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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: Dave Likeness on December 15, 2017, 12:08:10 PM

Title: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 15, 2017, 12:08:10 PM
In the Lutheran Forum (Winter 2017 Edition) there is a interesting chart on the enrollment at
the 8 ELCA Seminaries for the 2016-2017 Academic year.

There was a total enrollment of 663 ELCA students studying for their Master of Divinity degree.
This compares to 1274  ELCA students studying for the M.Div degree ten years ago. This amounts
to a decrease of 611 seminarians in one decade.

The 2016-2017 leader was Lutheran Seminary, St. Paul with 238 ELCA students.  In second place
was the Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago with 91 ELCA students and Wartburg Seminary of
Dubuque, Iowa was third with 88 ELCA students.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: DCharlton on December 15, 2017, 12:11:27 PM
In the Lutheran Forum (Winter 2017 Edition) there is a interesting chart on the enrollment at
the 8 ELCA Seminaries for the 2016-2017 Academic year.

There was a total enrollment of 663 ELCA students studying for their Master of Divinity degree.
This compares to 1274  ELCA students studying for the M.Div degree ten years ago. This amounts
to a decrease of 611 seminarians in one decade.

The 2016-2017 leader was Lutheran Seminary, St. Paul with 238 ELCA students.  In second place
was the Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago with 91 ELCA students and Wartburg Seminary of
Dubuque, Iowa was third with 88 ELCA students.

Any numbers from 1988?  If I recall correctly, Luther-Northwester had three time the number it has today, while several seminaries had 200 students.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 15, 2017, 12:18:24 PM
The Chart in the Lutheran Forum (Winter 2017 edition) only goes back to 2004-2005 academic year.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Charles Austin on December 15, 2017, 02:26:39 PM
The numbers show a 50 percent decline in the last 10 or 11 years. The percentage is higher than that if you go back more than 10 years.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Keith Falk on December 15, 2017, 02:34:47 PM
I graduated in the spring of 2006, so I'm in the first couple of years of included numbers.  It's rather jarring, particularly the incoming class numbers (Trinity sticks out to me, since that is where I graduated).
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on December 15, 2017, 03:13:29 PM

Any numbers from 1988?  If I recall correctly, Luther-Northwester had three time the number it has today, while several seminaries had 200 students.

Total enrollment figures (so this is all degree programs, not only MDiv) from The Association of Theological Schools Fact Book on Theological Education (https://www.ats.edu/uploads/resources/institutional-data/fact-books/1988-1990-fact-book.pdf) for the academic years 1988-89 and 1989-90:

                                      FTE          Headcount
   School                      '89     '88       '89   '88

   Luther Northwestern  603   599       755  731
   LSTC                        326   288       401  385
   Southern                  144   116       169  160
   Gettysburg               213   205       237  269
   Philadelphia              172   174       250  273
   PLTS                         126   112      123  124   [Yes, that's what the report says.]
   Trinity                       203   226      249  302
   Wartburg                  202   191       223  211

An ELCA News Service release from February 1996 (https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:IpdFXdokqngJ:https://listserv.elca.org/scripts/wa.exe%3FA2%3Dind9602%26L%3DELCANEWS%26F%3D%26S%3D%26P%3D2740+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari) reports:
Quote
              Enrollment figures are stabilizing for the eight seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  The 1,548 students enrolled in master of divinity (M.Div.) programs is equal to the average enrollment each year since the church was formed in 1987.

        Statistics gathered by the ELCA Division for Ministry report 1,548 students currently working toward an M.Div. degree -- the minimum degree required of ELCA clergy.  That's a 4.33 percent drop in total enrollment from 1,618 in 1994-95.  ELCA seminaries have averaged a total 1,548 students each year enrolled in M.Div. programs during the past nine academic years.


Another ELCA News release from April 2002 (http://godsworkourhands.org/News-and-Events/4562) says,
Quote
     The eight seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) report 1,211 students seeking a master of divinity (M.Div.) degree during the 2001-2002 academic year.  After several years of declining enrollment, the number of students preparing to become ELCA pastors has leveled off in the past three years, according to a report to the ELCA Division for Ministry board....     

     In 1994-1995, ELCA seminaries reported 1,465 students in their M.Div. programs.  That number declined through the remainder of the decade -- 1,405 in 1995-1996, 1,357 in 1996-1997, 1,323 in 1997-1998, and 1,284 in 1998-1999, said the report.  Enrollment began leveling off at 1,209 in 1999-2000 and 1,214 in 2000-2001....

     While 1,211 students are enrolled in M.Div. programs of ELCA seminaries, they account for 1,031 full-time equivalent students. "Part-time students now make up a significant minority of our M.Div. population," said Wilhelm....

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: DCharlton on December 15, 2017, 03:47:59 PM
I graduated in the spring of 2006, so I'm in the first couple of years of included numbers.  It's rather jarring, particularly the incoming class numbers (Trinity sticks out to me, since that is where I graduated).

If you look at Steven's numbers, you see that in 1988, TLS had the third largest enrollment.  Last time I checked, only PLTS has a smaller enrollment.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Mark Brown on December 15, 2017, 03:48:53 PM
Do you know what the difference is between FTE and Headcount?

FTE = full time enrollment.
Headcount = full and part-time enrollment
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: DCharlton on December 15, 2017, 03:50:13 PM
Do you know what the difference is between FTE and Headcount?

FTE = full time enrollment.
Headcount = full and part-time enrollment

Thanks.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 15, 2017, 03:50:23 PM
For the Academic Year of 2016-17, Gettysburg Seminary had 65 ELCA students studying for a M.Div
and Philly Seminary had 67.  For the academic year of 2017-18 they  have combined to form United
Seminary. For the previous year their combined enrollment would have been 132 ELCA students seeking
an M.Div degree.  This would have made them the second largest behind Luther Seminary, St. Paul.
Unity Seminary will eventually have one campus at Gettysburg.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: RPG on December 15, 2017, 03:57:04 PM
Do you know what the difference is between FTE and Headcount?

FTE = full time enrollment.
Headcount = full and part-time enrollment

As I understand it, FTE is "Full-Time Equivalent."  So a student enrolled with a half-time course load is .5 FTE, a three-quarter time load is .75 FTE, etc. 
In the case with which I'm most familiar (Luther Sem.), the FTE figure includes a large number of students enrolled in Distributive Learning programs (online with on-campus intensive courses) and online. The Luther campus is a pretty quiet place these days, from what I've heard from more than a few people.

RPG+
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Mark Brown on December 15, 2017, 03:59:01 PM
I used to wonder a while ago if seminary enrollment was a leading or lagging indicator of actual church size.  What I mean by that is did enrollment stay higher than the actual size of a church because of carryover demographic effects, like the temp of a turkey keeps rising when you take it out of the over, or did the seminary enrollment shrink before the church as a whole shrank.  Did the field of potential seminarians look at the churches and a good number of them say "let me go bury my Father first"?

I came to the conclusion a while ago it was a leading indicator.  I don't think the causal arrow flows less seminarians so the church must shrink, but the church has shrunk (even if it is experience demographic hangover that keeps the numbers up) which causes less seminarians.

Barring God granting repentance and renewal (i.e. a miracle), we can't maintain the infrastructure of peak church.  The water is now up to the "treasured institutions" level.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: DCharlton on December 15, 2017, 04:27:00 PM
Accord to the ATS https://www.ats.edu/member-schools/trinity-lutheran-seminary (https://www.ats.edu/member-schools/trinity-lutheran-seminary), Trinity Lutheran Seminary's 2017 enrollment is the following

Enrollment: 67 (48.6 FTE)

That compare with the 1998 numbers of  and enrollment of 302, with FTE enrollment of 226.

