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Topics - John_Hannah

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Your Turn / Forum Letter Takes Awards Again
« on: May 12, 2018, 05:28:17 PM »
Once again the Associated Church Press has given Forum Letter awards in its "Best of the Christian Press" competition for 2017.

1.  "Best in Class: Newsletter" Honorable Mention (3rd place) to Forum Letter

2.  For an article in March 2017, "On holy ground" Award of Excellence (1st place)

We have gotten an award in "Best in Class" eight out of the last ten years
  2x 1st place "Award of Excellence"
  4x 2nd place "Award of Merit"
  2x 3rd place "Honorable Mention"

Congratulations to Richard Johnson, Editor and author of "On holy ground". He happens also to be the chief moderator of ALPB Forum Online.

Peace, JOHN

PS: To subscribe go to:

Your Turn / What's Next For the ALPB?
« on: April 29, 2018, 04:26:05 PM »
If you have read Richard Johnson's spectacular history of the ALPB's first 100 years you will know that as the world changed, the ALPB frequently adapted in order to serve changing needs. Entering now our second century of service, your distinguished Board of Directors is considering how we might better serve you, your congregations, and your colleagues in ministry.

What is it that you would like to see from the ALPB? How can we help you proclaim the changeless Christ to your people and to your community? Are there tools we could produce for you? We welcome any and all suggestions, comments, and complaints.  Ask your friends who don't participate in this forum.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Peace, JOHN HANNAH (Board President)

Your Turn / The Tide Turns (Slowly)
« on: April 17, 2018, 11:54:04 AM »
That the Times would carry this suggests that the the tide is turning, albeit slowly. (But surely.)®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=sectionfront

Peace, JOHN

Your Turn / Bishop Rudolph Ressmeyer +
« on: October 06, 2017, 05:11:14 PM »
Hope Wittrock has sadly informed me that Rudy Ressmeyer died earlier this afternoon.  He was a pastor in the Atlantic District, later bishop of the District, then bishop of the East Coast Synod (AELC).  As I learn more, I'll pass it on.

Peace, JOHN

Your Turn / Lutherans and Catholics: Then and Now" Conference
« on: September 19, 2017, 09:17:00 AM »
An interesting report from CNS.  New development by the LCMS at the end.  Sister Susan Wood will be one of the speakers at our ALPB/America Magazine event next week.

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic-Lutheran ecumenical efforts have borne fruit over the past 50 years, noted two speakers in a joint address Sept. 15 during Georgetown University's "1517-2017: Lutherans and Catholics: Then and Now" conference.
Kathryn Johnson, director of ecumenical and interreligious relations for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest U.S. Lutheran body, said she rejects the concept of "ecumenical winter" as if to describe a stall in ecumenism. "There are signs of change that we're seeing around us," she said, adding "autumn" may be a better description and noting that Christians will have to decide "what to do with the harvest."
Johnson said there exists a "deep misunderstanding we have of each other still," which needs a "hermeneutic of generosity" to overcome despite 50 years of dialogue. "There are no easy thanksgivings or cheap repentances," she added during the presentation, "Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue: Accomplishments and Challenges."
She cited the 1999 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which "changed the teaching of each church," as a watershed moment. The declaration -- which stated that Christians are redeemed by "grace alone ... while calling and equipping us to do good works" -- has since been affirmed at least in part by the World Methodist Council, the Anglican Communion and the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

