The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) Council of Presidents (COP) met April 27–May 2 on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. (CTSFW).
Prior to the meeting, individual district presidents met with placement representatives from the Synod’s seminaries to finalize arrangements for both seminaries’ Call Day services, held April 29–30 at CTSFW and May 1 at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
In addition to serving as the Synod’s Board of Assignments, the COP gathers four times yearly to engage in opportunities for mutual advice and counsel and “to edify and support one another in the work they share” (Bylaw 126.96.36.199). In its most recent meeting, the COP:
- discussed preparations for the 2019 Synod convention;
- listened to presentations on preaching, exegesis, pastoral formation, urban ministry, and various aspects of a district president’s duties and responsibilities;
- heard a report from the Synod president; and
- took part in frequent opportunities for small-group discussion, Bible study, worship and prayer.
As part of its discussion of various matters related to the upcoming convention, the Council considered the challenges that can arise in the months leading up to the triennial convention, then discussed and unanimously passed the following statement:
To Encourage the Church to Rejoice in Our God-Given Unity and Continually Strive to Strengthen Our Collegiality
We as the LCMS Council of Presidents reject party spirit and the breaking of the Eighth Commandment and, where we have sinned, we repent and want to do better (1 Cor. 3:1ff.; 1 Cor. 3:10). We trust God’s Word of forgiveness in Christ is for us (1 Tim. 1:15).
We trust God’s Word and Spirit to lead us into the future (John 6:68). For the sake of the Christ’s Bride and Her mission, we very humbly encourage the Church and her delegates to do the same. We are united in Christ. Mindful of this gift, and by His help alone, we are pledged to a growing collegiality, pleasing to Him (2 Thess. 2:15–17).
The COP also passed statements affirming:
- the Synod’s continued commitment to existing policies that seek to protect children and that practice zero tolerance for those who abuse them. The statement reads:
“Whereas the Synod recognizes the importance of, and has advocated for, the protection of children from abuse; the Council of Presidents has, and has had, a zero tolerance policy with respect to sexual abuse; the Synod in Convention has adopted Resolutions reflecting and addressing these concerns and needs; corporate Synod has long provided resources to districts, congregations, schools and others within the Synod for the prevention of child sexual abuse; and districts have taken steps and encouraged member congregations to take necessary steps to adopt policies and actions to protect children in their churches and schools, the President of the Synod, the Chairman of the COP and the entire COP hereby resolve unanimously to assert and re-affirm the COP’s zero tolerance policy with respect to child sexual abuse, and further resolve to continue our vigilance in this matter.”
- the integrity of the LCMS president and Board of Directors in matters pertaining to the handling of Synod-owned properties in Hong Kong. The statement reads:
“Given the past false and derogatory claims, which are violations of the Eighth Commandment, on the issues of property in Hong Kong, the Council of Presidents affirms that the LCMS Board of Directors and President Harrison have acted honorably and with integrity in the matter of the handling of properties in Hong Kong.”
Finally, the COP passed a resolution thanking the Rev. Dr. Herbert C. Mueller Jr. for his service to the church, specifically noting his 40 years as a full-time pastor, his 25 years on the COP, his nine years as first vice-president and his “shepherd’s heart, zeal for the word of God and … clear proclamation of the Gospel.”
The resolution, which also included the Council’s prayer that Mueller find “great joy in his retirement and the new ways in which he will serve the Lord,” was passed unanimously, after which all rose to sing the Common Doxology.
COP Secretary Rev. Peter K. Lange, president of the LCMS Kansas District, provided the following vacancy report for the 35 LCMS districts: sole pastor vacancies, 324; senior pastor vacancies, 61; associate/assistant pastor vacancies, 53; total vacancies, 438. Number of part-time pastors, 485; new ministry starts, 5; and congregations closed, 10.
These numbers were reported in advance of the Call Day services and assume the installations that will occur as a result of those placements.
The next meeting of the COP will take place Sept. 13–17 in St. Louis.
Posted May 3, 2019