Author Topic: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries  (Read 18446 times)

Satis Est

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #90 on: January 21, 2014, 10:28:58 AM »
I will ask the question again. Is a congregation of 10 to 50 people, existing barely with the help of a retired pastor, or an underpaid pastor with a spouse who has a good job, really a mission-oriented church? what if it would be very easy for these people to worship in another nearby church? How many congregations are we trying to maintain  for the sole purpose of nostalgia or for the selfish needs of a small group of people?
Harsh questions I know, but questions that must be asked.

What do you mean, "we"?

As a matter of fact, the congregation that I serve is one of those with an average worship attendance of 33 (down two from the year before), in a town of around 2700 people with 8 other congregations in the town limits. (One other is Lutheran of a different flavor; this is the only ELCA congregation for about 10-15 miles in any direction.) I am 3/4 time, and my husband has the better job. These are questions that I have thought about often and deeply, and continue to pray about. Could the people worshipping in my congregation worship in a nearby church? Yes, of course. Easily? Physically, yes; but that isn't the only thing that needs to be considered.

I believe, for a number of reasons, that there needs to be an ELCA presence in this community. Be amused if you wish (I know I am), but in an very conservative corner of an extremely conservative county in a rather conservative state, I think a moderately liberal denomination has a mission to proclaim the Gospel as we Lutherans know it. As long as we are here and viable (and we are viable, though for how long is anybody's guess), that is the mission that God has given to this small group of aging Lutheran Christians.

Is there nostalgia here? Yes, as there is in almost every congregation. Are we selfish? Well, we're sinners, and selfishness comes along with that sad condition, so again I'd say yes. But I have seen and heard a generosity of spirit that gives me hope. Whether this congregation will be able to grow numerically is still a question that I don't have an answer for, but I don't think God is finished with this group yet. I've called for this to be a year of prayer for our mission in the community outside our walls, and I will be leading a Bible study on the book of Acts beginning next month.

This congregation, small and aging though it is, is a gift from God to me. We aren't perfect -- far from it! -- and their history is marked with fighting and divisiveness amongst themselves and with every ecclesiastical authority that has ever worked with them. But those here now say they are tired of the fighting of the past, and want to live differently now. Can that happen? Only God knows. But I find ample evidence in the gospels that starting with a few cautiously repentent folks can show that the power belongs to God alone. So I'll stick with this stubborn small congregation as long as this call may last, trusting that this labor is not in vain. (Even if it doesn't look like much from others' perspectives.)
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 10:24:01 PM by Satis Est »

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #91 on: January 21, 2014, 10:32:55 AM »
That's a great answer Satis Est! I pray the best for your ministry with the congregation. 

Jeremy
A Lutheran pastor growing into all sorts of things.

LutherMan

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #92 on: January 21, 2014, 11:13:52 AM »
Thanks for sharing your story Pr. Wolf...

Dan Fienen

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #93 on: January 21, 2014, 11:20:49 AM »
So good to know that there is a Lutheran proclamation of the Gospel in that conservative community being maintained and they are not left with the ersatz Lutheran Gospel proclamation by the other Lutheran Church of another flavor.

Dan
Pr. Daniel Fienen
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Satis Est

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #94 on: January 21, 2014, 11:47:52 AM »
So good to know that there is a Lutheran proclamation of the Gospel in that conservative community being maintained and they are not left with the ersatz Lutheran Gospel proclamation by the other Lutheran Church of another flavor.

Dan

I'm not sure just what you're trying to say with that comment, Pr. Fienan. I tried to be clear that in this area, the ELCA is a moderately liberal voice of Lutheran Christianity. (In other areas of the country one could, probably, drop the modifier "moderately." But not here.) Other Lutheran bodies are more conservative, though still a voice of the true Gospel. But there are real disagreements amongst us, as the miles of verbiage on this forum well attests. Those who have left my congregation for the other Lutheran congregation in town (as well as for other Lutheran bodies in the wider area) have done what their consciences or other circumstances required, and they go with my prayers for their continued well being. Those who have stayed have done so because they want to be in the ELCA. I think there is a need for the questions the ELCA raises here, small though its voice is in this community. That is all I am claiming.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #95 on: January 21, 2014, 12:04:28 PM »
Give it up, Craig. You don't believe anything that comes from outside your own circle. iMDB is credible.
Why not just write, "iMDB is credible" without the obnoxious preface? Then the other readers could learn that Craig finds something not credible and you find it credible and they could make of that what they will. Nobody wants to read your loudmouthed insults of the other posters and once again it is driving the other posters away.

