Author Topic: Wednesday Afternoon  (Read 5104 times)

D. Engebretson

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #30 on: July 27, 2019, 11:35:42 AM »
I suppose one could see Harrison's comments in that light.  However, I could see the sincere disappointment that all those hours of good faith effort on the part of so many people were simply dismissed as inconsequential, leaving the impression that all people wanted to do was hide things instead of help.  I was glad that Dr. Wenthe patiently outlined the extensive efforts to save and revitalize Selma.  Yes, it was tragic to lose a Concordia, especially given its historic place.  Yes, mistakes were undoubtedly made on all sides. Yes, there is certainly room to discuss the pros and cons of how much information and of what type should have been disseminated earlier. It was unfortunate, however, when the committee's proposed resolution was seen only as giving excuses for the Selma closing, instead of the committee's intention of answering questions brought up in early overtures.  The 8th commandment was violated precisely by the unwillingness to explain things in the kindest way.  Instead the worst construction was put on their efforts, dismissing them completely.  When we are hurt our anger too often speaks words of further hurt.  That was unfortunate. 
« Last Edit: July 27, 2019, 11:37:28 AM by D. Engebretson »
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Dave Benke

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon - University Education
« Reply #31 on: July 27, 2019, 01:31:17 PM »
We are going to pick up with University education even though their time is technically was utilized by the extended elections. The elections overrun by 30 minutes

7-01A Deals with amending the bylaws to change the governance of the CUS - this adds 2 LCMS BOD appointees to the board
Passes 80%

7-05 Honors Concordia-Selma
Faculty and former leaders with Selma are recognized on stage.
This innocuous resolution has the potential to get out of hand as a proxy for expressing anger at the closing of CU-Selma. We will see how quickly folks on the floor move to close debate and shut it down before it gets out of hand.

Dr. Jon Vieker, a very tired looking assistant to President Harrison, is kind enough to stop by for a visit. The last time he paid to the ALPB's was for our 100th anniversary celebration which earned him about 3 years of bad photos and bad press in Christian News. Hopefully the new photo is after he has had a chance to get some rest after the convention.

One of the former BOR members at CU-Selma speaks expressing an understanding of people's frustrations and who is hopeful that in the future the full details of what happened my be shared.

Delegate proposes an amendment to delete lines 19-22. The delegate is angry because at the last convention we were told that Selma was doing well in their capital campaign. He wants us to honestly admit that we chose to close.

There is a movement to amend the amendment striking lines 9-25, ruled out of order. It will have to be done as a separate amendment after this one.

Delegate, former president of the black clergy caucus of the LCMS, rises and says that it is felt that since the retirement of Dr. Julius Jenkins it has been the desire of the LCMS to close Selma. Calls for transparency about how this took place.

Credit to Synod leadership for giving time to air this hurt and anger. I am not certain that it is a substitute for the transparency that is being requested but it is still the pastoral thing to do.

And just as I type that the chair requests that we test the waters to close debate. That fails... Dean Wenthe president of the CUS arises to explain the efforts that the CUS board took to address the situation.

As the queues are still full the committee takes time to recognize representatives of Selma individually... Back to the mics.

We are past recognition of former officers, past the recognition of International Mission- Africa, Past international Witness and moving toward Life together.

The amendment passes with 66% of the vote.

And now we move to the main resolution.
Except a delegate rises to move amendment to eliminate 9-25 (recognizing that 19-22 are already eliminated). And we continue on. One wonders how long this will be allowed by the delegates.

I almost typed about how it was questionable to have VP Murray chairing this instead of Harrison if the purpose of this resolution was catharsis. President Harrison takes to the mic from the floor to address the convention. He says the 8th commandment is being violated today by putting the worst construction on what happened there. He understands the pain and he "feels sick to his stomach" that it happened on his watch. He recognizes the LCMS less than honorable history in dealing with black ministry (and its black ministers).

His speech is slow and impassioned. Thee is no question he has a heart for this. However, what delegates seem to want is greater transparency not greater passion.

