By Roy S. Askins
MILWAUKEE — On Wednesday, Aug. 2, Floor Committee (FC) 11 on Church and Culture presented a slate of resolutions on a variety of topics to the 68th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). All were adopted.
“The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has spoken against racism 36 times in convention, beginning in 1956,” said LCMS Montana District President Rev. Terry Forke, who also served as chairman of FC 11. He acknowledged the ongoing reality of racism: “Have we conquered it in our midst? No. Have we said all or done that we could? No. Do we have opportunities to do more? Yes. Do we know the forgiveness and power of love in Christ? Yes.”
In its resolutions regarding racism, FC 11 took a two-pronged approach. Res. 11-02A condemns racism in every form; Res. 11-03A rejoices in God’s work to overcome racism and encourages the LCMS to find ways to participate in that work.
Res. 11-02A acknowledges that certain organizations, political movements and ideologies — such as Black Lives Matter; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Critical Race Theory — include controversial aspects that espouse unbiblical teachings. It also condemns movements such as White Supremacy, White Nationalism and Nazism that divide people on the basis of race.
With only one friendly amendment, Res. 11-02A passed by 91.24%.
The next resolution taken up by the delegates was Res. 11-03A. The resolution thanks God for providing opportunities to proclaim the Gospel to the many ethnicities and languages now present in the U.S.
Res. 11-03A also directs LCMS congregations, pastors, corporate Synod and Lutheran Church Extension Fund to provide materials for individual and congregational use in reaching out to ethnic groups. In addition, it directs the LCMS Office of National Mission to work with Concordia Publishing House to produce a scholarly book and other materials related to ethnic outreach in the LCMS.
The resolution passed by a vote of 882 to 69 (92.74%).
“We spent time talking with various entities around the Synod to get various views, particularly on the issue of racism,” said Forke after the committee finished its work. “I do feel that those folks that I’ve talked with are satisfied with where we are now. Is there a long way to go, specifically with respect to racism? Yes.”
Forke, however, finds confidence in the Word of God: “Under the Word of God, we will continue to work on this and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I think we’ll continue to move in a godly direction.”
FC 11’s work also addressed abortion and the use of fetal tissue in vaccines. Res. 11-04 asks the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR), in consultation with LCMS Life Ministry, to address the issue of abortion especially in relation to the use of aborted fetal tissues in vaccinations.
“Res. 11-04 is not intended to comment on any vaccine in particular, but instead highlight the need for more guidance from the Synod,” said the Rev. Michael Schuermann, FC 11 secretary.
The latest comprehensive report regarding abortion from the CTCR was “Abortion in Perspective,” which was published in 1984. “The technologies and methods involving abortions … have changed,” Schuermann said. “It’s helpful for the Synod for the CTCR to take another look at it and hopefully issue another report.”
Other issues taken up by FC 11 included opposition to the mandatory registration of women for the draft, the problem of government interference regarding worship, and guidance on the church’s use of social media.
Res. 11-06A does not speak against the voluntary participation of women in the military. However, it provides a means for LCMS women to conscientiously object to mandatory participation in the military draft. It also directs the LCMS president to inform the U.S. Congress of the Synod’s position on this issue.
A resolution addressing the influence of the government in directing the worship practices of the church also passed. While Res. 11-05 asserts that the state does not have God-given authority to direct the church’s liturgical and sacramental life, it also acknowledges that reasonable Christians may disagree on how best to handle uncommon circumstances, such as a worldwide pandemic.
The final Resolved of Res. 11-05 reminds the delegates and the church that “only the Gospel of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ can provide final victory over sin, sickness, and death.”
Res. 11-01 offers guidance on the use of social media for the church. FC 11 acknowledged the benefit that social media can have for the church, but also pointed to the many evils exacerbated by incorrect use of this technology.
By adopting the resolution, delegates agreed to hold church workers, in particular, to a higher standard in their use of social media. They also commended the CTCR report A Snapshot of Trending Tools: Christians and Social Media to LCMS church workers and congregation members. Res. 11-01 passed by a margin of 96.49%.
LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison commended the committee as they finished: “I think these are some of the finest resolutions … and you listened to the people who brought concerns and improved [the resolutions]. … I’m really proud of what our Synod just confessed with your great assistance.”
2023 LCMS convention — Focus on church and culture
Floor Committee 11 Chairman Rev. Terry Forke and Voting Layperson Melanie Standiford discuss convention resolutions on racism and social media.View video
Posted Aug. 3, 2023
2023 LCMS Convention
Under the theme “We Preach Christ Crucified,” the 68th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod met July 28–Aug. 3, 2023, at the Baird Center in Milwaukee.
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