06 August 2007

Floor Committee 6: Human Care

This was definitely the feel-good floor committee of the entire Convention. Mainly mom and applie pie from start to finish. Which is not to say that these resolutions pertaining to Human Care were pointless or inconsequential. There were, in fact, some rather important things addressed, and significant needs identified, and truly commendable efforts acknowledged. It is a shame that we cannot be as unified and harmonious in the confession of sound doctrine as we are in caring for this body and life.

6-01 To Give Thanks for Disaster Relief and Support (1177 pro; 4 against; 99.7%). This was as close as we came to a unanimous vote on any resolution. It followed a moving presentation on the good work that has been done by LCMS World Relief and Human Care, along with many others from across the Synod, not only in response to Hurricane Katrina but around the world in the wake of numerous disasters. This work is an ongoing, a confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the compassionate heart of our dear Father in heaven has been opened to us in love and mercy. Praise God that such charity is coupled with the preaching of His Gospel of the forgiveness of sins.

6-02 To State LCMS Position on Stem Cell Research (1165 pro; 41 against; 96%). This was another moving discussion, followed by an overwhelmingly affirmative vote. There was some quibbling about the specific language employed in the resolution, which clarified our opposition to embryonic stem cell research (and our support of adult stem cell research). It is encouraging to witness that the Missouri Synod remains steadfast and adament in its pro-life position, and outspoken in its defense of those who are least able to defend themselves.

6-03A To Care for Foster and Adoptive Children in a Pure and Undefiled Way re Not Placing Children in Morally Ambiguous Contexts (1017 pro; 52 against; 95%). This resolution addresses a sensitive issue in our modern society. Our LCMS agencies working in this area are likely to come under increasing political pressure to compromise the Church's teaching and practice of the faith. With this action, the Synod in Convention unequivocally affirms that "the God-given union of husband and wife in marriage 'is the only proper context for human procreation,' and therefore the divinely intended context for raising children." Accordingly, it was resolved that "LCMS organizations and LCMS RSOs may not knowingly place adopted or foster children into any intrinsically sinful situations where individuals and families are not living in accordance with the Lord's natural law." Here is a case where the Church must take a stand against any law of the land that would presume to insist upon a disobedience of the Law of God.

6-04A To Encourage and Assist Congregations to Respond to the Ministry Needs of the Immigrants in Their Midst (744 pro; 204 against; 78.5%). This was the most controversial of the Human Care resolutions, because of the legal sensitivities involved in dealing with "undocumented immigrants" (illegal aliens). The question is, should the Church assist anyone in breaking the law? The answer, of course, is no (apart from those cases in which one must obey God rather than man). Yet, the Church does preach and administer the Gospel unto those who are under the Law, estranged and alienated from God. This resolution "urges the church's compassionate mercy on documented and undocumented immigrants." It also encourages the provision of information and assistance "to undocumented immigrants responding to legislation enabling them to become residents and citizens." In other words, we demonstrate the mercy of the Gospel to all, and we support the law of the land in caring for those in conflict with it.

6-05 To Petition CTCR to Provide Guidance re Immigration and Ministry to Immigrants. No action taken. Perhaps this resolution was avoided in light of the more volatile conversation pertaining to Res. 6-04A.

6-06 To Develop Domestic Child Abuse Education Materials and Programs (1027 pro; 48 against; 95.5%). The most interesting thing about the discussion of this resolution was the negotiation of a "friendly amendment" between a delegate, the chairman of the floor committee, and the Chair of the Convention. I'm glad the delegate pressed his point, because he clearly did know what he was talking about; the end result was a clearer and more consistent resolution. It addresses the need for greater awareness, knowledge and understanding of domestic violence (and sexual abuse), especially for the sake of more informed pastoral care of such situations. Sadly, there is a crying need for attention to this manifestation of sin also among Christians.

6-07 To Include People with Disabilities in All Aspects of the Church's Life (926 pro; 13 against; 98.6%). Mom and apple pie. But adopting such a resolution is disingenuous if the Church on earth does not put its money where its mouth is, in facilitating the participation of those with disabilities in the Church's life. Good intentions do not necessarily make this happen, nor is it easy or inexpensive to make it happen in many cases. Evaluating priorities and exercising good stewardship of the Lord's resources necessitates wisdom and discernment.

6-08 To Encourage Congregations to Provide Professional Church Worker Sabbaticals (680 pro; 59 against; 92%). Another great idea, which doesn't just happen on its own. Congregrations are "encouraged to consider resources for developing sabbatical guidelines such as Wheat Ridge, Thrivent Financial, Louisville Institute, Lilly Fondation, as well as several of our LCMS districts which have existing sabbatical guidelines." It would be meet, right and salutary for this to be pursued in earnest, not only for the physical and mental well-being of pastors and other church workers, but ultimately for their refreshment in the Gospel, which is the surest way and means of renewing their faithful service, confession and love within their vocations.

6-09 To Encourage Ministry to Armed Forces Personnel and Families (715 pro; 10 against; 98.6%). Mom and apple pie, yes, but not to be taken lightly or for granted, especially in a time of war. Faithfulness in service under duress and in such trying circumstances requires the support of the Church in prayer and proclamation of the Gospel, not only by our chaplains in the field, but for them (and for their families).

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