Orders of the day will bring this back tomorrow.

we move on to the Africa mission field with a request that there be no media coverage of this due to possible safety repercussions for workers in some of our regions of Africa. So with that we will close this post...

The Selma resolution was easily the most difficult and painful moment of the convention.  It is not helped when a delegate accuses the LCMS of "institutional racism."  Chaplain Weedon led the assembly through corporate confession and absolution, so that brought some peace before we exited, but this even through a pall over the whole day.


I missed this, Don - I can't seem to bring it up on the recording from that afternoon.  In what context was the accusation made, and what kinds of speeches were made by those with long connection to Selma and to Black Ministry in the LCMS?  I think that's important, because historically the commitment was strong, and the sense I get is that it is at least perceived as being tied up in decisions behind closed doors that deleteriously affect those in black ministry and other so-called "ethnic" ministries.

Dave Benke

Since Pr. Loesch has linked the video I will let you watch and hear the actual speaking to and against the motion.  The general sentiment, as I remember it, mainly concerned how aware they were of the depth of the financial problems before the institution was actually closed.  The "racist" accusation was made by only one delegate and was not echoed verbally, as far as I know, by others (although my seat was in the "A" section toward the front and there was much I could not see or hear from behind me.)  I got the sense the speaker felt the perceived problem with the closing of Selma was more than an issue of transparency, but also included an element of deliberate intent going back some time.  That accusation was without any foundation.  Quite the contrary.  Dr. Wenthe, president of the CUS, ably demonstrated that countess hours of assistance were given by many others including other university presidents (such as Dr. Ries of CSP), faculty, administrators, etc.  It was unfortunate that a Christian assembly, supposedly governed by the 8th commandment, would descend into name calling such as racist and later even using the term bully as well (in another context and resolution.)

a) I can't bring up that discussion through the link.  Either it's no longer there or I'm doing something wrong. 

b) My response was to the use of the term "systemic racism."  That to me is far different from calling an individual a racist.  I don't know anything about the speaker.  However, systemic racism is a fair statement to analyze.  Do the systems and structures inside the Missouri Synod enhance or disallow corporate decisions based on race?  Is there a sensitivity to and response in the systems and structures of the Synod that takes into account cultural and racial difference in how a decision is made and who is included in the decision process and at what level? 

That can't be answered by saying "lots of people put in a lot of time on this."  Taking Selma as an example, there's a constituency there that is a hundred years deep and came from mission and ministry to African American rural black citizens in the Jim Crow era, which is only now being exposed thoroughly as an inherently racist system that enabled "reconstruction" to be a re-construction of the same separation of people by race as pertained before the Civil War.  If people who were from Concordia Selma stated that they were blind-sided, then they're saying the system that is in place kept them away from holding a determinative position in the outcome of Concordia Selma's future.  And they are the inheritors of the mission that brought Selma to life, so they're wounded. 

Disallowing that is the response of systemic racism.  As I said above, I can't get to the conversation, so maybe I'm missing something important.

Dave Benke

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #32 on: July 27, 2019, 01:33:11 PM »
But does it violate that particular commandment if the words you hear do not ring true to you or you have other reasons to believe they are wrong or twisted or designed to produce an effect that is inappropriate for the subject in question?
“I killed that  puppy because I believed he was going to grow up to be a vicious dog who would harm children.” Says the one holding a baseball bat and standing over a dead animal.
1. The much-lauded “best construction:” Here is a man with a concern for children who takes action to protect them.
2. The logical suspicion: Here is a crazy person lying to me.
Option one or option two? And does option two violate that sacred commandment?
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Missing NY/NJ and trips to Europe. But the dining room at our "ranch" is now open and some activities - with virus restrictions - are returning. For which, thanks.