TLS's enrollment is 22% of what is was in 1988.  Its FTE enrollment is also 22% of what I was in 1988.  A decline of 78%.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 15, 2017, 04:38:19 PM
There is no doubt that currently, Trinity Seminary in Columbus, Ohio is on the ELCA endangered seminary list.
The golden years when Professor Paul Harms taught homiletics there have passed.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: DCharlton on December 15, 2017, 04:46:03 PM
If the numbers give on this thread are correct, we can make this comparison:

1995-96 = 1548 (M.Div)

2006-2007 = 1274 (M.Div)

2016-2017 = 663 (M.Div)

Decline over 11 years between 95-96 and 06-07 = 18%

Decline over 10 years between 06-07 and 16-17 = 52%

The rate of decline has nearly triple in the last 10 years. 
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 15, 2017, 04:55:03 PM
There is another factor in the current enrollment and the enrollment in seminaries 20 years ago.
Today, there are more second career people who enroll in a seminary at age 45 or 50,  and are
unable to serve full-time as a pastor for 40 years.  In the golden age of the Lutheran seminaries
the graduates were in their mid to late 20's.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Charles Austin on December 15, 2017, 06:53:28 PM
Furthermore, older, second-career pastors, perhaps with children heading for college, may not be able to work at "beginner" salaries and compensation packages. Younger pastors are more assertive than in previous generations and will make demands about where they are willing to serve. (We were pretty much told where we would go.)
Overall, the statistics and other info clearly predict a severe shortage of clergy for the ELCA.
Add to that the large number of small congregations unable to pay adequate compensation. The clergy shortage might require synods to forcibly merge or close these congregations.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on December 16, 2017, 07:43:15 AM
A question about Trinity/Capitol in Columbus: Didn't Cap assume responsibility for Trinity recently, like take over their decision making abilities and treat it as an "independent" school within the university? I'm trying to recall what I read here about these two schools. Cap is a fine school with a very good reputation in Columbus and throughout Ohio.

Jeremy
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Team Hesse on December 16, 2017, 08:13:10 AM
The clergy shortage might require synods to forcibly merge or close these congregations.


Or think about other ways of serving the needs of God's people......


Lou
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Terry W Culler on December 16, 2017, 08:29:43 AM
This problem seems to affect everyone.  In the AFLC we are suffering a clergy shortage and, while we're celebrating the fact that the new first year class is larger than the last graduating class, it still won't meet our needs.  And if we were dependent upon young men just out of college, well, we'd really be in a mess.  Every denomination will have to find more ways to train pastors or things will only get worse.  The RCs are bringing folks in from other countries--maybe Lutherans will need to bring in pastors from countries where our missionaries have done such good work, or we'll need to commit more resources to distance learning or something else.  But I think it's clear to many of us that the old system is no longer getting the job done.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 16, 2017, 09:38:45 AM
Many of the vacant Lutheran parishes are small ones with 75 people or less on an average Sunday morning.
Those are also the same parishes who do not have the financial resources to support a full-time pastor and
his family.  Seminary graduates  are no longer affordable for many small congregations.  In many instances
the Lutheran seminaries are producing a product that has priced itself out of the current market.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: DCharlton on December 16, 2017, 09:47:50 AM
A question about Trinity/Capitol in Columbus: Didn't Cap assume responsibility for Trinity recently, like take over their decision making abilities and treat it as an "independent" school within the university? I'm trying to recall what I read here about these two schools. Cap is a fine school with a very good reputation in Columbus and throughout Ohio.

Jeremy

Trinity and Capital did "reunite" recently.  "Reunion" is a slightly inaccurate word because Trinity is the result of a merger between ELTS (ALC) and Hamma (LCA) in 1978.  ELTS had been related to Capital while Hamma had been related to Wittenberg University, in Springfield, OH. 
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Benke on December 16, 2017, 03:09:32 PM
Many of the vacant Lutheran parishes are small ones with 75 people or less on an average Sunday morning.
Those are also the same parishes who do not have the financial resources to support a full-time pastor and
his family.  Seminary graduates  are no longer affordable for many small congregations.  In many instances
the Lutheran seminaries are producing a product that has priced itself out of the current market.

Bingo-ish.

The rate of decline in the great percentage of congregations is going to continue, because of the age of the congregants.  In the smaller congregations, that older demographic often to almost always predominates.  So ten years from now, what's going to give?  I think what's going to give is the existence of the smaller congregations.  Yes, some of them can be managed by the semi-retired part-time pastors.  Yes, some of them can be divvied up into two and three point parishes.  But for many the pathway is toward closure. 

When President Harrison indicates that the Missouri Synod number will drop by a half million as the Synod is currently constituted, I think there's demographic evidence to support that.  I don't think there's a lot of evidence to support a leveling off and eventual increase in numbers fifteen years down the line. 

Mark Brown's estimation is true, in my opinion.  The drop in the number of viable congregations and in congregational size overall is the indicator for less enrollment in the seminaries.  Putting it more crassly, there are less good jobs out there any more. 

This is to me a strong underlying reason for the push to eliminate or truncate the ability of large congregations to send men from inside to the SMP training.  And it's why there's such hostility (ie "they're not real pastors) from a group among the clergy.  It's less ideological, in my opinion, and more economical.  "They're taking our jobs!"   From the other side, those larger congregations training from within through the SMP program are simply not interested in the ideologically-driven crop that emanates from some quarters, either in the field or at the seminary.  So their response would be "these were not going to be your jobs anyway."   If push came to shove, the large-mega congregations could easily become NALC II.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Keith Falk on December 16, 2017, 03:28:37 PM
A question about Trinity/Capitol in Columbus: Didn't Cap assume responsibility for Trinity recently, like take over their decision making abilities and treat it as an "independent" school within the university? I'm trying to recall what I read here about these two schools. Cap is a fine school with a very good reputation in Columbus and throughout Ohio.

Jeremy

Trinity and Capital did "reunite" recently.  "Reunion" is a slightly inaccurate word because Trinity is the result of a merger between ELTS (ALC) and Hamma (LCA) in 1978.  ELTS had been related to Capital while Hamma had been related to Wittenberg University, in Springfield, OH.


So moving forward (at least according to the guy communicating in an official capacity on the TLS Alumni FB group), Trinity will function as a divinity school of Capital; at least, that's the way to think about it.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Mark Brown on December 16, 2017, 03:53:47 PM
Many of the vacant Lutheran parishes are small ones with 75 people or less on an average Sunday morning.
Those are also the same parishes who do not have the financial resources to support a full-time pastor and
his family.  Seminary graduates  are no longer affordable for many small congregations.  In many instances
the Lutheran seminaries are producing a product that has priced itself out of the current market.

Bingo-ish.

The rate of decline in the great percentage of congregations is going to continue, because of the age of the congregants.  In the smaller congregations, that older demographic often to almost always predominates.  So ten years from now, what's going to give?  I think what's going to give is the existence of the smaller congregations.  Yes, some of them can be managed by the semi-retired part-time pastors.  Yes, some of them can be divvied up into two and three point parishes.  But for many the pathway is toward closure. 

When President Harrison indicates that the Missouri Synod number will drop by a half million as the Synod is currently constituted, I think there's demographic evidence to support that.  I don't think there's a lot of evidence to support a leveling off and eventual increase in numbers fifteen years down the line. 

