Author Topic: The Differences Between Lutherans Today  (Read 5411 times)

Charles Austin

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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #45 on: November 02, 2019, 03:45:29 PM »
Two members of my class of 1967 (36 in the class) were not ordained. I do not know why.
Four or five, including a couple of the supposedly ďbrightest and best,Ē did not last five years in the ordained ministry.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

Dave Benke

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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #46 on: November 02, 2019, 04:05:28 PM »
Comparing notes with Bishop Benke:

Our graduating class from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis had 142 seminarians receive their first call.
Another 36 in our class went on to do Graduate Study, either at the seminary or elsewhere.
I am not aware of any of my classmates who were told they would not be certified for ordination.
However, three members of my class came back from their vicarage and had bad experiences with
their supervisor and decided to drop out of the seminary.

Yes, Dave - one of the main "tools" of evaluation back in the day and until this very day in the Missouri Synod system was the vicarage/internship experience and evaluation.  The uncomfy part of that has to do with the supervisor.  If that person took a dim view of the vicar then the vicar was in for a rough ride.  One young man from out East was told by the supervisor that he could only serve as an assistant pastor, and therefore needed to be removed from the program.  The young man had specifically requested that he was best suited for an assistant/associate position doing visitation, etc.  Which he was totally suited for.  But - he was shown the gate.  I put in a lot of hours arguing that, but it wasn't to be.  So in my own estimation the vicarage experience should not be the only or prime determinant in suitability for parish pastor ministry.

Dave Benke

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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #47 on: November 02, 2019, 06:58:59 PM »
The candidacy process in the ELCA consists of three steps: Entrance, Endorsement, and Approval. Candidates are overseen by each synod's Candidacy Committee.

Entrance is typically completed prior to acceptance by the seminary. Candidates complete an entrance essay, background check, psychological testing, and formal interview by the committee (or by some members of the committee). The expectation is that candidates will begin the process at least a year before applying to the seminary. Some (like me) were accepted to the seminary first. This does not typically make the committee pleased ;) , and results in the seminary giving the student a one-semester grace-period to complete Entrance before registering for further classes.  An Entrance decision can be one of three options: "Entranced" (ELCA-speak for approved to begin studies), Delayed, or Denied. If denied, the process is over.

Endorsement typically occurs during fall semester of the Middler (second) year for a traditional-track student (not sure when they do it with the other options). The seminarian completes a lengthy series of essays (topics are the same for all ELCA candidates that year) and has an interview at the seminary with two members of the synod committee and their faculty advisor. It is expected (though not always required) that the candidate has completed a unit of CPE prior to endorsement. A seminarian must be endorsed before they can begin the internship year. As before, the options are: Endorsed, Delayed, or Denied.

If denied, the process is over. Some seminarians opt to switch to an MA program (if they were on an ordination track) and complete the school year. If delayed, they may have hoops to jump through (directed readings, more coursework, more CPE, you name it) before internship. In some situations, they may stay on track for an internship year with their class, in others it may be a fourth-year internship or some other arrangement.

Approval occurs during the final year of seminary. Internship evaluations are reviewed by the seminary and the committee. The candidate completes a third series of essays. They may have an interview with members of the seminary faculty (usually the advisor and one or two others). They will return to their home synod for an approval interview with the committee. The entire faculty of the seminary will vote on each candidate (at least they did at Luther), and forward that decision onto the committee, which will make the final decision: Approved for Ordination, Delayed, or Denied. As before, denied means "you're done." Usually (hopefully) it occurs before this step, but denials do happen. It's pretty brutal to see...

Approved candidates are then instructed to fill out their mobility paperwork ("Rostered Leader Profile") and geographic preference information. They may choose to:  (1) Select up to three regions and three synods per region; (2) Check the "I'll go anywhere" box; or (3) Request a restriction: "I'm only willing to serve here, and will wait until I can go here. Everything is submitted electronically to Higgins Road in preparation for the fall or spring assignment process ("The Draft"). Region announcements are made in early winter, and candidates find out which synod they're assigned to when the bishop calls.

Though the overall process is the same throughout the ELCA, there is a LOT of variation between the sixty-five synods in how they conduct the candidacy process. Some are very "hands on" and keep in touch with their candidates, require retreats, etc. Others pretty much have them do the paperwork and show up for the interviews.
Now you know more than you ever wanted to know about all of this...  :)

RPG+


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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #48 on: November 02, 2019, 09:12:03 PM »
Comparing notes with Bishop Benke:

Our graduating class from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis had 142 seminarians receive their first call.
Another 36 in our class went on to do Graduate Study, either at the seminary or elsewhere.
I am not aware of any of my classmates who were told they would not be certified for ordination.
However, three members of my class came back from their vicarage and had bad experiences with
their supervisor and decided to drop out of the seminary.

