The LCMS Council of Presidents (COP) Nov. 22 adopted five objectives intended to address the current controversy in the Missouri Synod.
COP Chairman Arleigh Lutz referred to the objectives as "a plan for addressing the sad divisions and unbecoming conduct on the part of certain members of the Synod. The plan is a simple outline of objectives that need to be sought and maintained."
The outline is titled, "To Restore Harmony and Trust within The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod for the Sake of Christ's Mission." It says, "Because Jesus Christ is our peace and has made us one, the Council of Presidents renews its commitment to lead the Synod in addressing:
1. The need to work toward agreement in doctrine and practice.
2. The need to provide safe places for responsible theological and doctrinal discussion on the basis of the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.
3. The need to avoid party spirit, rancor and name calling and to treat one another in Christian love.
4. The need throughout the Synod for God's people to seek that humility which leads to genuine repentance and forgiveness.
5. The need to support the president and all other elected officers of the Synod in every effort to focus our church on the Great Commission and to work for harmony within the Synod."
COP members agreed to devote time at the council's next meeting, April 4 9, to develop the outline. Members of the council are the Synod's president, five vice presidents and 35 district presidents.
The five objectives were adopted after the council had spent much of its three-day meeting Nov. 20-22 discussing the role of the church in the "public square." Lutz provided a starting point to the discussion with the rhetorical question: "When must a pastor, in his role as pastor, stay away from a civic religious event lest he compromise the Gospel, and when, if ever, must he go and bear witness lest he be unfaithful to the Gospel?"
Much of the controversy in the Synod centers on participation last year by Atlantic District President David Benke in a post-Sept. 11 event in New York's Yankee Stadium titled "A Prayer for America."
The Synod's Constitution assigns to district presidents responsibility for "supervision over the doctrine, life and administration of office of the ordained and commissioned members of their district." Lutz said it was with this in mind -- "as well as the provision of the first objective of the Synod to conserve and promote the unity of the true faith'" -- that the COP adopted its five objectives.
By Albert H. Lee