Mark Brown's estimation is true, in my opinion.  The drop in the number of viable congregations and in congregational size overall is the indicator for less enrollment in the seminaries.  Putting it more crassly, there are less good jobs out there any more. 

This is to me a strong underlying reason for the push to eliminate or truncate the ability of large congregations to send men from inside to the SMP training.  And it's why there's such hostility (ie "they're not real pastors) from a group among the clergy.  It's less ideological, in my opinion, and more economical.  "They're taking our jobs!"   From the other side, those larger congregations training from within through the SMP program are simply not interested in the ideologically-driven crop that emanates from some quarters, either in the field or at the seminary.  So their response would be "these were not going to be your jobs anyway."   If push came to shove, the large-mega congregations could easily become NALC II.

Dave Benke

Yep, 99.999% with you.  I don't think the small congregation stuff is even questionable.  Even through the economics driven part, and the NALC II part.  But I'd put it slightly differently.  The LCMS already has an eclesiola, although the diminutive might be wrong, and it is the large-congregations.  It started with contemporary worship, it continued when they all changed their names and signs to remove traces of denominational identity (or started sites without any), and now it finishes with their own seminary and ministerial track.  Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.  They have stopped walking with the rest of the synod over 25 years without formally leaving the synod.  If you can't take any seminary trained and certified graduate, something we all agreed to as fundamental, how are you really a part of the synod?

Far from a lack of ministers, we have an over supply.  I'm more hopeful about the stabilization over 10 -15 years.  At this point the 70+ crowd still has a sizable contingent of "cultural Christians" who attend out of habit.  That number drops to 0 by 45 year olds.  Even in the small congregation the demographics mirror society in the 55 and under groups.  In fact they are typically younger as those 20-35 yo in them have about 3 kids, which is more than the 1.5 their non-religious contemporaries are having.  It is only that big older group that skews everything.  But that stabilization is going to be at a much smaller level of total size and economic wherewithal.

If we were being honest, I think we'd start working on three things. 1. Creating an easy out path for those large congregations that won't take a seminary trained minister.  2. Working on creating a real parish ministerial system, where four congregation of 70 people in worship any given Sunday within 10 miles of each other, would stop attempting to keep 4 FT Seminary trained ministers, but be a parish with maybe 2 ministers plus say a parish nurse and a deaconess. 3. Work on normalizing the rest of the institutional size (i.e. 1 sem, Bishops that are more like Dr. Benke was, etc.).  But such things would require leadership and followership, so instead what will happen is 3 out of 4 of those small places will close.  Just enough will migrate to the one that stays open to stay open.  The rest will become "nones" or join the Baptists closest to them.  And most of that will be paid for in pastoral low wages and ulcers. (I don't think the large places will necessarily have an easy time either as the traditional core that floats them dies and they all have to weather a ministerial change.  50% of that type of place never make it through such a generational change.)   



Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: John_Hannah on December 16, 2017, 04:13:34 PM
Many of the vacant Lutheran parishes are small ones with 75 people or less on an average Sunday morning.
Those are also the same parishes who do not have the financial resources to support a full-time pastor and
his family.  Seminary graduates  are no longer affordable for many small congregations.  In many instances
the Lutheran seminaries are producing a product that has priced itself out of the current market.

Bingo-ish.

The rate of decline in the great percentage of congregations is going to continue, because of the age of the congregants.  In the smaller congregations, that older demographic often to almost always predominates.  So ten years from now, what's going to give?  I think what's going to give is the existence of the smaller congregations.  Yes, some of them can be managed by the semi-retired part-time pastors.  Yes, some of them can be divvied up into two and three point parishes.  But for many the pathway is toward closure. 

When President Harrison indicates that the Missouri Synod number will drop by a half million as the Synod is currently constituted, I think there's demographic evidence to support that.  I don't think there's a lot of evidence to support a leveling off and eventual increase in numbers fifteen years down the line. 

Mark Brown's estimation is true, in my opinion.  The drop in the number of viable congregations and in congregational size overall is the indicator for less enrollment in the seminaries.  Putting it more crassly, there are less good jobs out there any more. 

This is to me a strong underlying reason for the push to eliminate or truncate the ability of large congregations to send men from inside to the SMP training.  And it's why there's such hostility (ie "they're not real pastors) from a group among the clergy.  It's less ideological, in my opinion, and more economical.  "They're taking our jobs!"   From the other side, those larger congregations training from within through the SMP program are simply not interested in the ideologically-driven crop that emanates from some quarters, either in the field or at the seminary.  So their response would be "these were not going to be your jobs anyway."   If push came to shove, the large-mega congregations could easily become NALC II.

Dave Benke

Yep, 99.999% with you.  I don't think the small congregation stuff is even questionable.  Even through the economics driven part, and the NALC II part.  But I'd put it slightly differently.  The LCMS already has an eclesiola, although the diminutive might be wrong, and it is the large-congregations.  It started with contemporary worship, it continued when they all changed their names and signs to remove traces of denominational identity (or started sites without any), and now it finishes with their own seminary and ministerial track.  Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.  They have stopped walking with the rest of the synod over 25 years without formally leaving the synod.  If you can't take any seminary trained and certified graduate, something we all agreed to as fundamental, how are you really a part of the synod?

Far from a lack of ministers, we have an over supply.  I'm more hopeful about the stabilization over 10 -15 years.  At this point the 70+ crowd still has a sizable contingent of "cultural Christians" who attend out of habit.  That number drops to 0 by 45 year olds.  Even in the small congregation the demographics mirror society in the 55 and under groups.  In fact they are typically younger as those 20-35 yo in them have about 3 kids, which is more than the 1.5 their non-religious contemporaries are having.  It is only that big older group that skews everything.  But that stabilization is going to be at a much smaller level of total size and economic wherewithal.

If we were being honest, I think we'd start working on three things. 1. Creating an easy out path for those large congregations that won't take a seminary trained minister.  2. Working on creating a real parish ministerial system, where four congregation of 70 people in worship any given Sunday within 10 miles of each other, would stop attempting to keep 4 FT Seminary trained ministers, but be a parish with maybe 2 ministers plus say a parish nurse and a deaconess. 3. Work on normalizing the rest of the institutional size (i.e. 1 sem, Bishops that are more like Dr. Benke was, etc.).  But such things would require leadership and followership, so instead what will happen is 3 out of 4 of those small places will close.  Just enough will migrate to the one that stays open to stay open.  The rest will become "nones" or join the Baptists closest to them.  And most of that will be paid for in pastoral low wages and ulcers. (I don't think the large places will necessarily have an easy time either as the traditional core that floats them dies and they all have to weather a ministerial change.  50% of that type of place never make it through such a generational change.)   

Wisdom here. Attend. It is in your interest.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: D. Engebretson on December 16, 2017, 04:15:47 PM
I am part of the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation born post WWII in 1960.  We swelled the ranks of the public school system and eventually all educational systems after that.  With a drop off in birth rates in the years since the system has been adjusting year by year.  I see it especially in my local unified school district struggling to eventually close the regional county elementary schools that were so necessary in my time, and consolidate the rest in remaining larger, more centralized buildings.

Now my generation is on the cusp of a huge wave of retirement.  I am about 8 years out, and the very tail end a few years behind me.  The downside of this wave will be the shortages and voids we will create in the workplace and elsewhere.  Right now the trades are especially suffering, part of that due to a failure of my generation to stress them over an over-dependence on high tech.

