Today at Convention – Sunday, July 21st

What’s on tap, generally
After a day of floor committee hearings, delegate orientation, dinner, and the opening Divine Service (Let’s get the party started!), Sunday brings the first full day on the convention floor. Here’s what to expect:

  • Opening matters, including practice voting and the President’s Report, part 3
  • Convention Essay from 1st Vice-President Herb Mueller
  • Various Floor Committees bringing the first resolutions of the week to the convention for consideration
  • Balloting for First Vice-President and Regional Vice-Presidents
  • LCEF Ice Cream Social!

Key Items of the Day
The key item(s) of the day are the elections: A new First Vice-President of Synod and the regional vice presidents will be elected. It is very helpful to have a group of vice presidents who work well with the President of the Synod. See below for our recommendations.

Here’s Today’s Business for July 21 (Note: 2 parts!):
Today’s Business #2A
Today’s Business #2B

VP Elections
As mentioned above, one of the chief items of the day is election of the 1st Vice-President and Regional Vice-Presidents of the Synod:

With 1st VP Herb Mueller retiring later this summer, a new 1st Vice-President will be elected here in Tampa. The slate put forward by President Harrison is a fine slate all around – every man on the list would serve faithfully and well. However, we at Synod Convention Update recommend Rev. Peter K. Lange for election to the office of 1st Vice-President. Here’s an article highlighting our choice. The United List has also endorsed Peter Lange for election as 1st VP.

In the Central region, because there is no incumbent up for election, we recommend a vote for the Rev. Benjamin T. Ball. (Also see here, scrolled down a bit.) Pastor Ball is a wonderful pastor who also has experience serving at the District level. He would fit in very well amongst the rest of the Praesidium and will contribute to a supportive and faithful group, working closely with President Harrison.

In the other regional elections, we recommend a vote for all of the incumbent VP’s:

  • East-Southeast: Christopher S. Esget
  • Great Lakes: John C. Wohlrabe, Jr.
  • Great Plains: Nabil S. Nour
  • West-Southwest: Scott R. Murray

Convention Essay – Herb Mueller
Today 1st Vice-President Mueller will present the opening essay of the convention – Joy:Fully Lutheran: Rejoice, Pray, Give Thanks. We’d be remiss not to rejoice, pray, and give thanks for the faithful work that Pastor Mueller has given to the Church over decades, as a parish pastor, District President, and 1st Vice-President of the Synod. Thanks, Herb!

Rev. Dr. John Sias – Consistent, Impartial, Faithful, and Studious Secretary of the Synod

Another election we want to highlight for you is the election of Secretary of Synod. Three years ago, the Rev. Dr. Raymond Hartwig retired as Secretary after serving in the position for 18 years. Rev. Dr. Hartwig showed what a benefit it can be to the Synod when a careful, fair, faithful man serves as Secretary for an extended period of time. To replace him as Secretary, the Rev. Dr. John Sias was elected.

Rev. Dr. Sias has worked diligently and fruitfully during this past triennium, and we without hesitation recommend a vote to elect Rev. Dr. John Sias to a second term as Secretary of Synod.

Here’s Rev. Dr. Sias’ statement from the Biographical Synopses and Statements of Nominees document:

It’s been a profound honor and humbling charge to serve the Synod’s congregations as their Secretary, in an office devoted to good order and clear communication, and to holding before the Synod, its officers, and agencies the common commitments and aims adopted under our univocal, unequivocal, and joyful confession of God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions. Modernization and improvement of services are important and underway; greater and more rewarding is the endeavor, with and for the whole Synod, “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” in which we will reap if we do not give up.

Here’s a wonderful description of Dr. Sias, endorsing a vote for him in 2016, written by Carl T. Egger, PhD of Muscatine, IA:

Rev. Sias is one of the most unique and most capable men I have ever known. As soon as Rev. Hartwig said that he was not going to stand for reelection, I asked Rev. Sias if he would be interested. I was privileged to enter a nomination for Rev. Sias.

He is confessional, brilliant, personable, a “quick study”, professional, energetic yet patient, hard working, and thoughtful, among other favorable attributes. He currently serves three congregations in Montana and was elected Second Vice-President of the Montana District. He seems to have an antenna for everyone and everything that goes on in the Synod. He is a good listener. His advance familiarity with the office of Secretary comes at least in part from the CCN work as well as from his service on the Commission for Constitutional Matters (CCM). He is at ease with electronic media, so important to the office in this age. In fact, immediately upon earning his PhD in Engineering in 2005, he enrolled directly in the seminary.

Rev. Dr. Sias is also a careful and insightful theologian. Why not, as you travel to the Synod Convention, take some time to be instructed by Rev. Dr. Sias in this series of discussion about witnessing Christ in our lives, from the Issues, Etc. archives?

1. Witnessing Christ, Part 1: Where Christ Speaks and Works
2. Witnessing Christ, Part 2: Law and Gospel
3. Witnessing Christ, Part 3: Justification and the Means of Grace
4. Witnessing Christ, Part 4: Words and Life
5. Witnessing Christ, Part 5: On the Front Lines

Rev. Peter K. Lange – Leader, Pastor, Confessor of the Faith

Rev. Peter K. Lange has served as president of the Kansas District since 2015; he was unanimously elected to a second term in 2018. He is, by reputation, a highly effective leader and team builder, well-regarded and trusted by his peers, his staff, and those he serves. Under President Lange’s leadership, the Kansas District has made significant improvements in numerous areas, including visitation, the call process, mission outreach, communication and transparency, worker support, administrative efficiency, and unity building. Throughout his tenure, he has prioritized a strong working relationship with the Synod, emphasizing the role of the district as “Synod in this place.”

Rev. Lange’s experience as Kansas District president would serve him well in the position of LCMS first vice-president, as would his leadership experience at the Synod level. He currently serves as secretary of the Council of Presidents (elected after just one term)and is a member of the Synod’s Program Committee. He has served on floor committees at three Synod conventions, serving this year as chair of Floor Committee 2 (International Witness) and in 2016 as chair of Floor Committee 15 (Reformation). He was appointed to the 13–01A Task Force on the Royal Priesthood and the Office of the Public Ministry after the 2016 Synod Convention, and in 2018, he was appointed to serve as the LCMS representative on the Board of Directors of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane (LTS), South Africa.

From everything we know about President Lange, we’re confident that the office of first vice-president would be in good hands if he were elected. To learn more, visit the Kansas District website,, where you can check out President Lange’s 2019 convention report and Sermons and Articles page.

We at Synod Convention Update strongly recommend a vote for Rev. Peter K. Lange for First Vice-President of the Synod.

Pastor Ben Ball – A Faithful, Joyful Pastor

For almost seven years, I’ve had the privilege of having Ben Ball serve as my pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel, Illinois. Pastor Ball understands that the Church is made up of both pastors and laypeople, each playing a vital role in the life and mission of the congregation. He daily models the humble service of a true pastor and loves the people under his care.

Above all things, Pastor Ball is dedicated to teaching and practicing both Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. He does this with great patience and gentleness as God’s Word teaches. Pastor Ball knows that this kind of faithfulness best serves the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

When there is conflict and disagreement, Pastor Ball doesn’t merely talk about Matthew 18, he personally practices it. I have seen this Biblical practice result in reconciliation and concord.

Pastor Ball has a deep commitment to Lutheran education. I have never seen a pastor more physically present in the daily life of a school. He leads chapel daily and teaches daily catechism/religion classes to grades PreK-8th. Pastor Ball also teaches the Lutheran Confessions weekly to the teachers.

As a joyful Lutheran, I highly recommend Pastor Ben Ball as Central Region Vice President of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

Jeff Schwarz, General Manager
Issues, Etc./Lutheran Public Radio

Rev. Ben Ball – Gifted Churchman in the SID

Pastor Ben Ball serves Jesus Christ and the Church at large as a leader in the Southern Illinois District. Pastor Ball serves as the 2nd Vice President of the District, being seated on the Praesidium and the Board of Directors. He has also served as a circuit visitor and is currently a member of the SID Pastoral Conference Committee. Additionally, he has served in various capacities at various Synodical and District Conventions.

Pastor Ball is a bold confessor and defender of the Gospel according to the Lutheran Confessions. Within the context of district administration, that is reflected by his interest that every decision that is made be first in accordance with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its proclamation, and secondly, that such decisions be made in good order so that nothing interferes with the proclamation of the Gospel. Pastor Ball’s service in formal and informal roles in the district is done with persistence, attention to detail, and with a proactive attitude.

Pastor Ball’s experience as a pastor and leader in the Church is most clearly seen when he works with others to educate, teach, and catechize toward consensus and concord.   When Pastor Ball serves on a floor committee, the district Board of Directors, or facilitates elections at District Convention, he is quick to clearly and helpfully instruct others.  With the goal of encouragement and a clear confession of the Gospel, Pastor Ball partners with others and helps them to understand all sides of complex issues so that everyone is informed and can act in accordance with the Gospel of Jesus.

For these reasons, we at Synod Convention Update recommend a vote for Pastor Ben Ball as Central Region Vice President. The gifts and consensus that he has brought to the Southern Illinois District are just as helpful at the Synodical level as they are at the District level as we seek to be faithfully Lutheran together.

1st VP Slate and Nominee Changes

Secretary Sias has published an official notice, making public the slate of 5 nominees on the ballot for First Vice-President of the Synod. The ballot is:

  • Christopher S. Esget
  • Peter K. Lange
  • Scott R. Murray
  • John C. Wille
  • John C. Wohlrabe Jr.

All five on the slate are faithful, joyful Lutherans who would serve well in the office. We at Synod Convention Update recommend a vote for Peter K. Lange.

