Author Topic: LIRS  (Read 3386 times)

John_Hannah

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LIRS
« on: July 17, 2019, 07:47:16 AM »
Let's have LIRS comments here under a new topic. As new subjects come up, start a "NEW TOPIC."

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Mark Brown

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2019, 03:40:57 PM »
You probably need to import over some of Dave Benke's comments to get the thread going...


By way of response,

a) LIRS is not and has not been a Missouri Synod RSO.  There is no change in that regard.
 
The two organizations have been cooperating in externals for many decades, during which the national LCMS has funded LIRS annually and selected board representatives to serve on the LIRS board. 

b) The ELCA has increased its national denominational contribution to LIRS

c) The national Missouri Synod is not funding LIRS in its budget going forward.  It has ceased funding LIRS.  There is no official notification in that regard.  It was done "quietly without announcement."

d) LIRS no longer lists the LCMS as an ecumenical partner.  The reason for that is that the national LCMS is no longer funding LIRS, which is one of the partnership criteria from the perspective of LIRS.

Dave Benke

I would note, however, that a significant number of LIRS partners are LCMS RSOs....Pretty much every one with a name starting with "Lutheran Social Services of...", including New York's own Lutheran Social Services of New York.

It would be interesting to see what the national Missouri Synod is doing with regard to funding these organizations -- that information doesn't appear to be anywhere online that I can find.

There's a change coming in the way RSO's are evaluated and maintain their status.  I haven't followed it all that closely, but some of it has to do with the nature of the agencies, which have more than one company under their umbrella organization, and how the RSO status is maintained among those various companies.  If you get the Today's Business  Proposed Resolutions online, you can find that one.

In general, the RSO status does not come with grants from the national denomination, but allows two functions to be performed:
a) for the agency to have the ability, in its RSO company (if there are more than one in the agency) to call rostered workers
b) for the agency to utilize the Lutheran Church Extension Fund for loans and other such financial instruments

Dave Benke

And I have no idea what is actually happening, but it looks to me like a continuation of a healthy trend.  At various different levels we had all of these ecumenical para-church endeavors we were lead into in the '60s - '80s.  They hung around in the '90s - '00s, even as it became clear that the minimal theological agreement that started and sustained them was no longer present.  So in the late '00s- '10s we have been removing ourselves from organizations that have drifted far from Missouri preferences, and we have been emphasizing and reforming our RSO structure to be less like independent para-church organizations and more like parts of the church.  Call it the Lutheran ex corde ecclesia movement.

These organizations might still be doing some fine work.  If you want to support them individually, that is fine.  But the church proper really should have and needs to have more say over the aims if it is supporting monetarily.  And with people who are as far appart theologically on most social issues as the LCMS and the ELCA are, it doesn't make sense to work together in social organizations.  And in an era of tightening budgets, something has to stop.  Giving money to organizations that work contrary to the intentions of most of your membership, aren't really open to hearing how you might persue the mission, and are mostly acts of nostalgia for a past age seems like a good place to start stopping.

Charles Austin

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2019, 05:11:50 PM »
Mark Brown writes:
And with people who are as far appart theologically on most social issues as the LCMS and the ELCA are, it doesn't make sense to work together in social organizations.

I ask:
How much “theological agreement” do you have to have before you can join with someone to resettle a refugee, provide medical care to the wounded, or food to the hungry? If I give someone dying of thirst a cup of water in the name of Jesus,  does Jesus care that it may have been a Muslim hand that turned on the tap to fill the cup?
« Last Edit: July 17, 2019, 05:14:15 PM by Charles Austin »
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Interesting things on the new administration and religion in the 1/24 newspapers. Douthat column, e.g. Posted link here, but it was deleted.

Mark Brown

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2019, 05:24:44 PM »
Mark Brown writes:
And with people who are as far appart theologically on most social issues as the LCMS and the ELCA are, it doesn't make sense to work together in social organizations.

I ask:
How much “theological agreement” do you have to have before you can join with someone to resettle a refugee, provide medical care to the wounded, or food to the hungry? If I give someone dying of thirst a cup of water in the name of Jesus,  does Jesus care that it may have been a Muslim hand that turned on the tap to fill the cup?

