Recently I have spent time skimming through some of the historical convention proceedings of our Synod. I found an interesting report in the 1917 Convention Proceedings that is very similar to current events. Back in 1917, President Pfotenhauer established a committee to look into the impact of recent federal legislation that made it impossible for pastors in some states to secure communion wine. In June 1917, the Post Office Department of the United States issued an opinion based on recently passed legislation in the Congress that made “unmailable all matters containing advertisements or solicitation for order for intoxicating liquors without exception.” Based on the committee’s recommendations, the convention delegates, in the summer of 1917, agreed to send a letter to the president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, referring to the new legislation as “interference with the religious liberty, constitutionally guaranteed to our and other Churches”. The convention also developed a “protest” that was prepared and forwarded to members of Congress. Additionally, 9,000 copies of the protest were printed and distributed at convention so that each delegate had three copies for each congregation in his circuit. Here is a link to read the pages from the 1917 Convention Proceedings.
The concept is simple. By working together we can do more than we could do individually. This is the underlying concept in my family’s often used motto: “many hands make for light work.”
Lutheran Services in America has used this tagline for many years. Google “Together We Can” and you’ll find the tagline is used by many not-for-profit organizations, for-profit businesses and advocacy groups for fundraising campaigns, community events and other kinds of activities meant to bring people together around a common goal.
When President Harrison’s transition team first began its restructuring work, it felt to me like we stood looking at a huge mountain that needed to be moved. It is clear to me that the “critical moments” of the restructuring effort so far have happened when tasks, projects and goals were tackled by a group rather than the efforts of one person. The transition team, the Restructuring Work Group, the Change Network, the Administrative Team, the Operations Team, each department, various teams within the departments and all the participants in the National Mission Conference held in September 2011 are just a few of the examples of people joining together to solve a problem, consider next steps and “move the mountain” a few inches.
I ran across an older video on the Internet that is a great visual of the power of “Together We Can.” “Together We Can” is powerful, proactive, inspiring, energizing and often absolutely mind blowing. Watch this video and see what these people did together.
We remember on this day, 70 years ago, when the Japanese attacked the United States naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On December 7, 1941, the country was devastated by the surprise attack by the Japanese, the loss of 1,177 crewmen of the USS Arizona Battleship, and the many more who were injured.
A year after the attack, in December 1942, the Lutheran Witness remembered the event and included this telegram message sent two days after the attack. The message was sent from Pres. Behnken to the President of the United States. In the telegram, Pres. Behnken shares this message:
“We, the President and Vice-Presidents of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other states, in session in Chicago, assure you of our prayers in this hour of national emergency cause by the treacherous attack of the enemy, and on the basis of Romans, chapter thirteen, pledge to you the loyal support of our people in the defense of our country. ” – J.W. Behnken, President of Synod
Gracious God and Father, Your Son, Jesus Christ, came to bring us heavenly peace. Yet we are reminded on this anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks that violence and conflict still rage among Your children on earth. Grant that we all may live together in unity and peace, and let all hatred and ill will be remembered no more. Give us that peace which the world cannot give, and grant us grace that, delivered from all conflict and strife, we may live in harmony and safety and finally, having gained the eternal rest of the saints in glory, may praise and bless, worship and glorify You forever; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Thanks to everyone’s hard work, contributions and assistance, the restructuring process is moving along. After a year of highly detailed, broadly scoped, overall organizational change planning, we are moving to implement specific departmental plans focused around our new integrated approach to providing services to our districts, congregations and the Church at large. We are digging deep into each ministry and service unit work area to identify what is needed, what is working, what is not and what needs to be strengthened. Here are some highlights:
- Positions descriptions for many staff members have been rewritten; although there are still a few more to be completed.
- A directory of employee functions has been developed. The directory provides an abbreviated description of the current job functions for each employee of the program areas along with his or her title, phone extension and email address. This will help employees by clarifying each other’s roles and responsibilities and aid in getting work done.The valuable CNet (Change Network) group continues to meet and provide feedback and input to the restructuring process.
