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Topics - Mel Harris

Your Turn / Pastor John Beem
December 29, 2014, 11:53:16 AM
       I received the following email today from the Augustana District of the LCMC.


We are sorry to share with you that Pastor John Beem died on Friday after a rather
long battle with cancer. His funeral will be held Wednesday at 11 am at Living Word,
with a visitation the night before at Anderson's Funeral Home in Alexandria from 4-7
pm. We are trying to get the word out to the many pastors who had been associated
with him over the years. If you know of anyone else that would appreciate getting
this information please pass it to them.
Grace and Peace to you ~ Wendy Mayland, Faith Lutheran Church Administrative Assistant

        I met Pastor Beem when he was at Holy Trinity Lutheran in Dubuque, Iowa.  Later he was bishop of the ELCA's East Central Synod of Wisconsin.  He was interviewed in this issue of the Augustana District Newsletter.

        Mel Harris
Your Turn / question about CEF
July 28, 2014, 03:04:36 PM
        A member of our congregation is proposing that we invite Child Evangelism Fellowship to use our church building for a program for grade school students.  I had not heard of this ministry until yesterday.  If you can tell me anything about CEF or have had any experience with them, I would appreciate your posting comments here or sending me a private message.

        Thank you,

                             Mel Harris
       Only a few more days until the most important events of this year, the Lutheran CORE and NALC Convocations and Theological Conference.     ;D

The NALC web site states that these events will be live streamed on the internet.

       According to this recent article by Robert Benne


The ELCA's most distinguished theologians—Robert Jenson, Carl Braaten, James Nestingen, David Yeago—are all now persona non grata within that church and are speaking writing in different churches and venues.

Three of those four are among those scheduled to speak at the 2013 Lutheran CORE/NALC Theological Conference: On Being the Church in These Precarious Times.

(There is a little more information about the theological conference on page 11 of the July 2013 NALC News.)

       Those with a fast enough internet connection, and the time to do so, may find it worthwhile to look in on our theological conference.

                  Mel Harris
Your Turn / Proposal to establish an NALC Seminary
July 19, 2013, 04:21:17 AM
       Now that this forum seems to again be accepting new posts, I would like to hear what many of you think about the following: 

       The NALC Convocation next month will consider a proposal to establish an NALC Seminary.  Information about this is on pages 4 through 10 of the July 2013 issue of the NALC News.  If I understand this correctly, the seminary as proposed would consist of a Seminary Center at Trinity School for Ministry and some Houses of Study (one of which may already be operating at the Charlotte, North Carolina campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.)

       I was aware that there was an NALC Task Force for Theological Education working on a proposal.  I had little idea of what would be in this proposal until I read the issue of the NALC News (linked to above).  I would greatly appreciate reading any comments that any of you are willing to make about this proposal.

       (If this forum crashes again in the near future, you can blame it on my starting this thread.    ;)  )

       Thank you,

                             Mel Harris
Your Turn / Different World Views
April 30, 2013, 06:23:55 AM
       From another thread

Quote from: Charles_Austin on April 30, 2013, 03:40:40 AM

as I have said before, you appear to live in a world that is different from mine.

       There does seem to be some truth in the statement above.  It seems that discussion breaks down in a number of threads here as it becomes clear that there are at least a couple of very different world views represented among the participants.  An article by Sarah Hey, posted a few days ago on StandFirm, speaks to this.  From that article


I'm guessing that most of us within TEC have noticed that public exchanges between conservatives and revisionists within the Anglican Communion have grown far far more rare, now, with revisionists avoiding the conservative blogs and conservatives avoiding the revisionist blogs.

I personally think that's probably a good thing. Once one has established the boundaries of the vast chasm between the two groups in foundational worldviews, there's little left to say, other than running through the "prayer wheel" of arguments, which we all already know anyway. The problem is not "the arguments"—it's that none of us accept the other side's presuppositions or even basic definitions of the most basic of theological concepts.

The thing that was most striking about the responses from the revisionists is how deeply offended they were when I pointed out how the thread demonstrated the two different, mutually opposing faiths that exist now within the Anglican Communion. Obviously I don't believe one faith is recognizably Christian. But that's not the point. The very idea I expressed—that here is an organization with two different antithetical faiths—was deeply offensive to them. I don't know if it's something they haven't thought of, or something that they just can't allow right now to be true. Over here in TEC, it's been long-acknowledged by many on both sides that the two groups simply don't share the same Gospel. People on both sides are able to say "you worship a Jesus I don't know and don't care to know." In private email exchanges many many Episcopalians are able to share that recognition with me over the years—and it's even been said publicly on blogs *by revisionists*. I, of course, completely agree.

