Author Topic: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community  (Read 224469 times)

peter_speckhard

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1290 on: February 14, 2013, 06:20:47 PM »
Dave, I think you're wrong here. As I understand the overture, it doesn't eliminate the need for the KP or finalize any decision. It essentially calls for a moratorium until the matter can be decided more clearly. "Unless and until the synod decides otherwise..."  It would be like calling for no more settlements to be built on disputed territory until the dispute can be worked out-- that doesn't eliminate the need for talks or finalize anything, but seeks to avoid as much controversy and discord as possible in the interim or avoid the matter being settled by default through action on the ground before the eventual agreement has a chance to actually shape behavior.

Bingo. Another gold star for reading comprehension.  ;)

My "bingo" back to both of you is that the Synodical President specifically states that the tension is deep on this issue between the two points of view that he articulates, which have been articulated right here on this board on this day. 

Why would either of you want to have resolution to the issue in this way, which only discourages and really prevents any further dialog on a controverted issue by settling it through majority vote?  Put the shoe on the other foot - would you feel dialog would be honored on this issue if it were mandated that LC-MS Pastors seek to speak and involve themselves in every interfaith event possible? 

I can understand the point of view of Pastor Henrickson, the ostensible author of the overture.  He's held his position staunchly for a long time.  On the other hand, I don't know why you, Peter, as one who "moderates," would be opting for an immoderate conclusion to this most important issue. 

As President Harrison stated it eloquently, "Others view participation as an opportunity to share Christ and to truly love a hurting comunity, which may not happen if we are not participating.  We struggle with the tension between these two views." 

3 on the I - Bingo!

As to the "source" for the Post-Dispatch, I have no clue; however, there is no way to defend the comment of Pastor Rossow. 

Dave Benke
Dave, all I said is that you had mischaracterized the overture as cutting off discussion and finalizing things, which is not what it does. I never said I supported the overture. But here is the thing-- what do you propose the policy should be in the meantime? One side says we can't be involved in any interfaith services. The other side says we can (not must, but can). The Koinania Project seeks to solve that controversy, but it will take a long time. So what do we do for now? If Pr. Hendrickson has his way, we'll do things his way for now until we get it settled. That means people who otherwise might have been involved in interfaith services agree to stop for the time being, sort of like I described the 40 Days for Life thing yesterday. That is what him getting his way entirely on this looks like. If you have your way, we'll do things your way for now until we get things settled. That means nobody will complain, file charges, ask for apologies, etc. about LCMS involvement in interfaith services for the time being until the KP has a chance to work its mojo. That is what you getting your way entirely on this looks like. There is no middle ground. As the SP has said, this is a deep divide. But "we'll compromise and do it my way," is not a solution. That is what you're accusing Pr. Hendrickson of, but it is also what you're doing. The status quo is the disputed ground. For the time being we have no choice but to do it one way or the other-- your way or his way. There are no other ways. How shall we decide which way, yours or his, we should do things in synod as we're trying to convince each other and figure out a permanent solution?

pastormesser

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1291 on: February 14, 2013, 06:34:17 PM »
Let's be fair, brothers. Pr. Rossow did NOT make those comments to the press, but on a blog where others would understand the context in which those comments were made. I know Tim. He would not speak in that manner, and make the comparisons he made that night, to the press, or to unbelievers or others who wouldn't understand the context of those comments and comparisons. I think some of the comments offered by Pr. Fouts, and others, throughout this discussion are good, in that we all need to be careful what we write online, as these things can definitely be used against us in public, or can be garnered by the outside world, who wouldn't know why or in what context some of the comments we make were made. So, this is a lesson learned, to be sure.

But, included in that lesson is this sad reality, namely that there are people among us who would copy such comments and release them to the press, knowing that a) those comments had been taken down from the site, and b) those comments would be used to paint the worst possible picture of the commenters, and c) those reading those comments in the world would not understand the context in which they were made. 

I don't write this to defend the comments made by Pr. Rossow or others that night. In fact, I thought those comments were unfortunate and less than desirable at the time, and I intended to write Tim and let him know that, but then the post was taken down, so I let it go, thinking, "Good. Wiser heads have prevailed here (and here on ALPB). This is not the time to be discussing this." I even wrote on a couple of FB discussions that night that it was a time to cry and a time to pray, not a time to discuss and condemn. Little did I know that someone/some people had copied that deleted post with its deleted comments and would release it to the press as he/she/they did. And, I find the fact that someone/some people would do this to be reprehensible - as reprehensible as some commenters here find Pr. Rossow's remarks.

