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/ JUNE | JULY 2016




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[  from the president  ]

Christ Is Our Rock. Be Bold!

“Upon this Rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail.” The rock is the great confession of St. Peter, “You are the Christ!” (MATT. 16:13–19). The Rock is Christ Himself for us (1 COR. 10:4). With that rock-solid basis, we are freed to be bold in these “Matthew 10 Times.” “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Jesus’ words to His apostles apply to us. The world is evil. Jesus implores us to be wise. We are not to act rashly or foolishly. Snakes are able to twist and escape in unbelievable ways. They are wily and patient hunters. We are to act, but as we do so, we are not to use dishonest or deceitful means. We will be kind and loving, yet strategic. We may be sheep, but we have a marvelous Shepherd! “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 COR. 3:12). Be bold!

• MATTHEW 10:16:

“Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.” According to tradition, almost all the apostles died violent deaths. Persecution is rampant in Muslim countries. Muslim converts to Lutheranism in Germany are even now suffering beatings and death threats. We witness the tide of public opinion (particularly in universities, businesses, professional sports and government) turning radically against biblical Christianity. We have LCMS people under government scrutiny and threat of job loss for merely stating that they believe what Jesus says about marriage between a man and a woman (MATTHEW 19). It will be our lot, and increasingly so, to stand before officials and bear witness to the truth of reason and the truth of Christ and His Scriptures. Let’s confess like the apostles (ACTS 4–5). Be bold!

• MATTHEW 10:17–18:

The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison ( is president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.


To read this and similar posts, go to

“When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” The Lord’s promise to His apostles holds good for us, too. Don’t be afraid! “And take they our life, / Goods, fame, child, and wife, / Though these all be gone, Our vict’ry has been won; The kingdom ours remaineth” (LSB 656: 4). We have many

• MATTHEW 10:19–20:

promises, including the gift of the Spirit via Holy Baptism! “He who confesses me before men, I will confess before my father in heaven!” Be bold! • MATTHEW 10:21–22: “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Don’t be surprised when those in our own families turn away from the faith. It happened with the apostles. It will happen in these last and difficult times. Yet we shall not cease praying, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” More and more, voices of hatred are rising in our culture toward Christians who believe the Bible. Hold fast! “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” says Jesus (MATT. 28:20). Remember the apostles’ amazing response to persecution in the Book of Acts (ACTS 5:41). And nevertheless, the Gospel spread! Be bold! • MATTHEW 10:23: “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” It happened to the apostles, and we shall not be surprised as it happens to us. We shall speak of Christ where we can, and when we are shut down in one place, we shall move to the next and speak again! “Until the Son of Man comes” probably refers to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. God give our pastors the spirit of St. Paul in Ephesus (ACTS 19:8). Be bold! • MATTHEW 10:24–25: “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.” Luther said that suffering is one of the most significant aspects of the Christian’s life. Suffering drives us to prayer and God’s Word. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame” (ROM. 5:3F.). The man born blind spread the word that Jesus healed him! Yet “they reviled him” and “cast him out” (JOHN 9:28, 34). Expect it! Be bold! Our house of faith is built on the Rock! “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (MATT. 7:24). Be bold!

Providing Missouri Synod laypeople with stories and information that complement congregational life, foster personal growth in faith and help interpret the contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.

staff David L. Strand executive director, communications Adriane Heins managing editor Erica Schwan graphic designer Lisa Moeller graphic designer Annie Monette graphic designer Chrissy Thomas graphic designer Holli Rolfes marketing and advertising Jim Stange production coordinator Frank Kohn editorial coordinator, district editions CONTACT US Editorial Office 1333 S. Kirkwood Road St. Louis, MO 63122 314.996.1202 Facebook Cover photo: Michael Schuermann

[ to the reader ] Flights are booked. Schedules are listed. Delegates are ready. Everything is falling into place for Lutherans to converge on Milwaukee July 9–14 for the 66th LCMS convention. For those who won’t be in attendance, you’re welcome to watch convention proceedings online at But if you just can’t wait for July, this issue of The Lutheran Witness gives you a sneak peek at what will be discussed and voted on this summer. You’ll learn why Christ’s service to His people through worship will guide the work of the delegates’ days. The convention essayists, who will expound on the convention theme for the delegates, have done the same for you, offering a quick look at what it means to “Repent, Confess, Rejoice.” You can even ponder the convention Bible study (and download it for your congregational or personal use!). Synod leaders have also outlined a handful of substantial issues that will be showcased at the convention: evangelism, licensed lay deacons, revitalization and others. Information on the National Offering is included as well. You’ll also read the biographies of the three nominees for president of the LCMS as well as a series of questions — submitted via LCMS social media — and answers from those men. Quotes from both seasoned and new delegates will give you a glimpse into everything from what topics matter to congregations to how delegates pray in preparation for the convention. This summer, thousands of Lutherans will take flights, study their schedules and stand ready to do the work of the Church in convention. And with them, we look to the Rock — to Jesus — as we repent, confess and rejoice in His goodness: in Milwaukee, here at home and around the world.

Adriane Heins

Managing Editor, The Lutheran Witness Official periodical of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Member: Associated Church Press Evangelical Press Association  |  June | July 2016 (ISSN: 0024-757X) Vol. 135, No.6 © 2016 The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. Reproduction of a single article or column for parish use only does not require permission of THE LUTHERAN WITNESS. Such reproductions, however, should credit THE LUTHERAN WITNESS as the source. Cover images are not reproducible without permission. Also, photos credited to sources outside the LCMS are not to be copied. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Published 11 times per year by Concordia Publishing House  |  3558 S. Jefferson Ave. • St. Louis, MO 63118-3968 • 800-325-3040 • The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod  |  888-THE LCMS (843-5267) • • email:

[ contents ]






6 Begin, Continue and End

Why is Christ’s service to His people central to the convention?

8 Biographical Synopses Hear from the three men receiving the top number of nominations for Synod president.

10 Meet the Nominees

departments 4 convention overview 27 notices 2 8 searching scripture

Thanks to social media, LCMS members get their big questions

june | july 2016

answered by the top three nominees for Synod president.

16 Convention Watch Licensed lay deacons, growing the number of missionaries and evangelism are just a few of the important convention topics.

20 Issues, Expectations, Blessings

Meet a handful of this summer’s convention delegates!

22 National Offering How will these gifts impact the lives of others?

24 Repent, Confess, Rejoice The convention essayists give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what they’ll be sharing with convention delegates this summer.

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Did you miss the memo? Here’s a quick update on the upcoming convention!

The 66th Convention of The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod will be held July 9–14, 2016, in Milwaukee, Wis., at the Wisconsin Center.

The convention affords an opportunity for worship, fellowship and the communication of vital information.

In the area and want to visit? Following along online? Download a tentative schedule for the week at convention.

The convention is the principal legislative assembly, which amends the Constitution and Bylaws, considers and takes actions on reports and overtures, handles appropriate appeals, establishes positions and policies of the Synod, provides overall program direction and priorities, and conducts business to provide responsible service for and on behalf of its members.

The convention will be live-streamed via the Synod website (

[ 4 ]  the lutheran witness / june | july

Visit and LCMSConvention for convention updates.


Go to convention/biblestudy to download a copy of the six-part convention Bible study, which examines what it means to repent, confess and rejoice.