Yes, Dave - one of the main "tools" of evaluation back in the day and until this very day in the Missouri Synod system was the vicarage/internship experience and evaluation.  The uncomfy part of that has to do with the supervisor.  If that person took a dim view of the vicar then the vicar was in for a rough ride.  One young man from out East was told by the supervisor that he could only serve as an assistant pastor, and therefore needed to be removed from the program.  The young man had specifically requested that he was best suited for an assistant/associate position doing visitation, etc.  Which he was totally suited for.  But - he was shown the gate.  I put in a lot of hours arguing that, but it wasn't to be.  So in my own estimation the vicarage experience should not be the only or prime determinant in suitability for parish pastor ministry.

Dave Benke
My guess is the reasoning behind the intransigence had to with the nature of certification. They probably would have been happy to certify him to be a deacon. But certification is to the pastoral ministry, full stop. You canít limit ordination to a particular context. At least, the certification committee couldnít.

Thatís the same issue people had with SMP. Yes, we have promises, common sense, etc. But the certification committee certifies pastors. To certify someone for ordination with the caveat that they are really only qualified to be an assistant would like awarding an M.D. to graduates of a PA program.

Iíve worked with three or four guys who variously struggled with pre-sem interviews, vicarage, the academics, and so forth. On the personal side it is hard; you know the guy and can picture exactly where he would excel. But in all the working through things, we had to be clear that we werenít blaming the committee for doing its job. We wanted the candidate to pass, but not merely because the committee gave up in the standards. The committee members werenít working for us, they were working for every other congregation out there.

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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #49 on: November 02, 2019, 09:59:35 PM »
The candidacy process in the ELCA consists of three steps: Entrance, Endorsement, and Approval. Candidates are overseen by each synod's Candidacy Committee.

Entrance is typically completed prior to acceptance by the seminary. Candidates complete an entrance essay, background check, psychological testing, and formal interview by the committee (or by some members of the committee). The expectation is that candidates will begin the process at least a year before applying to the seminary. Some (like me) were accepted to the seminary first. This does not typically make the committee pleased ;) , and results in the seminary giving the student a one-semester grace-period to complete Entrance before registering for further classes.  An Entrance decision can be one of three options: "Entranced" (ELCA-speak for approved to begin studies), Delayed, or Denied. If denied, the process is over.

Endorsement typically occurs during fall semester of the Middler (second) year for a traditional-track student (not sure when they do it with the other options). The seminarian completes a lengthy series of essays (topics are the same for all ELCA candidates that year) and has an interview at the seminary with two members of the synod committee and their faculty advisor. It is expected (though not always required) that the candidate has completed a unit of CPE prior to endorsement. A seminarian must be endorsed before they can begin the internship year. As before, the options are: Endorsed, Delayed, or Denied.

If denied, the process is over. Some seminarians opt to switch to an MA program (if they were on an ordination track) and complete the school year. If delayed, they may have hoops to jump through (directed readings, more coursework, more CPE, you name it) before internship. In some situations, they may stay on track for an internship year with their class, in others it may be a fourth-year internship or some other arrangement.

Approval occurs during the final year of seminary. Internship evaluations are reviewed by the seminary and the committee. The candidate completes a third series of essays. They may have an interview with members of the seminary faculty (usually the advisor and one or two others). They will return to their home synod for an approval interview with the committee. The entire faculty of the seminary will vote on each candidate (at least they did at Luther), and forward that decision onto the committee, which will make the final decision: Approved for Ordination, Delayed, or Denied. As before, denied means "you're done." Usually (hopefully) it occurs before this step, but denials do happen. It's pretty brutal to see...

Approved candidates are then instructed to fill out their mobility paperwork ("Rostered Leader Profile") and geographic preference information. They may choose to:  (1) Select up to three regions and three synods per region; (2) Check the "I'll go anywhere" box; or (3) Request a restriction: "I'm only willing to serve here, and will wait until I can go here. Everything is submitted electronically to Higgins Road in preparation for the fall or spring assignment process ("The Draft"). Region announcements are made in early winter, and candidates find out which synod they're assigned to when the bishop calls.