But, of course, I also find it reprehensible that someone/some people would go to RNS and release this story that was being handled well within our church body to begin with, which, from all appearances, seems to have been a deliberate attempt to disparage our synodical president and bring ire upon him not only from within our church body, but also from the world, and also an example of synodical politics at its worst. Great churchmanship, that! (And, yes, I know that we cannot know for sure how RNS came across the WMLT blog, but I find it extremely difficult to believe that Caleb K. Bell, the author of the original article ran by RNS, which unleashed the media frenzy, just happened upon that blog, especially since his original article was not very reflective of the content of the letters upon which he was reporting. I've contacted him a few times asking him if he could indicate how he stumbled upon this story, without giving up his sources, of course, but haven't yet received a response, and I doubt I will. The best construction I can put on this is that someone/some people felt so strongly that Pres. Harrison was in error that he/she/they felt the only avenue he/she/they had to express his/her/their displeasure would be to go to the press, not fully taking into consideration the negativity doing so would bring upon our synod. I find that best construction immensely sad.).   

R. T. Fouts

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1292 on: February 14, 2013, 06:46:39 PM »
I agree -- I don't think Pastor Rossow is totally at fault.  The media took those comments out of context.  Nonetheless, when such discussions are open to the public, as I predicted at the time, they can create a great scandal.   I think it would just be great to see the Brothers own up to their role, and try to do something so that the "comments" on their articles are more "in-house" by log-in only.  Typically, the articles there are not a problem at all.  I find many of them very helpful, in fact.  It is the commentary that follows that, frankly, gives them a bad name.   

I also agree -- it is sad that these comments were shared with the media after they had, in fact, been taken down.  Apparently, it was President Harrison who had actually contacted Pastor Rossow to have them taken down.  I commend President Harrison for this -- I really think we need to come up with some sort of general "code of conduct" for how we behave online.   Obviously, Synod can't "control" privately owned websites... but some general rules we agree on, so we can prevent public offense and keep the in-house discussions, in-house. 
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 06:50:36 PM by Ryan Fouts »
----------------
Dr. R.T. Fouts, M.Div, Ph.D.

pastormesser

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1293 on: February 14, 2013, 06:53:54 PM »
Typically, the articles there are not a problem at all.  I find many of them very helpful, in fact.  It is the commentary that follows that, frankly, gives them a bad name.

Pr. Fouts,

I have expressed these exact sentiments with the editors of BJS and have been told that they are aware of this problem and are working on how to improve moderation on the site. They are also parish pastors, who, like all of us, are very busy this time of the year, too, so it may take some time before things get changed, but hopefully we'll see something change there, because I agree wholeheartedly that it is not the articles, which most of the time are fair and helpful, but the comments that give the site a bad name. I think your idea of an in-house log-in, such as we have here, is excellent, by the way. 

JMK

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1294 on: February 14, 2013, 06:58:45 PM »
Quote
...It was no secret that P. Morris was among the first to arrive at the fire house and that he stayed there the entire time. Would the community not have noticed if he were not at the civic vigil?  You have got to be kidding.

The fundamental basis of this controversy should not be whether it is syncretistic to engage in public prayer at a civic event where other religions are represented. The LCMS has already defined its position, with the authority of a CTCR 2004 document, which was approved and adopted in the 2004 convention as Resolution 3-06A (2004 Convention Proceedings, p. 130-131). The Resolution adopted, in the first Resolved, clearly commends those Guidelines "for study to help pastors, teachers, and church workers make decisions about participation in civic events," and in the second Resolved, resolves that "we encourage all the members of Synod to continue to study these issues under the guidance of the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions as we face the ongoing challenges to bring God's unchanging Word to bear on our increasingly pluralistic and polytheistic culture."

Among other things, the LCMS position is that LCMS Lutherans are not necessarily forbidden from making a witness in a civic context with other religious leaders have given prayers. Rather, the CTCR speaks about allowing for participation in these words: 

…when no restrictions are placed on the content of the Christian witness that may be given by the LCMS pastor; when a sincere effort is made by those involved to make it clear that those participating do not all share the same religious views concerning such issues as the nature of God, the way of salvation, and the nature of religious truth itself.

