|President Harrison Speaking before the|
Faculty of Concordia Seminary STL
After the introduction, President Harrison began to explain how he and his staff came to "Witness, Mercy, and Life Together." Essentially, after the convention, he and his team had to confront the reality of implementing the new structure that the Synod's 64th regular convention adopted. We were looking for a way to get a handle on it. Rather than primarily talk about the "structure" of the church, which is necessary for the well being of the church on earth, we wanted to talk about what the church does. Structure supports what the church does but it is not what the church is about. What we came up with to talk about what the church does is witness, mercy, and life together. The church's structure supports the work of witness, mercy, and life together, but it is not the work or purpose of the church. President Harrison expressed reluctance that his first meeting with the seminary faculty was a "presentation." He stated that the purpose of the presentation wasn't to give a new mandate or new marching orders but to ask the seminary for their opinion on it and for help in improving it. He also stated that this isn't "brilliant" or "new" but simply a description of what the church always has done using Biblical language. President Harrison also said, "The church wants pastors who witness to the world, act with service and love, and know how to live together in their families, church, and world." After President Harrison's introduction, he introduced me so I could present it to the faculty, as I had previously done to the Board for National Mission, the Board for International Mission, and the International Church partners a few days before.
|abc3+ presenting Witness, Mercy, Life Together|
(This photo actually was taken at the presentation given to church partners)
|Title Slide from Power Point|
|Key Bible Passages for Witness, Mercy, Life Together|
The reaction of the seminary faculty present at the forum was generally positive. The seminary faculty brought some insights and helped to define a few items more clearly. For instance, one faculty member pointed out how this "model" (for lack of a better word) was not all inclusive in that it focuses primarily on the 2nd and 3rd article of the Creed. While you can find a place for 1st article gifts -- after all you can't do works of service and mercy without the created order -- the 1st article isn't the primary focus. He was correct. There are a whole range of 1st article things like aesthetics, music, et al that support and assist the church in witness, mercy, and life together but are not directly addressed. It would be a mistake for us to portray this as inclusive of everything under the sun, etc. Nonetheless, it can still be a helpful way to talk about the church's work. Some on the faculty asked if they could write Bible studies around the emphasis of witness, mercy, and life together. Some asked if perhaps they could help by providing greater theological depth. Basically, the faculty's comments were positive, helpful and came from a spirit of wanting to help make how this is presented to the church better. I look forward to seeing contributions from both CSL's and CTSFW's faculty in the future.
Animation showing interconnectedness of Witness, Mercy, and Life Together
Well, I had hoped to write a more extensive post about Witness, Mercy, and Life Together but time was short. Soon (within days) the Synod's website will have downloadable resources for pastors and congregations to use if they wish. The entire Power Point Presentation will eventually be available for download on the Synod's website as well as a leader's guide. Concordia Publishing House also has expressed interest in providing materials.