Shaking off some of Lutheranism's darker moments is "an ongoing and unfinished task," Johnson said. "We disavow" Martin Luther's anti-Semitic writings from later in his life, and Lutherans are still dealing with violent wrongs committed against Anabaptists nearly 400 years ago, for which "the only possible recourse was to ask forgiveness."
But progress is undeniable, according to Johnson. Affirmation of "Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry and Eucharist" at last year's ELCA assembly won approve from "99 percent-plus" of assembly delegates, she noted. The document attempts to reach common theological ground between the two faiths. "That was a way of telling the church, 'Get on with this, please,'" she said.
The U.S. bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs unanimously affirmed the document's 32 "agreements" -- consensus statements that Catholics and Lutherans have said are not church-dividing differences.
Sister Susan Wood, a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth, who is a systematic theology professor and chair of the theology department at Marquette University and a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, agreed that the outlook is positive. '"There are graces of the Reformation," she said. "Not all of it is beat-your-breast."
Ecumenical efforts are not always smooth, she noted, as fruits of the U.S. Catholic-Lutheran dialogue seek a European context. Indeed, most international Lutheran dialogue leaders are still German, it was noted, and only recently did one dialogue have a Lutheran representative from each continent.
Countering criticism that ecumenical efforts to date are "low-hanging fruit," Sister Wood advised the Georgetown audience to "read these agreements out loud" to verify how substantial they are.
"Since Vatican II, we have acknowledged an imperfect communion between Lutheran and Catholics," she added, urging that "intermediate steps" be approved on the way to full communion.
In Lutheranism, Sister Wood pointed out, parish is where "the church is" -- although Lutheran leadership acknowledges the need for structure -- and the denomination requires laypeople to be part of its governance. By contrast, Catholicism's sense of church is rooted in the diocesan bishop -- although "most people get their experience of church in the parish," she said -- and decision-making is housed in the magisterium.
Sister Wood said she would not want to see a repeat of Pope Leo XIII's 1896 declaration of nullity of Anglican orders applied to Lutheran clergy, since "you can see the fruit of ministry. And if you see the fruit of ministry, doesn't that continue with the relationship we have as churches?"
Catholicism, Sister Wood argued, needs to redefine the Latin "defectus" in its long-held stand against Lutherans. Instead of "lacking," she said, it should mean "something missing." And she advised "getting out from using the word 'transubstantiation' to say that something's missing" in Lutherans' understanding of the Eucharist, as the Council of Trent used the word as one way to describe the transformation from bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ.
She suggested that intercommunion could happen in places "where people can't get out, like nursing homes and prisons."
Sister Wood said ecumenism is "not a hobby, it's not a sidebar, but it's front and center the work of the Gospel," and not "a threat to ecclesial identity."
"If I were a Catholic I would say, 'Perhaps this is the time to explore that (the role of the pope),' but we're not there yet." Johnson said. Sister Wood said ecumenism needs to be "talked up more in the pulpit," adding there are closer ecumenical ties at the lay level that have not made their way to formal dialogue partners.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which is the largest Lutheran body not in the World Lutheran Federation and which was not a signatory to the 1999 joint declaration, "gave a surprisingly positive agreement" to "On the Way," Johnson said, adding, "This is extraordinary, and I'm still trying to take it in."

Peace, JOHN

Your Turn / Robert W. Jenson +
« on: September 06, 2017, 08:00:38 AM »
I just now got word of Jens death from ALPB Board member, Gregory Fryer.  Jens has been in hospice for some time.  The greatest American Lutheran systematic theologian of our generation.  May he rest in peace and perpetual light shine on him.

Dear John,

Our friend and teacher Robert W. Jenson has died. Blanche phoned us a little while ago to tell us the news. Carol and I had visited with Blanche and Jens earlier this afternoon. He greeted us warmly and took our hands, but it was clear to us that he was having a hard day, and we did not stay long. Carol and I join many people in sorrow at the news of Jens’s death, but also deep grateful to our Triune God that we knew Jens all these years and for the hope of the resurrection through Jesus Christ.

Pastor Gregory P. Fryer
Immanuel Lutheran Church
122 East 88th Street
New York, NY 10128

Peace, JOHN

Your Turn / Party Affiliation of American Clergy
« on: June 14, 2017, 08:22:43 AM »
Today's NY Times reports on data about the political persuasion of American clergy.  Few surprises.  The ELCA has 25% who are Republican; less balanced is Missouri with only 10% Democrat.  ELCA membership is about only 45% Democrat.  Roman Catholic priests are the closest to a balance with about 30% in each party and the remainder in the middle.

Peace, JOHN

Your Turn / A Missouri Memoir
« on: June 04, 2017, 04:01:44 PM »
Eugene Bruegemann's article in Lutheran Forum, Summer/Pentecost 2017, is the best synopsis or summary account of that colorful history available anywhere.  It deserves a separate thread, in my opinion.

Peace, JOHN

Your Turn / More Coptic Martyrs
« on: April 09, 2017, 08:44:01 PM »
My congregation in the Bronx is host (by rental) to a part of the growing Egyptian Coptic presence in America.  The Coptic congregation normally worships every Saturday in order to satisfy their Sunday obligation. Each Holy Week they adapt their schedule and use a spare room. Yesterday they observed "Lazarus Saturday" in our sanctuary.  But they had to observe Palm Sunday in a small classroom, as we observed Palm Sunday in the comfort of our own sanctuary.