So, the real core of this controversy should be whether Pastor Morris made it sufficiently clear that those participating to not all share the same religious views. I understand that Pastor Morris did ask that a disclaimer be made. He himself gave a carefully oriented plea for prayer that avoided syncretism. One can find this in several places. For example, about 6:17 minutes into a YouTube clip you find Pastor Morris carefully saying a few words oriented toward a type of disclaimer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Pn-hkOkRmo

A disclaimer was also made at the start of the service by a Congregational minister Rev. Matt Crebbin. You can also find it on Youtube, Rev. Crebbin states:

We are not here to ignore our differences, or to diminish the core beliefs which define our many different faith traditions …

It should be noted that Rev. Crebbin went on to state that the community’s different believers are ready to pray with everyone in Newtown, and to offer comfort to them. The Jews to the Catholics, the Methodists to the Jews, the Muslims to the Congregationalists, the Pentecostals to the Episcopalians and the Bahais. He then, speaks of the Lutherans in a way that is carefully worded:

Lutherans offering ministries of Grace in Jesus Christ to independent Christians and to others …

Now one may argue that the church made an error back in 2004 when it adopted Resolution 3-06A. However, the duty of a koinonia oriented LCMS Christian is to walk together in a covenant of love and not bully others with private opinions. It appears to me that Pastor Morris was simply following the guidelines the church accepted.

Like I've stated before, perhaps what needs to be done now is to formulate a series of approved LCMS prayers that contain standard written and verbal disclaimers that all sides can agree upon. Than that can be presented ahead of time to those civic officials who are inviting LCMS clergy to participate in a civic event that includes various religious leaders offering up prayers. It a simple answer to a question that will probably have to be answered over and over again for the next 50 years or so. It should be high on the list of activities for the koinonia project. IT IS TIME.

« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 07:04:10 PM by Johannes Andreas Quenstedt »

LutherMan

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1295 on: February 14, 2013, 07:06:27 PM »
Pr. Messer, Even when not logged in at this site, the comments are viewable by the general public, I think Pr. Fouts would like to see BJS comments blocked from viewing by the general public. 

As far as someone leaking the comments of the thread  that was deleted, someone posted way-back machine screenshots the same night it was pulled...

Pastor Ted Crandall

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1296 on: February 14, 2013, 07:08:53 PM »
I believe there are clear Lutheran and Scriptural principles that foster participation in these events, and that Pastor Morris correctly understood those principles and lived up to them magnificently in his Christian witness through word and deed, including participation in the prayer service.
Magnificent participation in the prayer service?  Will this be the major thrust of your workshop next month with Pastor Morris? 
“It is disrespectful toward the President of the LC--MS, Matthew Harrison, who has stated, ‘One view is that by standing side-by-side with non-Christian clergy in public religious events, we give the impression that Christ is just one path among many. Others view participation as an opporutnity share Christ and to truly love a huring comunity, which may not happen if we are not participating. We struggle with the tension between these two views.’” 

I don’t see any such struggle when you push your way into the fray uninvited. 

Shouldn't we be able to trust our pastors (and those district presidents to whom they work directly) to craft a prayer that is both true to LCMS teachings and pastoral to those who might be in attendance?  If not, doesn't that speak more to our seminary training than anything else?
Of course we should be able to trust them a priori, but once burned, twice shy.  Both our seminaries do teach pastoral candidates to avoid unionism and syncretism.  Some students “cooperate and graduate” or “duck and cover” or whatever the current expression is for this lack of integrity. 

Put the shoe on the other foot - would you feel dialog would be honored on this issue if it were mandated that LC-MS Pastors seek to speak and involve themselves in every interfaith event possible? 
Of course not, because unionism is the innovation.  We’re acting like these catastrophes never happened to our forefathers.  Weren’t entire towns devastated by tornadoes, floods, mine collapses, theater fires, etc., even before any of us were born?  Did Lutherans join in unionism and syncretism then?  I think not.

How shall we decide which way, yours or his, we should do things in synod as we're trying to convince each other and figure out a permanent solution?
By continuing to avoid unionism and syncretism in all its forms as Lutherans have always done. 



pastormesser

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1297 on: February 14, 2013, 07:17:47 PM »
Pr. Messer, Even when not logged in at this site, the comments are viewable by the general public, I think Pr. Fouts would like to see BJS comments blocked from viewing by the general public. 

As far as someone leaking the comments of the thread  that was deleted, someone posted way-back machine screenshots the same night it was pulled...

