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Home Uncategorized What is governance? Bull explains LCMS accountability system

Photo description: Aerial shot of Weller Hall

Photo credit: CUNE Photo Gallery

Nora Betts

Sower Staff


The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod hosted its 68th Regular Convention in Milwaukee this summer and passed Resolution 7-04B, which sets up a new accountability system that all Concordias must follow.

Dr. Bernard Bull

Concordia President Dr. Bernard Bull said that for Concordia students, governance is “really just structures or systems that are put in place to assure accountability and alignment with some organization’s goals.”

The new governance plan ensures that Concordia follows the expectations of the LCMS since the university is owned and operated by the Synod, Bull said.

The Synod will keep Concordia accountable through annual informal visitations and a formal visitation once every three years. The first formal visit will be made to Concordia by January 2025 so a report can be given at the next national LCMS convention in 2026.

Bull said Synod officials will visit Concordia to make sure university operations uphold Synod standards and values.

“They’re not looking at everything, but they are looking at items that they think have the most significant impact on alignment with the mission and identity,” Bull said.

The term “visitation” comes from the language of the LCMS. Synod officials will visit Concordia in the same way that district presidents visit and help the congregations in their areas, said Bull.

“We have district presidents who engage in visits to congregations to see how they’re doing,” he said.

Similarly, the goal of visitations to Concordia is “to help people do their best; to help them grow; to help them improve,” Bull said. “It’s not intended to be a ‘gotcha’ to get you in trouble and humiliate you in front of the world or anything like that.”

Bull said that the visitation process will strengthen Concordia by pointing out any flaws that need fixing.

“There may be some weak- nesses that are revealed, but that’s also a blessing because now you can do something about it,” said Bull.

Bull said he does not expect Concordia to see any major changes in campus operations because the new governance structure simply upholds the promises the university has already made.

“When the resolution passed, I had a number of people come up to me right away and say, ‘So what do
you think about this?’” Bull said. “And my response was, very consistently, ‘Well, the Synod and convention just voted to hold us accountable for being who we’re committed to being. So that seems [to
be] a pretty good thing.’”

Bull said that Concordia’s goals are in alignment with the Synod’s plan for accountability.

“We want to be a place where we are aligned with the mission and the identity of the church – where we’re loving and equipping students well and faithfully,” he said. “We want to be a welcoming, inviting, faithful, Christ-centered, world-class higher education community. I don’t really see this changing that. If anything, it just gives us an extra push, a little extra accountability to do that.”

Bull said he predicts more people will want to attend Concordia because it is committed to upholding the values of the LCMS. If Concordia’s enrollment continues to increase as he predicts, he said the university may need to re-institute a waiting list.

“I expect that we’re going to have a waiting list as a school within the next few years,” said Bull. “And we haven’t had that since the 1970s when we actually had to turn away students because we didn’t have enough space.”

Bull said that a wait list can increase the school’s value.

“I will say, I don’t want us to become an elitist school,” Bull said. “When you have a waiting list, though, it actually increases the value of your diploma because it’s showing that, well, there must be something special about this place. There must be something good happening because people want to be there.”

Concordia’s accountability to the Synod will also be helpful if conflicts arise between government mandates and God’s Word, Bull said.

He said resolutions passed at the national convention ensure that “the church will stand up and help support the Concordias in cases where our rights, like from a secular viewpoint, are impacted.

“But also the church will help support the Concordias where our duties to the government are involved,” he added.

Christians must respect the authority of the government, but if the government demands something that
opposes God’s Word, Christians are called to follow God. Bull said accountability to the Synod will give Concordia protection if and when “Christians and Christian organizations [are] in a very real clash
between what the government is saying should be done and what God’s Word is saying.”

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