The cities, towns and curves in the road where Missouri District congregations are found represent a significant geographic, cultural and ethnic diversity. From the prairie to the urban core, our congregations are located in quite varied places. In Kansas City and St. Louis, our congregations may be located in neighborhoods of people from many nations, yet in some small towns there is still a strong German heritage. We also have retirement communities and industrial centers, as well as our historic ties to agriculture. Our congregations are located in diverse places and are even made up of diverse people, but we are called to walk together.
One of the challenges that the Church faces today is a proper understanding of its place in our culture today. For the latter half of the Twentieth Century, the Church was fooled into thinking that it had a friend in the culture. As our privileged position in society has dissipated, many are grieving this loss. But the Church never existed to be a power player in the culture. The Church has always existed to proclaim the Gospel. Jesus’ commissions found at the end of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in Acts 1 make clear that this proclamation is to be to all peoples, to the ends of the earth.
While there may be great geographic, cultural and ethnic diversity where our congregations are found, we give thanks to God for the blessed gift of unity in Christ. The word Synod means to be on the road together, often described as walking together. Right now, in these challenging times, it is vital for our congregations to walk together, both in doctrine and mission. No congregation is an island unto itself. Rather, walking together, we support and encourage one another in our confession of the truth.
First, we share a tremendous doctrinal foundation within the Synod as we hold to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. Whether our congregations are found adjacent to a college campus or in a place not even on a map, we hold to the same confession regarding the triune God, God’s creation of all things by the power of His Word, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, baptismal regeneration, and the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, God’s design and gift of marriage. Both large and small congregations walk together in our doctrine based upon the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the Lutheran Confessions. This walking together in our confession is a true blessing.
Secondly, we also walk together in mission as we share in the call to participate in the commission to proclaim the Gospel to all. No congregation has the market cornered on mission. This call to participate in God’s mission is given to us all. What a wonderful thing it is to see our congregations walking together in mission. As congregations shrink and face financial challenges, there are more opportunities for our congregations to walk together in this charge to bring good news to all the world. Right now, many smaller congregations are open and need the partnership and support of larger congregations so that they can participate in God’s mission together. We are striving for diversity when it comes to mission as we strive to reach people from all over the world who are living in Missouri. My hope and prayer is that the congregation of the district will continue to walk together in our common confession and our common mission!
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan