Author Topic: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community  (Read 224470 times)

LCMS87

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1260 on: February 14, 2013, 01:04:57 PM »
There have been apologies aplenty... by people who, arguably, didn't really need to apologize for their actions.   The oddity is that the one group that really kick started this whole thing, while PRAISING apologies as the Lutheran way... is not offering an apology themselves for their role in this matter.  That is -- the Brothers of John the Steadfast.   It would go a long way if they would make an apology for the offense they caused in all of this...  at least they would be consistent.  Will such an apology come?  Whether they, themselves, feel like they are guilty for this matter... the fact is that their forum has provided such a public display of inner controversies that has allowed the media to pick up on a scandal like this.   The oddity is that I agree with the Brothers a lot of the time... but I wish they would find a way to change their forum, so that the commentary would be viewable through "log in" only, and not in "googleable" view from the public... and the media.

Perhaps you could post this there.  Unless the folks with whom you're concerned use a completely different style of communication when they participate here, or perhaps only lurk at ALPB, you're preaching to the choir.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 01:10:33 PM by LCMS87 »

Charles_Austin

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1261 on: February 14, 2013, 01:25:47 PM »
But... if you don't think choirs also need preaching, you haven't been in many choir lofts or rehearsals.  ;D ;)

George Erdner

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1262 on: February 14, 2013, 02:01:27 PM »
I think the definition the resolution identifies is the rub...

I think it's far simpler.

Ask people, "Why are you gathering today?"

If the answer is, "to worship God," then it is to worship God... it's a worship service.

If the answer is, "to hear some comfort after this unspeakable tragedy" then it doesn't matter what "elements" might seem to bear some similarity to "worship," they are not gathering to worship.


According to adherents of some religions, including some faith traditions within the Christian religion, it is a matter of core theology that all actions are a form of worship. To people who have that particular mindset, every moment of their lives is a witness to God, and an act of worship. That fact makes that particular litmus test less than ideal.


pastormesser

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1263 on: February 14, 2013, 03:02:45 PM »
Councils err and the CTCR does not always agree with Scripture and the Confessions.  I would not call Pastor Henrickson's proposal draconian,

You, Pastor Messer and others are entitled to your opinion with regard to the CTCR and the resolutions of the LC-MS.  You are then in dissent from them and the positions of your church body. 
Dave Benke

President Benke,

I don't understand what you mean that I (and others) am in dissent from the positions of my church body. Are you suggesting that the 2004 CTCR Guidelines for Participation in Civic Events established a position of our church body? The Resolution adopted in 2004 (Res. 3-06A) certainly doesn't make that claim. The Resolution adopted, in the first Resolved, simply commends those Guidelines "for study to help pastors, teachers, and church workers make decisions about participation in civic events," and in the second Resolved, resolves that "we encourage all the members of Synod to continue to study these issues under the guidance of the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions as we face the ongoing challenges to bring God's unchanging Word to bear on our increasingly pluralistic and polytheistic culture." 

Furthermore, the second bullet point within the first Resolved states that we make decisions about participation in civic events "That seek to take full advantage of every legitimate opportunity to proclaim clearly in the public realm that 'only in and through Jesus do we have the definitive revelation of the true and only guide,' that God 'is known as Father and Savior only through Spirit-wrought faith in Jesus Christ,' and that 'only the Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - is the object of our worship and the hope of our salvation.' [Emphasis mine]   

The portion of this second bullet point in the 2004 Res. 3-06A that I have emphasized is the rub, isn't it? I suppose I could easily say that you (and others) are in dissent from the position of our church body (if we considered commendations of CTCR documents for further study as positions of our church body, which we clearly don't), since your position is that it is not necessary to proclaim clearly the exclusivity of the Christian faith in the public realm when participating in civic events. I read this bullet point and conclude that, when participating in civic events, we should proclaim clearly that ONLY Jesus is Savior, that the true God is ONLY known through Spirit-wrought faith in Christ, and that the Triune God is the ONLY God. Based on your comments in this discussion, you clearly do not read it that way. There is obviously some confusion not only on how we read this Resolution, but on how we read the Guidelines themselves, which this Resolution commends for study, which is far from putting forward an official position of our church body.

That's probably why both the 2007 and 2010 Convention delegates adopted resolutions to study this issue further, no?

