Author Topic: Herbert Chilstrom+  (Read 5125 times)

Eileen Smith

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Herbert Chilstrom+
« on: January 20, 2020, 01:06:14 PM »
While I thought that many on this board are aware of this sad news, I am sharing it as I've not seen it posted yet.  As we give thanksgiving for his service and pray for his family, I hope those of you who knew and/or worked with Bishop Chilstrom might share some memories.  Coming into the ELCA as he was stepping down I admit to not knowing much about him.    Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord.   

https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8019

Dear Church,

With sadness I bring you the news that Presiding Bishop Emeritus Herbert W. Chilstrom died at home early this morning. His wife, Pastor Corinne Chilstrom; his son, Chris Holt; and family were with him.

Bishop Chilstrom was the first presiding bishop of the ELCA. Many of you knew him in those early days when the ELCA was just getting started – there was no furniture at the Lutheran Center, files were in boxes, phones were on the floor, and the skeleton staff worked on card tables and folding chairs. He was once told by a corporate executive sitting next to him on a plane that this was no way to start a corporation and it would never work. Thirty-three years later we are still here, entrusted with the ministry of the gospel and serving the neighbor.

I can’t imagine the uncertainty and chaos of those first months, but all I know we were filled with hope for this new church the Spirit had brought into being. And I know that Bishop Chilstrom served out of the conviction that it was God’s will to raise up an ELCA witness to the gospel, and with God, all things are possible.

I remember Bishop Chilstrom saying once that his mother told him: “Herb, you might be the only Bible some people read.” It was her way of telling him, and his way of telling us, that we are living witnesses to the grace of God.

Bishop Chilstrom chose “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart!” (ELW, 873) to be the sending hymn at his funeral. Verse five announces:
                      At last the march shall end;
                      The wearied ones shall rest;
                      The pilgrims find their home at last,
                      Jerusalem the blest.
                      Rejoice! Give thanks and sing!

Through tears, but in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection, we rejoice.
Peace,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop


John_Hannah

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Re: Herbert Chilstrom+
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2020, 01:59:31 PM »
I have fond memories of Bishop Chilstrom. In January of 1988, the first month of the new ELCA, Lorna and I hosted Bishop Chilstrom for dinner when he visited Fort Lewis, WA. There were four of us Lutheran Army chaplains at Lewis then, two ELCA, one Lutheran Brethren and one Missourian. I briefed him on my chaplain mission as did the others. We had lunch with two general officers in command. His visit was initiated by Chaplain Norris Einertson, Chief of Army Chaplains and ELCA. He wanted to counter the anti military spirit of those days and I think we succeeded. (Chilstrom also installed the local bishop while there and went on his way to Rome to meet the Pope.) Lorna was known as a gourmet cook so we all met at my home. I remember Bishop Chilstrom as most gracious toward all. He did thank Lorna for what he thought was especially delicious cuisine.   :)

Peace, JOHN
« Last Edit: January 20, 2020, 02:06:14 PM by John_Hannah »
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Charles Austin

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Re: Herbert Chilstrom+
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2020, 06:18:27 AM »
I was privileged to know him before he was Presiding Bishop, be press officer at the constituting convention that elected him and meet him many times during and after his tenure. He was an extraordinarily kind, pious and caring man with an inspiring care for the Church and the people in it.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Back home from Sioux City after three days and a pleasant reunion of the East High School class of - can you believe it! - 1959.

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Herbert Chilstrom+
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2020, 10:57:40 AM »
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant, Herbert.  Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming.  Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.
The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
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David Garner

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Re: Herbert Chilstrom+
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2020, 12:57:21 PM »
God grant him rest where the just repose, and make his memory eternal.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

Michael Slusser

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Charles Austin

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Re: Herbert Chilstrom+
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2020, 09:37:49 AM »
I intend to go to the service in Minnesota on the 15th.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Back home from Sioux City after three days and a pleasant reunion of the East High School class of - can you believe it! - 1959.

James_Gale

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Re: Herbert Chilstrom+
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2020, 05:25:29 PM »
I intend to go to the service in Minnesota on the 15th.


If the weather's nice enough, get to St. Peter a bit early and wander through the arboretum that runs along the west side of campus.  Bp. Chilstrom for a time served as interim director of the arboretum.  I usually go out for a light run each morning to get my blood pumping.  When at Gustavus for Board meetings, I'd regularly see Bp. Chilstrom out walking purposefully around St. Peter, often through the arboretum, which he dearly loved.