D. Engebretson

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #33 on: July 27, 2019, 01:46:47 PM »
Dr. Benke,

Do you believe the closing of Concordia College-Selma was in some way due to "systemic racism"?  Do you believe that the LCMS is generally guilty of "systemic racism"?
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Kevin Vogts

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #34 on: July 27, 2019, 02:14:47 PM »
I was thinking about the dramatic shift in the Synod since 2010.  I remember around 2007 I was interviewed by the chairman of the commission on structure, because I was vice-chairman of the former Board for Communications Services.  Hearing him for the first time float some of the ideas being considered (not all of which were ultimately proposed, like the president also approving candidates for all the vice-president positions and even district presidents in a manner similar to that adopted for the first vice-president), I was flabbergasted.  I shared how I considered these changes to be inimical to our Synod's congregational polity, tradition, and history. 

Of course, what concerned me most was elimination of the BCS and putting all communications and publications directly under the office of the president.  I said something about "never tear down a fence until you understand why it was built in the first place" and suggested they review the history of why those matters were placed under an independent board elected by the Synod.  I also expressed concern about consolidating all program boards into two, which technically are only advisory anyway, greatly centralizing and reducing synodwide participation in governance.  Combined with other features such as the first vice-president ballot being finalized by the president, the treasurer no longer an independent elected officer but appointed with prior approval of the president, etc. it seemed like the leadership would tend to become very like-minded with whomever the president happened to be. I actually liked the idea of the president being elected by all congregations but commented that would tend to ensure re-election of the incumbent, and make it much harder for alternate candidates to "break out."  I finally blurted out something like, "It looks like it's all designed to keep the sitting president in office forever."

I should point out that these changes were passed the day prior to the election of the current president, and he actually strongly opposed, spoke out against, and lobbied against them.  I myself was at the convention as an advisory delegate and tried in vain to get voting delegates in favor of the restructuring proposal to see the possible ramifications.  One well-known, very strong proponent of restructuring was on the BCS and we had many conversations about this, but he wouldn't budge.  Ironically, now he is expressing many of the same concerns that I did back then.

So, it occurs to me that what I envisioned has indeed transpired, and the dramatic shift in the Synod since 2010 is due in large part to the structural changes adopted that year.  A cynic could say the restructuring worked perfectly—just for the wrong guy.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2019, 02:20:57 PM by Kevin Vogts »
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Dan Fienen

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #35 on: July 27, 2019, 02:22:42 PM »
I am not in a position to judge nor am I in possession of the facts necessary to judge the closing of Concordia, Selma. Accusations of systemic racism on the part of the LCMS have been raised. The proud history of Concordia, Selma and the role of the LCMS in the establishment and operation of the college over the years has been cited as well as how sad it is to see that come to an end. What other Lutheran Body in the US nurtured an Historically Black College?

The sad fact is that in this world, things come to an end. I have family connections through my wife to what was The Lutheran School for the Deaf in Detroit, MI. It was in the early and mid 20th century a residential school for deaf children from preschool through high school. It did a marvelous ministry to the deaf and attracted students not just from the Detroit area but around the country. If it exists at all any more it is as a resource for special education. It's campus and residential program is long gone. Why, because people no longer cared about deaf children? No, with the mainstreaming of deaf education and mandates to provide good education for deaf children locally, its primary mission was no longer needed. Deaf children no longer had to leave home to get a good education.

I'm not going to say that there is no longer any need for Historically Black Colleges, but to assess the continuation of Concordia, Selma, certain questions need to be explored.

What is the mission of Concordia, Selma? What was the college there to do, and by implication, what was the LCMS trying to do in supporting Concordia, Selma?

Was Concordia, Selma fulfilling its mission? If the mission was to help students to receive a Christian college education leading to a degree or at least a better life, was that happening? If the mission had evolved into something else - provide support for the community of Selma, provide education not leading to a degree, or whatever, was that new mission worth what it would take to make it happen?

What does it cost? Colleges are expensive. That money must come from somewhere. Could the student population and whatever endowment fund at Selma support the college? If not, where would the money come from? Were they successful in attracting corporate, foundation, or other support to sustain the college. Some money was coming from the LCMS. How was Synodical funding for Selma compared to funding for the rest of the CUS? Could the LCMS sustain the level of funding needed to keep Concordia, Selma operating without negatively impacting the other mission responsibilities of the LCMS?

