Author Topic: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries  (Read 18686 times)

Chuck

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John_Hannah

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #61 on: January 20, 2014, 06:00:37 AM »
I understand that there are now about 2,000 (out of 6,000) LCMS congregation that cannot afford to have a pastor.

From what reference or source do you understand that are now about 2,000 LCMS congregations that cannot afford to have a pastor?   Also, by "cannot afford" do you include churches who share a pastor with one or more other congregations?

I'm not sure where I got that number so it may not be precisely accurate. I am sure, however, that there is a very serious problem awaiting us. (Unless it is reversed soon.)

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Dave Benke

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #62 on: January 20, 2014, 08:18:52 AM »
I understand that there are now about 2,000 (out of 6,000) LCMS congregation that cannot afford to have a pastor.

From what reference or source do you understand that are now about 2,000 LCMS congregations that cannot afford to have a pastor?   Also, by "cannot afford" do you include churches who share a pastor with one or more other congregations?

I'm not sure where I got that number so it may not be precisely accurate. I am sure, however, that there is a very serious problem awaiting us. (Unless it is reversed soon.)

Peace, JOHN

In terms of "sharing a pastor," or dual/triple/multiple "parishes", that's one solution to the compensationally non-viable problem.  It operates as a factor diminishing Divine Call openings because what were five congregations issuing calls have become two in a triple/double mix.  This takes place in the small town/rural setting as well as the urban.  A creative approach is the "island of health" idea, where a larger and thriving congregation receives the property of a small/dying congregation and plants a new effort with staff on that site.  Often in urban areas this means renewal through a multi-cultural/new culture approach.  In that case, there is not a diminution in Divine Calls.  The couple dozen parishioners from the dying congregation go to the larger church and the mission effort begins de novo in the community.  Or the couple dozen parishioners are chaplained by the partner in situ, and the mission pastor's call comes from the larger congregation or the wider judicatory or an agency (in the Missouri Synod) like LINC. 

Another item in terms of seminary need/use/capacity in metropolitan and mission context is that the colloquy and distance education/alternative route methodologies are utilized.  Between the two, for instance, in the Atlantic District, out of just over 100 non-emeritus pastors, 25 have come through the alternate route/colloquy/distance education routes, many to most of them from non-Anglo cultures and language groups (this doesn't count the non-Anglo pastors who have come through the "regular" seminary route). 

From my experience, the seminaries are more than willing to explore creative approaches and partnerships with the wider church body.  Blogosphere polarizers, not so much. 

Dave Benke

carlvehse

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #63 on: January 20, 2014, 10:08:09 AM »
The question about the claimed number of 2,000 LCMS churches that can no longer afford to support a full time pastor, and whether multi-congregational parishes are included in such a number is a reasonable one, given a graph showing the number of  LCMS clergy and congregations, 1925-2012.

Most of the data comes from ARDA, with the latest data extracted from various Reporter articles.   The aberrations in the 1990-1994 data may be data entry errors, but since they occur in both sets, another explanation may exist, such as some synodical convention-related change in the definitions and counting of "church" and "clergy" (the aberrations are only for three years each).

As seen, the reported number of LCMS congregations has been flat at approximately 6,100 for two decades.  Over the same period except for a short period, the number of LCMS clergy has increased approximately 10 percent.   (In addition, after being essentially constant since 1978, LCMS congregational membership has started to significantly decline since 1999.)

Has the number of new LCMS congregations started annually coincidentally matched the number of LCMS congregation closing annually over the past 20 years?  Are congregations who become part of a multi-congregational parish still counted as separate congregations in the data or only one (such as in determing the number of convention delegates they have)?   Are congregations, who are not actively seeking to call a pastor, still counted in the number of LCMS congregations?   Answers to these questions could address the claim of approximately 2,000 congregations who can't afford a pastor.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2014, 03:27:00 PM by carlvehse »

Pilgrim

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #64 on: January 20, 2014, 10:08:23 AM »
Tim notes: Having completed seminary on the "10-year plan" (sic) in 1984, I receive information from Trinity in Columbus routinely. One thing the new President there is talking about is a 2+2 approach. Two years of academics and a two year internship/vicarage with concurrent distance learning, or intensive cluster modules built in.