But the upside is that we are working longer and remaining in the active workforce.  Even if we retire at the 65 year mark we typically move on to other work, partly for economic reasons to supplement less-than-adequate retirement benefits (or over-dependence on Social Security as the sole means of support), or simply because we are still in good enough health and need to remain active with a purpose.  I wonder if this influx of Baby Boomer clergy retirees might alleviate a bit of the clergy shortage for some of those smaller, less financially viable congregations.  With a lifetime of experience and skills minus the need for that onerous benefit package that capsizes the typical small church budget, might my generation serve as one solution for some of this?  Even in larger parishes retired pastors make great visitation pastors to take the load off of the administrative pastor and his associates. 

I know that I do not plan to leave the ministry after I retire from FT work.  After serving as a circuit visitor and vacancy pastor and seeing the huge need for pulpit supply I know that my skills and experience will be needed and used for many years to come. 
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: John_Hannah on December 16, 2017, 04:51:04 PM
I am part of the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation born post WWII in 1960.  We swelled the ranks of the public school system and eventually all educational systems after that.  With a drop off in birth rates in the years since the system has been adjusting year by year.  I see it especially in my local unified school district struggling to eventually close the regional county elementary schools that were so necessary in my time, and consolidate the rest in remaining larger, more centralized buildings.

Now my generation is on the cusp of a huge wave of retirement.  I am about 8 years out, and the very tail end a few years behind me.  The downside of this wave will be the shortages and voids we will create in the workplace and elsewhere.  Right now the trades are especially suffering, part of that due to a failure of my generation to stress them over an over-dependence on high tech.

But the upside is that we are working longer and remaining in the active workforce.  Even if we retire at the 65 year mark we typically move on to other work, partly for economic reasons to supplement less-than-adequate retirement benefits (or over-dependence on Social Security as the sole means of support), or simply because we are still in good enough health and need to remain active with a purpose.  I wonder if this influx of Baby Boomer clergy retirees might alleviate a bit of the clergy shortage for some of those smaller, less financially viable congregations.  With a lifetime of experience and skills minus the need for that onerous benefit package that capsizes the typical small church budget, might my generation serve as one solution for some of this?  Even in larger parishes retired pastors make great visitation pastors to take the load off of the administrative pastor and his associates. 

I know that I do not plan to leave the ministry after I retire from FT work.  After serving as a circuit visitor and vacancy pastor and seeing the huge need for pulpit supply I know that my skills and experience will be needed and used for many years to come.

More wisdom!

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: DCharlton on December 16, 2017, 05:06:42 PM
Mark Brown's estimation is true, in my opinion.  The drop in the number of viable congregations and in congregational size overall is the indicator for less enrollment in the seminaries.  Putting it more crassly, there are less good jobs out there any more. 

This may be so, but if so, why has seminary enrollment dropped more quickly than denominational membership and the number of congregations.  In the last 10 years, ELCA seminary enrollment has dropped over 50%.  Membership and number of congregations has dropped, but at a lesser rate.  At first glance, it seems that seminary enrollment is the indicator of decline. 
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 16, 2017, 06:10:02 PM
The big variable among retired pastors is their personal physical health. Those in good health can continue
to provide pulpit supply as well as shut-in visitation in their area. However, there will always be those pastors
who have poor health in their retirement years and are unavailable for any pastoral assistance.  The bottom
line is that the church at large will need a focused plan in dealing with small parishes who are financially unable
to support full-time pastors.  Retired pastors will not be the key to that plan.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: RevG on December 16, 2017, 06:43:41 PM
Mark Brown's estimation is true, in my opinion.  The drop in the number of viable congregations and in congregational size overall is the indicator for less enrollment in the seminaries.  Putting it more crassly, there are less good jobs out there any more. 

This may be so, but if so, why has seminary enrollment dropped more quickly than denominational membership and the number of congregations.  In the last 10 years, ELCA seminary enrollment has dropped over 50%.  Membership and number of congregations has dropped, but at a lesser rate.  At first glance, it seems that seminary enrollment is the indicator of decline.

My guess is because membership is heavily weighed on the side of 55 and above.  So, in one sense, you may have a church of 100 members with only a few under the aforementioned age.  Even the high enrollments of Concordia Stl in the mid 2000s were a bit misleading because what contributed to that was the offer of free tuition.  When that was no longer guaranteed a drop came right away.  My class of 120 followed a class of 155 (Mark B might be able to help with specifics of those class numbers as he was a student there at that time, too) and we were the first to be told that they couldn't guarantee that we'd be covered.  I remember going out to summer Greek unsure if grant money would cover half of the cost. I believe the next class was under 100 and it continued downward. 

A friend recently shared that Concordia Seminary now has a huge endowment but few students compared to when we attended. 
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Benke on December 16, 2017, 10:11:03 PM
Many of the vacant Lutheran parishes are small ones with 75 people or less on an average Sunday morning.
Those are also the same parishes who do not have the financial resources to support a full-time pastor and
his family.  Seminary graduates  are no longer affordable for many small congregations.  In many instances
the Lutheran seminaries are producing a product that has priced itself out of the current market.

Bingo-ish.

The rate of decline in the great percentage of congregations is going to continue, because of the age of the congregants.  In the smaller congregations, that older demographic often to almost always predominates.  So ten years from now, what's going to give?  I think what's going to give is the existence of the smaller congregations.  Yes, some of them can be managed by the semi-retired part-time pastors.  Yes, some of them can be divvied up into two and three point parishes.  But for many the pathway is toward closure. 

When President Harrison indicates that the Missouri Synod number will drop by a half million as the Synod is currently constituted, I think there's demographic evidence to support that.  I don't think there's a lot of evidence to support a leveling off and eventual increase in numbers fifteen years down the line. 

Mark Brown's estimation is true, in my opinion.  The drop in the number of viable congregations and in congregational size overall is the indicator for less enrollment in the seminaries.  Putting it more crassly, there are less good jobs out there any more. 

This is to me a strong underlying reason for the push to eliminate or truncate the ability of large congregations to send men from inside to the SMP training.  And it's why there's such hostility (ie "they're not real pastors) from a group among the clergy.  It's less ideological, in my opinion, and more economical.  "They're taking our jobs!"   From the other side, those larger congregations training from within through the SMP program are simply not interested in the ideologically-driven crop that emanates from some quarters, either in the field or at the seminary.  So their response would be "these were not going to be your jobs anyway."   If push came to shove, the large-mega congregations could easily become NALC II.

Dave Benke

Yep, 99.999% with you.  I don't think the small congregation stuff is even questionable.  Even through the economics driven part, and the NALC II part.  But I'd put it slightly differently.  The LCMS already has an eclesiola, although the diminutive might be wrong, and it is the large-congregations.  It started with contemporary worship, it continued when they all changed their names and signs to remove traces of denominational identity (or started sites without any), and now it finishes with their own seminary and ministerial track.  Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.  They have stopped walking with the rest of the synod over 25 years without formally leaving the synod.  If you can't take any seminary trained and certified graduate, something we all agreed to as fundamental, how are you really a part of the synod?

Far from a lack of ministers, we have an over supply.  I'm more hopeful about the stabilization over 10 -15 years.  At this point the 70+ crowd still has a sizable contingent of "cultural Christians" who attend out of habit.  That number drops to 0 by 45 year olds.  Even in the small congregation the demographics mirror society in the 55 and under groups.  In fact they are typically younger as those 20-35 yo in them have about 3 kids, which is more than the 1.5 their non-religious contemporaries are having.  It is only that big older group that skews everything.  But that stabilization is going to be at a much smaller level of total size and economic wherewithal.

