New LCMS Dispute Resolution Process:

Justice Of, By, and For the COP

By: Rev. Jack Cascione

 The new LCMS Dispute Resolution Process, revised by the 2004 LCMS Convention, makes us rejoice that the LCMS Council of District Presidents (COP) is not able to revise the US Constitution.

Most of the delegates at the 2004 LCMS Convention didn’t understand what they were voting for in 8-01A nor did it really matter to them.  They seemed to regard judging doctrine and practice as a kind of make believe fantasy world like, “Church Land.”

They didn’t comprehend nor did they value the God given right of Office of the Keys that belongs to the every Christian.  They gave them away the Office of the Keys like Esau gave away his birthright for a bowl of red lentils.

Resolution 8-01A has created in the LCMS what is tantamount to a Roman Catholic Curia.  The COP love power.

If we compared Resolution 8-01A to your local city government, your city would operate as follows: If a citizen wanted to file a lawsuit he would first have to get the Mayor’s approval.  The Mayor gets to appoint and train all of the judges, and he decides which cases the judges will hear.  However, the Mayor is exempt from any lawsuits from the citizens and he alone can revise the laws whenever he deems necessary.

This quote from the August 2004, LCMS “Reporter,” page 4, explains some of the revisions to the Synod’s Dispute Resolution Process.

“There are three ‘significant’ differences in the bylaw changes, according to Eastern District President John Brunner, chairman of the task force.

The Bylaws previously said ‘anyone’ could bring charges against a congregation or professional worker.  Now such charges, except in cases of sexual misconduct or criminal activity, must be filed by another member of the Synod, Brunner said. [A member of Synod means a pastor, commissioned minister, or a congregation, not a layperson.]

Second, Brunner said that changes ‘more clearly delineate the processes for dispute resolution and ecclesiastical supervision,’ which he said, ‘intersected more than once’ in the bylaws before they were amended.

The third change lays out a process if charges are brought against the president of the Synod.  The process leading to his being cleared of charges or of losing his Synod membership could involve a majority vote of the 35 district presidents; two hearing panels, each made up of three district presidents; another vote of the district presidents (this time by a three-fourths majority); and, finally, a majority voted of at least a one-fourth of all Synod Congregations.”

You can be sure than most of the lay people who voted for 8-01A didn’t know they were not members of the LCMS.  Laypeople in the LCMS no longer have any right to justice or the right to judge the doctrine and practice of members of the LCMS.  They sold their birthright in 2004.

The article in the Reporter did not mention a fourth significant change in the Dispute Resolution Process.  If a member of Synod, that is a pastor or a congregation, wants to file a charge of false doctrine or malfeasance, the member must first go to and work with the District President.  Without the District President’s approval, it will be virtually impossible to file charges.  The COP has written itself into every phase of the LCMS Dispute Resolution Process.

Those filing charges will also discover that there is an entirely different set of rules for the District and Synodical Presidents than for pastors and congregations according to Bylaw 2.26 2004 Handbook.

The Commission on Theology and Church Relations CTCR is now the final authority on all doctrinal matters in the LCMS (Bylaw 2.26 1, and 6k,g).  Members of Synod must surrender their conscience to the CTCR.  When you join the LCMS you are really joining the CTCR and the COP.  You must believe what they believe.

The COP has exempt itself from the rule that says people in Dispute Resolution can’t talk about the case as follows - (Bylaw 8.21e):

“While a matter is still undecided or while an appeal is contemplated or pending, publicity shall not be given to the issues in the matter by any of the persons involved during any part of the procedures outlined in this bylaw.  However, at his discretion and as needs dictate, in order to provide counsel, care, and protection for all the members of the Synod (Article III 8,9), the synodical President or the District President in consultation with the synodical President, as the case may be, may properly advise or inform the involved congregation(s) and/or the District or Synod as to the status of the process.”

The President of the United States or any elected official may not give their opinion about a case in the courts, but the LCMS President and the COP have given themselves the right to say anything about any case for the good of the church.

Just in case the COP missed anything that may be advantageous to their cause in the Dispute Resolution Process, the COP has given itself the right to amend and revise the Dispute Resolution Process when it suits their purpose, without the vote of a Convention as follows – (Bylaw 8.21k):

“In consultation with the Secretary of the Synod and the Council of Presidents, the Commission on Constitutional Matters shall develop and amend as necessary a ‘Standard Operation Procedures Manual’, which will serve as a comprehensive procedures Manuel of Chapter VIII, Synodical Dispute Resolution;”

Before 1992, any layperson or pastor could file charges through the Adjudication Process.  Members of the Board of Adjudication were usually pastors and lawyers elected by the Convention.  However, the COP and the Synodical President could not control the old LCMS Adjudication Process so they got rid of it.

When people no longer care about their church or they believe their religion is more ceremonial than real, things such as the Office of the Keys are neither understood nor appreciated.  The 2004 Convention gave away what Luther and Walther fought to regain for the church and every Christian.



 August 6, 2004

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