Though the overall process is the same throughout the ELCA, there is a LOT of variation between the sixty-five synods in how they conduct the candidacy process. Some are very "hands on" and keep in touch with their candidates, require retreats, etc. Others pretty much have them do the paperwork and show up for the interviews.
Now you know more than you ever wanted to know about all of this...  :)

RPG+
Actually, that was very clear and illuminating. Thanks!

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Dave Benke

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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #50 on: November 03, 2019, 02:29:41 AM »
Comparing notes with Bishop Benke:

Our graduating class from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis had 142 seminarians receive their first call.
Another 36 in our class went on to do Graduate Study, either at the seminary or elsewhere.
I am not aware of any of my classmates who were told they would not be certified for ordination.
However, three members of my class came back from their vicarage and had bad experiences with
their supervisor and decided to drop out of the seminary.

Yes, Dave - one of the main "tools" of evaluation back in the day and until this very day in the Missouri Synod system was the vicarage/internship experience and evaluation.  The uncomfy part of that has to do with the supervisor.  If that person took a dim view of the vicar then the vicar was in for a rough ride.  One young man from out East was told by the supervisor that he could only serve as an assistant pastor, and therefore needed to be removed from the program.  The young man had specifically requested that he was best suited for an assistant/associate position doing visitation, etc.  Which he was totally suited for.  But - he was shown the gate.  I put in a lot of hours arguing that, but it wasn't to be.  So in my own estimation the vicarage experience should not be the only or prime determinant in suitability for parish pastor ministry.

Dave Benke
My guess is the reasoning behind the intransigence had to with the nature of certification. They probably would have been happy to certify him to be a deacon. But certification is to the pastoral ministry, full stop. You canít limit ordination to a particular context. At least, the certification committee couldnít.

Thatís the same issue people had with SMP. Yes, we have promises, common sense, etc. But the certification committee certifies pastors. To certify someone for ordination with the caveat that they are really only qualified to be an assistant would like awarding an M.D. to graduates of a PA program.

Iíve worked with three or four guys who variously struggled with pre-sem interviews, vicarage, the academics, and so forth. On the personal side it is hard; you know the guy and can picture exactly where he would excel. But in all the working through things, we had to be clear that we werenít blaming the committee for doing its job. We wanted the candidate to pass, but not merely because the committee gave up in the standards. The committee members werenít working for us, they were working for every other congregation out there.

Sure.  I don't think a pastor should self-pigeonhole as assistant/associate or anything else.  But say this particular man completed, was certified, and was serving as an assistant/associate for six years.  That additional seasoning might/probably would make it possible for him to serve in sole pastoral setting.  Hey has taken positions of board authority at various levels of wider church service through the years.  So I felt the committee took the short view and missed an opportunity to bring a person into ordained service.

As to SMP, my perspective is that the opportunity to become "fully" ordered in our denomination by completing various additional courses is at present the only way out of a system that does not take us on the correct path.  The DELTO, EIIT and Center for Hispanic Studies pastors are eligible to serve anywhere.  And DELTO is the mother of daughter SMP.  This to me was, relatively speaking, a political game engineered to satisfy the electorate, because the SMP graduates are pigeonholed, even though they are confessionally subscribed through the level of the Book of Concord and are evaluated all along the way.

Dave Benke

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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #51 on: November 03, 2019, 07:54:16 AM »
Comparing notes with Bishop Benke:

Our graduating class from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis had 142 seminarians receive their first call.
Another 36 in our class went on to do Graduate Study, either at the seminary or elsewhere.
I am not aware of any of my classmates who were told they would not be certified for ordination.
However, three members of my class came back from their vicarage and had bad experiences with
their supervisor and decided to drop out of the seminary.

Yes, Dave - one of the main "tools" of evaluation back in the day and until this very day in the Missouri Synod system was the vicarage/internship experience and evaluation.  The uncomfy part of that has to do with the supervisor.  If that person took a dim view of the vicar then the vicar was in for a rough ride.  One young man from out East was told by the supervisor that he could only serve as an assistant pastor, and therefore needed to be removed from the program.  The young man had specifically requested that he was best suited for an assistant/associate position doing visitation, etc.  Which he was totally suited for.  But - he was shown the gate.  I put in a lot of hours arguing that, but it wasn't to be.  So in my own estimation the vicarage experience should not be the only or prime determinant in suitability for parish pastor ministry.

Dave Benke
My guess is the reasoning behind the intransigence had to with the nature of certification. They probably would have been happy to certify him to be a deacon. But certification is to the pastoral ministry, full stop. You canít limit ordination to a particular context. At least, the certification committee couldnít.

