Report Regarding Licensed Laymen who Preach and Administer the Sacraments
Report regarding licensed laymen who preach and administer the Sacraments
Dear friends in Christ,
The Lord be with you.
In 2013, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) convention asked
me to appoint a task force to address questions about the practice of
licensed laymen who are preaching and administering the Sacraments in
LCMS congregations (2013 Resolution 4-06A).
Our Synod has, for over 25 years, struggled with the question of how
to provide pastoral care for congregations and missions — typically with
small numbers of individuals — facing challenging circumstances, such
as geographical isolation, limited financial resources, or when a
mission or congregation consists of individuals from an ethnic or
linguistic minority. These are genuine practical dilemmas, and the
church needs to address them with theological fidelity.
We have struggled because, too often, the theological concern and the
practical concern have been put in opposition to each other. We cannot
continue on such a course, for it leads not only to disputes and, sadly,
rancor, but also suggests that a church has to choose between a focus
on sharing the Gospel and theological integrity. I believe we all know
that such a false alternative is contrary to the Gospel itself. We have
to proclaim the Gospel, and it has to be the true Gospel. Theology and practice must always be inextricably linked!
The task force I appointed has addressed this matter. I believe they
have done so in a way that holds together both the church’s mission and
its theology. I commend their report to the Synod for study. The
executive summary provides a synopsis of the report.
This is being released a year in advance of our next convention, so
that we have time to consider this and discuss it. Reactions to the
report are welcomed and can be submitted at lcms.org/response/4-06A.
My prayer, and that of the task force, is that we would reach a
God-pleasing consensus that enables the Synod to move forward in
faithfulness to our Lord’s call to share the one true word of hope — the
Gospel of life and salvation — with all the nations.
Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
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