Author Topic: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community  (Read 217147 times)

scott8

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #975 on: February 09, 2013, 01:21:16 PM »
But, Rev. Yakimow, if President Harrison determined that this was in fact a joint worship service (which would be contrary to the synod's contitutional requirements for membership) then the CTCR opinion and the convention resolution would not apply.  They cannot over-rule the constitution.  This authority is granted the synod president (contrary to Dr. Benke's now-deleted post) by the synod constitution (Article XI.B.2, which says: "The President has and always shall have the power to advise, admonish, and reprove.  He shall conscientiously use all means at his command to promote and maintain unity of doctrine and practice in all the districts of the Synod.").

I did not say that Pres. Harrison in any way overstepped his bounds; in fact, I appreciate the fact that he engages in ecclesial discipline.  It is what bishops do, after all.  Whether he should have left the discipline to the DP, I don't know -- I haven't checked the constitution and bylaws, and I don't have them memorized.

The constitutional question is indeed whether it was a joint worship service or seriatim prayer, and I am with Pr. Morris on this one -- it was plainly seriatim prayer.  However, I also recognize that the question depends upon a whole raft of highly contextualized factors and that people could come to a different conclusion.  But when a pastor is making a pastoral determination of those contextual factors and has in fact made it in a deliberate, thoughtful manner that is quite defensible, his judgment should be respected.  When we are dealing with pastoral actions whose character depends upon the context and how they are received, there is no clear, black-and-white book that lets us know what it really is.  Pastoral care is messy, but it needs to happen.

Now I am confused, Rev. Yakimow.  You have said that Rev. Morris was definitely within the guidelines (indeed, you repeat that in this post by saying "it was plainly seriatim prayer") and that Pres. Harrison simply over-ruled them and, in effect, has voided them.  But you do not think that is not over-stepping his bounds?  Before you said that even though you stated that Rev. Morris was "arguably" within the guidelines, clearly this was the only possible conclusion -- but now you are saying that people could come to a different conclusion.  I am not sure what you are trying to say...

I'm sorry for my lack of clarity.

When I spoke of not over-stepping his bounds, I was referring to his exercising ecclesial discipline in admonishing a pastor.  Best I can tell, too, CTCR documents are not binding, so he has the authority to set those aside as well.  Whether this is wise or good for the synod is an entirely different matter, and I am suggesting that it is not at all good for the synod in this case.

As to your confusion over "arguably", it is about making a case.  What I am saying is that I think I can make a stronger case that it was seriatim prayer than that it was a joint worship service.  However, it is about making the case which is about weighing evidence, not simply looking to the answer key to see if you got it right.  I hope this helps.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 01:24:18 PM by Scott Yakimow »

mqll

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #976 on: February 09, 2013, 01:33:49 PM »
Peter S,

He asked (did not order-- an apology can't be ordered, and there is no way a DP or SP could order me to say something publicly I wasn't sincere about) Pr. Morris to issue his non-apology apology in which he stood by his decision but expressed regret at having offended those who felt otherwise, and called for everyone to chill while we take a fresh look at the guidelines.

I question this. When the Synodical President asks for an apology, what exactly does that mean? Is it merely a request, just as if I asked for one?

Or is there something more to it?

It seems to me that many just want to act as if this is just a discussion — and that there is no threat, no danger, no de-frocking involved. Is that true?

I've found your responses inadequate on this Peter. You are acting as if this situation were simply what goes on a forum board: discussion, back and forth — maybe some name calling, having to reel in a few individuals — but other than that, nada.

When I read this:

I asked Pastor Morris to apologize for taking part in this service. I did this for several reasons:

1. I believe his participation violated the limits set by Scripture regarding joint worship, particularly with those who reject Jesus (Romans 16:17), and was thus a violation of Article VI of the LCMS Constitution.


And this is being said by the Synodical President, I see the request coming from a position of power and authority. He has the authority to admonish and reprove in this situation, does he not? So, his request is not just a request.

Once again, I'm not saying that Pres Harrison is playing a heavy here. I am saying that you can't neatly separate his pastoral role from his authoritative role. And it is this point that I have tried to make: in our Synod, there is no protection for individuals when it comes to unionistic and syncretistic activities. Since we have initially set the bar so high — praying with other Christians is wrong (a la Brux) — there are no CTCR documents or prior actions that an individual can say "Well, this was my reasoning."