One thing I really wonder about in all of this is the language component. Regardless of its difficulty, and the time it takes to maintain, nothing has been more beneficial as a foundational tool, it seems to me, than the ability to translate from the Greek (and Hebrew, although I'll admit that has waned over the years). This ability takes intensive academic time, that I believe is a powerful long term investment, but indications are that it is often waived, especially among those pursuing alternate paths from other ethnic communities, or among those who are "second-career". I may be wrong, but this is a concern I have. Our resident "Greek Geek", Brian, is one who employs said skills, and in a negative sort of way - he has encouraged my ongoing work as I have often found myself in disagreement with his exegetical conclusions, which compels me to my own deeper exegesis. That's a sort of back-handed thank you, although it remains fairly clear to me that his work is often more eisegesis than exegesis...but that's another discussion not related to the topic at hand.
Pr. Tim Christ, STS

Dave Likeness

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #65 on: January 20, 2014, 10:16:40 AM »
As far as the LCMS and its 6,100 parishes
for almost two decades:

The real issue is the lack of reporting on
one important fact.  How many vacant LCMS
parishes are considered permanent non-calling
parishes?    These are the congregations that
depend on retired pastors to fill in and no longer
can afford a full-time pastor.

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #66 on: January 20, 2014, 10:36:23 AM »
Tim notes: Having completed seminary on the "10-year plan" (sic) in 1984, I receive information from Trinity in Columbus routinely. One thing the new President there is talking about is a 2+2 approach. Two years of academics and a two year internship/vicarage with concurrent distance learning, or intensive cluster modules built in.

One thing I really wonder about in all of this is the language component. Regardless of its difficulty, and the time it takes to maintain, nothing has been more beneficial as a foundational tool, it seems to me, than the ability to translate from the Greek (and Hebrew, although I'll admit that has waned over the years). This ability takes intensive academic time, that I believe is a powerful long term investment, but indications are that it is often waived, especially among those pursuing alternate paths from other ethnic communities, or among those who are "second-career". I may be wrong, but this is a concern I have. Our resident "Greek Geek", Brian, is one who employs said skills, and in a negative sort of way - he has encouraged my ongoing work as I have often found myself in disagreement with his exegetical conclusions, which compels me to my own deeper exegesis. That's a sort of back-handed thank you, although it remains fairly clear to me that his work is often more eisegesis than exegesis...but that's another discussion not related to the topic at hand.

Good comments Pilgrim.  (A complete aside: I imagine you look like John Wayne.) 

I struggle to maintain my language skills, but they are still there.  I did spend a lot of time in college and seminary, sweating it out in un-air conditioned substandard dorm living.  But I did it.  And it was good.  I think it was necessary, is necessary and shall be necessary into the future. 

This is not an original idea (the next original idea I have will be my first) but I think seminary training should be longer, not shorter.  Fast-tracks to ordination are not helpful.  There can be alternate routes to ordination for exceptional circumstances but we need to stop treating minor inconveniences as exceptional circumstances. 

Longer seminary training does not necessarily mean more classes.  It might mean more time with the same amount of classes so that our students can properly examine and exegete a text, so that our students can think theologically and talk pastorally.  God's Word is wild, untamed and untamable and our pastors need to be struggle and strive with a text, not to overcome it but to use the Word for the service of God's people. 

Longer seminary training may offer time for some counseling classes which can be quite beneficial. 

Maybe for us in Missouri it might be five years that breaks down 2-1-2, with the one being vicarage.  Or maybe 2-1-1-1, with the last one being some sort of institutional chaplaincy work or some sort of work that allows for much more time in the classroom. 

But, longer seminary training might be better so that our pastors can have as many pastoral skills that will serve the parish. 

Jeremy
A Lutheran pastor growing into all sorts of things.

Pilgrim

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #67 on: January 20, 2014, 10:46:34 AM »
A complete aside: I imagine you look like John Wayne. 

Thanks Jeremy... I think, but taller (JW was actually "vertically challenged") and much grayer! And I prefer a hunting rifle to a Colt 45, although Texas is a concealed carry state!
Pr. Tim Christ, STS

Michael Slusser

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #68 on: January 20, 2014, 12:10:31 PM »
Tim notes: Having completed seminary on the "10-year plan" (sic) in 1984, I receive information from Trinity in Columbus routinely. One thing the new President there is talking about is a 2+2 approach. Two years of academics and a two year internship/vicarage with concurrent distance learning, or intensive cluster modules built in.