The convention theme — “Upon This Rock: Repent, Confess, Rejoice” — is based on Matt. 16:18: “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

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B EG I N , CONTI N U E AND E N D by William Weedon

In many a Lutheran sacristy, a prayer from Luther’s pen hangs on the wall. It includes this line: “I myself wish to learn and ponder diligently upon Thy Word. Use me as Thy instrument, only do Thou not forsake me, for if I am left to myself I shall surely bring it all to ruin.” True assessment, that. Left to ourselves, all we’ll have is a ruinous mess. And so we must attend to the Word, turn to God in prayer and beg His abiding presence with us. That’s true for each Divine Service, but also true for that special gathering we hold every three years called the convention when delegates gather from across the Synod and guests from around the world to attend to the business of the Church. The Apostle reminds us that all things are sanctified by the Word of God and prayer, and that even includes Synod conventions! Thus the convention will start off with the Divine Service on Saturday evening. Our host congregation will be Peace Lutheran Church in Sussex, Wis., whose pastor, the Rev. Peter Bender, will serve us as presiding minister that evening. The readings for the day will invite us to ponder the promise of Christ that, upon the rock of Peter’s confession, He will build His Church and not even the gates of hell can stand against her. President Harrison will proclaim the Gospel and those assembled will be blessed to partake of the body and blood that wiped out the sin of the world and that deliver to us forgiveness for all our sin and the promise of resurrection and eternal life.

[ 6 ]  the lutheran witness / june | july

Literally enveloping each day is time devoted to hearing God’s Word read and proclaimed, offering Him our praise and thanksgiving in song and lifting our hearts in prayer. As did the prophet Daniel (6:10), we’ll bend the knee three times a day: in the morning before the day’s work starts, come midday when work resumes after lunch and lastly as each day’s work is laid aside. Thus we begin, continue and end with Christ’s abiding presence in His Word and our calling on Him in prayer and praise. Sunday will provide more extensive worship as we observe the Lord’s Day with Matins, Noon Day Prayer and a full order of Evening Prayer. The readings will be from the Sunday lectionary. From Monday through Wednesday, briefer orders will be used and each day’s readings, sermons and hymns will unfold and celebrate the three rich biblical senses of the word “confess.” We’ll delight to confess our sins (repent!), confess our faith (confess!) and confess God’s praises (rejoice!). We’ll also have a special service of Commemoration of the Faithful Departed as we recall the servants of the Word (both ordained and commissioned) who entered into glory in the past triennium. Indeed, “the memory of the righteous is a blessing” and “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”

Our time together will wrap up as we began and continued: hearing the Word, praying and singing God’s praises as we head our homeward ways, praying the Lord’s blessing on our partings, traveling and homecomings. Thus the entire convention will be carried along and wrapped constantly in the Word and prayer, in praise and thanksgiving. We wouldn’t have it

Thus the entire convention will be carried along and wrapped constantly in the Word and prayer, in praise and thanksgiving. any other way because we know indeed that “left to ourselves we shall surely bring it all to ruin” but with the abiding presence of our Savior, His Spirit, His Father, our time together will be a blessing to each other and to the world for which our Lord shed His blood.

Join us from home on for the opening Divine Service July 9 at 7:30 p.m. On July 12, at 9:00 p.m., DOXOLOGY, the Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel and a Recognized Service Organization of the LCMS, will host Prayer at the Close of the Day at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, inviting “Christians to entrust themselves, body and soul, into the care of their heavenly Father at the close of the day,” notes the Rev. Dr. Senkbeil, executive director of Spiritual Care for DOXOLOGY. The Rev. William Weedon (twilliam.weedon@ is director of Worship and International Center chaplain.

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Biographical FOR Synopses / NOMINEES SYNOD PRESIDENT Matthew C. Harrison BIRTH DATE // March 14, 1962 WIFE’S NAME // Kathy NUMBER OF CHILDREN // 2 PERSONAL STATEMENT “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (LUKE 19:10). That’s the entire reason for the Church. I said I’d lead by conviction, not coercion (GAL. 5:13F). By grace, I’ve tried to do that. I’m a sinner. I refuse (like Walther himself) to put mission and doctrine at odds (1 TIM. 1). This is our moment, clearly. We’ve increased missionaries. Our finances are in order. I’ve shared the domestic demographic challenge. We know what is needed: (1) outreach to all, (2) planting/revitalizing congregations, (3) retaining children/youth, (4) healthy workers. We’re so blessed! (COL. 1:11). “Take courage” (ACTS 23:11). “Let’s go!” (MARK 1:38).

COLLEGE // Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa (1984) SEMINARY // Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (1989) OTHER DEGREES // • S.T.M., Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne • LL.D., Concordia University, Ann Arbor • D.D., Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne • Graduate Studies, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis MEMBER OF SYNOD CONGREGATIONS // 54 years ROSTERED MEMBER OF SYNOD // 25 years YEAR OF ORDINATION // 1991 PASTORATES // • St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Westgate, Iowa, 1991–1995 • Zion Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Ind., 1995–2001 • Village Lutheran Church, Ladue, Mo, 2010–Present

[ 8 ]  the lutheran witness / june | july

OTHER FULL-TIME POSITIONS // •M  issionary to Native Canadians, Lutheran Association, Missionaries and Pilots, 1983–1984 •G  raduate Assistant, Concordia Theological Seminary, 1990–1991 •E  xecutive Director, World Relief and Human Care, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, 2001–2010 •P  resident, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, 2010–Present OTHER SYNOD OFFICES // • Board for Missions, 1993–1995 •F  ounding President, National Lutheran Housing Support Corporation, 2004–2010 OTHER SIGNIFICANT SERVICE OR EXPERIENCE // •C  o-Founder, St. Peter’s/Zion Project for Neighborhood Renewal, 1995–2001 •P  roject Renew (Neighborworks Housing) Board, 1995–2001 •F  ort Wayne Urban League Building Committee, 1999 •C  atholic/Lutheran Dialogue; LCMS President’s Church Relations Cabinet, 1996–2001; 2001–2010 •L  utheran Services in America Board; Lutheran World Relief, 2001–2010 • Author/Translator/Editor of numerous publications: most recently Letters to Lutheran Pastors, Vols. 1–3; Church and Office; A Little Book on Joy; At Home in the House of My Fathers; Christ Have Mercy; Meditations on Divine Mercy; Chemnitz Church Order. • Managed Synod’s national response to Haiti, Asian Tsunami, Katrina, etc., 2001–2010

PERSONAL STATEMENT Thankful for the blessings of the LCMS, its loving proclamation of biblical truth, centrality of Jesus, educational focus, rich traditions and bold mission “vigorously to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities, and the world,” I am confident that the best for our congregations is yet to come. This Great Commission emphasis gives clear direction for our future as we trust that God’s Word — proclaimed, administered and lived in the world — will not return to Him empty without accomplishing what He desires (IS. 55:11) — the salvation of souls. These are exciting, hope-filled times!


PERSONAL STATEMENT Wherever our Lord will have me serve, my passion will be encouraging congregations and church workers to go into their communities and world with confidence and joy in the Gospel of Jesus. As pastor of several congregations and as Lutheran Hour Speaker, I developed a special respect and love for our laity. All we baptized are together in this mission for Christ. And I have strong feelings for our Lutheran schools! In it all, I don’t want to be in the limelight. Focus on Jesus Christ! He’s the only one who can save us.