Minnesota is not at its most beautiful in February.  Even so, you might capture some of Bp. Chilstrom's spirit.  And please head back again, perhaps in the greenness of summer or when the leaves of across the river valley fill the landscape with color.

Charles Austin

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Re: Herbert Chilstrom+
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2020, 11:23:10 PM »
Beloved Spouse is a long time Master Gardener, so we will schedule a trip. 
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Back home from Sioux City after three days and a pleasant reunion of the East High School class of - can you believe it! - 1959.

James_Gale

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Re: Herbert Chilstrom+
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2020, 03:03:49 PM »
I spent much of this weekend with the now-retired chaplain of Gustavus Adolphus College, who served there from 1962 until 2000.  He shared a story about Herb Chilstrom's installation in 1976 as bishop of the LCA's Minnesota Synod.  The installation took place in Christ Chapel at Gustavus.  Some at the college and elsewhere in Minnesota had decided that it would be wonderful to introduce "apostolic succession" to the synod by inviting a bishop from Sweden to participate in the laying on of hands.  The Swedish bishop was delighted to accept, provided that his hosts foot the bill.  Those who had issued the invitation raised the money for travel and lodging and the bishop joyfully flew to Minnesota for the service.


LCA President Robert Marshall had come to Minnesota to oversee the installation.  When the time came for the laying on of hands, in full view of well more than 1000 worshipers, President Marshall stepped toward the Swedish bishop and directed him not to touch a hair on Herb Chilstrom's head.  I don't know whether President Marshall personally opposed introduction of apostolic succession or if he simply wanted to head off possible fury and controversy from others.  Either way, the moment was awkward even though most in Christ Chapel that day barely noticed and didn't really know what was at issue.


I believe that Bp. Chilstrom recounted this incident without much detail in his autobiography, expressing regret that he had not really understood the ramifications when agreeing to the participation of a Swedish bishop.


My telling of this tory rests on double or triple hearsay, so some of the details may be not quite right.  But the basic story is most certainly true.  I enjoyed hearing the story, which was new to me, because I knew and greatly admired some of the key participants, most of whom now have passed from this life.

John_Hannah

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Re: Herbert Chilstrom+
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2020, 04:07:52 PM »
I spent much of this weekend with the now-retired chaplain of Gustavus Adolphus College, who served there from 1962 until 2000.  He shared a story about Herb Chilstrom's installation in 1976 as bishop of the LCA's Minnesota Synod.  The installation took place in Christ Chapel at Gustavus.  Some at the college and elsewhere in Minnesota had decided that it would be wonderful to introduce "apostolic succession" to the synod by inviting a bishop from Sweden to participate in the laying on of hands.  The Swedish bishop was delighted to accept, provided that his hosts foot the bill.  Those who had issued the invitation raised the money for travel and lodging and the bishop joyfully flew to Minnesota for the service.


LCA President Robert Marshall had come to Minnesota to oversee the installation.  When the time came for the laying on of hands, in full view of well more than 1000 worshipers, President Marshall stepped toward the Swedish bishop and directed him not to touch a hair on Herb Chilstrom's head.  I don't know whether President Marshall personally opposed introduction of apostolic succession or if he simply wanted to head off possible fury and controversy from others.  Either way, the moment was awkward even though most in Christ Chapel that day barely noticed and didn't really know what was at issue.


I believe that Bp. Chilstrom recounted this incident without much detail in his autobiography, expressing regret that he had not really understood the ramifications when agreeing to the participation of a Swedish bishop.


My telling of this tory rests on double or triple hearsay, so some of the details may be not quite right.  But the basic story is most certainly true.  I enjoyed hearing the story, which was new to me, because I knew and greatly admired some of the key participants, most of whom now have passed from this life.

Eventually the ELCA had to deal with the question. When time came to enter full communion with Episcopalians, those suspicious of episcopal succession split. Chilstrom understood correctly that it would be a volitile issue.

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Richard Johnson

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Re: Herbert Chilstrom+
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2020, 04:48:29 PM »
I thought it was interesting that Bp. Eaton said that Chilstrom had always been in favor of ordaining gays and lesbians. I suspect if that had been known in 1987, he would not have been elected presiding bishop.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Herbert Chilstrom+
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2020, 04:57:11 PM »
I thought it was interesting that Bp. Eaton said that Chilstrom had always been in favor of ordaining gays and lesbians. I suspect if that had been known in 1987, he would not have been elected presiding bishop.

