–Report on the 24th CLC Convention–
Forty years ago, by God’s grace and blessing, the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC) had it’s beginning. It was out of faithfulness to God’s Word that our founding fathers left their former fellowships and formed the CLC. Therefore it was fitting that the theme of the first CLC Convention was “God’s Word Is Our Great Heritage.”
As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the CLC, we praise God for His grace that we can say: “God’s Word Is STILL Our Great Heritage.” God has preserved in our midst a genuine desire to remain faithful to Him and His Holy Word.
God’s Word was the highlight and focus of the entire week. Pastor Michael Sprengeler began each day with an inspiring devotional sermon. The assembled delegates enjoyed the blessing of a communion service on Wednesday evening with a sermon by Pastor Gordon Radtke and a memorial sermon at the beginning of the Wednesday session by Prof. emeritus John Lau.
Three generations of Schierenbecks presented essays showing the need and blessing of continuing in the Word of God. Retired pastor and professor L. W. Schierenbeck, one of our founding fathers, presented an essay which reminded us of God’s grace and blessing in our past. He gave recollections and observations of the events leading up to the formation of the CLC and its early years. He stated: “One word defines the entire history of the CLC: Grace. Everything is the fulfillment of Christ’s thrilling and comforting promise, ‘I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Mt. 16:18). That ought not to cause us to relax our efforts. Rather, the wonder and power of that grace should move everyone of us to strive strenuously while it is day to use our gifts to the fullest to serve our God. Then may we be assured that we will continue to receive and enjoy His beautiful blessings.”
Pastor John Schierenbeck delivered an essay on “the present.” He reminded us that an anniversary celebration should not be “a trumpeting of ‘church accomplishments,'” but rather a time of rigorous examination and repentance. The essayist led us in a careful self-critique, and pointed out the many dangers that we face and into which we can fall. We need true repentance and God’s grace in order to be able to continue as a synod in which God’s Word is our Great Heritage.
Pastor Michael Schierenbeck, son and grandson, helped us look to the future. He pointed out that there is no way that we can know the specifics of what the future will be for any individual or for a church body. But there are two paths that can be taken–either with or without God’s hand as the lamp to our feet and the light to our path. The essayist showed us the blessing that we are assured of when we pass God’s Word on from generation to generation, and the difficulties and dilemmas that will occur when it is not. Therefore it should be the goal of parents and teachers to teach God’s Word to the next generation diligently and effectively. We pray with the essayist in his conclusion: “May [God] use the CLC for His glory and keep us steadfast in His Word through which we have come to know Him as our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. His Word is indeed our great heritage.”
With God’s Word as our guide, the Convention set out to decide on our joint work in the CLC.
Jesus teaches us to pray to the Lord of harvest that He would send forth laborers into His vineyard. We continue to do so while we thank Him for those laborers that He has sent. At this Convention we especially thank Him that six new pastors were accepted into our fellowship–Pastor John Cobb presently serving in Calgary, and five graduates of ILC Seminary over the past two years: Mark Gurath, Matthew Gurath, David Povolny, David Schaller, and Stephen Sydow. Gordon Radtke was received back into the pastoral ministry from retirement. We are happy to announce that Pastor Steven Karp from Edmonton, Alberta has passed the first stage of colloquy.
We also rejoice to receive six new congregations into the fellowship of the CLC. They are Divine Word of Preston, Minn., Morning Star of Fairchild, Wis., Mount Zion of Detroit, Mich., Peace with God of Onalaska, Wis., Rock of Ages of Jenison, Mich., and Shepherd of the Valley of Weslaco, Texas.
We were privileged to have Mr. Martin Essien, the son of Pastor E. E. Essien, as a visitor to our convention from Nigeria. Mr. Essien addressed the Convention on the many opportunities for mission work in Africa. He urged the CLC to provide a second missionary to help in the tremendous work there. Later that day the Convention did approve the calling of a second missionary to Nigeria. Wednesday evening the Board of Missions met and extended the call to Pastor Todd Ohlmann of St. Louis, Mo.
Board of Missions chairman Pastor Bruce Naumann shared a letter of greeting from Jyothi Benjamin in India. The VBS program in India has reached 670 children, many of them with Hindu backgrounds. The field is truly ripe for harvest.
As the CLC celebrates its 40th anniversary as a church body, we are reminded of all the grace and blessings that God has poured upon us. The convention was moved to initiate an Anniversary Thankoffering which is to be designated for special outreach efforts in our foreign fields–efforts which would not be possible under the regular budget. Our brethren in India and Nigeria have many opportunities to reach thousands of heathen but they do not have the resources to do so. Let us rejoice in the opportunity to help in this glorious work with our Anniversary Thankoffering (more information will be coming).
IMMANUEL LUTHERAN COLLEGE
We are thankful for steady increase in ILC enrollment. The projected enrollment for next year is 170. This adds even more to the long-felt need for a thirteenth professor. Twelve years ago the synod first approved such a call, but it was impossible to follow through because of budgetary constraints. Now with convention approval the Board of Regents has finally extended the call (teacher Mark Kranz received the call–ed.).
An increased student body contributes to an increased need for classroom space. Therefore the ILC Project Planning Committee was given approval to develop a design plan for 1) removal of some of the older buildings on campus and 2) construction of a multipurpose academic center that will contain all the classrooms and other meeting rooms. Any comments about the proposed building project should be directed to the committee.
The Student Aid Fund (SAF) has been a great blessing for students attending ILC as well as for the operation of the school. In keeping with operational costs, the room and board fee was raised $100/year, tuition $50/year and the activities fee $50/year. We pray that the Lord will bless our people with the means and move hearts to meet the needs of the SAF. A few adjustments were made to the rules for payback of student loans.
Since God’s Word is still our great heritage, questions of doctrine and application of it are taken seriously. The majority of discussion on the convention floor during Thursday and Friday sessions dealt with the matter of membership in organizations of this world. The Floor Committee on Doctrine attempted to help the delegates take a step back and focus on eight principles from which applications could be made. Time restraints prevented a complete resolution of the matter. However, a course of study and action was laid out to bring this to a final conclusion at the 2002 Convention.
The publishing committee has been very active in the past four years. The convention established a permanent committee of six to be appointed by the President and to be under the auspices of the Board of Education.
The Publishing Division will oversee the publishing of the new Sunday School materials and an official CLC web page as well as any other material that will be of benefit to synod members.
The following General Fund budget was adopted: Board of Trustees $146,731; Board of Missions $236,570; Board of Regents $234,000; Total: $617,301.
This budget–which includes a thirteenth professor and a second foreign missionary–is $4,471 above the Cooperative Budget Estimates from congregations. We pray that the Lord will enable us to carry out these plans.
A 40th Anniversary Committee had several special touches for the observance at this convention. One was the “Voices from the Past”–soundbites played intermittently during the sessions. Not only did these audios serve to stir up fond memories of departed brethren, but more importantly reminded us of the enduring Word of our God who has promised that His Word shall not pass away.
Other special visual features were a) an historical timeline of the CLC which stretched out in the corridor between the gymnasium and the dining hall; and b) the photo tour of CLC congregations displayed in the C. M. Gullerud Memorial House (the old Sem House).
We truly have a GREAT heritage. May we all treasure that heritage of God’s Word and pray that the Lord will grant us His grace to keep it. As President Fleischer commented in his President’s Report: ” . . . More and more it falls upon the next generation to carry the banner of God’s holy Word into the future.” May we prepare each generation by teaching our descendants diligently to know and love the saving Word of our gracious God.
(We acknowledge with thanks this convention report by Pastor David Reim — Ed.)