Today the Southern Illinois District in convention approved the following resolution by a vote of 118-19. I want to publicly thank Pres. Herbert Mueller for his support in this effort. Also worthy of mention and thanks are my circuit brethren, especially Pr. William Weedon, as well as the circuit counselors of the SID and the SID general pastors' conference all of whom contributed to producing this resolution. And it would be remiss not to mention with thanksgiving the work of Prof. Joel Okamoto of CSL who wrote the article rejecting "lay ministry" which was subsequently published as the joint decision of both systematics faculties.
It's certainly not a perfect resolution - for example, the language could certainly be stronger: "the SID expresses its regret" about the breaking of the AC's 14th article in the Synod at large rather than "calling the Synod to repentance" or something like that. In addition, the "plan" that is recommended here is slow going and open to much finagling.
But those shortcomings aside, I'm very glad that a whole district, by a wide margin, is on record against "lay ministry" and taking a stand with the systematics faculties in supporting our historic confession in contradiction to the Synod's current practice.
I would encourage pastors in other districts to use the SID's example to your benefit and bring similar resolutions to your district conventions. For most, the time for handing in resolutions to committees is past. But maybe, depending on the district, this could come from the floor.
At any rate. . . here's the resolution as adopted:
SID 2009 Convention
Subject: Specific Ministry Pastors
Action: Adopted, 20 February 2009, 118-19
Whereas, in certain situations today, the Synod approves of preaching and administration of the sacraments by men who have not been publicly called to and placed in the office of the ministry (this position is expressed, e.g., in 1989 Resolution 3-05B, “. . . when no pastor is available, and in the absence of any specific Scriptural directives to the contrary, congregations may arrange for the performance of these distinctive functions [preaching and administering the sacraments] by qualified individuals”); and
Whereas, the Augsburg Confession's fourteenth article reads, “Concerning church government it is taught that no one should publicly teach, preach, or administer the sacraments without a proper [public] call” (KW p. 46); and
Whereas, the systematic theology faculties of both seminaries, acting jointly, have published a detailed statement on “The Office of the Holy Ministry” (Concordia Journal 33.3[July 2007]: 242-255) which states in part,
“The Confessions never use the truth that the whole church possesses the power of the keys to make the office of the holy ministry unnecessary or merely useful. On the contrary, this truth serves as the basis for the church's right to call, choose, and ordain ministers. . . . [T]he Treatise [on the Power and Primacy of the Pope] does not imagine churches without ordained ministers of some kind, even in emergency situations or when no one else will call and ordain men for the office. As confessors of the same doctrine, neither should we. . .
“'[C]all and ordination' are essential for conduct of the ministry. . . .What is the sign of authority for ministers today? It is their call and ordination, which assure that they act by divine right and on the authority of Christ. This truth makes such ideas as “lay ministers” invitations for difficulties and troubles to ministers whose authority is doubtful and to laypersons whose assurance of God's grace may be questioned.” (pp. 253-254, 255);
Whereas, the Board for Pastoral Education and the two seminaries are now implementing the Specific Ministry Pastor Program mandated by the 2007 Synodical Convention; and
Whereas, the Board for Pastoral Education and the Council of Presidents are due to report to the 2010 Synodical Convention concerning “situations currently served by licensed lay deacons” (2007 Res. 5-02); THEREFORE BE IT
Resolved, that the Southern Illinois District in convention express its regret at the current situation in the Synod at large concerning men who are conducting Word and Sacrament ministry without being publicly called to and placed in the office of the ministry; and be it finally
Resolved, that the Southern Illinois District in convention memorialize the Synod in convention to direct the Board for Pastoral Education and the Council of Presidents to develop a plan and lay out procedures:
A) So that all men who are currently engaged in Word and Sacrament ministry without being publicly called to and placed in the office of the ministry may either be enrolled in the SMP program or cease from all forms of Word and Sacrament ministry by the end of 2016, and
B) So that all current Synod and District tracks, programs, licensing procedures etc. which train men for Word and Sacrament ministry without benefit of being publicly called to and placed in the office of the ministry can be phased out in favor of SMP by the end of 2016; and
C) So that the Board for Pastoral Education report on this plan to the 2013 Synod in Convention for approval, emendation, and adoption.