Author Topic: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP  (Read 14998 times)

Rev. Matthew Uttenreither

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #30 on: January 20, 2012, 08:00:09 PM »
Let's take Mr. Eleffson out of the equation for a moment.

SMP program

positve:  helps out rural church Idaho and a ministry reaching out to Koreans, etc...

negative:  mega church wannabes are using the SMP program as a bypass.  We don't want sem students (either from St. Louis or the Fort) because they may learn to much.  Translation: they may actually become Lutheran in doctrine and practice.

RevSteve

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #31 on: January 21, 2012, 12:02:30 AM »
First, to address Megadeth lyrics:  there were a couple of black magic-derived songs on the first two Megadeth records, although more along the lines of a horror movie for the most part.  "The Skull Beneath the Skin", which is the quoted tune, is about the origin of their mascot, Vic Rattlehead.  Much to the chagrin of some fans, these few tunes haven't been played live for decades, because the writer (Dave Mustaine) hasn't been comfortable playing them.  For the vast majority of their career, Megadeth lyrics have been more along the lines of socio-political commentary than witches and devils.  But, I guess it's fair game to judge people for something they did for 10 minutes when they were 21.

Okay, let's talk current lyrics, off of their most recent album, in which Ellefson was involved.

"You won't believe the things I've done, And the killing is just for fun."

So this is no longer talking about "something they did for 10 minutes when they were 21."  He is studying to become a pastor while performing about the joys of killing people.

No the song is not talking about something they did for 10 minutes when they were 21 it's about Al Capone. And if you understood the nature of megadeth's music you would know they weren't glorifying violence, but simply expressing the truly brutal nature of the subject they are singing about. Regardless, Ellefson did not write the lyrics he writes the Bass parts, while Mustaine writes the lyrics.

And if you're going to reference his lyrics, it might be better to post the whole song or at least the stanza.

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=23926
Pastor Steven M. Bliss LCMC and NALC-  St Olaf Lutheran Church, Bode, Iowa

New quote, got tired of questions about Dante quote...

"Doin stuff is overrated. Like Hitler did a lot of stuff but don't we all wish he would have just sat around all day and got stoned?"-Dex from the Tao of Steve

TravisW

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2012, 01:38:45 AM »
First, to address Megadeth lyrics:  there were a couple of black magic-derived songs on the first two Megadeth records, although more along the lines of a horror movie for the most part.  "The Skull Beneath the Skin", which is the quoted tune, is about the origin of their mascot, Vic Rattlehead.  Much to the chagrin of some fans, these few tunes haven't been played live for decades, because the writer (Dave Mustaine) hasn't been comfortable playing them.  For the vast majority of their career, Megadeth lyrics have been more along the lines of socio-political commentary than witches and devils.  But, I guess it's fair game to judge people for something they did for 10 minutes when they were 21.

Okay, let's talk current lyrics, off of their most recent album, in which Ellefson was involved.

"You won't believe the things I've done, And the killing is just for fun."

So this is no longer talking about "something they did for 10 minutes when they were 21."  He is studying to become a pastor while performing about the joys of killing people.

The song's about Capone.  Would it be better if he had been singing "Folsom Prison Blues" instead of playing bass on this tune?  Or, if he were an actor, to portray a Capone henchman?  Is it unacceptable for a seminarian to do any of these things?  Further, is this actually your best construction on his actions?  If you have to proof text heavy metal lyrics to prove your point about seminary training, your case must not be very strong. 

Ellefson has mentioned his involvement with online seminary training in interviews for several months prior to this article coming out.  It hit the music news long before it hit religious circles.  I'll tell you this much; every time he (or Mustaine, for that matter) mentions God, Jesus, or the church; their stock drops a little bit in the heavy metal world.  In the past 15 years, outright atheism has become pervasive amongst metal bands and fans.  As far as I'm aware, the "MegaLife" ministry is meant to address that in some ways.  So, you may deride his "heavy metal Christmas pageant", but at least he and his church are doing something to engage that bunch in an outreach program.   Hardly anybody else is, aside from a tiny smattering of Evangelicals and Pentecostals. 