David P. E. Maier BIRTH DATE // May 8, 1956 WIFE’S NAME // Pat NUMBER OF CHILDREN // 4 COLLEGE // Concordia University, Ann Arbor (1978) SEMINARY // Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (1982) OTHER DEGREES // • Litt.D., St. Peter Confessional Lutheran Church of South Africa • LL.D., Concordia University, Ann Arbor • D.D., Concordia University Wisconsin

PASTORATES // •O  ur Savior Lutheran Church, Marlette, Mich., 1982–1984 •S  t. Peter Lutheran Church, Arlington Heights, Ill., 1984–1989 •O  ur Savior Lutheran Church, Lansing, Mich., 1989–2009 OTHER FULL-TIME POSITIONS // District President, Michigan District, 2009–Present OTHER SYNOD OFFICES // • Vice-Chairman, Council of Presidents, 2015–Present • Res. 4-04A Task Force — To Study Higher Education Efficiency, 2009–Present • Concordia College Alabama Task Force, 2015–Present


OTHER SIGNIFICANT SERVICE OR EXPERIENCE // • Concordia University Wisconsin Board of Regents, 2012–Present


• Wellspring Lutheran Services Board, 2009–Present


• Camp Dean, Camp Arcadia, Arcadia, Mich, Several Years

Dale A. Meyer BIRTH DATE // Jan. 10, 1947 WIFE’S NAME // Diane NUMBER OF CHILDREN // 2

COLLEGE // Concordia Senior College (1969) SEMINARY // Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (1973) OTHER DEGREES // • M.A., Washington University, St. Louis (1974) • Ph.D., Washington University, St. Louis (1986) • D.D., Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (1986)

PASTORATES // •S  t. Salvator and St. Peter Lutheran Churches, Venedy and New Memphis, Ill., 1974–1981 •H  oly Cross Lutheran Church, Collinsville, Ill., 1984–1988 OTHER FULL-TIME POSITIONS // • Faculty, Concordia Seminary, 1981–1984, 2001–Present • Speaker, The Lutheran Hour, 1989–2001 • President, Concordia Seminary, 2005–Present OTHER SYNOD OFFICES // • Member, Standing Committee on Pastoral Ministry, 1987–1991 • LCMS Third Vice-President, 1995–1998


OTHER SIGNIFICANT SERVICE OR EXPERIENCE // • Honorary Director, God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, 1989–2000


• Board Member, Association of Lutheran Older Adults, 1990–1997


• Board Member, American Bible Society, 2003–2014  [ 9 ]




Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod


What would you do both to encourage and strengthen Lutheran parochial schools, Lutheran educators, the Concordia University System and the like?

Rev. Dr. David Maier President, LCMS Michigan District

yHarrison “Hold fast the confession” (HEB. 10:23). Our schools are our crown jewels and a big reason we are younger than all mainline Protestant denominations. They give us a strong health plan and growing numbers in the plan. They are our strongest evangelism tool. “Seek the lost” (LUKE 19:10). Keys: strong Gospel witness, intentional outreach, connection to the congregation, academic excellence via accreditation. The next generation of administrators is a priority! Our universities are strong but must be stronger. There can be no compromise with our anti-Christian culture. “But if salt has lost its saltiness …” (MATT. 5:13). Oppose any government intrusion that compromises biblical truth! Our university task force and presidents composed a 10-point Lutheran identity statement, and all have signed on.

yMaier The numerous communication outlets

of Synod, speaking opportunities and discussions within meetings would be utilized to recognize the unique, invaluable ministry of our Lutheran educators, parochial schools and the Concordia

[ 10 ]  the lutheran witness / june | july

Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer President, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

University System. We share the Gospel and its transforming power! Next to Gospel proclamation and prayer perhaps our greatest blessing for influencing the world for Christ is through the students, faculty and staff of our daycares, preschools, elementary and high schools and especially through our Concordia universities. Promoting educational excellence and relevance, as well as encouraging God-honoring compensation for teachers would be emphasized … and upheld in daily prayer.

yMeyer Each college, university and seminary has its own board of regents who, under our bylaws, are responsible for their respective institution. High schools, grade schools and preschools belong to their congregations or association. The president has to respect those whom the church has charged with governance of these schools. As a graduate of Lutheran schools and for 11 years the president of one of our key institutions, I know the complexities of private higher education today. Administrators will know me as an understanding colleague and advocate.

Each convention year, nominees for LCMS president answer questions posed by The Lutheran Witness editors relating to faith, life and the Synod. This year, we asked our LCMS Facebook followers to submit the questions, and they obliged. What follows are some of the most commonly asked questions with answers from the three pastors with the top number of nominations.


What specific things would you recommend that the Synod do to address the student loan debt of her church workers? yHarrison “Pray the Lord of the harvest send workers” (MATT. 9:38). I recently gathered leaders from the seminaries, Concordia Plans, LCMS Foundation, LCEF and the Lutheran Federal Credit Union. We identified facts and trends. Most students are not heavily in debt. A third are deeply challenged, especially couples that borrowed heavily for undergraduate education. Sems are great at raising money and providing scholarships. Some districts provide great assistance, others far less. Concordias must monitor the debt of presem students. There are debt limits in place for sem entrance. Endowments should be expanded significantly. Over the past triennium, Synod has provided $10 million to the sems. God help us to do more (1 TIM. 5:18; GAL. 6:6; HEB. 10:24).

Synod should encourage such campaigns in all districts and the “Adopt a Student” program in congregations. LCEF’s Education Repayment Loan Program ( is an amazing blessing that should also be emphasized and utilized.

yMeyer The St. Louis seminary has taken the issue of student debt very seriously and has worked very diligently to significantly reduce out-of-pocket tuition costs for our M.Div. students. Part of the solution is to make the needs known to the people of the LCMS, part of it is sound stewardship on the part of the seminary and part of it is working directly with students on their own financial planning and stewardship. My encouragement will be to develop a “culture of stewardship” wherein we all practice, “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.”

yMaier I would encourage all students at


our universities and seminaries to go through a financial management program like Financial Peace University. Learning to manage our finances responsibly is critical. The Michigan District’s capital campaigns “The Future Is Now” and “Here We Stand” have given, and continue to give, significant financial aid to students going into full-time church work in our universities and seminaries.  [ 11 ]


In the context of our walking together as Synod, what is the best way to address the concerns of many that we have individuals who are publicly preaching, teaching and administering the Sacraments without being recognized by the church as pastors? yHarrison “I appeal to you, brothers … that there be no divisions among you” (1 COR. 1:10). The 2013 convention asked me to appoint a task force to (1) Provide flexibility so that 200+ parishes served by Licensed Lay Deacons will still be; and (2) Get us in line with the Bible (ROM. 10:14F.) and Confessions (AC XIV), such that men who are preaching and administering the Sacraments regularly are called and ordained. I refuse to pit mission against doctrine or laity against clergy. They should be colloquized as SMP pastors (1 TIM. 5:17). No parishes need close. CTCR and seminaries support this proposal.


Currently we have about 375 ordained men who are, for various reasons, on candidate or noncandidate status. What specific things do you believe the Synod should do both to guide and assist these men, recognizing that every case has its unique elements?

yHarrison “Forgive” (MATT. 6:14F.) “Love one another” (JOHN 15:12). Each case is unique. Pastors, congregations and district presidents have failed in various situations. We started “Soldiers of the Cross” under my leadership at LCMS World Relief. We’ve given a million dollars in three years, largely to pastors without calls. We are conversing with pastors to find additional solutions. Seminaries are working to ensure pastors are prepared. Congregations need the same attention. I support part-time (or non-paid calls in some cases) to move pastors back into pastoral work. It is vital that we reach out to such clergy and their families, lest they be alienated from the Church (PHIL. 2:4; EPH. 4:32). yMaier I couldn’t agree more with the last

phrase of the question, “that every case has its unique elements.” Therefore, it behooves each district president — uniquely blessed, God-fearing, wise men — to continue to pray for and know

[ 12 ]  the lutheran witness / june | july

yMaier Licensed Lay Deacons (to whom the

question refers, I believe) are generally workerpriests, under or uncompensated, serve under the supervision of an ordained pastor, often assisting pastors at their home congregation’s request. Highly trained, educated and certified annually, they frequently minister to those who have no other recourse for Word and Sacrament ministry. I am thankful for their hard work, labor of love, allowing themselves to be used by God in surprising ways. Remembering Paul’s words, “I planted, Apollos watered,” (1 COR.3:6) and Jesus’ words to His disciples in Mark 9:40, “for whoever is not against us is for us,” is helpful.

yMeyer Those who are “publicly preaching, teaching and administering the Sacraments without being recognized by the church as pastors” are not being independent and unmindful of the whole church but acting according to 1989 Synod convention resolution. This issue is indeed troubling the church and can be resolved in a unifying or divisive way. Either side can get a majority to impose its position on those who disagree or both sides together can patiently but persistently work toward a resolution that most will embrace. “Seek peace and pursue it” (1 PETER 3:11).

each of these ordained men and their particular situations in order to serve and assist them. Then, where and when possible, they can include them on appropriate call lists within their districts or recommend then for a call or placement elsewhere. The Michigan District’s Sowers Fund and the Synod’s Soldiers of the Cross ministry continue to be invaluable assets in helping these men.

yMeyer One objective of our Synod is to “provide protection for congregations, pastors, teachers, and other church workers in the performance of their official duties and maintenance of their rights.” It’s sad when an ordained man is not happily serving in a congregation that returns love for him and respect for the office, but for various reasons it happens. I will work with the respective district president and the Council of Presidents to improve this situation, as we seek to use all the gifts God gave in men who speak the Word about Christ (EPH. 4:8).