If we were being honest, I think we'd start working on three things. 1. Creating an easy out path for those large congregations that won't take a seminary trained minister.  2. Working on creating a real parish ministerial system, where four congregation of 70 people in worship any given Sunday within 10 miles of each other, would stop attempting to keep 4 FT Seminary trained ministers, but be a parish with maybe 2 ministers plus say a parish nurse and a deaconess. 3. Work on normalizing the rest of the institutional size (i.e. 1 sem, Bishops that are more like Dr. Benke was, etc.).  But such things would require leadership and followership, so instead what will happen is 3 out of 4 of those small places will close.  Just enough will migrate to the one that stays open to stay open.  The rest will become "nones" or join the Baptists closest to them.  And most of that will be paid for in pastoral low wages and ulcers. (I don't think the large places will necessarily have an easy time either as the traditional core that floats them dies and they all have to weather a ministerial change.  50% of that type of place never make it through such a generational change.)   

Bingo-ish again! 
a) you can't use "all" of changed their names and their signs, because that's not true of maybe 4 1/2 of 5 of the large congregations.  But - those large congregations do control a healthy half of the Sunday worshipers in the denomination, and so they have varied their worship format to suit.  Now, it should be added that there are practitioners of worship variety, the primary indicator on your list, coming out of both seminaries every year.   So it's not as though the traditional route has been totally abandoned, and it's not as though everyone fits neatly at one of the liturgical edges. 
b) given entropy, there will need to be a presenting urgent issue in order for the big churches to boogie.  I can think of a couple that might rise to the occasion.  But that hasn't happened to date.
c) given entropy, the new organization of which you speak would take some doing.  Serious doing.  That being said, it would in my opinion be worth doing.  10 years from now, maybe?  5 years from now, maybe?  You should write the convention overture now.  The subcommittee to form the overall committee to include all areas of exploration needs time to get its act together.
d) Fierce warriors is what we need and are.  Read the Magnificat.  A fierce promissory note.  Gaudete!

Dave Benke

Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on December 16, 2017, 11:53:51 PM
When I was at PLTS (1988-92), it was barely economically viable.  That was with 120 full-time students, and wasn't accounting for real estate issues.  It survived by building up its gifts and endowment and by getting economies of scale by being linked with Luther Seminary.  When Luther discovered that it was close to financial collapse, Cal Lutheran University took PLTS over and has, in the last year, moved the school and sold the property.  (The Muslims have a lot of work to do to make it again a usable campus.)  Even then, some of its recent new faculty have been jointly hired with the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, the Episcopal seminary in Berkeley (which makes PLTS look like the picture of institutional health).  But PLTS exists only as long as Cal Lutheran thinks a graduate school of theology makes sense. 

Southern Seminary (as Lenoir-Rhyne's graduate school of theology) and Trinity (as Capital's) are in the same boat.  Trinity may have a slight advantage in being across the street from Capital, rather than hundreds of miles away. 

The ELCA had too many seminaries (8, plus programs in Texas and Washington DC) when it began in 1988.  Frankly enrollment would have fit at Luther and (at most) 2 others.  Today's enrollment, especially given the projections for the future, certainly can't justify 7 seminaries.

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Charles Austin on December 17, 2017, 03:23:38 AM
Steven is correct, and I have never understood why, when the ELCA was organized, there was not a plan to merge, close, or otherwise consolidate seminary education. I think that it was the emotional attachment that many clergy had to "their" seminaries along with the "trauma" of the merger that kept that subject off the table.
"My" seminary, Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary (then known as the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago - Maywood campus), had already "closed" or "merged" or had evolved into a totally different institution based near the University of Chicago. Central Seminary in Fremont, Nebraska; Augustana Seminary in Rock Island, Illinois; and Suomi Seminary in Michigan were also part of this evolution. My 1967 graduation was last class out of the Maywood campus.
I believe the ELCA has an obligation towards American history to preserve - in some way - Gettysburg. Wartburg's setting in Iowa may give it some extra value. But beyond that, I do not know why we do not simply make Luther "the" seminary of the ELCA.
I think there was great value in "the old days" of the Augustana Lutheran Church (even before the time of this aging humble correspondent) in having one seminary where all clergy had essentially the same formation as theologians and pastors.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Benke on December 17, 2017, 08:26:49 AM
Steven is correct, and I have never understood why, when the ELCA was organized, there was not a plan to merge, close, or otherwise consolidate seminary education. I think that it was the emotional attachment that many clergy had to "their" seminaries along with the "trauma" of the merger that kept that subject off the table.
"My" seminary, Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary (then known as the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago - Maywood campus), had already "closed" or "merged" or had evolved into a totally different institution based near the University of Chicago. Central Seminary in Fremont, Nebraska; Augustana Seminary in Rock Island, Illinois; and Suomi Seminary in Michigan were also part of this evolution. My 1967 graduation was last class out of the Maywood campus.
I believe the ELCA has an obligation towards American history to preserve - in some way - Gettysburg. Wartburg's setting in Iowa may give it some extra value. But beyond that, I do not know why we do not simply make Luther "the" seminary of the ELCA.
I think there was great value in "the old days" of the Augustana Lutheran Church (even before the time of this aging humble correspondent) in having one seminary where all clergy had essentially the same formation as theologians and pastors.

Did not know there was a Suomi Seminary, but noticed upon checking that it was part of Finlandia University, which is located, but of course, in Hancock, Michigan, the Finnish heartland.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Charles Austin on December 17, 2017, 09:59:54 AM
David, once in January of 1966, a Suomi congregation in Traverse City flew me up there from Chicago for a week-end of preaching and teaching. My host family had a sauna in the backyard. Did the whole thing: sauna, beer, birch branches, roll in the snow.
Gave me a certain kind of affection (and respect) for the Finns.
As did Walter Kukkonen, who once taught at Suomi, but came to Maywood to teach us about Lutheran Confessions. Grumpy guy, but a good teacher.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Benke on December 17, 2017, 08:24:08 PM
Did the whole thing: sauna, beer, birch branches, roll in the snow.

And there you have the Finnish Hokey-Pokey. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Mark Brown on December 17, 2017, 09:54:50 PM
Sorry to drop the conversation, but it's the busy season after all.

Thinking about Engebretson's "the retired pastors can help".  This could be true, but for that to be true in any general way, they would have to see themselves as still called to the church, and not to Arizona, Florida and Carolina.  It would also have to prove true that many of them would have to be willing to serve in places smaller than their last call and actually be part of that communion.  Expecting such things of the "me generation" is quite optimistic.   My experiential data says that my parents church in AZ can't throw a hymnal and not hit a pastor.  In western NY you might find someone for pulpit supply in the Summer, but not much else.

Rev. Gemmin's numbers correspond to my memory.  The fall in enrollment was fast, and the loss of grants was part.  I would add two data points that killed enrollment as fast as the reduction of grant money.  The big one was that first year that you saw 40 people not get a call on call day.  And then when you saw where many were getting calls to.  It doesn't take many hearings of "a call is not an entitlement", or seeing people placed with 20 people and 6 months of money in the bank, to put a damper in enrollment.  The second one was the dramatic dip in say 35 year olds enrollment.  My class and the two above had a solid group of folks who had a decent 10-15 year career, could do sem, and still get 30+ years in the ministry.  That disappeared.  I had two conversations with folks who would have followed saying that they were told they would have to liquidate their 401k's to attend.  The sem would assume that money would be available to pay tuition.  Yes, we can talk about Mark 10 and the call.  We can also talk about being pure as doves and wise as serpents.  When you raise prices on a heavy 4 year professional degree at exactly the same time as everything saying "not a stable gig", well, predictable results.