Dave Benke

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2012, 09:28:11 AM »
First, to address Megadeth lyrics:  there were a couple of black magic-derived songs on the first two Megadeth records, although more along the lines of a horror movie for the most part.  "The Skull Beneath the Skin", which is the quoted tune, is about the origin of their mascot, Vic Rattlehead.  Much to the chagrin of some fans, these few tunes haven't been played live for decades, because the writer (Dave Mustaine) hasn't been comfortable playing them.  For the vast majority of their career, Megadeth lyrics have been more along the lines of socio-political commentary than witches and devils.  But, I guess it's fair game to judge people for something they did for 10 minutes when they were 21.

Okay, let's talk current lyrics, off of their most recent album, in which Ellefson was involved.

"You won't believe the things I've done, And the killing is just for fun."

So this is no longer talking about "something they did for 10 minutes when they were 21."  He is studying to become a pastor while performing about the joys of killing people.

The song's about Capone.  Would it be better if he had been singing "Folsom Prison Blues" instead of playing bass on this tune?  Or, if he were an actor, to portray a Capone henchman?  Is it unacceptable for a seminarian to do any of these things?  Further, is this actually your best construction on his actions?  If you have to proof text heavy metal lyrics to prove your point about seminary training, your case must not be very strong. 

Ellefson has mentioned his involvement with online seminary training in interviews for several months prior to this article coming out.  It hit the music news long before it hit religious circles.  I'll tell you this much; every time he (or Mustaine, for that matter) mentions God, Jesus, or the church; their stock drops a little bit in the heavy metal world.  In the past 15 years, outright atheism has become pervasive amongst metal bands and fans.  As far as I'm aware, the "MegaLife" ministry is meant to address that in some ways.  So, you may deride his "heavy metal Christmas pageant", but at least he and his church are doing something to engage that bunch in an outreach program.   Hardly anybody else is, aside from a tiny smattering of Evangelicals and Pentecostals.

Your comments are most appropriate for this thread, TravisW.  You have knowledge of the person, the type of music/band involved, and the way such things are financed and run.  Thanks.  A young man in our realm here has been involved in a band playing hard-core metal, and the culture inside that venue is hard core in terms of negative religious values.  I find it incredible that
a) there is far more carping than rejoicing over what's going on in Mr. Ellefson's life
b) there is far more carping than rejoicing over the program (SMP) that allows him to train to bring the Gospel in its most powerful way, through the Means of Grace, to not only the generic everyone, but to a whole bunch of people who have been opposed to it. 

Dave Benke

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2012, 10:29:55 AM »
<snip>

Interesting sub-unit with regard to the SMP, which is viewed so favorably in the article referenced, and very favorably by any number of folks in the LC-MS, on the one hand.  On the other hand, there's a Steadfast article indicating from the author's hearing/perspective at the Symposium this week that Larry Rast, new sem president, is not favorable to SMP at Ft. Wayne. 

So are we going to have the two seminaries duking it out over SMP, with sides being taken on the convention floor?  My answer is a tentative "yes," although I am not at all sure about the Larry Rast commentary, having spoken with him about SMP recently myself.  I say "yes" because we need something to fight about, to claim turf about, to take enormous bundles of our time and energy.  We are Missouri and this is what we do.

Dave Benke

Reverend President,

Your summary of Pr. Rossow's post over at the site identified with the steadfast Elector John doesn't quite capture what Pr. Rossow wrote or what Dr. Rast said.  Dr. Rast gave a two-part answer to the question about the future of SMP.  (Some of Pr. Rossow's personal reflections went beyond what Dr. Rast said.)

The context of the question was Dr. Rast's presentation on theological training in the Lutheran Church from the time of Luther to the present including contemporary challenges.  He noted the extraordinary routes to the pastoral ministry which existed for a time both in Luther's day and in Walther's day.  The operative phrase here being, "for a time".  In neither of those historical instances did the extraordinary route become the rule.  When the specific circumstances that called for the extraordinary route were past, the church returned to the full academic training.  (To a degree this is an oversimplification of Dr. Rast's paper.  I imagine you could request a copy from him if you'd like the details.)