Please describe for us your daily devotional habit.

yHarrison “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing” (1 THESS. 5:17). Believe me, the LCMS brings one to his knees! Jesus prayed (MATT. 26:36). He invites us to pray (MATT. 11:28). Years ago I built a kneeler. Every morning it “grabs” me first thing. For years I have prayed the Psalms daily. I have also kept lists of those for whom I pray. In doing this, I’m constantly reminded of all the answers God has provided. After prayers I try to read one page of the Hebrew Old Testament and a chapter of my Greek New Testament. Words fail to express how these have kept me sane and joyous in Christ.

yMaier Each day begins and ends with the com-

mon confession of sin, “I, a poor miserable sinner …” and ends rejoicing in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for the world, which assures me of my forgiveness.


As a Synod we struggle at times to walk together in the unity of our confession, even as every individual sinner/saint struggles to walk with the Lord in faith. In light of this, what specific things could be done to build on and more clearly express our baptismal unity in Christ and foster a climate of mutual encouragement among lay people, pastors and district/Synod leaders? yHarrison “Do not grow weary!” (HEB. 12:3). The Synod has been calm the past six years, despite challenging issues, and not by accident. I believed we were drifting doctrinally and have done what I can to keep us on the path of biblical and Lutheran orthodoxy. The long-standing teachings of the Missouri Synod are correct; I was elected to uphold them and have done my best to do so. The LCMS is most at peace when manifesting its biblical and confessional teaching and engaging the world. There is more theological dialogue going on among us today than in decades, also in the COP. The Koinonia Project is slowly bearing fruit (HEB. 12:1FF).

Daily Scripture readings are enhanced with the Treasury of Daily Prayer (CPH). I strive to include prayer in my daily decisions and conversations and also pray/praise during frequent travel by listening to Christian books, the Scriptures, speakers and sacred classical music as well as Christian contemporary music. I am also blessed by the spiritual insights of, and prayer with, my wife.

yMeyer I normally awake about 4:30 and with a cup of coffee and in solitude have my quiet time before God. Over the decades I’ve used various devotional resources along with the Bible. Space here is limited, but the introduction to my daily devotional, “Timely Reflections,” pages 17–23, presents a much deeper understanding of my spiritual being.

yMeyer The Corinthian congregation had far greater disunity than today’s LCMS. St. Paul (1) taught them, (2) acknowledged that some of the Corinthians were “strong” in their theological knowledge and others “weak,” but said, (3) “I will show you a still more excellent way”(1 COR. 12:31). That’s the way of love, especially for those with whom we disagree. Our disunity is guaranteed to continue unless Jesus is the sole and explicit reason for our life together. “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ” (11:1). The Body of Christ will be my constant theme.

yMaier This is the result of Satan trying to

divide and conquer. We need to repent at the foot of the cross and acknowledge that spiritual warfare requires (1) spiritual weapons — the Word, prayer and the rest of the Christian panoply (EPHESIANS 6), and (2) a singular goal to focus the “troops:” “What an influence it will be on our dear congregations and their pastors and on their relationship toward one another if all acknowledge the saving of souls as the end and aim of our joint work!” – C. F. W. Walther, the Synodical Conference (translator, Rev. Terry Cripe, Ohio District President).  [ 13 ]


How will you lead the Synod to build up and support the service of our commissioned ministers of religion?

yHarrison “To each is given the manifestation of

the Spirit for the common good … God has so composed the body … that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (1 COR. 12:12F.). Outreach and retention are more vital than ever. Our commissioned ministers are the gold standard in their sacred vocations at school, in mercy, with families, youth, young adults, music, etc. “The schoolmaster stands in the place of the parent, in the place of God” (Luther, Large Catechism). Even if we can’t pay them in gold, we should treat them like gold.

yMaier Having served congregations with Lu-

theran elementary schools for 25 years of ministry and being married to a Lutheran elementary teacher, my respect and admiration for their tireless and loving service to the Lord, the ministry of the Word, the children, families and congregations


How will you lead the Synod in responding to challenges from the culture to the teaching of God’s Word that marriage is between one man and one woman? How should Synod best support faithful practice of this doctrine in our parishes? yHarrison “Whoever confesses me before men, I will confess before my father in heaven” (MATT. 10:32). We must be compassionate to all, yet uncompromising on life (LUKE 1:39F.), marriage (MATT. 19:4) and religious freedom (JOHN 8:31F.). I have confessed before congress (Google “Here I Stand, Rev. Harrison’s”). We have forged alliances with Alliance Defending Freedom, Becket Fund, conservative Anglicans, Lutherans and Roman Catholics on marriage. We created Free to Be Faithful. We launched the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty in Washington as an “aggressive defense” against attacks on our basic constitutional rights. Because of our biblical steadfastness, the global Lutheran community is realigning toward us. Let’s stand together!

[ 14 ]  the lutheran witness / june | july

they serve are immense. I would work to recognize and emphasize the incredible blessing of their ministry, continually strive to encourage appropriate compensation levels commensurate to their pubic school equivalents and advocate for commissioned ministers to have the right to vote at our district and synodical conventions with the same ratio by which they are represented now.

yMeyer Like all our rostered workers, commis-

sioned ministers of religion are called to a specific place. The best motivation I can imagine is that the place to which they are called is healthy and thriving in our Lord’s mission, and hopefully growing. There may be some specifics that the International Center can do, but they will be band-aids compared to the energy that comes when the calling entity is focused on Jesus and His mission. I’ll strive to be a “helper of joy” (2 COR. 1:24).

yMaier God’s Word is powerful and transforms lives! We need to love people like Jesus did and speak, preach and teach the truth in love regarding these cultural issues. We seemingly have abdicated our role to psychology and culture. The crucial issue is: Do we believe God’s Word, especially the Gospel — has the power to change lives? The Church is the only place these issues can be addressed faithfully, lovingly and boldly. But if we only condemn without deliberately seeking opportunities for personal relationships and understanding, we will continue our tendency to mistake correct theology as the only facet of “faithfulness.”

yMeyer Administratively the president should assure that the best resources (legal, constitutional, financial, expert network) can give guidance to congregations and other Synod entities. But don’t lose sight of Jesus’ mission to sinners. We are not merely to oppose what is wrong but be persuasive in presenting why we believe what we do. “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 PETER 3:15).


Is it possible to define what it means to be a Lutheran? If so, how would you describe what it means to be Lutheran in terms of both doctrine and practice?

yHarrison If we can’t define what it is to be Lutheran, it’s time to shut down the LCMS. Christ’s Gospel is at the heart. Salvation is pure gift. The inerrant, inspired Scriptures are our only source and norm for teaching. The Small Catechism contains the major doctrines of the Bible. What happened on the cross is delivered here in God’s Word preached/ read, Baptism, absolution and the Supper. We retain the Church’s pattern of worship (invocation, confession/absolution, lessons, sermon, Supper, etc.) The Church’s unity is manifest in agreement in Christ’s teachings. The royal priesthood/laity and the clergy work toward the goal: “The Son of man came to seek and save the lost” (LUKE 19:10). yMaier Of course it’s possible to define what a

Lutheran is! Every pastor who confirms young and old knows this. Through catechesis, etc., we bring people into membership as “Lutheran” Christians. However, it is MUCH MORE than that. It is the living Word of God — inspired, infallible, inerrant — and the teachings of the Holy Scriptures explained in our Confessions that bring our rich understanding of “Lutheranism” to bear. It is a life lived under Calvary’s cross, joined to Christ in Baptism, nourished by the Lord’s Supper and sent out into the world wearing the “garments of salvation,” joyfully obedient to God.

yMeyer In these questions, the word “Lutheran” is used four times; “Christ” is used only once and then in a passing way. With Luther in mind, the Formula of Concord says, “writings of ancient or contemporary teachers, whatever their names may be, shall not be regarded as equal to Holy Scripture.” I will focus on Jesus Christ, citing Luther and our confessions, “as witnesses of how and where the teaching of the prophets and apostles was preserved after the time of the apostles” (FC, Epitome, 2).

