Grass roots in action

Mark G. Schroeder

Our synod is organized into 12 geographical districts. In June of even-numbered years, each district holds a convention to consider important matters facing the synod and to conduct other business. Plans are already underway for this year’s district conventions.

Delegates to the district conventions include every pastor, every male teacher, and a representative from each congregation in the district. That makes the district conventions an opportunity for truly grassroots participation in the decisions and direction of the synod.

One of the most important responsibilities of the district conventions is to elect people to serve in various important positions. Perhaps the most important of these is the position of district president, who is elected for a two-year term at each district convention.

The district president serves as the pastor of the entire district. In that role he is responsible for overseeing all doctrine and practice in the district. He is tasked with providing spiritual leadership to the called workers and congregations of the district, encouraging faithfulness to the Word of God and the teachings of the Lutheran Confessions. He is also responsible, along with the other officers (the two district vice presidents and the district secretary, who are also elected at each district convention), for carrying out discipline when called workers or congregations stray from the truth.

Another important role of the district president is to assist congregations in the calling process. When a vacancy at a church or school occurs, the district president consults with the congregation about the congregation’s ministry needs and then, when the congregation is ready to issue a divine call, provides a list of candidates along with pertinent information about those candidates.

The district president also serves as a member of the Conference of Presidents (COP). This group has the responsibility for overseeing the doctrine and practice of the entire synod, working together to provide support and guidance to congregations and to look out for the needs of called workers.

Each district has a lay representative serving on the Synodical Council (SC). Elected by the district convention, this representative gives each district both a voice and a set of ears in the important work carried out by the SC—another opportunity for ongoing grassroots participation in the decisions affecting the entire synod. Elections for people to serve on various district committees also take place at the district conventions.

The district conventions provide called workers and lay delegates with the opportunity to hear reports from all synodical ministries and offices. Those reports typically look back and review what has been done in the past year, and they also look forward and present plans, opportunities, and challenges for the future. These reports are published in the Report to the Twelve Districts, which is sent to every delegate and congregation before the convention and also posted on the synod’s website.

District conventions also give delegates the opportunity to express opinions and grassroots input regarding matters that will come before the synod convention in the following year. They can express support or opposition to proposals through the resolutions they pass. They can also provide input of their own choosing by asking the synod convention to address specific topics or needs.

As summer approaches, please keep these gatherings and their delegates in your prayers. Talk to your representatives about what they will be considering and give them your encouragement. They represent you and your congregation—a true exercise in grassroots participation in the work of your synod.

Find dates and locations of this year’s district conventions at

Mark Schroeder is president of WELS.



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Author: Mark G. Schroeder
Volume 105, Number 4
Issue: April 2018

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