Overture 7-17, “To Provide Process for Placement of Candidates” is an attempt to fix a long-standing, and increasing, problem: Men who serve faithfully are removed from office, and then languish in CRM status (The LCMS term for purgatory) until the time limits for CRM run out and they are removed from the roster. As of the 2013 annual, we have 217 men who have been trained, judged fit to serve, have been ordained into the office of the holy ministry, are willing to serve, but are not serving a congregation. It seems strange that our Lord says, “…Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest,” but our synod is telling 217 men, “never mind.” This overture attempts to correct that oversight by doing several things:
If a man is on CRM status and has problems that would affect his suitability for ministry, then his District President must give concrete steps for him to take to resolve these problems. Currently there is no requirement that a man on CRM be given any sort of guidance for resolving outstanding issues.
If a District President is simply being obstinate and refusing to designate as fit to serve one who is indeed fit to serve, it allows for the pastor in question to request Dispute Resolution to determine whether he is indeed fit for service. This holds the District President accountable for determining who is fit to serve. Currently, a District President is not required to ever agree that a man on CRM status is fit to serve, and he needs to give no reason for such a determination.
If a man is indeed fit to serve, it provides a process for receiving a call into a congregation, through the regular placement process. It also provides congregations a way to call these men, should they choose to do so.
In order to make sure that such a process does not short-circuit our already-in-place training and placement of pastors, candidates receiving their initial placement are given priority.
A short letter to the Synod’s Secretary, noting the importance of this resolution, could help 217 men who are willing to serve, but not at this time given to serve. It helps them, their families and the church. We need to do a better job of taking care of our own, and this resolution, while perhaps not perfect, at least makes an attempt to try and fix this scandal. So, here is the Bleg: Please Contact the Secretary of Synod and tell him that you think this resolution should be brought to the floor of the convention.
LCMSSecretary@lcms.org or, if you really want to impress, use paper:The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Office of Secretary. 1333 S. Kirkwood Rd, St Louis, MO 63122-7226
PS. Don’t forget to send a copy to the office of the President, as well: Matthew.Harrison@lcms.org