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Reaffirming Revitalization


by Bart Day The Rev. Bart Day ( is executive director of the Office of National Mission.

Wondering what delegates will be discussing at the convention? Here are some of the big topics.


evitalization is a hot topic in American Christianity. As congregations decline in members, attendance and financial resources, leaders are looking for ways to reverse unsettling trends. But revitalization should not be a reaction to decline or the threat of decline. Instead, revitalization should be centered in doing the things that we are meant to do as the Church. With that in mind, the 2013 LCMS convention passed Resolution 3-08A that “reaffirmed that one of the Office of National Mission’s (ONM) priorities is church revitalization” and directed the ONM “to increase its ongoing focus on revitalization.” In January 2015, the ONM Revitalization Initiative was launched to assess and address the revitalization needs of LCMS congregations. After meeting with the staff of numerous districts to determine how best to assist and support districts and their congregations with revitalization needs, ONM began developing the re:Vitality program. re:Vitality is a suite of resources designed to assist congregations through self-assessment, action-oriented training and outreach-integrated witnessing. Key features of the re:Vitality program include:

•B  eginning with the premise that wherever God’s Word is proclaimed and His Sacraments are received, there is vitality. •R  ealizing that spiritual vitality is not, in and of itself, sufficient for a congregation to be viable. •R  ecognizing that revitalization is not a human effort to bring a “dead” church back to life but the work of Holy Spirit to increase vitality through the Means of Grace. •E  mbracing the understanding that revitalization is not a “new way of being church,” but being the church that we are in new ways. •P  roviding practical resources for congregation leaders to determine and take concrete actions to make their congregations more effective in inviting, welcoming and receiving people from outside the Church. • Making workshop resources, including materials, available to LCMS congregations at no cost. The first of the re:Vitality suite of resources, “Connect To Disciple: Inviting, Welcoming, and Receiving People from Outside of the Church,” is available now. “Joining God’s Mission: Strategic Planning for the Congregation, Shepherding the Strays: Actively Serving Our Inactive Members” and “Members of One Body: Engaging Members Old and New” will be available soon. More information about re:Vitality is available at or by emailing

Plant, Sustain, Revitalize by Mark Wood

Proclaim His Faithfulness

The Rev. Mark Wood ( is director of LCMS Witness & Outreach Ministry and director of the LCMS Revitalization Initiative.

by Theodore Krey


The Rev. Theodore Krey (tkrey@hotmail. com) is Latin America Regional Director of the LCMS Office of International Mission.

Evangelism is speaking good news.


he first mission priority of the LCMS — to “plant, sustain, and revitalize distinctively Lutheran churches” — may seem to be addressing three different things. While it is true that planting new churches, sustaining existing churches and revitalizing struggling churches are distinct activities, each in its own way is centered in and highly dependent upon effective evangelism. Evangelism is speaking good news. Without the Good News of Jesus, there would be no churches. The faithful proclamation of God’s Word is the lifeblood of a congregation and the foundation of planting, sustaining and revitalizing congregations. When the proclamation of the Word is limited to those who have already been gathered into the Church, planting, sustaining and revitalizing dry up. They prosper, however, when the collective outreach efforts of a congregation and the individual witnessing activities of Christ’s disciples bring the Word to people outside of the Church. In other

words, planting, sustaining and revitalizing prosper when we evangelize — when we share the Good News with — our friends, neighbors, co-workers, family members and other people in our community. Congregations do many things as outreach, but effective outreach ultimately depends on individual members being Christ’s witnesses. The Every One His Witness evangelism program addresses this critical need by equipping Lutherans to be active and effective witnesses of Jesus in their everyday lives. In the Every One His Witness workshop, participants explore the “what” and “why” of evangelism from a distinctively Lutheran perspective and are equipped to be joyful and joy-filled witnesses of Jesus whose faithful work supports and promotes the planting, sustaining and revitalizing of distinctively Lutheran churches.

In Latin America alone, five missionaries in 2011 has turned into 40 career missionaries.


have visited the Lutheran church of San Juan, the oldest Lutheran church in Argentina planted by LCMS missionary Pastor Henry Wittrock in 1905, who only served 11 months due to illness. What an 11 months that was! In 11 months, he baptized 152 children, confirmed 57 and married eight couples. After him, “the Synod,” as the LCMS is affectionately known in Argentina, sent an additional six missionaries to that mother church who baptized a combined 3,022 children in that mission alone over a period of 40 years! The LCMS District of Argentina received — for an additional 50 years after 1905 — more than 70 missionary pastors from the LCMS; more than 30 remained for the rest of their lives. In April, in their synod convention in Crespo, Entre Rios, Argentina, I met seven of the grandchildren of these missionaries who are pastors and now third generation in the Argentinean Lutheran church. In the Divine Service of the convention, a collect of thanksgiving was given for the self-denying missionaries who brought the Lutheran faith of Jesus and Him crucified. Pastor Arturo Truenow, who preached the Gospel that day on Rom. 1:16–17, was himself a grandson of LCMS missionary Karl F. Truenow who served that same first parish from 1915–1926 and baptized 829 children in that parish alone. Today, the Argentinean Lutheran seminary is forming 20 men from eight sister churches in the

task of planting even more Lutheran churches. We in the LCMS rejoice that the church and seminary stand shoulder to shoulder with us in this ever expanding witness of our Lord Jesus. In 2013, the Synod in convention challenged the Office of International Mission to double the number of career missionaries. In Latin America alone, five missionaries in 2011 has turned into 40 career missionaries working tirelessly in 10 countries, planting churches so that others might know Jesus and receive — from Him and through His pastors — His gifts. Seventy missionaries are needed to continue the work properly. Pray to the Lord of the harvest for workers. Consider being a missionary or encouraging another. Thank you in Jesus’ name for your prayers and financial support. Rejoice that He is faithful and continues to raise up our missionaries, and give thanks that still others are faithful, such as our sister church in Argentina who is giving that same witness. Even now, you, our dear church, are sending missionary pastors to far flung corners of the globe. They are planting the seeds of the Gospel by preaching, baptizing and carrying the gifts of our King, Jesus Christ, to this generation. Might our Lord Jesus by His Spirit keep His promises that where His Word is preached, there His children are born so that a new generation might proclaim His faithfulness.  [ 17 ]

Licensed Lay Deacons by Larry Vogel The Rev. Larry Vogel ( is associate executive director of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations.

Read carefully, the task force recommendations actually provide a biblical response to both concerns.


esolution 4-06A of the 2013 LCMS convention called for a task force to “resolve questions about the service of licensed lay deacons” in Synod. In 1989, the LCMS approved the practice of laymen “temporarily serving in Word and Sacrament ministry” “when no pastor is available” for “exceptional circumstances or in emergencies” (1989 Res. 3-05B). Some have questioned the propriety of this practice or the way it has been implemented, while others have questioned why such service should be only temporary or in emergencies. The result has been debate, dissension and distraction for some 25 years. A year ago the 4-06A Task Force (TF) published a report with recommendations (available at The intention of the TF is to provide a biblical and confessional understanding of how the responsibilities of laity and clergy complement one another and then a means by which lay deacons who are serving pastorally (that is, regularly serving in the ministry of Word and Sacrament) can be recognized as LCMS pastors. In addition, the TF recommends various steps to ensure that, whenever possible, pastors can be provided for exceptional circumstances while laity will continue to be equipped and utilized for service in congregations and in outreach and mission.