Many things are worth doing. Not everything can be done.
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Dave Benke

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #36 on: July 27, 2019, 03:14:18 PM »
Dr. Benke,

Do you believe the closing of Concordia College-Selma was in some way due to "systemic racism"?  Do you believe that the LCMS is generally guilty of "systemic racism"?

Yes to the second. 

To the first, I'm less informed on the specifics and haven't heard the minutes devoted to the topic on the video.  I'll only state that to put Selma on the floor under a resolution "to give thanks" demonstrates pretty incredible lack of sensitivity to what graduates, leaders, staff and those connected to Concordia might be feeling and going through, especially when some of them were brought to the podium/stage to do what?  Give thanks that their school is closed?  That's specifically the kind of thing that gives life to comments about systemic racism. 

To the first, give me a little while to put it together. 

Dave Benke

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #37 on: July 27, 2019, 03:21:19 PM »
Pastor Benke- the Wednesday video archive has two parts.  The Selma resolution is in the longer of the two parts (I forget if it is part 1 or 2) and the discussion starts about 2 hours and 40 minutes into the video. 

Jeremy

I can't get anything beyond 1 hour and 2 minutes.

Peace, JOHN
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Kevin Vogts

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #38 on: July 27, 2019, 03:35:06 PM »
I interviewed for a position at Selma shortly after the last president there took office.  I had never been there and was quite surprised at the beautiful campus, modern buildings, etc.  They had also just acquired for a pittance a huge, directly adjacent complex that had been a United Methodist youth home (originally for unwed mothers) that I believe nearly tripled the size of their campus.  It had lots of open land they'd needed for years for sports fields, and some great facilities in good repair, including probably the most lovely little chapel in the whole CUS, with stunning stained-glass.  Though I didn't get the position, it pains me greatly that the school closed, as I know it does President Harrison personally.

Prospects looked bright at the time I interviewed and I really thought they could turn it around.  I would say the real, structural problem they simply couldn't overcome was the same as my own now-closed alma mater, St. John's College, Winfield, Kansas.  Like it or not, our model now is supporting the schools with non-churchwork programs of interest to the general population.  But, Winfield has a population of about 12,000, Selma about 18,000.  An insightful layman and retail businessman once told me the big mistake of the Missouri Synod churches in Sioux City, Iowa is that they were all built "six blocks off success," meaning that they are mostly buried in residential neighborhoods rather than on main thoroughfares.  I'd say that when the schools were heavily subsidized by the Synod, Selma and Winfield were great little towns in which to have a school.  But, unfortunately under today's system they were built "sixty miles off success" — from Birmingham and Wichita, that is.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2019, 03:38:43 PM by Kevin Vogts »
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D. Engebretson

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #39 on: July 27, 2019, 03:37:40 PM »
Dr. Benke,

Do you believe the closing of Concordia College-Selma was in some way due to "systemic racism"?  Do you believe that the LCMS is generally guilty of "systemic racism"?

Yes to the second. 

To the first, I'm less informed on the specifics and haven't heard the minutes devoted to the topic on the video.  I'll only state that to put Selma on the floor under a resolution "to give thanks" demonstrates pretty incredible lack of sensitivity to what graduates, leaders, staff and those connected to Concordia might be feeling and going through, especially when some of them were brought to the podium/stage to do what?  Give thanks that their school is closed?  That's specifically the kind of thing that gives life to comments about systemic racism. 

To the first, give me a little while to put it together. 

Dave Benke

It would be helpful to have a working definition of "systemic or institutional racism."  I realize that I may have a limited view of the Synod's history here.  Pres. Harrison did acknowledge the Synod's history where we have failed the black community in the past.  It's the present, however, that concerns me most at this moment.  Since I live in the northern climes where ethnic diversity is less, I may not have a real appreciation for issues affecting other areas, especially for what we often call the 'deep south.'  One definition of institutional or systemic racism is by Sir William Macpherson: "The collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people."  Does this definition align with your view?  And if so, in what ways is the LCMS in the present guilty of this?
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Dave Benke

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #40 on: July 27, 2019, 05:04:25 PM »
Dr. Benke,

Do you believe the closing of Concordia College-Selma was in some way due to "systemic racism"?  Do you believe that the LCMS is generally guilty of "systemic racism"?