       Is Sarah Hey correct that there is very little left to say when we recognize that we do not share similar views of the world and of the Christian Faith?  Is that what derails the discussions in many of the threads here?  Is there something we can do to try to make this a less frustrating experience?

                Mel Harris

Your Turn / LCMS and ACNA joint statement
May 29, 2012, 02:17:35 AM
       The LCMS and the ACNA have released a joint statement.  The statement can be downloaded from this link or read here.

       Happy reading.

                                   Mel Harris
Several years ago the following was posted on a thread here:

Quote from: scott3 on March 04, 2007, 12:27:22 AM

I'm curious.  With all this talk of what it would take to finally be in such disagreement with the direction the ELCA is going that folks may consider leaving, how many people would be willing to consider the LCMS?

I'm asking especially in light of the latest Lutheran Forum Newsletter that went out where Robert Benne nicely elucidated the two sides of our schizophrenic synod.  There are folks who are quite conservative theologically (I think Peter and I, among others, are good examples of this) but aren't total jerks (just partial jerks) along with those who revel in jerkiness.

If the LCMS would not be considered a possible home, why not?

Maybe this deserves its own thread...

Lutheran CORE states that it intends to be a coalition of congregations, individual lay persons, pastors, synods, church bodies and other renewal movements.  I am starting this thread to ask whether or not you would consider joining Lutheran CORE or cooperating with Lutheran CORE in some ways.  I would also appreciate hearing any reasons why you would or would not do so.  I am particularly interested in hearing from those who are members of the LCMS, the AFLC, etc., in other words, from those who are not members of the ELCA, ELCIC or LCMC.  I think it would be helpful to me, and possibly to some others, to hear what other Lutherans are thinking about Lutheran CORE.

Thank you,

Mel Harris
Your Turn / attention to details
January 08, 2010, 09:04:53 PM
According to the ELCA News Service, a synod bishop is now arguing with a congregation about whether they got the required 2/3rds majority vote to leave the ELCA.  The bishop seems to be claiming that someone from the congregation let him know how many voting members of that congregation were registered for the meeting, and that number exceeds the number that the congregation reported were present at that meeting.  Using the larger of the disputed numbers of how many voting members were present, the bishop is claiming that the congregation failed to get the required 2/3rds majority.  Apparently it is very important to pay attention to and document all the details of a meeting to vote on leaving the ELCA.

The ELCA News Service story is at

The synod has posted the letters sent to this congregation at

Mel Harris
Your Turn / Children's Sermons?
December 09, 2008, 04:59:16 AM
The following is from a post in another thread.

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on December 05, 2008, 12:39:47 PM

In another discussion, the benefits/necessity of having children's sermons was discussed. Why are they singled out as a subgroup within the worshiping community? Is it not, for those who do children's sermons, because, as a group, their life-experiences are seen as sufficiently different from the adults -- whether that be amount of education, verbal skills, learning styles, maturity/responsibility, etc.? There are differences between a child's and a parent's perspectives on the world. Is it enough to create a new -ism? For many, it is enough to create a separate sermon. The gist of the message to the children and adults may be the same, but how it is communicated is different.

Rather than contributing to thread drift, I thought this might be worth starting a new thread.

I remember reading quite a few years ago, that perhaps we should reconsider doing children's sermons.  At the time I thought there was nothing to reconsider.  Either you are for including entertainment evangelism in the Sunday Service, or you are not.

When I was a seminary student, no one on the faculty approved of, or at least would admit to approving of, children's sermons.  They did, however, think that some of the students would be asked to do them in their internship congregation.  So, after several disclaimers, they had a young pastor from a nearby congregation come and talk to the Preaching Class about how to do a children's sermon.  I did not get the impression that we were in any way encouraged to do children's sermons, if we had any say in the matter.

Only once have I ever seen a "children's sermon" done for the children there.  The pastor leading the service invited children to join him by the creche and then spoke to them while the congregation stood and sang a hymn.  Every other time I have seen a "children's sermon" or "children's message" done it was clearly done to entertain the audience congregation, and often the behavior of the children who came up for it made it quite clear that they knew they were on display.

If there has been another thread where this was discussed, I would appreciate it if someone would give me the title of that thread.  If not, I am open to reading why someone thinks having a children's sermon in a Sunday Service is a good idea.