I don't normally get much involved but now I am by myself since our pastor is gone to the U.S. Army Reserve. As I was leaving for our own (Lutheran) Palm Sunday observance, I caught the first CNN report of the Coptic terrorist bombing.  When I got to Our Saviour, the Coptic congregation was fully engaged in liturgy.  I wrote a note to the presiding bishop expressing our shocked and sadness as well as our prayers.  I gave that to Iman, the lay woman in charge to give the bishop after the liturgy.  Afterwards I was able to go with our congregational president to express our sorrow to the bishop and to Iman on behalf of all of us.  Iman told Jacqui, our president, that she was well acquainted with the site of the first bombing and had actually worshiped there with relatives many times.  She believed that the [second] attack was an attempt to kill the Coptic Pope, who will meet Pope Francis sometime this month.

The world is smaller now.  "Do not ask for whom the bell tolls. . . ."

I was very impressed by all members of the Coptic congregation (I ended up greeting almost all of them--young and old).  There was no call for revenge whatsoever.; genuine grief and sorrow for their lost and injured sisters and brothers but no anger.  I guess they are not "Americanized" yet.  Iman ended up expressing, as she always does, fervent hope Christian unity.  (And another Missouri Synod building becomes polluted.  8))

Peace, JOHN

Your Turn / Charles Austin's Article in Living Lutheran
« on: February 06, 2017, 02:05:54 PM »
Our own Charles Austin has written an informative article about seminaries in the ELCA.  It confirms all that Mark Granquist said in the recent Forum Letter.  It seems that all seminaries in the U. S. are being challenged to adapt to new circumstances.

Thanks, Charles.

I would be interested in how the LCMS and the NALC are coping with the challenges.

Peace, JOHN

Your Turn / Pope Francis in Lund with LWF
« on: October 31, 2016, 03:27:45 PM »
I decided to start a new thread on this. Likely, it will be used.

I was impressed that they deliberately had youth prominently participating.

Peace, JOHN

2016 LCMS Convention / David Brooks (and the LCMS?)
« on: July 12, 2016, 08:17:11 AM »
David Brooks' column today is sharp and clear. I find that some features in his description politics in the United States resemble also the LCMS at convention.   :)

Peace, JOHN

Your Turn / Ecclesiastical Supervision in the LCMS
« on: May 24, 2016, 12:30:51 PM »
A considered opinion of innovative proposals by a respected LCMS official:

Ecclesiastical Supervision in the LCMS

Date: May 23, 2016
Memo to: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
From:  Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, President Emeritus 
Subject: Ecclesiastical Supervision in the LCMS
Dear Friends in Christ:
Grace and peace be with you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
This fraternal memo is written a few weeks prior to the election of the president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Such elections are normally preceded by a series of questions to the candidates, their answers published in our national LCMS media. As of this date I have seen no such publication. Even if it subsequently appears, not much time remains for it to be helpful, although the candidates have addressed some questions online.
While the position of each candidate on a number of topics that are very important for the future of our beloved Synod should be considered by those who will cast a ballot for this important office, one subject is worthy of special attention at this summer's convention—ecclesiastical supervision.
Reports and recommendations in the 2016 Convention Workbook on this topic, if approved, would grant the LCMS president excessive power, authority and control over pastors, commissioned ministers and congregations of the LCMS. This potential is causing great concern throughout our beloved Synod.
For details on this matter, see my Ecclesiastical Supervision in the LCMS commentary below.
While I do not have email addresses for every LCMS congregation, ordained and commissioned member and have neither the manpower nor the budget to snail mail this memo throughout the Synod, it has been sent to the Council of Presidents and is now being sent to many members of the Synod for whom email addresses are available. Please feel free to share it with the congregations in your district and circuit.
Thank you for your kind attention and for your faithfulness to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sincerely, in Christian love,

Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, President Emeritus
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
Ecclesiastical Supervision in the LCMS
For ten years as president of a district of the LCMS, I served as ecclesiastical supervisor of pastors, commissioned ministers and congregations. In those 10 years I experienced the headache and heartache of dealing with allegations, accusations and charges leveled against rostered members under my ecclesiastical supervision by individuals who had not followed the mandate of Matthew 18. Anyone from anywhere could charge anyone else with anything and the charges had immediate standing.
During that period of time, the district president of the accused LCMS member was mandated to investigate and rule on the charges. His decision to dismiss the allegation was subject to appeal by the accuser to the president and vice-presidents of the Synod, which created imbalance in favor of the accuser and double jeopardy for the accused. Such formal charges, a number of which turned out to be frivolous, wreaked havoc in the lives of faithful pastors and commissioned ministers. People who had no calling to meddle in the life or ministry of fellow ministers of the Gospel had license to file charges against anyone with whom they disagreed, even on non-essential matters. Many did just that.
The 2004 LCMS convention amended that process, defining with greater clarity the constitutional responsibility and authority of the office of district president. This is the office charged with carrying out the objectives of the Synod to provide "evangelical supervision, counsel, and care for pastors, teachers, and other professional church workers of the Synod in the performance of their official duties" and "protection for congregations, pastors, teachers, and other church workers in the performance of their official duties and the maintenance of their rights." (LCMS Constitution Art. III)
Under that revised and current system, any charges filed against a member of the Synod must first be evaluated by the district president of the accuser. Only after unsuccessful reconciliation efforts between the accuser and the accused may the charges be brought by the accuser to the district president of the accused. If the district president of the accused finds no validity in the charges, the case is dismissed.
With minimal exceptions, that current process has worked very well. The core values and principles set forth in 2004 have proven the validity of the current process, centered on evangelical, Gospel-centered ecclesiastical supervision without participation of those not constitutionally charged with this authority.
If approved, a recommendation to this summer's convention from a special presidential task force would change that process. The task force had only one member with any previous experience in ecclesiastical supervision. Its report is printed in the 2016 Convention Workbook (R-65: Task Force on Dispute Resolution Report, pp. 297-307).
The report proposes consolidation and centralization of national presidential authority in a number of ways, including direct involvement of the Synod president in the ecclesiastical supervision of congregations and individual members of the Synod. Such spiritual and theological oversight is granted by the LCMS Constitution and Bylaws to the Synod's 35 district presidents who are elected by district conventions.
Only these 35 men have constitutional responsibility for ecclesiastical supervision of the congregations, pastors and commissioned ministers who hold membership in the national church body in or through their respective districts. The national president has ecclesiastical supervision over those 35 district presidents. That simply but significantly means that if a district president is not faithfully performing the duties of his office, the Synod president has the duty and responsibility to hold him accountable, even if that means taking steps to remove him from the LCMS roster of ordained ministers of the Gospel.
Recommendations to be considered at this summer's convention would give the national president and vice-presidents authority to review every case of ecclesiastical supervision involving congregations or individual members already dealt with by a district president. In addition, these proposals would grant authority, at any time, for the President of the Synod to initiate action to remove any individual member or congregation from the Synod.
If approved, that action would create national centralized presidential authority over individual congregations, pastors and commissioned ministers. It would also mean double jeopardy for the accused member whose case had already been thoroughly reviewed and declined by that member's ecclesiastical supervisor. And if this recommendation were to be approved, the president of the Synod could actually impose himself into every dispute resolution matter.
Throughout the 169 year history of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, particularly since the creation of districts in 1854, constitutional ecclesiastical supervision has been delegated to district presidents. For the national president's office to assume a greater role in that responsibility would foster and foment a lack of trust between district presidents and the national president and vice-presidents and would clearly vest centralized authority where it does not belong.
This is a very important matter! For the sake of the Synod and its individual members, the three candidates for election to the office of national president, an election that will take place in a few short weeks, should have no hesitancy to declare publicly their position on these recommendations.
Accordingly, respectfully and sincerely I encourage such public declaration from each of the nominees:
​• Rev. Matthew Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod   
• Rev. David Maier, president of the Michigan District of the LCMS
• Rev. Dale Meyer, president of Concordia Seminary St. Louis
The method of response from the candidates above will need to be determined by those men themselves.
This communication is written and distributed out of love and respect for the congregations, pastors and commissioned ministers of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
Respectfully submitted,

Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, President Emeritus 
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod


Your Turn / Persecution of Christians?
« on: December 05, 2015, 09:48:26 AM »
Here's a very interesting discussion from the Concordia Journal. Are we being persecuted or is it that we are losing predominance?

Peace, JOHN

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