2015 District Convention

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The 2015 Minnesota South District Convention was held June 18-20, 2015 at Concordia University, St. Paul. Below are the results of the elections as well as the resolutions brought before the Convention.


BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTIONS


District President: Rev. Dr. Dean Nadasdy (District President) was re-elected to a second term by a 320-28 vote on the first ballot over Rev. Harold Storm (St. John, Gaylord).


Vice President, Region I: Rev. Dr. Robert Gehrke (Trinity South Shore, White Bear Lake) was re-elected on the second ballot. Gehrke received 212 of the 345 votes on the second ballot.


Vice President, Region II: Rev. Dr. Lucas Woodford (Zion, Mayer) was elected on the first ballot by a 178-168 margin over the incumbent, Rev. Mark Tewes (Living Christ, Chanhassen).


Vice President, Region III: Rev. David Mumme (Trinity, Waterville) was elected on the third ballot over incumbent Rev. Mark Rosenau (Good Shepherd, Owatonna) by a 191-151 vote.


Vice President, Region IV: Rev. Harold Storm (St. John, Gaylord) was elected on the second ballot over Rev. Gary Klatt (St. John, Luverne) by a 182-156 vote.


Vice President Ranking:

1st Vice President: Rev. Dr. Robert Gehrke

2nd Vice President: Rev. Lucas Woodford

3rd Vice President: Rev. David Mumme

4th Vice President: Rev. Harold Storm


District Secretary: Rev. William Otte (District Secretary) was re-elected on the first ballot by a 201-139 vote over Rev. Gary Zieroth (St. John's, Chaska).


Ordained Minister, Region I: Rev. Christopher Horton (St. John, Rosemount) was elected on the third ballot over Rev. Martin Schoenfeld (Rose of Sharon, Cottage Grove) by a 177-156 vote.


Ordained Minister, Region II: Rev. Mark Tewes (Living Christ, Chanhassen) was elected on the first ballot by a 195-145 vote over Rev. Gary Zieroth (St. John's, Chaska).


Ordained Minister, Region III: Rev. Jonathan Vollrath (Our Savior, Eyota) was re-elected on the third ballot by a 187-151 vote over Rev. Robert Lentz (Rochester).


Ordained Minister, Region IV: Rev. Thomas Braun (River of Life, St. Peter) was elected on the second ballot over Rev. Eric Nelson (St. Paul, Lester Prairie) by a 175-163 vote. Our nomination, Rev. Doug Minton, received 6 votes on the first ballot.


Commissioned Ministers (2): Mr. Randy Ash (Victoria) was re-elected on the third ballot over Mr. Leland Huebner. Mr. Huebner was elected on the second ballot to fill the second slot.


Lay Delegates (8): Mr. Virgil Rose (East Metro North) and Mr. John Branstad (West Metro West) were elected, both running unopposed. Dr. Gary Elsesser (East Metro South) was elected on the second ballot. Ms. Rosa Summers (West Metro East), Ms. Sara Sorenson (Southeast Minnesota East), Mr. David Quiram (Southeast Minnesota West), Mr. Benjamin Haggeman (Southwest Minnesota East) and Mr. Neal Breitbarth (Southwest Minnesota West) were elected on the first ballot for their respective conferences. Dr. Elsesser and Mr. Haggeman were both floor nominations.


BOARD OF REGENTS, CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY, ST. PAUL, MN


Ordained Minister: Rev. Dr. Fungchatou Lo (LINC-Twin Cities) was elected on the fourth ballot over Rev. Dr. Michael Nirva (Trinity, Fairbault) by a 172-149 vote.


Commissioned Minister: Mr. Paul Steinhaus (Martin Luther High School, Northrop) was elected on the second ballot by a 159-121 vote over Dr. Carl Schoenbeck (River Falls, WI).


Lay Delegates (2): Ms. Colleen Braun and Ms. Jocelyn Benson were both elected on the second ballot for each position.


2016 SYNODICAL NOMINATIONS COMMITTEE


Professional Church Worker and Alternate: Rev. Dennis Heiden (Hosanna, Mankato) was elected with Rev. Steven Briel (St. John, Corcoran) as the alternate.


