Friday, May 21, 2021
The primary business of the 1st session was the election of district leadership for the next four years. Rev. Stephen Gewecke was elected on the first ballot to serve as District President; Rev. Deric Taylor was elected First Vice-President; Rev. Craig Lutz was elected Second Vice-President; and Rev. Philip Ressler was elected Third Vice-President.
The convention assembly elected these individuals for service on the New Jersey District Board of Directors: Rev. Timothy Drawbaugh as District Secretary; Mr. Chris Koerner as District Treasurer; Mr. Christopher Salesman as Circuit Two Lay Representative; and Mr. Thomas Jennings as Circuit Four Lay Representative.
These individuals were elected to serve on the Christian Heritage Endowment Fund: Rev. Robert Holsten; Ms. Shirley Carpenter; Ms. Charlotte Visbeck; Mr. Larry Schumann; Ms. Carol Pry; and Ms. Nicole McCombie.
The final series of elections were for placement on the District’s Nominations’ Committee for the 2025 New Jersey District Convention. Elected were Rev. Dan Fenco; Rev. Matt Hass; Ms. Carol Johnson; Ms. Maryanne Puls; Ms. Colleen Bottcher; and Ms. Carol Pry.
An essential action of the Convention assembly was to ratify the circuit elections of the District’s six Circuit Visitors: Circuit One – Rev. Robert Holsten; Circuit Two – Rev. Nathan Schultz; Circuit Three – Rev. Eric Rieker; Circuit Four – Rev. Chris Sadlo; Circuit Five – Rev. David Small; and Circuit Six – Rev. Christian Schonberg.
During the lunch hour the Advisory Delegates of the New Jersey District Convention met in order to elect their representatives for the 2023 Synod Convention. At the beginning of the 2nd session, Convention Chair Rev. Brad Hildebrandt announced that Rev. Casey Kegley and Ms. Carol Johnson were elected to serve as Advisory Delegates; with Rev. Chris Schneider and Ms. Caren Vogt elected to serve as Alternate Advisory Delegates.
The primary business of the 2nd session dealt with resolutions drafted by the Convention Resolutions’ Committee from overtures submitted by New Jersey District congregations.
Rev. Casey Kegley introduced Resolution 21-02: To Make Disciples of All Nations. The resolution affirmed that the mission and ministry of every Christian congregation is to make disciples of all nations through its ministry of discipleship and discipling. In order to accomplish this ministry, a twofold obligation has been placed upon every believer: to build up and strengthen present disciples in their life of discipleship; and to reach out to those who are not yet His disciples with the hope that they will become His disciples through their proclamation of, and witness to, the Gospel. The resolution passed: 95.4% to 4.6%.
Ms. Shirley Carpenter introduced Resolution 21:03: To Create Greater Awareness, Emphasis, and Effectiveness of Senior Adult Ministry in New Jersey District Congregations. The resolution affirmed the giftedness of older, seasoned members and the essential ministry that they provide in our congregations and communities; and encourages New Jersey District congregations to provide intentional ministries that offer opportunities for their spiritual and relational well-being. The resolution passed with a show of hands.
Rev. Matthew Hass introduced Resolution 21-04: To Encourage New Jersey District Congregations to Respond to the Growing Opioid Crisis in the State of New Jersey. The resolution focused on making us aware of the significant, and growing, impact of opioid addiction and encourages us, as a District, to pray for those suffering from, or impacted by, opioid addiction; and to work with the many organizations in New Jersey who are active in restoring hope to addicts and their families. The resolution passed with a show of hands.
