Author Topic: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP  (Read 16390 times)

Dave Benke

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #75 on: January 23, 2012, 05:42:43 PM »
Good point, Marie.  We were study bugs back in the day.  Nothing better to do, and they had "proctors" and "dorm counselors" all over you like white on rice five nights a week.  Twelve chapel services a week at Milwaukee - mandatory.  Four hours of work at the desk every school nite in HS.  That's right.  Amo, amas, amat.  Hooked on Latin.  But pining for girls.

One of the things Prexy Stuenkel, a great mentor, told us was that the pastoral office was the highest vocation but would call for everything we had in order to make it not just a set of classes we passed but our way of serving God and His people. 

Dave Benke
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John_Hannah

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #76 on: January 23, 2012, 05:48:45 PM »
MARIE, BILL, & BISHOP

Amen. (...from a fellow Sextaner who has moved up a bit.)

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Daniel L. Gard

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #77 on: January 23, 2012, 07:01:45 PM »
I think that all are agreed that we want the best pastoral formation for our Synod. How that can be delivered is a matter for collegial discussion. Agreed?

(By the way, President Benke....about the video and my offered cameo appearance. Every good film needs a villain, right?)
 ;D

Dan Fienen

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #78 on: January 23, 2012, 08:38:42 PM »
One point that I don't remember being brought up, the debt load that students end up with at the end of college and seminary.  Back in the day (I went through in the '70s) a few students, I'm sure, ended up with student loans to pay off - but nothing like what is typical today.  It ends up a double wammy for pastors - longer schooling and generally a lower paying career.  The debt load was not as much of a problem in previous generations of pastors.
 
Something to consider.  One must not only consider whether the Synod (any church body) can afford to maintain the educational institutions required for the traditional parth to ordination - can the students afford the education with no assurance of a call at the end of the process and an almost guarentee that if there is a call, it will not be that well paying, especially when the student loans are figured in.
 
Solutions?  Who do you think I am Solomon?  I don't know.
 
Dan
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GregoryLJackson

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #79 on: January 24, 2012, 07:38:04 AM »
The cost of studying at various seminaries can be found here:


http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com/2011/09/lcms-seminary-cost-scandal-fabulous.html


The two Concordias cost more than all other Lutheran seminaries - and as much as Yale Divinity School.


The Boomers, who got cheap seminary educations, have allowed the costs to land on the heads of the students. That is a severe judgment against the leaders of today.


Greg Jackson

Dave Benke

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #80 on: January 24, 2012, 08:31:04 AM »
I just checked the blogspot.  Thanks for leading us to a very thorough analysis there with charts and graphs and stuff, GregoryLJackson. 

First impression - the blogspot author should use an Angry Bird logo, rara avis shoot from the hip division.  Walther as book'ncoinstealin'kidnapper does not assist me, at least, in treating data on seminary education as objectively tallied.  But that's probably just me.

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GregoryLJackson

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #81 on: January 24, 2012, 09:12:04 AM »
DP Benke, the Walther myth does not help the Olde Synodical Conference. The facts have been obscured long enough.


That is why someone, who knows the synodical education system well, has done that analysis of the costs at various seminaries. I was stunned by the cost of studying at the Concordias. When I attended seminary, the cost of tuition per year was $150, payable in two installments. Married housing in a pleasant building, with furnishings, was around $100 a month, utilities included.


The Boomers need to address what changed.


http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com/2011/05/lutheran-seminary-fraud-students-are.html


Greg Jackson

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #82 on: January 24, 2012, 10:07:10 AM »
Pr. Gemmin,

You bring up some salient points that I desperately wish our synod would address.  Something is indeed off when our seminarians come out of seminary with $80-100K in debt.  This is not as it should be, nor as our founding fathers ever imagined it would be.  The truth that many want to ignore is that our synod long ago dropped the ball in this area, forgetting that seminary education was one of the three main reasons for forming this synod in the first place.  As the bureaucracy grew, the funding to our seminaries diminished, and now that funding is nearly non-existent.  The resultant reality is that we have guys coming out of seminary with huge debt loads being placed into small parishes to receive smallish salaries that barely enable them to pay their monthly bills and support their families, which makes it impossible to pay down their debt (indeed, in many cases, the debt just continues to pile on).  Add to this the fact that many congregations these days have moved away from the parsonage system and expect their new, incoming pastors, fresh out of the sem, who are saddled with enormous debt, to take on the purchase of a home.  That makes for rough sledding, for sure.  And, in a great many cases, pastors are forced to become "worker-priests" just to make ends meet.  It's a sad situation right now, and one that no one seems interested in addressing. 

