From a Layman

March 2, 2010

The following letter was written by an LCMS layman to his congregation, but he agreed to let us post it here:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Iʼd like to recommend nominating Rev. Matthew Harrison (Ballwin, MO) for LCMS Synodical President. He has written a compelling article entitled “Itʼs Time” that you can find here. Please take a few minutes to read his thoughts on the current state of our Synod, and his ideas for the future.

Rev. Harrison is currently the executive director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care, a post he has held since 2001. (He has recently been on the ground ministering to victims in Haiti.) He has also served as parish pastor in rural and inner-city churches, and as a board member for LCMS Board for Mission Services, Lutheran World Relief, and Lutheran Services in America. Pastor Harrison ran the LCMS national response to Katrina, manages our participation in chaplaincy and pro-life efforts, raises money from large and small institutions, and coordinates complex international projects with our districts, synod, partner churches, and foreign governments. He is also an accomplished author, translator, and theologian with a vast understanding of church history and Holy Scripture.

Yet with all his work in the Synod, Rev. Harrison remembers where the church really is: “When the ʻministryʼ is viewed as something carried out more by the central institution than by the congregations and partner churches on the front line of mission and mercy, then weʼve got it precisely backward.” “The answers to local problems are local.”

His paper was originally written as a response to the Synodʼs Blue Ribbon Task Force Report, a report that includes recommendations to move power away from our local congregations and placing it more in a centrally-controlled Synod and Office of the President. (For example, Recommendation #18 moves control of Commissions and Program Boards–including the seminaries and universities–from congregations to the Synodical President.) Harrison writes:

“I am convinced that what is proposed does not finally get at the heart of what is the greatest challenge to us and our sacred mission ʻto seek and save the lostʼ (Luke 19:10) in this time.” He later adds, ‘Structure is not our fundamental problem. Our fundamental problem is one of repentance and lack of faith in the power of the Word to unite even us. Because we cannot hear Godʼs Word, we cannot hear one another.”

Rev. Harrisonʼs points include:

  • A worldwide vision for our Synodical seminaries
  • The genius of the local/congregational emphasis of the LCMS
  • How the Synod borrows from Peter to pay Paul
  • How repentance, the Word of God, and vocation give courage to Christians
  • A simple, non-bureaucratic proposal for unity of mission and mercy in the LCMS
  • Why our route of political coercion to secure unity in the Synod will always fail
  • The myth that the past was less complex and confusing than our own
  • Why we can neither live in the past nor flow freely with the times
  • Why doctrine and mission are never separate

I encourage you to read it all, and to do your own research on the internet. Rev. Harrison is a fresh face who has the experience and respect to bring everyone to the table.

“Itʼs time for the Missouri Synod to be missionally doctrinal and doctrinally missional. And I think the vast majority—perhaps even a good 90%—of the Synod would agree. Itʼs time to come together and get to work.”

I would also recommend Southern Illinois District President Rev. Herb Mueller (Waterloo, IL) as nominee for 1st VP. From what I have read, he shares a similar vision of the LCMS as Rev. Harrison.

In Christ our Lord,