The question posed by the pastor, then, had to do with whether Dr. Rast felt it likely that that would be the pattern with the SMP or not.  Dr. Rast's two point answer was immediate and brief.  First, he said that the future of the SMP program is up to the synod.  My take on his answer was that he was reflecting the reality of our polity.  Simply put, the synod is the one with the authority to make decisions on how her pastors will be trained.  His second point was that he believes the best way to prepare well-qualified pastors is residential theological education.  As a faithful servant of the synod, the CTS president would seek to make that case as the future direction of the SMP program is discussed.

To a large degree, the question is not about whether or not to abolish the SMP program or a successor extraordinary route to the pastoral ministry.  The real issue is whether the SMP program will replace the residential theological education model, as Pr. Gemin seems to favor in his final sentence here, will become one of two "standard" routes to the ordained ministry, or will be determined to be inadequate as the primary means of training pastors for our congregations.  If the last, the program could either be revised and strengthened, limited to restrict the "special ministries" to more exceptional circumstances than is currently the case, a combination of these two, or discontinued completely (until the next time we decide we need an exceptional route). 

Given the way the program is structured--an adequate sample of Special Ministry Pastors to evaluate have only recently completed the initial program--we're just beginning to be able to take a look at the results.  I would be shocked if at least some revisions to the program aren't indicated.  Any new program, no matter how carefully planned and implemented, needs to be reviewed and at the very least tweaked once it's begun to operate.  SMP would be unique if no changes whatsoever were indicated.     

Thanks, 87, for the clarification, which goes along (as I indicated) with my own conversations with Larry Rast.  However, as to a duke-out over SMP, I am seeing it now as more than a tentative "yes."  I think this could be one of the highlight reel 12-rounders in 2013.   The enrollment success of SMP is, as I'm seeing it now, viewed as a real threat to the continuation of things the way they are and have been prior.  And for some "tweaking" will mean "gutting."  I'd leave it to the seminaries frankly to figure out the best ways to have an SMP.  They need to be, and know they need to be, MORE nimble in the future in terms of sustaining enrollment.  My sharing out with folks at one of the seminaries, the one not in St. Louis, was that if more "face-time" could be built into SMP, the formation process would be enhanced.  This is the kind of proposal that makes formational sense to me.  Forbidding access to the program by people not X or Y (viz. "ethnic" or "small church") does not make sense to me.

Is it too soon to tell how well alternate and off-site programs work?  If you add in the DELTO grads and the non-traditional route folks, who have been out there for some years now, there is indeed a track record being laid.  Thinking through the Atlantic District's DELTO grads, I'm proud of them, their theological acumen, their pastoral heart and their care and cure of souls.  I think we'll start doing You Tube videos of them and their ministries - ramp up time for the 2013 rodeo. 

Dave Benke

Daniel L. Gard

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #35 on: January 21, 2012, 10:48:08 AM »
<snip>

Interesting sub-unit with regard to the SMP, which is viewed so favorably in the article referenced, and very favorably by any number of folks in the LC-MS, on the one hand.  On the other hand, there's a Steadfast article indicating from the author's hearing/perspective at the Symposium this week that Larry Rast, new sem president, is not favorable to SMP at Ft. Wayne. 

So are we going to have the two seminaries duking it out over SMP, with sides being taken on the convention floor?  My answer is a tentative "yes," although I am not at all sure about the Larry Rast commentary, having spoken with him about SMP recently myself.  I say "yes" because we need something to fight about, to claim turf about, to take enormous bundles of our time and energy.  We are Missouri and this is what we do.

Dave Benke

Reverend President,

Your summary of Pr. Rossow's post over at the site identified with the steadfast Elector John doesn't quite capture what Pr. Rossow wrote or what Dr. Rast said.  Dr. Rast gave a two-part answer to the question about the future of SMP.  (Some of Pr. Rossow's personal reflections went beyond what Dr. Rast said.)

The context of the question was Dr. Rast's presentation on theological training in the Lutheran Church from the time of Luther to the present including contemporary challenges.  He noted the extraordinary routes to the pastoral ministry which existed for a time both in Luther's day and in Walther's day.  The operative phrase here being, "for a time".  In neither of those historical instances did the extraordinary route become the rule.  When the specific circumstances that called for the extraordinary route were past, the church returned to the full academic training.  (To a degree this is an oversimplification of Dr. Rast's paper.  I imagine you could request a copy from him if you'd like the details.)

