Author Topic: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced  (Read 106589 times)

D. Engebretson

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #840 on: February 11, 2021, 09:57:33 AM »
In my area of rural northern Wisconsin the ELCA parishes are disappearing or shrinking, and as things go, I'm sure the LCMS ones are also smaller, although all are still here.  I'm not sure if any of the area ELCA churches near me have a full-time pastor anymore.  In my township we had two Lutheran churches separated by about 3-5 miles (on the same county highway, believe it or not).  The ELCA parish to my north closed last year (after a 130+ year history!) and sold their building to a local Mennonite community.  I am now the only Lutheran parish for this demographic. The nearest LCMS parishes to me are about 8 miles to the west (our larger LCMS church with a school, which my members use), 16 to the east, 20 to the north-east, and 14 to the north-west.  With the pandemic I am sure our smaller congregations are at much higher risk, although no report of a financial crisis at present, or plans to close or consolidate.  One dual vacant parish to the north-east, however, may be difficult to fill.  Last I heard they wanted to call from the seminary, but I am concerned that they will not be able to offer a high enough compensation package.  I think we will have a more complete picture of the fallout from the pandemic several months down the road.
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Randy Bosch

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #841 on: February 11, 2021, 10:03:35 AM »
Thatís not been my experience Tom. Maybe the congregation I serve is anomaly. We are multi generational, has some serious ups and a few downs. Also a deliberate plan of helping lambs follow Good Shepherd.

Tim, that's good that your younger members give sacrificially and are loyal to the congregation.  That's not always the case, as some pastors I know have shared with me.

As for my congregation, our younger members DO give sacrificially, but they are low income and so just can't give as much as our older more wealthy members.

Also, our demographic is different than that of your congregation.  Jamestown has a population of 15,000 - and that # has been static since I've been here (going on 16 years), but that 15,000 is getting more elderly (as older people from small, rural towns move to Jamestown and as younger people leave to find better employment).  In addition, Jamestown is the "big city" in our area and so we don't have any nearby population centers to draw from (Fargo is 100 miles to the east).  But our LCMS congregation has a great ministry in our little city.  We do our best to be engaged with the community.  One unique challenge is that there are 8 Lutheran churches in our city (4 ELCA; 1 LCMS; 1 Free Lutheran; 1 Lutheran Brethren;  1 CLC) - and two of the ELCA congregations have 5 times our membership but their attendance is less than ours.  So, there's a mission field in Jamestown just among inactive members!

The by far most important phrase in Tim's comment is "...a deliberate plan of helping lambs follow Good Shepherd."

There are many critical aspects of a community's "demographics". 
I was involved in several community housing studies, with annual updates, to help determine which age and income levels would require what kind and cost of housing to allow various groups to remain in a community - and how the community that benefitted from their presence could actively participate in assuring appropriate housing was available.  Fraught with political and business landmines.

Another more hidden aspect that can greatly affect church health is related to relationships.  Multi-generational aspects can be critical - and sometimes internal church power struggles can even cause multi-generations of the faithful to depart, leaving a gaping hole in attendance, leadership, finances, and pushing lambs away from how "following the Good Shepherd" is encouraged in a place.  Intermarriage over several generations between multi-generational families also creates a web of relationships, sometimes very dysfunctional, that can manifest in blocs and Hatfield/McCoy struggles that should not, but do influence what happens.

Sadly, we've even seen community (and church) battles based upon who did better than someone else in competitive businesses; based upon who ended up with someone else's husband or wife; based upon whose offspring made the team and whose didn't.  The impacts upon community cohesion and focus - and even more severely upon congregational cohesion and focus too often border upon the Byzantine and insane.

So, best advice, lead with "...a deliberate plan of helping lambs follow Good Shepherd". 
And, be very careful when walking through minefields...


PrTim15

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #842 on: February 11, 2021, 10:07:45 AM »
Fantastic Randy, and surround yourself with people smarter than yourself. Thatís an easy task for me.

Tom, my Uncle Carl R Klinkenberg served at Concordia in Jamestown in 50s. He died at 34 from cancer. He was just back from WW II and had started in McClusky, ND.

Dave Benke

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #843 on: February 11, 2021, 10:08:13 AM »
Thatís not been my experience Tom. Maybe the congregation I serve is anomaly. We are multi generational, has some serious ups and a few downs. Also a deliberate plan of helping lambs follow Good Shepherd.

Tim, that's good that your younger members give sacrificially and are loyal to the congregation.  That's not always the case, as some pastors I know have shared with me.