Yes to the second. 

To the first, I'm less informed on the specifics and haven't heard the minutes devoted to the topic on the video.  I'll only state that to put Selma on the floor under a resolution "to give thanks" demonstrates pretty incredible lack of sensitivity to what graduates, leaders, staff and those connected to Concordia might be feeling and going through, especially when some of them were brought to the podium/stage to do what?  Give thanks that their school is closed?  That's specifically the kind of thing that gives life to comments about systemic racism. 

To the first, give me a little while to put it together. 

Dave Benke

It would be helpful to have a working definition of "systemic or institutional racism."  I realize that I may have a limited view of the Synod's history here.  Pres. Harrison did acknowledge the Synod's history where we have failed the black community in the past.  It's the present, however, that concerns me most at this moment.  Since I live in the northern climes where ethnic diversity is less, I may not have a real appreciation for issues affecting other areas, especially for what we often call the 'deep south.'  One definition of institutional or systemic racism is by Sir William Macpherson: "The collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people."  Does this definition align with your view?  And if so, in what ways is the LCMS in the present guilty of this?

To stay with the theoretical, the concepts of systemic oppression on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, age, culture, class are all connected.  The underlying causes are authoritarianism and control, which are in the Marxist way of looking at it political - that is, they have to do with relationships of power.  All of this gets labeled as left-wing progressive stuff and not in any way about religion or theology, except of course that it is, and that Galatians 3:27 is specifically about race, class and gender in the Kingdom of God, as one reference.  Jew-Greek was race; slave-free was class; male-female obviously gender.  How that one-ness gets lived out in a system is of course pretty convoluted and complex.

Not to be weird or retrospect about it, but the whole topic of The Machine back a few months was about systemic oppression having to do with power and control.  Failure to stay within some boundary set by some specific set of folks in power is in that "system" as described absolute failure. 

In terms of race, I did tune in way at the end of the convention and lo and behold, a Latino delegate got up and spoke about the way the Selma conversation had gone (badly), and prayed that the Latino representatives and caucus would not face that kind of situation down the line.  What I took that as was a specific referent to race.  We - those of us who are not Anglo/white - know who's in control here.  Please be aware that black and brown people desire to be treated as equal in Christ and notice when we're not. 

This is what people who feel oppressed feel obligated to point out.  In the Missouri Synod, what we've done is to grant caucus or commission status to "ethnic" groups, and then punt.  The term "ethnic" is already a signpost of underlying systemic pressure.  Who's NOT ethnic?  The word used then in describing systemic racism is "marginalization."  They meet on their own, they stay with their own, they do their own thing. 

Back some years, the most aggressive group of missionary pastors in our denomination were the African Immigrant Pastors, who had an association which I attended.  Their issue as I remember it being expressed was that although they loved the theology of the Missouri Synod - Word/Bible/Sacrament/Confessions - they were stuck in a cultural wayside in which the mindset of those in charge throughout the system could not contain their joy, their ways of expressing God's love, their family and cultural interconnectedness.  I felt and still feel this is a tremendous gift in this country that we have not tapped effectively.  Why?  Because our system is to continually study and never get around to actually planning and doing the mission in ways people can feel and touch.  So it's oppressive and racial in that those leaders think this is the way white people do church, because that's all the church they've seen white people prioritize. 

Anyway, a conversation that would be nice to have with some folks on this board who are not white or clergy.  Oh, wait, I don't think we have any.

Dave Benke

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #41 on: July 28, 2019, 01:25:30 PM »

Back some years, the most aggressive group of missionary pastors in our denomination were the African Immigrant Pastors, who had an association which I attended.  Their issue as I remember it being expressed was that although they loved the theology of the Missouri Synod - Word/Bible/Sacrament/Confessions - they were stuck in a cultural wayside in which the mindset of those in charge throughout the system could not contain their joy, their ways of expressing God's love, their family and cultural interconnectedness. I felt and still feel this is a tremendous gift in this country that we have not tapped effectively.  Why?  Because our system is to continually study and never get around to actually planning and doing the mission in ways people can feel and touch.  So it's oppressive and racial in that those leaders think this is the way white people do church, because that's all the church they've seen white people prioritize. 


