In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Grace be unto you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dearly beloved members of our Evangelical Lutheran Synod:
In former years we looked forward with pleasure and expectation to our synodical conventions. The essays and deliberations demonstrated a unity of faith and oneness of spirit which served to encourage and strengthen us in our faith and confession. We returned to our congregations after each meeting greatly refreshed and mightily strengthened for the work in our various parishes and callings.
In more recent years, though our essays, our devotions and services have still shown a marvelous unity of faith, strife has entered our ranks and caused serious rifts in our membership. During the past year several pastors and congregations have left our fellowship, bringing a serious hurt to our Synod and causing both heartache and sorrow. Strangely enough, opposite reasons have been given for such action.
Apparently there is still a division among us. This is not good for our Synod nor for our work in the Kingdom of our Lord. Who shall say that we have not deserved this chastening of the Lord? We have been guilty of many sins. Often we have been more concerned about preserving our own glory and honor than we have been about giving all glory and honor to our Lord and Savior and about preserving His holy, precious Word. May the Lord, Who is merciful, forgive us. May He lead us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. We earnestly beseech Him to lead and direct us in our difficult problems so that we do that which is right and pleasing in His sight. God grant that the former unity of faith and confession, action and thought, be restored to us, a unity firmly grounded upon God’s everlasting Word.
We say, with the apostle Paul, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Cor. 1:10). We fully recognize that we are weak and frail, that we are apt to say things which bring about a deeper hurt to those with whom we disagree. In order that the return to unity on the basis of God’s Word be not hindered by our shortcomings, we do well to give full and earnest heed to the word of the apostle, as recorded in Colossians 3:12–17: — “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in an wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
As usual, we have, before us at this convention, reports of our work in the fields of missions, of education, charity and the like. We must give earnest consideration to these reports. But above all, we must seek a God-pleasing settlement of the strife which has overtaken us in regard to our membership in the Synodical Conference and our relationship with the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, so that we can with one mind, faith and zeal go about doing the work which our gracious Lord assigns to us – the work of bearing witness to Him by our Christian missions, Christian education, Christian charity and the like. May God have mercy upon us for Jesus’ sake! Amen.