Synodical News

St. John's is a proud member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.  Here you can find the latest news from the Synod and Witness, Mercy, and Life Together.


Update from the President


Dear brothers and sisters,

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, when the Church begins her slow and measured journey to the cross, where we see Jesus: the Savior who hangs — bloodied and scourged — for us. It is a time of reflection and repentance for me and also for you, for all of us as the LCMS, and for the Church throughout the world.

And yet in the midst of our dusty Lenten ashes, we also look forward to Easter, when our Lord is raised from the dead, triumphing over sin and Satan, all for us. Yes, even during our Lenten fast, joy abounds!

That’s why I want to share two important things with you, so that you may see and know that our Lord is at work in and among each one of us, and is using us collectively as the LCMS to bear witness to Him.

First, our Synod treasurer, Jerry Wulf, shared at our Board of Directors meeting last weekend that together as the Synod we have reduced internal borrowing of restricted funds to cash flow operations from some $16 million four years ago to zero. You read that correctly. Zero! And we’re not stopping there. To get our financial house in order, we have also achieved a three-month cash reserve for operations, which is the minimum for a responsible non-profit.

Second, I’m delighted to announce that we are closing in on doubling the number of career missionaries internationally, which is a goal set by the Synod in convention in 2013. We are working to find a measured pace that will ensure that a sound system of missionary care remains in place but, by God’s grace, will also enable us to continue to add men and women, lay and clergy, to our worldwide mission team. The international moment unfolding worldwide before us as the LCMS is truly astounding!

So, thank you. Thank you for taking part in getting our finances in order so that we may be hearty stewards of all our Lord has to give. And thank you for being a part of our church’s mission work, that our fellow members may go to the ends of the earth to bear witness to Christ to those who have not yet heard that they are loved and whole on account of His death and resurrection.

Thank you. Thank you for your faithfulness to God’s Word and to the Lutheran Confessions. Lay people, thank you for loving your pastors. Pastors, thank you for loving your people.

Thank you for living boldly as the baptized children, loved by God, that you are. And thank you for the privilege of serving you. I covet your prayers and promise you mine, this Lenten season and always.

Under the cross,

Pastor Matt Harrison
President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod


Prayers for peace - prayers for Ferguson

Grant peace, we pray, in mercy, Lord:
Peace in our time, O send us!
For there is none on earth but You,
None other to defend us.
You only, Lord, can fight for us. Amen (Lutheran Service Book 777).

All-loving Father, look in Your bountiful compassion on Ferguson, Mo., and the greater St. Louis community.

Grant wisdom and guidance to all our civil leaders and bless the efforts of our law enforcement to keep order and to bring a sense of security and calm.

Grant protesters wisdom to express their disappointment and sorrow with respect and decorum.

Rid our land of all conflict and fear between various groups, and help us all to live together as Your beloved children, through Him who truly is our peace, even Jesus, whose blood has reconciled us to Yourself and made us one family.

We ask it in His strong name. Amen.

More here on Higher Things 



Supreme Court Ruling Emboldens Us to Continue to Carry On


Supreme Court Ruling 
Emboldens Us to Continue to Carry On

Two years ago, I sat on a panel before Congress, testifying to the importance of religious liberty in America today.

It seems like a long time ago.

Since then, we have seen and heard a steady stream of news, from the church and the culture, about the Health and Human Services’ mandate and the Affordable Care Act, abortifacients and the conscience, religious freedoms and what this means for women.

Thankfully, the wait is over. The Supreme Court has ruled, and the verdict is in: In a landmark case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of religious liberty, specifically in regard to closely held corporations (those with a small number of shareholders and offering no public stock, such as corporations that are family-owned, not operated by boards).

While we rejoice in this strong upholding of religious freedom, this decision does not signal an end to this discussion. It simply emboldens us carry on, doing what we do best as Christians: praying, confessing the faith and living it out in our daily callings.

We pray that Americans, whose consciences are burdened because they have been forced to violate their religious beliefs, would know God’s comfort and forgiveness.

We confess that life, which begins at conception, is a gift from God and ought to be held in the highest regard in this country.

