Confessing Christ for the next Generation

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
As you may know, the Convention of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod gathers in Milwaukee, July 9-14. The election of the Synod President takes place this weekend, as delegates from every congregation of the LCMS vote for their candidate. Being the political season lots of things are said and written; some of which may be true and some of which may be stilted to a certain perspective. What follows below is the response of the LCMS praesidium, which includes the president and the vice-presidents, to a letter circulated earlier in the week "from a certain perspective". The words below are clear and factual.
LCMS Praesidium responds to concerns
posed by former CCM members
 An open letter to the Synod by three former members of the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) has recently been widely disseminated. These are brothers in Christ, respected fellow members of the Synod, who are entitled to their opinions regarding the election of the President-as is every member of the Synod. However, we also ask that all the members of the Synod prayerfully and with open minds consider the following information.

What precipitated the need for taking a look at the dispute resolution process as it currently exists in our Bylaws?

The suggestion to examine the current Bylaws on dispute resolution came from President Harrison when the system had exonerated a pastor who was publicly and aggressively teaching that the Bible has errors, that women should be ordained, that homosexual activity is not sinful, and that evolution is true. Prior to all of this, President Harrison had patiently arranged for this man's dissent regarding A Statement of Scriptural and Confessional Principles (which rejected the errors of Seminex and was adopted by convention as official Synod doctrine in 1973) to be considered by the CTCR. After the CTCR unanimously rejected the dissent, President Harrison-in a spirit of patience, and hoping to win the brother-requested that the CTCR staff (the Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer and the Rev. Larry Vogel) and two seminary professors serving on the CTCR (one from each seminary) meet privately to try again to win the brother. All efforts failed. After the brother's exoneration by a panel, a new case was filed regarding his teachings on evolution. As a result of this last case, however, the individual in question was removed from the Synod. It was in this context, after some five years dealing with the problem, that President Harrison appointed a task force to examine the current Bylaws and make recommendations for improvement.


Does President Harrison, then, prefer a wholesale revision of the Bylaws regarding dispute resolution?

No. In his report to the Synod, President Harrison stated: "I am not in favor of wholesale revision of our dispute resolution and ecclesiastical supervision processes. Our current system has many valuable attributes. I did, however, appoint a task force to evaluate the system and make some suggestions, which they have done" (Workbook, pp. 297ff.).

After the task force completed its work, did President Harrison recommend that all of the conclusions of the task force report be adopted?

No. In examining the report of the task force, President Harrison made a single suggestion that, should Floor Committee 12 adopt the task force recommendation to restore the right of an appeal by an accuser, the authority for action should rest with the entire Praesidium and not the Synod president alone.

Why, then, are there mistaken conclusions and confusion regarding all of this?

The letter circulated by former CCM members apparently was based on the task force report alone, and not on President Harrison's modest request for change, nor on the actual proposal to go before Synod in convention. Floor Committee 12 (Ecclesiastical Supervision and Dispute Resolution) has examined all sides of this issue and has prepared Resolution 12-01 (
Today's Business , p. 153f), which is very clear and well worth reading in order to clear up any confusion.

What does Resolution 12-01 actually propose?

Resolution 12-01 proposes to restore the right of an accuser to appeal to the Praesidium, if the district president declines to act. This, in fact, was the arrangement that Synod had for decades, from before 1956 up to 2004, based on the President's general responsibilities articulated in Article XI of the constitution. During the time this option for appeal was available, it was actually used quite rarely.

If Resolution 12-01 is passed, will it take away from district presidents the ability to exercise ecclesiastical supervision of individual members in their districts and concentrate it instead in the Office of the President or the Praesidium?

No. The district president still has full ecclesiastical supervision over all of the congregations and rostered church workers of his district, as well as the full authority to take appropriate action. If, however, a district president fails to take action in a matter involving doctrine, the accuser then would have the right to appeal to the full Praesidium (not the President). The Praesidium would then decide whether the case should be closed or should move forward.

What about the president's role in the new structure of Synod?

