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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: Dave Likeness on January 17, 2014, 04:38:18 PM

Title: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 17, 2014, 04:38:18 PM
In the January 2014 Forum Letter, Pastor Richard
Johnson has an article about theological education.
It raises some questions that perhaps a wider
audience could answer or even Editor Johnson.

Two of the ELCA Seminaries have merged with
church related-universities: Southern with Lenoir-
Rhyne and Pacific with California Lutheran University.

Two of the ELCA Seminaries are on the ATS Financial
Watch List (Association of Theological Schools):
Philadelphia and Chicago

This leaves us with the remaining four:
Luther Seminary at St. Paul, MN
Trinity Seminary at Columbus, Ohio
Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg, PA
Wartburg Seminary at Dubuque, Iowa

Evidently, Luther Sem resolved a recent
financial crisis. Who makes the decisions on
the vitality of these seminaries based on
enrollment, finances, etc.????

Does the ELCA as a church body have a
master plan for these seminaries to survive?

Are any of these seminaries too small to last
another ten years?
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LutherMan on January 17, 2014, 06:55:09 PM
I really don't understand how a rapidly shrinking church body like the ELCA can support so many sems...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Chuck on January 17, 2014, 08:39:14 PM
Same way a shrinking LCMS supports two.
BTW, in 2012 the LCMS lost 1.6% of membership and the ELCA 2.3%. So how do you define "rapidly"?
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 17, 2014, 08:58:20 PM
The ELCA had  5,113,418 members in 2000
They had only  4,181,219 members in 2010


The LCMS had 2,521,062 members in 2000
They had only 2,270,921 members in 2010

Bottom Line:  In 10 years ELCA lost about 1 million
And in the same period LCMS lost 250,000
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Chuck on January 17, 2014, 09:24:10 PM
So what? Shall we compare to 1973-1977 in the LCMS?
How about:

            ELCA              LCMS
1969    5,278,774     2,786,102
2009    4,543,037     2,312,111
           -13.94%          -17.01%


We've both had our purges.

Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 17, 2014, 09:39:45 PM
I know it, you know it, and the American
people know it........There was no ELCA
in 1969.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Chuck on January 17, 2014, 10:00:54 PM
I know it, you know it, and the American
people know it........There was no ELCA
in 1969.
Don't be so dense.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 17, 2014, 10:48:13 PM
Statistics don't even begin to tell the whole story for either church body.  There are many, many factors involved in church growth and decline.  Some of them involve the faithfulness of pastors, people and church body leaders.  Some of them have to do with the ethnic roots of the church body.  (In order to be faithful must we repudiate our heritage and pretend that our roots are something else?)  Some of them have to do with the demographics of the areas and people our churches serve.  And other factors.

We all would like to have bragging rights, but statistics proves little.

Dan
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 17, 2014, 11:13:59 PM
Statistics do prove that being what some call "confessional" or "conservative" is no guarantee that your denomination will not decline in membership.

Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 17, 2014, 11:36:05 PM
Statistics do prove that being what some call "confessional" or "conservative" is no guarantee that your denomination will not decline in membership.
Similarly, statistcs show that being progressive in theology and social justice advocacy is no guarantee that your church body won't decline in membership.

Dan
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 17, 2014, 11:48:58 PM
Statistics do prove that being what some call "confessional" or "conservative" is no guarantee that your denomination will not decline in membership.
Similarly, statistcs show that being progressive in theology and social justice advocacy is no guarantee that your church body won't decline in membership.


But some conservatives like to blame our progressive/liberal positions for our decline. Statistics don't indicate causality.


Frankly, if the numbers in 2013 of ELCA + LCMC + NALC is greater than the ELCA in 2008, I'd be very happy. We are to grow the kingdom of God, not our denominations.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Richard Johnson on January 17, 2014, 11:49:25 PM
Was anybody going to talk about the interesting questions with which Pr. Likeness began this thread?
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 17, 2014, 11:50:42 PM
Was anybody going to talk about the interesting questions with which Pr. Likeness began this thread?


I think that the answer is, "No." To both questions: yours and Pr. Likeness's.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: scott8 on January 18, 2014, 12:04:44 AM
So what? Shall we compare to 1973-1977 in the LCMS?
How about:

            ELCA              LCMS
1969    5,278,774     2,786,102
2009    4,543,037     2,312,111
           -13.94%          -17.01%


We've both had our purges.

Your 1969 numbers for the ELCA do not reflect your own spreadsheet.

According to the spreadsheet you linked a while back (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=4915.msg302745#msg302745), here are the accurate numbers for 1969-2009:


              ELCA           LCMS
1969    5,695,272      2,786,102
2009    4,543,037      2,312,111

           -20.3%          -17.0%

This is simply an adjustment based upon the actual numbers in your own linked spreadsheet; I think that your spreadsheet also includes the number of LCMS members who left the LCMS during the Seminex days and joined the predecessor church bodies of the ELCA in the 1970s, so the relative decline would also include that siphoning off of members from one to the other.

If we bring the numbers up through 2012 based on the same spreadsheet:

              ELCA           LCMS
2012     3,964,474     2,196,788

          -30.4%           -21.2%   from 1969 numbers

The difference is that the ELCA is declining 43.4% (9.2/21.2) faster than the LCMS since 1969.

Of course, none of the numbers are good.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Chuck on January 18, 2014, 12:26:44 AM
You're correct. I picked up 1959 instead of 1969.


Just for kicks:


             ELCA               LCMS             US Populaion
1925     1,124,892        628,695        115,829,000
2012     3,964,474        2,196,788      312,780,968
              252.43%       249.42%         170.04%
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Chuck on January 18, 2014, 12:47:11 AM
Frankly, if the numbers in 2013 of ELCA + LCMC + NALC is greater than the ELCA in 2008, I'd be very happy. We are to grow the kingdom of God, not our denominations.


Indeed.
Neither the LCMC nor the NALC have published numbers, so it is hard to know. It is telling, though, that 2 denominations who like to shout about how they are about "making disciples" don't seem to have any way of tracking that.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: scott8 on January 18, 2014, 02:10:59 AM
You're correct. I picked up 1959 instead of 1969.


Just for kicks:


             ELCA               LCMS             US Populaion
1925     1,124,892        628,695        115,829,000
2012     3,964,474        2,196,788      312,780,968
              252.43%       249.42%         170.04%

Or for even better fun...

                 ELCA.             LCMS
Ca. 30.          0                   0
Now.          Infinitely more


There you go.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LCMS87 on January 18, 2014, 02:51:07 AM
Was anybody going to talk about the interesting questions with which Pr. Likeness began this thread?

All the numbers above got me wondering.  With 8 seminaries and 3,964,474 members, the ELCA has one seminary per 495,559 members.  With 2 seminaries and 2,196,788 members, the LCMS has a seminary for every 1,098,394 members.  (Member statistics from 2012 as reported above for both church bodies.)

Another way of looking at that is if the ELCA's is the ideal ratio of seminaries to members, the LCMS ought to have 4.43 seminaries.  On the other hand, if the LCMS' is the ideal ratio of seminaries to members, the ELCA ought to have only 3.61 seminaries. 

I find this interesting, at least in part, because a five years ago or so there was a bit of conversation in the LCMS about closing one of the seminaries.  Nothing came of it, but that discussion does seem to make the issues Pr. Likeness raises worth considering.  Is 8 the right number of seminaries for the ELCA?  Why or why not?   
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 18, 2014, 02:58:12 AM
Re seminaries:
FWIW, and it probably isn't much, I do not think we will be able to maintain all of our current seminaries. But actually "we," that is, the ELCA, are not maintaining them now. The schools are largely on their own when it comes to financial support.
I have believed for a long time that we should have more church-wide support for seminaries, more church-wide input into curriculum required for those in the "ordination track," more spiritual formation for people in that track, and more synodical supervision of seminarians preparing for ordination.
I do not see signs that much is happening in these areas.
Seminary "tradition" and alumni loyalty is strong. Decades before the ELCA merger, there were attempts to link/merge/blend Philadelphia and Gettysburg. Didn't happen.
The merger of Central Seminary (Fremont, Nebraska), Suomi Seminary (Michigan), Chicago Seminary (Maywood) and Augustana Seminary (Rock Island), did happen, creating LSTC, because the strong, "national" LCA made it happen.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Mel Harris on January 18, 2014, 04:25:30 AM

Who makes the decisions on the vitality of these seminaries based on enrollment, finances, etc.????


        As I understand it, the six ELCA seminaries that have not merged with colleges are all separately incorporated, so the board of directors of each of them would make those decisions for their own seminary.  (Some of the members of the board of directors are elected by the ELCA.)
 
       The ELCA Constitution (http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/CBCR_2013_November.pdf) does include ways that the ELCA relates to its seminaries in 8.31. through 8.31.08. (pages 55 - 57 of the linked pdf file).  The ELCA claims the right to veto amendments to the governing documents of the seminaries.

Quote

8.31.02.       Amendments to the governing documents of each separately incorporated
                   seminary and each seminary cluster shall be submitted, upon
                   recommendation of the appropriate unit of the churchwide organization,
                   to the Church Council for approval. Amendments to the governing
                   documents of a college or university of this church that affect the authority
                   or integrity of an unincorporated seminary of this church associated with
                   that college or university shall be submitted, upon recommendation of the
                   appropriate unit of the churchwide organization, to the Church Council for
                   approval.

Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 18, 2014, 09:40:01 AM
From the information posted so far, it seems
that each ELCA seminary has the major challenge
of supporting itself financially.  Therefore, each
seminary will remain as long as they can raise the
funds to stay in existence.

The fact that the Philadelphia seminary is on a
financial watch list by the group that accredits them,
and resides in a badly declining neighborhood, it
would make sense for them to have some serious
talks with the Gettysburg seminary.

The Midwest currently has 4 seminaries and Chicago
is also on the financial watch list.  Perhaps it will lose
out in the survival of the financially fittest.

Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: GalRevRedux on January 18, 2014, 09:54:59 AM
Frankly, if the numbers in 2013 of ELCA + LCMC + NALC is greater than the ELCA in 2008, I'd be very happy. We are to grow the kingdom of God, not our denominations.


Indeed.
Neither the LCMC nor the NALC have published numbers, so it is hard to know. It is telling, though, that 2 denominations who like to shout about how they are about "making disciples" don't seem to have any way of tracking that.

Looks like the NALC is showing 130,000 members.
http://thenalc.org/about-us-2/ (http://thenalc.org/about-us-2/)
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Terry W Culler on January 18, 2014, 09:58:57 AM
Seminary loyalty can be a strong force in the church.  The AFLC is the direct descendant of the Lutheran Free Church.  The LFC actually began its formation as the Friends of Augsburg Seminary in a dispute amongst Norwegian Lutherans.  Led the Georg Sverdrup, the president of Augsburg, people gathered around their pastors who had trained there and a new denomination was formed.

But how loyal do graduates remain to a changed theology?  We could look at the Philadelphia seminary begun as a conservative alternative to Gettysburg or to Princeton which was a bastion of Calvinist conservatism until the 1920's when its desire for "inclusion" led to the formation of Westminster Seminary.  How long do we stay loyal to an institution when it is no longer to what it taught us?
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Eileen Smith on January 18, 2014, 10:01:29 AM
From the information posted so far, it seems
that each ELCA seminary has the major challenge
of supporting itself financially.  Therefore, each
seminary will remain as long as they can raise the
funds to stay in existence.

The fact that the Philadelphia seminary is on a
financial watch list by the group that accredits them,
and resides in a badly declining neighborhood, it
would make sense for them to have some serious
talks with the Gettysburg seminary.

The Midwest currently has 4 seminaries and Chicago
is also on the financial watch list.  Perhaps it will lose
out in the survival of the financially fittest.

A marriage between Philadelphia and Gettysburg would be interesting - two very different cultures.

Watch list is a problem that seems to call for more immediate action.   Does anyone know if there are programs to encourage young men and women (e.g., early high school years) into ministry?  I know Philadelphia had a program where young students spent a week in the summer, getting a taste of sem.   Not certain if it is still in place.  Perhaps synods/districts should have a resource person to reach out in creative ways to young people. 
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 18, 2014, 10:32:05 AM
What is the demand for new pastors in the ELCA?  If young men and women are to be encouraged to spend the time and money (and in most cases encure the student loan debt) to get a graduate degree and train for a profession, some assurance that positions will be available would be good.  A serious issue for any church body's seminary system is whether there is an excess capacity.  More students help keep the seminary alive but if they graduate all dressed up with no where to go, is the church or the students really well served?

Dan
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Matt Hummel on January 18, 2014, 12:09:05 PM
I have known about the LTSP watchlisting for a bit.  But that does not have anything to do with the neighborhood.  To be frank, I drive by my alma mater almost every Sunday on the way to Mass.  The Mt. Airy neighborhood has, in some ways, come up since last I trod the hallowed halls.  It's the city of Philadelphia that is deteriorating.  But that is for another discussion.

Not sure how an LTSP/G merger would work or look.  If one campus closed, you would loose easy access to a type of ministry.  Philly- Urban/Inner City, Gettysburg- Rural/Town & Country.

To be frank, I suspect that this discussion would need to include all the Seminaries.  How many "Urban/Inner Cities" does one Church need?  How many "Rural/Town & Countries?"

I do note that LTSP is publicizing the fact that they just got several hundred thousand $$$ from the PA for a building program.  I am... uncomfortable with that.  Simply because of the golden rule of arts and sciences.  What Caesar has so magnanimously given, he can just as readily take away, and perhaps even more.



Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Eileen Smith on January 18, 2014, 01:09:06 PM
What is the demand for new pastors in the ELCA?  If young men and women are to be encouraged to spend the time and money (and in most cases encure the student loan debt) to get a graduate degree and train for a profession, some assurance that positions will be available would be good.  A serious issue for any church body's seminary system is whether there is an excess capacity.  More students help keep the seminary alive but if they graduate all dressed up with no where to go, is the church or the students really well served?