Dr. Benke. Yeah, I'm overgeneralizing on worship format, although I don't think it is quite so far off.  Entropy being what it is, a bunch of those signs haven't changed because they haven't been changed.  The traditional group that worships at 7:30 AM still has their seats on the board, and the "scaffolding" hasn't been taken down yet.  The generational change hides a lot.  But yeah, I'm not talking a purge.  I'm talking truth and reconciliation.  It's time to be honest.  The synod formed originally to support those things collectively that we couldn't individually: training of ministers, missionaries, and doctrinally sound materials.  We need a revival of commitment to those things.  Put lex orandi, lex credendi aside for a second, just pragmatic brand management would tell you there is only so far you can stretch an identity.  (Personally, I don't think it is guitars and drumsets, but the loss of the church's hymnody and the ordo. When I attend an LCMS congregation that follows the Baptist ordo - 20 mins of "praise songs" followed by a 30 min plus sermon - it really doesn't feel like the LCMS.  And I can guarantee that they don't use CPH products and the missionaries they support are probably World Vision.)  As far as memorializing the convention, I'd love to do it, but I'm a crank - neither fish nor fowl.  It would never even make a committee, let alone get cashiered into an omnibus tabling.


Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dana Lockhart on December 17, 2017, 10:28:06 PM
I am part of the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation born post WWII in 1960.  We swelled the ranks of the public school system and eventually all educational systems after that.  With a drop off in birth rates in the years since the system has been adjusting year by year. 

It's worth noting that my generation... the Millenials...aka children of Boomers, is actually larger than the Baby Boom generation. In fact, we're now the largest generational demographic in the country. If seminary enrollment were determined by the number of potential students, enrollment would be at an all time peak right now.

The fact that enrollment has fallen so drastically really comes down to one cause: the largest generation in American history has walked away from the church (or never walked into it to begin with) at unprecedented levels. I am concerned that the "generation gap" between the boomers and millennials may prove to be unbridgeable for a great many congregation, and indeed, entire denominations.

And I have to say to my more experienced colleagues, as a pastor who has decades to go until retirement, that most of this alienation and decline happened on your watches. And yet, too many church leaders do not seem to notice the actual demographic problem, or perhaps they do notice but they do not care, or if they do notice and care they blame everything on "young adults." Which has not been a particularly effective strategy.

Stop-gap measures like deploying retired Boomers to keep declining congregations open are probably necessary; but they do not address the underlying problem. And all too often such measures seem (to me at least) focused on preserving institutions just long enough for Boomers to retire or expire.

Wouldn't it be more faithful to let go of the narrative of decline and focus on evangelism and faith formation and leadership development rather than managing further decline? There are too few seminarians because parish pastors are not encouraging enough young adults to consider ministry, there are too few young adults in our pews because parish pastors have prioritized current members over reaching out to those not yet there, a great many churches have become demographically homogeneous because it is comfortable... and too many pastors have sided with comfort over the hard work of ministry. None of these are insurmountable problems!
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: DCharlton on December 18, 2017, 12:00:27 AM
I am part of the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation born post WWII in 1960.  We swelled the ranks of the public school system and eventually all educational systems after that.  With a drop off in birth rates in the years since the system has been adjusting year by year. 

It's worth noting that my generation... the Millenials...aka children of Boomers, is actually larger than the Baby Boom generation. In fact, we're now the largest generational demographic in the country. If seminary enrollment were determined by the number of potential students, enrollment would be at an all time peak right now.

The fact that enrollment has fallen so drastically really comes down to one cause: the largest generation in American history has walked away from the church (or never walked into it to begin with) at unprecedented levels. I am concerned that the "generation gap" between the boomers and millennials may prove to be unbridgeable for a great many congregation, and indeed, entire denominations.

And I have to say to my more experienced colleagues, as a pastor who has decades to go until retirement, that most of this alienation and decline happened on your watches. And yet, too many church leaders do not seem to notice the actual demographic problem, or perhaps they do notice but they do not care, or if they do notice and care they blame everything on "young adults." Which has not been a particularly effective strategy.

Stop-gap measures like deploying retired Boomers to keep declining congregations open are probably necessary; but they do not address the underlying problem. And all too often such measures seem (to me at least) focused on preserving institutions just long enough for Boomers to retire or expire.

Wouldn't it be more faithful to let go of the narrative of decline and focus on evangelism and faith formation and leadership development rather than managing further decline? There are too few seminarians because parish pastors are not encouraging enough young adults to consider ministry, there are too few young adults in our pews because parish pastors have prioritized current members over reaching out to those not yet there, a great many churches have become demographically homogeneous because it is comfortable... and too many pastors have sided with comfort over the hard work of ministry. None of these are insurmountable problems!

I'm a late Boomer or an early Gen-Xer who shares some of your frustration with the Boomers.  Still, I think your indictment of that generation is a little broad.  I know a lot of Boomer pastors who were devoted to evangelism and to reaching the un-churched.  Where I think many Boomer pastors lost their way was in the area of catechesis and formation.  Although many of them had received rigorous catechesis and formation in their own youth, they tended to water the process down in their own pastorates.  Things were supposed to be fun, cool, non-dogmatic and voluntary.  Our liturgical heritage was often replaced with worship that was entertaining and "relevant". 

(Instead of the Catechism, we got the Lutheran version of Rev. Tim-Tom from The Middle.)

Those raised in the 70s and 80s were given a much weaker foundation those previous generations.  Millenials, almost none at all. 
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Charles Austin on December 18, 2017, 03:44:14 AM
A reflection on seminary enrollment:
I'm beginning to wonder whether the "faith," "piety," "commitment" and "church membership" of the late 1940s and the 1950s may have been more "custom," or "social norm" or "tradition" (in the bad sense of that word) than true belief, spirituality, dedication or sense of the Body of Christ.
   Everyone went to church, and you were suspect if you did not. A certain kind of prayer and piety were part of our national fabric, and you understood that Baptists "did it" differently than Lutherans and that Roman Catholics were a potential problem for "true Christians," namely the Protestants who dominated the culture.
   Roman Catholics were wrapped (entombed?) in a piety of weekly mass attendance, fealty to "The Church," worship of the priestly vocation, and the culture of whatever "brand" (Irish, Polish, Italian) of Catholic you were born into, all this dogmatically handed down by Sister Mary in parochial school.
   This meant full churches, new churches, and a sense of comfort and ease that "fit" our society.
   Society changed.
   The church changed, slower than society and reluctantly. Feeling threatened, Christians went into the bunker and the situation rooms to defend and plan attacks. "Onward, Christian Soldiers!"
   Some are still in the bunkers and situation rooms. Others are in the foxholes or on the field, battered, bloody but holding the line until relief comes or the last private falls.
   Fewer seminary graduates means fewer "officers," fewer recruits.
   The "Christian soldiers" lack leadership, and the "Montgomerys" and "Pattons" have no "Eisenhower" to hold check on their egos and ideologies and move on to defeat the enemy.
   And we do not agree on who the enemy might be.
   We old soldiers, retired pastors, aren't going to be much help. We will write the histories of our battles, train the recruits (to fight the same wars we fought, which aren't the wars of today), and may - if our mental and physical health allows - occasionally and briefly take command.
    But God has promised that the Church will stand and that faith will prevail. So what now?
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Benke on December 18, 2017, 09:20:06 AM
Sorry to drop the conversation, but it's the busy season after all.

