Author Topic: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly  (Read 5481 times)

DCharlton

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #45 on: May 08, 2018, 04:09:14 PM »
I wonder if in our church of quotas we have lost the reason for having a diversified church.  I'm not suggesting I know the reason, but I would think it has much to do with the changing landscape of our cities and towns.   Neighborhoods change.  When I was growing up in the Bronx many white families moved to the suburbs and black families moved in.   In Queens it was more Hispanic and Asian families that moved into our neighborhoods.  I would think the purpose of reaching these people is not to have a "diversified church" as much as it is simply to reach our neighbor, whomever that might be.  I do think Pastor Stoffregen is correct in stating that perhaps our Lutheran culture might be, however, unintentional, not what ____________ (fill in your community's population) are seeking.    Does this mean they remain unchurched (if, indeed, they are) or do we know if they find a community more in line with their background.

I'm afraid that we wanted a diversified church to make ourselves feel good about ourselves.  "Look at what a wonderful church we are."  The test of this, in my opinion, is exactly what you talk about.  Do we want to reach our neighbor, whatever ethnic, linguistic, or economic group they belong to?

One group of people that I believe the ELCA not only doesn't want, but goes out of its way to provoke, are lower middle class and blue collar whites.  While the ELCA has failed to become more ethnically and linguistically diverse, I would guess that it has become less economically diverse.  If you look at what percentage of our members make over $100,000 per year, it is clear that we have far more in common with Episcopalians that Baptists.  One report I read said that lower income whites were the largest un-churched group in America.  If reaching the un-churched was one of our goals, you would think that the ELCA would make a major effort in this regard.  I don't think we have. 

I've puzzled about the constant virtue signaling that takes place at the synodical and churchwide level for years.  "What does it accomplish," I have asked myself.  Showing off our progressive bonafides has not helped our denomination reach POC or primary language other than English.  At least it hasn't helped us increase the numbers.  Then I realized what it does do.  It signals to those white people who are not college educated, who have military backgrounds, who are politically conservative, who are from small town or rural areas, and who generally fall into the category of "deplorables" that this is not the church for them.  The thing that convinced me was the fact that it is not primarily POC or primary language other than English who show the most contempt for the "deplorables" but well educated, powerful, urban white people with salaries in the 6 figures.  (People get tired of being stereotyped as racist, sexist, homophobic, greedy, and violent warmongers by white people who enjoy far more privileges than ever have.)

As someone suggested recently, a major factor in the growing tribalism in America is the hatred that these two white tribes (so called Red and Blue America) have for one another. 
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 05:10:17 PM by DCharlton »
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DeHall1

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #46 on: May 08, 2018, 04:58:01 PM »
Thomas Shelly writes:
If the ELCA were truly diverse, decolonizing, and "inclusive" it would not have been dismissive of the Bokuba Statement written by the Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania a few months prior to the 2009 CWA.
I comment:
What do you mean by “dismissive“? The Bukoba statement was present at the 2009 assembly.  It was, I believe, cited in the debate at that assembly.

Thomas Shelly:
My recollection is that there were even some who insinuated that the Africans were unenlightened and deficient in their understanding of Scripture.
Me:
And what do you base that recollection? And if they suggest that we are deficient in our understanding of Scripture, it is logical that we might turn that argument around and point it in the other direction.

The Bukoba Statement was released in January 2004.  Why wasn't it present at the ELCA Churchwide Assemblies in 2005 and 2007?

I know sexuality matters were on the agenda for the 2007 Assembly.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 05:01:59 PM by DeHall1 »

foolishpride

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #47 on: May 08, 2018, 05:25:51 PM »
"Decolonize Lutheranism"

Speaking only for myself, I'd like to keep my entire digestive system...

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #48 on: May 08, 2018, 05:48:44 PM »
As I have said 1 million times, in this modest forum I am not a journalist...

It was even that way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and this humble correspondent went to national Luther League conventions.

Mr. Garner writes (in a very upset tone) and accuses this humble correspondent of duplicity:

It already seems clear that the generation following today's parents will have different views. This has absolutely nothing to do with the ELCA or with this humble correspondent.

Synonyms for correspondent.. journalist

http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/correspondent

It's been asked before but not answered:

My curiosity aroused, I ask - "What is the difference between a journalist (post #10172) and a humble correspondent (post # 10180)"?  Is the journalist not humble as well as the correspondent?  Life is so filled with confusion!