LutherMan

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #96 on: January 21, 2014, 12:17:20 PM »
Give it up, Craig. You don't believe anything that comes from outside your own circle. iMDB is credible.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imdb
"The site enables any user to contribute new material and edit existing entries. Although all data is checked before going live, the system has been open to abuse, and occasional errors are acknowledged."

IOW, it is just as credible as Wikipedia...
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 12:25:43 PM by LutherMan »

Dan Fienen

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #97 on: January 21, 2014, 12:29:01 PM »
So good to know that there is a Lutheran proclamation of the Gospel in that conservative community being maintained and they are not left with the ersatz Lutheran Gospel proclamation by the other Lutheran Church of another flavor.

Dan

I'm not sure just what you're trying to say with that comment, Pr. Fienan. I tried to be clear that in this area, the ELCA is a moderately liberal voice of Lutheran Christianity. (In other areas of the country one could, probably, drop the modifier "moderately." But not here.) Other Lutheran bodies are more conservative, though still a voice of the true Gospel. But there are real disagreements amongst us, as the miles of verbiage on this forum well attests. Those who have left my congregation for the other Lutheran congregation in town (as well as for other Lutheran bodies in the wider area) have done what their consciences or other circumstances required, and they go with my prayers for their continued well being. Those who have stayed have done so because they want to be in the ELCA. I think there is a need for the questions the ELCA raises here, small though its voice is in this community. That is all I am claiming.

My comment was about this sentence in your post: "Be amused if you wish (I know I am), but in an very conservative corner of an extremely conservative county in a rather conservative state, I think a moderately liberal denomination has a mission to proclaim the Gospel as we Lutherans know it."  Likely I am being too sensitive but when you say "as we Lutherans know it" it could be taken to indicate that the voice of general Lutheranism is the moderately liberal ELCA, other Lutherans are minor Lutheran offshoots.  We in the LCMS have been accused of arrogance and assuming that we are the only real Lutherans around.  It is so easy to fall into that way of thinking but not only by us other Lutherans.

It is not unusual, especially in the secular news media, for the ELCA and its positions taken, statements made to be referred to as simply "Lutherans." 

It sounds like yours is a distinct voice in the community, and that there is a need for your congregation as part of the mix.

Dan
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 12:32:43 PM by Dan Fienen »
Pr. Daniel Fienen
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Satis Est

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #98 on: January 21, 2014, 01:01:06 PM »
Thank you for your reply, Pr. Fienen. I do see where those sentences could have been taken in the way you describe. And we in the ELCA are guilty, at least some of the time, of speaking and acting as if we are the only Lutherans on the face of the planet, or at least the only ones that count. And we are guilty of arrogance when we do this, however innocently it is done (and sometimes it is innocent).

I did not intend to do that. But I will try to be more vigilent in how I frame my words here in the future.

LCMS87

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #99 on: January 21, 2014, 01:28:25 PM »
I will ask the question again. Is a congregation of 10 to 50 people, existing barely with the help of a retired pastor, or an underpaid pastor with a spouse who has a good job, really a mission-oriented church? what if it would be very easy for these people to worship in another nearby church? How many congregations are we trying to maintain  for the sole purpose of nostalgia or for the selfish needs of a small group of people?
Harsh questions I know, but questions that must be asked.

What do you mean, "we"?

As a matter of fact, the congregation that I serve is one of those with an average worship attendance of 33 (down two from the year before), in a town of around 2700 people with 8 other congregations in the town limits. (One other is Lutheran of a different flavor; this is the only ELCA congregation for about 10-15 miles in any direction.) I am 3/4 time, and my husband has the better job. These are questions that I have thought about often and deeply, and continue to pray about. Could the people worshipping in my congregation worship in a nearby church? Yes, of course. Easily? Physically, yes; but that isn't the only thing that needs to be considered.

I believe, for a number of reasons, that there needs to be an ELCA presence in this community. Be amused if you wish (I know I am), but in an very conservative corner of an extremely conservative county in a rather conservative state, I think a moderately liberal denomination has a mission to proclaim the Gospel as we Lutherans know it. As long as we are here and viable (and we are viable, though for how long is anybody's guess), that is the mission that God has given to this small group of aging Lutheran Christians.