The question posed by the pastor, then, had to do with whether Dr. Rast felt it likely that that would be the pattern with the SMP or not.  Dr. Rast's two point answer was immediate and brief.  First, he said that the future of the SMP program is up to the synod.  My take on his answer was that he was reflecting the reality of our polity.  Simply put, the synod is the one with the authority to make decisions on how her pastors will be trained.  His second point was that he believes the best way to prepare well-qualified pastors is residential theological education.  As a faithful servant of the synod, the CTS president would seek to make that case as the future direction of the SMP program is discussed.

To a large degree, the question is not about whether or not to abolish the SMP program or a successor extraordinary route to the pastoral ministry.  The real issue is whether the SMP program will replace the residential theological education model, as Pr. Gemin seems to favor in his final sentence here, will become one of two "standard" routes to the ordained ministry, or will be determined to be inadequate as the primary means of training pastors for our congregations.  If the last, the program could either be revised and strengthened, limited to restrict the "special ministries" to more exceptional circumstances than is currently the case, a combination of these two, or discontinued completely (until the next time we decide we need an exceptional route). 

Given the way the program is structured--an adequate sample of Special Ministry Pastors to evaluate have only recently completed the initial program--we're just beginning to be able to take a look at the results.  I would be shocked if at least some revisions to the program aren't indicated.  Any new program, no matter how carefully planned and implemented, needs to be reviewed and at the very least tweaked once it's begun to operate.  SMP would be unique if no changes whatsoever were indicated.     

Thanks, 87, for the clarification, which goes along (as I indicated) with my own conversations with Larry Rast.  However, as to a duke-out over SMP, I am seeing it now as more than a tentative "yes."  I think this could be one of the highlight reel 12-rounders in 2013.   The enrollment success of SMP is, as I'm seeing it now, viewed as a real threat to the continuation of things the way they are and have been prior.  And for some "tweaking" will mean "gutting."  I'd leave it to the seminaries frankly to figure out the best ways to have an SMP.  They need to be, and know they need to be, MORE nimble in the future in terms of sustaining enrollment.  My sharing out with folks at one of the seminaries, the one not in St. Louis, was that if more "face-time" could be built into SMP, the formation process would be enhanced.  This is the kind of proposal that makes formational sense to me.  Forbidding access to the program by people not X or Y (viz. "ethnic" or "small church") does not make sense to me.

Is it too soon to tell how well alternate and off-site programs work?  If you add in the DELTO grads and the non-traditional route folks, who have been out there for some years now, there is indeed a track record being laid.  Thinking through the Atlantic District's DELTO grads, I'm proud of them, their theological acumen, their pastoral heart and their care and cure of souls.  I think we'll start doing You Tube videos of them and their ministries - ramp up time for the 2013 rodeo. 

Dave Benke

I agree that this will be a major item in 2013. At the same time, it is a very sad reality that this will be subjected to the kinds of political activity you have described. I may be too idealistic but I would like to think that something as important as pastoral formation would not be determined by who makes the best videos. Oh well.....
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 11:31:32 AM by Daniel L. Gard »

Jay

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #36 on: January 21, 2012, 10:56:57 AM »
First, to address Megadeth lyrics:  there were a couple of black magic-derived songs on the first two Megadeth records, although more along the lines of a horror movie for the most part.  "The Skull Beneath the Skin", which is the quoted tune, is about the origin of their mascot, Vic Rattlehead.  Much to the chagrin of some fans, these few tunes haven't been played live for decades, because the writer (Dave Mustaine) hasn't been comfortable playing them.  For the vast majority of their career, Megadeth lyrics have been more along the lines of socio-political commentary than witches and devils.  But, I guess it's fair game to judge people for something they did for 10 minutes when they were 21.

Okay, let's talk current lyrics, off of their most recent album, in which Ellefson was involved.

"You won't believe the things I've done, And the killing is just for fun."

So this is no longer talking about "something they did for 10 minutes when they were 21."  He is studying to become a pastor while performing about the joys of killing people.

