williamson.gifThere are no precedents set for Chaplain (Col.) Rev. Gregory Williamson, no shoes to fill, no heels on which to follow. That’s because Williamson’s call to be the Synod’s Chief Mission Officer makes him the first man in the history of the LCMS ever to hold the position. 

Mandated by the Synod in convention in 2010, the role of Chief Mission Officer (CMO) requires Williamson to report directly to the president on a variety of fronts. His responsibilities include overseeing the Office of International Mission, the Office of National Mission, Communications, Fund Development and the Department of Pastoral Education, not to mention serving as the president’s liaison to Synod commissions and corporate entities.

Despite braving uncharted waters, Williamson is undeterred. Recently retired from the military as the command chaplain at United States Army Garrison-Yongson Seoul, this pastor in uniform is no stranger to the demand for strong leadership and assertiveness combined with pastoral care in the Church’s life together. “Military chaplaincy is a unique ministry environment,” Williamson explains. “Although those diverse experiences and education are not perfectly paralleled in the Church, they do provide a background for strategic ministry planning and execution.” 

Only days before he was to begin his new assignment, Williamson explains the way in which he already sees the Lord at work in the Church’s life together.

WMLT: What is your prayer for the Church as you prepare to fill the function of Chief Mission Officer?
GW: My first prayer is one of thanksgiving for the men and women who have been, and many who still are, an important part of my life. I am grateful for all the good folks who mentored, coached and taught me—often with great patience—to trust in God and His people. Their faithfulness continues to inspire me. 

I also pray that the Church cultivates a humble confidence that every believer is making life-changing contributions in the world. I pray that every pastor, teacher and deaconess experiences a daily confirmation of how precious they are to our Church, and I pray that the laity realize their vital roles in bringing Christ to families, communities and the world.

WMLT:  How do you foresee your military chaplaincy background—with its emphasis on Christ and His Word combined with leadership and administrative skills—being helpful in your new position?
GW:  My experience as a Lutheran chaplain provided me an opportunity to introduce other clergy and military professionals to our Lutheran confession of faith via problem-solving in the context of tactical and strategic mission environments. These complex mission environments afforded me opportunities to supervise diverse communities and to learn leadership from extraordinarily gifted men and women. 

WMLT: What blessings and challenges do you expect to see in filling a role that has never before existed in the LCMS?
GW:  The blessings are, without a doubt, to continue to share ministry with the men and women of the Church and to see from a very different place how good people can accomplish so much for the kingdom of God. I am encouraged by the diversity of abilities and talents among our members, and I can think of no greater blessing than to participate in an unprecedented focus of faithful men and women to make disciples of all nations.

The LCMS has enormous latent capabilities for which the world is in desperate need. President Harrison identified three priorities to address all these needs—WITNESS, MERCY and LIFE TOGETHER. They are profoundly on target in our contemporary world, and we must determine how to seize this moment of opportunity.  

For more on Chaplain Williamson, go to http://bit.ly/uzPNoM

–by Adriane Dorr