Dan

There are degree programs other than a path to ordination. 
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Chuck on January 18, 2014, 01:11:54 PM
Looks like the NALC is showing 130,000 members.
http://thenalc.org/about-us-2/ (http://thenalc.org/about-us-2/)
"more than" numbers are not very helpful, but I suspect the NALC will begin tracking and publishing numbers similar to the ELCA and LCMS in the near future.

LCMC, however, is another story. Given their polity, I doubt it will ever happen.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 18, 2014, 02:41:07 PM
According to the webpage of these seminaries,
this was their student enrollment in 2010.

Chicago.........290
Philly.............260
Gettysburg.....228
Columbus.......155
Dubuque........153
St. Paul..........Not Available

When you consider that those numbers
represent 1st year, 2nd year, Internships,
and 4th year students, then for example
Dubuque has about 38 students in each
class.  Interesting situations.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: scott8 on January 18, 2014, 02:46:47 PM
According to the webpage of these seminaries,
this was their student enrollment in 2010.

Chicago.........290
Philly.............260
Gettysburg.....228
Columbus.......155
Dubuque........153
St. Paul..........Not Available

When you consider that those numbers
represent 1st year, 2nd year, Internships,
and 4th year students, then for example
Dubuque has about 38 students in each
class.  Interesting situations.

Luther Seminary's 2012-2013 enrollment for all programs was 764 students (http://www.luthersem.edu/gifts/annual_reports/enrollment.aspx).
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Chuck on January 18, 2014, 02:57:05 PM
According to the webpage of these seminaries,
this was their student enrollment in 2010.

Chicago.........290
Philly.............260
Gettysburg.....228
Columbus.......155
Dubuque........153
St. Paul..........Not Available

When you consider that those numbers
represent 1st year, 2nd year, Internships,
and 4th year students, then for example
Dubuque has about 38 students in each
class.  Interesting situations.

Luther Seminary's 2012-2013 enrollment for all programs was 764 students (http://www.luthersem.edu/gifts/annual_reports/enrollment.aspx).
of which 52% (~397) were MDiv students.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 18, 2014, 02:58:35 PM
Thanks Scott, I knew Luther Seminary at
St. Paul was the largest ELCA seminary.
They listed 40 faculty members so that
would match up with 764 students.

Luther has been the flagship seminary
for the ELCA with an illustrious faculty
for many decades.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Chuck on January 18, 2014, 03:14:07 PM
So, if we use the above numbers (understanding that there are several approximations there, and one year is difficult to extrapolate):
Ave. Retirements per year:                            ~430
Ave. Loss of Congregations (1995-2012):      -    75
Replacement pastors needed:                          355
MDiv students graduating:                               371


Pretty close for back of the envelope calculation.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 18, 2014, 03:43:10 PM
At the risk of sounding like an anti-intellectual hick, I think the future of pastoral formation might have to be divorced from academic degrees and accreditation altogether. The problem is that seminaries that have to support themselves end up having to rely on student loans to keep afloat, which means the students have to rely on salaried church jobs to stay afloat, which means we end up with a tail wagging the dog.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Coach-Rev on January 18, 2014, 03:58:42 PM
Frankly, if the numbers in 2013 of ELCA + LCMC + NALC is greater than the ELCA in 2008, I'd be very happy. We are to grow the kingdom of God, not our denominations.


Indeed.
Neither the LCMC nor the NALC have published numbers, so it is hard to know. It is telling, though, that 2 denominations who like to shout about how they are about "making disciples" don't seem to have any way of tracking that.

Looks like the NALC is showing 130,000 members.
http://thenalc.org/about-us-2/ (http://thenalc.org/about-us-2/)

Welcome back Pr Donna!

Just in time for me to pull the plug once for all, as many others before me have done.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: GalRevRedux on January 18, 2014, 04:32:54 PM
Frankly, if the numbers in 2013 of ELCA + LCMC + NALC is greater than the ELCA in 2008, I'd be very happy. We are to grow the kingdom of God, not our denominations.


Indeed.
Neither the LCMC nor the NALC have published numbers, so it is hard to know. It is telling, though, that 2 denominations who like to shout about how they are about "making disciples" don't seem to have any way of tracking that.

Looks like the NALC is showing 130,000 members.
http://thenalc.org/about-us-2/ (http://thenalc.org/about-us-2/)

Welcome back Pr Donna!

Just in time for me to pull the plug once for all, as many others before me have done.

Don't go, Jeff!!! I was looking for someone who might agree with me that "making disciples"  might not be measured, primarily, in numbers and percentages...!
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 18, 2014, 04:40:30 PM
If "making disciples" is not to be measured by the number of disciples made, then how?
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 18, 2014, 05:05:19 PM
Pastor Donna, you are correct.  Jesus called
us to FEED His sheep, not to count them.
We are to make disciples who are life-long
learners of God's Word.  Christ wants mature
disciples who worship Him, witness for Him,
serve Him.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: NCLutheran on January 18, 2014, 05:17:44 PM
Higher education is my family business, so to speak, and I have a lot to say on the topic but I will hold off for now.

First of all, any seminary that is bleeding money, badly in the red, needs to close. Schools, like anything manmade, have finite lifetimes. I don't know if any institution falls in that category, but it was mentioned that Chicago and Philadelphia are on the watch list so that may mean the end of those schools.

For the schools that are left, any one not breaking even needs restructuring. The particulars will be different in each circumstance, but it may mean anything from the seminary folding into a nearby university and becoming a "school" within said school; it could mean a merger with a nearby seminary with one campus closing, or it could mean that the seminary actually expands its offerings if able to do so profitably.

Next, all schools - regardless of financial situation - need to have a serious period of housekeeping and reflection as to the best way forward. To give an example, my undergraduate department had twenty-four professors on the payroll, yet only ten actually taught a class that semester because of the various academic leaves, research projects, etc. That department was given the decision to either let professors go or to face cancellation of its programs altogether. It was a difficult process, especially since all the professors were well liked and appreciated, but the department emerged much stronger and the classes much more applicable to the real world. Colleges by nature attract charismatic, influential people; and this clouds rational decision making in many ways. There simply isn't enough Lutherans and Lutheran money out there to allow escapism into academial ideals.

After those steps would be taken, I would not be surprised if the ELCA only had three or four seminaries left - but those seminaries would be revitalized and ready for the challenges of today's ministry and not the 1950's.

In any situation, I have long felt that the seminaries may best be managed by merging them into one institution with multiple campuses, a la the state university system in many states. A balance of independence and identity while coming under one governance and financial umbrella. Considering that the seminaries are an expression of the church, too, and they should have to adapt to the times the same as the local congregation.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 18, 2014, 05:31:32 PM
Mr. Austin, that is a great post and plenty
of ideas to think about.  Appreciate your
efforts to enlighten us.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 18, 2014, 05:46:25 PM
I, too, like the ideas of the man with the distinguished name.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on January 18, 2014, 08:58:21 PM
I, too, appreciated R.L Austin's comments.  I discuss the topic of Lutheran seminaries periodically with a worshiper in my congregation.  He is a retired ELCA pastor, though he prefers to say that he is retired LCA, but that is just in jest.  He was born into the ULCA, attended Maywood, then finished at LSTC.  Later he did some work at Trinity in Columbus but not for a degree or anything.  He wonders about the number of ELCA seminaries (thinks there are too many) yet thinks the LCMS ought to have at least one more given our size.  He also finds it pretty amazing that LCMS clergy all seem to know the faculty at each seminary.  I tell him that I think it is something neat and helps us maintain our connection to each other. 

In our congregation we pray for our seminaries and support the Joint Seminary Fund.  I think we are well served by both of our schools. 

Jeremy (SL, 1999) 
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: GalRevRedux on January 19, 2014, 07:33:43 AM
The ELCA underwent a deep study of Theological Education (headed by Dr. Phyllis Anderson) in the early 1990s which concluded that 8 seminaries would not be viable in the future. There was a recommendation that "clusters" be formed and educational responsibilities be divided up among the entities. (a crude summary, but I remember it that way - I was on a seminary board at that time).

The reality, in my experience, was that the seminaries instead engaged in entrenchment and were seeking to stake out their territories, so to speak, in order to NOT be merged/purged out of existence. You don't hear much about the clusters anymore. I don't see that the recommendations bore too much fruit.

I thought there was a lot of common sense in the report and recommendations. But that is just MHO. I think Mr. Austin demonstrates similar common sense in his well-received thoughts, above.

I couldn't find the report online. I did find a document from ATS which summarizes the document and surveys what happened after it came to the 1993 assembly.

http://www.ats.edu/uploads/resources/publications-presentations/theological-education/2000-theological-education-v36-sup.pdf (http://www.ats.edu/uploads/resources/publications-presentations/theological-education/2000-theological-education-v36-sup.pdf)

Perhaps this will contribute to the discussion.

Donna
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 19, 2014, 08:13:10 AM
Higher education is my family business, so to speak, and I have a lot to say on the topic but I will hold off for now.

First of all, any seminary that is bleeding money, badly in the red, needs to close. Schools, like anything manmade, have finite lifetimes. I don't know if any institution falls in that category, but it was mentioned that Chicago and Philadelphia are on the watch list so that may mean the end of those schools.

For the schools that are left, any one not breaking even needs restructuring. The particulars will be different in each circumstance, but it may mean anything from the seminary folding into a nearby university and becoming a "school" within said school; it could mean a merger with a nearby seminary with one campus closing, or it could mean that the seminary actually expands its offerings if able to do so profitably.

Next, all schools - regardless of financial situation - need to have a serious period of housekeeping and reflection as to the best way forward. To give an example, my undergraduate department had twenty-four professors on the payroll, yet only ten actually taught a class that semester because of the various academic leaves, research projects, etc. That department was given the decision to either let professors go or to face cancellation of its programs altogether. It was a difficult process, especially since all the professors were well liked and appreciated, but the department emerged much stronger and the classes much more applicable to the real world. Colleges by nature attract charismatic, influential people; and this clouds rational decision making in many ways. There simply isn't enough Lutherans and Lutheran money out there to allow escapism into academial ideals.

After those steps would be taken, I would not be surprised if the ELCA only had three or four seminaries left - but those seminaries would be revitalized and ready for the challenges of today's ministry and not the 1950's.

In any situation, I have long felt that the seminaries may best be managed by merging them into one institution with multiple campuses, a la the state university system in many states. A balance of independence and identity while coming under one governance and financial umbrella. Considering that the seminaries are an expression of the church, too, and they should have to adapt to the times the same as the local congregation.

Great post.  I tried recently to do the math on my college/seminary training in terms of cost.  Back that far, of course,
a) the seminaries were full of students
b) the seminaries received actual financial subsidy from the national church body.
c) young adults could work in factory/physicial activity jobs that paid, even seasonally
So I had a summer position that paid 3 1/2 times the minimum wage, with union bennies.  In today's dollars, I made about $14000 for twelve weeks.  And that was the basic tuition package for the Senior College and Sem (again in today's dollars).  Working during the school year got the fees and extra stuff paid. 
BUT - that summer position adds up to over a $50000 a year job in today's dollars, in a factory, when I was 20.  As far as I know, those jobs are long gone. 
AND - the number for that college/seminary annual tuition/fees is at $40000 plus. 
AND - there's no guarantee of positions with sufficient compensation to pay back the debt I've accumulated. 
AND -  the prospect of a lifetime's worth of 50 parishioner attendees out there in front of me on a Sunday holding my compensation in their hands is not always comforting either, since their expectation is that I double that attendance for them without discomforting them in any way.

That being said, parish pastoral ministry is still and will remain the highest/best vocation on the planet in the "service" industry, serving Lord and Church.  Completely recommended for those secure in their baptismal identity and eternal destiny and willing to set out on the voyage in the little boat with God's people!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 19, 2014, 09:24:42 AM
I think I said it before: When I went to seminary (dodging the dinosaurs on the way to class) the tuition was $150 per quarter; and half of that was paid by my synod.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 19, 2014, 11:09:33 AM
According to Pastor Donna's comments, there
was a serious attempt to study the issue of
8 ELCA seminaries already in the mid-1990's.
Yet, they simply dug in and refused to heed
any advice.  The ELCA still has 6 free-standing
seminaries which continue to engage in the
battle of the survival of the fittest.  It seems
that only the lack of financial resources will
force each seminary to take some type of action.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Michael Slusser on January 19, 2014, 01:56:08 PM
According to Pastor Donna's comments, there
was a serious attempt to study the issue of
8 ELCA seminaries already in the mid-1990's.
Yet, they simply dug in and refused to heed
any advice.  The ELCA still has 6 free-standing
seminaries which continue to engage in the
battle of the survival of the fittest.  It seems
that only the lack of financial resources will
force each seminary to take some type of action.
Boards of Trustees are fiduciaries for the future and the success of the institutions of which they are trustees. That is not "digging in and refusing to heed any advice." No seminary is obliged to commit hara-kiri for the sake of a projected greater stability of the whole non-system.

If it is really not doing well and its funders tell it that they won't be increasing their support, then the Board may well decide to pull back, refocus its mission, or close. But a Board should not volunteer its institution for dissolution on the basis of punditry in the church or outside of it.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LutherMan on January 19, 2014, 02:02:31 PM
Fr. S, How many RC sems are there in the US, any idea?
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Michael Slusser on January 19, 2014, 02:51:57 PM
Fr. S, How many RC sems are there in the US, any idea?