The song's about Capone.  Would it be better if he had been singing "Folsom Prison Blues" instead of playing bass on this tune?  Or, if he were an actor, to portray a Capone henchman?  Is it unacceptable for a seminarian to do any of these things?  Further, is this actually your best construction on his actions?  If you have to proof text heavy metal lyrics to prove your point about seminary training, your case must not be very strong. 

Ellefson has mentioned his involvement with online seminary training in interviews for several months prior to this article coming out.  It hit the music news long before it hit religious circles.  I'll tell you this much; every time he (or Mustaine, for that matter) mentions God, Jesus, or the church; their stock drops a little bit in the heavy metal world.  In the past 15 years, outright atheism has become pervasive amongst metal bands and fans.  As far as I'm aware, the "MegaLife" ministry is meant to address that in some ways.  So, you may deride his "heavy metal Christmas pageant", but at least he and his church are doing something to engage that bunch in an outreach program.   Hardly anybody else is, aside from a tiny smattering of Evangelicals and Pentecostals.

Your comments are most appropriate for this thread, TravisW.  You have knowledge of the person, the type of music/band involved, and the way such things are financed and run.  Thanks.  A young man in our realm here has been involved in a band playing hard-core metal, and the culture inside that venue is hard core in terms of negative religious values.  I find it incredible that
a) there is far more carping than rejoicing over what's going on in Mr. Ellefson's life
b) there is far more carping than rejoicing over the program (SMP) that allows him to train to bring the Gospel in its most powerful way, through the Means of Grace, to not only the generic everyone, but to a whole bunch of people who have been opposed to it. 

Dave Benke

I've taken an interest in this story because I was ordained through the ELCA's TEEM program, which I gather is similar to SMP, as well as my long time interest in rock music.  So, I've read various comments and news stories about Mr. Ellefson.  Fortunately, there is near universal rejoicing about what God has done in his life - the only ones complaining are a few here and some hardcore atheist music fans.

LCMS87

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #37 on: January 21, 2012, 11:56:38 AM »

<snip>

Is it too soon to tell how well alternate and off-site programs work?  If you add in the DELTO grads and the non-traditional route folks, who have been out there for some years now, there is indeed a track record being laid.  Thinking through the Atlantic District's DELTO grads, I'm proud of them, their theological acumen, their pastoral heart and their care and cure of souls.  I think we'll start doing You Tube videos of them and their ministries - ramp up time for the 2013 rodeo. 

Dave Benke

Reverend President, I would note that DELTO has been discontinued and rolled into SMP.  The reason for that, I gather, is that it was determined that there could be improvements to DELTO.  The program wouldn't have been phased out/rolled into SMP if the SMP program wasn't viewed as a better way of handling an exceptional route.  So the question is not simply what extraordinary routes have accomplished in the past, but whether SMP's results are everything the synod wants and had hoped for from it.  Perhaps in a few more years, like DELTO, SMP will be a thing of the past and we'll have new a alphabetic label.

In the meanwhile, we still have a confessional issue, AC XIV, with which we need to come to grips.  There was some discussion of it at the most recent convention, but acting on the BRTFSSG proposals just took too much time.  Nonetheless, the issue of the non-ordained publicly preaching and, in some circumstances, also celebrating the Sacrament of the Altar is something we need to address.  Some who supported the SMP program believed it would be a means of addressing the issue, providing a route to ordination for lay ministers.  They have been disappointed, but remain convinced that we need to bring our practice into conformity with our confession.   

swbohler

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #38 on: January 21, 2012, 02:37:46 PM »
LCMS87,

I do not think DELTO has actually been discontinued (although that WAS supposed to be the effect of having the SMP program).  Take a look at this page from Concordia Portland, for instance: www.cu-portland.edu/lap/delto.cfm

George Erdner

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #39 on: January 21, 2012, 03:24:12 PM »
I read somewhere that the LCMS has 6,158 congregations and 5,999 rostered clergy. Does anyone know if those figures are accurate? Does the LCMS really have more congregations than they have clergy? Is that an issue that plays a part in decisions about preparing men to be pastors?
 

Daniel L. Gard

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #40 on: January 21, 2012, 03:32:12 PM »
George, I'm not sure where those figures come from but they are no where near true. Perhaps the number of clergy you give is the number currently serving in parish ministry - I'm not sure. I do not have the correct figures available, unfortunately.