So, are neither truthful? You are not humble, and you are not a correspondent?
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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #49 on: May 08, 2018, 06:11:15 PM »
Anyway and fwiw...many of us in the SW Texas Synod see a fine new leader in Bp. Briner.  She is mission-minded and has a heart for Christ.
The possibility of a bishop like this is probably worth repeating lest it get lost in the vitriol.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #50 on: May 08, 2018, 07:14:31 PM »
I wonder if in our church of quotas we have lost the reason for having a diversified church.  I'm not suggesting I know the reason, but I would think it has much to do with the changing landscape of our cities and towns.   Neighborhoods change.  When I was growing up in the Bronx many white families moved to the suburbs and black families moved in.   In Queens it was more Hispanic and Asian families that moved into our neighborhoods.  I would think the purpose of reaching these people is not to have a "diversified church" as much as it is simply to reach our neighbor, whomever that might be.  I do think Pastor Stoffregen is correct in stating that perhaps our Lutheran culture might be, however, unintentional, not what ____________ (fill in your community's population) are seeking.    Does this mean they remain unchurched (if, indeed, they are) or do we know if they find a community more in line with their background.

I'm afraid that we wanted a diversified church to make ourselves feel good about ourselves.  "Look at what a wonderful church we are."  The test of this, in my opinion, is exactly what you talk about.  Do we want to reach our neighbor, whatever ethnic, linguistic, or economic group they belong to?

One group of people that I believe the ELCA not only doesn't want, but goes out of its way to provoke, are lower middle class and blue collar whites.  While the ELCA has failed to become more ethnically and linguistically diverse, I would guess that it has become less economically diverse.  If you look at what percentage of our members make over $100,000 per year, it is clear that we have far more in common with Episcopalians that Baptists.  One report I read said that lower income whites were the largest un-churched group in America.  If reaching the un-churched was one of our goals, you would think that the ELCA would make a major effort in this regard.  I don't think we have. 

I've puzzled about the constant virtue signaling that takes place at the synodical and churchwide level for years.  "What does it accomplish," I have asked myself.  Showing off our progressive bonafides has not helped our denomination reach POC or primary language other than English.  At least it hasn't helped us increase the numbers.  Then I realized what it does do.  It signals to those white people who are not college educated, who have military backgrounds, who are politically conservative, who are from small town or rural areas, and who generally fall into the category of "deplorables" that this is not the church for them.  The thing that convinced me was the fact that it is not primarily POC or primary language other than English who show the most contempt for the "deplorables" but well educated, powerful, urban white people with salaries in the 6 figures.  (People get tired of being stereotyped as racist, sexist, homophobic, greedy, and violent warmongers by white people who enjoy far more privileges than ever have.)

As someone suggested recently, a major factor in the growing tribalism in America is the hatred that these two white tribes (so called Red and Blue America) have for one another.


A course I took in seminary was on the social sources of denominationalism with a book by that title. A general finding in the book and in our studies was that among Protestant churches, the non-liturgical ones tended to attract lower social class people and the liturgical ones tended to attract higher social class people. (Even your illustration about Lutherans being more like Episcopalians follows this logic.)


In contrast to your theory, First Lutheran Church is in Mission Hills, KS. Mission Hills is ranked third on the Forbes list of America's most affluent neighborhoods. When I was serving in the same county, ranked 9th wealthiest in the U.S., but in a community that had been dairy farmers - and they didn't particularly like the (wealthy) suburbanites moving into their neighborhoods; I asked the pastor at First if he had any members from Mission Hills. The answer was, "No." Sometimes the difficulty in reaching the community around the church is not ethnic. At the church I served, over the ten years before I came, when the community quadrupled in population, church membership went down. This formerly country church didn't want to be a suburban church. One member said, "Those people aren't like us." Another member calculated from the newsletter of the neighboring ALC church, that in one year, they took in more new members from our community than our membership. They began and saw themselves as a suburban church.
"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]

MaddogLutheran

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #51 on: May 08, 2018, 07:27:16 PM »
A course I took in seminary was on the social sources of denominationalism with a book by that title. A general finding in the book and in our studies was that among Protestant churches, the non-liturgical ones tended to attract lower social class people and the liturgical ones tended to attract higher social class people. (Even your illustration about Lutherans being more like Episcopalians follows this logic.)
Using this classification, where would you place the large population American racial minorities?
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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #52 on: May 08, 2018, 07:40:06 PM »
"Decolonize Lutheranism"

Speaking only for myself, I'd like to keep my entire digestive system...


Heh heh heh

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #53 on: May 08, 2018, 08:25:00 PM »
A course I took in seminary was on the social sources of denominationalism with a book by that title. A general finding in the book and in our studies was that among Protestant churches, the non-liturgical ones tended to attract lower social class people and the liturgical ones tended to attract higher social class people. (Even your illustration about Lutherans being more like Episcopalians follows this logic.)
Using this classification, where would you place the large population American racial minorities?


