USA – On June 26, 2019, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) announced that Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison has been reelected as President of the church for a fourth term.
President Harrison was first elected to office in 2010, and his fourth term runs from 2019-2022. He was reelected with 51.76% of the vote (3,014 votes).
Other candidates for the position, Rev. Dr. David P.E. Maier (President of the LCMS’ Michigan District) and Rev. Timothy M. Klinkenberg (Senior Pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Orange, California), received 39.89 percent and 8.35 percent of the vote respectively (or 2,323 and 486 votes).
The LCMS holds its presidential elections in advance of its synodical convention. Nominations for president were due in February 2019, with the three candidates receiving the highest portion of votes and consenting to serve if elected added to the slate. Voting was held June 22-25, 2019.
The LCMS will hold its 67th regular synodical convention July 20-25, 2019 in Tampa, Florida.
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a member of the International Lutheran Council (ILC), a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies. In addition to his service to The LCMS, President Harrison has served on the ILC’s Executive Committee since 2018.
GERMANY – The Extraordinary General Synod of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) in Germany opened April 19, 2018 with a Service of Confession and Communion in Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Stadthagen. In the first synodical session the election of the Bishop was on the agenda. This had become necessary because the term of office for Bishop Voigt was set to expire at the end of the year.
For the proposed election the General Pastoral Conference of SELK last year nominated Bishop Voigt and Rev. Markus Nietzke as candidates. In the afternoon these candidates presented themselves to the assembled delegates and answered questions that had previously been submitted to the leadership of the synod. The election by the 47 delegates took place in the evening. On the first ballot, Bishop Voigt received 30 votes, and Rev. Nietzke 17. Therefore Bishop Voigt continues to serve as the presiding clergyman of the SELK. The term of office is not limited.
Far beyond the confines of his church, Bishop Voigt’s pastoral letters on the plight of refugees and of Christian marriage have received considerable attention in Germany. Another important issue was the process of reconciliation begun with the Union Churches in the Protestant Federation (EKD) in Germany.
A native of Dresden, Rev. Dr. Voigt was installed as Bishop in 2006. In 2012 he became chairman of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). “I regard the bishop’s office as serving the unity of the church,” Bishop Voigt explained. “I have learned that leadership in the church is always a question of teamwork. It is important to listen, accept helpful suggestions, and continue to listen. It is essential to prevent polarization and to encourage people to speak with each other.”
For his second tenure in office, Bishop Voigt considers it a goal to be a confessionally sound Evangelical Lutheran Church with a heart for missionary outreach and ecumenical responsibility. Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt is married to his wife Christiane; the couple is blessed with four children.
The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church Hannover, Germany
VANCOUVER – From June 6-9, Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) held its triennial national convention on the campus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The event saw lay and clergy representatives from across the nation gather together to conduct the business of the church, during which time President Robert Bugbee was acclaimed to another term without opposition.
Reflecting on the election, President Bugbee noted that, when he first entered the ministry years ago, he “never expected to serve as President of Synod, an honor which has been bestowed on me three times by our convention.” “I deeply appreciate your kindness, dear brothers and sisters,” he went on to say. “I cannot say that I understand it exactly, and I’m not even sure I agree with the action you’ve taken in re-electing me, but I do deeply appreciate it. And I am willing once again to embrace it.”
Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee was first elected President of Lutheran Church–Canada in 2008. He was acclaimed without opposition to a second term in 2011. Since 2010, President Bugbee has also served as Vice-Chairman of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies of which LCC is a member.
“In some small way, I hope that the task God is entrusting to me for the coming three years will help our pastors and our people see the glory in the Gospel, and in the work you share in Alfalfa Junction, or whatever your town happens to be called,” he continued. “Thanks again for the honour you have done me with this election. God in Christ pour out on you all His joy and grace and blessing!”
Rev. Nolan Astley was reelected to serve as Vice President for the East District and Rev. Thomas Kruesel was reelected to serve as Vice President for the ABC District. Rev. Mark L. Smith was newly elected as Vice President for the Central District, succeeding Rev. Rudy Pastucha. Rev. Astley will serve as First Vice President, Rev. Kruesel as Second Vice President, and Rev. Smith as Third Vice President.
The convention gathered around the theme “Come to Him who answers prayer” (Psalm 65:2). Rev. Kurt Reinhardt of Kurtzville, Ontario served as one of the convention’s essayists, giving a presentation over two days entitled “As Dear Children Ask Their Dear Father.”
Also serving as an essayist for the convention was Deacon Jennifer Shack, who presented on the history and biblical foundation of the diaconate in Lutheran Church–Canada. The topic was particularly relevant, as a number of resolutions adopted by the convention focused on the diaconate. The convention voted June 7 to make provision for deacons to serve on Synod’s boards, commissions and committees. On June 8, the convention adopted a resolution “to study and provide for diaconal voting at Synod and District convention.” Currently LCC’s voting structure allows for equal pastoral/lay representation at convention, but does not make allowance for deacons to vote.
LCC was pleased to receive a number of international guests during the convention, including President Chul-Hwan Kim of the Lutheran Church in Korea, President Vannarith Chhim of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cambodia, Bishop David Altus of the Lutheran Church of Australia, President Matthew Harrison of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and Rev. Dr. David Wendel of the North American Lutheran Church. The convention also welcomed letters of greeting from the Anglican Network in Canada, as well as Lutheran church bodies from India, Japan, Chile, England, Germany, and Ukraine.
Lutheran Church–Canada has 65,000 members in more than 300 congregations across the nation, served by approximately 250 active pastors and 95 deacons.