Author Topic: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community  (Read 224471 times)

peter_speckhard

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1245 on: February 14, 2013, 11:22:30 AM »
True story  from here “on the ground” in Bethel CT.

Wednesday I work on quilts for LWR with ladies from Immanuel Danbury. Five of the women are life time members of Immanuel who attended confirmation class and 8 years at the parochial school. Another is an RF graduate and former LCMS parochial school teacher. The hostess is originally from an LCMS church in Central IL.

The last thing I said to Bill before leaving, “Unless asked I’m not going to say anything about recent LCMS events.”

When I walked the door, the women were standing in a semi-circle with today’s newspaper in hand. Before I could take off my jacket or say anything, they started pumping me with questions. The anger and indignation was beyond what I would have anticipated from a group of LCMS quilters. The two questions they kept asking were, “Why did Pr. Morris have to apologize?” “ Who told the story to the press? “ The former parochial school teacher who is congregational LWML leader said, “No wonder our church is not growing.”

Anger and indignation rarely bring out the best in people, and anger and indignation at the actions of one's synod members is an unfortunate two way street. I think a helpful response in such a situation would be, "Pr. Morris did not have to apologize; he chose to apologize because he offended some people who misunderstood what he was trying to do or who think Pr. Morris misunderstood the ramifications of his actions. People weren't on the same page about this because our guidelines aren't very clear, but Pr. Morris, our district president, and the synodical president have all agreed to forgive and work toward clarifying our policies. Isn't it great that we can handle our disagreements among ourselves in a Christian way like that? I don't know who gave quotes to the press, but they sure didn't help matters, did they? We should remember that-- just because someone from the media calls and asks questions or asks for a quote doesn't mean you have to give them one, especially one that brings outside attention to something we're trying to work out among ourselves. But this has nothing to do with the lack of growth in our church. After all, the mainline Protestants do this kind of joining together all the time, and they never apologize for it, they never have to deal with this kind of bad press, and they're shrinking as fast if not faster than we are. So instead of being angry and indignant, what we should do realize that it is a blessing to be part of a synod in which people are passionate about truth and clarity and also passionate about proclaiming the Gospel at every chance, and though we might disagree with other and oppose each other to our faces more than Paul and Peter about some things, and we might be just as sinful as God's people have always been, the last thing we need to do is be pointing fingers, bemoaning our synod, worrying about what the world thinks. Let's just pray that God gives us all wisdom and discernment, especially to those tasked with working things out." 

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1246 on: February 14, 2013, 11:27:43 AM »
Question, since I am completely ignorant of the convention procedures: Since the terms "interfaith prayer service" and "interfaith services" are not defined therein, would this overture even make it out of committee?
Don Kirchner

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Charles Henrickson

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1247 on: February 14, 2013, 11:32:19 AM »
Since the terms "interfaith prayer service" and "interfaith services" are not defined therein. . . .

The terms are defined therein, in this "Whereas":

WHEREAS, interfaith prayer services and joint worship services with clergy of religious bodies with which we are not in fellowship--whether those services are called “vigils” or “events” or some other term, and whether they may also include some civic elements--those are services in which multiple clergy members of various religious bodies take turns in leading parts of the service (invocations, prayers, readings, messages, blessings). . . .
Charles Henrickson
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LCMS87

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1248 on: February 14, 2013, 11:36:56 AM »
Question, since I am completely ignorant of the convention procedures: Since the terms "interfaith prayer service" and "interfaith services" are not defined therein, would this overture even make it out of committee?

As long as it isn't bounced for cause before it gets to the floor committee, the floor committee can forward it as it stands, amend it even to the point of reversing the resolved, consign it to resolution A or B, or perhaps something else.  Floor committees have great latitude in what they can do with any overture.

R. T. Fouts

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1249 on: February 14, 2013, 12:11:15 PM »
I think the definition the resolution identifies is the rub...

I think it's far simpler.

Ask people, "Why are you gathering today?"

If the answer is, "to worship God," then it is to worship God... it's a worship service.

If the answer is, "to hear some comfort after this unspeakable tragedy" then it doesn't matter what "elements" might seem to bear some similarity to "worship," they are not gathering to worship. 
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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1250 on: February 14, 2013, 12:16:36 PM »
There have been apologies aplenty... by people who, arguably, didn't really need to apologize for their actions.   The oddity is that the one group that really kick started this whole thing, while PRAISING apologies as the Lutheran way... is not offering an apology themselves for their role in this matter.  That is -- the Brothers of John the Steadfast.   It would go a long way if they would make an apology for the offense they caused in all of this...  at least they would be consistent.  Will such an apology come?  Whether they, themselves, feel like they are guilty for this matter... the fact is that their forum has provided such a public display of inner controversies that has allowed the media to pick up on a scandal like this.   The oddity is that I agree with the Brothers a lot of the time... but I wish they would find a way to change their forum, so that the commentary would be viewable through "log in" only, and not in "googleable" view from the public... and the media.   
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 12:22:50 PM by Ryan Fouts »
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Mike Gehlhausen

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1251 on: February 14, 2013, 12:19:13 PM »
I think the definition the resolution identifies is the rub...