I mean, we all know that to call something "a worship service" is a fairly low standard. (I think the current definition is "Someone prays") A public high school Baccalaureates — two prayer, no vesting, a "sermon" that needs not mention religion, no sacred music — is considered a worship service. What else would not be?

But nor is it the case that our position is "We do not participate in anything that could ever remotely look like a worship service that has non-Christians taking part." The whole point of our 2004 CTCR document illustrates that. The entire document is proof that we do not hold to this position.

The frustration is that all of this discussion is simply for naught. When it comes to fellowship within the Synod, we simply ignore what has been said previously. And we simply pick and choose what we want our fellowship position to be. This is true of both X and Y.(insert your choice of appropriate distinctions within the LCMS) .

And what further frustrates me Peter is how the argument is framed in this situation. Too often, the criticism is not "I don't think Pastor Morris should have participated in an event such as that." Rather it is "That was a worship service and by participating in it, Pastor Morris has taught universalism."

By setting up the argument in this fashion, we miss the point. Our Synod has had plenty of opportunities to say "Never participate in anything that looks close to a worship service." We have not. So, for every event that looks like a worship service, to have the accusation again ("Well, the problem is this is not a civic event/hootenany/other — it was a worship service and we ought not to participate in them.") is also frustrating.

The whole thing frustrates me, because it shows how we simply cannot talk about and deal with the issue of fellowship within our Synod. Which is why I have come out of the woodwork to comment on this subject.

« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 01:39:57 PM by mqll »

Daniel L. Gard

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #977 on: February 09, 2013, 01:55:03 PM »
OK, folks. Time to take a deep breath and then utter a prayer for peace and reconciliation. Leading the way towards this are the three men who actually know what is going on and are not engaging in rampant speculation like the social media world. Please listen to them and respect what they have to say.

http://wmltblog.org/2013/02/pastoral-letters-on-the-newtown-tragedy/


A Statement of Unity

By the grace of God, we have worked through a very challenging situation. It has been our deepest mutual concern in dealing with one another to be faithful to Christ, our respective vocations, and to each other as brothers. Our dealings have been marked throughout with patience, kindness, and love. We implore the church to do likewise.

We have mutually forgiven each other where we have fallen short.

We are reconciled.

We are at peace.

 

Rob Morris, Pastor, Christ the King, Newtown

Timothy Yeadon, District President, New England District

Matthew C. Harrison, President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Harry Edmon

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #978 on: February 09, 2013, 02:04:18 PM »
I thought this was a particularly well done piece:  http://surburg.blogspot.com/?spref=fb

I commend its consideration for understanding the position better of those who find the practice of participation in interfaith events problematic. Finally, of course, we have emotional responses that will not be addressed by patient, reasoned discussion. Time is what finally enables folks to get beyond the emotion and to hear and talk together.
This article summarizes my problems with "American Civic Religion".   It is such a mingling of the two Kingdoms that we should avoid it at all costs.  For example, I cringed when I saw the service in the National Cathedral in 2001 after 9/11.   Plus they sang "A Mighty Fortress" and left out the 3rd verse since it would be "offensive".   I do not want my President preaching a "sermon" at a "worship" service, whether it is George Bush or Barack Obama.  These events just reinforce the prevailing post-modern world view in our culture that all truth is relative.  It is also why I would prefer not to have an American flag in the sanctuary.

However, I wish to reiterate by respect for both Pastor Morris and President Harrison.   They are both men of God trying to do what is best in a sin fallen world.  I respect the humble way both of them have handled a difficult situation.   This shows through again in the "Statement of Unity" that was referenced above.  They have done a better job than most of the posters (including me) that I have read on this and other social media.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 02:06:25 PM by Harry Edmon »
Harry Edmon, Ph.D., LCMS Layman

D. Engebretson

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #979 on: February 09, 2013, 02:13:01 PM »
OK, folks. Time to take a deep breath and then utter a prayer for peace and reconciliation. Leading the way towards this are the three men who actually know what is going on and are not engaging in rampant speculation like the social media world. Please listen to them and respect what they have to say.

http://wmltblog.org/2013/02/pastoral-letters-on-the-newtown-tragedy/


A Statement of Unity

By the grace of God, we have worked through a very challenging situation. It has been our deepest mutual concern in dealing with one another to be faithful to Christ, our respective vocations, and to each other as brothers. Our dealings have been marked throughout with patience, kindness, and love. We implore the church to do likewise.