A fair evaluation of the past six years will show that President Harrison continues to be very judicious and careful in the exercise of presidential responsibility under the 2010 restructuring of Synod. As evidence, please note how well the Offices of National Mission and International Mission are functioning on our behalf.
Note also the evangelical visitation of the districts carried out by President Harrison and the Synod vice-presidents in the triennium just ending. This was not done to prescribe, but rather to listen, to learn, and to provide Christ-centered encouragement from Holy Scripture. In point of fact, this visitation was received exceptionally well in every district.

Does President Harrison seek to restrict congregations, districts and others in mission efforts?

Again, the plain and simple answer is no. Concerns over Bylaw 3.8.3 have arisen regarding the need for coordination and collaboration in the foreign mission fields, all for the sake of our partners and for the sake of the mission. The Board for International Mission (BIM) has developed careful policies that do not restrict but enhance the mission.
A very helpful FAQ has also been prepared.
In fact, the CCM opinion on Bylaw 3.8.3 clarified that mission societies, auxiliaries (LWML, LLL), and Recognized Service Organizations (RSOs) are in no way restricted by the bylaw. The CCM also requested that the BIM develop appropriate policies. Those policies allow for dual calls by the BIM and districts or congregations. The net result is that opportunities for collaboration between the BIM, districts, congregations, and other entities have been clarified and greatly expanded, while protecting the rights and interests of partner churches.

Why is it so important to have a united and coordinated mission effort internationally?

There have been a number of instances where some of our folks have acted in international fields in ways that have severely disrupted our relationships with partner churches. Independent and uncoordinated efforts have also been undertaken with charismatic and other non-Lutheran churches and societies, with seminaries even being planted. Sometimes our folks engaged in joint work with ELCA partner churches while our own partner churches were ignored, causing some offense. Such situations have forced LCMS mission staff to commit significant time and resources to remedy situations and restore appropriate relationships. The assertion that there is some new effort to restrict
mission is ironic in light of the fact that our international mission efforts are mushrooming each day, with more congregations and districts partnering in these efforts than ever before. Three years ago some 900 congregations were supporting LCMS missionaries. Now that number is well over 1300.

What about those studies of Article VI and Article VII of the Synod's constitution?

The Office of the President and others are working on those studies, and it is true that they have not been completed. To do a truly thorough job has turned out to be more difficult than it first appeared. Despite the delay in completing the study, a number of resources have been produced to assist members of Synod in the study of Article VI.

The Office of the President is working to complete these studies and present them to the Synod during the first year of the next triennium.

What is this about some new form of closed communion being imposed?

It is not true that President Harrison has been seeking "to impose a form of 'closed communion' inconsistent with Synod's historical practices." Under normal circumstances, members of the LCMS and those in fellowship with the LCMS commune in our churches, though we have always also given room for pastoral discretion. President Harrison has simply been asking that congregations and pastors exercise true pastoral discretion in the admissio
n to the Supper-specifically that, at the very least, visitors be encouraged to speak with the pastor or elder prior to approaching the altar. This is Synod's historic practice, as evidenced by the many resolutions of the Synod over the years. In 2013, the convention by a 77 percent margin referenced resolutions on close(d) communion as passed by previous conventions and asked President Harrison to work with district presidents to ensure better practice on this issue. In 2015, the CTCR released expanded guidelines based upon the 1993 CTCR document on model communion statements. The 2015 Guidelines for Communion Statements provides tools for evaluating and adapting communion statements for the seasonal and local context.

Anything else?

The members of the Synod may have honest disagreements over who might best serve as president of the Synod. This is not unusual, since we have three excellent candidates this year. That's why we have an election. That's why the Synod's publications, Reporter and The Lutheran Witness, both have a set of Q&As from all three men whose names are on the ballot. That's why we encourage all to pray for the Spirit's guidance as they vote. Everyone should examine the answers all three have given through these official channels. But let's also be honest about the actual record. Let's make up our minds and hearts about this matter on the basis of honest information, not unfounded accusation or innuendo. Regardless of which candidate you support, it is vital that we avoid the devil's snare.

May our gracious God preserve us and, by His Word and Spirit, lead us to be "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3) and mutual love in Christ. We all stand as sinners equal under the cross, called to REPENT of our sin, to CONFESS Christ as the Rock of our Salvation, and to REJOICE in His forgive

God's peace be with you, in Jesus!

Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison


Rev. Dr. Herbert C. Mueller, Jr.

 First Vice-President 

 Rev. Dr. John C. Wohlrabe, Jr.
 Second Vice-President, Great Lakes Region

Rev. Dr. Daniel Preus
Third Vice-President, Central Region

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Fourth Vice-President, West-Southwest Region

Rev. Nabil S. Nour
Fifth Vice-President, Great Plains Region

Rev. Christopher S. Esget
Sixth Vice-President, East-Southeast Region
Please Vote!! By now you should have all received information on how to vote for the Synod President. That election is 9 days away at this writing .

Both pastors and lay delegates who attended the 2015 SWD convention should have received information regarding how to record your vote for the election of our Synod President. Please urge your lay delegate to vote!
            The three nominees for president, in the order of nominations received are:
           Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison , the incumbent Synod president, with 755 nominations.
            Rev. Dr. Dale A. Meyer , president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, 442 nominations.
            Rev. Dr. David P.E. Maier , president of the LCMS Michigan District, 358.
My encouragement to you is that you look past any last minute politicking you might see and simply vote on the basis of what you believe and know to be true.

2016 LCMS National Convention: A couple of items by way of reminder.
SWD Delegate Orientation is scheduled for Saturday, June 11 at the SWD office starting at 9am.   There will be a continental breakfast at 830am with a lunch provided. We should be done in the early afternoon.  Please alert your circuit lay delegates about this date.
The first issue of Today's Business with resolutions is up online, as of last evening: 204 pages of everything you need to know about what will be discussed and decided at the July Convention.
By now everyone has received their convention assessment for this summer's National LCMS Convention in Milwaukee. If your treasurer hasn't already done so, please make sure that a check has been cut and sent to the SWD office. These monies help fund both the convention as well as the attendance of our delegates.
Congregational Visitation:
As you have heard in the recent past, part of my responsibilities as an ecclesiastical supervisor (DP) involve visitation of congregations. If you follow my calendar you know, that is well underway. This year I am prioritizing the congregations served by circuit visitors and SWD board members for visitation. However, if you would like to schedule such a visitation, give Karen a call. My calendar has some openings this summer. A normal visitation more often than not involves a conversation with the pastor(s), preaching, Bible Class, and always a visit with congregational leadership.
Rev. Peter Kelm who has served as the SWD Mission Executive, assistant to the president, for the past three years has accepted a divine call to return to parish ministry as an associate pastor of First Immanuel Cedarburg. We certainly thank Peter for his service to our Lord and His church during his time as assistant the president, mission executive.
While at this writing I am not sure of the exact transitions plans that Pastor has, normally process means that in short order Peter will be relocating his ministry to First Immanuel.
Regarding the vacancy our SWD Bylaws state:
 g. Unless otherwise designated by District resolution, it shall be the duty of the Board of Directors to elect and call executive staff from a list of candidates nominated by the congregations of the District, the District President and the Board of Directors.
The current Policy Manual expands on that saying:   Rostered Positions: Called Executive Staff:  In the case where the District President recommends and the Board agrees there is a vacancy in the office of another called executive staff position, the Governance Board shall appoint a Call Committee.  The Committee shall consist of the Vice-Chair, two other non-officer members of the Board, two members from the pertinent Advisory Council who have been appointed by the District President (if such a Council exists), and the District President. In following the guidelines established in the Constitution and By-laws for calling such personnel, the Call Committee shall not fail to:
  * Establish a set of criteria for the position, with special attention to the leadership needs under Aligned Governance and Operations,
  • Interview the President of the District to determine his insights regarding the need
for the position being filled,
  • Present to the Governance Board a summary of the interviews of each candidate,     
Having discussed this process with Bryan Seider, Chairman of the SWD Board, we will begin this process sometime in August.
We wish Peter Kelm our Lord's most gracious blessings as he returns to the parish to serve God's people, carrying on his ministry in before an altar and from the pulpit, Word and Sacrament ministry. May our gracious Lord bless!