Dave Benke

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #41 on: January 21, 2012, 04:04:17 PM »

<snip>

Is it too soon to tell how well alternate and off-site programs work?  If you add in the DELTO grads and the non-traditional route folks, who have been out there for some years now, there is indeed a track record being laid.  Thinking through the Atlantic District's DELTO grads, I'm proud of them, their theological acumen, their pastoral heart and their care and cure of souls.  I think we'll start doing You Tube videos of them and their ministries - ramp up time for the 2013 rodeo. 

Dave Benke

Reverend President, I would note that DELTO has been discontinued and rolled into SMP.  The reason for that, I gather, is that it was determined that there could be improvements to DELTO.  The program wouldn't have been phased out/rolled into SMP if the SMP program wasn't viewed as a better way of handling an exceptional route.  So the question is not simply what extraordinary routes have accomplished in the past, but whether SMP's results are everything the synod wants and had hoped for from it.  Perhaps in a few more years, like DELTO, SMP will be a thing of the past and we'll have new a alphabetic label.

In the meanwhile, we still have a confessional issue, AC XIV, with which we need to come to grips.  There was some discussion of it at the most recent convention, but acting on the BRTFSSG proposals just took too much time.  Nonetheless, the issue of the non-ordained publicly preaching and, in some circumstances, also celebrating the Sacrament of the Altar is something we need to address.  Some who supported the SMP program believed it would be a means of addressing the issue, providing a route to ordination for lay ministers.  They have been disappointed, but remain convinced that we need to bring our practice into conformity with our confession.   

a) Your point is not well taken.  The point was that the DELTO students, trained through distance education like as the SMP, are out in the field and we have very nice examples of their theology and practice.  Along with the SMP pastors now in the field, this counters the idea that we don't know the results of distance education, which is, a la the ELCA, usually called "TEE" - Theological Education by Extension.

b) Your point is well taken.  And it has been taken to heart in the land of Walther by continuing the practice purportedly allowed by Walther himself, which is that in certain circumstances a vicar (pastoral intern) is allowed to carry out the Article XIV pastoral duties.  So the DELTO and SMP Vicars are in that position.  I and mine in the Atlantic District are not so inclined.  And we have never been so inclined when it comes to Deacons. So that's a good point for dialog.  However, the Waltherian tradition does include the possibility of pastoral interns being granted the privilege of eucharistic consecration in addition to their preaching under supervision. 

Dave Benke

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #42 on: January 21, 2012, 04:05:40 PM »
George, I'm not sure where those figures come from but they are no where near true. Perhaps the number of clergy you give is the number currently serving in parish ministry - I'm not sure. I do not have the correct figures available, unfortunately.

George's figures are way wrong.  Way.  We have around 10000 pastors on our roster in the active, candidate and emeritus categories. 

Dave Benke

Daniel L. Gard

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #43 on: January 21, 2012, 04:07:44 PM »
George, I'm not sure where those figures come from but they are no where near true. Perhaps the number of clergy you give is the number currently serving in parish ministry - I'm not sure. I do not have the correct figures available, unfortunately.

George's figures are way wrong.  Way.  We have around 10000 pastors on our roster in the active, candidate and emeritus categories. 

Dave Benke

There you go, George. Our District Presidents track this sort of thing as a routine part of their work.

Dave Benke

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Re: Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP
« Reply #44 on: January 21, 2012, 04:09:21 PM »
<snip>

Interesting sub-unit with regard to the SMP, which is viewed so favorably in the article referenced, and very favorably by any number of folks in the LC-MS, on the one hand.  On the other hand, there's a Steadfast article indicating from the author's hearing/perspective at the Symposium this week that Larry Rast, new sem president, is not favorable to SMP at Ft. Wayne. 

So are we going to have the two seminaries duking it out over SMP, with sides being taken on the convention floor?  My answer is a tentative "yes," although I am not at all sure about the Larry Rast commentary, having spoken with him about SMP recently myself.  I say "yes" because we need something to fight about, to claim turf about, to take enormous bundles of our time and energy.  We are Missouri and this is what we do.