[ 18 ]  the lutheran witness / june | july

Overtures to the convention pertaining to the TF report and recommendations reflect the questions noted above as well as others. Two particular concerns underlie the overtures. One of the concerns reflected in overtures is a desire to encourage the vigorous proclamation of the Gospel in a way that engages the entire priestly people of God — laity as well as clergy. Such overtures articulate the worry that TF recommendations will undermine the biblical doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. The second concern that one finds is a desire to be faithful to the biblical and confessional teaching of the office of the public ministry. Therefore, other overtures express the concern that a failure to address the sort of questions the TF report considers will further confuse the distinction between the priesthood of believers and the pastoral office (office of the public ministry). Read carefully, the TF recommendations actually provide a biblical response to both concerns. A convention floor committee devoted to “Routes to Ministry” will certainly clarify the work of the TF before presenting to the delegates final proposals for action by the convention. We pray for godly wisdom for all involved.

The Moment of World Lutheranism by Albert B. Collver The Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver (albert.collver@ is director of Church Relations and assistant to President Matthew C. Harrison.

The LCMS is currently in altar and pulpit fellowship with 37 church bodies worldwide.


ike no other time in the history of the Missouri Synod, our church is engaged with Lutheran churches from around the world. The LCMS is currently in altar and pulpit fellowship with 37 church bodies worldwide. At this convention, we will ask for the delegates to vote on recognizing fellowship with several additional church bodies (See Convention Workbook 2016, pp. 341–344). Besides the church bodies with whom we are already in fellowship, the Missouri Synod has working agreements and limited partnerships with an additional 20 or so church bodies (a total of around 60 and growing). These churches are interested in the treasure of the Gospel that the Lord has bestowed upon the Missouri Synod. Another growing church relationship is between the Missouri Synod and the Ethiopia Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), a Lutheran church body approaching 8 million members. Because of their rapid growth, they are seeking to train 10,000 pastors over the next several years. To help them do so, the EECMY has asked the Missouri Synod to help train those who will teach the future pastors. A significant goal is to increase

the Lutheran identity and understanding among their members, a request that additionally comes from all over the world. World Lutheranism recognizes that theological education and a strong Lutheran identity rooted in an unwavering commitment to the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions is a core competency of the Missouri Synod. World Lutheranism seeks our teaching, instructors, excellent seminaries in Fort Wayne and St. Louis, Lutheran materials published by Concordia Publishing House and accompaniment with them as they seek to share the Gospel in their part of the world. The LCMS also demonstrates this leadership within the International Lutheran Council, which has gained increased interest from world Lutheran churches as the premier membership organization committed to the proclamation of the pure Gospel to the world.

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issues, expectations, blessings Meet a handful of delegates — both seasoned and new.

What’s been the most important issue the Synod has dealt with in convention since you’ve been in attendance? I would look at the common thread that winds its way through all of the contentious issues we have dealt with in the last few decades. That thread revolves around the question of how do we faithfully proclaim Christ revealed in the Scriptures in a world that is becoming more and more secular and even hostile to our Lord.

How would you advise a new delegate to prepare — in prayer and study of God’s Word — prior to attending a convention? For Scripture I would suggest two sections of the New Testament … Galatians 2 and Acts 15:1–11. In Paul we see someone who understood it was more important to be faithful to God than to men. In Peter we someone who can listen to the arguments around him and recognize when he is wrong and change to a more faithful proclamation. As a convention delegate, both are good examples of the attitude with which must go about our task. – Rev. Roger Gallup, pastor, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, River Grove, Ill., delegate since 1992

As a new delegate, what are your expectations for the convention? In such a setting, God still chooses to dwell and work through us in convention. I find this to be exceedingly gracious and fraught with challenges unique and strange as our wonderful identity as Christian Lutherans in this age and with a treasure not of our own making. I anticipate learning once again how to pray, confess and ask that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. [ 20 ]  the lutheran witness / june | july

What convention topics are most important to you? The international happenings of Lutheran Church and the progress of fellowship talks: those are always exciting to hear and rejoice in. — Rev. Derek Roberts, pastor, Praise Lutheran Church, Maryville, Tenn., first-time convention delegate

Why is it important that the Synod take time out to discuss all manner of important issues in the convention setting? I firmly believe that the issues discussed and the decisions made at these conventions help shape and determine on many levels how I am to live in this constantly changing culture (popular, political and even ecclesiastical) as a confessional Lutheran. … The conventions give us the opportunity to review the tough questions facing our pastors, missionaries, college students, elderly, seminarians, parents, grandparents and so many more. The work done to prepare for the conventions gives us time to review the Scriptures and pray that in all our work and decisions we remain faithful to the God who created, redeemed and sanctifies us, and that we make a clear confession of this faith to the rest of the world.

How will the worship services give form and shape to how you approach the issues voted on? The liturgy serves as a lens through which we can view each of the resolutions presented. Do they deal with repentance of past decisions we, as a synod, should not have made, or positions we perhaps should have taken long ago? Do they recommend a strong confession of faith — perhaps in new contexts or geographic locations — in Jesus Christ,

the only true God, as well as confession in what we as members of the LCMS hold to be true, no matter what the culture says? Do they cause us to review how we are to properly receive the gifts God has for us, as described in Holy Scriptures and the Confessions? But most importantly, the very presence of Christ with us in divine worship will provide strength and wisdom to the delegates — a blessing beyond anything else we could do to prepare for our duties. — Rebecca Mayes, member, Emmaus Lutheran Church, St. Louis, Mo., first-time delegate

What are some of the biggest topics you’ve seen carried out by the Synod in convention? That delegates approved the licensing of laymen to carry out the functions of the Office of the Holy Ministry was disturbing … Our Synod continues to deal with this serious problem of not only preserving the integrity of the Office of the Ministry per the Augsburg Confession but at the same time finding a way to provide Word and Sacrament ministry to small congregations, ethnic congregations and rural congregations that cannot often afford a pastor. A second critical issue was the restructuring of our Synod. … I must admit that this new structure has made the work of Synod more efficient and cost effective and eliminated so much of the “siloing” that characterized our boards previously. I do believe that the restructuring does need some tweaking and tightening up in the future in order protect the congregations of Synod from too much centralization of power and authority.

As a repeat delegate, what’s most helpful to you at the convention? One has the opportunity to meet fellow Lutherans from all over the United States and to gain a sense of the Holy Spirit’s work nationally and internationally through the dedicated men and women of the LCMS. The worship services and theological studies are always stimulating and inspire one to return home with a renewed excitement for the challenges our congregations face in an ever-changing world. — Rev. Steven C. Briel, pastor, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School, Corcoran, Minn., delegate since 2001


What blessings can be given through the Synod in convention? The blessing I hope to receive is the blessing of understanding, that is I hope to gain a better understanding of the Synod. The Synod is at its heart not the national office but a fellowship that confesses that same doctrine, a communion. That communion of people who teach, confess and practice the same truth as I do is dear to my heart,

a consolation and something that is worth fighting for. I hope to be joining with others in confessing the pure truth that we have in Holy Scripture and exposited in the Lutheran Confessions in support of that fellowship.

How will the work of the Synod in convention directly affect your congregation? My congregation does not live in a vacuum. Most of my congregation is made up of immigrants and thus my congregation has been determined by decisions regarding Synod missions decades ago. The most important time when the Synod in convention will affect my congregation is when they need a new pastor, which by the grace of God is decades away. Thus it is vital that the Synod in convention works now to ensure that there will be properly trained and ordained men to serve my congregation then. — Rev. Roy Axel Coats, pastor, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Baltimore, Md.

