On Tuesday, July 13, Rev. Matthew C. Harrison was elected president of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. On Friday, July 16, Reporter sat down with Harrison to talk about his election and his vision for the future of the Synod. The following is an edited version of that conversation.
What is your reaction to your election? You will now serve as the 13th president of the Synod. (Dr. C.F.W. Walther having served in the office twice.)
It was a profound combination of joy and sorrow, of hope and also a great sense of my own unworthiness and sinfulness. To stand in front of that great body, a body that directs the future of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, which is, humanly speaking, the most significant force on the globe for confessional Lutheranism and for the proclamation of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments, was very, very humbling.
How do you believe the national church can best serve the local congregation, and what implications might the 2010 Synod convention’s actions have for the local congregation, if any?
I believe in good, old bread-and-butter Missouri Synod Lutheranism, where the common folks are. That kind of Lutheranism is decidedly, proudly conservative, and at the same time, it’s decidedly and lovingly flexible and sees an opportunity and runs with that opportunity. A local congregation doesn’t need bureaucracy to get its work done, or to get its permission to go do its work. That’s the great thing about the Missouri Synod. It’s both the challenge and the blessing.
My job is not to herd anybody. It’d be like herding cats anyway. I think a priority in the international office would be to use the resources the Synod sends in the most effective way, in a way that the people know and see that their resources are being used wisely, in ways that make them proud to be part of this body.
From LCMS World Relief and Human Care, a fundamental principle I’ve learned to operate with — and we’ve all learned together — is that we exist to increase local capacity. Local decisions are made locally. Local people, whether they’re in Sri Lanka or Nigeria or Honduras, local people have the solutions to their local issues.
What a church can do is come alongside, make the collective capacity available — and the Missouri Synod has unbelievable collective capacity. It can bring that capacity alongside and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people who actually get things done, the people on the ground. (Source: Reporter Online)
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