Not really, LutherMan. But I'd guess 15-20 or more [actually, 41!]. There's probably a place to find that information, but I need to set up for football.  :)

Peace,
Michael

If this link works, it will tell you all:
cara.georgetown.edu/Publications/Overview2012-13-FINAL.pdf
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 19, 2014, 03:01:03 PM
As noted upstream, the ELCA as the ELCA has little control over its seminaries, which are for the most part independently constituted institutions. It can make recommendations, it can say what it thinks it needs in terms of seminary education, but it cannot force the merger or closing of any individual seminary. Those decisions are totally in the hands of seminary boards.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LutherMan on January 19, 2014, 04:03:03 PM
Not sure how accurate these wiki stats are but:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_Catholic_seminaries

United States

According to the 2010 Official Catholic Directory, as of 2009 there are 189 seminaries with 5,131 students in the United States; 3,319 diocesan seminarians and 1,812 religious seminarians. By the official 2011 statistics, there are 5,247 seminarians (3,394 diocesan and 1,853 religious) in the United States.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Michael Slusser on January 19, 2014, 04:36:37 PM
Not sure how accurate these wiki stats are but:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_Catholic_seminaries

United States

According to the 2010 Official Catholic Directory, as of 2009 there are 189 seminaries with 5,131 students in the United States; 3,319 diocesan seminarians and 1,812 religious seminarians. By the official 2011 statistics, there are 5,247 seminarians (3,394 diocesan and 1,853 religious) in the United States.
That includes several categories, no doubt: theologates, college seminaries, high school seminaries and goodness knows what. The CARA document I linked to is very precise and up-to-date. It says 41 theologates (down from 43 the year before because of a merger and a closing), i.e., the 4-year institutions preparing students directly for ordination..

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LutherMan on January 19, 2014, 04:48:00 PM
Thanks for the breakdown, good info...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Michael Slusser on January 19, 2014, 05:24:56 PM
Thanks for the breakdown, good info...
From p. 12 of the CARA report:
The figure at right groups the theologates
according to their reported enrollment for
the 2012-2013 academic year, displaying
the consolidation that occurred with the
closing of two more theologates. One in
three theologates (14 of the 41 theologates)
are relatively large, enrolling 100 or more
seminarians. Four in ten (16 of the 41
theologates) have between 50 and 99
seminarians enrolled, and another one in
four (11 in all) have fewer than 50
seminarians enrolled this year.

I imagine that only some smaller Lutheran churches (AFLC, Lutheran Brethren, ELS) work with numbers as low in the third category above. IMO such seminaries have something to teach our churches about possible economies of smaller scale.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: John_Hannah on January 19, 2014, 05:50:37 PM
The LCMS may not be much better off than the ELCA. I understand that there are now about 2,000 (out of 6,000) LCMS congregation that cannot afford to have a pastor. We should give our best moral and ethical consideration to how many seminarians we actually need before too many get deeply in debt with no where else to go. One seminary may have to go.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LutherMan on January 19, 2014, 05:58:25 PM
One seminary may have to go.
Then it should be St Louis, since it is the only property that can be sold...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: carlvehse on January 19, 2014, 06:08:14 PM
I understand that there are now about 2,000 (out of 6,000) LCMS congregation that cannot afford to have a pastor.

From what reference or source do you understand that are now about 2,000 LCMS congregations that cannot afford to have a pastor?   Also, by "cannot afford" do you include churches who share a pastor with one or more other congregations?

 
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 19, 2014, 06:08:48 PM
 LCMS President Matthew Harrison has
repeatedly voiced his strong support that
we maintain two seminaries.   There is
no strong sentiment in the LCMS that
would bring a resolution to our national
LCMS convention to close either Fort Wayne
or St. Louis.

Bottom Line: Both of our seminaries continue
to have new buildings added or remodeled.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on January 19, 2014, 06:13:59 PM
The ELCA underwent a deep study of Theological Education (headed by Dr. Phyllis Anderson) in the early 1990s which concluded that 8 seminaries would not be viable in the future. There was a recommendation that "clusters" be formed and educational responsibilities be divided up among the entities. (a crude summary, but I remember it that way - I was on a seminary board at that time).

The reality, in my experience, was that the seminaries instead engaged in entrenchment and were seeking to stake out their territories, so to speak, in order to NOT be merged/purged out of existence. You don't hear much about the clusters anymore. I don't see that the recommendations bore too much fruit.


The ELCA Study of Theological Education (http://archive.is/gpDiq), approved by the 1995 CWA, seems to have gotten lost in the latest ELCA website update.  As a 1992 graduate from PLTS, which has just become the school of theology for California Lutheran University, allow me to offer a less bleak picture of the seminary boards and the seminary clusters. 

I could not say how, uh, enthusiastically the PLTS Board, Administration, and Faculty truly were about being clustered with Luther Sem.  Frankly I expect many of them resented the very idea.  But that clustering enabled PLTS to greatly improve a perpetual weakness, the actual administration of the school and its property.  PLTS alone had never had the resources to do that well, even in the '50s and '60s, and as the nature of the administration of theological schools grew more complex in the '80s and '90s, PLTS was stuck years behind.  (I worked briefly in the business office myself the summer I arrived, and had a nice relationship with the Administrative VPs -- yes, that's plural -- before departing for internship.) 

Some of the school's leadership recognized this, but until the ELCA "forced" the clustering, internal forces resisted moving forward.  Much of the school's business management was effectively taken over by Luther, and even academics became a more co-operative effort of both schools.  Apart from clustering, PLTS would not have survived to the new millennium.  But it meant, especially initially, being partially dependent upon the resources of Luther Seminary.  While far from an ideal situation (either PLTS competently managing itself or being fully integrated as a West Coast campus for Luther would have been simpler), it might have worked for quite a bit longer had Dr. Bliese's administration recognized the collapsing of Luther's own finances in the latter part of the last decade and acted on it.  Of course, church institutions don't seem to do that any better than congregations -- or most other enterprises for that matter.  But PLTS could no longer financially or administratively lean on Luther, rather ironic when its current President, Dr. Phyllis Anderson, had been the Director of the ELCA Study of Theological Education.  It's very survival depended upon another option.

But this post is about the reception of "clustering," and while I am most familiar with the Western Cluster of PLTS and Luther, I've been able to see some of the workings of the Covenant Cluster (Wartburg, LSTC, Trinity) as a parish pastor, and even a bit of the Eastern (Gettysburg, Mt. Airy, Southern). For "traditional" seminary education, the clustering didn't change things as much as was possible or hoped for, and Wartburg and LSTC did not (when it came to relating to our synod beyond synod assembly reports) always play very well together.  But newer forms of seminary education were enabled because of the clustering (whether they are better or not is a separate matter).  And I would not be surprised that the actual implementation of clustered, uh, activities hasn't work as well as the PR says.  After all, PLTS always lifted up the opportunities of being part of the GTU as an attraction for constituencies, but in "normal" times MDiv students were steered away from actually taking advantage of courses of the other schools.

And, of course, clustering merely stalled the effects of something that not only spurred the 1988-94 Study, but a matter recognized some 50 years ago in the ELCA's predecessor bodies, and noted still earlier by some observers.  The ELCA has always had too many seminaries.  When I was at PLTS, Luther Northwestern's student body was nearly the same size as the other 7 sems combined!  The issue isn't that we ought to close at least 2 of them, but which ones to close.  Especially when each of the eight offers, or at least has the heritage and continued potential, to offer something unique that the other schools cannot.  Then again, whether they are actually doing so is another matter entirely.  PLTS' uniqueness as the West Coast seminary made sense when nearly all her grads remained in the Western US and Canada.  But does it make sense in today's ELCA, when her grads go across this church?

Cal Lu has deep pockets, at least for now, so we may not be required to face that question for PLTS and the GTU.  (Similarly for Lenoir-Rhyne and Southern).  Yet, already one GTU school (the Franciscan School of Theology, now affiliated with the University of San Diego) is moving to Southern California.  And the Jesuit School of Theology, while remaining in Berkeley, is now a graduate school of Santa Clara University (a Jesuit university near the San Jose airport -- interestingly not the nearer University of San Francisco, also Jesuit). 

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Michael Slusser on January 19, 2014, 07:06:19 PM
  And the Jesuit School of Theology, while remaining in Berkeley, is now a graduate school of Santa Clara University (a Jesuit university near the San Jose airport -- interestingly not the nearer University of San Francisco, also Jesuit). 

Pax, Steven+
It's the history. Before moving to Berkeley, JSTB was Alma College in Los Gatos, 13 miles southwest of Santa Clara University. It never had a historical or administrative connection with USF. I was at JSTB for two months in 2001, and I don't remember any back-and-forth with USF.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Chuck on January 19, 2014, 08:32:09 PM
The ELCA Study of Theological Education (http://archive.is/gpDiq),
That one doesn't seem to work anymore.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: John_Hannah on January 20, 2014, 06:00:37 AM
I understand that there are now about 2,000 (out of 6,000) LCMS congregation that cannot afford to have a pastor.

From what reference or source do you understand that are now about 2,000 LCMS congregations that cannot afford to have a pastor?   Also, by "cannot afford" do you include churches who share a pastor with one or more other congregations?

I'm not sure where I got that number so it may not be precisely accurate. I am sure, however, that there is a very serious problem awaiting us. (Unless it is reversed soon.)

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 20, 2014, 08:18:52 AM
I understand that there are now about 2,000 (out of 6,000) LCMS congregation that cannot afford to have a pastor.

From what reference or source do you understand that are now about 2,000 LCMS congregations that cannot afford to have a pastor?   Also, by "cannot afford" do you include churches who share a pastor with one or more other congregations?

I'm not sure where I got that number so it may not be precisely accurate. I am sure, however, that there is a very serious problem awaiting us. (Unless it is reversed soon.)

Peace, JOHN

In terms of "sharing a pastor," or dual/triple/multiple "parishes", that's one solution to the compensationally non-viable problem.  It operates as a factor diminishing Divine Call openings because what were five congregations issuing calls have become two in a triple/double mix.  This takes place in the small town/rural setting as well as the urban.  A creative approach is the "island of health" idea, where a larger and thriving congregation receives the property of a small/dying congregation and plants a new effort with staff on that site.  Often in urban areas this means renewal through a multi-cultural/new culture approach.  In that case, there is not a diminution in Divine Calls.  The couple dozen parishioners from the dying congregation go to the larger church and the mission effort begins de novo in the community.  Or the couple dozen parishioners are chaplained by the partner in situ, and the mission pastor's call comes from the larger congregation or the wider judicatory or an agency (in the Missouri Synod) like LINC. 

Another item in terms of seminary need/use/capacity in metropolitan and mission context is that the colloquy and distance education/alternative route methodologies are utilized.  Between the two, for instance, in the Atlantic District, out of just over 100 non-emeritus pastors, 25 have come through the alternate route/colloquy/distance education routes, many to most of them from non-Anglo cultures and language groups (this doesn't count the non-Anglo pastors who have come through the "regular" seminary route). 

From my experience, the seminaries are more than willing to explore creative approaches and partnerships with the wider church body.  Blogosphere polarizers, not so much. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: carlvehse on January 20, 2014, 10:08:09 AM
The question about the claimed number of 2,000 LCMS churches that can no longer afford to support a full time pastor, and whether multi-congregational parishes are included in such a number is a reasonable one, given a graph showing the number of  LCMS clergy and congregations, 1925-2012 (http://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-HoepI-ZCI4Y/Ut0vVoQQHnI/AAAAAAAAA_I/BMNpzV96x9o/w957-h695-no/LCMS+Cong_Clergy.jpg).

Most of the data comes from ARDA (http://www.thearda.com/Denoms/D_887.asp), with the latest data extracted from various Reporter articles.   The aberrations in the 1990-1994 data may be data entry errors, but since they occur in both sets, another explanation may exist, such as some synodical convention-related change in the definitions and counting of "church" and "clergy" (the aberrations are only for three years each).

As seen, the reported number of LCMS congregations has been flat at approximately 6,100 for two decades.  Over the same period except for a short period, the number of LCMS clergy has increased approximately 10 percent.   (In addition, after being essentially constant since 1978, LCMS congregational membership (http://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-wg5VtAX8-9U/UjB6XiuklFI/AAAAAAAAA3A/ER8pEf-M1FI/w958-h695-no/LCMS+Congregational+Membership.jpg) has started to significantly decline since 1999.)

Has the number of new LCMS congregations started annually coincidentally matched the number of LCMS congregation closing annually over the past 20 years?  Are congregations who become part of a multi-congregational parish still counted as separate congregations in the data or only one (such as in determing the number of convention delegates they have)?   Are congregations, who are not actively seeking to call a pastor, still counted in the number of LCMS congregations?   Answers to these questions could address the claim of approximately 2,000 congregations who can't afford a pastor.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Pilgrim on January 20, 2014, 10:08:23 AM
Tim notes: Having completed seminary on the "10-year plan" (sic) in 1984, I receive information from Trinity in Columbus routinely. One thing the new President there is talking about is a 2+2 approach. Two years of academics and a two year internship/vicarage with concurrent distance learning, or intensive cluster modules built in.

One thing I really wonder about in all of this is the language component. Regardless of its difficulty, and the time it takes to maintain, nothing has been more beneficial as a foundational tool, it seems to me, than the ability to translate from the Greek (and Hebrew, although I'll admit that has waned over the years). This ability takes intensive academic time, that I believe is a powerful long term investment, but indications are that it is often waived, especially among those pursuing alternate paths from other ethnic communities, or among those who are "second-career". I may be wrong, but this is a concern I have. Our resident "Greek Geek", Brian, is one who employs said skills, and in a negative sort of way - he has encouraged my ongoing work as I have often found myself in disagreement with his exegetical conclusions, which compels me to my own deeper exegesis. That's a sort of back-handed thank you, although it remains fairly clear to me that his work is often more eisegesis than exegesis...but that's another discussion not related to the topic at hand.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 20, 2014, 10:16:40 AM
As far as the LCMS and its 6,100 parishes
for almost two decades:

The real issue is the lack of reporting on
one important fact.  How many vacant LCMS
parishes are considered permanent non-calling
parishes?    These are the congregations that
depend on retired pastors to fill in and no longer
can afford a full-time pastor.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on January 20, 2014, 10:36:23 AM
Tim notes: Having completed seminary on the "10-year plan" (sic) in 1984, I receive information from Trinity in Columbus routinely. One thing the new President there is talking about is a 2+2 approach. Two years of academics and a two year internship/vicarage with concurrent distance learning, or intensive cluster modules built in.