I think it's far simpler.

Ask people, "Why are you gathering today?"

If the answer is, "to worship God," then it is to worship God... it's a worship service.

If the answer is, "to hear some comfort after this unspeakable tragedy" then it doesn't matter what "elements" might seem to bear some similarity to "worship," they are not gathering to worship.

How is that simple?

Is prayer worship?

Even if some only come for a vague spiritual warm fuzzy, don't others come to join in the prayers and Amen the homilies?

And, hey, why restrict doing that to the LCMS participant?  Why not all of the Christian prayers?  Hey, to cover all of the bases, why not just agree with everything and pray to all of the gods placed on the buffet?

I've known you, Pr. Fouts. That you seem unable to comprehend how civic events such as these can easily lead others astray confounds me.

Mike
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 12:23:48 PM by Mike Gehlhausen »

swbohler

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1252 on: February 14, 2013, 12:22:59 PM »
I think the definition the resolution identifies is the rub...

I think it's far simpler.

Ask people, "Why are you gathering today?"

If the answer is, "to worship God," then it is to worship God... it's a worship service.

If the answer is, "to hear some comfort after this unspeakable tragedy" then it doesn't matter what "elements" might seem to bear some similarity to "worship," they are not gathering to worship.

Rev. Fouts,

So if I asked that question to your congregational members some Sunday, the only ones who attended worship that day would be those who explicitly said they had come to worship?  What if they had said they came to hear the Word of God?  Would that be worship?  What if they said they came to be strengthened?  Would that be worship?  What if they said they had come for comfort?  Would that be worship?  All those answers are legitimate, if properly understood.  So what if a person said the he came to an interfaith prayer vigil to hear the Word of God (meaning the Koran)?  Or to be strengthened, or comforted?  Is it not worship anymore?

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1253 on: February 14, 2013, 12:26:02 PM »
Mike -

It's simple.   I have yet to hear someone say, "Oh, You LCMS Lutherans believe that all gods are the same?" after seeing such an event.   Not once have I heard this testimony. 

I have heard, though, many testimonies to the effect, "I hope you aren't one of those Lutherans who forbids your pastor to pray with other people... I want no part of that." 

So... what action is REALLY leading more people astray?   

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R. T. Fouts

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1254 on: February 14, 2013, 12:29:51 PM »
I think the definition the resolution identifies is the rub...

I think it's far simpler.

Ask people, "Why are you gathering today?"

If the answer is, "to worship God," then it is to worship God... it's a worship service.

If the answer is, "to hear some comfort after this unspeakable tragedy" then it doesn't matter what "elements" might seem to bear some similarity to "worship," they are not gathering to worship.

Rev. Fouts,

So if I asked that question to your congregational members some Sunday, the only ones who attended worship that day would be those who explicitly said they had come to worship?  What if they had said they came to hear the Word of God?  Would that be worship?  What if they said they came to be strengthened?  Would that be worship?  What if they said they had come for comfort?  Would that be worship?  All those answers are legitimate, if properly understood.  So what if a person said the he came to an interfaith prayer vigil to hear the Word of God (meaning the Koran)?  Or to be strengthened, or comforted?  Is it not worship anymore?

Then ask them, "did you come here to worship today?"   

I don't think, in these events, that people would say yes.   If I were to ask the people in my congregation, on a Sunday, "did you come here to worship today?" regardless of whether or not they came to "hear the Word" or to "be strengthened," they would still answer "yes."  They came to worship. 
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Dr. R.T. Fouts, M.Div, Ph.D.

Mike Gehlhausen

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1255 on: February 14, 2013, 12:37:27 PM »
Mike -

It's simple.   I have yet to hear someone say, "Oh, You LCMS Lutherans believe that all gods are the same?" after seeing such an event.   Not once have I heard this testimony. 

I have heard, though, many testimonies to the effect, "I hope you aren't one of those Lutherans who forbids your pastor to pray with other people... I want no part of that." 

So... what action is REALLY leading more people astray?

Still not simple.