Charles, what do you have against a church acting as a church itself?  It would be multiplying those serving.  Why are you against more hands helping?

peter_speckhard

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2019, 09:32:02 AM »
Mark Brown writes:
And with people who are as far appart theologically on most social issues as the LCMS and the ELCA are, it doesn't make sense to work together in social organizations.

I ask:
How much “theological agreement” do you have to have before you can join with someone to resettle a refugee, provide medical care to the wounded, or food to the hungry?
Short answer, very little. But whom you're working together with then seems fairly arbitrary. There is no difference between Lutheran organizations and Catholic or Methodists organizations, or even Muslim organizations for that matter. Why simultaneously insist that "Lutheran" is an important connection between the ELCA and the LCMS and that "theological agreement" isn't a factor?


J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2019, 09:37:54 AM »
I ask:
How much “theological agreement” do you have to have before you can join with someone to resettle a refugee, provide medical care to the wounded, or food to the hungry? If I give someone dying of thirst a cup of water in the name of Jesus,  does Jesus care that it may have been a Muslim hand that turned on the tap to fill the cup?
During the Somali civil war which led to the independence of South Somali "Islamic Charity" was on the scene to provide medical care to the wounded and food to the hungry provided that the recipient would recite the Shadarah--in other words, renounce Christ and become a Muslim.

This should be a cautionary tale both to those who argue radical inclusion and to those who argue hyper purity.
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015

Mark Brown

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2019, 10:06:48 AM »
Let me be a little more clear.  We could probably work better with the American Red Cross or some other completely secular organization than we could with one that claims brotherhood but doesn't walk in a similar way.  If we decided that helping immigrants was a mission that we felt compelled to be a part of, and all that we cared about was physical well being and simple charity, then a secular group would accomplish that and not cause any confusion over mission.  In fact the church supporting a purely secular endeavor would highlight the church's commitment to pure charity.  But what the Apostle says in 1st Corinthians is, "But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bares the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard or swindler - not even to eat with such a one."  A church that has erased the 6th commandment in any coherent understanding; a church that supports the killing of babies; a church that puts forward representatives that revile the past 2000 years of the church and the history of the nation we are part of, and all of these things have impact on the immigration questions as even Pope Francis calls it ideological colonization, is not a church that we should be joining together with.

Dave Benke

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2019, 10:15:03 AM »
Here's a description from Lutheran Services in America:  Lutheran Services in America leads one of the largest health and human services networks in the U.S. with over $22 billion in annual revenue, made up of over 300 Lutheran social ministry organizations that touch the lives of 1 in 50 Americans each year. Guided by God’s call to love and serve our neighbors, we empower our faith-based member organizations in their mission to lift up the nation’s most vulnerable people by serving seniors, children, youth and families, people with disabilities, veterans, immigrants and refugees and the homeless. Our members work in 1,400 communities throughout the country—in rural and urban areas—as shown on the map: http://bit.ly/Lutheran Services in America_member_map.

Network Highlights:

#20 on the Philanthropy 400
Aggregate annual revenues of close to $22 billion
Serve 6 million people – 1 in 50 – in the U.S. each year
Employ close to 250,000
Engage approximately 150,000 volunteers
Named to The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s “America’s Favorite Charities 2018” list


Additionally, the other two overarching agencies with national inter-Lutheran connectivity are LIRS and LWR (Lutheran World Relief). 

As far as the contribution of national denominational dollars is concerned, it's a marker that the Missouri Synod is part and partner.  LSA, LIRS and LWR have historically had Missouri Synod board members as well as CEOs and many other executives and employees representing those specific Lutheran agencies, the 300 and LIRS/LWR.

A major change since the time of Passavant and the other pioneers in human care/mercy mission through the years who established those 300 agencies is the funding mechanism.  Eleemosynary endeavors by Lutherans were largely funded by Lutherans.  It should be noted that they were funded by Lutherans even back then across denominational boundaries.  Today, the funding mechanism is overwhelmingly with public funds and grants.  Donations from Lutherans are important, but not the primary source of revenue.

So what's lost, in my opinion, when the Missouri Synod pulls out of various social service agencies, including in this thread LIRS, is the opportunity to be at the table, to bring evangelical witness, to be salt and light in our unique way.  Which has been and remains a treasured set of relationships by others in that mix, whether CEOs, Board members, or employees/recipients of care. 