His crusade for the “full inclusion” agenda began with the Mission ‘90 video series
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James_Gale

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Re: Herbert Chilstrom+
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2020, 05:20:49 PM »
I spent much of this weekend with the now-retired chaplain of Gustavus Adolphus College, who served there from 1962 until 2000.  He shared a story about Herb Chilstrom's installation in 1976 as bishop of the LCA's Minnesota Synod.  The installation took place in Christ Chapel at Gustavus.  Some at the college and elsewhere in Minnesota had decided that it would be wonderful to introduce "apostolic succession" to the synod by inviting a bishop from Sweden to participate in the laying on of hands.  The Swedish bishop was delighted to accept, provided that his hosts foot the bill.  Those who had issued the invitation raised the money for travel and lodging and the bishop joyfully flew to Minnesota for the service.


LCA President Robert Marshall had come to Minnesota to oversee the installation.  When the time came for the laying on of hands, in full view of well more than 1000 worshipers, President Marshall stepped toward the Swedish bishop and directed him not to touch a hair on Herb Chilstrom's head.  I don't know whether President Marshall personally opposed introduction of apostolic succession or if he simply wanted to head off possible fury and controversy from others.  Either way, the moment was awkward even though most in Christ Chapel that day barely noticed and didn't really know what was at issue.


I believe that Bp. Chilstrom recounted this incident without much detail in his autobiography, expressing regret that he had not really understood the ramifications when agreeing to the participation of a Swedish bishop.


My telling of this tory rests on double or triple hearsay, so some of the details may be not quite right.  But the basic story is most certainly true.  I enjoyed hearing the story, which was new to me, because I knew and greatly admired some of the key participants, most of whom now have passed from this life.

Eventually the ELCA had to deal with the question. When time came to enter full communion with Episcopalians, those suspicious of episcopal succession split. Chilstrom understood correctly that it would be a volitile issue.

Peace, JOHN


Much of the opposition in the late 1990s to the full-communion arrangement with the Episcopalians came from former ALC pastors and congregations, many of those with Norwegian roots. 


The LCA's Minnesota Synod, which Bp. Chilstrom led, was overwhelmingly Swedish, although smatterings of Germans, Danes, and Finns also were present.  My very incomplete understanding is that some of the old Swedish titans ensconced at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, were as skeptical in the 1970s as their forebears had been in the 1870s of the Swedish Church's proffered "gift" of apostolic succession.  One rumor is that someone in Rock Island had caught wind of what was afoot and tipped off President Marshall.


By way of background, Augustana College had long considered itself the mother ship of the Augustana Synod; until Augustana joined the LCA merger in the early 1960s, Augustana College had been the home of the synod's one and only seminary.  Nearly every Augustana pastor up till then had had to pass muster in Rock Island before ordination.  The Minnesota District always was just a little bit rebellious.  And given the number of Swedes in Minnesota, that rebelliousness could not simply be ignored.  Gustavus Adolphus College was one manifestation of that rebelliousness.  When the Minnesota District created it in 1862, the folks in Rock Island weren't exactly pleased that the northerners had chosen to compete against the still new college in Rock Island.


In any event, I believe that the instigators behind the installation plan were mostly prominent Minnesota pastors who had come out of the Augustana Synod into the LCA.  I also believe (but of course can't be certain) that at that point, Bp. Chilstrom didn't really understand the depth of the opposition harbored by some against apostolic succession.

James_Gale

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Re: Herbert Chilstrom+
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2020, 05:37:15 PM »
I thought it was interesting that Bp. Eaton said that Chilstrom had always been in favor of ordaining gays and lesbians. I suspect if that had been known in 1987, he would not have been elected presiding bishop.


In their 2001 book Sexual Fulfillment, Bp. Chilstrom wrote with Lowell Erdahl wrote that their perspectives changed slowly starting in the 1970s.  As of the late 1970s, they wrote that they believed that sexual relationships between two people of the same sex was sinful.  They say that at that point, they embraced the "love the sinner, but hate the sin" approach.  They wrote that "by the early 1990s," they found that they had "moved clear across the spectrum."


The book doesn't tell us when Bp. Chilstrom came to favor the ordination of gays and lesbians in same-sex sexual relationships.  He may have held that view in 1987.  He certainly was moving that direction by then.


If Bp. Eaton used "always" to mean "from the time of his election as ELCA Presiding Bishop," her statement may well be correct.  However, he did not "always" hold that view when serving as a parish pastor or synod bishop.