As a first-time delegate to the convention and as a pastor, what are some of the issues being presented that matter the most to you and to your congregation? My congregation and I are deeply concerned about the Licensed Lay Deacon program. … The Bible says that the desire to be a pastor is noble, but not enough. There are certain qualifications to become a pastor (TITUS 1:5–9; 1 TIM. 3:1–7; 1 PETER 5:1–4). Even more, the Lutheran Confessions, which every pastor in our Synod has unconditionally (quia) subscribed to, clearly say, “Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach [preach] in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called” (Augsburg Confession 14). … None of our “concerns” or “challenges” of today should ever trump Holy Scripture. … We do not need less theology (literally, “God’s Word”) from those who preach; we need more! We don’t need to invent things for the church; we need to trust in what God has already given to us!

How do you prepare — through the Word of God and prayer — to attend a convention where everyone may not agree? To prepare, I reread 1 Cor. 1:10; 12:24, and I pray that God grants our Synod this unity. The Holy Spirit exhorts us to “agree,” to “let there be no divisions among [us],” and to “be perfectly united in mind and thought. I remind myself that when it comes to the Word of God, we do not have the option of “differentiated consensus,” that is, “agreeing to disagree” on what He has said. … True unity can only be achieved when men take their thoughts captive and bow to Scripture. True unity is a gift from God Himself; He gives us His Holy Spirit who gives us the faith to believe His Word! — Rev. Roberto Rojas, pastor, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Winter Garden, Fla., first-time delegate  [ 21 ]

Every three years, delegates of the LCMS gather in convention. As part of the triennial gathering, our Synod extends a church-wide invitation asking God’s people prayerfully to offer up special gifts to support mission and ministry work carried out under our shared name. These gifts and offerings are gathered in homes, congregations and among church groups. They can be mailed directly to the Synod’s national office, given online or hand carried into the convention’s opening worship service.

[ 22 ]  the lutheran witness / june | july

our desire to proclaim God’s goodness and mercy here at home and in other countries,” said Mark Hofman, Synod’s executive director of Mission Advancement. “God has blessed our Synod with more missionaries, bold initiatives to reach into our cities and rural areas, an overwhelming desire to care for our professional workers, opportunities to show our Savior’s mercy through acts of human compassion all over the world, and more. He is indeed good to us. The 2016 National Offering is a unique opportunity to give thanks.” “In the coming year alone – 2017, the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation – our Synod’s missionaries and mission staff have identified more than $9 million in potential national and international Witness, Mercy and Life Together mission projects and ministry programs that stretch beyond current funding levels. This is a cry to the church to seize Gospel-sharing opportunities,” continued Hofman. “In addition, our seminaries are at the cutting edge of Gospel witness and Christ’s mercy to future generations, always pleading for more resources to do more to prepare our future leaders. Together as Synod, and through the National Offering, we can all make a difference.”

GET INVOLVED To learn more about the 2016 National Offering, download bulletin inserts or participate with a gift, please visit lcms. org/national-offering. To request resources or to ask questions, call LCMS Mission Advancement at 888-930-4438.


Ahead of the 2016 convention, a number of Synod mission leaders gathered to discuss the options and impact of the coming National Offering. It was determined that the offering should be Gospel-centered, simple to explain and meaningful in its impact on the lives of others. The 2016 “Upon This Rock” National Offering encourages God’s people to “walk together” by combining their financial gifts in a way that will put significant dollars into the Lord’s harvest fields. A decision was also made that no part of the 2016 National Offering will go to funding corporate Synod personnel or administrative expenses beyond the costs of explaining the National Offering and receipting the gifts offered up in response. Funds will be intentionally allocated as vital support to select international and national (U.S.) mission projects and programs where the need for additional funding is greatest and to support the formation of pastors and leaders with a special allocation to both seminaries through the LCMS Joint Seminary Fund. “While conventions can sometimes give the appearance of dissension, my heartfelt prayer is that our individual differences would be set aside for a brief time and that we would stand united in

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Setting the Stage BY LAWRENCE R. RAST



he Church’s existence today is a testimony to God’s continued faithfulness to His people and a promise of His continued care for it. Christ’s assurance that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church is confirmed as we repent, confess, and rejoice together that Christ is our rock. We can’t always imagine what God will do to sustain His Church, but we know He will. We know the story of how Lutheranism nearly came apart in the period immediately following Luther’s death in 1546. The political and theological challenges that confronted the Lutheran tradition with regularity over a series of years nearly spelled the human end of the Lutheran Church. But God had other intentions and raised up wise and committed leaders who helped the Lutheran Church confess faithfully.

[ 24 ]  the lutheran witness / june | july

We can’t always imagine what God will do to sustain His Church, but we know He will. In 1840, the majority of Lutherans in America had lost their distinctive confession. And yet, within the span of a decade, the religious landscape was transformed as faithful people learned once more to confess Christ fully and faithfully. In our contemporary situation, the Church has lost its privileged position in North American culture. And yet, biblical Lutheranism is and will continue to be a force for spiritual good as it proclaims Christ the rock and invites faithful people to repent, confess and rejoice! The Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast ( is president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Christ’s assurance that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church is confirmed as we repent, confess, and rejoice together that Christ is our rock. Repent






epentance is the very essence of God’s relationship with His people and creation. Repentance has two parts: contrition — being sorry for our sins — and faith — that God forgives our sins in Christ. From Adam, Eve and Cain to Peter, Paul and Luther, God’s heart is moved as sinners repent and live by faith in the redemptive life-giving grace and mercy work of Christ. Christ’s inauguration message is to “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” And we confess with Simon Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And upon this confession Christ builds His Church, as we repent and confess our need for the Christ, the Son of the living God, in our life, vocation, church and world.

The Rev. Roosevelt Gray ( is the director of LCMS Black Ministry.


s the Synod considers the theme of its convention — “Upon this rock I will build my church” (MATT. 16:18), it is my privilege to address how the matter of “confession” fits into this theme. Of course, the rock to which Jesus refers in His statement to Peter is the rock of Peter’s confession. And ever since there has been an intimate relationship between the Church and her confession. There is no Church without confession; there is no faith without confession; without confession, Christianity dissolves. This confession includes the confession of sin. For sin to be absolved it must first be confessed. But our confession, as Christians, involves much more. It is a confession of the content of the Christian faith, a confession of how we are to be saved, a confession of the hope that we have in the Gospel and most of all, a confession of Jesus who tells us that the person who lives according to His words is like a man who built his house upon a rock and the winds and storms of life could not destroy it (MATT. 7:24). Finally, the Christian confesses knowing Jesus’ promise that He Himself will confess before the Father those who here confess Him (MATT. 10:32-33). The Rev. Daniel Preus is ( is the LCMS Third Vice-President.


T T he Church of Christ is not built on human wisdom or authority.

he convention theme verse — Matt. 16:18 — was spoken in response to the confession of Peter about Jesus at Caesarea Philippi. The text depicts the real foundation on which the true Church of Christ has been built. There is a debate whether the “rock” on which Christ built His church is Peter or Peter’s confession that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The word “rock” in this context implies the strong foundation that no one moves or stands against (MATT. 7:24). As such, the Church of Christ is not built on human wisdom or authority but on the authority of confession made by Peter, which affirms Jesus as Christ. Likewise, the Church is the assembly or gathering of people who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed and Son of the living God.

Yet there is a strange doctrine contrary to this basic biblical teaching widely prevalent in our contemporary world that challenges this central truth of the Scripture. Together, we will learn how to reclaim the authority of the Church from the perspective of her biblical mandate, the binding and loosing imagery, and the keys to the kingdom of heaven. All churches, local and global, adhering to this biblical confession are authorized to exercise this authority. And they do so in faith, adhering unwaveringly to this fundamental biblical confession. The Rev. Berhanu Ofgaa ( is general secretary of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus.  [ 25 ]

LUTHERANISM IS MORE ABOUT A “WHO” THAN A “WHAT.” But the “who” is not Martin Luther.