We live, knowing that the First Amendment guarantees us not only the right to worship, but also to practice our faith as Lutheran citizens of this great nation, serving our neighbor where the Lord has placed us.

We do all of this, even as we rejoice with the Greens of Hobby Lobby, with the Hahns of Conestoga Wood Specialties and with our millions of brothers and sisters in the United States who believe just as strongly in the religious liberties guaranteed in our Constitution.

Today we are thankful for this step toward maintaining the integrity of our religious freedoms inherent in the First Amendment, but we will also remain ever mindful. The issue is and will continue to be purely and simply about religious freedom.

And so we pray. We confess. We live.

“We fought for a free conscience in this country,” I told the committee two years ago, “and we won’t give it up without a fight.”

I meant that, and I pray you do too.

The Rev. Matthew C. Harrison
President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

LCMS Reporter news arthcile here


Gard Elected 11th President of Concordia University Chicago  

Rear Admiral Daniel Gard seems to have done it all. He’s taught future LCMS pastors how to read Hebrew, won meritorious service medals in his extended military career and comforted grieving families at the Pentagon on September 11 in his role as chaplain.

He’s ministered to military and civilian personnel at Guantanamo Bay, served as pastor in a Midwestern parish and,

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only months ago, was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the 18th Deputy Chief of Chaplains for Reserve Matters.

Some days he’s buried in textbooks in his office at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., where he serves as professor of Exegetical Theology. On others, he’s in uniform in his Pentagon office, where he tends to the pastoral care of sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.

And he’s just getting started. On Friday, May 30, Gard was elected 11th president of Concordia University Chicago (CUC), located in River Forest, Ill. “The word ‘honored,’” he says when considering his election, “doesn’t quite cover it.”

“Admiral Gard is an outstanding choice,” notes the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). “This kind of leadership quality comes only occasionally in the church. CUC and Dr. Gard remain in our prayers as the call is considered.”

“Concordia University Chicago can rejoice in the election of Dan Gard,” agrees the Rev. Dr. Dean Wenthe, president of the Concordia University System. “President-elect Gard brings outstanding academic credentials, a rich administrative experience and a winsome Christian vision to the university.”

The oldest in the Concordia University System, which is comprised of 10 LCMS colleges and universities, CUC is currently celebrating its 150th academic school year. The university’s influence on Lutheran education, and specifically that of church work careers, Gard notes, has been significant in the history of the LCMS.

“Concordia University Chicago is an historic Lutheran school with a long and distinguished record of service to the Church and to the world,” he says. “For 150 years, Concordia has exemplified the Lutheran tradition of serious scholarship rooted in the certain conviction that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.  By keeping Christ at the center and with a strong identity as a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod university, that record of service will continue far into the future under the mercy and grace of God.”

Gard’s talents — a varied set honed on the battlefield, in the classroom and at the bedside — will be a great blessing to the school, Wenthe believes. His gifts “are imbedded in a caring, pastoral heart that faculty, staff and students will find refreshing and inspiring.”
Military chaplaincy prepared him for such a role, Gard says, especially after “26 years of working in a pluralistic, multicultural environment that is the Navy” alongside “sailors and Marines about the same age as traditional college students.”

His pastoral care for those men and women — and his students at the seminary — hasn’t gone unnoticed. “In a culture that increasingly reduces humanity to no more than passing material beings, Dr. Gard will witness to the beauty, wonder and truths of Christ’s love for each and every human being as so clearly portrayed in sacred Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions,” Wenthe says.

“We are very proud of and exceedingly thankful for Dr. Daniel Gard,” agrees the Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast, president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. “For over 25 years, he has used his God-given gifts in exemplary service to the Synod at Concordia Theological Seminary and in the Navy Reserve. His proven ability to work with people from all backgrounds and abilities will serve Concordia University Chicago well, should he be led by God’s Spirit to accept this call.”

As Gard — who was given 15 days to accept or decline the election — deliberates, he is encouraged by the good gifts God has in store for CUC. “The best days of Concordia are not the days of the past but the future into which God will lead,” he explains. “I will be praying for the university as I have been for quite a while: that it will always have a self-identity as part of the educational mission of the LCMS, and that it will maintain a close connection to the Synod.”