Thinking about Engebretson's "the retired pastors can help".  This could be true, but for that to be true in any general way, they would have to see themselves as still called to the church, and not to Arizona, Florida and Carolina.  It would also have to prove true that many of them would have to be willing to serve in places smaller than their last call and actually be part of that communion.  Expecting such things of the "me generation" is quite optimistic.   My experiential data says that my parents church in AZ can't throw a hymnal and not hit a pastor.  In western NY you might find someone for pulpit supply in the Summer, but not much else.

Rev. Gemmin's numbers correspond to my memory.  The fall in enrollment was fast, and the loss of grants was part.  I would add two data points that killed enrollment as fast as the reduction of grant money.  The big one was that first year that you saw 40 people not get a call on call day.  And then when you saw where many were getting calls to.  It doesn't take many hearings of "a call is not an entitlement", or seeing people placed with 20 people and 6 months of money in the bank, to put a damper in enrollment.  The second one was the dramatic dip in say 35 year olds enrollment.  My class and the two above had a solid group of folks who had a decent 10-15 year career, could do sem, and still get 30+ years in the ministry.  That disappeared.  I had two conversations with folks who would have followed saying that they were told they would have to liquidate their 401k's to attend.  The sem would assume that money would be available to pay tuition.  Yes, we can talk about Mark 10 and the call.  We can also talk about being pure as doves and wise as serpents.  When you raise prices on a heavy 4 year professional degree at exactly the same time as everything saying "not a stable gig", well, predictable results.

Dr. Benke. Yeah, I'm overgeneralizing on worship format, although I don't think it is quite so far off.  Entropy being what it is, a bunch of those signs haven't changed because they haven't been changed.  The traditional group that worships at 7:30 AM still has their seats on the board, and the "scaffolding" hasn't been taken down yet.  The generational change hides a lot.  But yeah, I'm not talking a purge.  I'm talking truth and reconciliation.  It's time to be honest.  The synod formed originally to support those things collectively that we couldn't individually: training of ministers, missionaries, and doctrinally sound materials.  We need a revival of commitment to those things.  Put lex orandi, lex credendi aside for a second, just pragmatic brand management would tell you there is only so far you can stretch an identity.  (Personally, I don't think it is guitars and drumsets, but the loss of the church's hymnody and the ordo. When I attend an LCMS congregation that follows the Baptist ordo - 20 mins of "praise songs" followed by a 30 min plus sermon - it really doesn't feel like the LCMS.  And I can guarantee that they don't use CPH products and the missionaries they support are probably World Vision.)  As far as memorializing the convention, I'd love to do it, but I'm a crank - neither fish nor fowl.  It would never even make a committee, let alone get cashiered into an omnibus tabling.

a) The Retired Pastor Brigade.  Many in warmer climes, to be sure.  And in those climes they are finding value in volunteering or being sort of an "adjunct" pastor, working a day or a day and a half a week.  And yet many who are tackling one of those smaller congregations.  In my own utilization of those pastors, the sweet spot was about 2 1/2 days a week.  Meaning Sunday morning plus a day in the office/at meetings and a day of visitation/outreach.  In many cases, it turned out this was about what they had been doing for the last number of years anyway (and taking heat for it in some cases).  What I think most retired pastors who want to keep on doing would like to keep on doing is preaching, teaching and visiting.  What they would not like to keep on doing is going to boring/bad church meetings or dealing with boring/bad church conflict.  And of course what keeps or makes many smaller congregations small is boring/bad church meetings and leadership depletion and/or boring/bad church conflict and leadership depletion.  Plus energized outreach with a team of young energized layfolks - everybody wants, hardly anybody has, and the retired pastor's legs aren't what they used to be in that arena.  But - all things being equal, and if and as the older/retired pastor can be utilized to teach and preach with wisdom, the use of the Retired Pastor Brigade is a great addition.

b) Whatever downward change you might make in the price of seminary education, the long-term Fear Factor is "not a stable gig."  That just sticks a pin into the balloon of vocational momentum.  Do I need a lifetime of unstable gigs - how does that work out for me/my family?   The best way to address that problem is to take the "not a stable gig" congregations out of the running for first calls, and give them to The Retired Pastor Brigade and/or the yoked parish model or Our Lady of the Perpetual Vacancy.  Except that's a church-political nightmare for the District President on every side of the equation.  But downsizing those as first call options would be helpful, again with the realization that the greatest area of "expansion" in "opportunity" is the small compensationally non-viable congregational grouping.  So it's tough.

c) I agree with holding on to the ordo and core hymnody.  Through the years we have done a series of "narrative" eucharistic liturgies explaining why and how the liturgy tells the Story.  Always helpful.  And I believe, with you, that the presence of a praise band or screen is not to be considered the absence of Lutheran worship. 

Convention memorials - tricky and church-politically dominated; for instance, I can guarantee you now that there will be an orchestrated spate of overtures to call for the cessation of women reading lessons at worship services addressed to the floor committee on theology.  And therefore there will be an orchestrated response spate of overtures on the other side.  And there will end up being a resolution calling for study of the issue.  Given the way things are, I think that resolution will implore congregations not to utilize women in the reading of lessons while the study is taking place. 

So there's a very, very subsidiary issue that serves no purpose but to energize the Far Edge being given direction by a national convention.  Your memorial, which is far more dynamic and far-reaching and central to the future of the denomination, would therefore be given a cranky brown mark from the get-go and, yes, be "cashiered into an omnibus tabling."  You should write it anyway.

Dave Benke

Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Charles Austin on December 18, 2017, 09:37:21 AM
In the ELCA, we have the possibility of "farming out" or "merging" pastoral leadership and congregational mission with any of our full fellowship ecumenical partners. I know this has been done in many areas; and I do not know why it is not done in some other areas. A Lutheran and Episcopal parish two miles apart get it together. A Lutheran and Presbyterian Church in the same town share a pastor. There is the possibility of mergers, linking congregations together, other forms of close cooperation.
We need to do a lot more of that.
We in the Retired Pastor Brigade would rather help congregations do things like that than put Sunday-morning sermon band-aids on congregations with 30-40 people in the pews who know they are on life support or near to drawing their last breath.
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Team Hesse on December 18, 2017, 09:53:57 AM
In the ELCA, we have the possibility of "farming out" or "merging" pastoral leadership and congregational mission with any of our full fellowship ecumenical partners. I know this has been done in many areas; and I do not know why it is not done in some other areas. A Lutheran and Episcopal parish two miles apart get it together. A Lutheran and Presbyterian Church in the same town share a pastor. There is the possibility of mergers, linking congregations together, other forms of close cooperation.
We need to do a lot more of that.
We in the Retired Pastor Brigade would rather help congregations do things like that than put Sunday-morning sermon band-aids on congregations with 30-40 people in the pews who know they are on life support or near to drawing their last breath.


The rest of us wish you would do this also.....and while you are at it drop the moniker of "Lutheran" in addition to your idea about "Evangelical." It might go a long way toward clearing up so much confusion in this old world.....


Lou

Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: James_Gale on December 18, 2017, 11:17:49 AM
In the ELCA, we have the possibility of "farming out" or "merging" pastoral leadership and congregational mission with any of our full fellowship ecumenical partners. I know this has been done in many areas; and I do not know why it is not done in some other areas. A Lutheran and Episcopal parish two miles apart get it together. A Lutheran and Presbyterian Church in the same town share a pastor. There is the possibility of mergers, linking congregations together, other forms of close cooperation.
We need to do a lot more of that.
We in the Retired Pastor Brigade would rather help congregations do things like that than put Sunday-morning sermon band-aids on congregations with 30-40 people in the pews who know they are on life support or near to drawing their last breath.


The rest of us wish you would do this also.....and while you are at it drop the moniker of "Lutheran" in addition to your idea about "Evangelical." It might go a long way toward clearing up so much confusion in this old world.....


