Author Topic: Closing LCMS Seminaries?  (Read 9930 times)

Weedon

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #120 on: August 18, 2009, 09:03:03 PM »
Andy,

I'm not sure shallow is a good word for it.  Put it this way:  under the current administration it is obviously up for discussion; under a new administration we are told it is off the table.  What's shallow about that? 

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #121 on: August 18, 2009, 09:30:06 PM »
Perhaps to get back on topic a bit:

I greatly appreciated Pres. Meyer's article in CJ.  What might have been most helpful was the discussion on synod, church, and seminary.  (I don't have the article at home with me.)  Those terms mean different things in different areas. 

So it takes some explaining to various people when I say that Synod doesn't support our seminaries or our universities or colleges.  My explanation involves telling them about the 8 years (4 at RF, 4 at StL) of hearing from administrators that tuition was rising because the synod subsidy was continuing to dwindle.  Synod doesn't support our colleges and seminaries.  Synod supports all kinds of goofy things, but not our colleges and seminaries.  It's the people who support our educational institutions.  It's the people in the local congregations who mail off $323.18 to CTSFW for their adopted student. 

The portion of the article that explained what roles our seminary professors play was a good reminder and very illuminating.  I sensed a 'finger in the eye' when it was revealed that seminary employees do the work of the Synod on the seminaries' dime- like the placement offices being one example. 

The faculty at our seminaries are asked to do an awful lot.  They fly all over the country for continuing ed programs that seem really worthwhile.  (I only grouse because they never seem to come to Philly or Baltimore.)  And they do a tremendous amount of writing and publishing and help our partner churches around the world.  How much more can we ask of them?

Are satellite seminaries a way to go?  I don't know.  I tend to think not.  Perhaps a couple of profs going to some place for 2-3 weeks for some intensive work would be feasible.  That still would involve travel and time and sacrifice.  (And would the current pastors who need the remedial work be willing to go for those intensive courses!   ;D)     

To sum up:  I liked the article in CJ.  I don't have any answers.  And I thought the encomiums for the retiring profs were excellent.  Had all of those men.  Got a little wistful reading about those servants.

Jeremy
A Lutheran pastor growing into all sorts of things.

revjagow

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #122 on: August 18, 2009, 10:41:58 PM »
I sort of liked the VBS stuff this year from CPH.  Perhaps that is due to the fact that this was the first VBS the congregation put on in a long time, like over a decade!  (In some aspects, there is a spirit of timidity in the congregation I serve.  I say, Let's have VBS!  The response is: What if no one comes?  What if something goes wrong?  What if no one signs up to help?  How much is it going to cost?)

I liked the music, we did as much of the material as we wanted, the crafts were good, very good Bible verses to talk about and teach from.  So I thought it was decent.  And the volunteer workers seemed to enjoy their parts and the 11 kids that came were smiling and learning.  (I believe they learned.)

Jeremy 

Good for you for giving it a try, Jeremy.  Re-reading my post, that came off as really pretentious and I'm sorry for that.  You did the right thing by going ahead with the program.  I'm positive it had an effect on the children because 1) you demonstrated you cared about them, and, more importantly, 2) the Word does not return to God empty.  Well done, faithful servant!
Soli Deo Gloria!

revjagow

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #123 on: August 18, 2009, 10:53:14 PM »
Andy,

I'm not sure shallow is a good word for it.  Put it this way:  under the current administration it is obviously up for discussion; under a new administration we are told it is off the table.  What's shallow about that? 

Just compare.  Dr. Meyer's response is - "yes, let's talk about this" and then a very thoughtful response follows that reviews what seminary is, what synod means, how we the seminary contributes to the life of the synod in ways that are seen and unseen and what the challenges are for the future - even painting a picture of what that future could look like.  Any one of these points is worthy of fuller discussion.  Same with the thoughtful (and initially shocking) editorial that appeared in Lutheran Forum.  There is good dialog going back and forth here and I think it is very beneficial to the church. 