- An internal Web page has been developed for employees that provides restructuring updates, information and resources.
- The organizational chart was completed for the program areas, which includes the Office of National Mission, Office of International Mission, Pastoral Education, Communications and Fund Development.
- The Communications department is finalizing its intake process for work assignments and projects that are requested of the department. This vital process will help to ensure that employee effort and work are coordinated and completed as efficiently as possible.
- During the recent LCEF Leadership Conference in Raleigh, N.C., the Office of International Mission gathered together its leadership staff to discuss ways for working more closely together in the future. Agreements were made on roles and responsibilities in decision making and authority for program areas.
- The Office of National Mission looks forward to a department planning retreat in December.
- The Chart of Accounts has been completed. Testing and final revisions will be completed shortly.
- Budget planning for 2013-2014 fiscal year is taking place under the new structure and with the new Chart of Accounts. The Office of International Mission is working to integrate the programs and budgets of the former LCMS World Mission and LCMS World Relief and Human Care departments into one budget with a focused effort on accomplishing unified goals. Likewise, the Office of National Mission is integrating the budgets of the ministry units now gathered under its umbrella. The Fund Development and Communications departments are outlining plans for working with the other program areas to meet the needs identified for the next year.
- The timetable for budget development has been established and our new departments will use the new Chart of Accounts to create their budgets. We look forward in the new fiscal year to financial reporting that will list the following: Office of International Mission, Office of National Mission, Communications, Fund Development, Pastoral Education and other main categories.
- We look forward to posting and filling several key positions next year.
- The Boards for National and International Mission are working hard to develop policies to guide the activities of their respective offices. Both boards’ policy sub-committees are working to draft these guidelines. Their meetings in September provided an opportunity to review many of the existing policies. More policies have been written and will be reviewed at their upcoming February 2012 meetings.
- We look forward to the arrival of the Chief Mission Officer (CMO), Rev. Gregory Williamson. He arrives in St. Louis late this month and his first day at work is Jan 3.
There is plenty of other work going on related to restructuring but these are the highlights.
- Barb Below
Today we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of C. F. W. Walther, Synod founder and president. But even as we thank God for the many hats Walther wore—from Synod founder to Synod president, from seminary professor to seminary president—we also thank Him for one of Walther’s default legacies: the Walther League.
Ask a youth in the church today about the Walther League, and they’ll likely give you a blank stare. But ask an adult about the same, and they’ll recount a handful of stories from their youth that have their basis in a Walther League activity.
The league has a notable place in the Synod’s history. It began in the late nineteenth century and developed alongside America’s history, flourishing as the LCMS adopted English into its vocabulary. It continued to grow through the World Wars, even establishing a headquarters in Chicago.
Its members were busy. Over 5,000 groups were eventually established. Youth met to discuss Scripture and the catechism, went on hayrides and roller skated, and also assisted in their communities and neighborhoods as they learned firsthand how to show Christ’s mercy to those around them. And when all the studying and the merriment was over, a few young Lutheran men even met their future brides at Walther League events! The league’s benefits were clearly many and varied.
The league eventually disbanded in 1977 as a result of painful but formative doctrinal discussions, but other youth organizations have risen to challenge the youth of the Church in their understanding of what it means to be a Lutheran in this time and in this place.
So although the league itself no longer exists, one important aspect of it remains: the need for the Church’s young people to be stretched and molded in their understanding of the faith.
C. F. W. Walther compelled men to be faithful pastors, pastors that would deliver Christ’s Gospel to a young generation eager to hear it. We, too, can be faithful to Walther’s legacy, to the encouragement of young men in pastoral formation at one of our two seminaries.
But we can also be faithful to the Christian faith by encouraging our children, teenagers, and college students to be about the holy things of God, to encourage them in a love for Scripture, hymnody, and the catechism, and to be boldly, unabashedly, and joyfully Lutheran.
What are your memories of Walther League?