Is there nostalgia here? Yes, as there is in almost every congregation. Are we selfish? Well, we're sinners, and selfishness comes along with that sad condition, so again I'd say yes. But I have seen and heard a generosity of spirit that gives me hope. Whether this congregation will be able to grow numerically is still a question that I don't have an answer for, but I don't think God is finished with this group yet. I've called for this to be a year of prayer for our mission in the community outside our walls, and I will be leading a Bible study on the book of Acts beginning next month.

This congregation, small and aging though it is, is a gift from God to me. We aren't perfect -- far from it! -- and their history is marked with fighting and divisiveness amongst themselves and with every eccesiastical authority that has ever worked with them. But those here now say they are tired of the fighting of the past, and want to live differently now. Can that happen? Only God knows. But I find ample evidence in the gospels that starting with a few cautiously repentant folks can show that the power belongs to God alone. So I'll stick with this stubborn small congregation as long as this call may last, trusting that this labor is not in vain. (Even if it doesn't look like much from others' perspectives.)

I appreciated the question of who's the "we" in the sentence, "How many congregations are we trying to maintain  for the sole purpose of nostalgia or for the selfish needs of a small group of people?"

I don't know about the ELCA, but in the LCMS there isn't any money for those small and struggling congregations coming from District or Synod.  Those congregations are maintained by their own members.  "We" aren't doing it.  They're on their own, and how long they'll continue only God knows, but they have every right to struggle on as long as they wish to do so.  Where two or three are gathered together in Jesus' name, he is there.  Euthanasia is wrong with old and frail individuals, and it's wrong with small and struggling congregations.  It's not up to us to make those decisions.

If you wish, with God's Word and clear reason, to address those congregations and encourage them to take some other action, that's okay with me.  But from my experience, you won't get very far if you don't respect their history and love for one another.  Each congregation is a family in Christ, perhaps especially tiny ones, and even in our current culture there are plenty of folks who treasure God's gift of family.   
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 03:08:46 PM by LCMS87 »

Dave Likeness

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #100 on: January 21, 2014, 07:01:36 PM »
The congregational polity of the LCMS allows for
a parish to continue until the parousia.  As long
as they have an ordained pastor who preaches
God's Word and administers the Sacraments they
will be able to keep their doors open.

More and more retired LCMS pastors are helping
the small and struggling parishes survive.  It is
legit and finances are kept to a minimum.  No
full time salary for a part-time pastor who does
not require housing, pension, or insurance.

Bottom Line:  This arrangement will continue
to dot the LCMS landscape across our nation.

Dave Benke

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #101 on: January 21, 2014, 07:07:53 PM »
The congregational polity of the LCMS allows for
a parish to continue until the parousia.  As long
as they have an ordained pastor who preaches
God's Word and administers the Sacraments they
will be able to keep their doors open.

More and more retired LCMS pastors are helping
the small and struggling parishes survive.  It is
legit and finances are kept to a minimum.  No
full time salary for a part-time pastor who does
not require housing, pension, or insurance.

Bottom Line:  This arrangement will continue
to dot the LCMS landscape across our nation.

This is definitely true.  Us guys on the downhill side of 65 have still got game.

Dave Benke

Charles_Austin

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #102 on: January 21, 2014, 10:46:45 PM »
Don't know about you, Bishop/DP Benke, but for me there is often more uphill than downhill on this other side of 65. Had to shovel the snow in two short outings rather than in one grand slam. But, Amen! Brother! We still got game.

LutherMan

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #103 on: January 21, 2014, 11:08:43 PM »
Don't know about you, Bishop/DP Benke, but for me there is often more uphill than downhill on this other side of 65. Had to shovel the snow in two short outings rather than in one grand slam. But, Amen! Brother! We still got game.
Be careful doing that.  I had a friend who was only 68 drop from a heart attack last year while shoveling.  Sometimes it is worth hiring neighbor kids or grandkids...

Dave Benke

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #104 on: January 22, 2014, 08:49:32 AM »
Don't know about you, Bishop/DP Benke, but for me there is often more uphill than downhill on this other side of 65. Had to shovel the snow in two short outings rather than in one grand slam. But, Amen! Brother! We still got game.
Be careful doing that.  I had a friend who was only 68 drop from a heart attack last year while shoveling.  Sometimes it is worth hiring neighbor kids or grandkids...

Just finished here - very fluffy snow, which is good.  We lost a neighbor about four years ago to the snow-shoveling-widowmaker-heart-attack.  Didn't need to happen, but he persisted until he could persist no more.  In the big cities/neighborhoods, there are roving crews with shovels after any and every snow.  Easy-peasy, but I'd still rather do it myself.

Dave Benke