Dr. Gene Veith in a blog post (The Future of the LCMS) began a discussion on the remarkable presidential nomination numbers for the upcoming elections of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. As the discussion and tenor thereof touch on a number of issues that are important to me it seemed fitting to post my comment here. I encourage my readers to also click the link above and read Dr. Veith’s post.
I appreciate the comments of many here, yet as a pastoral delegate I want to offer a word of admonition and encouragement. For many who support the incumbent LCMS President he is "Rev. Kieschnick" or "President Kieschnick" while his "opponent" is "Matt" or "Harrison." Likewise, many who support Rev. Harrison refer to him with the title while his "opponent" is simply "Jerry" or "Kieschnick." Please remember that whomever you support for the office of president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, BOTH men are called and ordained servants of the Word, both elected to their offices and those offices deserve respect (1 Thes 5.12-13).
I believe that Rev. Harrison is fundamentally correct in saying that our challenges in the LCMS are not fundamentally structural but theological. One of the ways by which we show our resolve to be Lutherans is to respect the Office of the Holy Ministry, and one of the ways by which we show respect for the Office is to always speak respectfully of those in the Office. My district president in Northern Illinois, Rev. Dan Gilbert, often tells us that among ourselves we may call him "Dan," and I appreciate that collegiality, but--respectfully--I will not call him simply by his first name, nor if I disagree with him will I flippantly call him "Gilbert" because the Lord is clear that His people are to respect His servants.
I respectfully encourage fellow delegates and members of the LCMS to show our theological resolve by referring to the two men, Rev. Harrison and President Kieschnick, with their titles.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Lance Armstrong O'Donnell, Pastor
St. Philip Lutheran Church and School
Northern Illinois, Circuit E15 Pastoral Delegate