As for my congregation, our younger members DO give sacrificially, but they are low income and so just can't give as much as our older more wealthy members.

Also, our demographic is different than that of your congregation.  Jamestown has a population of 15,000 - and that # has been static since I've been here (going on 16 years), but that 15,000 is getting more elderly (as older people from small, rural towns move to Jamestown and as younger people leave to find better employment).  In addition, Jamestown is the "big city" in our area and so we don't have any nearby population centers to draw from (Fargo is 100 miles to the east).  But our LCMS congregation has a great ministry in our little city.  We do our best to be engaged with the community.  One unique challenge is that there are 8 Lutheran churches in our city (4 ELCA; 1 LCMS; 1 Free Lutheran; 1 Lutheran Brethren;  1 CLC) - and two of the ELCA congregations have 5 times our membership but their attendance is less than ours.  So, there's a mission field in Jamestown just among inactive members!

Interesting demographics, and the same would be true, I guess, for Don's part of the world.  What then is the percentage of Lutherans in Jamestown?  Must be pretty high.  My guess is that "ELCA" means "former ALC" in that part of the world, and maybe designated by heritage - Scandinavian, as opposed to the more German LCMS. 

Like Don, the ELCA congregations have withered away in our area of the world.  Except one.  And that one took on full scale the immigrant population, with home-and-community based outreach.  We're envisioning a two/three parish LCMS strategy to impact an 4 x 4 mile area containing 400,000 people.  And the Lutheran share of population would be .001.  No shortage of opportunity, but we don't look at how many Lutherans there are to begin with, or see those folks as the market - mostly because they don't, for the most part, exist.

Dave Benke

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #844 on: February 11, 2021, 11:13:59 AM »
Interesting demographics, and the same would be true, I guess, for Don's part of the world.  What then is the percentage of Lutherans in Jamestown?  Must be pretty high.  My guess is that "ELCA" means "former ALC" in that part of the world, and maybe designated by heritage - Scandinavian, as opposed to the more German LCMS. 

Interestingly, "former ALC" in this region (I'm about 90 miles SW of Jamestown) is a pretty mixed bag. There are lots of "old ALC" (1930) congregations in these parts, many of which were founded in the 1880s-1890s by Iowa Synod missionaries to German immigrants. This is the land of Germans from Russia, especially to the west and SW of where Tom serves. Same plainspoken personality, different dialect and vocabulary. Absolutely love it here.

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(proudly serving in "Eureka, home of kuchen," South Dakota's state dessert).  8)
The Rev. Ryan P. Gage
Eureka, SD

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #845 on: February 11, 2021, 11:30:02 AM »
The issue is never whether the Lord will forsake us. The issue is the hard, provable, earthy facts of life.
In my not so humble opinion, 95 percent of the congregations with fewer than 150 members, worship attendance under 75 (or certainly under 50) not only will not survive, but should not survive.
They do this.
They become "personal chaplaincies" for the remaining members, often members of families exercising extraordinary influence.
They drain the energies of low-paid or first-call pastors or retired pastors who think they are advancing the mission of the Church rather than just keeping some church doors open.
They spend down the assets of reserves and endowments solely for the satisfaction of the few remaining members.
They let neighbors and the neighborhood see a sorry picture of what a church should be.
They never become part of the broader church, either locally or nationally. A contribution to the local food bank, maybe a pittance to synod or district isn't mission or outreach.
"But what about the people there?!" I hear you say.
Send them off to a nearby church.
"But what if there isn't a nearby Lutheran church?!" I hear you say.
So what? We're not the only expression of Gospel fellowship.
"Is it so wrong to keep the doors open for those people?"
It is, unless you are clear about your longer-term objectives. Make it known that the church is in the "closing" mode. Get people ready. Maybe even set a date. Don't just keep sending them first-call or retired pastors so long as they can afford to underpay them.

While there is much truth in what you say, that is not always the case, the smaller of the two churches I serve- which is out in the country 4+ miles from the nearest town has reinvented itself and is VERY outward and mission focused.  Some of that is their doing because they have a strong will to survive even if the AWA hovers between 30-40.  They make connections to the communities around by helping hosting, or helping with community VBS. (We do two a year, one right after school is out and one just before school begins)  Pre -COVID we were seeing about 60-80 youth and families involved. ) These are joint efforts with other churches in the area, and while growth has not been explosive, there are younger families and singles that are starting to find their way too us.  So I would be hesitant to write off the smaller churches completely.  In terms of connecting with the wider church or denomination, that too can be done.  My two churches have been intentional about seeing themselves as "teaching churches" that see as part of their mission and gift to the wider church to help form new pastors.  We serve as fieldwork sites for nearby TEEM  candidates, and hope to host our 3rd Intern from Wartburg this summer.
Rev. Peter Morlock- ELCA pastor serving two congregations in WIS

Tom Eckstein

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #846 on: February 11, 2021, 11:36:25 AM »
Fantastic Randy, and surround yourself with people smarter than yourself. Thatís an easy task for me.