Compare that to blog articles that are just at a church political level to express what you have written above.  I call that shallow in comparison.
Soli Deo Gloria!

Dave Benke

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #124 on: August 18, 2009, 10:54:24 PM »
Pr. W - a little armchair analysis:

1) "under the current administration it is obviously up for discussion" (i.e. the closing of seminaries):  

There are three sources for the discussion that I know of -
a) Paul Sauer's Lutheran Forum article.  Pr. Sauer IS in the Atlantic District administration as secretary of the District. He was not forbidden by his Bishop to write on the topic, to be sure, but can't really be considered part of the national administration in any direct way.
b) VP Dean Nadasdy, who said that he was speaking only for himself at the one district convention where he spoke to the topic, ergo indicating that he was specifically NOT speaking for the "current administration."
c) Sem Pres. Dale Meyer, who is authorized to speak to the topic from his position as a seminary president and was thankful to Pastor Sauer for the opportunity.  However, Pres. Meyer indicates zero thanks or howdy to the national administration, so he is also NOT speaking for the "current administration."  

Result from the three sources I know of - the current administration has taken no position on the closing of seminaries.  Stating that the current administration obviously has taken a position is, from your position of pastoral precision, odd to me.  Obviously odd.

2) "under a new administration we are told it is off the table."  

a) it is as far as I know not ON the table in the current administration
b) who are "we?"
c) where are we told this?
d) why are we told that something that is not on the table in the current administration is off the table in the proposed new administration?
e) who are the proposed new administrators who are supposedly revealing this off-tableness?


Result - a non-issue is being made an issue.  If the new administration were to take this off the table, does that mean that the current sem. pres. would not be allowed to bring it up through pressure from the new administrative head?  Or that Pastor Sauer would have to be disciplined by his Bishop for saying something about sem closures?  Or that should Dean Nadasdy be re-elected at the same time as a new administration took over the top spots, that he would be disciplined or forbidden from expressing an opinion he states is just his own?

I would say that I don't find the blogosphere "shallow."  I find it odd and at odds with the basic facts of the situation.

A little armchair opinionating, and in conclusion I agree with Jeremy - "I greatly appreciated Pres. Meyer's article in CJ."

Dave Benke

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #125 on: August 19, 2009, 07:42:30 AM »
What a way to start the day!  Pres. Benke agrees with something I wrote!  Now if only I had written something insightful.  Drat! ;D

How 'bout these:

David Wright has nothing to apologize for- his team is just not that good this year.
Scott Boras, not the pope, is the anti-christ!
Pitchers wearing helmets on the mound would just be strange.
Getting rid of aluminum bats in Little League and high school and college would teach pitchers how to throw inside without fear and would learn how to throw a purpose pitch. 
St. Louis Cardinals can start printing World Series tickets.

Agreement?

Jeremy
A Lutheran pastor growing into all sorts of things.

Dave Benke

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #126 on: August 19, 2009, 08:13:25 AM »
Agreed on points one through four, although I have a further explanation on the Mets for a different post.

Point five - because of my strong feelings against the Phillies, my heart wants to agree with you, but just to be contrarian, I'm going to pull for the Dodgers; a Jackie Robinson thing - I've seen his grave, just off the parkway named for him, near my parish (Mae West's remains are also there, and Ignace Paderewski's, among others), so there's a bond, and of course there's the Jackie Robinson pavilion at CitiField.

Dave Benke

FrPeters

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #127 on: August 19, 2009, 08:37:53 AM »
I cannot believe that this is actually up for discussion at this time.  As one who lived through the days when a Seminary went into exile and left a shell of a Seminary where it once was, when a quick decision was made to close the Senior College and move a Seminary to its campus, when a radical shift in the way we educated pastors was undertaken without any real thought to its impact upon the ministerium or the Church, I am left shaking my head.  And I know my brother Benke went through it as well.  So why now?