We have mutually forgiven each other where we have fallen short.

We are reconciled.

We are at peace.

 

Rob Morris, Pastor, Christ the King, Newtown

Timothy Yeadon, District President, New England District

Matthew C. Harrison, President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

If these men, who are at the center of the matter in question, have put it 'to rest,' then I agree, so should we.
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

scott8

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #980 on: February 09, 2013, 02:14:28 PM »
Even more, Pres. Harrison has apologized for his handling of the situation.  See the letter: http://wmltblog.org/2013/02/pastoral-letters-on-the-newtown-tragedy/

As far as I am concerned, the situation is ended.

Charles_Austin

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #981 on: February 09, 2013, 02:19:01 PM »
While you guys tie yourselves in knots over juridical matters, how about considering this?
What is the real purpose of your rules against "unionism" and what do those rules now serve?
The only reason I have ever heard for the anti-unionism rule is the fear that people might think there are no differences 'twixt you and those with whom you are unionizing or that the differences don't matter.
I ask: Is this a real danger? In a day when pluralism is rampant and our understanding of our diversity has expanded greatly is it really assumed by people that all those standing on any particular religious dais believe the same things about everything? Really?
If the line-up includes a Lutheran, a Roman Catholic, a Methodist, a Muslim, a Sikh, a Hindu and a Zoroastrian, along with the President of the United States, do people watching think "Oh, they all believe the same thing, and there must be no difference between being a Lutheran and being a Zoroastrian."? Really?
I dare to suggest that your fears of diluting the Christian faith are unfounded and that your worry that one of your guys on a stage with a Muslim is going to make people think Christians and Muslims are alike is silly.
Then there's the matter of "worship," that is I think it would be all right for one of your guys to be on a stage with those other folks (pagans included) so long as no one prayed, wore vestments or (there must be some other stuff, but I'm not sure what it would be).
Here again, I don't know what you are afraid of. That someone will think your guy is praying to a Hindu deity? That God is going to be irked because the Zoroastrian standing next to your guy threw his words towards the wrong god?
Finally, since these happenings only seem to occur at times of great tragedy or some other event of great consequence; why not allow some flexibility?
Since most people don't know what you are upset about if one of your guys hob-nobs in a way you consider "inappropriate" and gets the Synod President on his tail, what Gospel purpose is served by coming down on the hob-nobber?
Talk among yourselves. Maybe after you sort out the juridical matters relating to discipline, CTCR "guidelines," the job description for the Synod President and other critical concerns.

Charles_Austin

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #982 on: February 09, 2013, 02:27:15 PM »
Your Synod President wrote:
As president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, I take responsibility for this debacle. I handled it poorly, multiplying the challenges. I increased the pain of a hurting community. I humbly offer my apologies to the congregation, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Newtown, Conn.; to Pastor Morris; and to the Newtown community. I also apologize to the membership of our great church body for embarrassment due to the media coverage.
I comment:
These seem to be penitential words of some import. And I suppose the Synod President deserves some good credit for admitting that he handled it badly.
Yet there is the lingering suspicion that what he really regrets is that people outside the narrow confines of a certain segment of the LCMS read about what he had done.
And now we have an apology for asking an apology, which - the Synod President implies - wasn't actually an apology, or at least not an apology for doing what some people thought was done, which the apologizer does not admit to doing.
 
P.S. I note that the Synod President says he asked for the apology in an attempt to avoid a kerfuffle within segments of the LCMS. Seems to me this places quelling a kerfuffle above the need for a Pastor to stand with his community at a time of great tragedy. That don't sound right.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 02:30:41 PM by Charles_Austin »

Johan Bergfest

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #983 on: February 09, 2013, 02:27:51 PM »
2. Pastor Morris’s participation gave offense in the Synod, something we are to avoid, even if we are doing something we believe might be appropriate (1 Corinthians 8 ).