Yeah, I'm definitely not the dude to be talking about how to improve websites, or the moderation of them, from a technical perspective, as I haven't the first clue. Pr. Fouts' idea sounded good to this idiot, though. ;)

JMK

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1298 on: February 14, 2013, 07:22:43 PM »
Quote
Quote from: Steverem on Today at 04:45:53 PM

    Shouldn't we be able to trust our pastors (and those district presidents to whom they work directly) to craft a prayer that is both true to LCMS teachings and pastoral to those who might be in attendance?  If not, doesn't that speak more to our seminary training than anything else?

Of course we should be able to trust them a priori, but once burned, twice shy.  Both our seminaries do teach pastoral candidates to avoid unionism and syncretism.  Some students “cooperate and graduate” or “duck and cover” or whatever the current expression is for this lack of integrity. 

I would hope that you or others of like mind would be willing to draft a prayer, or perhaps different sets of prayers, to be said at civic religious events that contain disclaimers. This could then be put into a resolution for the next LCMS convention to consider as a clarification of Resolution 3-06A.

IT IS TIME

Dave Benke

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1299 on: February 14, 2013, 07:41:46 PM »
Dave, I think you're wrong here. As I understand the overture, it doesn't eliminate the need for the KP or finalize any decision. It essentially calls for a moratorium until the matter can be decided more clearly. "Unless and until the synod decides otherwise..."  It would be like calling for no more settlements to be built on disputed territory until the dispute can be worked out-- that doesn't eliminate the need for talks or finalize anything, but seeks to avoid as much controversy and discord as possible in the interim or avoid the matter being settled by default through action on the ground before the eventual agreement has a chance to actually shape behavior.

Bingo. Another gold star for reading comprehension.  ;)

My "bingo" back to both of you is that the Synodical President specifically states that the tension is deep on this issue between the two points of view that he articulates, which have been articulated right here on this board on this day. 

Why would either of you want to have resolution to the issue in this way, which only discourages and really prevents any further dialog on a controverted issue by settling it through majority vote?  Put the shoe on the other foot - would you feel dialog would be honored on this issue if it were mandated that LC-MS Pastors seek to speak and involve themselves in every interfaith event possible? 

I can understand the point of view of Pastor Henrickson, the ostensible author of the overture.  He's held his position staunchly for a long time.  On the other hand, I don't know why you, Peter, as one who "moderates," would be opting for an immoderate conclusion to this most important issue. 

As President Harrison stated it eloquently, "Others view participation as an opportunity to share Christ and to truly love a hurting comunity, which may not happen if we are not participating.  We struggle with the tension between these two views." 

3 on the I - Bingo!

As to the "source" for the Post-Dispatch, I have no clue; however, there is no way to defend the comment of Pastor Rossow. 

Dave Benke
Dave, all I said is that you had mischaracterized the overture as cutting off discussion and finalizing things, which is not what it does. I never said I supported the overture. But here is the thing-- what do you propose the policy should be in the meantime? One side says we can't be involved in any interfaith services. The other side says we can (not must, but can). The Koinania Project seeks to solve that controversy, but it will take a long time. So what do we do for now? If Pr. Hendrickson has his way, we'll do things his way for now until we get it settled. That means people who otherwise might have been involved in interfaith services agree to stop for the time being, sort of like I described the 40 Days for Life thing yesterday. That is what him getting his way entirely on this looks like. If you have your way, we'll do things your way for now until we get things settled. That means nobody will complain, file charges, ask for apologies, etc. about LCMS involvement in interfaith services for the time being until the KP has a chance to work its mojo. That is what you getting your way entirely on this looks like. There is no middle ground. As the SP has said, this is a deep divide. But "we'll compromise and do it my way," is not a solution. That is what you're accusing Pr. Hendrickson of, but it is also what you're doing. The status quo is the disputed ground. For the time being we have no choice but to do it one way or the other-- your way or his way. There are no other ways. How shall we decide which way, yours or his, we should do things in synod as we're trying to convince each other and figure out a permanent solution?

Great question.  There are better and less peremptory and disrespectful options for the future that pave the way for the Koinonia Project to hold out hope and not be an afterthought.  The least helpful option is for either of the controverted positions to be mandated - NEVER or ALWAYS WITHOUT RESERVATION would be those options.

There are indeed many times when participation will be discerned as not helpful.  Pastor Morris, as many have noted, did not participate in a combined Thanksgiving Service just before the horrible tragedy.  It's not our normal modus operandi. 

However, there are times and emergency circumstances when the discerning and pastoral way to bring Christian witness, even and especially in the interfaith intersection, IS to to be present.

To me the early pressure to bring charges against Pastor Morris was what was most unfortunate - before the service was completed, the tirades had begun.  To me that is most, most unpastoral behavior.  Respect for the Office of the Holy Ministry, most particularly under difficult circumstances, should not be obeyed in the breach, but should be the watchword among us.