Tom, my Uncle Carl R Klinkenberg served at Concordia in Jamestown in 50s. He died at 34 from cancer. He was just back from WW II and had started in McClusky, ND.

Tim, I didn't realize you were related to the Klinkenberg who served Concordia/Jamestown in the 50s.  That's cool!  Your uncle served here right at the beginning of their ministry (they became a congregation in 1953).  Most of the older congregations (100+ years) in ND are in the smaller farming communities.  The LCMS congregations in the "big" ND cities are the newer ones.

Also, I fully agree with the "intentional plan to Shepherd God's lambs."  One way we do that at Concordia is to have the parents involved  with the faith formation of their children.  I require parents to attend all confirmation classes with their children and I've written parent/youth bible studies for them to work through together at home.  Also, we do our best to train our members to be articulate witnesses for Jesus with people in our community so that evangelism if not left up to me and our deaconess.  We also host an "Orphan Grain Train" branch in our community and we are able to minister to many needy people through that.  But, like every congregation, we still have our challenges and we trust the Lord to show us the way forward.
I'm an LCMS Pastor in Jamestown, ND.

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #847 on: February 11, 2021, 11:39:55 AM »
Thatís not been my experience Tom. Maybe the congregation I serve is anomaly. We are multi generational, has some serious ups and a few downs. Also a deliberate plan of helping lambs follow Good Shepherd.

Tim, that's good that your younger members give sacrificially and are loyal to the congregation.  That's not always the case, as some pastors I know have shared with me.

As for my congregation, our younger members DO give sacrificially, but they are low income and so just can't give as much as our older more wealthy members.

Also, our demographic is different than that of your congregation.  Jamestown has a population of 15,000 - and that # has been static since I've been here (going on 16 years), but that 15,000 is getting more elderly (as older people from small, rural towns move to Jamestown and as younger people leave to find better employment).  In addition, Jamestown is the "big city" in our area and so we don't have any nearby population centers to draw from (Fargo is 100 miles to the east).  But our LCMS congregation has a great ministry in our little city.  We do our best to be engaged with the community.  One unique challenge is that there are 8 Lutheran churches in our city (4 ELCA; 1 LCMS; 1 Free Lutheran; 1 Lutheran Brethren;  1 CLC) - and two of the ELCA congregations have 5 times our membership but their attendance is less than ours.  So, there's a mission field in Jamestown just among inactive members!

Interesting demographics, and the same would be true, I guess, for Don's part of the world.  What then is the percentage of Lutherans in Jamestown?  Must be pretty high.  My guess is that "ELCA" means "former ALC" in that part of the world, and maybe designated by heritage - Scandinavian, as opposed to the more German LCMS. 

Like Don, the ELCA congregations have withered away in our area of the world.  Except one.  And that one took on full scale the immigrant population, with home-and-community based outreach.  We're envisioning a two/three parish LCMS strategy to impact an 4 x 4 mile area containing 400,000 people.  And the Lutheran share of population would be .001.  No shortage of opportunity, but we don't look at how many Lutherans there are to begin with, or see those folks as the market - mostly because they don't, for the most part, exist.

Dave Benke

Dave, there is a huge Lutheran population in Jamestown.  It's North Dakota, after all!  But we also have a HUGE Catholic presense.  The biggest congregation by far in Jamestown is the Catholic basilica, and they also have a very active K-8 school in Jamestown.  LCMS schools are not common in ND.  We only have 2 elementary schools and that's it - and one of them is really struggling!
I'm an LCMS Pastor in Jamestown, ND.

RevG

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #848 on: February 11, 2021, 11:51:46 AM »
Thatís not been my experience Tom. Maybe the congregation I serve is anomaly. We are multi generational, has some serious ups and a few downs. Also a deliberate plan of helping lambs follow Good Shepherd.

Actually, I'm going to be bold here.  I don't know, I'd offer that your congregation might be an anomaly when it comes to the LC-MS and American Christianity. 