LCMS pastors should permit anyone who wants to pray with them to do so.  I've never known an LCMS pastor who has refused to pray with someone at their hospital bedside or to open up a public meeting with a devotion when they are the only one to do so.

But should LCMS pastors take part in a public prayer service even just with Roman Catholics or  Baptists? No, they should not.

If some take offense and see us as "those Lutherans who forbids your pastor to pray with other people", so be it.  We can try to explain.

But to act otherwise diminishes the differences which fracture the Christian church and separate us.

Bring in other gods, and it becomes even less simple.

MIke

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1256 on: February 14, 2013, 12:44:19 PM »
Whether or not we should "pray with" them... and whether or not we should participate in these events... are different questions.  Rev. Morris didn't pray.   From my view of what he said, his Trinitarian blessing actually stuck out like a sore thumb against all the generic nonsense everyone else was speaking.   

It gets to be an odd question, though.  Should I decline if I am asked to offer a prayer before a meal at a community dinner, because some who are present might not be Christians?    IF this is not a WORSHIP SERVICE (and I don't think it is), offering a prayer in this context is no different... but these events are sort of in a grey area... not really worship, not the same as a community event, etc...

My general rule of thumb... if such a tragedy were to happen in my community and I were asked to join... would be, to ask to be given the chance to instead read a word of Scripture or speak a meditation upon Scripture, rather than to pray. 

That said -- I still don't think these events count as syncretistic worship services.   They are community events, for the purpose of hearing various words of comfort, in a pluralistic world.   Again, the advantage of being in a pluralistic world is that we actually get an invitation... we can present a clear Gospel message in these forums... as Paul did in Acts 17... without trying to correct an entire pluralistic culture in a single statement.    Correcting pluralism doesn't happen in one statement, it happens as you engage people with a message that IS exclusive... and guide them through the struggle over time. 
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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1257 on: February 14, 2013, 12:53:54 PM »
It gets to be an odd question, though.  Should I decline if I am asked to offer a prayer before a meal at a community dinner, because some who are present might not be Christians?    IF this is not a WORSHIP SERVICE (and I don't think it is), offering a prayer in this context is no different... but these events are sort of in a grey area... not really worship, not the same as a community event, etc...

No, of course not.  You are leading the prayer.  It is your prayer. Other can decide to pray with you or not as they choose.   I said as much before. 

The question in my mind is when other prayers are being offered especially those to other gods.   Even if we don't pray, our participation lends to the impression that we are just one choice among many, and we are so desperate to have a seat at the table we don't care if anyone is misled.

People always say that we will be seen as uncaring if we don't go.  First of all, I doubt anyone would notice.  But if they did, then we have an opportunity to explain that we just simply do not place proclamation of the Triune God alongside the advancement of false gods.

Mike

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1258 on: February 14, 2013, 12:57:39 PM »
It gets to be an odd question, though.  Should I decline if I am asked to offer a prayer before a meal at a community dinner, because some who are present might not be Christians?    IF this is not a WORSHIP SERVICE (and I don't think it is), offering a prayer in this context is no different... but these events are sort of in a grey area... not really worship, not the same as a community event, etc...

No, of course not.  You are leading the prayer.  It is your prayer. Other can decide to pray with you or not as they choose.   I said as much before. 

The question in my mind is when other prayers are being offered especially those to other gods.   Even if we don't pray, our participation lends to the impression that we are just one choice among many, and we are so desperate to have a seat at the table we don't care if anyone is misled.

People always say that we will be seen as uncaring if we don't go.  First of all, I doubt anyone would notice.  But if they did, then we have an opportunity to explain that we just simply do not place proclamation of the Triune God alongside the advancement of false gods.

Mike

By what authority could this be imposed upon everyone else?


Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

peter_speckhard

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1259 on: February 14, 2013, 12:57:56 PM »
One important aspect of this discussion is "whose" event is it? Who decides what happens next, who is in a position to permit or refuse someone from getting up and saying something, who invites or does not invite someone to be a part of the leadership. At my church it is me. At a Catholic church it is the priest or bishop. Some places it is the mayor. Or Oprah. Or whoever. That authority is a big part of what makes an "event" LCMS, or Roman Catholic, or whatever. The problem with "interfaith" is that it pretends not to belong to any one faith, but in order to do so it actually belongs to American Civil religion. Universalism is to an interfaith service what Roman Catholicism is to a Catholic service. Just as there are no "non-denominational" Christians, but only Christians who don't know the right word for the theology they believe, teach, and confess, so there are no "interfaith" services but only Unitarian/Universalist services that are glad to include Christians as part of their understanding of "universal".