Dr. Yakimow - this is not necessarily a response to you but your post contained the words that give me some pause.  In conversations like this, I tend to think of "offense" in the context of our Lord's admonition against offending the little ones, an admonition against putting their faith at risk.  From that perspective, clearly this issue is offending, as in putting at risk the faith, many unbelievers.  At the same time, it is offending - except as an irritation - for some people in the Synod and those who are being irritated are not the little ones.


OK, folks. Time to take a deep breath and then utter a prayer for peace and reconciliation.

Good advice, Dr. Gard, a couple of weeks too late but, none the less, still good advice. 
« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 02:44:37 PM by Johan Bergfest »

D. Engebretson

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #984 on: February 09, 2013, 02:53:17 PM »
These seem to be penitential words of some import. And I suppose the Synod President deserves some good credit for admitting that he handled it badly.
Yet there is the lingering suspicion that what he really regrets is that people outside the narrow confines of a certain segment of the LCMS read about what he had done.

I wish that you could have sufficed with the first sentence above and forgone all that came after "yet."  He apologized.  It's done.  Let's give it a rest. 
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

swbohler

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #985 on: February 09, 2013, 02:53:54 PM »
Amazing.  Right after I read the three wonderful letters (may God grant me the humility and wllingness to confess sin and weakness as these men have done) from Rev. Morris, Pres. Harrison, and Pres. Yeadon, I read Rev. Austin's two posts.  And I was struck by Pres. Yeadon's words about who it is that is trying to divide us...

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #986 on: February 09, 2013, 03:24:17 PM »
In conversations like this, I tend to think of "offense" in the context of our Lord's admonition against offending the little ones, an admonition against putting their faith at risk.  From that perspective, clearly this issue is offending, as in putting at risk the faith, many unbelievers.



I would think that putting the faith unbelievers at risk, e.g., the belief that there is no god or that all religious paths lead to the same place, is not a bad thing.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 06:39:54 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

gwismar

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #987 on: February 09, 2013, 03:40:28 PM »
The joint statement from Pastors Morris, Yeadon and Harrison is a source of joy not only to the Church at large but to the local congregation of Christ the King, which has been through a time of continuing challenge and has truly become a blessing to many people in the Newtown area and beyond in the name of Christ.  We would all do well to move on from this time now in charity above all. Dr. Greg Wismar, pastor emeritus, Christ the King Lutheran Church Newtown, Connecticut   Ps. 133: 1 "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity."

Pastor Ted Crandall

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #988 on: February 09, 2013, 03:43:46 PM »
The joint statement from Pastors Morris, Yeadon and Harrison is a source of joy not only to the Church at large but to the local congregation of Christ the King, which has been through a time of continuing challenge and has truly become a blessing to many people in the Newtown area and beyond in the name of Christ.  We would all do well to move on from this time now in charity above all. Dr. Greg Wismar, pastor emeritus, Christ the King Lutheran Church Newtown, Connecticut   Ps. 133: 1 "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity."

"A final thought which I have shared with both President Harrison and Pastor Morris.  I believe that Satan wants to divide us and to isolate us from one another.  He is the true enemy and on December 14 this enemy showed his true colors.  He will stop at nothing, not even the murder of little children, in his hatred of all that is God and all that is good.   We hold up Jesus Christ in New England as do all of you where the Lord has called you to serve.  With the strength of the Lord I will not allow the enemy to isolate me from President Harrison nor from Pastor Morris and the people of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown, Connecticut." 
New England District President Yeadon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W84-59pc7Tc

Dave Benke

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #989 on: February 09, 2013, 03:51:46 PM »
The joint statement from Pastors Morris, Yeadon and Harrison is a source of joy not only to the Church at large but to the local congregation of Christ the King, which has been through a time of continuing challenge and has truly become a blessing to many people in the Newtown area and beyond in the name of Christ.  We would all do well to move on from this time now in charity above all. Dr. Greg Wismar, pastor emeritus, Christ the King Lutheran Church Newtown, Connecticut   Ps. 133: 1 "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity."

Thanks, Greg and peace and blessings to you, your wife and family, and the family of God at Christ the King.

Dave Benke