The song in my title came to mind as I was watching my home burn down. It wasn't the house I live in, it was the Synod that I had grown up in that burned down. No matter what else happens, we can mark July 12, 2010 as the day the Missouri Synod died.
It was a close thing -- 51.3% voted to change the Synod structure. Without seeming to recognize it, the delegates in the slender majority codified the change from Synod as a working-together of congregations, and an assisting organization for that work, into a thing of which congregations are merely sub-units and franchises. Synod now determines how we congregations will work and what our goals and emphases shall be. They haven't gotten to them yet, but other Committee Eight resolutions will change the definition of membership, reducing the significance and uniqueness of the pastoral ministry into just one of fourteen brands of "individual membership", and requiring congregational members to get on board, support the programs, and send in their money in order to remain members in good standing. Quite the change.
How do I know that they will approve this? They already approved on-going, perpetual gerrymandering of the Synod by the BOD and the COP to make sure that we elect the right sort of Vice Presidents - and BOD and what not. So, now we have a new structure, a new, top-down organizational polity, a new relationship of pastors to Synod and to other "individual members", and the new idea of congregations as sub-units of synod, instead of the Synod as the creation and tool for the service of the ministry of the congregations.
What is really frustrating, besides the self-serving dishonesty (we call that "spin") of the officials, is that the debate on the floor of the convention has revealed that this slender majority that is enacting all these sweeping changes in our Synod does not seem to understand the polity they are replacing, or parliamentary procedure. They seem to be in love with their own voices and with pointless amendments and terminating debate over the issues of greatest importance to the life our our Synod. But they do not appear to understand the issues, or the intended or unintended consequences of their actions.
God is in charge, but I don't think His aim in this convention is as bright and positive as the leaders of our church body would like us to believe. "My word will not return unto me void, without accomplishing that for which I sent it," does not mean that God always speaks to bless. Sometimes He speaks to judge. I weep for the Synod that once was, which nurtured me and so many, and which is very soon to be no longer.
I have always opposed the resolutions to change the name of the Synod. I think now, it is time. After all, it is not the Missouri Synod any longer, at least not the Synod of Walther and Wyneken, and Pieper and Pfotenhauer. More's the pity.
Lord, have mercy upon us!