Here's why I posit that:

Itís located in the heart of Republican and prosperous Orange County.  Certainly there are seedier sides there, but Rick Warren's Saddleback Church (located where my father-in-law once served in Lake Forest) grew in large part because of the huge demographic shift to there in the 90s.  Whereas many parts of the country are declining rapidly, development continues at an amazing pace there because it's a beautiful place to live.  Thus, those most likely to move there are those with the means and opportunities to do so.  One of the things we always do for fun when we visit family out there is walk through all of the new developments. A little over a year ago we went to Tustin and Laguna Niguel and walked through new builds.  It is simply amazing that there are always new builds, and that they sell so quickly.

Secondly, in many ways, Lutheranism in the OC is very much Midwestern in culture but in a distinct way that connects with above.  What I mean is Lutheranism in OC California is more likely to be appealing to a salt of the earth Midwesterner than, say, Lutheranism here in New York.  The OC is surburban sprawl par excellence with all of the familiar box stores and chains that you can find anywhere, but with really great weather and landscaping.  Plus, itís less parochial and more free form, which is going to be more attractive to the kind of person who moves there anyways.  My father-in-law, a native Los Angelean, always jokes that the Holy Spirit tricked him into accepting the call there.  He says this because he would learn quickly that the church he was called to was full of Midwestern transplants rather than native Californians like himself.   Out there, it seems like everyone is from somewhere else. 

Most importantly, though, thereís just a lot of wealth there.  Just look at Orange Lutheran and what they are able to do or even Crean.  To be able to start a strong Lutheran High School like that in the last twenty years is simply amazing.  The brochures for that place are stunning.   And while we love to invoke the name of God for such projects, letís be real, money is a huge part. To have the capital to buy land in such a market and then build and establish a solid school.  Yo!  Now, I donít intend to take away from the hard work of those involved because they should be commended, but the means were there to do so.  And such means arenít available in lots of other corners of American Lutheranism. 

Please know, I donít intend this as criticism, itís great what you are able to do out there.  This is just my take as someone who married into a family of California Lutherans and has become very familiar with the area in the last decade.  I grew up in the rapidly declining Atlantic District so talk about a contrast.

Peace,
Scott+ 

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #849 on: February 11, 2021, 12:26:51 PM »
Thatís not been my experience Tom. Maybe the congregation I serve is anomaly. We are multi generational, has some serious ups and a few downs. Also a deliberate plan of helping lambs follow Good Shepherd.

Actually, I'm going to be bold here.  I don't know, I'd offer that your congregation might be an anomaly when it comes to the LC-MS and American Christianity. 

Here's why I posit that:

Itís located in the heart of Republican and prosperous Orange County.  Certainly there are seedier sides there, but Rick Warren's Saddleback Church (located where my father-in-law once served in Lake Forest) grew in large part because of the huge demographic shift to there in the 90s.  Whereas many parts of the country are declining rapidly, development continues at an amazing pace there because it's a beautiful place to live.  Thus, those most likely to move there are those with the means and opportunities to do so.  One of the things we always do for fun when we visit family out there is walk through all of the new developments. A little over a year ago we went to Tustin and Laguna Niguel and walked through new builds.  It is simply amazing that there are always new builds, and that they sell so quickly.

Secondly, in many ways, Lutheranism in the OC is very much Midwestern in culture but in a distinct way that connects with above.  What I mean is Lutheranism in OC California is more likely to be appealing to a salt of the earth Midwesterner than, say, Lutheranism here in New York.  The OC is surburban sprawl par excellence with all of the familiar box stores and chains that you can find anywhere, but with really great weather and landscaping.  Plus, itís less parochial and more free form, which is going to be more attractive to the kind of person who moves there anyways.  My father-in-law, a native Los Angelean, always jokes that the Holy Spirit tricked him into accepting the call there.  He says this because he would learn quickly that the church he was called to was full of Midwestern transplants rather than native Californians like himself.   Out there, it seems like everyone is from somewhere else. 

Most importantly, though, thereís just a lot of wealth there.  Just look at Orange Lutheran and what they are able to do or even Crean.  To be able to start a strong Lutheran High School like that in the last twenty years is simply amazing.  The brochures for that place are stunning.   And while we love to invoke the name of God for such projects, letís be real, money is a huge part. To have the capital to buy land in such a market and then build and establish a solid school.  Yo!  Now, I donít intend to take away from the hard work of those involved because they should be commended, but the means were there to do so.  And such means arenít available in lots of other corners of American Lutheranism. 