Here’s what District President Lange has to say in his personal statement:

It’s a joy to serve the church as President of the Kansas District, just as it would be a joy and an honor to serve our Synod as First Vice-President. Devoted foremost to supporting the faithful ministry of our Lord’s Word and Sacraments, I would work in my capacity as First Vice-President to build strong relationships with colleagues and everyone I serve while assisting the President in fulfilling the constitutional and convention mandates of our Synod. In short, I would try to do my small part to help the Body of Christ build itself up in love (Eph. 4).

Also included in this notice are a few changes (additions and removals) to slates of nominees up for election to other positions in the Synod. These updated slates should be noted in Today’s Business #2 when it is published, but we recommend making note in your convention materials even now.

Check out the whole notice here.

Overview: Regional VP Elections

The LCMS elects five regional Vice-Presidents at each regular convention. These men represent the five regions into which the Synod is divided.

This year 4 of the 5 regions see incumbents up for election. We at Synod Convention Update encourage a vote for each of these incumbents. They are:

  • East-Southeast Region: Christopher S. Esget
  • Great Lakes Region: John C. Wohlrabe, Jr.
  • Great Plains Region: Nabil S. Nour
  • West-Southwest Region: Scott R. Murray

The Central Region will elect a new Regional Vice-President this year. Synod Convention Update recommends a vote for Benjamin T. Ball for the office of Central Region Vice-President.

Rev. Ball is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel, IL, in the Southern Illinois District. A review of his Bio shows his involvement in:

  • Chairman of the Committee for Convention Nominations for the 2019-22 triennium
  • SID leadership, serving as 2nd Vice-President of the District.
  • previous conventions as delegate;
  • floor committees at previous and the current convention;
  • in other Synodical conferences on worship and leadership;
  • District committees and commissions, both in SID as well as NID and New England;

We especially think Pastor Ball’s personal statement is noteworthy:

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. They will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:10, 16). We listen to Jesus, receive His life, and live for Him that the world might listen and have life. C. F. W. Walther wrote that a Synod’s “primary duty is to be faithful to the Confessions in word and deed.” As members of the one flock, we know it is our duty to faithfully live in word and deed. I would be honored to serve as a vice-president, assisting our Synod to hear the voice of Jesus and be faithful to Him.

For more information on Rev. Ball and all the other nominees for Regional Vice-President, please see the Biographical Synopses & Statements of Nominees document.

Who To Vote For? – We Recommend The United List

There are many offices up for election at the 2019 Synod Convention. Sorting through all those nominated for election is one of the tasks entrusted to Delegates. Please make sure you read through all the bios and consider the strengths and weaknesses of various candidates!

We recommend The United List to be used in helping to guide your votes in the various elections at the Convention. For years now, United List recommendations have ably and faithfully led the Synod in her various offices and on her various Boards and Commissions. We believe that this year’s group of recommendations will likewise continue to work hard to keep the Synod’s Lutheran confession and practice as the foundation of all that we do together.

So check out The United List. They also provide a helpful PDF version of their recommendations for you to print out and bring along to the Convention floor.

For more information on who and what The United List is, go here.

It’s Time…To Vote for Synod President!

Starting first thing Saturday morning, June 22, voting for LCMS President is open. Pastoral and Lay Voters throughout the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod should have received credentials via US Mail from Election-America. Voting runs through the end of the day on Tuesday, June 25.

Email credentials should arrive to those same Voters’ registered email addresses by the time comes to start voting. (Just in case something is lost in the mail, or in your house or office!)

It is very important that votes are made – this is part of our life together as Synod. If you are a Voter for your congregation or parish, we strongly encourage a vote for Rev. Matthew Harrison (as do Issues, Etc., Gottesdienst, and The United List amongst others). If you are not a Voter, call up your Pastoral and Lay Voters, both to remind them to vote and to encourage them to vote for Matthew Harrison.

For more regarding President Harrison’s faithful, careful, Scriptural approach, see the recent Q&A from the Lutheran Witness, as well as here, here, here, here, here, here, etc.

After the voting is all done, stay tuned. We have much more to bring you regarding upcoming elections and business at the 2019 Synod Convention in Tampa.

Tremendous Blessing: Synod’s External Debt Is No More

In May, the Synod was blessed by the Lord to finally retire all of its historic external debt. Millions and millions of dollars owed, accumulating over many years, is no more. This shows tremendous leadership by President Harrison, by the Synod Board of Directors and Chairman Rev. Dr. Michael Kumm, and by many others heavily involved in working towards this goal throughout the past several years.

“For the first time in many decades, perhaps in a century, the LCMS has no external debt,” said LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison. “During our tenure, God has blessed us richly. We began nine years ago owing $21 million, and now we owe nothing.”

“This is a milestone achievement,” said BOD Chairman Rev. Dr. Michael L. Kumm, “because paying off the historic debt will free up millions of dollars in mission and ministry funds for years to come.

Be sure to read the whole story about God’s blessing the Synod with retiring this substantial debt.