June 18-19, 2021
Younes Conference Center, Kearney
On Monday, December 7, 2020, you and your congregation should have received communication from President Matthew Harrison requesting that congregations consider the following motion:
Shall the Synod add a year to the current 2019–2022 triennium, allowing districts to hold their conventions in either 2021 or 2022, and moving the upcoming national Synod Convention from 2022 to 2023? [Thereafter, the triennium cycle will continue forward from 2023 in three-year increments, as before (i.e., with district conventions held in 2025, 2028, etc., and Synod Conventions held in 2026, 2029, etc.).] Vote: Yes or No.
I will not take the time to repeat the contents of the President’s letter and the accompanying FAQ. As you will see in the attached letter from the Council of Presidents, which includes my signature, I am in full support of this proposal.
Though it is possible that we will be able to hold our district convention in Nebraska next June, a large number of districts will almost certainly be restricted from holding their conventions. Our own planning process is facing severe challenges, not to mention potential obstacles outside of our control. Additionally, as President Harrison mentions, many of our typical convention delegates are in the high risk category and may be hesitant to fully participate and we will almost certainly not be able to hold a robust convention as described by the Synod bylaws.
Because of our long-standing partnership with the Younes Center in Kearney and their generous hospitality, we do not anticipate suffering any substantial financial penalties to postpone our district convention.
Your congregation’s participation in this deliberation and decision is vital as our church navigates this historic vote. One of the main challenges we face is getting the necessary congregational participation, so please make this a priority for your congregation. If you have questions about this matter, please speak with your circuit visitor or with me.
Several important steps include:
- Pray for wisdom.
- Ask the person who enters your congregational statistics and lay leaders at LISN for Congregations (https://lc.lcms.org/pages/login?returnUrl=%2Fdashboard) to make sure your lay leader email addresses are up-to-date. These emails will be used to communicate with your leadership about this vote.
- Review your congregation’s governing documents to know how best to decide this issue as a congregation. Determine if you need to schedule a voters’ meeting or use a voters’ meeting already scheduled. That meeting may be held any time prior to Feb. 15, 2021. If your council or other leaders are empowered by the congregation to make a decision like this, share this information with those individuals, invite congregation members to provide input to that group, and schedule a meeting to discuss and decide the matter.
- Identify the two congregational officers (president and secretary, most likely) who will attest to the vote being the congregation’s official decision, along with the person who will access the electronic system and register the vote for your congregation prior to Feb. 15, 2021. Make sure they receive all the information for voting when it arrives by U.S. Mail in early January.
Our Nebraska District Convention planning and deadlines will need to continue as scheduled until we learn the outcome of this vote and any subsequent decision by our District Board of Directors. Thank you again for your charity and patience as we walk through these uncertain times.
I would simply echo again the final comments of President Harrison.
“While this is an important matter to consider for our walking together as Synod, it is not a church-dividing issue. Let’s hear each other out, act in good conscience, and together make a decision, one way or another, for the good of our Synod and our shared commitment to proclaim Christ crucified, the hope of the world. Blessed Advent!”
In Christ, for Church and World,
Richard L Snow
President, Nebraska District – LCMS
Read more about the proposed delay, including President Harrison’s letter, here at the Synod’s Reporter blog.