Help President-Elect Harrison

July 15, 2010

With the change of structure as voted on by the delegates earlier in this week, The United List had to make some changes to their recommendations to fit the new positions.

The Convention can help Pastor Harrison as he takes the reins of leadership in the LC-MS. He needs a support team. Tuesday saw the convention decide that the president needs pastors and laity in office around him who can work with him, share his vision and complement his style. They then gave Pastor Harrison a slate of vice presidents who will certainly work closely with him as he moves the Synod forward. Wednesday saw a Board of Directors elected that will work to support his vision. Thursday you can help with more people who can work with him by using The United List as a guide for your elections.

For delegates, pick up The United List from the gathering place in your hotel or on the second floor, to the right of the registration desk on the second floor of the Convention Center. You can also access it on The United List site by the pdf here.


Harrison’s Address to Convention Following Election

July 14, 2010

If one member suffers, all suffer together. If one rejoices, all rejoice together. Right now there are many rejoicing and there are many suffering. Luther says when you’re walking along and you strike your little toe on a chair or a table, a table leg, what happens is the whole body bends over, the face grimaces and grabs that little toe. And there’s no use saying “that’s just a little toe,” because the whole body suffers.

This I realize is a tumultuous change in the life of our Synod. I wish to thank President Kieschnick for his heart for evangelism, and his deep desire to move this Synod forward. Many are suffering, and it will be very challenging times to work together.

I wish to inform you that you have kept your perfect record of electing sinners as presidents of the Missouri Synod. [applause] I guarantee you I will sin and fail. I will fall short. I will sin against you. I wish also to say, that right now I forgive all who have in any way have sinned against me or anybody else, and plead your forgiveness for anything that I said or did that offended you. I beg of you your prayers, I beg of you your daily prayers and intercession. These are challenging times. I promise you that I will be as straight with you as I possibly can, to the best of my ability, guided by the Spirit of God. I pledge to you that I will not coerce you. I will do my best by the Word of Christ to lead with a generous Gospel of Jesus Christ, which forgives us all of our sins, and motivates us to love and care for our neighbor in mercy and compassion. And I will work as hard as I possibly can for unity around the clear and compelling Word of God and nothing else.

I wish to just introduce my dear wife to you, Kathy. Please Kathy, would you stand. [applause]

I’m so impressed by you at this convention, how you have borne with one another, been patient, asked for forgiveness. This is the greatest privilege and honor of one’s life to stand before this body in this fashion. I could never imagine it. And I pray the Lord will bless you in the days to come to work for unity and love and compassion, that the Gospel of Christ may go forth from all of us, in every single place, everywhere around the world, that many may know, many many more may know, the Gospel of Jesus for eternal life. The Lord be with you. [“And also with you.” Applause.]

Harrison and Mueller elected with 54% and 53%

July 13, 2010

Thanks to all who have supported Rev. Harrison and Rev. Mueller with us. Please join us now in praying for the LCMS as we move on from here toward greater harmony, deeper humility, and bold witness for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May God grant it, for Jesus’ sake!

LCMS World Relief-Human Care: Official Statement

June 29, 2010

From the LCMS website:

06-28-2010: The Truth about the Stewardship of LCMS World Relief and Human Care

For the sake of our work of mercy and those in need around the world, and to provide reassurance to our donors, it is necessary to respond to the Jesus First Delegate Letter No. 9. As chairman of the Board for Human Care, I have requested our board Vice Chair, John Edson (a Certified Public Accountant), to prepare a response.

Rev. Bernie Seter
Chair, Board for Human Care

Harrison on “Stand Firm”

June 18, 2010

Scott Diekmann has posted a nice collection of videos featuring Matt Harrison. Some are more serious, some are more fun. Take a look at “Stand Firm”.

Cross Focused Leadership for Missouri

June 13, 2010

A group of LCMS pastors and laypeople has joined in support of Matt Harrison and Herb Mueller. Head over to “Cross Focused Leadership for Missouri” and check out their growing collection of resources related to the LCMS convention and in support of a Harrison presidency. Lots to like about these positive voices for the right kind of change in “Missouri”.

Cross Focused Leadership for Missouri site.