In my case, I entered the seminary debt-free and with some savings.  Left Ford Motor Co., where I was a Journeyman Machine Repairman and had been making a wonderful living, in good shape financially.  I was told that there were lots of programs and scholarships and such that would get me through seminary.  So, my wife and four children and I packed up and moved to Fort Wayne.  We soon found out that the "lots of programs and scholarships and such" didn't really exist.  We had a couple of wonderful small parishes adopt us and send us a little money from time to time, and we took advantage of the clothing and food co-ops, but that was about it, as far as help went.  We were on our own for the rest.  The end result was that we left the seminary after four years with about $80K in debt, and this after having entered with no debt.  We blew through our savings in the first year we were there and the remaining three years (including vicarage) saw us taking out loan after loan to survive.  I had no idea that this was going to be the case when I took the leap of faith and headed off to study.  And now, I'm stuck, as are so many brothers out there.  I have two kids in college and can't help them.  Another one will be in college next year and will be on her own, too, and our last child will be there in just three years, on his own, too.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I have often wondered if I should have just stayed at Ford's and, to be honest, had I known then what I know now, I really don't know what I would have done.  Don't get me wrong, I love serving as a parish pastor - LOVE it!  I couldn't imagine not doing so.  But, had I been told that my being a pastor would land me in such debt, with virtually no chance to get out of it, I honestly don't know if I would have done it. 

What many people don't realize is that the debt accumulated by seminarians is not just in the form of student loans for tuition and books.  You have to live somewhere for those years, and all the living expenses are on you as well.  And, if you are a second career guy with a family, those expenses mount up high and quick.  Of the $80K in debt with which I exited the sem, only $35K was in student loans. 

Anyway, not trying to throw a pity party for myself.  Life goes on, and the Lord is good.  We've been blessed beyond our imagination in so many ways and even though the debt we accumulated at sem continues to hang over us like a huge black cloud, we've survived to this point.  But, I'm not some exceptional case.  That's the point here.  What I experienced is common, and I hear nothing in the form of a solution to what can only be described as a crisis in our synod.  And, while the word about this is reaching more and more of the laity around our country, the majority are still in the dark concerning this crisis, not realizing the immense financial burden with which most seminarians are saddled in order to dedicate their lives to serving Christ's sheep in His stead and by His command. 

I don't know what the solution is, but I have to believe that there is a solution out there.  And, I'd like to believe that there is a solution that would enable us to keep both of our seminaries in place.  But, it's very difficult to find a solution when you're not looking for one.  And, when I hear Pres. Harrison talk about dedicating a million dollars to bring in international students to our seminaries, even though I think that's a wonderful thing, I'm not too hip on it when our own students are suffering financially as they are.  Let's take care of them first, then we can talk about taking care of international students. 

I, for one, think that the money is there to provide for seminary education in our synod.  But, it would require us to eliminate some other things that many, understandably, do not want to eliminate.  Someday, we're just going to have to make a decision as to what is most important to us, and I pray that training pastors, which, again, was one of the three main reasons for the formation of this synod, will win the day.  We'll see . . .         

FrPeters

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #83 on: January 24, 2012, 10:19:09 AM »
The big difference between Seminary when I went and today is the married student body - generally with kids.  I even lived off campus and bought a car to go out on vicarage and ended up with less than $6K of debt when I entered my first parish (and that was after attending Synod's junior and senior college as well as seminary).  I am not pointing a finger but putting a finger on the big and obvious difference.  I got married on vicarage and my wife, the nurse, enabled us to pay our bills with help from my home congregation and scholarships.  We had a cheeeeep apartment with no real furniture and we did little for entertainment but that was a choice we made.  I know that there are those who cannot make those same choices with three small kids, a wife, and such.  I am not so much making a comparison but trying to explain why the costs are so dramatically different.  It is not really that the cost of seminary has skyrocketed beyond control but the living costs of a family have added to this to make it a great burden.