If we eventually adopt an official position of our church body on this issue which states that our pastors, teachers, and church workers can participate in civic events that includes clergy of heterodox denominations and other religions without proclaiming clearly that Jesus is the ONLY Savior and that the Triune God is the ONLY God, while avoiding the sins of unionism and syncretism in such participation, then, yes, I will register my official dissent. Until then, I shall, along with the rest of the synod, study the issue, comparing the 2004 Guidelines with Scripture, our Confessions, and our Constitution, and await the further studies on this issue called for by our Convention delegates in the last two Conventions.

Lastly, I don't think the overture adopted by Pr. Henrickson's congregation and circuit forum is draconian at all. This issue is obviously one over which there is deep division in our synod and needs to be addressed. Is it draconian to suggest that we steer clear of participating in these events, when we know that it will cause offense and further divide us, until we have addressed this definitively, either through the Koinonia Project or more definitive guidelines or whatever? If we're all for working toward greater consensus and unity within our synod, shouldn't we be about the business of avoiding offense until that greater consensus and unity is reached? Actually, I'd offer an amendment to the Resolved of that overture, adding the words to the end of the Resolved, ". . . unless our rostered ministers proclaim clearly that the Triune God is the ONLY God, and that Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, who came down from heaven and was Incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and became Man, is the ONLY Savior for sinners; that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him." I mean, I wouldn't want our rostered ministers to shy away from proclaiming clearly (per Res. 3-06A) and providing such exclusive Christian witness in the public realm, if they were inclined to do so. ;)   

Pastor Ted Crandall

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1264 on: February 14, 2013, 03:21:06 PM »
Chaplains,

Please join with me in congratulating our newest flag officer, Chaplain Dan Gard, CAPT, CHC, USNR to Rear Admiral (lower half) for the Naval Reserve Chaplain community. Dan is currently serving as Joint Task Force chaplain, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Dr. Gard serves the church as full-time professor of Exegetical Theology, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne and is also the Dean for Military Chaplain Programs at the Seminary.  Blessings, Dan, on your promotion and service to God and Country!
 

Mark J. Schreiber
CAPT, CHC, USN (Ret.)
Director, Ministry to the Armed Forces

 

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1265 on: February 14, 2013, 03:22:02 PM »

The question in my mind is when other prayers are being offered especially those to other gods.   Even if we don't pray, our participation lends to the impression that we are just one choice among many, and we are so desperate to have a seat at the table we don't care if anyone is misled.

I'm not sure who "we" is, but I've not seen anything definitive that others are misled and certainly that "we don't care."

People always say that we will be seen as uncaring if we don't go.  First of all, I doubt anyone would notice.  But if they did, then we have an opportunity to explain that we just simply do not place proclamation of the Triune God alongside the advancement of false gods.

If Pr. Morris had not gone to that event, the community would have noticed. Look at the congregational statements. They certainly would not only have noticed but would not have understood. I'm not sure if I would understand for, in a similar situation, I believe I would have done something quite similar. As I stated when this all came down, Pr. Morris really had no legitiimate pastoral choice, and he did the right thing. And as I stated before, there seems to be an underlying doubt about the efficacy of The Word and its status as a performative speech act manifested by those who question and/or condemn his actions.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 03:29:16 PM by Pr. Don Kirchner »
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swbohler

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1266 on: February 14, 2013, 03:31:18 PM »
Rev. Kirchner,

Why would the community notice he was not there?  Were all the other clergy in the community involved?  And if they HAD noticed, that would have given him an opportunity to explain why he could not participate (whether the community would have accepted that explanation is another question).

Rev. Matthew Uttenreither

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1267 on: February 14, 2013, 03:43:27 PM »
For the church of Christ is not a church that is always busy holding conferences, nor is she a church that does business with politicians and the press. She is ecclesia orans. And this is her main calling. Either she is ecclesia orans--as indeed she showed herself to be already in the catacombs--or she is nothing. Hermann sasse, Letters to Lutheran Pastors, Volume I, p. 75-76

Dr. Sasse in his letter calls on the church to be like the church of old and pray in a corporate way with all who are in the body of Christ.  I for the life of me cannot see Sasse pray in a "tag, you're it" sort of way going from Christian to Muslim to Jewish to Christian to worshipers of the flying jello monster.