Is He a Pastor?, by Rev. Gary M. Arp

May 19, 2010

When I heard the number of nominations Rev. Matthew Harrison received for the office of Synodical President my mind went back to the first time I met Matt and Kathy. It was the fall of 1991. I was the Circuit Counselor of the Westgate Circuit in Iowa District East. At the time we were experiencing a shortage of pastors. Of the nine congregations in the Westgate Circuit five were without a resident pastor. So, in addition to serving my home congregation, St. John in Waverly, I was also serving as Vacancy Pastor of St. Paul, rural Waverly and St. Peter, Westgate. Now we were receiving two Candidates from Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne – Candidate Paul Mc Cain was called to St. Paul and Candidate Matthew Harrison was called to St. Peter. It was an exciting time, not only for the candidates and congregations, but also for me! Now perhaps I would be able to spend some time with my wife!

Immediately following the Ordination/Installation service the Harrisons received word that Kathy’s sister-in-law had just died of cancer. What was the new pastor to do? He had not even preached his first sermon! My counsel was that Kathy and the family needed him. The congregation had survived my pastoral leadership for several months so they could put up with me one more week! Pastor Harrison reluctantly agreed.

I didn’t have to be around Matt long before I realized that this young man had a remarkable grasp of Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. There was no doubt that he was an orthodox, conservative, confessional Lutheran Theologian, but was he a PASTOR? The one does not necessarily the other make! The first glimmer of hope came by way of a phone call.

Pastor Harrison had discovered that a young couple was living together without the benefit of marriage. Pastor Harrison called me to seek advice on how to deal with this situation. I must confess, I was very pleasantly surprised. The question was not, “Is this a sin?” The question was, how could he deal with this in a pastoral way. Matt was not simply concerned about the correct theological answer, he was concerned about how to apply the correct theological answer in a loving, caring, pastoral way. Not only is he a remarkable theologian, he has a pastoral heart!

In Westgate the morning gathering place for coffee was the local tavern. Pastor Harrison was frequently one of the guys that gathered to chat about the weather and whatever else was exciting in Westgate! The mark of a good pastor is meeting people where they are. That seemed to come naturally for Rev. Harrison. His pastoral concern for God’s people showed up again and again as we discussed matters of casuistry in our circuit conferences. Perhaps most telling of all is the fact that I never received one single phone call from any member of St. Peter complaining about their pastor!

Small town and rural congregations have learned that when they receive a talented young pastor in all likelihood the Lord is going to, sooner or later, call him to a larger and more challenging ministry. For Pastor Harrison that call came in 1995 to Zion Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

And so, once again I was asked to serve St. Peter Lutheran Church as vacancy pastor. It is funny how, as I grow older, I sometimes have trouble remembering important things, but some little incident is indelibly etched in my mind. One such incident occurred soon after I started serving at Westgate for the second time. I was there for some midweek evening event. As I was walking to the back of the church a young boy, perhaps 10 or 11 years old, stopped to tell me, “A lot of people think ‘Isaiah, Mighty Seer in Days of Old’ is hard to sing, but it ain’t!” There was no doubt in my mind that this boy had been sitting at the feet of Pastor Harrison who taught the kids to sing “Isaiah, Mighty Seer…” while strumming on his banjo! As I served the members of St. Peter I repeatedly heard what a good shepherd Rev. Harrison had been and how they wished he had not been called away.

In 2003, after I had become District President of Iowa District East and Harrison was Executive Director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care, Matt approached me about the possibility of Iowa District East teaming up with LCMS World Relief and Human Care to build a facility for a congregation in Palanga, Lithuania. He had visited Palanga and learned that the congregation’s church facility had burned to the ground in 1938. Under the Soviets they were not allowed to rebuild and then, with the economic disaster created by the Soviets, the congregation could not afford to build it themselves. Once again Rev. Harrison’s pastoral heart was showing through. These Lutheran brothers and sisters in Palanga needed a facility where they could gather for worship and from which they could carry out their diaconal ministry.

The writings Harrison has produced the last few years reveal, not only his theological expertise and pastoral heart, but also his humility and his great sense of humor! Check out his latest, “A Little Book on Joy.” (Lutheran Legacy)

I believe that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod needs a President who is both a superb theologian and an excellent pastor. I also firmly believe that the Rev. Matthew Harrison is such a man.

Rev. Gary M. Arp
Past President of Iowa District East