One thing I really wonder about in all of this is the language component. Regardless of its difficulty, and the time it takes to maintain, nothing has been more beneficial as a foundational tool, it seems to me, than the ability to translate from the Greek (and Hebrew, although I'll admit that has waned over the years). This ability takes intensive academic time, that I believe is a powerful long term investment, but indications are that it is often waived, especially among those pursuing alternate paths from other ethnic communities, or among those who are "second-career". I may be wrong, but this is a concern I have. Our resident "Greek Geek", Brian, is one who employs said skills, and in a negative sort of way - he has encouraged my ongoing work as I have often found myself in disagreement with his exegetical conclusions, which compels me to my own deeper exegesis. That's a sort of back-handed thank you, although it remains fairly clear to me that his work is often more eisegesis than exegesis...but that's another discussion not related to the topic at hand.

Good comments Pilgrim.  (A complete aside: I imagine you look like John Wayne.) 

I struggle to maintain my language skills, but they are still there.  I did spend a lot of time in college and seminary, sweating it out in un-air conditioned substandard dorm living.  But I did it.  And it was good.  I think it was necessary, is necessary and shall be necessary into the future. 

This is not an original idea (the next original idea I have will be my first) but I think seminary training should be longer, not shorter.  Fast-tracks to ordination are not helpful.  There can be alternate routes to ordination for exceptional circumstances but we need to stop treating minor inconveniences as exceptional circumstances. 

Longer seminary training does not necessarily mean more classes.  It might mean more time with the same amount of classes so that our students can properly examine and exegete a text, so that our students can think theologically and talk pastorally.  God's Word is wild, untamed and untamable and our pastors need to be struggle and strive with a text, not to overcome it but to use the Word for the service of God's people. 

Longer seminary training may offer time for some counseling classes which can be quite beneficial. 

Maybe for us in Missouri it might be five years that breaks down 2-1-2, with the one being vicarage.  Or maybe 2-1-1-1, with the last one being some sort of institutional chaplaincy work or some sort of work that allows for much more time in the classroom. 

But, longer seminary training might be better so that our pastors can have as many pastoral skills that will serve the parish. 

Jeremy
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Pilgrim on January 20, 2014, 10:46:34 AM
A complete aside: I imagine you look like John Wayne. 

Thanks Jeremy... I think, but taller (JW was actually "vertically challenged") and much grayer! And I prefer a hunting rifle to a Colt 45, although Texas is a concealed carry state!
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Michael Slusser on January 20, 2014, 12:10:31 PM
Tim notes: Having completed seminary on the "10-year plan" (sic) in 1984, I receive information from Trinity in Columbus routinely. One thing the new President there is talking about is a 2+2 approach. Two years of academics and a two year internship/vicarage with concurrent distance learning, or intensive cluster modules built in.

One thing I really wonder about in all of this is the language component. Regardless of its difficulty, and the time it takes to maintain, nothing has been more beneficial as a foundational tool, it seems to me, than the ability to translate from the Greek (and Hebrew, although I'll admit that has waned over the years). This ability takes intensive academic time, that I believe is a powerful long term investment, but indications are that it is often waived, especially among those pursuing alternate paths from other ethnic communities, or among those who are "second-career". I may be wrong, but this is a concern I have. Our resident "Greek Geek", Brian, is one who employs said skills, and in a negative sort of way - he has encouraged my ongoing work as I have often found myself in disagreement with his exegetical conclusions, which compels me to my own deeper exegesis. That's a sort of back-handed thank you, although it remains fairly clear to me that his work is often more eisegesis than exegesis...but that's another discussion not related to the topic at hand.

Ancient languages are very amenable to being taught online and at a distance. I think that seminaries should be able to maintain their language requirements with little damage to their or their students' bottom lines.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 20, 2014, 01:24:39 PM
The question about the claimed number of 2,000 LCMS churches than can no longer afford to support a full time pastor, and whether multi-congregational parishes are included in such a number is a reasonable one, given a graph showing the number of  LCMS clergy and congregations, 1925-2012 (http://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-HoepI-ZCI4Y/Ut0vVoQQHnI/AAAAAAAAA_I/BMNpzV96x9o/w957-h695-no/LCMS+Cong_Clergy.jpg).

Most of the data comes from ARDA (http://www.thearda.com/Denoms/D_887.asp), with the latest data extracted from various Reporter articles.   The aberrations in the 1990-1994 data may be data entry errors, but since they occur in both sets, another explanation may exist, such as some synodical convention-related change in the definitions and counting of "church" and "clergy" (the aberrations are only for three years each).

As seen, the reported number of LCMS congregations has been flat at approximately 6,100 for two decades.  Over the same period except for a short period, the number of LCMS clergy has increased approximately 10 percent.   (In addition, after being essentially constant since 1978, LCMS congregational membership (http://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-wg5VtAX8-9U/UjB6XiuklFI/AAAAAAAAA3A/ER8pEf-M1FI/w958-h695-no/LCMS+Congregational+Membership.jpg) has started to significantly decline since 1999.)

Has the number of new LCMS congregations started annually coincidentally matched the number of LCMS congregation closing annually over the past 20 years?  Are congregations who become part of a multi-congregational parish still counted as separate congregations in the data or only one (such as in determing the number of convention delegates they have)?   Are congregations, who are not actively seeking to call a pastor, still counted in the number of LCMS congregations?   Answers to these questions could address the claim of approximately 2,000 congregations who can't afford a pastor.

I love that style thing, "Carl."  "The question is a reasonable one" - oh, I guess I'm the one who raised the question - so I'm agreeing with my estimation of myself.  Thank me very much.

Anyway, to the substance, your inquiry has to do with having more pastors and less placements in congregations for pastors.  The answer then is "yes," there are more pastors (by far) than there are placements, even taking into consideration
a) the emeritus pastors
b) those who are second/third/fourth pastors in a multi-staff
c) the aging pastors (like me) who superannuate into their 70s
d) the seminary enrollment.

Regarding the last item, the seminary enrollment and class size now is far closer to the demand for candidate calls on a four year basis.  It's also far lower than it was.  One seminary is lower than the other - Ft. Wayne lower than St. Louis.  That doesn't mean it can't/won't work; it does mean that fiscal management and staff/professorial management is necessary, and (my opinion) that having professors active in distance learning and distance locations is a really good option.

The last time we were allowed to use the category "permanently non-calling" congregations, there were (guessing a bit without the data in front of me, but an educated guess) close to 900 of those.  Plus a whole bunch of the paired up/served by part-time retirees/edge of marginal congregations.  So let's say it's 1500, with another 300 on the way toward that status - that is, making do with 40-75 people in church on a Sunday.  Now we're let's say at 1750. 

The reason to have more seminary-trained young men in parish pastoral ministry is of course to take the challenge of that high calling.  Secondly, it is that with the theological training comes the need/obligation to train others theologically for work as congregational leaders/missioners/deacons and the like, so that a cadre of the non-ordained is working hand in glove with the pastor for the sake of Gospel outreach in Gaspump, Iowa.  So from myh perspective I'm looking for able practitioner/theologians (or in the adaptation of the words of William Wallace/Mel Gibson, "Warrior/Poet/Priests") who can also teach and lead by example.  Send them all to NYC.  Plenty to do.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: swbohler on January 20, 2014, 02:29:49 PM
A complete aside: I imagine you look like John Wayne. 

Thanks Jeremy... I think, but taller (JW was actually "vertically challenged") and much grayer! And I prefer a hunting rifle to a Colt 45, although Texas is a concealed carry state!

John Wayne was 6' 4".
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 20, 2014, 04:22:21 PM
If Pastor Tim "Pilgrim" Christ is not 6' 4"
then he should apologize to all the John
Wayne fans across America.  To even
imply that this film legend is short is not
a classy move.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: carlvehse on January 20, 2014, 04:25:53 PM
I love that style thing, "Carl."  "The question is a reasonable one" - oh, I guess I'm the one who raised the question - so I'm agreeing with my estimation of myself.  Thank me very much.

You "love-that style" claim is contradicted by your ripped-from-context snarkiness.  I actually stated "The question... is a reasonable one, given a graph showing the number of LCMS clergy and congregations, 1925-2012." [Emphasis added]

As discussed, the graph shows a near constant number of congregations over the past 20 years, while the total membership is decreasing.  However rather than closing a church, leading to a smaller number of congregations, there are multi-church parishes and other churches with part-time pastors.  How these are counted would affect any claimed 2,000 number, and even the 6,100 total number.

Anyway, to the substance, your inquiry has to do with having more pastors and less placements in congregations for pastors.

My inquiry was about the claimed number of 2,000 LCMS churches that can no longer afford to support a full time pastor.    The lack of placement in congregations who can afford (and need) one or more pastor, but chose not to call such full-time pastors is another issue.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 20, 2014, 04:58:41 PM
I love that style thing, "Carl."  "The question is a reasonable one" - oh, I guess I'm the one who raised the question - so I'm agreeing with my estimation of myself.  Thank me very much.

You "love-that style" claim is contradicted by your ripped-from-context snarkiness.  I actually stated "The question... is a reasonable one, given a graph showing the number of LCMS clergy and congregations, 1925-2012." [Emphasis added]

As discussed, the graph shows a near constant number of congregations over the past 20 years, while the total membership is decreasing.  However rather than closing a church, leading to a smaller number of congregations, there are multi-church parishes and other churches with part-time pastors.  How these are counted would affect any claimed 2,000 number, and even the 6,100 total number.

Anyway, to the substance, your inquiry has to do with having more pastors and less placements in congregations for pastors.

My inquiry was about the claimed number of 2,000 LCMS churches that can no longer afford to support a full time pastor.    The lack of placement in congregations who can afford (and need) one or more pastor, but chose not to call such full-time pastors is another issue.

a) it's you not saying "in my opinion," or "from my perspective," but "the question....is a reasonable one," which is self-congratulatory to your reasoning powers, no matter the underlying phrase.  I would say that's officious, but it seems to me more lawyerly.

b) If you want "proof" of the 2000ish churches and affordability of a fully-compensated pastor, do the homework.  Go to LCMS.org, and hit each congregation and check out their giving/income/expenditure for last year and average in $75000 all in all done for a very middleish compensation including housing, salary, health, car, pension, and conference dues.  Report in when finished. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Michael Slusser on January 20, 2014, 05:26:40 PM
b) If you want "proof" of the 2000ish churches and affordability of a fully-compensated pastor, do the homework.  Go to LCMS.org, and hit each congregation and check out their giving/income/expenditure for last year and average in $75000 all in all done for a very middleish compensation including housing, salary, health, car, pension, and conference dues.  Report in when finished. 

Dave Benke
That raises the further question about how badly a congregation wants to be a fully functioning church. I raise the same question about churches that "cannot afford" to prepare the necessary ministers for their people. (Or, for that matter, countries that "cannot afford" to see to it that all their inhabitants, including the most helpless, have what they need to sustain life--food, shelter, health care.)

"Cannot afford" is usually asserted in tacit contrast to other things we would rather spend our money on. And we should not forget that there is a place also for pastors who, at personal financial sacrifice, devote their lives to the poor. Missions aren't only for distant lands. There are generous couples, and generous celibates for the kingdom of God, in our churches here in the U.S.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Pilgrim on January 20, 2014, 05:32:30 PM
John Wayne was 6' 4".

and...If Pastor Tim "Pilgrim" Christ is not 6' 4" then he should apologize to all the John Wayne fans across America.  To even imply that this film legend is short is not a classy move.
Quote

Tim simply comments: I said he was vertically challenged, not short. And having met him once, (and hearing him order what he called "a bloody beer", I simply call the question on the "hollywood statistics", in much the same fashion as people are currently questioning the physical stature of "Johnny Football" as the draft approaches. No offense to either the late JW nor his legions of fans intended, although apparently some folks can or will find fault with most anything.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: carlvehse on January 20, 2014, 05:48:15 PM
a) it's you not saying "in my opinion," or "from my perspective," but "the question....is a reasonable one," which is self-congratulatory to your reasoning powers, no matter the underlying phrase.  I would say that's officious, but it seems to me more lawyerly.

No, it is just you being snarky.

b) If you want "proof" of the 2000ish churches and affordability of a fully-compensated pastor, do the homework. 

The burden of proof is on the person making such a claim of about 2,000 (out of 6,000) LCMS congregation that cannot afford to have a pastor.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 20, 2014, 05:52:18 PM
I will ask the question again. Is a congregation of 10 to 50 people, existing barely with the help of a retired pastor, or an underpaid pastor with a spouse who has a good job, really a mission-oriented church? what if it would be very easy for these people to worship in another nearby church? How many congregations are we trying to maintain  for the sole purpose of nostalgia or for the selfish needs of a small group of people?
Harsh questions I know, but questions that must be asked.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: FrPeters on January 20, 2014, 06:26:27 PM
Quote
The LCMS may not be much better off than the ELCA. I understand that there are now about 2,000 (out of 6,000) LCMS congregation that cannot afford to have a pastor.

I might believe that 2K LCMS parishes CHOOSE not to support a full-time pastor.  If you have 25 families, each tithing at an average per family income of $40K that is $100K for Pastor and other building expenses -- easily enough to share a Pastor; if you have 25 more families that is $200K for Pastor and building expenses... doable for a solo Pastor..
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 20, 2014, 06:34:55 PM
And when you get 25 families in a small congregation tithing enough to get $100,000+ plus into the parish, let me know. And 50 families tithing? Sure.

Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 20, 2014, 08:19:48 PM
In our suburban LCMS parishes we are blessed
when about 50 percent of our families tithe.
Small rural parishes will not be saved by tithing.
If you  have less than 50 people in attendance,
that will not equal 25 strong and financially viable
families.  There is a reason they call them the
Smoky Mountains in TN.  We love Padre Peters.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: swbohler on January 20, 2014, 09:22:25 PM
John Wayne was 6' 4".

and...If Pastor Tim "Pilgrim" Christ is not 6' 4" then he should apologize to all the John Wayne fans across America.  To even imply that this film legend is short is not a classy move.
Quote

Tim simply comments: I said he was vertically challenged, not short. And having met him once, (and hearing him order what he called "a bloody beer", I simply call the question on the "hollywood statistics", in much the same fashion as people are currently questioning the physical stature of "Johnny Football" as the draft approaches. No offense to either the late JW nor his legions of fans intended, although apparently some folks can or will find fault with most anything.

Not having met the man in person, I cannot speak to your experience.  All I can tell you is that he was always referred to as tall, he appeared to be tall compared to others in the movies and TV shows with him, and say what the "official" records tell us was his height.  How tall would you estimate he was? 
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 20, 2014, 09:26:51 PM
According to the Internet movie database, Marion Mitchell Morrison was 6'4" tall.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LutherMan on January 20, 2014, 09:28:23 PM
IMD is no more credible than Wikipedia...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Eileen Smith on January 20, 2014, 09:36:36 PM
I will ask the question again. Is a congregation of 10 to 50 people, existing barely with the help of a retired pastor, or an underpaid pastor with a spouse who has a good job, really a mission-oriented church? what if it would be very easy for these people to worship in another nearby church? How many congregations are we trying to maintain  for the sole purpose of nostalgia or for the selfish needs of a small group of people?
Harsh questions I know, but questions that must be asked.

It depends on the congregation - if a synod is assessing the viability of congregations within the synod, it does need to look at each one and not make a judgment based on numbers alone.  I know very small congregations in MNYS that are doing wonderful ministry - in the community and beyond.  I know large congregations that rest on their laurels.   It's not an affliction solely of small congregations that they hang onto a building, traditions, whatever due to nostalgia.

I knew a congregation - years ago - in upstate NY - part of the Atlantic District.  They had people and resources (financial).  There wasn't a whole lot of ministry going on.  (I would attend when we stayed with my in-laws.)  The neighborhood began to change, families moved away.  In time they were small and struggling.  They called a great pastor - and he led them into ministry.   I just checked them out on Facebook - church and school, two Christmas Eve services - one in Urdo.  Borrowing from ELCA/MNYS lingo - it looks like they re-rooted in their community.  And I can see they still have the same great pastor. 
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 20, 2014, 10:10:36 PM
b) If you want "proof" of the 2000ish churches and affordability of a fully-compensated pastor, do the homework.  Go to LCMS.org, and hit each congregation and check out their giving/income/expenditure for last year and average in $75000 all in all done for a very middleish compensation including housing, salary, health, car, pension, and conference dues.  Report in when finished. 

Dave Benke
That raises the further question about how badly a congregation wants to be a fully functioning church. I raise the same question about churches that "cannot afford" to prepare the necessary ministers for their people. (Or, for that matter, countries that "cannot afford" to see to it that all their inhabitants, including the most helpless, have what they need to sustain life--food, shelter, health care.)

"Cannot afford" is usually asserted in tacit contrast to other things we would rather spend our money on. And we should not forget that there is a place also for pastors who, at personal financial sacrifice, devote their lives to the poor. Missions aren't only for distant lands. There are generous couples, and generous celibates for the kingdom of God, in our churches here in the U.S.

Peace,
Michael

Absolutely.  In the Lutheran, and I'll specify Missouri Synod Lutheran, way of thinking, as long as the pastor is proclaiming the Gospel and administering the Sacraments then the Means of Grace are available.  If the group hearing the Gospel and receiving the Sacrament is 7, then there's the thought that they are remaining faithful and should remain in that sanctuary.  They should indeed receive the Means of Grace.  But some to many insist that they remain in a sanctuary that seats 350 when there are only five of them left.  I visited one of those last week, an ELCA building.  Amazingly sad.

And the mission to the poor is extraordinarily important and should be given major priority by church leadership in giving dedicated workers opportunity to serve.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Richard Johnson on January 20, 2014, 11:21:16 PM
The ELCA Study of Theological Education (http://archive.is/gpDiq),
That one doesn't seem to work anymore.

I was able to access it through the wayback machine. Go to wayback machine and look for http://archive.is/o/gpDiq/http://www.elca.org/~/media/Files/Growing%20in%20Faith/Education/Seminaries/Study%20of%20Theological%20Education.pdf
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Chuck on January 20, 2014, 11:31:16 PM
The ELCA Study of Theological Education (http://archive.is/gpDiq),
That one doesn't seem to work anymore.

I was able to access it through the wayback machine. Go to wayback machine and look for http://archive.is/o/gpDiq/http://www.elca.org/~/media/Files/Growing%20in%20Faith/Education/Seminaries/Study%20of%20Theological%20Education.pdf (http://archive.is/o/gpDiq/http://www.elca.org/~/media/Files/Growing%20in%20Faith/Education/Seminaries/Study%20of%20Theological%20Education.pdf)
Thanks!
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 21, 2014, 07:08:22 AM
Give it up, Craig. You don't believe anything that comes from outside your own circle. iMDB is credible.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: MaddogLutheran on January 21, 2014, 08:57:56 AM
Give it up, Craig. You don't believe anything that comes from outside your own circle. iMDB is credible.
I see all your mirrors are still broken.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Satis Est on January 21, 2014, 10:28:58 AM
I will ask the question again. Is a congregation of 10 to 50 people, existing barely with the help of a retired pastor, or an underpaid pastor with a spouse who has a good job, really a mission-oriented church? what if it would be very easy for these people to worship in another nearby church? How many congregations are we trying to maintain  for the sole purpose of nostalgia or for the selfish needs of a small group of people?
Harsh questions I know, but questions that must be asked.

What do you mean, "we"?

As a matter of fact, the congregation that I serve is one of those with an average worship attendance of 33 (down two from the year before), in a town of around 2700 people with 8 other congregations in the town limits. (One other is Lutheran of a different flavor; this is the only ELCA congregation for about 10-15 miles in any direction.) I am 3/4 time, and my husband has the better job. These are questions that I have thought about often and deeply, and continue to pray about. Could the people worshipping in my congregation worship in a nearby church? Yes, of course. Easily? Physically, yes; but that isn't the only thing that needs to be considered.

I believe, for a number of reasons, that there needs to be an ELCA presence in this community. Be amused if you wish (I know I am), but in an very conservative corner of an extremely conservative county in a rather conservative state, I think a moderately liberal denomination has a mission to proclaim the Gospel as we Lutherans know it. As long as we are here and viable (and we are viable, though for how long is anybody's guess), that is the mission that God has given to this small group of aging Lutheran Christians.

Is there nostalgia here? Yes, as there is in almost every congregation. Are we selfish? Well, we're sinners, and selfishness comes along with that sad condition, so again I'd say yes. But I have seen and heard a generosity of spirit that gives me hope. Whether this congregation will be able to grow numerically is still a question that I don't have an answer for, but I don't think God is finished with this group yet. I've called for this to be a year of prayer for our mission in the community outside our walls, and I will be leading a Bible study on the book of Acts beginning next month.

This congregation, small and aging though it is, is a gift from God to me. We aren't perfect -- far from it! -- and their history is marked with fighting and divisiveness amongst themselves and with every ecclesiastical authority that has ever worked with them. But those here now say they are tired of the fighting of the past, and want to live differently now. Can that happen? Only God knows. But I find ample evidence in the gospels that starting with a few cautiously repentent folks can show that the power belongs to God alone. So I'll stick with this stubborn small congregation as long as this call may last, trusting that this labor is not in vain. (Even if it doesn't look like much from others' perspectives.)
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on January 21, 2014, 10:32:55 AM
That's a great answer Satis Est! I pray the best for your ministry with the congregation. 

Jeremy
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LutherMan on January 21, 2014, 11:13:52 AM
Thanks for sharing your story Pr. Wolf...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 21, 2014, 11:20:49 AM
So good to know that there is a Lutheran proclamation of the Gospel in that conservative community being maintained and they are not left with the ersatz Lutheran Gospel proclamation by the other Lutheran Church of another flavor.

Dan
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Satis Est on January 21, 2014, 11:47:52 AM
So good to know that there is a Lutheran proclamation of the Gospel in that conservative community being maintained and they are not left with the ersatz Lutheran Gospel proclamation by the other Lutheran Church of another flavor.

Dan

I'm not sure just what you're trying to say with that comment, Pr. Fienan. I tried to be clear that in this area, the ELCA is a moderately liberal voice of Lutheran Christianity. (In other areas of the country one could, probably, drop the modifier "moderately." But not here.) Other Lutheran bodies are more conservative, though still a voice of the true Gospel. But there are real disagreements amongst us, as the miles of verbiage on this forum well attests. Those who have left my congregation for the other Lutheran congregation in town (as well as for other Lutheran bodies in the wider area) have done what their consciences or other circumstances required, and they go with my prayers for their continued well being. Those who have stayed have done so because they want to be in the ELCA. I think there is a need for the questions the ELCA raises here, small though its voice is in this community. That is all I am claiming.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 21, 2014, 12:04:28 PM
Give it up, Craig. You don't believe anything that comes from outside your own circle. iMDB is credible.
Why not just write, "iMDB is credible" without the obnoxious preface? Then the other readers could learn that Craig finds something not credible and you find it credible and they could make of that what they will. Nobody wants to read your loudmouthed insults of the other posters and once again it is driving the other posters away.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LutherMan on January 21, 2014, 12:17:20 PM
Give it up, Craig. You don't believe anything that comes from outside your own circle. iMDB is credible.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imdb
"The site enables any user to contribute new material and edit existing entries. Although all data is checked before going live, the system has been open to abuse, and occasional errors are acknowledged."

IOW, it is just as credible as Wikipedia...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 21, 2014, 12:29:01 PM
So good to know that there is a Lutheran proclamation of the Gospel in that conservative community being maintained and they are not left with the ersatz Lutheran Gospel proclamation by the other Lutheran Church of another flavor.

Dan

I'm not sure just what you're trying to say with that comment, Pr. Fienan. I tried to be clear that in this area, the ELCA is a moderately liberal voice of Lutheran Christianity. (In other areas of the country one could, probably, drop the modifier "moderately." But not here.) Other Lutheran bodies are more conservative, though still a voice of the true Gospel. But there are real disagreements amongst us, as the miles of verbiage on this forum well attests. Those who have left my congregation for the other Lutheran congregation in town (as well as for other Lutheran bodies in the wider area) have done what their consciences or other circumstances required, and they go with my prayers for their continued well being. Those who have stayed have done so because they want to be in the ELCA. I think there is a need for the questions the ELCA raises here, small though its voice is in this community. That is all I am claiming.

My comment was about this sentence in your post: "Be amused if you wish (I know I am), but in an very conservative corner of an extremely conservative county in a rather conservative state, I think a moderately liberal denomination has a mission to proclaim the Gospel as we Lutherans know it."  Likely I am being too sensitive but when you say "as we Lutherans know it" it could be taken to indicate that the voice of general Lutheranism is the moderately liberal ELCA, other Lutherans are minor Lutheran offshoots.  We in the LCMS have been accused of arrogance and assuming that we are the only real Lutherans around.  It is so easy to fall into that way of thinking but not only by us other Lutherans.

It is not unusual, especially in the secular news media, for the ELCA and its positions taken, statements made to be referred to as simply "Lutherans." 

It sounds like yours is a distinct voice in the community, and that there is a need for your congregation as part of the mix.

Dan
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Satis Est on January 21, 2014, 01:01:06 PM
Thank you for your reply, Pr. Fienen. I do see where those sentences could have been taken in the way you describe. And we in the ELCA are guilty, at least some of the time, of speaking and acting as if we are the only Lutherans on the face of the planet, or at least the only ones that count. And we are guilty of arrogance when we do this, however innocently it is done (and sometimes it is innocent).

I did not intend to do that. But I will try to be more vigilent in how I frame my words here in the future.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LCMS87 on January 21, 2014, 01:28:25 PM
I will ask the question again. Is a congregation of 10 to 50 people, existing barely with the help of a retired pastor, or an underpaid pastor with a spouse who has a good job, really a mission-oriented church? what if it would be very easy for these people to worship in another nearby church? How many congregations are we trying to maintain  for the sole purpose of nostalgia or for the selfish needs of a small group of people?
Harsh questions I know, but questions that must be asked.

What do you mean, "we"?

As a matter of fact, the congregation that I serve is one of those with an average worship attendance of 33 (down two from the year before), in a town of around 2700 people with 8 other congregations in the town limits. (One other is Lutheran of a different flavor; this is the only ELCA congregation for about 10-15 miles in any direction.) I am 3/4 time, and my husband has the better job. These are questions that I have thought about often and deeply, and continue to pray about. Could the people worshipping in my congregation worship in a nearby church? Yes, of course. Easily? Physically, yes; but that isn't the only thing that needs to be considered.

I believe, for a number of reasons, that there needs to be an ELCA presence in this community. Be amused if you wish (I know I am), but in an very conservative corner of an extremely conservative county in a rather conservative state, I think a moderately liberal denomination has a mission to proclaim the Gospel as we Lutherans know it. As long as we are here and viable (and we are viable, though for how long is anybody's guess), that is the mission that God has given to this small group of aging Lutheran Christians.