Those words made me connect to a new (to me) resource. I've watched a number of missionary stories on Robert Scudieri's Mission Nation Publishing since Bob was at our last District convention. Good stuff! An untapped resource, for sure.
Soli Deo Gloria!

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #42 on: July 29, 2019, 08:51:10 AM »

Back some years, the most aggressive group of missionary pastors in our denomination were the African Immigrant Pastors, who had an association which I attended.  Their issue as I remember it being expressed was that although they loved the theology of the Missouri Synod - Word/Bible/Sacrament/Confessions - they were stuck in a cultural wayside in which the mindset of those in charge throughout the system could not contain their joy, their ways of expressing God's love, their family and cultural interconnectedness. I felt and still feel this is a tremendous gift in this country that we have not tapped effectively.  Why?  Because our system is to continually study and never get around to actually planning and doing the mission in ways people can feel and touch.  So it's oppressive and racial in that those leaders think this is the way white people do church, because that's all the church they've seen white people prioritize. 


Those words made me connect to a new (to me) resource. I've watched a number of missionary stories on Robert Scudieri's Mission Nation Publishing since Bob was at our last District convention. Good stuff! An untapped resource, for sure.

Bob Scudieri has without question shone the light on the work of the global missionaries reaching out with the love of Jesus in this country not only for their home country folks, but for anyone within earshot.  That was a top priority ten years ago in the work of the national mission office (whatever it was called at that time) that Bob headed up, in conjunction with district mission executives.  It was affirming and energized.  I don't find that priority at the national level any more, but it still exists in districts and regions, and is connected to the seminary through the EIIT for training, or to the colloquy program/alternate route methodologies since many of the workers are ordained.

Bi-vocational work is far more prevalent among immigrant missionaries.  What is not present among Lutherans is a multi-cultural, multi-racial, class-diverse mega-church with over 1000 in attendance that has the potential to do multi-site, multi-state extension.   We see those in NY on the non-Lutheran side of the aisle - dynamic, unafraid, and reaching the second and third generation younger group as well. 

Dave Benke

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #43 on: July 29, 2019, 10:51:27 AM »
I myself was at the convention as an advisory delegate and tried in vain to get voting delegates in favor of the restructuring proposal to see the possible ramifications.

One well-known, very strong proponent of restructuring was on the BCS and we had many conversations about this, but he wouldn't budge.  Ironically, now he is expressing many of the same concerns that I did back then.

So, it occurs to me that what I envisioned has indeed transpired, and the dramatic shift in the Synod since 2010 is due in large part to the structural changes adopted that year.  A cynic could say the restructuring worked perfectly—just for the wrong guy.

I was a strong proponent of the restructuring proposals. I've had a few people ask me how I feel about the "wrong guy" having the power. Which is strange. Because for me it was never about the person, but the office. As I read through the proposals, as I went to the meetings on what they were proposing, etc., I asked myself one question: "What authority should the President of Synod hold?" That is the question, period. I did my best to think through some of the ramifications of the decisions. I do wish you and I could have talked about the proposals; it would have been edifying.

However, if someone was stupid enough to think that his or her 'guy' was always going to be in office to carry out this authority, then I don't what to tell them.

FWIW, I always assumed that Matt Harrison would be elected Prez of Synod. I was surprised that he was elected in 2010 (I thought it would happen the year JK retired as SP). Given the way the voting was going up to the election of the SP, with 55-45 votes in favor of restructuring, I thought JK would be reelected (and, I'm pretty sure, so did most everyone else). Apparently, there was a good portion of the delegates that were in favor of restructuring and that Matt Harrison was the right guy for the job.) Having read MH's book on Mercy, and seeing that his favorite book on leadership is Jim Collin's _Good to Great_, I pretty much knew what would be taking place.