2018 DISTRICT NOMINATIONS COMMITTEE


Ordained Ministers (4): This was the most drawn-out of elections with four positions needing to be filled with eight candidates nominated. Eight total ballots were cast. Rev. Jeremiah Johnson (Glory of Christ, Plymouth), Rev. Dr. Brent Parrish (Immanuel, Prior Lake), Rev. Loel Wessel (First English, Spring Valley) and Rev. Eric Nelson (St. Paul, Lester Prairie) were elected.


Commissioned Minister: Mr. Leland Huebner was a floor nomination and was elected on the second ballot.


Lay Delegates (4): This election also had eight ballots cast for four positions among ten candidates (two who were nominated from the floor). Mr. Neil Breitbarth, Ms. Nancy Kohrs, Mr. Robert van Gundy and Ms. Kristine Murray were elected.


RESOLUTIONS


1-01, “To Strengthen and Expand Campus Ministry”

Once again, ULC was brought back into the limelight. However, this convention they were seeking to help all campus ministry outlets in southern Minnesota and not simply worried about their own building. Although they were given money at the 2015 Convention, they still have no permanent place to worship. They are currently worshipping at the chapel at Luther Seminary. (Yes, the LCMS campus ministry to the U of M is worshipping at the ELCA seminary. Don't ask!)

The resolution asked the MNS District Missions Committee to approve a Campus Ministry Plan with six objectives (see full text for the specifics). I am completely in favor of campus ministry being done, especially where it is not being done (e.g., SMSU, Minnesota West). As long as the focus is on all colleges around the District, I can't see why anyone would vote against this ministry. Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (298-26).


1-02, “To Encourage Congregational Support for Planting New Churches”

One thing that has raised eyebrows in our prayers for other congregations has been congregations with three or more pastors. In some of these areas, I do believe new churches could be planted with some of these associate pastors shepherding them.

The primary thrust of this resolution was to adopt the New Church Incubator program which would plant a church with the right combination of planter, location and plan to make the congregation self-sustaining in only four years. It often takes six or more years for a church plant to become self-sustained. Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (248-72).


2-01A, “To Encourage Intentional Leadership in Matters of Public Policy”

This resolution was amended by the floor committee. The only change seems to be a shortening of the resolution's title. The text of the resolution itself seems to have been unchanged. It begins with the recognition that God has ordained the government. However, our government has taken positions that have strained the relationship between Church and State. The resolution seeks to encourage the District's pastors, teachers and called workers to be more intentional in their leadership, especially in the area of public policy (particularly issues concerning life, marriage and family, religious freedom and parental choice in education). Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (267-40).


2-02, “To Urge Church Members and Elected Officials to Value, Exercise, and Protect Religious Freedom”

This resolution linked in with the previous one, specifically revolving around the protection of religious freedom which the U.S. Constitution grants to all citizens. In this resolution is also the encouragement to “include petitions in their public prayers calling on God to safeguard our religious liberty.” Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (298-17).


2-03A, “To Encourage the State of Minnesota to Establish Parental Choice Equality in Education Funding”

This resolution was brought forward in regards to State monies being brought into parochial schools. It calls upon the MNS District with its congregations and congregational members to “call on our state legislature to change the manner in which the State of Minnesota distributes the funds it has collected for educational purposes so as to remove the financial inequality it currently imposes on parents who choose a religiously informed education for their children.”

There was much discussion over this topic because there are 49 preschools, 45 elementary schools and seven high schools that are run by LCMS congregations in the MNS District. These schools struggle with attendance issues. One of the major factors in their decline in attendance is financial. Whether it is the congregation's problem in funding a school or a parent's inability to pay the school's tuition, there is a problem. If there is financial aid from the State for other specializations, there needs to be some financial aid for parochial school as well. Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (231-27).


2-04, “To Expand the Process for New Pastor Orientation in the MNS District to Include the Post-Seminary Applied Learning and Support Program (PALS)”

Currently, the New Pastor Orientation takes place over the course of a year. The PALS program is an optional program that covers the first two years of a pastor after Seminary. With this resolution, the current program would be augmented with the PALS program for a three-year program. While the PALS program is a wonderful program, I do not believe it is the proper program to be augmented to the current procedure. What is the proper program? I'm not sure. Vote: Decline. Result: Adopted (223-37).