Rev. Dr. Anthony Steinbronn introduced Resolution 21-05: To Amend Bylaw 2.14.5.a-e Regarding Ecclesiastical Supervision. Ecclesiastical supervision is best handled by an ecclesiastical supervisor who lives in the midst of those whom he has been elected to supervise since he knows the church worker and the congregations that are being supervised; moreover, he is the one who has been entrusted with this ministry by the Members of Synod when he was elected and installed as their District President. Furthermore, this ministry of ecclesiastical supervision has been expressly conferred only upon him in Article XII 7 and Bylaw 4.4.5. It is the central premise of this resolution that Bylaw 2.14.5.a-e, when it grants the power and authority to the Synod President to suspend a Member of Synod as a “suspending ecclesiastical supervision,” contradicts Articles XI A.1; XI B.1-3; XII 7; XII 8 and Bylaw 220.127.116.11.b of the Synod’s Constitution and Bylaws. If the Synod President disagrees with the ecclesiastical supervision performed by a District President, he can report the matter to the Synod in Convention and request that the Convention delegates address the disputed matter and take final action in that assembly setting (Article XI B.2). The resolution passed: 87.3% to 12.7%.
Rev. Craig Lutz and Rev. Brian Handrich introduced Resolution 21-06: To Establish a Task Force to Study and Implement Models for Multi-Point Parish Arrangements and Pastoral Sharing Configurations. One of the significant ministry challenges that every New Jersey District congregation faces is the fiscal responsibility to fully compensate its pastor, adequately finance its various congregational ministries and to maintain its physical properties; along with the responsibility to provide funds for Synod and District work. The resolution establishes a task force to study and provide detailed models of multi-parish configurations, along with a step-by-step guide for congregational implementation. The resolution passed: 97% to 3%.
Rev. Deric Taylor introduced Resolution 21-07: To Update New Jersey District Bylaws and Bring Them into Compliance with Synod Language. The resolution asked the Convention delegates to approve and incorporate the recommendations of the Commission on Constitutional Matters into the District’s Bylaws so that they are in conformity with the Constitution and Bylaws of Synod. The resolution passed: 95.4% to 4.6%.
Rev. Nathan Schultz introduced Resolution 21-08: To Determine the Feasibility of Merging the New Jersey District with the Surrounding LCMS Districts. The resolution asked the Convention delegates to direct the New Jersey District Board of Directors to determine the necessity and feasibility of a merger with a sister LCMS District; and, if such a merger would be feasible, that the New Jersey District Board of Directors would make a request of the LCMS Board of Directors, or provide an overture at a Synod Convention, to consider such a merger. The resolution passed: 84.6% to 15.4%.
Rev. Dr. Anthony Steinbronn introduced Resolution 21-09: To Remember and Celebrate the Life and Ministry of His Sainted Servants. Several now sainted church workers were remembered: Rev. Henry Loeber; Rev. Art Doring; Rev. Paul Huneke; Rev. Frederick Harm; Rev. Otto Zeeb; Rev. Irvine Pflueger; Rev. Harry Johnson; Rev. Thomas Edge; Mr. Edward Heinze; Ms. Georgetta Gretina; and Ms. Gloria Elaine Zupfer. The resolution concluded with the Convention delegates standing in acclamation and singing “Thine the Amen, Thine the Praise” (LSB 680).
Rev. Stephen Vogt introduced Resolution 21-10: To Thank God for the Ministry of District President Anthony Steinbronn. The resolution highlighted the ministry service of President Steinbronn and conferred upon him the title of District President, Emeritus. The resolution passed with a standing acclamation while singing the Doxology.
Rev. Dr. Anthony Steinbronn introduced Rev. Chris Esget, 5th Vice President of the LCMS who brought greetings from Synod President Matthew Harrison and presented the Synod Report. In addition to viewing a video presentation from the President’s Office, Rev. Esget highlighted these aspects of our Synod’s ministry: overseas’ missionaries in thirty-five countries; the vital ministry of our military chaplains; providing theological education to partner church bodies; and being His people in a culture that is indifferent and, at times even hostile, to the Christian faith. Rev. Esget concluded his report with words of encouragement and promise; that is, He is with us always and that the story ends in victory – for the battle is His, and He has won.
The host congregation for the Convention was St. Paul Lutheran Church, Flemington, New Jersey. Officiant for the worship service was Rev. Robert Mueller; Rev. Chris Esget based his Convention Sermon on the Convention Theme, “The Word of the Lord Grew,” Acts 2:41-47.