Please know, I donít intend this as criticism, itís great what you are able to do out there.  This is just my take as someone who married into a family of California Lutherans and has become very familiar with the area in the last decade.  I grew up in the rapidly declining Atlantic District so talk about a contrast.

Peace,
Scott+


Hey Scott...doesnít brother me at all and so many of your observations are right on. While South County and the Inland Empire are booming, Central Orange County is built out at here hasnít been much new construction near St. Johnís for decades. The linkage between school ministry and congregational ministry has been for the most part seamless and that has helped as well. Resources come and go. The OC bankruptcy was tough as was the Great Recession. As the ministry has a lot of people tied to small business it hit us hard in giving and enrollment, but we came out in good shape.

St. Johnís has weathered a number or changes which Rick Warren hasnít had to handle yet.

St. Johnís was planted in 1882 by German Farmers they flourished
St. Johnís made it through a split that was so painful that the Synod President came out on the train
St. JOhnís made it through depression/WWII
St. Johnís was boosted as OC surged with Post War Settling and White Flight from LA County
St. Johnís became insulation and had a malaise from mid 70ís through 80ís [conflict/deferred maintenance/politics etc.
St. Johnís weathered the rise and fall of Aerospace Industry much like that of changes from agriculture to development

Always highs and lows, but faithfulness of God has been amazing, canít say being blessed is an anomaly, but the congregationís blessings are sure unique to itís context.

I have been reading a lot of Joel Kotkin regarding Californiaís demographic and a economic future. Heís a great read and very tied to demographic research.

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #850 on: February 11, 2021, 01:44:25 PM »
Interesting demographics, and the same would be true, I guess, for Don's part of the world.  What then is the percentage of Lutherans in Jamestown?  Must be pretty high.  My guess is that "ELCA" means "former ALC" in that part of the world, and maybe designated by heritage - Scandinavian, as opposed to the more German LCMS. 

Interestingly, "former ALC" in this region (I'm about 90 miles SW of Jamestown) is a pretty mixed bag. There are lots of "old ALC" (1930) congregations in these parts, many of which were founded in the 1880s-1890s by Iowa Synod missionaries to German immigrants. This is the land of Germans from Russia, especially to the west and SW of where Tom serves. Same plainspoken personality, different dialect and vocabulary. Absolutely love it here.

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(proudly serving in "Eureka, home of kuchen," South Dakota's state dessert).  8)

Double crumb?

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #851 on: February 11, 2021, 01:57:07 PM »
Thatís not been my experience Tom. Maybe the congregation I serve is anomaly. We are multi generational, has some serious ups and a few downs. Also a deliberate plan of helping lambs follow Good Shepherd.

Tim, that's good that your younger members give sacrificially and are loyal to the congregation.  That's not always the case, as some pastors I know have shared with me.

As for my congregation, our younger members DO give sacrificially, but they are low income and so just can't give as much as our older more wealthy members.

Also, our demographic is different than that of your congregation.  Jamestown has a population of 15,000 - and that # has been static since I've been here (going on 16 years), but that 15,000 is getting more elderly (as older people from small, rural towns move to Jamestown and as younger people leave to find better employment).  In addition, Jamestown is the "big city" in our area and so we don't have any nearby population centers to draw from (Fargo is 100 miles to the east).  But our LCMS congregation has a great ministry in our little city.  We do our best to be engaged with the community.  One unique challenge is that there are 8 Lutheran churches in our city (4 ELCA; 1 LCMS; 1 Free Lutheran; 1 Lutheran Brethren;  1 CLC) - and two of the ELCA congregations have 5 times our membership but their attendance is less than ours.  So, there's a mission field in Jamestown just among inactive members!

Interesting demographics, and the same would be true, I guess, for Don's part of the world.  What then is the percentage of Lutherans in Jamestown?  Must be pretty high.  My guess is that "ELCA" means "former ALC" in that part of the world, and maybe designated by heritage - Scandinavian, as opposed to the more German LCMS. 

Like Don, the ELCA congregations have withered away in our area of the world.  Except one.  And that one took on full scale the immigrant population, with home-and-community based outreach.  We're envisioning a two/three parish LCMS strategy to impact an 4 x 4 mile area containing 400,000 people.  And the Lutheran share of population would be .001.  No shortage of opportunity, but we don't look at how many Lutherans there are to begin with, or see those folks as the market - mostly because they don't, for the most part, exist.

Dave Benke

Dave, there is a huge Lutheran population in Jamestown.  It's North Dakota, after all!  But we also have a HUGE Catholic presense.  The biggest congregation by far in Jamestown is the Catholic basilica, and they also have a very active K-8 school in Jamestown.  LCMS schools are not common in ND.  We only have 2 elementary schools and that's it - and one of them is really struggling!

You, then, sir, are the shepherd of the one and only Missouri Synod Lutheran Basilica of Jamestown, aptly named Concordia.  As Primate you are entitled to (fill in blank).

Dave Benke


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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #852 on: February 12, 2021, 10:48:13 AM »
Interesting demographics, and the same would be true, I guess, for Don's part of the world.  What then is the percentage of Lutherans in Jamestown?  Must be pretty high.  My guess is that "ELCA" means "former ALC" in that part of the world, and maybe designated by heritage - Scandinavian, as opposed to the more German LCMS. 

Interestingly, "former ALC" in this region (I'm about 90 miles SW of Jamestown) is a pretty mixed bag. There are lots of "old ALC" (1930) congregations in these parts, many of which were founded in the 1880s-1890s by Iowa Synod missionaries to German immigrants. This is the land of Germans from Russia, especially to the west and SW of where Tom serves. Same plainspoken personality, different dialect and vocabulary. Absolutely love it here.

RPG+
(proudly serving in "Eureka, home of kuchen," South Dakota's state dessert).  8)

Double crumb?

Dave Benke
For the Germans from Russia, "kuchen" means round and custard with a light cinnamon-sugar sprinkle topping (see attached). Many variations, of course. But you can't have a funeral luncheon or any serious "lunch" without them. Rhubarb, prune, and plain ol' cream are my favorite.
The Rev. Ryan P. Gage
Eureka, SD

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #853 on: February 12, 2021, 11:40:39 AM »
Those are something else. Kind of makes one look forward to a funeral luncheon. My wifeís great grandfather planted churches all over South Dakota and parts of Minnesota. He would ride from city to city. The love for community and people raising each otherís children and farming together are amazing. My grandfather also planted churches up in Northern Minnesota up by Grand Rapids, including a little dot on the map called Deer River. That was how the church grew in 1920ís.  God bless your day.

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #854 on: February 12, 2021, 04:29:12 PM »
Interesting demographics, and the same would be true, I guess, for Don's part of the world.  What then is the percentage of Lutherans in Jamestown?  Must be pretty high.  My guess is that "ELCA" means "former ALC" in that part of the world, and maybe designated by heritage - Scandinavian, as opposed to the more German LCMS. 

Interestingly, "former ALC" in this region (I'm about 90 miles SW of Jamestown) is a pretty mixed bag. There are lots of "old ALC" (1930) congregations in these parts, many of which were founded in the 1880s-1890s by Iowa Synod missionaries to German immigrants. This is the land of Germans from Russia, especially to the west and SW of where Tom serves. Same plainspoken personality, different dialect and vocabulary. Absolutely love it here.

RPG+
(proudly serving in "Eureka, home of kuchen," South Dakota's state dessert).  8)

Double crumb?

Dave Benke
For the Germans from Russia, "kuchen" means round and custard with a light cinnamon-sugar sprinkle topping (see attached). Many variations, of course. But you can't have a funeral luncheon or any serious "lunch" without them. Rhubarb, prune, and plain ol' cream are my favorite.

Wow!  Just, wow!  Rhubarb, yes.

So I preached at an old-school rural Lutheran church for an anniversary a few years ago, and afterward there was a feast.  At the feast, there were all kinds of casseroles, pies, veggies, whatever you wanted, and loads of meats.  So to be nice, I took a hot dog - but hausgemacht.  After a few bites, I said, "That is the finest hot dog I have ever eaten.  What in the world - who made these dogs?" 

Without missing a beat, the guy next in line goes, "Those ain't the best we got, Reverend.  They're nowhere as good as the funeral wieners."

Wait, what?  Funeral wieners.  Two words I had never heard together in a sentence before.

"So," the guy goes on, "the ones you're munching on are from Mervin, and they are fine.  But Howard (Long German Name) makes the funeral wieners.  Now those are beyond compare.  We all know that!" 

At the end of the weekend, the pastor loci and I had a conference about the, and a week later, we received a couple dozen funeral wieners via Fedex.  Which lived up to their reputation. 

Another category emerges - food reserved for funerals, or upgraded for funerals.

Dave Benke