These are things that we can discuss among learned and reasonable people, or even among ourselves. (Luther, SA III, paraphrased).

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Re: Wednesday Afternoon
« Reply #44 on: July 29, 2019, 03:40:31 PM »
I myself was at the convention as an advisory delegate and tried in vain to get voting delegates in favor of the restructuring proposal to see the possible ramifications.

One well-known, very strong proponent of restructuring was on the BCS and we had many conversations about this, but he wouldn't budge.  Ironically, now he is expressing many of the same concerns that I did back then.

So, it occurs to me that what I envisioned has indeed transpired, and the dramatic shift in the Synod since 2010 is due in large part to the structural changes adopted that year.  A cynic could say the restructuring worked perfectly—just for the wrong guy.

I was a strong proponent of the restructuring proposals. I've had a few people ask me how I feel about the "wrong guy" having the power. Which is strange. Because for me it was never about the person, but the office. As I read through the proposals, as I went to the meetings on what they were proposing, etc., I asked myself one question: "What authority should the President of Synod hold?" That is the question, period. I did my best to think through some of the ramifications of the decisions. I do wish you and I could have talked about the proposals; it would have been edifying.

However, if someone was stupid enough to think that his or her 'guy' was always going to be in office to carry out this authority, then I don't what to tell them.

FWIW, I always assumed that Matt Harrison would be elected Prez of Synod. I was surprised that he was elected in 2010 (I thought it would happen the year JK retired as SP). Given the way the voting was going up to the election of the SP, with 55-45 votes in favor of restructuring, I thought JK would be reelected (and, I'm pretty sure, so did most everyone else). Apparently, there was a good portion of the delegates that were in favor of restructuring and that Matt Harrison was the right guy for the job.) Having read MH's book on Mercy, and seeing that his favorite book on leadership is Jim Collin's _Good to Great_, I pretty much knew what would be taking place.

I think the restructuring has something to do with the more centralized way things are happening in the LCMS today, even though the mantra at the time was de-centralization.  Because although the restructure could lead to decentralization in the area of mission, the way it's worked out to date has been far more centralization - viz. the inability of a congregation to directly get involved overseas, or send - efforts that would have been further decentralized rather than bylaw-based recentralized in a different time.

But whatever that may be, another major factor is that, as Kevin and others have pointed out, we basically have a one party system at this time, headed up by The Anonymous Group running the United List.  At 90%, that's a one party system.  It's not that way totally in life because some of the boards that go through the synod convention have district representatives elected in other conclaves.  But it's safe to say that many of the Synod's boards have a supermajority or even a totality of United List reps.  The other thing is the Floor Committees, which are, as always, selected by the Office of the President. 

If you put this together, the two examples that stick out to me from this convention were resolutions from floor committees with many United List type folks on them, which urged the convention to thank God for the dispute resolution process overlay that allows for an appeal to the synodical president, even though a chunk of districts asked that this be overturned at their conventions; and secondly the thanking of God for the closing of Selma.

So
a) the resolutions were not necessary - they were resolutions of thanks for deeds already done
b) the resolutions were crafted even though there were many reasons not to craft them including re-hurting those who had already been hurt by the actions
c) the resolutions were brought to the floor of the convention even though they could have been put in the omnibus section
d) those speaking against the resolutions were accused of violating the eighth commandment in voicing their displeasure.

This could not happen if there were more (not to coin a phrase) "Balance" in the church-body politic.  Other involvees would convince the body politic to either find other ways to allow for more participation in important decisions or do some listening or simply say "let's let this cool down for a triennium." 

Therefore nothing of substance was gained by putting those resolutions out there, with the exception that something of substance was aired, which is hurt in the Body of Christ - see I Corinthians 12.  The desired outcome, greater and growing unity, however, was missed as an opportunity due to the methodology of making this a national convention resolution.  The hurt could have and should be dealt with in other ways but wasn't due to, in my opinion, less discernment of a wider spectrum of the Body of Christ in a one party system.

Dave Benke