Sasse throughout his letter speaks of repentance as the framework for all Christian prayer. He writes: ... prayer of the church must be first of all prayer of repentance.  The great danger of the church of all ages is that she preaches repentance to the world and at the same time becomes a castaway because she forgets that all true repentance must begin at the house of God, with the repentance of the church.  Here, too, there is no difference between the Catholic Churches which from principle do not repent and the evangelical churches which do not repent in practice.  We are so accustomed to seeing church politics hold primacy in the church that we erroneously expect that a change in church politics must bring forth a new day in history. (83-84)

Serial prayer does not pray for repentance, it does not call those who bow down to false idols of this world to forsake their play things for the truth of Christ. When a Christian pastor steps onto a stage with a priest of the flying jello monster or an imam it shows Jesus to be nothing more than one among many-sort of like a collection of superheroes (ala Justice League/Avengers). 

I for one used to be in the camp of electing Harrison will bring in a new day.  I was in error.  Don't get me wrong I am thankful for his witness and confession but I know a change in who sits in the purple palace ultimately won't change the decay around us whether it be by a resoution posted on the Steadfast blog or a quote in a New York Times article. True change begins with repentance. It seems that those in the left of Missouri are "praying" that this recent media exposure will bring about change. 

My rantings on a snowy day.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 03:55:22 PM by Rev. Matthew Uttenreither »

R. T. Fouts

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1268 on: February 14, 2013, 03:47:53 PM »
Chaplains,

Please join with me in congratulating our newest flag officer, Chaplain Dan Gard, CAPT, CHC, USNR to Rear Admiral (lower half) for the Naval Reserve Chaplain community. Dan is currently serving as Joint Task Force chaplain, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Dr. Gard serves the church as full-time professor of Exegetical Theology, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne and is also the Dean for Military Chaplain Programs at the Seminary.  Blessings, Dan, on your promotion and service to God and Country!
 

Mark J. Schreiber
CAPT, CHC, USN (Ret.)
Director, Ministry to the Armed Forces

Well deserved.  God's blessings on all this promotion will mean for the ministry God has entrusted to you, Dr. Gard. 
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Dr. R.T. Fouts, M.Div, Ph.D.

R. T. Fouts

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1269 on: February 14, 2013, 03:52:34 PM »
Quote
And as I stated before, there seems to be an underlying doubt about the efficacy of The Word and its status as a performative speech act manifested by those who question and/or condemn his actions.

EXACTLY.   That's my point as well.  If we fear that proclaiming the Word in a pluralistic setting simply allows the Gospel to "blend in" with all the false religions present, we in essence say that we doubt the ability of the Holy Spirit in the Word to distinguish itself through it all. 

I'm not sure why we feel the need to refute pluralism every time we engage (or refuse to engage) our pluralistic culture.  The Gospel essentially does that already.  One action will neither tear down someone's pluralistic worldview, nor will it confirm them in pluralism.  When the Word is spoken, though, accompanied by the Holy Spirit... that Word never returns void.   It seems some are putting more credence on the *potential* of false impressions to lead people astray than  on the efficacy of the WORD itself. 
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Dr. R.T. Fouts, M.Div, Ph.D.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1270 on: February 14, 2013, 03:55:09 PM »
One important aspect of this discussion is "whose" event is it? Who decides what happens next, who is in a position to permit or refuse someone from getting up and saying something, who invites or does not invite someone to be a part of the leadership. At my church it is me. At a Catholic church it is the priest or bishop. Some places it is the mayor. Or Oprah. Or whoever. That authority is a big part of what makes an "event" LCMS, or Roman Catholic, or whatever. The problem with "interfaith" is that it pretends not to belong to any one faith, but in order to do so it actually belongs to American Civil religion. Universalism is to an interfaith service what Roman Catholicism is to a Catholic service. Just as there are no "non-denominational" Christians, but only Christians who don't know the right word for the theology they believe, teach, and confess, so there are no "interfaith" services but only Unitarian/Universalist services that are glad to include Christians as part of their understanding of "universal".


I think that American Civil Religion is more Deist than Universalism. Universalism keeps salvation through Christ, e.g., 1 Corinthians 15:22  "For as in Adam ALL die, so also in Christ shall ALL be made alive." American Civil Religion avoids Christ. We can trust in God. We can be "one nation under God," but we don't bring Jesus into the picture.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Dave Benke

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1271 on: February 14, 2013, 03:59:21 PM »
Pastor Henrickson's Overture published on this day to abrogate the Koinonia Project by having the LC-MS convention prohibit participation in inter-faith events is most unfortunate.   The overture is simply an attempt to dictate practice by majority convention vote on a matter up for Koinonia dialog, sidestepping that which is going to be on the Koinonia table.

the draconian steps outlined in the overture proposed by Rev. Henrickson. . . .