As I recall, and it was over 40 years ago, the economic and education status is what they primarily looked at. Affluent minorities are likely to be in the more liturgical church bodies, like Episcopalians. The less affluent in the less liturgical churches - and even among them, Pentecostals are generally less structured than Baptist who are less structured than Methodists.


The Black man who joined my home congregation many years ago, was a medical doctor.
"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]

DCharlton

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #54 on: May 08, 2018, 09:11:08 PM »
A course I took in seminary was on the social sources of denominationalism with a book by that title. A general finding in the book and in our studies was that among Protestant churches, the non-liturgical ones tended to attract lower social class people and the liturgical ones tended to attract higher social class people. (Even your illustration about Lutherans being more like Episcopalians follows this logic.)

According to some historians, the Lutheran merger mania was driven by class consciousness, a desire to join the upscale denominations of the Mainline.  I believe that this explains much of the virtue signaling that takes place in the ELCA.  I have always been puzzled by the desire to make so much of what we do about partisan politics.  After all, when our resolutions are adopted and put in the record, who pays any attention?  The media doesn't.  The political parties don't.  Legislators don't.  Presidents don't.  What's the point?  Who does notice?

Other mainline denominations notice.  Our members notice.  We signal to other mainline denominations that we are truly part of the club.  We signal to the right kind of people (wealthy, educated, urban) that we are the church for them.  We signal to the wrong kind of people (blue collar, military, rural, conservative) that they aren't wanted.  I.e. its class that drives these contentious things as much as anything else. 
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Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

Dan Fienen

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #55 on: May 08, 2018, 10:16:49 PM »


Interesting article from the Wall Street Journal by Ian Lovett. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/politics-in-the-pews-anti-trump-activism-is-reviving-protestant-churches-at-a-cost/ar-AAwKARI?ocid=spartandhp In short, increased political activism by some mainline Protestant churches are having a mixed result.  Some are attracting new and younger members, drawn by the political activism.  Some are losing even more members than they gain.  Also some congregation where once Republicans and Democrats would worship side by side more conservative members are leaving and no longer feeling welcome.


One example, Christ Church an Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Va. has been attended by both Democratic and Republican presidents.  George Washington and Robert E. Lee had both been members, a fact commemorated by stone plaques on a wall.  After Richard Spencer as white nationalist rented office space in Alexandria, some parishioners organized protests outside his office.  The church later decided to remove the plaques because George Washington had owned slaves and Robert E. Lee had led the Confederate army.  The action proved controversial and several members left.  Other applauded the move.

Some leaders of these churches are lauding the return of their mission and message.  I wonder, is the message of the local church the Gospel of Christ or the gospel of progressivism and progressive political activism.


This should also be a concern for more political conservative churches who could be tempted to join the ranks of the politically activists, just on the other side of the aisle.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 10:27:51 PM by Dan Fienen »
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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #56 on: May 08, 2018, 10:32:54 PM »
When there are cries for more inclusion in the Lutheran church, especially in terms of race, have such people considered the large Lutheran populations, for example, in many African nations, some of which outnumber the total Lutherans in this county of any race? There are about 80 million identified Lutherans in the world.  In terms of the percentage of Lutherans in a given population Namibia actually outranks the U.S.  There are easily at least 20 to 30 million Lutherans in Africa (over one third of the total Lutherans in the world), which is probably as much as 5 times the number in North America.  I'd say the Lutheran church, globally speaking, is pretty inclusive.

This is a fair assessment of global Lutheran reality.  So let's say those African nations are 95% African, with 5% non-African.  And the memberships there are roughly equal to the racial breakdown.  I don't know how/if that applies to say, South Africa, with its history of apartheid, and how the Lutheran groups there break down racially.  But in general, that's a good portrait of a globally racially diverse Lutheranism.

In this country, a clearer assessment might include a nice geographic overlay of the US, with Lutheran centers of population against the overall population composition.
In the overall, Lutherans are only around 4% non-white.  The country is far more diverse racially, of course, and the way the demographics break out, even the 73% currently considered "white" includes about 9% of those called "white" but who are Hispanic. 

So in total Lutherans look pretty much only like one segment of the population of the country. 
In specific there are islands of racial diversity in cities or selected areas of the country. 

In terms of population growth and Lutheran population, that's a Definite Downer.  The country has grown by a more than a third in population since 1970, and the Lutheran denominations have declined at the same time in gross number and lately it's steadily downhill.  Of course we're not alone, as so many denominations have suffered major losses (I'm thinking of Episcopalians and Methodists, but even the Southern Baptists have hit a wall.)