I'm thinking through some of the ways to phrase far less divisive alternatives for the convention and will be doing so in concert with other concerned church leaders.  I'll be doing that in the very near term, as a journey to the Holy City is in the offing for me at the end of the weekend after the celebration of the Lord's Meal at the altar in Brooklyn on Lent I.

Stay tuned. 

Johan Bergfest

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1300 on: February 14, 2013, 07:48:36 PM »
Let's be fair, brothers. Pr. Rossow did NOT make those comments to the press, but on a blog where others would understand the context in which those comments were made. I know Tim. He would not speak in that manner, and make the comparisons he made that night, to the press, or to unbelievers or others who wouldn't understand the context of those comments and comparisons.

Pr. Messer - Pr. Rossows's comments were quoted accurately.  What "context" did they miss?  Please explain the context in which those comments would have been appropriate. 

peter_speckhard

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1301 on: February 14, 2013, 07:56:57 PM »
Dave, again I don't think you're accurately summarizing the two sides. It isn't NEVER vs. ALWAYS, it is DEFINITELY NOT vs. MAYBE. Pr. Hendrickson is for Definitely Not, you are for Maybe. There is no ground between there. I think it is important to keep that clear (and I think it strengthens your position to keep it clear, btw.)

You use the example of a regular community Thanksgiving service as something that we don't participate in. Why not? If you could give examples of the sort of services that you wouldn't find it permissible for an LCMS pastor in the Atlantic District to participate in, and give your reasoning, I'm guessing it would help those who disagree with to at least understand your position.

Charles Henrickson

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1302 on: February 14, 2013, 08:22:33 PM »
To me the early pressure to bring charges against Pastor Morris was what was most unfortunate - before the service was completed, the tirades had begun.  To me that is most, most unpastoral behavior.

How would you know that, if you did not read the blog post or the comments that night, which were taken down by the next morning? Were there indeed pastors calling for charges against Pastor Morris that night, before the service was completed? If so, how many? Certainly not in the blog post itself. Nor in most of the comments, whether during or after the service, as I can recall.
Charles Henrickson
Pastor, St. Matthew Lutheran Church (LCMS), Bonne Terre, Missouri: stmatthewbt.org

Dave Benke

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1303 on: February 14, 2013, 08:34:28 PM »
Dave, again I don't think you're accurately summarizing the two sides. It isn't NEVER vs. ALWAYS, it is DEFINITELY NOT vs. MAYBE. Pr. Hendrickson is for Definitely Not, you are for Maybe. There is no ground between there. I think it is important to keep that clear (and I think it strengthens your position to keep it clear, btw.)

You use the example of a regular community Thanksgiving service as something that we don't participate in. Why not? If you could give examples of the sort of services that you wouldn't find it permissible for an LCMS pastor in the Atlantic District to participate in, and give your reasoning, I'm guessing it would help those who disagree with to at least understand your position.

I kind of like "definitely not" and "maybe".  One thing I think about is opening or closing prayers at various public events - school assemblies, in my case community organization meetings, public gatherings, community board meetings, commemorations by community groups.  These are not worship services, but are opportunities for a Christian witness.

In actuality, it's an extension of the Public Role of the Pastor in the Community, which is still the thread topic.  Not everything is a worship service.  Many to most of the times, it's not a worship service.

Dave Benke

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #1304 on: February 14, 2013, 08:39:28 PM »
To me the early pressure to bring charges against Pastor Morris was what was most unfortunate - before the service was completed, the tirades had begun.  To me that is most, most unpastoral behavior.

How would you know that, if you did not read the blog post or the comments that night, which were taken down by the next morning? Were there indeed pastors calling for charges against Pastor Morris that night, before the service was completed? If so, how many? Certainly not in the blog post itself. Nor in most of the comments, whether during or after the service, as I can recall.

Maybe other blogs, same bloggers - the nature of your website is known, as Pastor Crandall has indicated, as being rough and tumble - direct and sometimes brutal.  That's how he has described it and he's on the website.  Others just let me know.  What happens in my case, Pastor Henrickson, is that I had at that time three more than full-time responsibilities - the superstorm, the parish, and the district.  People then call or text or email me with information - in this instance, because they were really upset by the sense that this was "deja vu" all over again in a terrible, terrible circumstance, and they wanted me to know.  A blessed end to your Valentine's day in any case.

Dave Benke