Is there nostalgia here? Yes, as there is in almost every congregation. Are we selfish? Well, we're sinners, and selfishness comes along with that sad condition, so again I'd say yes. But I have seen and heard a generosity of spirit that gives me hope. Whether this congregation will be able to grow numerically is still a question that I don't have an answer for, but I don't think God is finished with this group yet. I've called for this to be a year of prayer for our mission in the community outside our walls, and I will be leading a Bible study on the book of Acts beginning next month.

This congregation, small and aging though it is, is a gift from God to me. We aren't perfect -- far from it! -- and their history is marked with fighting and divisiveness amongst themselves and with every eccesiastical authority that has ever worked with them. But those here now say they are tired of the fighting of the past, and want to live differently now. Can that happen? Only God knows. But I find ample evidence in the gospels that starting with a few cautiously repentant folks can show that the power belongs to God alone. So I'll stick with this stubborn small congregation as long as this call may last, trusting that this labor is not in vain. (Even if it doesn't look like much from others' perspectives.)

I appreciated the question of who's the "we" in the sentence, "How many congregations are we trying to maintain  for the sole purpose of nostalgia or for the selfish needs of a small group of people?"

I don't know about the ELCA, but in the LCMS there isn't any money for those small and struggling congregations coming from District or Synod.  Those congregations are maintained by their own members.  "We" aren't doing it.  They're on their own, and how long they'll continue only God knows, but they have every right to struggle on as long as they wish to do so.  Where two or three are gathered together in Jesus' name, he is there.  Euthanasia is wrong with old and frail individuals, and it's wrong with small and struggling congregations.  It's not up to us to make those decisions.

If you wish, with God's Word and clear reason, to address those congregations and encourage them to take some other action, that's okay with me.  But from my experience, you won't get very far if you don't respect their history and love for one another.  Each congregation is a family in Christ, perhaps especially tiny ones, and even in our current culture there are plenty of folks who treasure God's gift of family.   
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 21, 2014, 07:01:36 PM
The congregational polity of the LCMS allows for
a parish to continue until the parousia.  As long
as they have an ordained pastor who preaches
God's Word and administers the Sacraments they
will be able to keep their doors open.

More and more retired LCMS pastors are helping
the small and struggling parishes survive.  It is
legit and finances are kept to a minimum.  No
full time salary for a part-time pastor who does
not require housing, pension, or insurance.

Bottom Line:  This arrangement will continue
to dot the LCMS landscape across our nation.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 21, 2014, 07:07:53 PM
The congregational polity of the LCMS allows for
a parish to continue until the parousia.  As long
as they have an ordained pastor who preaches
God's Word and administers the Sacraments they
will be able to keep their doors open.

More and more retired LCMS pastors are helping
the small and struggling parishes survive.  It is
legit and finances are kept to a minimum.  No
full time salary for a part-time pastor who does
not require housing, pension, or insurance.

Bottom Line:  This arrangement will continue
to dot the LCMS landscape across our nation.

This is definitely true.  Us guys on the downhill side of 65 have still got game.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Charles_Austin on January 21, 2014, 10:46:45 PM
Don't know about you, Bishop/DP Benke, but for me there is often more uphill than downhill on this other side of 65. Had to shovel the snow in two short outings rather than in one grand slam. But, Amen! Brother! We still got game.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LutherMan on January 21, 2014, 11:08:43 PM
Don't know about you, Bishop/DP Benke, but for me there is often more uphill than downhill on this other side of 65. Had to shovel the snow in two short outings rather than in one grand slam. But, Amen! Brother! We still got game.
Be careful doing that.  I had a friend who was only 68 drop from a heart attack last year while shoveling.  Sometimes it is worth hiring neighbor kids or grandkids...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 22, 2014, 08:49:32 AM
Don't know about you, Bishop/DP Benke, but for me there is often more uphill than downhill on this other side of 65. Had to shovel the snow in two short outings rather than in one grand slam. But, Amen! Brother! We still got game.
Be careful doing that.  I had a friend who was only 68 drop from a heart attack last year while shoveling.  Sometimes it is worth hiring neighbor kids or grandkids...

Just finished here - very fluffy snow, which is good.  We lost a neighbor about four years ago to the snow-shoveling-widowmaker-heart-attack.  Didn't need to happen, but he persisted until he could persist no more.  In the big cities/neighborhoods, there are roving crews with shovels after any and every snow.  Easy-peasy, but I'd still rather do it myself.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on January 22, 2014, 09:48:03 AM
Don't know about you, Bishop/DP Benke, but for me there is often more uphill than downhill on this other side of 65. Had to shovel the snow in two short outings rather than in one grand slam. But, Amen! Brother! We still got game.
Be careful doing that.  I had a friend who was only 68 drop from a heart attack last year while shoveling.  Sometimes it is worth hiring neighbor kids or grandkids...

Just finished here - very fluffy snow, which is good.  We lost a neighbor about four years ago to the snow-shoveling-widowmaker-heart-attack.  Didn't need to happen, but he persisted until he could persist no more.  In the big cities/neighborhoods, there are roving crews with shovels after any and every snow.  Easy-peasy, but I'd still rather do it myself.

Dave Benke

We probably have about a foot on the MD/DE border.  Very dry and powdery snow.  I'll shovel that all day (and by all day, I mean with fifteen minute breaks with the kids every hour) rather than the five inches of soggy snow we had in December.  All men are created equal; snow is different.

Jeremy
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LutherMan on January 22, 2014, 10:00:03 AM
Don't know about you, Bishop/DP Benke, but for me there is often more uphill than downhill on this other side of 65. Had to shovel the snow in two short outings rather than in one grand slam. But, Amen! Brother! We still got game.
Be careful doing that.  I had a friend who was only 68 drop from a heart attack last year while shoveling.  Sometimes it is worth hiring neighbor kids or grandkids...

Just finished here - very fluffy snow, which is good.  We lost a neighbor about four years ago to the snow-shoveling-widowmaker-heart-attack.  Didn't need to happen, but he persisted until he could persist no more.  In the big cities/neighborhoods, there are roving crews with shovels after any and every snow.  Easy-peasy, but I'd still rather do it myself.

Dave Benke

We probably have about a foot on the MD/DE border.  Very dry and powdery snow.  I'll shovel that all day (and by all day, I mean with fifteen minute breaks with the kids every hour) rather than the five inches of soggy snow we had in December.  All men are created equal; snow is different.

Jeremy
Glad to hear it is the fluffy, dry and powdery snow.  Just don't overdo it guys.  I have only had to sweep snow with a broom this winter...
Nothing to write home about.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Pilgrim on January 22, 2014, 10:22:56 AM
Tim notes: While y'all were "enjoying" your snow shoveling, I was debating between an 8 or 9 iron from 130-yards with a light breeze.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 22, 2014, 10:38:49 AM
Tim notes: While y'all were "enjoying" your snow shoveling, I was debating between an 8 or 9 iron from 130-yards with a light breeze.


Must have been a light breeze into your face, or older clubs, because you should be striking that 8 iron about 145.  Man up.  Hit the 9. 

If I'm really, really on, I can hit the PW 130.  But that's in smackdown adrenaline mode.  Our District 2nd VP, who is on this board, can punch it out there a long long way with any stick in the bag.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: GalRevRedux on January 22, 2014, 10:41:21 AM
Tim notes: While y'all were "enjoying" your snow shoveling, I was debating between an 8 or 9 iron from 130-yards with a light breeze.

...and now we know where all the men have gone.... ;)
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: mariemeyer on January 22, 2014, 10:49:30 AM
Tim notes: While y'all were "enjoying" your snow shoveling, I was debating between an 8 or 9 iron from 130-yards with a light breeze.

...and now we know where all the men have gone.... ;)

Here in New England the women have gone out to help men shovel snow.  Like it says in Genesis 2, we are their God ordained helpers.  ;)


Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 22, 2014, 10:51:54 AM
In the heartland of the Midwest, Pastor Donna
spends part of her winters cheering for the
Fighting Illini basketball team.  May Coach John
Groce resurrect the men's program sooner rather
than later.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 22, 2014, 10:56:22 AM
Marie, this raises the question, "Was their
snow in the Garden of Eden?"  Since Adam
and Eve needed no clothes and had perfect
temperature of 72 degrees, there was no
snow in paradise.

Bottom Line: The first helpmates in history
never shoveled snow.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Satis Est on January 22, 2014, 11:13:45 AM
To return momentarily to the original question (Huh?):
 
    I have a personal reason to be concerned regarding the state, financial as well as otherwise, of the ELCA seminaries. I have a child who is quite seriously in the discernment phase regarding a call to ordained ministry. Hence, starting to look at and learn about the seminaries. I am filled with awe, as well as fear and trembling. There is much to be concerned about, not just finances but other matters as well. So my fervent prayer is that these schools manage to get their acts together and straighten up and fly right.

    One thing I think has not helped has been the lack of financial support of its seminaries by the ELCA. My own synod does not contribute a cent to any of the seminaries. The good news is that this was a matter of some discussion at the last synod assembly, and the person who went on to be elected bishop stated this was something that had to change in the future. I hope it does. It does no good to sit around and wring our hands and moan and groan about the state of seminary education if we aren't willing to commit ourselves to financial support and ownership. You get what you pay for, and I think the ELCA proves that with what we have been willing to pay for with the seminaries.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 22, 2014, 11:17:55 AM
To return momentarily to the original question (Huh?):
 
    I have a personal reason to be concerned regarding the state, financial as well as otherwise, of the ELCA seminaries. I have a child who is quite seriously in the discernment phase regarding a call to ordained ministry. Hence, starting to look at and learn about the seminaries. I am filled with awe, as well as fear and trembling. There is much to be concerned about, not just finances but other matters as well. So my fervent prayer is that these schools manage to get their acts together and straighten up and fly right.

    One thing I think has not helped has been the lack of financial support of its seminaries by the ELCA. My own synod does not contribute a cent to any of the seminaries. The good news is that this was a matter of some discussion at the last synod assembly, and the person who went on to be elected bishop stated this was something that had to change in the future. I hope it does. It does no good to sit around and wring our hands and moan and groan about the state of seminary education if we aren't willing to commit ourselves to financial support and ownership. You get what you pay for, and I think the ELCA proves that with what we have been willing to pay for with the seminaries.


When we had a "daughter of the congregation" attend seminary, the school requested that we try to fund all or at least part of her tuition. We weren't able to do that - that congregation was usually behind in their mortgage payments. It's not just the synods, but also congregations who need to think more about helping seminarians with their expenses.


At the same time, when our son went on to get his Masters (in electrical engineering,) there was no synod or congregational support for his school expenses. (He did receive some nice scholarships and grants throughout his six years of college.)


I've known medical doctors and school teachers who will have their loans forgiven if they work a period of time in less than desirable locations, e.g., small, rural communities - or even schools in Yuma - with a lot of poverty. Perhaps if Thrivent or some group could offer that kind of incentive. It could help both students and rural, isolated, poorer congregations.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 22, 2014, 11:20:12 AM
Satis Est, your concerns are legit.  Both the
ELCA and the LCMS as national church bodies
contribute very little to the budgets of their
seminaries.  At one time the LCMS contributed
40 percent of their seminaries budgets, today
it is 1 or 2 percent.  Probably similar for ELCA.

Bottom Line: Until the national Lutheran church
bodies provide adequate financial support for
their seminaries, then they will continue to face
uncertain futures.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Richard Johnson on January 22, 2014, 11:24:15 AM

    I have a personal reason to be concerned regarding the state, financial as well as otherwise, of the ELCA seminaries. I have a child who is quite seriously in the discernment phase regarding a call to ordained ministry. Hence, starting to look at and learn about the seminaries.

Well, you'd best encourage her or him toward your and my alma mater!  ;D
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 22, 2014, 11:26:34 AM
As I understand it, when a friend felt called into the Roman Catholic priesthood, his diocese paid for all of his seminary expenses; and there is the expectations that he will serve in that diocese throughout his ministry. His ordination was a diocese-wide event - too large for either church building in the town where the rite took place.


I did confuse the bishop and some other people as I wore my clerical collar to the ordination - and a pectoral cross - something ordinary priests do not wear, but only bishops and higher-ups in the Catholic church. It gave me an opportunity to visit a bit with the bishop, though.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on January 22, 2014, 11:27:48 AM
Bottom Line: Until the national Lutheran church
bodies provide adequate financial support for
their seminaries, then they will continue to face
uncertain futures.

And that funding is supposed to come from...where?  Sounds a lot like looking to the Federal gov't "funding."

Bottom line: What's wrong with schools facing uncertain futures?
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Pilgrim on January 22, 2014, 11:39:50 AM
Must have been a light breeze into your face, or older clubs, because you should be striking that 8 iron about 145.  Man up.  Hit the 9. 
Dave Benke

Tim, laughing, responds: I've seen pictures of you. You have more "core" and thus more "torque" than I! I followed Greg Norman's advice - take one more club and swing easy!
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 22, 2014, 12:37:54 PM
Must have been a light breeze into your face, or older clubs, because you should be striking that 8 iron about 145.  Man up.  Hit the 9. 
Dave Benke

Tim, laughing, responds: I've seen pictures of you. You have more "core" and thus more "torque" than I! I followed Greg Norman's advice - take one more club and swing easy!

Absolutely great advice, since most amateurs miss the green short and/or wide.  But it never gets in the way of my taking one club LESS and proving to myself that I can hit it as far as the pros.  Fail.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: DCharlton on January 22, 2014, 12:52:04 PM
Does anyone know the attrition rate among seminary graduates?  How many who graduate from an ELCA seminary are on the ELCA roster after 10 years, 20 years and 30 years?