Two examples:  I served as an agency CEO twice.  One of the things I emphasized with our workers, particularly in social service, was the specific Lutheran teaching on vocation, that what they were accomplishing was an aspect of calling/vocation, not simply a job.  The reaction of the workers was amazing, positive and constructive.  Secondly, when LSA was formed, a position on the board for a three year period was "Theologian in Residence."  This included both ELCA and Missouri theologians in my time on that board.  And the specifically Lutheran theological/exegetical framing of what we were doing at the board level every meeting was a wonderful beam of light for the whole board.

Stating that the Missouri Synod will do these things "on our own" and thereby multiply those serving or being served is truly a head-scratcher.  When it comes to LIRS, there are (I think this is the number) 9 agencies across the United States which are granted the opportunity to bring refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants through the process.  LIRS is one of the nine, along with the Roman Catholic, Jewish, Methodist, and other agencies.  We the Missouri Synod are not, as far as I can state this, going to attempt to pull together another competing immigration and refugee service.  We will simply not be at that table.  As indicated in the comment by Mark Brown, it's possible that based on the demographics at least church-politically in the Missouri Synod those in charge at the convention and at the executive level will want nothing to do with immigrants or refugees.  So the vote at a national convention may be to assist the government not in settling refugees and immigrants, but to assist the government in sending people back where they came from. 

Dave Benke




D. Engebretson

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2019, 10:54:51 AM »
In Resolution 3-03, "To Give Thanks for the 'Cooperation in Externals' with LIRS in Welcoming Refugees and Displaced Persons," the second- to- last resolved on page 63 of Today's Business, Proposed Resolutions, it reads:

Resolved, That individual members of the LCMS, and members of Synod congregations are free to agree or disagree with the political advocacy of LIRS...."

We have mainly been talking about theological differences between the LCMS and ELCA, but this one is different.  As a delegate who will vote on this resolution I have questions.  It's not that I don't want to "cooperate in externals," but I'm curious what "political advocacy" LIRS is involved in, especially the kind that I may "disagree with."  Dr. Benke, are you familiar with the particular political advocacy activities LIRS is involved in as an agency?



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St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Charles Austin

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2019, 11:55:17 AM »
Mark Brown writes:
Charles, what do you have against a church acting as a church itself?  It would be multiplying those serving.  Why are you against more hands helping?
I comment:
A “church acting as a church itself” actually limits the number of hands helping. There are a lot more hands when we cooperate with others.
As for LIRS and “political advocacy,” That probably refers to government policies regarding refugee resettlement that the LIRS either supports or opposes. Is that “political.”? Or is it “advocacy” in favor of ways that enable us to help refugees?
 Read the LIRS website carefully, and you’ll get an idea of what I mean.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Interesting things on the new administration and religion in the 1/24 newspapers. Douthat column, e.g. Posted link here, but it was deleted.

peter_speckhard

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2019, 12:24:01 PM »
Here's a description from Lutheran Services in America:  Lutheran Services in America leads one of the largest health and human services networks in the U.S. with over $22 billion in annual revenue, made up of over 300 Lutheran social ministry organizations that touch the lives of 1 in 50 Americans each year. Guided by God’s call to love and serve our neighbors, we empower our faith-based member organizations in their mission to lift up the nation’s most vulnerable people by serving seniors, children, youth and families, people with disabilities, veterans, immigrants and refugees and the homeless. Our members work in 1,400 communities throughout the country—in rural and urban areas—as shown on the map: http://bit.ly/Lutheran Services in America_member_map.

Network Highlights:

#20 on the Philanthropy 400
Aggregate annual revenues of close to $22 billion
Serve 6 million people – 1 in 50 – in the U.S. each year
Employ close to 250,000
Engage approximately 150,000 volunteers
Named to The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s “America’s Favorite Charities 2018” list


Additionally, the other two overarching agencies with national inter-Lutheran connectivity are LIRS and LWR (Lutheran World Relief). 

As far as the contribution of national denominational dollars is concerned, it's a marker that the Missouri Synod is part and partner.  LSA, LIRS and LWR have historically had Missouri Synod board members as well as CEOs and many other executives and employees representing those specific Lutheran agencies, the 300 and LIRS/LWR.

A major change since the time of Passavant and the other pioneers in human care/mercy mission through the years who established those 300 agencies is the funding mechanism.  Eleemosynary endeavors by Lutherans were largely funded by Lutherans.  It should be noted that they were funded by Lutherans even back then across denominational boundaries.  Today, the funding mechanism is overwhelmingly with public funds and grants.  Donations from Lutherans are important, but not the primary source of revenue.

So what's lost, in my opinion, when the Missouri Synod pulls out of various social service agencies, including in this thread LIRS, is the opportunity to be at the table, to bring evangelical witness, to be salt and light in our unique way.  Which has been and remains a treasured set of relationships by others in that mix, whether CEOs, Board members, or employees/recipients of care. 

Two examples:  I served as an agency CEO twice.  One of the things I emphasized with our workers, particularly in social service, was the specific Lutheran teaching on vocation, that what they were accomplishing was an aspect of calling/vocation, not simply a job.  The reaction of the workers was amazing, positive and constructive.  Secondly, when LSA was formed, a position on the board for a three year period was "Theologian in Residence."  This included both ELCA and Missouri theologians in my time on that board.  And the specifically Lutheran theological/exegetical framing of what we were doing at the board level every meeting was a wonderful beam of light for the whole board.

Stating that the Missouri Synod will do these things "on our own" and thereby multiply those serving or being served is truly a head-scratcher.  When it comes to LIRS, there are (I think this is the number) 9 agencies across the United States which are granted the opportunity to bring refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants through the process.  LIRS is one of the nine, along with the Roman Catholic, Jewish, Methodist, and other agencies.  We the Missouri Synod are not, as far as I can state this, going to attempt to pull together another competing immigration and refugee service.  We will simply not be at that table.  As indicated in the comment by Mark Brown, it's possible that based on the demographics at least church-politically in the Missouri Synod those in charge at the convention and at the executive level will want nothing to do with immigrants or refugees.  So the vote at a national convention may be to assist the government not in settling refugees and immigrants, but to assist the government in sending people back where they came from. 

Dave Benke
LSA employs a quarter of a million people? That has to be more than all the LCMS congregations combined employ.

I think you're spot on that the issue isn't really funding, since the LCMS could not even theoretically be a significant financial contributor to an organization with 22 billion dollars of annual revenue. The issue is a marker, a place at the table a sense of solidarity or shared identity. Even if the dollars are token, what matters about them is how and where they express solidarity. As immigration increasingly becomes politicized, it becomes harder and harder to express solidarity without taking a political side or breaking solidarity with those of a contrary view.

I remember having Vietnamese "boat people" at our house in the 70's, and our congregation assimilated a few refugee families. I was, for a time, a DELTO supervisor for a Hmong pastor seeking ordination, whose roots go back to the same international crisis. My mother's childhood (in Canada) featured a time of sharing their home with a family of Latvian refugees after WWII. I think it is a perfectly valid and God-pleasing thing for Christians and churches to reach out to immigrants or anyone in desperate need.

I believe (not sure where I read this) that today the percentage of people in the U.S. who are first or second generation immigrants is at or near an all time high. That is a socially destabilizing thing no matter how you slice it, in any society in the history of the world. So while in general I favor immigration, I tend to be very turned off by those who don't even try to see the other side of the issue except in terms of fear or hatred.

To describe it in terms that people close to me who are much more in favor of closed borders have used, there is a big difference between offering an immigrant your spare bedroom and offering an immigrant your neighbor's job. There is a big difference between welcoming the people who were invited in through the door and welcoming the people who sneaked in through the window. These are valid points. They can't be dismissed as mere lack of sympathy for the suffering or some kind of nativist xenophobia, and those who do so dismiss these objections in that way repel people like me who might otherwise be inclined to agree with them. 

There isn't really any reason immigration should be a partisan political issue except as it aligns with broader worldviews. Due to a confluence of diverse factors, it seems to me that the inherently destabilizing nature of mass migration is at the heart of the debate. That is, people who want the social order of the U.S. destabilized are for mass immigration precisely because it is socially destabilizing. They don't want to house immigrants themselves, they want to live in a nation with a future less anchored in its past.

The upholders of the traditional social order (not the official government order, but the traditional everyday culture) react against the destabilization of it, and their negative reaction is easily but falsely derided as racist. It isn't racist, but it wants the U.S. to keep being nourished by its roots. If those roots are inherently racist, hateful, etc. than of course the desire not to see them severed could be seen as racist. But this group sees racism in America more like a treatable flaw and less like a fatal genetic disease.

So we are a divided nation and culture. If you went to a public grade school and gathered the class in the library and said, "Listen my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere" some people would object. And it is predictable what the political leanings would be of those who objected and those who objected to the objection.

Charles Austin

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2019, 12:35:54 PM »
Peter writes:
I believe (not sure where I read this) that today the percentage of people in the U.S. who are first or second generation immigrants is at or near an all time high. That is a socially destabilizing thing no matter how you slice it, in any society in the history of the world.
I ask:
“Socially destabilizing thing”? Just what is that? How is it socially destabilizing to have people from other countries be a significant part of our population?
It is perfectly clear that the second or third generation of immigrants move in to all levels of our society, even, can you imagine!, Serving in Congress!
I guess it is “socially destabilizing” if some of the power is taken from those who previously had it, that is white Anglo-Saxon or Northern European immigrants of previous generations.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Interesting things on the new administration and religion in the 1/24 newspapers. Douthat column, e.g. Posted link here, but it was deleted.

Mark Brown

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2019, 12:43:29 PM »
...We the Missouri Synod are not, as far as I can state this, going to attempt to pull together another competing immigration and refugee service.  We will simply not be at that table.  As indicated in the comment by Mark Brown, it's possible that based on the demographics at least church-politically in the Missouri Synod those in charge at the convention and at the executive level will want nothing to do with immigrants or refugees.  So the vote at a national convention may be to assist the government not in settling refugees and immigrants, but to assist the government in sending people back where they came from. 

Dave Benke

1. I doubt that we would, although that would not be my preference.  I don't really care about "a spot at the table" in the way the current game is played.  Because that is just playing out a losing hand in a losing game.  I have no interest in supporting "church" organizations where a standard member in good standing who believes all the things the church teaches could not be the leader of that organization.  Can you answer in the affirmative that an LCMS member could be the CEO of LIRS (assuming we were all in as a denomination)?  I have great interest in rebuilding organizations that could be active faithful exemplars of this church in action.  And if they are as small as a mustard seed at the start, that is fine.  And being honest, we probably only have enough money for a few mustard seeds.

2. There would appear to be a great opportunity for pure charity at the border right now.  If I had a magic wand and was running a church aid organization, I wouldn't be aiming at political goals.  I wouldn't be in the advocacy game.  I wouldn't want to be, as most of these Official NGOs are, extensions of the political powers that be.  I would be involved in actual charity.  Like simply providing material assistence to an impossible situation on the border.  Whether people are sent back to where they came from, are let into the country to disappear, or are given a pathway to citezenship is a political decision.  It should be debated in the political sphere.  But until such time as our political sphere becomes a place where decisions can be made, it will produce lots of spillover damage.  Lots of beaten people on the side of the road.  That is an oppotunity for charity.  I want to support charity, not politics.

peter_speckhard

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2019, 12:48:11 PM »
Here is an example of the approach to history and the U.S. that I think nails our cultural divide. It is a tweet from the NYT that I think conservatives will find ridiculous to offensive and progressives will find harmless to insightful.

"America may have put the first man on the moon, but the Soviet Union sent the first woman, the first Asian man, and the first black man into orbit — all years before the U.S. would follow suit." NYT

D. Engebretson

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Re: LIRS
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2019, 12:52:40 PM »
As our generations change one thing is very evident: we are losing a sense of our own history.  And I am not talking specifically about immigrants at this point, but the issue is tangentially related.  My daughter who has taught at the Univ. of Minn. has noticed a deplorable lack of knowledge of even the most basic facts of our nation's history, and by this I mean more recent, 20th century history.  She had college graduates who did not know what the "Space Race" was and had no knowledge of what "Jim Crow Laws" were.  Her specialty is education, but she has found herself having to provide remedial history lessons nonetheless. 

As new immigrants arrive in our country we need to find a way to appreciate their history and celebrate it appropriately, but we also need to effectively teach our own, something which even many of our current citizens lack.  To effectively participate in our nation's governing system we need a connection with its past; how it came to be, why it was constructed the way it was. But this involves more than just a citizenship test.  Is our educational system effectively passing on the past to the younger generations, especially those first generation immigrants that now integrate into our system?  I'm not sure.  I have concerns. 

 
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI