Southeastern District President, Rev. Dr. John R. Denninger recently asked all three candidates to respond on the issue of LLD. The PDF below is originally available here.
President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison’s comments (found in full in the document below) should especially be noted.
For example, Harrison says, “What was originally viewed as “temporary” went to permanent, and left us violating both Scripture and our Lutheran Confessions teaching on the office of the ministry.”
It is important to recognize that the accrued resources on this website raise the theological question whether the assertion above is the case, or whether, in fact, LLD ministry is actually supported by both Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. At least, it should be clear if you spend some time here reading the resources that within the LCMS there are strong theological cases being made for the function of LLD, and it might be appropriate for the LCMS to have more time for theological conversation before a vote on the LLD issue.
Harrison also says, “I have come to realize that the LLD issue raises other perhaps even more fundamental issues. Some are convinced that our seminaries and the manner of training our pastors in residence is completely outmoded and should be replaced with a 100%, in-context training by local mentors. I have noted elsewhere that this model had been tried for decades on the mission field and has failed spectacularly to grow churches.”
It is important to recognize that the assertion above about “spectacular failure” has no attendant supporting facts, examples, or data. To make a claim of this magnitude regarding LCMS mission requires some form of verification for it to have credence. Furthermore, the NOW district can speak specifically to a model similar to this here in the Northwest (LLD Ministry) that has, in fact, spectacularly succeeded in maintaining and growing churches (for supporting evidence, please see Dust Kunkel’s essay and subsequent response to Rev. Eric Lange).
This site welcomes a response from LCMS missionaries on 1. data and experience from the mission field either supporting or reversing the assertion that extending the Office of the Ministry through a variety of auxiliary functions or offices under supervision has been “a spectacular failure in growing churches”, and 2. theological perspectives on this approach on the global mission field. In the meantime, we direct the reader to the essays in support of Lutheran missions and a flexible and theologically-faithful delivery of the Gospel available in Missio Apostolica (Now called Lutheran Mission Matters) provided by the Lutheran Society for Missiology.
Rev. Dr. David P.E. Maier sums up his response with the following words: “I would strongly encourage that there be uniformity across our Districts in the educational standards for, and continuing education of, deacons by asking our Concordia Universities – and the best of District Deacon education and licensing programs – to coordinate a standard curriculum, qualifications, and system for deacons. In this way we can have theologically trained and licensed deacons – honored and recognized by the church – ready to serve the church.”
Rev. Dr. Dale A. Meyer suggests the following, “As weighty as this issue is, more serious is the way we work toward a resolution. One side can get a majority of votes to impose its position on those who disagree. That would be handling the issue according to the law, and from the Bible we learn the principle “the law brings wrath” (Romans 4:15). A better way, more Lutheran will be to work patiently but persistently toward a fraternally reached resolution that most will embrace. “See peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11). Hence I do not favor a cut-off date. How could we appear before the Judgment seat of Christ and say that we passed a resolution that forbade Your Word and Sacrament from being ministered to people? A resolution to move toward ordination through practical ways (colloquy, SMP, CRM) without deadlines seems to me the most peaceful way forward. Progress should be reported to the 2019 convention.”