Also, I am sure that everyone is aware of Peter's journey with cancer. We keep him in our prayers as our Lord watches over Peter and his family!! 
Hispanic Outreach of Sheboygan Holds First Divine Service

On Sunday June 5, a Lutheran new congregation began divine services, at Immanuel Sheboygan. Vicar David Blas held the first Hispanic worship service as part of a partnership between the circuit congregations, South Wisconsin, and the LCMS. There were 25 Hispanic worshipers present along with some 15 Anglos. Below is a link to pictures taken by Pastor Alan Kretchmar.
We give thanks to our gracious Lord Jesus for His blessing this outreach effort! I give thanks for the forward thinking of the pastors in the Sheboygan circuits for pushing this outreach effort forward. As Rev. Carlos Hernandez from LCMS Hispanic Ministries says, "If we can start an Hispanic church in Sheboygan, we can do it anywhere!"

The Changing Legal Landscape for LCMS Schools

As the legal landscape continues to change for faith-based institutions, LCMS school officials are wondering how they'll faithfully navigate the future. Recent legal issues with LCMS and other Christian schools have focused on accepting state and federal dollars and the implications of doing so. Please join us for Faith & Family, June 7 and 8 at 10 a.m. Central on Worldwide KFUO, as we take up the key issues facing our Lutheran schools today with guest Mr. Gregory S. Baylor from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
Since joining ADF in 2009, he has worked diligently to protect the First Amendment freedoms of students, faculty and staff at public colleges and universities. As director of ADF's Religious Schools Team, Baylor litigates cases to protect the rights of Christian educational institutions across the nation. He also serves as religious liberty consultant to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
Learn more about what's at stake on Worldwide (, June 7 and 8.

SWD Church Worker Golf Outing
Horicon Hills Golf Club - Monday, August 8 
Cost: $42 per person
Includes 18 holes of golf, cart and lunch.
8:30 a.m. Check in
9:00 a.m. Shot-gun Tee-off

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For Christ and for His world SWD magnifies partnerships, multiplies ministries, and maximizes resources .

Rev. Peter Kelm as he starts cancer treatments for a second time
The upcoming Synod Convention which will be held here in Milwaukee in July
All those that will travel this summer
The men and women of our military


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Upcoming Events Around the D istrict


  • July 9-14, 2016:  Synod Convention, Milwaukee
  • July 16-20, 2016:  National Youth Gathering - New Orleans, Louisiana
  • August 8, 2016:  SWD Golf Outing Horicon Hills Golf Club
  • September 16, 2016: Pre-Retirement Workshop-Concorida Health Plan @ Good Shepherd, Sheboygan
  • September 17, 2016: Pre-Retirement Workshop- Concorida Health Plan - District Office
  • September 26, 2016:  CUW Pastors Conference:  Luther's Doctrine of Blessed Hatred, Dr. Nathan Jastram - 11:30am Lakeshore Room
  • October 10-12, 2016:  Fall pastors Conference - Blue Harbor Resort, Sheboygan
  • October 24, 2016:  CUW Pastors Conference:  Why Luther's Worship Reforms Still Matter - Dr. Timothy Maschke - 11:30 am Lakeshore Room
  • November 28, 2016:  CUW Pastors Conference:  From Garden to City: FromGenesis 1-3 to Revelation 21-22 - Dr. Harald Tomesch - 11:30 am Lakeshore Room
Pastor Calls and Vacancies
Calling Congregations
  • Messiah - Beloit
  • Elm Grove -Elm Grove
  • Risen Savior - Franklin
  • St. Paul - Grafton
  • St. Luke - Lyndon Station
  • St. John - Mayville
  • Mission of  Christ - Milwaukee
  • Mt. Olive - Milwaukee
  • St. Peter -Immanuel - Milwaukee
  • St. Paul - Sheboygan
  • St. Paul - Sheboygan Falls
  • Bethlehem - Wales
  • Our Redeemer - Wauwatosa

Pastors Accepting a Call

  • Peter Kelm - District Mission Exec to First Immanuel, Cedarburg
  • James Pemberton -  St. John, Mt. Hope, Ohio to Oklahoma Ave., Milwaukee (Installation 6/26@ 2:30pm)
Contact Information

President John C. Wille
Karen Rayner