Now is the wrong time because it would be seen by most of the church as a political decision (no matter what Weedon or Benke says).
We are in a financial crisis that has little to do with Seminary support (since they get so little from the Synod budget) so closing them or moving them would not save the Synod budget more than pennies.
No one has thought this through -- in fact the whole reason it has come up has been a price tag issue and NOT theological formation or the services the Seminaries provide for the Church.
This distracts us from our real problems and the real issues before us as a church body.
This provides another way to splinter the church and create one more new division in a church already divided too much.
Though I have great respect for them, neither Paul Sauer nor Dean Nadasdy are experts on the Seminaries, theological formation, or funding the mission.  They have about as much juice in this debate as I do, which is not much at all.

We can talk all we want to about this, and Dale Meyer certainly has great latitude about this but, again, his point is made relevant by the fact that his budget dropped millions and he is between a rock and a hard place financially...BUT is now the right time to begin a serious discussion of this when restructuring issues that would change the whole face of Missouri are being unfolded??? when worship wars continue between those who look and act and sound nothing like Lutherans on Sunday morning??? when witness and outreach are reduced to numbers on the tote board that is supposed to scream we are a fire for Jesus???

If we are going to talk Seminaries... we should be talking about why there is such a small number of first career men entering the Seminary (all due respect to second career folks)....  Why are we NOT recruiting the best and brightest right from high school, through Synodical colleges, and into our Seminaries?  When I entered Winfield so long ago the ratio was 80/20 -- 80% in the presem programs were from Lutheran teacherages or parsonages and 20% were not... now we barely have any sons of Lutheran teachers or pastors (at least the reverse of percentage)... why?   We certify on the basis of three years of classroom instruction and one year of vicarage and with living off campus, having a job, being married, and having children... we often barely know these men whom we are sending to the congregations... it is not their fault but ours...  I had reviews at the junior and senior college level as well as at Seminary and most of my class lived on campus and were much more closely connected than is currently the case... again not the seminarian's fault... things changed and we did little to react to these changes but accept them... I think we can do better...

Well there is my rant for today and once I get my third cup of coffee I will relax and get to work...

Fr Larry Peters
Grace LCMS, Clarksville, TN
http://www.pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/

Weedon

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #128 on: August 19, 2009, 08:43:44 AM »
Andy, I confess I'm shooting in the dark, having read neither Dr. Meyer's article nor Pr. Sauer's nor the blog items you mention.  So I no doubt should not have commented and shouldn't be commenting - but when has that ever stopped me?  :)  

What I am concerned about is this:  for many years we've heard complaints that the seminaries train Lutheran pastors who then disturb the peace of congregations who are really not interested in being Lutheran.  

Yes, I know that this is a gross caricature, and totally slanted toward the seminary way of looking at things.  But I think there's a great deal of truth to it:  we DO have parishes that really are not terribly interested in being Lutheran and if the seminaries have done a disservice in this regards, it is in letting the men think they were being sent to parishes that in fact hold and teach the Symbols to which the men will be pledged.  When I was a PALS facilitator, I always told the participants never to assume that their parish was Lutheran in fact.  

The problem is the notion that the seminaries need to be "fixed" because they keep sending out pastors who irritate the revenue sources (yeah, I know no one ever says it like that...); the problem is that the seminaries have taken seriously the Symbols in a way that too many of our parishes have ceased to.  Not all irritation to the status quo is ungodly; sometimes the "troubler of Israel" is the one the Lord sent.

Which is not to excuse any seminary graduate dealing with the parish in a less than loving, evangelical, and patient manner.  God knows how often we DO bring trouble on ourselves for simply being asses.  Then we should bear the suffering we bring upon ourselves in silence as our due reward.  But there is also the patient, kind and thoroughly evangelical pastor who cannot compromise on matters of conscience who is simply driven out of his parish because that parish is LINO.  And then complaints arise about the seminaries training men to be such bull-headed Lutherans.  I think it is an unjust complaint in that regard (and this whole thing is what swirls around in my head when I hear about how "out of touch" the seminaries are with "current realities.")

Matt Staneck

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #129 on: August 19, 2009, 09:47:44 AM »
To be fair, Pr. W, I was not insinuating the seminaries are out of touch with current realities. I indeed did say CPH has that very tendency though. My thing with the seminaries is if as you say the where matters not, then why does it matter? Those men and women who come from around the world to be trained and educated at our seminaries are there because of the "what" and the "who" (not the band). 

It is certainly not the case that people are coming from all over the world to go to the "where." Who would come from halfway across the world to live in fort wayne, indiana? That would be like claiming people come to long island for my little ol town of islip. No way! It is the substance of the "what" and the "who" at ft. Wayne that have people coming from all over, not the where. 
I'm also not endorsing closing a seminary (common financial sense says it'd be STL and hi, I'm heading there in 2 weeks so that wouldn't be any good!).  I'm arguing with the current realities if technology we can expand our seminary horizons and be more distance and globally minded with our mission of training the best pastors and deaconesses in the world.

M. Staneck
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Dave Benke

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #130 on: August 19, 2009, 10:25:54 AM »
Has anyone seen the worship survey at lcms.org?  We'll be having the big worship confab in January in St. Louis, held at a congregation (Concordia Kirkwood) rather than at a convention locale, which I think is great.  

The survey indicates that all are interested in Lutheran integrity in terms of means of grace.  The survey also indicates that many utilize a variety of worship resources inside, to their way of thinking, that Lutheran integrity.  

So the question, Pr. W., is what it means to be Lutheran.  That's at the bottom what we/you/all of us require in Seminary education, however it is delivered.  An accompanying question is whether the delivery system denigrates the Lutheran-ness of the Lutheran product, or whether the Lutheran "product" can only be delivered with the seminary system as configured either now or in some ideal past.  

My own frame of reference colors my thinking.  I had a "classic" education, as a six year man at Concordia Milwaukee at the tag end of the old prep system.  It was without question language-heavy and ancient-history heavy and English lit heavy, and science/business lite.  Real lite.  But when coupled with the Senior College, the best the Synod ever offered in pre-pastoral training, it created a cadre of gonna-be-padres that could think, reason, process, and were not afraid of competing points of view.  And we did not need to be spoon-fed at the seminary level, "indoctrinated," so to speak.  So my definition of Lutheran is supple, dynamic, expansive and engaging, not propositional, stiff, restrictive and avoidance-oriented.  All of those latter rub against the grain of the Lutheran open-ness to the world adn doctrinal security that I experienced educationally, and have pastorally.

Therefore, from that educational perspective, to square up with the board, I have found a lot of folks to be under-educated and perhaps over-indoctrinated in the ministerium of today.  Spoon fed and an inch wide and two miles deep in their Lutheran understanding.  

On the other hand, we're probably not going to re-invent the prep school system or resurrect the Senior College from the land of the dead.  So absent the convivium fraternum, which is lifelong learning, I don't have a great solution.

Dave Benke

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #131 on: August 19, 2009, 02:25:14 PM »
Hmmm.  What I found universal, supple, dynamic, engaging and expansive could be boiled down to all the cruciform "stuff" of I Corinthians 1, Mike, which is at the heart of Lutheran, ie means of grace, theology (of the cross).  To me it's one and the same.  Because the guy who wrote those words was unafraid of the Areopagus or the synagog or mostly the streets and highways of the empire he inhabited.  And he was all things to all people so that by all means he might save some. 

So that the foundational marks of the Church in the Augsburg Confession are based on the essential Pauline theology.  Very lean in terms of a definition - many would argue too lean.  Gospel purely preached and sacraments properly administered.  But designed to put the Church in the world with all the means it will ever need.  The deeper you go, in other words, the WIDER it gets, not the narrower on the theological side of the dialog.  Universal reconciliation.  Dialogical opportunity. 

Several women who are newly attending our Mass on Sunday from a Latino background got up at VBS the other night and explained how their lives had just been opened to the world in a brand new way by participating in this little means of grace community I show up at from time to time.  While we are profoundly Lutheran we do so not by teaching Luther but by proclaiming Christ and him crucified.  And by not being afraid to engage folks from a great diversity of background and belief system with that message, but doing so lovingly and intentionally. That's what I mean by supple and dynamic - sorry if I'm giving a head-trip impression.

Dave Benke

pastormesser

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #132 on: August 19, 2009, 02:38:10 PM »
Has anyone seen the worship survey at lcms.org?

I have.  Just trudged through the whole thing and am left scratching my head.  It is painfully obvious that the current CoW is biased in the whole worship "style" debate.  Not only that, but the data is not even close to being trustworthy.  The options in many areas are far too generic to warrant factual conclusions.  For example, in tables 5 and 6, respondents are asked to indicate whether or not they include the traditional liturgical elements in their Services, but where is the option to check which indicates that they replace one of more of these liturgical elements with a contemporary praise ditty or with their own creative writings?  I know several pastors who would state, quite emphatically, that all of the traditional liturgical elements are in place in their contemporary praise services, even though they've actually replaced these with other things.  Many of them will say things like, "The liturgy is still there; it's just hidden."    

The survey indicates that all are interested in Lutheran integrity in terms of means of grace.  The survey also indicates that many utilize a variety of worship resources inside, to their way of thinking, that Lutheran integrity.

How so?  Because they say so?  The survey doesn't really indicate anything in regards to being interested in Lutheran integrity in terms of means of grace.  The data is woefully incomplete.  The options are too generic.  Seems to me that the intent of this survey is to attempt to give the impression that while there are diverse practices among us, we are all on the same page doctrinally, which is exactly the mantra we've heard from Kieschnick time and time again.  The problem is that this little survey doesn't do justice to the real differences among us, which are not limited to variant practices, but are doctrinal to the core.  This survey is nothing more than a giant softball placed on a tee for the CoW to hit out of the ballpark as it continues to further sanction the methabapticostal practices (which are built upon methabapticostal doctrines) that have, unfortunately, become common in our synod. 

But, you do hit the nail on the head, Pr. Benke, when you say, "to their way of thinking."  This is exactly the problem, isn't it?  When everyone is free to define what it means to be and act Lutheran, there is really nothing off limits, is there.  There are a lot of, in the words of one seminary professor, "Baptists who use wine in Communion" among us.  But, hey, they claim to be Lutheran so I guess they is then.  After all, we wouldn't want to do something so stiff and rigid as asking them to back up their claims with Scripture and our Confessions.    

So the question, Pr. W., is what it means to be Lutheran.  That's at the bottom what we/you/all of us require in Seminary education, however it is delivered.  An accompanying question is whether the delivery system denigrates the Lutheran-ness of the Lutheran product, or whether the Lutheran "product" can only be delivered with the seminary system as configured either now or in some ideal past.

Yes, Pr. Benke, that is the question, indeed!  What does it mean to be Lutheran?  Fortunately, we actually have a book that answers that question for us in detail.  Problem is, many have forgotten about that book and it doesn't get referenced too often - beyond the usual lip service, of course.  It does at the seminaries, though.  Students are taught the contents of that book.  They are taught what it means to be Lutheran.  But, when many of them enter the parish, they find that the vast majority of those they serve have never studied that book and have no idea what it means to be Lutheran.  So, they teach.  Patiently, lovingly, and diligently.  Unfortunately, many they serve are not all that interested in learning what it means to be Lutheran.  They have their own idea about that, you see.  They learned what it means to be Lutheran from pastors so-and-so and since they never taught them about what's in that "what it means to be Lutheran" book, they don't see the need to learn about it now.  They got along just fine for many years with their own brand of Lutheranism and don't see the need to actually put that brand to the test with what's in the book.  That, coupled by the outside obstacles of other pastors doing what's right in their eyes, a synodical leadership endorsing and promoting non-Lutheran practices, and a CoW continually fostering the idea that it's okey-dokey to worship like methabapticostals, makes for many "Woe is me!" Elijah moments for the confessional Lutheran pastor in the 21st century LCMS.        

