This weekend marks the process of election of the president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. In recent months two electors from each of our 6,000 or so congregations had the opportunity to register for certification to cast a ballot in this election. The actual number of folks who registered is apparently known only by the secretary of our church body.
Through a password protected electronic process, officially registered electors have a window of time during which to cast their ballot for one of three nominees. If one nominee receives a majority vote on the first ballot, that candidate is declared elected.
If no nominee receives a majority on the first ballot, the recipient with the lowest vote total is removed from the second ballot, which contains the names of the two highest vote recipients. A second election takes place by the same password protected process as the first ballot.
This year’s nomination process has created an unusually high level of interest. The three candidates, Matthew Harrison, Timothy Klinkenberg, and David Maier, provide significant options for the electors.
Information, observations, opinions, and recommendations from a number of publications and groups have circulated the past several months. Here’s a brief general summary:
- Harrison is the incumbent LCMS president, just now finishing nine years of service.
- Klinkenberg is senior pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Orange, Cal., a large congregation with a highly respected Lutheran school.
- Maier is president of the Michigan District LCMS and chairman of the Council of Presidents, comprised of the president, five vice-presidents, and 35 district presidents.
- While all three candidates base their theology on a solid foundation of scriptural and confessional principles, significant differences exist in their leadership characteristics, financial management, personal demeanor, levels of humility, administrative skills, and vision for the future of our church body.
- All three candidates demonstrate keen awareness of the decline of our national church body but have expressed sharply differing proposals for meeting the challenge. One suggests increased childbirth. The other two offer increased focus on mission planting, cross cultural outreach, and intentional gospel proclamation.
- One candidate states publicly his belief that our church body is at peace. The other two have a differing perspective, being aware, among other matters, of pastors who do not commune with one another at pastoral conferences and of significant tension among Synod leaders.
If you are an elector, duly registered to cast a ballot this weekend, my strong encouragement is that you spend time in serious, careful, and prayerful evaluation of the candidates on the basis of the matters listed above. To assist in that process, here are some resources:
Biographical Summaries of the Nominees: https://files.lcms.org/wl/?id=tQnq0OpQIlv8u7YCDyJrmsvpwRl3IYL2
A Special Q&A with each nominee: https://blogs.lcms.org/2019/lcms-presidential-election-candidate-question-answer/
A live interview with each nominee conducted by the Southeastern District of the LCMS:
Interview with Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
Interview with Rev. Timothy Klinkenberg
Interview with Rev. Dr. David Maier
Whether or not you are an elector, I encourage you to support this process with your prayers, asking the Lord for his blessing upon the election, these three candidates, and the future of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.