My impression is that we lose a lot of pastors and AIMs, but its only an impression.  I often wonder how much of the predicted shortage of pastors is the result of people dropping off of the roster due lack of a call or burnout.  If a significant number or our seminary graduates drop out before they reach retirement, we need to ask why.  Do we need more people to go to seminary, or do we need to retain more of those who graduate?  What percentage of seminary graduates never receive a call or job in and ELCA congregation?  Are we encouraging people to invest in a seminary education because there is a place for them, or because we need the money?

I don't know the answer to those questions.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Michael Slusser on January 22, 2014, 12:58:49 PM
Does anyone know the attrition rate among seminary graduates?  How many who graduate from an ELCA seminary are on the ELCA roster after 10 years, 20 years and 30 years?

My impression is that we lose a lot of pastors and AIMs, but its only an impression.  I often wonder how much of the predicted shortage of pastors is the result of people dropping off of the roster due lack of a call or burnout.  If a significant number or our seminary graduates drop out before they reach retirement, we need to ask why.  Do we need more people to go to seminary, or do we need to retain more of those who graduate?  What percentage of seminary graduates never receive a call or job in and ELCA congregation?  Are we encouraging people to invest in a seminary education because there is a place for them, or because we need the money?

I don't know the answer to those questions.
But they are excellent questions!
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 25, 2014, 04:10:30 PM
In a article this month, Concordia Seminary St. Louis
"operates on balanced budgets, is debt free, and has
a stable enrollment of over 600 students  across all
programs."

This is good news for the LCMS and its 6,000 parishes
as this seminary continues to prepare pastors who can
lead healthy, Gospel centered congregations.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 26, 2014, 07:48:50 AM
In a article this month, Concordia Seminary St. Louis
"operates on balanced budgets, is debt free, and has
a stable enrollment of over 600 students  across all
programs."

This is good news for the LCMS and its 6,000 parishes
as this seminary continues to prepare pastors who can
lead healthy, Gospel centered congregations.

That is indeed good news.  What are the statistics at Ft. Wayne, from your reading?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: FrPeters on January 26, 2014, 08:39:03 AM
But... more than 200 of that 600 are off campus SMP students...  And another 100 are off campus for vicarage... and about 250 are MDiv... so that balance leaves 150 in various other programs... with about 250 actually on campus... with a budget twice Ft. Wayne...  and, by many estimations, a backlog of deferred maintenance

Ft. Wayne also is debt free (example is the new Library which is pay as you go completion)... with far fewer SMP students and about the 250 MDiv (including vicars)...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Voelker on January 26, 2014, 10:09:28 AM
But... more than 200 of that 600 are off campus SMP students...  And another 100 are off campus for vicarage... and about 250 are MDiv... so that balance leaves 150 in various other programs... with about 250 actually on campus... with a budget twice Ft. Wayne...  and, by many estimations, a backlog of deferred maintenance

Ft. Wayne also is debt free (example is the new Library which is pay as you go completion)... with far fewer SMP students and about the 250 MDiv (including vicars)...
Yes! CSL has an active, varied, and forward-looking program. It's good to see things rolling along; I just wish we could do something about student debt across the board.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: pastorg1@aol.com on January 26, 2014, 10:38:09 AM
WSJ had a Saturday article about seminaries in the ATS reporting more second-career students entering the schools.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 26, 2014, 12:47:48 PM
According to the Association of Theological Schools
these are statistics as of December 2013 for the
accredited Lutheran Seminaries in America.

St. Louis (LCMS)  644 Total Students/ 23 Full Time Faculty
Ft. Wayne LCMS   321/23

St. Paul (ELCA)    806/41
Philly (ELCA)       332/16
Chicago (ELCA)    284/17
Dubuque ELCA     172/8
Gettysburg ELCA  159/13
Columbus (ELCA   136/13
Berkley (ELCA)     118/9
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LutherMan on January 26, 2014, 01:08:42 PM
Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary has 16 on faculty, could not find stats for students...
http://www.wls.wels.net/seminary/faculty
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Chuck on January 26, 2014, 03:57:07 PM
According to the Association of Theological Schools
these are statistics as of December 2013 for the
accredited Lutheran Seminaries in America.

St. Louis (LCMS)  644 Total Students/ 23 Full Time Faculty
Ft. Wayne LCMS   321/23

St. Paul (ELCA)    806/41
Philly (ELCA)       332/16
Chicago (ELCA)    284/17
Dubuque ELCA     172/8
Gettysburg ELCA  159/13
Columbus (ELCA   136/13
Berkley (ELCA)     118/9
You forgot Columbia 108/8
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Matt Staneck on January 26, 2014, 06:03:04 PM
CSL took a major gamble on the CBC property. That failed spectacularly. Despite that, they have rebounded economically and have *begun* work on the backlog of maintenance. Much more can be done. However, I'm not sure everyone understands the place it was in when John Johnson left, + CBC, and the job Dale Meyer and company have done to turn things around.

How wonderful it is to hear that both of our seminaries are not in debt! Praise God!

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 26, 2014, 06:13:46 PM
Pastor Staneck, perhaps you could answer
a question.  Is part of the financial turn-
around at Concordia Sem St. Louis due
to reduction of full-time faculty to only 23?
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Matt Staneck on January 26, 2014, 06:21:17 PM
Pastor Staneck, perhaps you could answer
a question.  Is part of the financial turn-
around at Concordia Sem St. Louis due
to reduction of full-time faculty to only 23?

No, uptick began before. This would have to do ( think) with retirees and others who have taken calls.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: FrPeters on January 26, 2014, 06:34:38 PM
One point you missed is that Ft. Wayne runs on half the budget of St. Louis and has no appreciable backlog of maintenance to be done.  CSL is an expensive campus to run and on campus does not have twice the students of CTS.  This is an issue.  Sems are expensive and the sad truth is that they are paid for on the backs of donors and students and not the church at large but CSL has a problem in overhead that is greater than Ft. Wayne.  Also the Fuerbringer Library is out of space while Ft Wayne has an abundance of space both for classes, dorms, library, and support areas.  I am not trying to put them in competition but rather to outline some of the commonalities and some of the differences.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: scott8 on January 26, 2014, 06:41:12 PM
One point you missed is that Ft. Wayne runs on half the budget of St. Louis and has no appreciable backlog of maintenance to be done.  CSL is an expensive campus to run and on campus does not have twice the students of CTS.  This is an issue.  Sems are expensive and the sad truth is that they are paid for on the backs of donors and students and not the church at large but CSL has a problem in overhead that is greater than Ft. Wayne.  Also the Fuerbringer Library is out of space while Ft Wayne has an abundance of space both for classes, dorms, library, and support areas.  I am not trying to put them in competition but rather to outline some of the commonalities and some of the differences.

Actually, if the above numbers are accurate, CSL has more than twice the number of students (321*2=642 < 644).

Not to put them in competition...  ;)
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Matt Staneck on January 26, 2014, 08:26:34 PM
Fr. Peters, all I was pointing out was that despite the failure of CBC, which nearly bankrupt the campus, the school is not in debt. Don't underestimate how important that is.

It is wonderful that both schools are not in debt.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Jim Butler on January 27, 2014, 10:31:38 AM
But... more than 200 of that 600 are off campus SMP students...  And another 100 are off campus for vicarage... and about 250 are MDiv... so that balance leaves 150 in various other programs... with about 250 actually on campus... with a budget twice Ft. Wayne...  and, by many estimations, a backlog of deferred maintenance

Ft. Wayne also is debt free (example is the new Library which is pay as you go completion)... with far fewer SMP students and about the 250 MDiv (including vicars)...

If both campuses have 250 M.Div. students, can you please explain why last spring Fort Wayne placed 48 students (including alternate route, SMP, and delayed vicars) while St. Louis placed 73 M.Div students (and another 11 alternate route students and another 8 SMP students)? I would think the number would be about equal.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 27, 2014, 11:46:46 AM
According to the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
Website:

In 2013, they placed 75 MDiv graduates in the
pastoral ministry.  They also placed 21 SMP men
into pastoral ministry as well as 6 Alternate Route
men.

This adds up to 102 men placed into pastoral ministry.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Pilgrim on January 27, 2014, 12:11:41 PM
Tim notes: In a thread set aside for the ELCA seminaries status, we seem to have devolved into a bit of a partisan conversation betwixt the Concordia's, which although interesting,misses the point, does it not?

The "stand-alone" status of the seminaries with long-traditions of support and loyalty, regardless of the current reality, create an environment of tough choices. The hard business must contend with the deep emotionality, particularly in those who have deeply invested in the present seminaries.

I doubt that any pro-active decisions with an eye to the long term health and well-being of the Church (whether ultimately successful or not) will be made by seminaries or their boards, but rather the unfolding cultural realities will force decisions that will be heralded as forward thinking as the leadership spins them, but will in reality, be the result of having few if any choices left at all.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 27, 2014, 12:22:59 PM
Tim notes: In a thread set aside for the ELCA seminaries status, we seem to have devolved into a bit of a partisan conversation betwixt the Concordia's, which although interesting,misses the point, does it not?

The "stand-alone" status of the seminaries with long-traditions of support and loyalty, regardless of the current reality, create an environment of tough choices. The hard business must contend with the deep emotionality, particularly in those who have deeply invested in the present seminaries.

I doubt that any pro-active decisions with an eye to the long term health and well-being of the Church (whether ultimately successful or not) will be made by seminaries or their boards, but rather the unfolding cultural realities will force decisions that will be heralded as forward thinking as the leadership spins them, but will in reality, be the result of having few if any choices left at all.

That is an absolutely lovely final paragraph.  I've done the "leadership spin" myself many times, so I know that of which you speak! 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 27, 2014, 12:54:04 PM
Tim notes: In a thread set aside for the ELCA seminaries status, we seem to have devolved into a bit of a partisan conversation betwixt the Concordia's, which although interesting,misses the point, does it not?

The "stand-alone" status of the seminaries with long-traditions of support and loyalty, regardless of the current reality, create an environment of tough choices. The hard business must contend with the deep emotionality, particularly in those who have deeply invested in the present seminaries.

I doubt that any pro-active decisions with an eye to the long term health and well-being of the Church (whether ultimately successful or not) will be made by seminaries or their boards, but rather the unfolding cultural realities will force decisions that will be heralded as forward thinking as the leadership spins them, but will in reality, be the result of having few if any choices left at all.

Seminary Boards of Regents, Boards of Control, or whatever Board is in charge of the seminary (whether ELCA or LCMS) are tasked with caring for the well being and operation of the seminary.  Their specific mandate is not the long term health and well-being of the Church, except as they need to manage the seminary to serve the Church they are associated with since that church is the major "customer" for the "product" they are producing.  The long term health and well-being of the Church are the concern of other entities.  In fact, it seems to me, that for a seminary Board of Regents to be making plans and decisions for the long term health and well-being of the Church would be for them to act outside of their authority.  The seminary does not run the Church, but serves the Church.  They may well have input into and even representation in the controlling entities of the Church, but that is not their decision alone.

The decision that the Church does not need as many seminaries as it has (whether it be currently 8 or 2) is for the Church, not the seminary decide.  It may be that the seminary board may decide that the seminary as now constituted is not economically viable, or that its graduates are not placed within the Church in sufficient quantities to make it worth graduating them to a mountain of debt and no where to go.  Then some hard choices need to be made.  The seminary board may also look at and suggest ways that it can educate future pastors in a more economical way and explore other ways that it can successfully function as an academic institution.  But the long term health and well-being of the Church is not theirs to decide.

Dan
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 27, 2014, 12:58:26 PM
The church trains it's pastors. When "church" was seen as the synod (LCA understanding) each synod sought to have its own seminary. When "church" was a national expression, each nationality had its own seminary - the Nowegians, the Germans, The Swedes, etc. That's the background of our eight-which been even more. The Concordias have a quite different history with St Louis being for those coming through the "system" - pre-Sem classes in the Concordias, and Springfield for those who didn't have that background.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 27, 2014, 01:02:23 PM
Pastor Fienen, there is a difference between the
LCMS and the ELCA concerning their seminaries.

In the LCMS, the National Church Convention
which meets every 3 years has the power to
close a seminary.

In the ELCA, each seminary has the power to
determine its own destiny. Their National Church
Assembly which meets every 3 years has no power
to close a seminary.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 27, 2014, 01:08:46 PM
Pastor Brian S. is correct.  During the 1940's
1950's and 1960's the Springfield Seminary
of the LCMS was mainly for second-career
men who wanted to be pastors.  While the
St. Louis was the destiny of the "system"
students.

Today, both Ft.  Wayne and St. Louis Sems
have a sizeable number of second career
students.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Michael Slusser on January 27, 2014, 01:24:16 PM
A relevant current example of seminary closing is Seabury-Western (Episcopal):
In 2009, Seabury made the decision to sell its property to Northwestern University. The transaction, completed in July 2009, allowed Seabury to eliminate its debt, balance its budget, and position itself to realize a new mission.
The new mission is in collaboration with Bexley Hall: http://www.bexleyseabury.edu/history/ (http://www.bexleyseabury.edu/history/) It looks as if the Boards of both institutions have made dramatic decisions in order to try to continue, in some form, the missions for which they were founded and endowed.

Their new joint venture includes a link with Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, which is itself the product of a merger of Hamma School of Theology and Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary: http://www.tlsohio.edu/about-trinity/introduction/history-and-mission (http://www.tlsohio.edu/about-trinity/introduction/history-and-mission)

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 27, 2014, 01:26:57 PM
There are no doubt differences between the history and even current status of the seminaries vis-a-vis the denomination.  My point was that to expect the seminary board to make decisions for the seminary based on their assessment of the long term health and well-being of the parent church body is at least unrealistic.  In the LCMS, the seminaries are more tightly controlled by the Synod as a whole and the Synod can make decisions for the seminaries that the ELCA cannot for theirs.  In the '30's Synod in convention voted to close the then Springfield Seminary in order to save money.  The decision was reconsidered later in the convention and reversed.