So my definition of Lutheran is supple, dynamic, expansive and engaging, not propositional, stiff, restrictive and avoidance-oriented.  All of those latter rub against the grain of the Lutheran open-ness to the world adn doctrinal security that I experienced educationally, and have pastorally.

But your definition, like the survey you reference, is woefully incomplete.  What does "supple, dynamic, expansive and engaging" mean?  What does "propositional, stiff, restrictive and avoidance-oriented" mean?  I have some ideas about what you mean, but rather than share those ideas, I'd rather focus on what I see to be the main problem in all of this, which is your use of "my definition."  This is what I was getting at above.  Since when do you or anyone else get to define Lutheranism?  Is it "propositional, stiff, restrictive and avoidance-oriented" on my part to hold you and everyone else who claims to be Lutheran to the definition already found in great detail in the Book of Concord? 

Therefore, from that educational perspective, to square up with the board, I have found a lot of folks to be under-educated and perhaps over-indoctrinated in the ministerium of today.  Spoon fed and an inch wide and two miles deep in their Lutheran understanding.

This is most interesting, since what I and a plethora of others have wondered is, "Where, oh where, was the catechesis in the last 30-40 years?"  It seems, based on the overall condition of the laity, that they were over-educated in pragmatics and under-indoctrinated in Lutheranism.  Spoon fed and an inch wide in their Lutheran understanding and two miles deep in their understanding of going with the flow.  And, please know that I mean no offense to the laity in saying this.  Many have just not been taught, or have been taught wrong, which is not their fault. 

With all that said, we desperately need our seminaries to continue educating future pastors in what it means to be Lutheran.  This is especially so in our day and age when our own synodical leadership and CoW has seemingly forgotten.      

Dave Benke

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #133 on: August 19, 2009, 03:16:26 PM »
Yes, I've used that example of Paul leaving the philosophers, and I believe Luther did as well - on the other hand, Paul engaged in every colosseum and venue he could all along the journey, and used, if you follow the logic of his argumentation, all the Greek tools of discourse, meaning, same as Luther, that he had the classical education and knew how to use it.  Remember, Paul was (maybe self-rated) one of the best students of the best Rabbi of his era; Luther likewise was not under-educated in the classics and philosophy.

Basically I think you miss the point of what I'm saying, which applies to both ditches on "left" and "right."  The Methodists/growth-crew run the danger of substituting something, some secret to success, for the crucified Christ at the center, and the over-indoctrinated run the risk of sticking in all kinds of additional accretion (what gets called "the Gospel in all its articles") for the crucified Christ at the center.

The problem is not primarily at the level of the seminaries.  It's at the level of what kinds of theological apparatus is in the students when they arrive.  The reason for what I called "spoon feeding" is that there's not enough theological substance - not just the facts but the ability to work with the facts theologically - in the arriving students.  I think that's getting better but I know a few years ago there were students wanting to come in who didn't know all ten commandments in the entrance test.  Can I get in if I know 8?  Would you let me in for 6?  4? 

When I went to the seminary there was no entrance test from the Senior College to the seminary.  Why would there be?  We had been engendered in a system that held us from pre-K through college, in my case in Lutheran schools all the way.  And it was assumed we could work through the theology with critical skills paring away that which was weird on all sides. 

The sem profs are not pleased with these realities either, because they have to begin at a spot they used to see as having taken place far earlier in the process.  Hope this doesn't add to the confusion, but it's possibly just an older guy remembering his own version of a "golden age."

Dave Benke

Weedon

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Re: Closing LCMS Seminaries?
« Reply #134 on: August 19, 2009, 03:40:38 PM »
Bishop,

God willing, I will see you at the worship confab.  President Mueller has invited me to be part of the SID group.  Meanwhile, I'm really looking forward to attending this confab, which honestly looks a lot more interesting:

http://gottesblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/announcing-fourteenth-annual.html

Any chance you might join in that discussion as well?