I know some of you will not like what I have to say but I think the whole darn system was better when we had at least junior college, senior college, and seminary and mostly first career students -- better for the church to know who these candidates for the ministry were and easier for the student.  I am not putting my head into the sand and know we will probably not go back there but the current situation is untenable in comparison -- we cannot come up with mega bucks to literally pay folks to go to seminary nor are we going to shift back to more first career sem students where the living expenses are less.

But the bottom line in this is that SMP is not a solution either.  Not by a long shot.
Fr Larry Peters
Grace LCMS, Clarksville, TN
http://www.pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/

swbohler

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #84 on: January 24, 2012, 10:45:10 AM »
And, to add to what Rev. Messer has written, I believe we now have bankruptcy as grounds for removal from office by district presidents (on the thinking that such shows an inability to manage home and family). 

Mike Gehlhausen

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #85 on: January 24, 2012, 10:53:30 AM »
And, to add to what Rev. Messer has written, I believe we now have bankruptcy as grounds for removal from office by district presidents (on the thinking that such shows an inability to manage home and family).

It doesn't?

Having financial problems is one thing; nearly everyone has those.

Using legal means to escape one's responsibility to others is another, and I believe it may well bring into question one's fitness to manage a household. I'm far from conversant enough with Luther's writing to find appropriate citations, but I wonder how Luther would have looked upon someone's fitness for the pastoral office if he declared bankruptcy.  I doubt it would have been favorably.

Mike

Timotheus Verinus

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #86 on: January 24, 2012, 10:55:20 AM »
Thank you Pr Messer for your frank summary. Indeed you are not unique. Two realities prevail. The system needs well thought out adjustment, and as noted not many of us have an answer, but we have to start shotgunning, without catagorically frowning at each other with  - "Well that won't work!" We have to seek to discern what is being said, and might be good in the shotgun, off top of head, "what if's" This will take time, and charitable spirits with commitment.
 The second reality, is as this happens, we cannot tell the person on the phone who needs an answer "This Sunday." -  "We'll get back to you." That is NOT an answer.

TV
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David Garner

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #87 on: January 24, 2012, 11:09:10 AM »
And, to add to what Rev. Messer has written, I believe we now have bankruptcy as grounds for removal from office by district presidents (on the thinking that such shows an inability to manage home and family).

It doesn't?

Having financial problems is one thing; nearly everyone has those.

Using legal means to escape one's responsibility to others is another, and I believe it may well bring into question one's fitness to manage a household. I'm far from conversant enough with Luther's writing to find appropriate citations, but I wonder how Luther would have looked upon someone's fitness for the pastoral office if he declared bankruptcy.  I doubt it would have been favorably.

Mike

That seems to be a black and white answer to a problem with a lot of shades of gray.

What if one files Chapter 13 and pays back everything he owes, albeit at a reduced interest rate and/or over a longer period of time?  If one has an inability to pay per the terms of the contract, which is better -- to default or to pay what one owes under different terms?

WRT Chapter 7, if someone really is shirking their responsibilities, I think I'd agree with you.  But in the event someone is filing to reorganize, there are ways to do that and still hold up your end of the bargain, though not as firmly as one would have liked when the bargain was made. 

I'll also add that the number 1 reason for bankruptcy filings is unanticipated medical expenses.  In such an instance, is the person at fault for not being prescient enough to foresee a future calamity, or is there perhaps a bit more understanding that goes along with that picture?

I've never filed for bankruptcy, and I've been blessed in that regard to have means to pay my creditors.  I agree with you in principle, but I also see a bit more gray shading than your response would appear to allow.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

swbohler

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #88 on: January 24, 2012, 11:13:12 AM »
Mr. Gehlhausen,

When a man graduates with $100K in debt, has a family to support, and is called to a congregation that pays less than a starting public school teacher (assuming he gets a call, which lately is not such a sure thing), bankruptcy is a very real possibilty.  And we as a church body are not helping but only contributing unless we do something to help -- on either/both ends (lower debt coming out, higher salary in the parish).  James 2:15-16 comes to mind.