Thatís the same issue people had with SMP. Yes, we have promises, common sense, etc. But the certification committee certifies pastors. To certify someone for ordination with the caveat that they are really only qualified to be an assistant would like awarding an M.D. to graduates of a PA program.

Iíve worked with three or four guys who variously struggled with pre-sem interviews, vicarage, the academics, and so forth. On the personal side it is hard; you know the guy and can picture exactly where he would excel. But in all the working through things, we had to be clear that we werenít blaming the committee for doing its job. We wanted the candidate to pass, but not merely because the committee gave up in the standards. The committee members werenít working for us, they were working for every other congregation out there.

Sure.  I don't think a pastor should self-pigeonhole as assistant/associate or anything else.  But say this particular man completed, was certified, and was serving as an assistant/associate for six years.  That additional seasoning might/probably would make it possible for him to serve in sole pastoral setting.  Hey has taken positions of board authority at various levels of wider church service through the years.  So I felt the committee took the short view and missed an opportunity to bring a person into ordained service.

As to SMP, my perspective is that the opportunity to become "fully" ordered in our denomination by completing various additional courses is at present the only way out of a system that does not take us on the correct path.  The DELTO, EIIT and Center for Hispanic Studies pastors are eligible to serve anywhere.  And DELTO is the mother of daughter SMP.  This to me was, relatively speaking, a political game engineered to satisfy the electorate, because the SMP graduates are pigeonholed, even though they are confessionally subscribed through the level of the Book of Concord and are evaluated all along the way.

Dave Benke

Serving in Candidacy for 9 years+, I frequently encountered committees saying a candidate was ok to ordain, but first call should be as an associate or assistant pastor. This was troubling to me (and if you know me, you know that I said so!) because ordination is ordination. Associate/assistant positions are not remedial, they are collegial staff positions. It was often frustrating.

Donna
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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #52 on: November 03, 2019, 08:01:11 AM »
there are fine theological students who have almost no ability to relate to people

There are many wonderful ways they can share their gifts.  The University of Kansas for example has a highly regarded school of religious studies.  By the way, the University's official seal is Moses kneeling before the burning bush, encircled by the University's official motto, Exodus 3:3 from the Vulgate: "Videbo visionem hanc magnam quare non conburatur rubus."  Smith Hall, the school of religious studies, features this with a stunning modern sculpture of Moses, kneeling before a stained-glass window of the burning bush: https://s3.amazonaws.com/ogden_images/www.ljworld.com/images/2005/10/22222634/smith_hall_stained_glass_413.jpg

It would be wonderful for individuals teaching at such institutions to receive a PhD at one of our seminaries.  However, for the Church, "fine theological students who have almost no ability to relate to people" should not be attempting to teach men how to be pastors. 
Rev. Kevin Vogts, Pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church
Paola, Kansas
www.trinitylcms.org

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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #53 on: November 03, 2019, 08:10:51 AM »
I agree the system needs to continue to evolve. We pastors to serve the church, and they need to be educated, faithful, capable, and equipped. How to make that happen institutionally is a perpetually open question. I just think it would have meant having the certification committee push that envelope to approve someone for ordination on the promise/assumption he would only ever serve as an assistant.

One thing any system needs to take into account is the relationship between any congregation and the synod. The traditional route honors congressional autonomy while also leading to tremendous, de facto synod-wide unity because it cross-pollinates all the congregations. It also, to be sure, puts the vision for what the future of the synod like in the hands of the seminaries, and, at a practical level, better serves those whose vision is more catholic than evangelical. That is, the people who think they should be able to visit any LCMS church and feel more or less at home are well served by the traditional route.

Congregations whose vision for the church differs from the synod, at least in terms of church culture, do not see themselves as well served by the traditional route. They have their own mojo and then some seminarian comes and isnít on board. They need the flexibility to raise up home grown pastors. Then the issue becomes, whose roster is it? If this or that congregation wants to raise to its own pastors, why doors the rest of the synod have to recognize them as pastors? And if it is important that they do, why not let the synod make that determination in the way the synod has decided to do it?

 So there is always some per struggle and politics with institutional tinkering, because the larger issues revolve around the operative vision for what the system is designed to produce. What does tomorrowís LCMS look like? In tens of worship? In terms of vocations? Schools? If I start cranking out pastors who can really serve St. Paulís in Munster well, am I acting on behalf of the synod?