Dave Benke

Yet, where the vast majority of Lutherans live in the US, the racial make-up of the general population is less diverse than other areas of the country.  For instance, the racial make-up of Polk County Minnesota (where I live) is 94% white.  So, is it surprising that the Lutheran churches of Polk County Minnesota are almost entirely white?  I would reckon the same formula would apply in MANY cities/counties in the rural Midwest.  I realize that where you live, Dr. Benke, it is a different story.  But then, Lutherans are a small minority there too.

Yes - I think one sad story that has unfolded through the years has been the abandonment of the cities, especially the central cities, by Lutherans, as the "old guard," as someone put it here, ages and dies out without opening the doors to the far more diverse neighborhood in which the church building is located.  The membership decline in areas that are traditional Lutheran strongholds is not something I'm as aware of as you are in Minnesota, but of course equally disturbing.  You had mentioned at one time that about 10% of your members were non-white, in line with your community's demographics, which seems to me to be what it should be.

As much as people church hop/shop these days, a number of those folks just end up hopping off the church-going bus altogether. 

Dave Benke

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #57 on: May 08, 2018, 10:35:22 PM »


My concern has always been whether politics takes precedence in the church's mission over the unique Christian gospel.  Under the law and seeking righteousness in that way always confuses the unique mission of the church.  St. Paul writes that "Apart from law a righteousness of God has appeared..."  The church or at least this church ie. the public persona of the ELCA, needs to recover this "apart-fromness".  It needs to recover that the gospel has a unique voice and a different righteousness than what the law can give in offering relative matters of peace and justice.  Or, it will miss and omit the unique character of Christ's mission and his death on the cross for all sinners becomes rendered powerless.  Perhaps this is the real scandal of the gospel in that as we swim as creatures immersed under the law's righteousness it becomes more difficult to hear the unique voice of the gospel message.  Indeed the church can and does confuse the law's way of building righteousness over the Gospel's way.  They must be separate and distinct.  Both voices cannot speak together at the same time (uni-sono).
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 10:43:16 PM by George Rahn »

MaddogLutheran

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #58 on: May 09, 2018, 08:25:30 AM »
A course I took in seminary was on the social sources of denominationalism with a book by that title. A general finding in the book and in our studies was that among Protestant churches, the non-liturgical ones tended to attract lower social class people and the liturgical ones tended to attract higher social class people. (Even your illustration about Lutherans being more like Episcopalians follows this logic.)
Using this classification, where would you place the large population American racial minorities?


As I recall, and it was over 40 years ago, the economic and education status is what they primarily looked at. Affluent minorities are likely to be in the more liturgical church bodies, like Episcopalians. The less affluent in the less liturgical churches - and even among them, Pentecostals are generally less structured than Baptist who are less structured than Methodists.


The Black man who joined my home congregation many years ago, was a medical doctor.
Since 40 years have passed, can you comment on whether there is any truth to this theory?  Ultimately my point here is answering the question whether predominantly white denominations like the ELCA are intentionally excluding minorities, like some of our shrill voices who decry our demographics and demand quotas to "correct" it, or minorities are simply not attracted to our style of church, for whatever reason.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 09:02:13 AM by MaddogLutheran »
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Eileen Smith

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #59 on: May 09, 2018, 08:50:55 AM »


My concern has always been whether politics takes precedence in the church's mission over the unique Christian gospel.  Under the law and seeking righteousness in that way always confuses the unique mission of the church.  St. Paul writes that "Apart from law a righteousness of God has appeared..."  The church or at least this church ie. the public persona of the ELCA, needs to recover this "apart-fromness".  It needs to recover that the gospel has a unique voice and a different righteousness than what the law can give in offering relative matters of peace and justice.  Or, it will miss and omit the unique character of Christ's mission and his death on the cross for all sinners becomes rendered powerless.  Perhaps this is the real scandal of the gospel in that as we swim as creatures immersed under the law's righteousness it becomes more difficult to hear the unique voice of the gospel message.  Indeed the church can and does confuse the law's way of building righteousness over the Gospel's way.  They must be separate and distinct.  Both voices cannot speak together at the same time (uni-sono).

If I were not a subscriber to "Today in the Church Year" I wouldn't have known that today we commemorate Job.  The devotional piece is interesting in that it speaks to Job's battle between Paul's "the old man and the new man."   As I read this devotion I thought of your comment herein and wondered if what you describe above is a battle of the old man and new man - that is, one rooted to the world seeking the world's balm for its afflictions and the new man who sees Christ as the balm [for affliction].  Given that, I would agree that we are seeking temporal solutions and mistaking them as eternal. 

If you aren't a subscriber to this on-line gem, you may subscribe using this link.  https://calendar.cph.org  It arrives on Sundays and commemorations (or the frequency of your choice).  Many thanks to Deaconess Anna Johnson for this gift.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 08:54:25 AM by Eileen Smith »