Remember, as Rev. Messer has pointed out, the seminaries encourage men to come even when they do not have the financial resources up front.  When a man relies on the advice and counsel of those he trusts to know better than he, quits his job and moves to study for the ministry, racks up a huge debt, and then finds out the cold hard facts of life, how much blame do we attach to him and how much do we attach to those who advised him to go to seminary under such circumstances?  I am not talking about a pastor who lives lavishly, charging luxury items left and right onto credit cards he can never repay.  I am talking about young men who did as they were advised and then found out that it was not their advisors who were left holding the bag.  Then to have the same church body that told them "come, study, trust" now tell them that they showed poor judgment and that such may be grounds for removal from the very office for which he sunk himself and his family into life-long debt?  Sad is an understatement.

iowakatie1981

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #89 on: January 24, 2012, 11:19:06 AM »
The big difference between Seminary when I went and today is the married student body - generally with kids.  I even lived off campus and bought a car to go out on vicarage and ended up with less than $6K of debt when I entered my first parish (and that was after attending Synod's junior and senior college as well as seminary).  I am not pointing a finger but putting a finger on the big and obvious difference.  I got married on vicarage and my wife, the nurse, enabled us to pay our bills with help from my home congregation and scholarships.  We had a cheeeeep apartment with no real furniture and we did little for entertainment but that was a choice we made.  I know that there are those who cannot make those same choices with three small kids, a wife, and such.  I am not so much making a comparison but trying to explain why the costs are so dramatically different.  It is not really that the cost of seminary has skyrocketed beyond control but the living costs of a family have added to this to make it a great burden.

I know some of you will not like what I have to say but I think the whole darn system was better when we had at least junior college, senior college, and seminary and mostly first career students -- better for the church to know who these candidates for the ministry were and easier for the student.  I am not putting my head into the sand and know we will probably not go back there but the current situation is untenable in comparison -- we cannot come up with mega bucks to literally pay folks to go to seminary nor are we going to shift back to more first career sem students where the living expenses are less.

But the bottom line in this is that SMP is not a solution either.  Not by a long shot.

From an ELCA perspective...

It's not just married people with families (although they get the most attention):

I graduated from undergrad with no debt, spent about 4 years working, bought a house, saved a little, etc.  Moved to seminary, sold the house, moved into the cheapest housing on campus - single dorm rooms.  My first year I took classes full-time and worked 50+ hrs/week (part-time children's ministry at a local congregation + Starbucks (health insurance!)).  My second year I realized I was crazy and dropped the congregational work, keeping Starbucks.  Last year was internship, and this year I'm mostly focusing on classes, while working at the new coffee shop on campus about 15 hrs/week. (yes, I'm going to have a bachelor's degree from the #1 Midwest liberal arts school and a master's degree, and still my most marketable skill is making coffee...this has not escaped me...or my parents...).  In the last three-and-a-half years, I've done everything possible to earn money and keep expenses down.

Nevertheless, I'm still going to have $25K in debt when I graduate. 

Some friends and I were discussing this very issue a few weeks ago, after reading a fairly provocative letter to the editor in The Lutheran.   Here's what I think: many, many other major corporations offer tuition reimbursement for (relevant) advanced degrees.  If the "wider church" is affirming that an individual is indeed called to the ministry, then it seems to me like they should (at least help) financially support the answering of that call.  (Note: some synods are doing a great job of contributing to students' loan payments after they take a call there, and they should be acknowledged for that). 

Of course, the Church isn't a for-profit institution, and they have far less excess cash floating around than Starbucks or 3M or Best Buy.  But there's got to be a better solution to this.  Either we figure out how to say "Yes, we affirm that you are called to this ministry and we will do everything we can to support you in that call and get you trained and ready to go, including the financial side", or "I'm sorry, if you can't afford this education, that determines the legitimacy of your perceived call." 

No one seems to be willing to do either, at this point.