Lou


Having just read Bp. Rimbo's essay in another thread, your proposal strikes me as far too modest. 
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: mj4 on December 18, 2017, 11:29:59 AM
In the ELCA, we have the possibility of "farming out" or "merging" pastoral leadership and congregational mission with any of our full fellowship ecumenical partners. I know this has been done in many areas; and I do not know why it is not done in some other areas. A Lutheran and Episcopal parish two miles apart get it together. A Lutheran and Presbyterian Church in the same town share a pastor. There is the possibility of mergers, linking congregations together, other forms of close cooperation.
We need to do a lot more of that.
We in the Retired Pastor Brigade would rather help congregations do things like that than put Sunday-morning sermon band-aids on congregations with 30-40 people in the pews who know they are on life support or near to drawing their last breath.

The rest of us wish you would do this also.....and while you are at it drop the moniker of "Lutheran" in addition to your idea about "Evangelical." It might go a long way toward clearing up so much confusion in this old world.....


Lou


Having just read Bp. Rimbo's essay in another thread, your proposal strikes me as far too modest.

Are you suggesting that maybe the moniker "Church" is no longer appropriate either?
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: James_Gale on December 18, 2017, 11:38:54 AM
In the ELCA, we have the possibility of "farming out" or "merging" pastoral leadership and congregational mission with any of our full fellowship ecumenical partners. I know this has been done in many areas; and I do not know why it is not done in some other areas. A Lutheran and Episcopal parish two miles apart get it together. A Lutheran and Presbyterian Church in the same town share a pastor. There is the possibility of mergers, linking congregations together, other forms of close cooperation.
We need to do a lot more of that.
We in the Retired Pastor Brigade would rather help congregations do things like that than put Sunday-morning sermon band-aids on congregations with 30-40 people in the pews who know they are on life support or near to drawing their last breath.

The rest of us wish you would do this also.....and while you are at it drop the moniker of "Lutheran" in addition to your idea about "Evangelical." It might go a long way toward clearing up so much confusion in this old world.....


Lou


Having just read Bp. Rimbo's essay in another thread, your proposal strikes me as far too modest.

Are you suggesting that maybe the moniker "Church" is no longer appropriate either?


I'm suggesting that for some, that seems to be the case.  "It doesn't matter how, where, or whether you worship any god(s) so long as your politics are correct."
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Benke on December 18, 2017, 11:47:55 AM
In the ELCA, we have the possibility of "farming out" or "merging" pastoral leadership and congregational mission with any of our full fellowship ecumenical partners. I know this has been done in many areas; and I do not know why it is not done in some other areas. A Lutheran and Episcopal parish two miles apart get it together. A Lutheran and Presbyterian Church in the same town share a pastor. There is the possibility of mergers, linking congregations together, other forms of close cooperation.
We need to do a lot more of that.
We in the Retired Pastor Brigade would rather help congregations do things like that than put Sunday-morning sermon band-aids on congregations with 30-40 people in the pews who know they are on life support or near to drawing their last breath.

The rest of us wish you would do this also.....and while you are at it drop the moniker of "Lutheran" in addition to your idea about "Evangelical." It might go a long way toward clearing up so much confusion in this old world.....


Lou


Having just read Bp. Rimbo's essay in another thread, your proposal strikes me as far too modest.

Are you suggesting that maybe the moniker "Church" is no longer appropriate either?

On the ground and in and among the faithful, the progressive/regressive labels aren't for almost the whole part pertinent.  Given the relationships among ELCA, Presbyterian and other aligners, I think in the small to tiny category the merger/linkage that Charles suggests makes a lot of sense.  Small-town USA, wherever that might be, is in my opinion going to be ripe for many of these new relationships in utilizing pastoral service and leadership. 

Among the less ecumenically connected, the LCMS being one example, the options are more toward linking area birds of the same feather together.  What gets lost then is the neighborhood/community sense, because we're connecting East Plumtown with Plumtown Falls ("other side of the tracks"), or East Plumtown with West Orange, which is 20 miles away.   

Whereas in East Plumtown, New Jersey, if three relatively Mainline Protestant congregations consorted to have two locations and sell the third and hit the streets, they could make a better difference for the Gospel right where they have always been.  The question I hear being asked is whether they have the Gospel at all.  I'd say on the ground rather than at headquarters, the answer is Yes.

For me the best Missouri option is to recruit existing pastors and congregations from among the reachable Protestants, and make them Missouri Synod Lutheran pastors and churches through training/discipling/colloquy.  This could actually be accomplished; I know, because I've been there and done that.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Mark Brown on December 18, 2017, 12:36:37 PM


...Convention memorials - tricky and church-politically dominated; for instance, I can guarantee you now that there will be an orchestrated spate of overtures to call for the cessation of women reading lessons at worship services addressed to the floor committee on theology.  And therefore there will be an orchestrated response spate of overtures on the other side.  And there will end up being a resolution calling for study of the issue.  Given the way things are, I think that resolution will implore congregations not to utilize women in the reading of lessons while the study is taking place. 

So there's a very, very subsidiary issue that serves no purpose but to energize the Far Edge being given direction by a national convention...

Dave Benke

When the best example of doing what you want to do (evidently restoring the patriarchy) is the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic Revolution in Iran, maybe people should recheck their theology.  Complete idiocy.  And that is from a guy not fearful of a little patriarchy.  Does Harrison or any such candidate really need to stir up that type of resolution to ensure electoral victory?  For that matter does the other side always have to respond like enraged safe spacers to a Donald Trump tweet?
Title: Re: ELCA Seminaries Enrollment
Post by: Dave Benke on December 18, 2017, 12:54:19 PM


...Convention memorials - tricky and church-politically dominated; for instance, I can guarantee you now that there will be an orchestrated spate of overtures to call for the cessation of women reading lessons at worship services addressed to the floor committee on theology.  And therefore there will be an orchestrated response spate of overtures on the other side.  And there will end up being a resolution calling for study of the issue.  Given the way things are, I think that resolution will implore congregations not to utilize women in the reading of lessons while the study is taking place. 

So there's a very, very subsidiary issue that serves no purpose but to energize the Far Edge being given direction by a national convention...

Dave Benke

When the best example of doing what you want to do (evidently restoring the patriarchy) is the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic Revolution in Iran, maybe people should recheck their theology.  Complete idiocy.  And that is from a guy not fearful of a little patriarchy.  Does Harrison or any such candidate really need to stir up that type of resolution to ensure electoral victory?  For that matter does the other side always have to respond like enraged safe spacers to a Donald Trump tweet?

Yes, well, that's just our little system at work.  My own push toward the Koinonia Process was partly to parry the super-charged overture-parsers.  In other words, we're all about the fine print.  And the eventual bylaw. 

I remain unconvinced that the Presidential Direct Oversight of All Accuser Concerns At the Expense of the Accused and the District President, as now imbedded in our bylaws, was anything other than a sop to the Often Bruised Accusers, who wanted the opportunity to accuse until long after the cows came home, wearing down anybody who (eventually) might allow a woman to read the Psalmody, or print that in the bulletin, or post it on Facebook.  The young woman who read the Epistle lesson yesterday in Spanish at my place was so much better than yours truly that people actually applauded, which is good for the Gaudete Epistle on rejoicing always.  But now the bylaw would (eventually) allow the accuser to whip that process past the DP so that the Synod President would intervene against the girl, who would go "Que pasa?" and head for the exit.

Dave Benke

 "Enraged safe-spacers" - that's good. 

Dave Benke