“CUC has a unique urban environment, a rich history and strong academics,” he says. “But most especially, it is a place where Jesus Christ is at the center. This is the university that doesn’t belong to us; it belongs to Christ, serving both the Church and the world.”


Ed.  This article is reprinted from the Synod's website.  The original article from The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod may be found here.


Tired of Hobby Lobby?: Why Tomorrow's Supreme Court Hearing Matters

Tired of Hobby Lobby?


Why tomorrow’s Supreme Court Hearing Matters

You’re tired of hearing about Hobby Lobby and the Supreme Court, tired of all the talk of fines and health-care plans and reproductive rights, tired of being bombarded with words spoken in anger from both sides of the aisle. You want to put your fingers in your ears, switch the channel, and wait for the ruling and the rest of it to just go away.

But even though you are tired, even though you’ve grown weary of having the same discussions about the same points, Hobby Lobby and fines and health-care plans still matter. They matter because your country – the United States of America – was founded on the principle that you were born with certain rights: the rights to seek and follow truth, to live according to your beliefs, to worship freely.

And no one, not even the government, gets to tell you how to do that.

Today, our federal government threatens that right, consistently refusing to protect religious liberty as our Constitution and the laws of nature demand. In the dozens of cases against the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate, the government has started dictating the boundaries of religious beliefs, and to pick and choose which beliefs – and which individuals – deserve religious liberty protection.

The contraceptive mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act, requires employers to provide a full range of 20 FDA-approved contraceptive devices, drugs and services in their health-care plans. These include “emergency contraceptives” with the ability to prevent implantation of an embryo – in other words, the ability to end a human life. Catholics, Lutherans, and many other Americans find these drugs morally reprehensible. Yet, though objections to the mandate are strong and numerous – with over 90 lawsuits filed so far – the government has simply swept them aside.

The mandate’s provisions allow for very narrow exemptions for houses of worship. Exemptions do not extend even to affiliates of those houses of worship; for example, a Catholic order of nuns, operating homes for the elderly poor, is not exempt. Nor are Christian colleges, nor are thousands of other religious non-profit organizations, which serve the public good.

In the case of the non-profits, the government has come up with an empty “accommodation” that would force organizations to sign HHS forms directing third-party administrators to provide the drugs that the organizations cannot. As one plaintiff, the Little Sisters of the Poor, explained, these forms are nothing more than permission slips. The Little Sisters cannot direct someone else to act immorally, just as they cannot act immorally themselves. The government has branded this particular belief meaningless.

Neither the exemption nor the false “accommodation” extends to individuals who run their own businesses, like David and Barbara Green, owners of Hobby Lobby. The Greens morally oppose providing drugs that can prevent implantation and have filed suit against HHS, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. In the Greens’ case, the government claims that moral convictions must be abandoned at the door of the workplace. The Greens may not run their own companies according to their consciences. Or, in return for staying true to their convictions, they will be forced to pay crushing fines.

The government’s distinctions under the mandate don’t make sense. The government does not get to reduce God and the way in which He works down to what happens only in church or worship. By its definition, religious liberty stipulates that a church – not the government – must be permitted to form its own definition and its own boundaries.

Moreoever, God uses each of us in our vocations to serve those around us. This call to serve others and live according to our beliefs extends beyond our houses of worship, into our homes, our communities, and our work. To prevent individuals from following the dictates of their consciences is an abuse of power and a gross infringement on human dignity.

As the leader of a Christian church body, I strongly object to the government’s approach of picking and choosing whose beliefs merit consideration. Now, according to the government, Catholic nuns must authorize others to give out free contraceptives, and evangelical Christians must abandon their most deeply held convictions in the operations of their own businesses. What group, and what belief, will next be under attack?

Friends, we may be weary. We may be tired. But we must stand together to protect our God-given right to religious liberty. This mandate threatens not only those whose religions specifically compel them to oppose it, but all Americans. We cannot allow our government to define the content of our beliefs or the degree of their significance.

The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison is the current and 13th president of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.