Ray’s Posts

Four, Five, and Six

I am writing from a motel room in Mason City, Iowa, on my way to the Minnesota North District convention, which is on my way to the South Dakota and Oklahoma conventions later in the week–district conventions four, five, and six of our Synod’s 35 during 2012. I like conventions, and I look forward to showing up for as many as I can. But I like good order even more, which is really what brings me to Mason City, headed for points beyond.

The purpose of these convention visits is to make certain that the process we have developed to register and certify our 10,000-or-so district convention delegates for their participation in the vote for President of the Synod next June is both workable and reliable. What was a relatively simple convention decision is a bit more complicated to accomplish. And, of course, we need to get it right the first time. 

I thought I would use this blog to let you know what delegates can expect by way of this registration and certification process. There are three stages to the process, information-gathering, certification-granting, and voter-information-recording:

  1. Information-gathering:  Bright yellow registration forms are being used to collect the specific information that will be required for the electronic voting process. Districts are being asked to mail these forms to delegates prior to the convention. Voting delegates are asked to fill out and bring the forms with them to their district conventions. Regestration personnel will check to make certain that the forms are completely filled out, and will verify that the person submitting the form is indeed the delegate properly authorized to attend the convention.
  2. Certification-granting:  These forms will be given to the district secretary (or possibly the convention credentials chairman if so delegated) for a cross check with the list of eligible delegate slots provided by the Rosters and Statistics Department of the Synod. When satisfied that the delegate submitting the yellow form is a rightful delegate, the district secretary will initial the form, thereby providing the required certification.
  3. Voter-information-recording:  At the close of the convention, the secretary of the district will mail the forms to the Synod’s Rosters and Statistics Department, and the names of the certified district convention delegates will be added to the Synod-wide list of certified voters for the presidential election in June, 2013. The information on this list will be updated continually using change-of-information and voter-substitution forms.

Thank you to you, whether a district convention voting delegate or just an interested person, for your cooperation and/or for any help you can provide to others in understanding and participating in this very important process. Perhaps I will see you at the registration table of your district convention.

Ray Hartwig

 

Life Together — District Convention Representation

With three district conventions down and 32 to go, delegate representation is a subject of considerable interest and conversation in the Synod. This blog provides an opportunity to address five frequently asked questions.

        1. Q: How has delegate representation changed from previous conventions?  A: Actually, representation has not changed. Article V A of the Synod’s Constitution still determines delegate representation at district conventions: “At meetings of the districts of the Synod, every congregation or parish is entitled to two votes, one of which is to be cast by the pastor and the other by the lay delegate.”
        2. Q: Well, something has changed. Why must some congregations now share a lay delegate when they had not done so in the past? A: We are more now applying more consistently and uniformly the historical definition for a “parish” in our Synod: “Two or more congregations served by the same pastor.” With the assistance of our Rosters and Statistics Department, this definition is being painstakingly applied across the Synod to make certain that congregations are represented equally and fairly throughout our 35 districts.
        3. Q: If nothing has changed, why are some congregations that were previously regarding as “permanently vacant” now regarded as part of a “parish”? A: The decision by the 2010 Synod convention that delegates to district conventions would also be the voters in the election of the President of the Synod prompted greater care in determining those situations to which “parish” is to be applied. A phrase from Bylaw 2.11.1 is pivotal: “regularly performing the duties of…an ordained minister.” Accordingly, a pastor providing regular Word and Sacrament ministry is being regarded as the congregation’s pastor for delegate representation purposes. If he is providing such regular ministry to two or more congregations, he is serving a multi-congregation parish.
        4. Q: Are there any exceptions to this rule? A: Yes. If a congregation is in the process of actively calling a pastor, it is regarded as truly “vacant” even though it is receiving regular word and sacrament ministry from a pastor. The above (#3) applies only to what were once regarded as “permanent vacancies.”
        5. Q: What about congregations that have been served by “emeritus” pastors? A: Congregations (or parishes) receiving regular word and sacrament ministry from a rostered pastor of the Synod deserve two delegate votes at their district conventions: a pastoral vote and a lay vote. The roster status of “emeritus” pastors (advisory and therefore non-voting) is being changed to “active” status when possible to reflect the fact that they are providing regular Word and Sacrament ministry to a congregation of the Synod. Such roster status change does not adversely affect retirement status or benefits. It does provide the congregation with its rightful privilege of two votes (pastoral and lay) at district conventions and in the election of the President of the Synod.

There are, of course, many other questions that arise while working through this process with our 35 districts and their conventions. You may wish to respond to this blog with such questions.

Ray Hartwig

World Champions

For St. Louis Cardinals fans, it would have been a lot more pleasant if they had known two months ago what happened two weeks ago, when the Cardinals won Game 7 of the World Series. The dark days of August wouldn’t have seemed so dark. The disappointing losses of September wouldn’t have been so disappointing. And Game 6 of the World Series would not have been the nail-biter that it was.

Not knowing the outcome is the way it usually is in this world. We live day-to-day, hour-to-hour, breath-to-breath, except for one huge exception. That exception we celebrate each November 1st.

The Exception

That exception to the rule of uncertainty in this life is the outcome of our Christian lives. Even though the home team makes plenty of errors, suffers countless injuries, and faces seemingly hopeless situations, the outcome is already known—this despite the fact that the other team can seem undefeatable, with a manager who is absolute ruthless, as Luther describes him:

The old evil foe now means deadly woe,
Deep guile and great might are his dread arms in fight,
On earth is not his equal.

The reality of their plight will strike home for many Christians on their deathbeds, when Martin Luther’s great funeral hymn will describe the valley of the shadow of death through which they must pass:

In the midst of earthly life, Snares of death surround us.
Who shall help us in the strife, Lest the foe confound us?

In the midst of death’s dark vale, Powers of hell o’ertake us.
Who will help when they assail, Who secure will make us?

In the midst of utter woe, When our sins oppress us,
Who will help when they assail, Where for grace to bless us?

The Substitute

Thankfully, the hymn is able to provide the answer to its own questions: “Thou only, Lord, Thou only!” Into this great contest God sent His Substitute, His Word, the embodiment of His grace. He provides the sacrifice, so successfully so that He comes all the way around to score. Again, Luther:

The Word they still shall let remain, nor any thanks have for it.
He’s by our side upon the plain with His good gifts and Spirit.
And take they our life, goods, fame, child, and wife—
Let these all be gone, they yet have nothing won.
The kingdom ours remaineth!

Christ our Substitute has picked up His whole team and carries them to victory and to the celebration to follow. The first lesson for the celebration of All Saints Day, from Revelation 7, speaks of the victors: “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” And what a celebration will be theirs:

Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat…and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

The Stands

For the St. Louis Cardinals fans who were in the stands, it was quite the celebration that followed Game 7 of the World Series. To actually have been there to stand, to cheer, to experience the fireworks and confetti-showered speeches must have been awesome. An Internet offer in the days that followed provided opportunity for fans to locate themselves in the stands via an aerial view of Busch Stadium, an opportunity always to be able to say “I was there.”

The Revelation 7 picture of the great celebration of all saints provides that same opportunity to all God’s people as true world champions, already to see themselves present, already to be able to say “I am in that crowd.” All we can say is what we will all say when it is our time to celebrate the victory: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

+ Dr. Raymond L. Hartwig
Secretary of Synod