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[ notices ] Note: The “official notices” are published for a single purpose only: giving notice of a result, namely, changes in the Synod’s membership rosters by the addition or deletion of the names of individuals and congregations. It is not always appropriate that reasons for the changes be identified in the published notices. Since a change can occur for any of a variety of reasons, no assumptions may be made merely from the fact that a change has occurred. — Ed.

REQUESTS FOR REINSTATEMENT JENNIFER LYNN FURR, Seward, Neb.; GAYLE JANZEN, Sheboygan Falls, Wis.; HOPE M. KRAUSE, Menominee Falls, Wis.; and LISA L. LARSON, Fenton, Mo., have applied for reinstatement to the Minister of Religion — Commissioned roster of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Correspondence regarding these applications should be directed to the undersigned for receipt no later than July 5, 2016. — Rev. Dr. Raymond L. Hartwig, Secretary, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, 1333 South Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295.

ANNIVERSARIES The Lutheran Witness welcomes notices 50 words or less from LCMS congregations about their upcoming “milestone” anniversaries. The deadline for receipt of such notices is the 10th of the month two months prior to the publication month (e.g., June 10 for the August issue). Send notices to — Ed. Grace Lutheran Church, Versailles, Mo., is celebrating its 65th anniversary on Sunday, July 31. District President Rev. Dr. Lee Hagan will preach at the 10:30 a.m. Divine Service. A meal and recital featuring sacred music will follow. For information or RSVP, contact Pastor Erik Rottmann at 573-378-5512 or Holy Cross Lutheran Church of Wartburg, Waterloo, Ill., is celebrating its 175th anniversary on July 10 at 8:45 a.m. with Pastor Ostlund preaching. At 1:00 p.m., Rev. Dr. Karl K. Schmidt, former pastor, will be the guest preacher. Meal and program follow. RSVP for the meal at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Terril, Iowa, is celebrating its 125th anniversary on Sunday, July 31. There will be a 10:00 a.m. worship service with a catered noon meal. A short program will follow. For other information and to make meal reservations, email or call 712-853-6108. Immanuel Lutheran Church, Daykin, Neb., is celebrating its 125th anniversary on July 31. Guest preachers for the 10:30 a.m. service are former pastors Rev. Dwayne Schroeder and Rev. Rick Kanoy. Social time, a catered meal and program are also planned. For additional information, email

Trinity Lutheran Church, Eden, Idaho, is celebrating the culmination of its year-long 100th anniversary celebration on August 6 and 7 with a grand celebration including fellowship, food and fun. For more information, check Trinity Lutheran Church, Miles City, Mont., is celebrating its 100th anniversary on Sunday, July 17. Divine Service is at 10:30 a.m. with guest preachers and former pastors Rev. Glen Merritt and Rev. James Mavis. The anniversary service is at 4:00 p.m. with guest preacher Montana District President Terry Forke. Potluck and program follow the anniversary service. For more information, email

IN MEMORIAM Obituary information is provided by district offices to the Synod’s Office of Rosters and Statistics. Any questions about content should be referred, therefore, to the appropriate district office. — Ed.

ORDAINED ELMSHAUSER, JAMES MALCOLM, July 22, 1946, to March 10, 2016. ERBE, RONALD A., October 8, 1933, to March 13, 2016. FRITZ, JOHN DAVID, March 12, 1927, to March 7, 2016. HILGENDORF, PAUL ALVIN JR., May 21, 1926, to March 20, 2016. HINTZE, OTTO C. JR., March 22, 1923, to March 20, 2016. LARSON, WALLACE A., May 3, 1928, to March 8, 2016. LUTZ, EDWARD F., July 19, 1925, to November 12, 2015. PERLING, ROY JOHN, October 12, 1938, to March 21, 2016. PETERSON, RUSSELL J., September 3, 1926, to March 2, 2016. PRAEUNER, HERBERT O., June 18, 1930, to March 15, 2016. SCHULZ, DONALD CHRISTIAN, February 3, 1927, to March 6, 2016. WISE, WILLIAM G., December 24, 1942, to February 5, 2016.

COMMISSIONED BOCKELMAN, BYRON B., April 15, 1936, to March 12, 2016.

St. John Lutheran Church, Palms, Mich., is celebrating its 100th anniversary June 26. A 1:00 p.m. worship service is planned with a meal to follow. For more information, contact Rev. Henry Hales at

KNUDSON, ELLA RUTH (KOKEL), August 8, 1942, to December 17, 2015.

St. John’s Lutheran Church, Kimball, Neb., is celebrating “100 Years of Abiding in Christ’s love.” On June 26, Rev. Darrell Debowey will preach during the 10:00 a.m. service. Please contact the church office at 308-235-2582 or

THIES, RUTH ELEANOR (BAUMANN), June 25, 1928, to January 29, 2016.

St. John’s Lutheran Church, Yuma, Colo., continues its year-long anniversary celebration with a “Drive Your Tractor to Church” day Sunday, June 19, to honor our rural heritage. Worship will be at 11:00 a.m., followed by lunch.

WINTER, PAUL G., May 26, 1935, to March 4, 2016.

MUELLER, DELBERT WALTER, December 30, 1927, to February 21, 2016.

WILBERT, WARREN NORMAN DR., February 23, 1927, to January 20, 2016.

To read online all notices that appear in the print Reporter and The Lutheran Witness, visit

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Imperial, Mo., is celebrating its 160th anniversary on Sunday, June 12. Rev. Jason E. Rensner, former seminary field worker, is guest speaker at the 10:00 a.m. service with Holy Communion. A luncheon will continue the celebration. Check for details.  [ 27 ]

[ searching scriptures ]

On This Rock by Tim Pauls


ere I stand.” Sometimes a few words say a

lot. … So do these simple words: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” It’s a short sentence that Peter speaks, and the words themselves say quite a bit with their simple meanings. It’s only the beginning, though: those words, revealed to Peter by God, plumb the depths of the Old Testament and reveal all sorts of truth about Jesus and the Lord’s plan for your salvation. So that we might appreciate how solid is the Rock on which the Church is built, we’re going to take some time and savor the words of Matt. 16:13–19.


Jesus first asks His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The answers are in verse 14. What do all the answers have in common?


We don’t know how much of this Peter understands, but it isn’t all that much. He says far more than he knows! Given what we’ve looked above, summarize what lies behind Peter’s answer, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.


Upon Peter’s confession, Jesus has several important things to say: first, He says, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Jesus makes an important distinction with these words, one that will play out through the rest of this text. What is it? How is this an important guide for God’s people today?

[ 28 ]  the lutheran witness / june | july


Second, Jesus says to Peter, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus declares the foundation of the Church! If Jesus is the Rock and the Foundation of the Church, why doesn’t He just say, “the Church will be built on Me?” To see where Jesus does something similar, look at Matt. 11:2–6. John 5:39 offers another important clue!

The Church is built upon Jesus, the Christ and the Son of the living God. … We could say that the Church is the reason for Jesus’ death, for so He redeems His people. It makes tragic sense then that Peter’s confession of faith is the same as the accusation that leads to Jesus’ death. When He is on trial before the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas asks Him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.” There’s a wonder here: as man demands Jesus’ death for being the Christ and Son of God, so does His Father in heaven; but while man intends it for evil, God wills it for your salvation. Jesus answers Caiaphas, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of glory.” As He faces death for this confession, Jesus foretells His return in glory on the Last Day — and thus also His resurrection on the third day. The Rock on whom the Church is built lives and reigns, and so we live in hope and joy.

The Rev. Tim Pauls (timothypauls@ is pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Boise, Idaho.

Excerpted from the convention Bible study. Read and download more at biblestudy.


Use this space to answer the questions posed here or by your Bible study leader.

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The Lutheran Witness | June - July 2016  

2016 LCMS Convention: Repent, Confess, Rejoice

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