One thing I really wonder about in all of this is the language component. Regardless of its difficulty, and the time it takes to maintain, nothing has been more beneficial as a foundational tool, it seems to me, than the ability to translate from the Greek (and Hebrew, although I'll admit that has waned over the years). This ability takes intensive academic time, that I believe is a powerful long term investment, but indications are that it is often waived, especially among those pursuing alternate paths from other ethnic communities, or among those who are "second-career". I may be wrong, but this is a concern I have. Our resident "Greek Geek", Brian, is one who employs said skills, and in a negative sort of way - he has encouraged my ongoing work as I have often found myself in disagreement with his exegetical conclusions, which compels me to my own deeper exegesis. That's a sort of back-handed thank you, although it remains fairly clear to me that his work is often more eisegesis than exegesis...but that's another discussion not related to the topic at hand.

Ancient languages are very amenable to being taught online and at a distance. I think that seminaries should be able to maintain their language requirements with little damage to their or their students' bottom lines.

Peace,
Michael
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Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Dave Benke

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #69 on: January 20, 2014, 01:24:39 PM »
The question about the claimed number of 2,000 LCMS churches than can no longer afford to support a full time pastor, and whether multi-congregational parishes are included in such a number is a reasonable one, given a graph showing the number of  LCMS clergy and congregations, 1925-2012.

Most of the data comes from ARDA, with the latest data extracted from various Reporter articles.   The aberrations in the 1990-1994 data may be data entry errors, but since they occur in both sets, another explanation may exist, such as some synodical convention-related change in the definitions and counting of "church" and "clergy" (the aberrations are only for three years each).

As seen, the reported number of LCMS congregations has been flat at approximately 6,100 for two decades.  Over the same period except for a short period, the number of LCMS clergy has increased approximately 10 percent.   (In addition, after being essentially constant since 1978, LCMS congregational membership has started to significantly decline since 1999.)

Has the number of new LCMS congregations started annually coincidentally matched the number of LCMS congregation closing annually over the past 20 years?  Are congregations who become part of a multi-congregational parish still counted as separate congregations in the data or only one (such as in determing the number of convention delegates they have)?   Are congregations, who are not actively seeking to call a pastor, still counted in the number of LCMS congregations?   Answers to these questions could address the claim of approximately 2,000 congregations who can't afford a pastor.

I love that style thing, "Carl."  "The question is a reasonable one" - oh, I guess I'm the one who raised the question - so I'm agreeing with my estimation of myself.  Thank me very much.

Anyway, to the substance, your inquiry has to do with having more pastors and less placements in congregations for pastors.  The answer then is "yes," there are more pastors (by far) than there are placements, even taking into consideration
a) the emeritus pastors
b) those who are second/third/fourth pastors in a multi-staff
c) the aging pastors (like me) who superannuate into their 70s
d) the seminary enrollment.

Regarding the last item, the seminary enrollment and class size now is far closer to the demand for candidate calls on a four year basis.  It's also far lower than it was.  One seminary is lower than the other - Ft. Wayne lower than St. Louis.  That doesn't mean it can't/won't work; it does mean that fiscal management and staff/professorial management is necessary, and (my opinion) that having professors active in distance learning and distance locations is a really good option.

The last time we were allowed to use the category "permanently non-calling" congregations, there were (guessing a bit without the data in front of me, but an educated guess) close to 900 of those.  Plus a whole bunch of the paired up/served by part-time retirees/edge of marginal congregations.  So let's say it's 1500, with another 300 on the way toward that status - that is, making do with 40-75 people in church on a Sunday.  Now we're let's say at 1750. 

The reason to have more seminary-trained young men in parish pastoral ministry is of course to take the challenge of that high calling.  Secondly, it is that with the theological training comes the need/obligation to train others theologically for work as congregational leaders/missioners/deacons and the like, so that a cadre of the non-ordained is working hand in glove with the pastor for the sake of Gospel outreach in Gaspump, Iowa.  So from myh perspective I'm looking for able practitioner/theologians (or in the adaptation of the words of William Wallace/Mel Gibson, "Warrior/Poet/Priests") who can also teach and lead by example.  Send them all to NYC.  Plenty to do.

