convention and discussed how this work will be accomplished in the upcoming triennium. “I look forward to continuing to build on the relationship I’ve had with you,” said Lange, expressing his appreciation and desire for continued collegiality with the COP. “When I think of the regional COP meetings, there’s nothing quite like those to build relationships … so I’d love to receive an invitation, from you, to those meetings.”
Harrison discussed the importance of laypeople bearing witness to their faith in Christ throughout their vocation. He then provided an update on the Concordia University System and the work of the Commission on Constitutional Matters as they review bylaw changes and convention resolutions.
The Rev. Dr. James Voelz led an informative and helpful discussion on the history of the Greek New Testament and English translations.
Seminary presidents Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr. (Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne) and Rev. Dr. Dale A. Meyer (Concordia Seminary, St. Louis), with members of their faculty, led a discussion on the history of ordination in the Lutheran church and the Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) program in the LCMS. Attention was given to ensuring the scriptural and historical understanding of the Office of the Holy Ministry while addressing the real-world situations and concerns facing the Synod. Also considered were current trends at the seminaries, including student enrollment, and the ways that the SMP model has been implemented in districts.
The pastoral formation committee, consisting of Rast, Meyer, Robson and the Rev. Dr. James Baneck, executive director of LCMS Pastoral Education, will continue to study the questions raised by the SMP program and current seminary trends. “This systemic issue confronts us, and it’s urgent,” summarized Rast. “Our purpose is to point people to Christ, but in a very challenging set of circumstances.”
Posted Nov. 22, 2019