2-05, “To Request Guidance and Support in Matters of Marriage and Sexuality”

With this resolution, the Convention encourages the District to further encourage the Synod, its seminaries and its universities to put a high priority on leadership in these areas. Further, it implores congregations and pastors to provide “responsible pastoral care … through their preaching, teaching and counseling.” Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (234-25).


3-01, “To Increase the Numer of Assistants to the President to include an Assistant to the President for Education and Commissioned Ministers”

Currently, this position is a 60-40 split between Trinity Lone Oak Lutheran School, Eagan and the District. According to the District Treasurer, who was a member of the floor committee, there would be enough money in the District's reserves to fund this fifth Assistant position for twenty-five years. However, the question was often asked: Is this added responsibility absolutely needed? Even Mr. Martens, who holds the position, said that a full-time position was not necessarily needed. Vote: Decline. Result: Adopted (197-119).


3-02, “To Continue and Expand the Koinonia Project in the Minnesota South District”

The Koinonia Project was developed by Rev. Dr. Herbert Mueller Jr., the Synod's first Vice President, to help promote unity, concord and harmony among the entire Synod. It is hoped that this program, which the Pipestone, Worthington and Sherburn Circuits have been participating in for the last year, will bring our Synod closer together. It begins with the Circuit level. While it is a worthwhile venture in need of full support, the Koinonia Project in southwest Minnesota has shown that the pastors in our area are all basically on the same page. The floor committee is hoping that the Koinonia Project will be expanded in the future to go cross-District with urban and rural circuits meeting together. Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (256-56).


3-03, “To Adopt a Feasibility Study for a Special Funding Appeal to Support MNS District Education Initiatives”

This resolution seeks to see if there is a way to help fund the District's educational initiatives. Among the targets were existing schools and early childhood centers as well as starting new ones. There are also targets for immigrant ministries and online ministries. Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (243-19).


3-04A, “To Encourage the Congregations and Individuals of the MNS District toward Joyful Formation of and Participation in New Mission Ventures”

This resolution calls for repentance on the part of those who have not eagerly embraced the District's mission starts in the past. It encourages all congregations and individual Christians in the District to joyfully participate in the formation of new missions. Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (239-28).


3-07, “To Affirm and Actively Engage the Ministry of Directors of Christian Education (DCEs)”

The work of DCEs was particularly brought out because they are the largest number of commissioned ministers in the District. This question was brought up by several delegates because they felt the other commissioned ministers were being slighted. These fears were assuaged and we went on to the voting. Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (214-49).


3-09, “To Provide District Representation to Assist Lutheran Home School Families and Classical Lutheran Schools in finding Resources, Support, and Fellowship Opportunities”

The District is encouraged to help home school families and Lutheran schools operating on a classical education model find resources to help them flourish. Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (240-20).


3-05, “To Thank and Encourage the Board for National Mission (BNM)” and

3-06A, “To Memorialize the Synod to Continue to Urge the Office of National Mission to Provide Education and Resources to Assist Districts in Helping Congregations to Engage in Vibrant and Active Youth Ministry” and

3-08, “To Commend the Synod and District Visitation Emphasis”

There was a motion to combine these three resolutions because they were all memorials for the District, Synod or National boards. There was not sufficient time to vote for each so they were combined as having similar actions. Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (204-61).


4-01, “To Amend Selected Bylaws of the MNS District-LCMS”

This resolution was split as it held two major items: term limits for the District President and the Bylaw changes. The first question, on term limits for the District President, faced the question of its necessity. President Nadasdy had already said that this second term was his last. He noted that this was the best time for this item to come before the Convention. The resolution calls for the limit to be set at four complete successive three-year terms. Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (230-84).

The second portion of the resolution involved an insane number of Bylaw changes, most of which were suggested by the Synod's Committee on Constitutional Matters (CCM). Vote: Adopt. Result: Adopted (256-13).


There were a few other resolutions that were on the docket, but time ran out for their consideration.