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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #54 on: November 03, 2019, 08:38:30 AM »
I was just re-reading von Schenck's "Lively Stone" the other day.  What always struck me from that little picture was three things.  1) The freedom that he and all of them took in leading congregations.  That generation were leaders.  None of them would make it through even our system.  2) How open they were to disagreement without throwing each other out.  Even though he came across just like a modern evangelical where everything is a fight for the Kingdom, they practically operated out of a two kingdoms theology.  3) The seemingly unending supply of good solid laymen and women.

A lost world.  I suppose that what is most missed is that third one.  Instead of solid congregations where ministers could learn from, so much of what is demanded is solid Christian men that can model the Christian life to congregations.  But that would require a rebirth of points 1 & 2.  A system that is able to both produce and give honest opportunities to risk taking leaders.  One might be serving the larger synod by allowing for that even if the synod doesn't recognize it.

Charles Austin

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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #55 on: November 03, 2019, 08:55:01 AM »
Peter writes:
If I start cranking out pastors who can really serve St. Paulís in Munster well, am I acting on behalf of the synod?
I comment:
No. Because today we need pastors who can also serve - or at the very least function in and relate to - the world outside the congregation.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #56 on: November 03, 2019, 09:44:21 AM »
Congregations whose vision for the church differs from the synod, at least in terms of church culture, do not see themselves as well served by the traditional route. They have their own mojo and then some seminarian comes and isnít on board. They need the flexibility to raise up home grown pastors. Then the issue becomes, whose roster is it? If this or that congregation wants to raise to its own pastors, why doors the rest of the synod have to recognize them as pastors? And if it is important that they do, why not let the synod make that determination in the way the synod has decided to do it?


I think the synod (LCMS) does determine in the way they've decided to - over time.  So the DELTO curriculum is virtually the same as the SMP curriculum, and the DELTO pastors are not held "under supervision," and yet the SMP pastors are held under supervision unless and until they complete yet another regimen of courses.  To say nothing of the EIIT pastors.  I have no personal stake in this any more.  I was a member of the group that produced the document (Mission Blueprint for the 90s) that led to DELTO some 25 years or more ago.  And I have ordained and installed a whole bundle of DELTO/EIIT/Alternate Route and SMP pastors.  The mistaken assumption in your comment is that the "Mojo" of the non-traditional route comes only from those who differ from synod in church culture.  That's not the way it has been in this part of synod-world.  So it's not a universal phenomenon. 

What is authentic Lutheran church culture is most likely a different question than what do some Missouri Synod Lutheran people understand to be authentic Lutheran church culture.

Dave Benke

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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #57 on: November 03, 2019, 12:21:07 PM »
In the LCMS it seems like there are different types of vicarage supervisors and congregations:

1. There is the pastor who is an excellent mentor to seminarians and the parish under his
supervision has a long history of having vicars.  As a supervisor this pastor understands the
teaching  opportunity he has with vicars and becomes an good role model for them.

2. There is the pastor and congregation who want some cheap help for their large parish
for one year.  So they decide to get a vicar.  In this scenario the vicar is seen as a hired
hand by both the pastor and congregation.  The supervisor fails to see his teaching role.

 

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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #58 on: November 03, 2019, 01:09:34 PM »
In the LCMS it seems like there are different types of vicarage supervisors and congregations:

1. There is the pastor who is an excellent mentor to seminarians and the parish under his
supervision has a long history of having vicars.  As a supervisor this pastor understands the
teaching  opportunity he has with vicars and becomes an good role model for them.

2. There is the pastor and congregation who want some cheap help for their large parish
for one year.  So they decide to get a vicar.  In this scenario the vicar is seen as a hired
hand by both the pastor and congregation.  The supervisor fails to see his teaching role.


I would suggest that in no. 1 the congregation (not just the pastor) sees itself as a teacher of pastors.


There are also congregations, usually small ones, who repeatedly call seminarians. The congregation consider it part of their call to help turn the seminarian into a pastor. After 3-5 years the pastors move on.
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Re: The Differences Between Lutherans Today
« Reply #59 on: November 03, 2019, 02:09:12 PM »
There are also congregations, usually small ones, who repeatedly call seminarians. The congregation consider it part of their call to help turn the seminarian into a pastor. After 3-5 years the pastors move on.

I know of one congregation in these parts which prided itself (in the most negative sense of that verb) of calling only first-call, newly graduated candidates; keeping no more than three years and then--in their very perjorative phrase--"getting rid of them."
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