I spent most of the day, yesterday, at the South Wisconsin district office at our bi-annual Circuit Counselors meeting. We heard from the LCMS Stewardship guru and got updates on the business of the district. But an important segment of our time together was spent discussing the proposed restructuring of the LCMS.
One of the fellow circuit counselors was Rev. Torkelson, whose letter regarding the restructuring is found here: http://preachrblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/rev-torkelson-on-restructuring.html
Since we last met, many more details are out of the bag (mainly from the North Dakota District reports). These include:
- Elimination of program boards in favor of 2 "committees"
- Elimination of ALL term limits
- Adding a layer of bureaucracy - regional VPs
- Changing the name to the LC-USA
- Giving more votes at district conventions to larger congregations
- Selecting national delegates through the distrcit conventions, not the circuits
- Making it harder to get overtures through to the national convention
- Changing the cycle of conventions (every 3 to every 4 years)
But what I wanted to report is this. Without dissent, the reaction to these proposals in yesterday's meeting was thoroughly negative. Numerous comments were made about how this appears as a "power grab". When I mentioned the elimination of all term limits provision, I actually heard gasps in the room!
Rev. Torkelson has been traveling the district to report on the convocation he attended, and estimates that 70% or so of the reaction he has heard has been negative - far more negative than even his own.
Our DP, for his part, was careful in what he said, but his reservations about the proposals were clear. His concerns seemed most directed at how his own job could be done, stretched thin as he is, if the district was somehow made larger. Also, he mentioned, and this was very telling, that the Council of Presidents has not been "in the loop" for most of this process, and that many of the suggestions made in North Dakota where the first time anyone, including the COP, had heard them!
I can only think that the reaction of other districts, and district presidents, must be similarly negative. It makes me wonder where the whole process is headed. One good question raised yesterday was this. Is there any hope the whole thing could be scrapped? It seems that the proposals are very fluid, and are being changed in response to feedback. But is the Task Force, and are the Synod powers-that-be willing to consider jettisoning the whole restructuring idea? It seems unlikely to me, with 2 extra days already planned for restructuring at the front-end of the 2010 convention...