Friday, March 20, 2015

No branch offices. . .

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod existed without division into districts for about 5 years or so after its founding.  In 1852, the Synod was divided into geographical regions -- ostensibly to allow the Synod President help to deal with the great distances between congregations.  Remember that all this time the Synod President was a parish pastor and seminary professor -- all at the same time.

What began as a clear understanding that districts were not distinct from Synod but Synod in that place has now degenerated into divisions of the church that see themselves largely as semi-autonomous representative groups.  Instead of districts being divisions of the national identity, districts are now often seen as representatives of the congregations to the dark, oppressive, and controlling dark force of a national church body.

Though our Synod still defines the district as merely a division of the national body -- synod in that place -- and though the constitution and by-laws of the district are first and foremost the constitution and by-laws of Synod, we wrestle with this perception issue every day.  We have come to think of congregations as being members of districts and districts being members of Synod.  In reality the only members of Synod are the clergy and the congregations, but for ease of administration purposes we have divided the 6,100+ congregations of Synod up into smaller administrative units.

I thought we had problems.  Then I read where Cardinal Marx, the purveyor of the new ideas about divorce, remarriage, and gay marriage, has said, "We are not a branch of Rome and it will not be a Synod to tell us what we have to do!"  The Episcopal Conference of Germany appears to see itself as free to accept or reject the leadership of a special synod in Rome or the decisions of the pope which might follow. “We cannot wait until a Synod tells us how we ought to conduct ourselves on Matrimony and pastoral practice for the family”.Marx was speaking like the dioceses were independent organizations and that no Synod or Pope could order the Roman Catholic Church in Germany to do anything nor could it regulate how they handled this particular area of concern.  I wonder if it is news to the Vatican and Francis?

Just goes to show you. . . we all have our problems. . . Wish I could find that perfect church body and congregation. . . than all my problems would be over. . . or would they?

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