Dave Benke

swbohler

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #70 on: January 20, 2014, 02:29:49 PM »
A complete aside: I imagine you look like John Wayne. 

Thanks Jeremy... I think, but taller (JW was actually "vertically challenged") and much grayer! And I prefer a hunting rifle to a Colt 45, although Texas is a concealed carry state!

John Wayne was 6' 4".

Dave Likeness

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #71 on: January 20, 2014, 04:22:21 PM »
If Pastor Tim "Pilgrim" Christ is not 6' 4"
then he should apologize to all the John
Wayne fans across America.  To even
imply that this film legend is short is not
a classy move.

carlvehse

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #72 on: January 20, 2014, 04:25:53 PM »
I love that style thing, "Carl."  "The question is a reasonable one" - oh, I guess I'm the one who raised the question - so I'm agreeing with my estimation of myself.  Thank me very much.

You "love-that style" claim is contradicted by your ripped-from-context snarkiness.  I actually stated "The question... is a reasonable one, given a graph showing the number of LCMS clergy and congregations, 1925-2012." [Emphasis added]

As discussed, the graph shows a near constant number of congregations over the past 20 years, while the total membership is decreasing.  However rather than closing a church, leading to a smaller number of congregations, there are multi-church parishes and other churches with part-time pastors.  How these are counted would affect any claimed 2,000 number, and even the 6,100 total number.

Anyway, to the substance, your inquiry has to do with having more pastors and less placements in congregations for pastors.

My inquiry was about the claimed number of 2,000 LCMS churches that can no longer afford to support a full time pastor.    The lack of placement in congregations who can afford (and need) one or more pastor, but chose not to call such full-time pastors is another issue.

Dave Benke

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #73 on: January 20, 2014, 04:58:41 PM »
I love that style thing, "Carl."  "The question is a reasonable one" - oh, I guess I'm the one who raised the question - so I'm agreeing with my estimation of myself.  Thank me very much.

You "love-that style" claim is contradicted by your ripped-from-context snarkiness.  I actually stated "The question... is a reasonable one, given a graph showing the number of LCMS clergy and congregations, 1925-2012." [Emphasis added]

As discussed, the graph shows a near constant number of congregations over the past 20 years, while the total membership is decreasing.  However rather than closing a church, leading to a smaller number of congregations, there are multi-church parishes and other churches with part-time pastors.  How these are counted would affect any claimed 2,000 number, and even the 6,100 total number.

Anyway, to the substance, your inquiry has to do with having more pastors and less placements in congregations for pastors.

My inquiry was about the claimed number of 2,000 LCMS churches that can no longer afford to support a full time pastor.    The lack of placement in congregations who can afford (and need) one or more pastor, but chose not to call such full-time pastors is another issue.

a) it's you not saying "in my opinion," or "from my perspective," but "the question....is a reasonable one," which is self-congratulatory to your reasoning powers, no matter the underlying phrase.  I would say that's officious, but it seems to me more lawyerly.

b) If you want "proof" of the 2000ish churches and affordability of a fully-compensated pastor, do the homework.  Go to LCMS.org, and hit each congregation and check out their giving/income/expenditure for last year and average in $75000 all in all done for a very middleish compensation including housing, salary, health, car, pension, and conference dues.  Report in when finished. 

Dave Benke

Michael Slusser

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #74 on: January 20, 2014, 05:26:40 PM »
b) If you want "proof" of the 2000ish churches and affordability of a fully-compensated pastor, do the homework.  Go to LCMS.org, and hit each congregation and check out their giving/income/expenditure for last year and average in $75000 all in all done for a very middleish compensation including housing, salary, health, car, pension, and conference dues.  Report in when finished. 

Dave Benke
That raises the further question about how badly a congregation wants to be a fully functioning church. I raise the same question about churches that "cannot afford" to prepare the necessary ministers for their people. (Or, for that matter, countries that "cannot afford" to see to it that all their inhabitants, including the most helpless, have what they need to sustain life--food, shelter, health care.)

"Cannot afford" is usually asserted in tacit contrast to other things we would rather spend our money on. And we should not forget that there is a place also for pastors who, at personal financial sacrifice, devote their lives to the poor. Missions aren't only for distant lands. There are generous couples, and generous celibates for the kingdom of God, in our churches here in the U.S.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
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