Dave Benke

Reverend President,

Your summary of Pr. Rossow's post over at the site identified with the steadfast Elector John doesn't quite capture what Pr. Rossow wrote or what Dr. Rast said.  Dr. Rast gave a two-part answer to the question about the future of SMP.  (Some of Pr. Rossow's personal reflections went beyond what Dr. Rast said.)

The context of the question was Dr. Rast's presentation on theological training in the Lutheran Church from the time of Luther to the present including contemporary challenges.  He noted the extraordinary routes to the pastoral ministry which existed for a time both in Luther's day and in Walther's day.  The operative phrase here being, "for a time".  In neither of those historical instances did the extraordinary route become the rule.  When the specific circumstances that called for the extraordinary route were past, the church returned to the full academic training.  (To a degree this is an oversimplification of Dr. Rast's paper.  I imagine you could request a copy from him if you'd like the details.)

The question posed by the pastor, then, had to do with whether Dr. Rast felt it likely that that would be the pattern with the SMP or not.  Dr. Rast's two point answer was immediate and brief.  First, he said that the future of the SMP program is up to the synod.  My take on his answer was that he was reflecting the reality of our polity.  Simply put, the synod is the one with the authority to make decisions on how her pastors will be trained.  His second point was that he believes the best way to prepare well-qualified pastors is residential theological education.  As a faithful servant of the synod, the CTS president would seek to make that case as the future direction of the SMP program is discussed.

To a large degree, the question is not about whether or not to abolish the SMP program or a successor extraordinary route to the pastoral ministry.  The real issue is whether the SMP program will replace the residential theological education model, as Pr. Gemin seems to favor in his final sentence here, will become one of two "standard" routes to the ordained ministry, or will be determined to be inadequate as the primary means of training pastors for our congregations.  If the last, the program could either be revised and strengthened, limited to restrict the "special ministries" to more exceptional circumstances than is currently the case, a combination of these two, or discontinued completely (until the next time we decide we need an exceptional route). 

Given the way the program is structured--an adequate sample of Special Ministry Pastors to evaluate have only recently completed the initial program--we're just beginning to be able to take a look at the results.  I would be shocked if at least some revisions to the program aren't indicated.  Any new program, no matter how carefully planned and implemented, needs to be reviewed and at the very least tweaked once it's begun to operate.  SMP would be unique if no changes whatsoever were indicated.     

Thanks, 87, for the clarification, which goes along (as I indicated) with my own conversations with Larry Rast.  However, as to a duke-out over SMP, I am seeing it now as more than a tentative "yes."  I think this could be one of the highlight reel 12-rounders in 2013.   The enrollment success of SMP is, as I'm seeing it now, viewed as a real threat to the continuation of things the way they are and have been prior.  And for some "tweaking" will mean "gutting."  I'd leave it to the seminaries frankly to figure out the best ways to have an SMP.  They need to be, and know they need to be, MORE nimble in the future in terms of sustaining enrollment.  My sharing out with folks at one of the seminaries, the one not in St. Louis, was that if more "face-time" could be built into SMP, the formation process would be enhanced.  This is the kind of proposal that makes formational sense to me.  Forbidding access to the program by people not X or Y (viz. "ethnic" or "small church") does not make sense to me.

Is it too soon to tell how well alternate and off-site programs work?  If you add in the DELTO grads and the non-traditional route folks, who have been out there for some years now, there is indeed a track record being laid.  Thinking through the Atlantic District's DELTO grads, I'm proud of them, their theological acumen, their pastoral heart and their care and cure of souls.  I think we'll start doing You Tube videos of them and their ministries - ramp up time for the 2013 rodeo. 

Dave Benke

I agree that this will be a major item in 2013. At the same time, it is a very sad reality that this will be subjected to the kinds of political activity you have described. I may be too idealistic but I would like to think that something as important as pastoral formation would not be determined by who makes the best videos. Oh well.....

My sense is that the seminaries and COP should be tasked with this.  Again, that may be idealistic. 

On the other hand, I favor the videos as well - there is ample testimony that the alternate route, ethnic institute, and distance trained pastors are great additions to our pastoral roster in the field.  They are spiritually formed, formed in the Lutheran tradition, and formed for service to Lord and Church.  That's a good thing for our denomination and for the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Dave Benke