Mel Harris
Your Turn / Full Communion Partner?
April 19, 2008, 04:36:05 AM
It looks like the next potential "Full Communion" partner for the ELCA will be The United Methodist Church.  As our beloved moderator and some others here have some history with that church body, I think it might be interesting to read what some of you think about this possible relationship.  I will attempt to start this with a couple of things that I have heard.

I remember hearing that students at Loehe's mission seminary in Neuendettelsau, who were to be sent to the U.S.A., were required to take a two year class on Methodism (which they referred to as the heresy on the prairie) so that they would know what they would be up against.  As I recall, I heard this from an ALC pastor who spent a year studying in Neuendettelsau.  Has the Methodist Church in this country changed that much in the last century and a half, or is it our ELCA that is so different from our predecessors that we would now consider this relationship possible?

Over 20 years ago, I was told that a particular Methodist bishop had to keep 2 lists of congregations and pastors; for if he ever sent a pastor from one list to a congregation on the other list, he would quickly have had a terrible conflict on his hands.  The UMC congregations that I have known something about over the years have ranged from conservative pentecostal practices and beliefs to some that were about as revisionist as the left wing of the UCC.  It has been a few years since I have had much contact with any UMC pastors.  I wonder if their church is as diverse and divided over issues, practices and beliefs as it has been.

Mel Harris
Your Turn / Bishops?
October 12, 2007, 07:05:23 AM
I have not been able to locate the exact quote, but as I recall, several years ago one of the Roman Catholic participants in our Lutheran - Roman Catholic dialogs was quoted as saying something like this:

Now I understand.  All of your (Lutheran) pastors are bishops.

I remember thinking at that time that he was basically correct.  Certainly in most Lutheran church bodies in this country pastors can and do the laying on of hands and prayer for the blessings of the Spirit as a part of the Baptismal Rite and do not have to wait for a bishop to confirm the baptisms that they have done.  In the ELCA we have even made a point of saying that there need not be any distinction between the ministries of pastors and bishops.

From Called to Common Mission, C 18


A distinction between episcopal and pastoral ministries within the one office of Word and Sacrament is neither commanded nor forbidden by divine law (see Apology of the Augsburg Confession 14.1 and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 63).

and from the resolution of the Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, adopted at Tucson, Arizona, March 8, 1999


1. no requirement that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America must eventually adopt the three-fold order of ministry. Rather, "Called to Common Mission" recognizes that the present understanding of one ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, including both pastors and bishops, may continue in effect;

There are Lutheran church bodies that have had bishops for hundreds of years, but that has not been the case in this country.  As I recall, in the ALC there was a vote to authorize referring to our district presidents as bishops, but that vote did not claim to give them any additional powers, responsibilities or authority.

I am starting this thread in hopes of hearing what others think on the following two questions.

1.  Do we really want to have bishops as much of the church understands them?

2.  If not, what would be a distinctive Lutheran understanding of the office of bishop (or district president, etc.)?


             Mel Harris
In press releases from the LWF Council Meeting, we have two very different statements.


The aim of the LWF task force appointed by the LWF Council in 2004 is not to give a Lutheran position on the issue of marriage, family and sexuality, but to provide guidelines on how the member churches can deal with discussion around this issue, the general secretary stressed.

The task force will present to this year's Council a report titled "The Proposed Guidelines and Processes for Respectful Dialogue" to help member churches discuss the changing realities in relation to marriage, family and sexuality in the world today.



He appealed for assistance from the global communion, "holding the preaching of the gospel in the United States accountable, for it being the crucifying gospel of God's radical grace in Christ through faith rather than some other distortion of the gospel that we so now export and is pure heresy."

Am I the only one who is confused by these statements?  General Secretary of the LWF, Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko seems to have stated that the council will not be considering a proposal for a Lutheran position on the issues of marriage, family and sexuality, but rather proposed guidelines and processes to help us (the member Churches of the LWF) respectfully discuss various opinions concerning these things.  Whereas, LWF President Mark S. Hanson seems to have said that the global communion needs to hold us (those of us living in the good ole U S of A) accountable, to make sure that we are not proclaiming a distortion of the gospel, that we are not exporting pure heresy.

In other words, either the reality is changing around us, so we need to learn how to discuss how we might need to change what we are proclaiming, or we need to be held accountable so that we do not proclaim a changed, different gospel.

I will grant that both of the quotes above are taken out of context.  Noko seems to have been responding to a question about polygamy, and Hanson seems to have been talking about the prosperity gospel.  Still, it seems strange to me, that at the same time that the global south of the Anglican Communion is trying to hold TEC accountable for what it is proclaiming, Hanson seems to be inviting something similar for us.

Am I the only one who read these press releases in this way?

Mel Harris
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