Would it be appropriate for the seminary board to decide on its own that the seminary should be closed or merged with another "for the good of the Church" even if it were not in the best interests of the seminary itself?  What about an ELCA seminary board taking an action at the suggestion of the CWA or Church Council that may not be in the best interest of the institution but is suggested to them as in the best interest of the Church?

Somebody should be looking at the long term health of well-being of the Church, but I am just not sure that a seminary board is the best place for plans to be devised and decisions made for the good of the whole church.

Dan
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 27, 2014, 01:38:06 PM
A relevant current example of seminary closing is Seabury-Western (Episcopal):
In 2009, Seabury made the decision to sell its property to Northwestern University. The transaction, completed in July 2009, allowed Seabury to eliminate its debt, balance its budget, and position itself to realize a new mission.
The new mission is in collaboration with Bexley Hall: http://www.bexleyseabury.edu/history/ (http://www.bexleyseabury.edu/history/) It looks as if the Boards of both institutions have made dramatic decisions in order to try to continue, in some form, the missions for which they were founded and endowed.

Their new joint venture includes a link with Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, which is itself the product of a merger of Hamma School of Theology and Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary: http://www.tlsohio.edu/about-trinity/introduction/history-and-mission (http://www.tlsohio.edu/about-trinity/introduction/history-and-mission)

Peace,
Michael

You're going to see this on the more ecumenical side of the Protestant aisle.  On the more evangelicalist/fundamentalist/confessional side of the Protestant aisle, it's hard for me to imagine those more creative institutional amalgamation approaches.  It's not about need, finally, but more about trust and protection.  And in all these cases, there is the potential for a load of politics. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Pilgrim on January 27, 2014, 02:56:44 PM
Their new joint venture includes a link with Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, which is itself the product of a merger of Hamma School of Theology and Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary:

Tim notes: Recognizing there may be a cynical underlying tone to this observation, but Hamma was on the verge of fiscal collapse at the time of the "merger" (a polite term) with ELTS, which became Trinity. The "spin" was placed that the seminary merger demonstrated unity as a precursor of the ALC-LCA-AELC "new church (sic)" that followed. Internally, the integration of Hamma and ELTS was not all flowery as was the public relations image presented to the church-at-large. Now, having said that, I'm not suggesting it was a bad thing at all, but it doesn't really do justice to any sense of transparency, and thus, complete truthfulness, anymore so than transparency and truthfulness in the political sector.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Jim Butler on January 27, 2014, 03:55:58 PM
A relevant current example of seminary closing is Seabury-Western (Episcopal):
In 2009, Seabury made the decision to sell its property to Northwestern University. The transaction, completed in July 2009, allowed Seabury to eliminate its debt, balance its budget, and position itself to realize a new mission.
The new mission is in collaboration with Bexley Hall: http://www.bexleyseabury.edu/history/ (http://www.bexleyseabury.edu/history/) It looks as if the Boards of both institutions have made dramatic decisions in order to try to continue, in some form, the missions for which they were founded and endowed.

Their new joint venture includes a link with Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, which is itself the product of a merger of Hamma School of Theology and Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary: http://www.tlsohio.edu/about-trinity/introduction/history-and-mission (http://www.tlsohio.edu/about-trinity/introduction/history-and-mission)

Peace,
Michael

You're going to see this on the more ecumenical side of the Protestant aisle.  On the more evangelicalist/fundamentalist/confessional side of the Protestant aisle, it's hard for me to imagine those more creative institutional amalgamation approaches.  It's not about need, finally, but more about trust and protection.  And in all these cases, there is the potential for a load of politics. 

Dave Benke

But the reality is that the evangelical/fundamentalists have been doing this for some time. Schools such as Fuller and Gordon-Conwell were founded as multi-denominational seminaries: evangelical in theology, but open to Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, and, yes, even Lutherans. Even schools that were more denominational in orientation (e.g. Trinity Ev. Divinity School which was Evangelical Free Church) had many students that were not EFC in their M.Div. track and even some professors from other traditions.

I found it interesting that the NALC is setting up two "House of Studies" programs with seminaries of an Evangelical bent. That will be interesting to see how that works and how influenced those pastors will be by the Evangelicals. I wish the LCMS would have opened our M.Div. track to NALC students. I think we could have had a positive influence on that body.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: DCharlton on January 27, 2014, 04:03:19 PM
Their new joint venture includes a link with Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, which is itself the product of a merger of Hamma School of Theology and Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary:

Tim notes: Recognizing there may be a cynical underlying tone to this observation, but Hamma was on the verge of fiscal collapse at the time of the "merger" (a polite term) with ELTS, which became Trinity. The "spin" was placed that the seminary merger demonstrated unity as a precursor of the ALC-LCA-AELC "new church (sic)" that followed. Internally, the integration of Hamma and ELTS was not all flowery as was the public relations image presented to the church-at-large. Now, having said that, I'm not suggesting it was a bad thing at all, but it doesn't really do justice to any sense of transparency, and thus, complete truthfulness, anymore so than transparency and truthfulness in the political sector.

It's may also be helpful to remember that ELTS, which merged with Hamma to form Trinity, was once part of Capital University.  My understanding is that the seminary had to become separate from  Capital as part of the merger of 1960. 
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: FrPeters on January 27, 2014, 04:19:52 PM
Quote
Actually, if the above numbers are accurate, CSL has more than twice the number of students (321*2=642 < 644).  Not to put them in competition...

No, I was not trying to make them compete but as I said before more than 200 of their 621+/- students are SMP or alternative route NOT on campus so they do not have twice the student body on campus as Ft. Wayne.  The point I was trying to make had less to do with this than with overhead which is a BIG issue in sem costs and issues...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LutherMan on January 27, 2014, 04:28:27 PM
. I wish the LCMS would have opened our M.Div. track to NALC students. I think we could have had a positive influence on that body.
Ditto that Pr. Butler...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Birkholz on January 27, 2014, 04:38:39 PM
A relevant current example of seminary closing is Seabury-Western (Episcopal):
In 2009, Seabury made the decision to sell its property to Northwestern University. The transaction, completed in July 2009, allowed Seabury to eliminate its debt, balance its budget, and position itself to realize a new mission.
The new mission is in collaboration with Bexley Hall: http://www.bexleyseabury.edu/history/ (http://www.bexleyseabury.edu/history/) It looks as if the Boards of both institutions have made dramatic decisions in order to try to continue, in some form, the missions for which they were founded and endowed.

Their new joint venture includes a link with Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, which is itself the product of a merger of Hamma School of Theology and Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary: http://www.tlsohio.edu/about-trinity/introduction/history-and-mission (http://www.tlsohio.edu/about-trinity/introduction/history-and-mission)

Peace,
Michael

You're going to see this on the more ecumenical side of the Protestant aisle.  On the more evangelicalist/fundamentalist/confessional side of the Protestant aisle, it's hard for me to imagine those more creative institutional amalgamation approaches.  It's not about need, finally, but more about trust and protection.  And in all these cases, there is the potential for a load of politics. 

Dave Benke

Even schools that were more denominational in orientation (e.g. Trinity Ev. Divinity School which was Evangelical Free Church) had many students that were not EFC in their M.Div. track and even some professors from other traditions.

Having studied recently at TEDS, I can confirm that EFC students and professors are definitely in the minority.  For most people there, the important thing was to identify with the Evangelical Movement.  Denominational identity was secondary, in most cases by a long shot.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Keith Falk on January 27, 2014, 05:39:57 PM
. I wish the LCMS would have opened our M.Div. track to NALC students. I think we could have had a positive influence on that body.
Ditto that Pr. Butler...


Some of us on the NALC wish that, as well.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 27, 2014, 06:08:36 PM
. I wish the LCMS would have opened our M.Div. track to NALC students. I think we could have had a positive influence on that body.
Ditto that Pr. Butler...


Some of us on the NALC wish that, as well.

And what are the reasons that did not happen?  I probably should know.  But I don't.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: LutherMan on January 27, 2014, 06:15:25 PM
. I wish the LCMS would have opened our M.Div. track to NALC students. I think we could have had a positive influence on that body.
Ditto that Pr. Butler...


Some of us on the NALC wish that, as well.

And what are the reasons that did not happen?  I probably should know.  But I don't.

Dave Benke
I think the  M.Div. track is only open to LCMS seminarians planning to serve an LCMS parish.  Advanced degrees are more open, I know Mark Braun from the WELS recieved a Ph.D. in  Historical theology, from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 2000...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Jim Butler on January 27, 2014, 07:06:53 PM
. I wish the LCMS would have opened our M.Div. track to NALC students. I think we could have had a positive influence on that body.
Ditto that Pr. Butler...


Some of us on the NALC wish that, as well.

And what are the reasons that did not happen?  I probably should know.  But I don't.

Dave Benke
I think the  M.Div. track is only open to LCMS seminarians planning to serve an LCMS parish.  Advanced degrees are more open, I know Mark Braun from the WELS recieved a Ph.D. in  Historical theology, from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 2000...

Mostly, but there have been exceptions over the years. There was a student a year behind me who was from a church that was in fellowship with the LCA (wish I could remember what it was). He didn't want to go to an LCA/ALC seminary--he wanted something more confessional. We've also had students in our M.Div. programs from the Lutheran Church in Australia over the years, not to mention that the TAALC seminary moved to the Fort Wayne campus before the two churches were in fellowship. In 1994, I met an ELCA student at Gordon-Conwell. Working with the folks at Fort Wayne, I managed to get him moved there for his education. At the time, he planned to go back to the ELCA, but wanted a more conservative seminary experience than he would get in an ELCA seminary.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Satis Est on January 27, 2014, 07:33:04 PM
. I wish the LCMS would have opened our M.Div. track to NALC students. I think we could have had a positive influence on that body.
Ditto that Pr. Butler...


Some of us on the NALC wish that, as well.

And what are the reasons that did not happen?  I probably should know.  But I don't.

Dave Benke
I think the  M.Div. track is only open to LCMS seminarians planning to serve an LCMS parish.  Advanced degrees are more open, I know Mark Braun from the WELS recieved a Ph.D. in  Historical theology, from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 2000...

Mostly, but there have been exceptions over the years. There was a student a year behind me who was from a church that was in fellowship with the LCA (wish I could remember what it was). He didn't want to go to an LCA/ALC seminary--he wanted something more confessional. We've also had students in our M.Div. programs from the Lutheran Church in Australia over the years, not to mention that the TAALC seminary moved to the Fort Wayne campus before the two churches were in fellowship. In 1994, I met an ELCA student at Gordon-Conwell. Working with the folks at Fort Wayne, I managed to get him moved there for his education. At the time, he planned to go back to the ELCA, but wanted a more conservative seminary experience than he would get in an ELCA seminary.

Cherchez la femme.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: FrPeters on January 27, 2014, 07:58:43 PM
As I understand it, the NALC decision was less to do with restrictions on the LCMS side than with certain pushes from their side... at least that seemed to be what Nathan Yoder said at the Symposia... I do know that CTS Ft Wayne was close to the final cut before the choice was narrowed.  I also know that CTS was amenable to working with them.  Obviously the issue of women's ordination was the biggest barrier but not an impossible one to traverse...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: John_Hannah on January 28, 2014, 05:19:38 AM
The experience of the once upon a time attempt by the Society of the Holy Trinity (STS) to partner with Ft. Wayne and have an STS House of Studies there suggests that, due to the ordination of women, it would be impossible for the LCMS to allow the NALC at the seminary. The STS experienced serious problems simply having our General Retreat during the Summertime when the seminary was not even in session.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Benke on January 28, 2014, 08:40:01 AM
As I understand it, the NALC decision was less to do with restrictions on the LCMS side than with certain pushes from their side... at least that seemed to be what Nathan Yoder said at the Symposia... I do know that CTS Ft Wayne was close to the final cut before the choice was narrowed.  I also know that CTS was amenable to working with them.  Obviously the issue of women's ordination was the biggest barrier but not an impossible one to traverse...

That makes more sense to me, thinking it over. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: FrPeters on January 28, 2014, 09:23:59 AM
The thinking was that with other sites available the women would be less than attracted to CTS but it would be the only choice in the NALC offings that was a traditional seminary program and the whole NALC program of seminary education would benefit from that...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 28, 2014, 09:25:21 AM
The Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg was founded
in 1826.  As the oldest Lutheran seminary in the USA
it has some historical significance, especially with the
Civil War.  I have been on their campus several times
and enjoyed the colonial architecture and visiting the
campus book store.

Talking to one of the professors, he said that this
seminary is in it for the long haul and have no plans
for closure.

Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Richard Johnson on January 28, 2014, 09:28:54 AM


Talking to one of the professors, he said that this
seminary is in it for the long haul and have no plans
for closure.

Well, of course, none of them do. Until they do.
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: Jim Butler on January 28, 2014, 12:32:36 PM
The thinking was that with other sites available the women would be less than attracted to CTS but it would be the only choice in the NALC offings that was a traditional seminary program and the whole NALC program of seminary education would benefit from that...

My thought was that the women could enter our deaconess program. If, based on that, the NALC wanted to still ordain them, that was up to that body.

Ah well...
Title: Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
Post by: DCharlton on January 28, 2014, 12:35:19 PM
The thinking was that with other sites available the women would be less than attracted to CTS but it would be the only choice in the NALC offings that was a traditional seminary program and the whole NALC program of seminary education would benefit from that...

My thought was that the women could enter our deaconess program. If, based on that, the NALC wanted to still ordain them, that was up to that body.

Ah well...

If I was NALC, which I'm not, that would have presented a problem.  If men and women are to hold the same office in the church, I don't think they ought to be in different programs in seminary.  Better to respect the integrity of CTS's program and decline to enroll there.