Pastor Henrickson's proposal is thoroughly draconian because it mentions the Koinonia Project even as it throws the Koinonia Project under the bus.  The Koinonia Project is dead upon arrival when issues of concern are solved by convention resolutions.  That's why Pastor Henrickson's proposed overture is fundamentally cynical and in counterdistinction to the stated aims of the Koinonia Project and in fact to the desires of the President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, who has commissioned the Koinonia Project under the auspices of the First Vice-President of the LC-MS.

Several things here.

First, Pastor Benke, the overture to which you refer is not "Pastor Henrickson's Overture." It is an overture adopted, unanimously, by the voters' assembly of St. Matthew Lutheran Church of Bonne Terre, Missouri, and adopted, unanimously, by the circuit forum of the Farmington Circuit of the Missouri District.

Second, I am surprised, Pastor Benke, that you are even aware of this overture. Back in November, you said that you "never read" steadfastlutherans. Yet the only place this overture has appeared so far is at . . . steadfastlutherans. Which you don't read. And you comment on the overture here, almost before the electrons are dry over at steadfast. Weird.

Third, since you have referred several times now to this overture, we might as well post it here, too, so people can read it. Then, in a subsequent post, I may make some comments on it.

To Provide Guidance on Participation in Interfaith and Joint Worship Services

WHEREAS, the LORD God commanded his people, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20:3), and judged them severely when they mixed the one true faith with the worship of the golden calf (Exod. 32); and

WHEREAS, the prophet Elijah did not participate in any “interfaith prayer service” on Mount Carmel, but rather mocked and condemned the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18); and

WHEREAS, our Lord Jesus Christ declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6); and

WHEREAS, the apostle Peter boldly testified to the exclusive nature of salvation in Jesus alone, saying, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12); and

WHEREAS, the apostle Paul did not participate in any “interfaith prayer service” alongside pagan priests when he spoke at the Areopagus (Acts 17); and

WHEREAS, the apostle Paul wrote, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them” (Rom. 16:17); and

WHEREAS, the Constitution of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod requires, as a condition of membership, “Renunciation of unionism and syncretism of every description, such as . . . Taking part in the services and sacramental rites of heterodox congregations or of congregations of mixed confession” (Article VI. 2. b.); and

WHEREAS, interfaith prayer services and joint worship services with clergy of religious bodies with which we are not in fellowship--whether those services are called “vigils” or “events” or some other term, and whether they may also include some civic elements--those are services in which multiple clergy members of various religious bodies take turns in leading parts of the service (invocations, prayers, readings, messages, blessings); and

WHEREAS, participation by our ministers in such services may understandably cause offense to the people of our Synod; and

WHEREAS, in its 2004 report, “Guidelines for Participation in Civic Events,” the CTCR could not come to agreement on “the issue of so-called ‘serial’ or ‘seriatim’ prayers involving representatives of different religious (Christian and/or non-Christian) groups or churches” (p. 19), thus rendering their guidelines less than optimal and helpful; and

WHEREAS, the 2010 Convention resolved “To Study Article VI of Synod’s Constitution” (2010 Res. 8-30B), which would include study of the meaning and application of “Renunciation of unionism and syncretism of every description”; and

WHEREAS, the Koinonia Project is likely to discuss this whole matter and work toward a greater consensus among us; therefore be it

Resolved, that, unless and until the Synod decides otherwise, the rostered ministers of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, not participate in interfaith services or joint services with clergy of religious bodies with which we are not in fellowship.

Thanks for your response, Pastor Henrickson, on this Valentine's Day.

First, thanks for pointing me to the parish-based passage of the overture in question. 

Secondly, people send me links to your site, and that's how I am directed to the information on it.  Especially after the absolutely horrible comments forwarded to me which were printed in the St. Louis Post Dispatch by editor Rossow with regards to the children who were killed in Newtown, I am not interested in your website in the least.

Finally, I want to back away from the word "draconian" with regard to the submission written by you and affirmed by your congregation.  Better descriptors are "peremptory," "disrespectful" and "ill-advised."

The overture is peremptory in that it references the Koinonia Project in the final whereas, and then in the Resolved eliminates the need for Koinonia Project dialog on the issue by finalizing a decision NOT to participate in events which are not proscribed by the denomination through resolution.  The specific purpose of the Koinonia Project is to arrive at conclusions in these controverted areas by means of dialog, and NOT through majority vote convention resolution.  Thus the overture is peremptory.

It is disrespectful toward the President of the LC--MS, Matthew Harrison, who has stated, "One view is that by standing side-by-side with non-Christian clergy in public religious events, we give the impression that Christ is just one path among many.  Others view participation as an opporutnity share Christ and to truly love a huring comunity, which may not happen if we are not participating.  We struggle with the tension between these two views."

To eliminate that tension by writing your overture is to disrespect the President of the LC--MS, who clearly recognizes that the tension must be dealt with by dialog, and not by peremptory resolutions. 

For that reason, the overture is ill-advised.  Let's keep on talking.  I believe there are clear Lutheran and Scriptural principles that foster participation in these events, and that Pastor Morris correctly understood those principles and lived up to them magnificently in his Christian witness through word and deed, including participation in the prayer service.

Dave Benke

swbohler

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1272 on: February 14, 2013, 04:19:58 PM »
Dr. Benke,

I found your recent words to the press about President Harrison's handling of this matter much more disrepectful toward him than this proposed resolution.  Just my opinion.

JMK

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1273 on: February 14, 2013, 04:22:18 PM »
Quote
It is disrespectful toward the President of the LC--MS, Matthew Harrison, who has stated, "One view is that by standing side-by-side with non-Christian clergy in public religious events, we give the impression that Christ is just one path among many.  Others view participation as an opportunity share Christ and to truly love a hurting community, which may not happen if we are not participating.  We struggle with the tension between these two views."

To eliminate that tension by writing your overture is to disrespect the President of the LC--MS, who clearly recognizes that the tension must be dealt with by dialog, and not by peremptory resolutions. 

For that reason, the overture is ill-advised.  Let's keep on talking.  I believe there are clear Lutheran and Scriptural principles that foster participation in these events, and that Pastor Morris correctly understood those principles and lived up to them magnificently in his Christian witness through word and deed, including participation in the prayer service.

That is an excellent point!

Among other things, I think it has to be clearly stated over and over again that the current LCMS position is that LCMS Lutherans are not necessarily forbidden from making a witness in a civic context with other religious leaders who have given prayers. Rather, the CTCR speaks about allowing for participation in these words: 

…when no restrictions are placed on the content of the Christian witness that may be given by the LCMS pastor; when a sincere effort is made by those involved to make it clear that those participating do not all share the same religious views concerning such issues as the nature of God, the way of salvation, and the nature of religious truth itself...

The Synod might want to consider renouncing the CTCR 2004 document, which was approved and adopted in the 2004 convention as Resolution 3-06A (2004 Convention Proceedings, p. 130-131). However, I suspect, that would cause more strife than light.

A better solution would be to formulate a series of approved LCMS prayers that contain standard written and verbal disclaimers that all sides can agree upon. Than that can be presented ahead of time to those civic officials who are inviting LCMS clergy to participate in a civic event that includes various religious leaders offering up prayers.

Charles Henrickson

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1274 on: February 14, 2013, 04:33:20 PM »
President Benke, I don't understand what you mean that I (and others) am in dissent from the positions of my church body. Are you suggesting that the 2004 CTCR Guidelines for Participation in Civic Events established a position of our church body? The Resolution adopted in 2004 (Res. 3-06A) certainly doesn't make that claim. The Resolution adopted, in the first Resolved, simply commends those Guidelines "for study to help pastors, teachers, and church workers make decisions about participation in civic events," and in the second Resolved, resolves that "we encourage all the members of Synod to continue to study these issues under the guidance of the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions as we face the ongoing challenges to bring God's unchanging Word to bear on our increasingly pluralistic and polytheistic culture."

Pastor Messer, your understanding of the status of the 2004 CTCR "Guidelines" report matches mine. "Commended for study."

I don't think the overture adopted by Pr. Henrickson's congregation and circuit forum is draconian at all. This issue is obviously one over which there is deep division in our synod and needs to be addressed. Is it draconian to suggest that we steer clear of participating in these events, when we know that it will cause offense and further divide us, until we have addressed this definitively, either through the Koinonia Project or more definitive guidelines or whatever? If we're all for working toward greater consensus and unity within our synod, shouldn't we be about the business of avoiding offense until that greater consensus and unity is reached?

Exactly, Pastor Messer. You have understood and explained the intent of the overture perfectly. You get a gold star for reading comprehension.
Charles Henrickson
Pastor, St. Matthew Lutheran Church (LCMS), Bonne Terre, Missouri: stmatthewbt.org