Author Topic: Rev. Richard Niebanck RIP+  (Read 1291 times)

jtpless

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ***
  • Posts: 132
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
Rev. Richard Niebanck RIP+
« on: May 07, 2021, 12:56:26 PM »
https://hallandpeet.com/tribute/details/1709/Rev-Richard-Niebanck/obituary.html

Faithful pastor and churchman. I came to know him at the Luther-Aquinas Conference at LRU in Hickory in 2004. Jim Nestingen described Richard as a wiry and fiery prophet from the Virginia mountains.

Charles Austin

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 14913
    • View Profile
    • Charles is Coloring
Re: Rev. Richard Niebanck RIP+
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2021, 01:07:59 PM »
Richard Niebanck was a colleague at LCA headquarters, and later a pastor in the town next to the one where I was pastor. He was a regular participant in our pericope studies and a colleague in numerous cooperative efforts. We always appreciated his scholarship and participation.
Later, after he had left that parish, he turned against the ELCA, even repudiating some of the work he had done for the LCA. And he left the ELCA for the LCMS.
During our time as neighboring pastors, he was a valued colleague.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Oh, my. How close we were to a situation where many people with guns could’ve killed many members of Congress. The possible result? Martial law and/or Civil War. Thank God some people are still coming forward to tell the truth.

John_Hannah

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 5668
    • View Profile
Re: Rev. Richard Niebanck RIP+
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2021, 01:23:04 PM »
Richard and I were two of 29 Lutheran pastors who founded the Society of the Holy Trinity (STS). A great theologian and pastor. May he rest in peace.

JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13342
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: Rev. Richard Niebanck RIP+
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2021, 01:54:31 PM »
Richard Niebanck was a colleague at LCA headquarters, and later a pastor in the town next to the one where I was pastor. He was a regular participant in our pericope studies and a colleague in numerous cooperative efforts. We always appreciated his scholarship and participation.
Later, after he had left that parish, he turned against the ELCA, even repudiating some of the work he had done for the LCA. And he left the ELCA for the LCMS.
During our time as neighboring pastors, he was a valued colleague.
well
The process of Richard's entrance onto the Missouri Synod roster was a case study in how a man of faith behaves under ecclesiastical pressure and according to his conscience and belief.  During my time as Bishop/President, Richard entered our ordained roster, the congregation Immanuel Lutheran in Delhi returned to the LCMS, and Richard's wife, Shirley, completed training and serves as an Atlantic District rostered deacon.  Richard invariably presented the evidence of the hope within him with gentleness and respect, no matter what treatment was offered him in return.  The Missouri Synod colloquy process was streamlined somewhat courtesy of yours truly, and Pr. Niebanck was received with joy onto our roster by unanimous vote of the Council of Presidents.

May he rest in peace with all the saints in light perpetual, by God's grace.

Dave Benke

prsauer

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 594
    • View Profile
Re: Rev. Richard Niebanck RIP+
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2021, 06:04:06 PM »
I only came to know Richard later in life - after he joined the LCMS and began attending our conferences. Even in his advanced years and declining health he bore an air of piety about him that drew others to him. He was from that generation of pastors - like Ted Wittrock - who could have been masterful public theologians impacting the national and global theological discourse but instead devoted their lives to changing the world one parishioner at a time around the Axis Mundi. Whenever I have been tempted to vainglory - I have always been grateful for their witness to the gospel preached in its purity and the sacraments administered according to Christ's command.

Although Charles speaks of "turning" and "repudiating", I believe Richard felt that the ELCA had turned and repudiated him. I never sensed that his journey into the LCMS was anything other than a retired pastor trying to ensure that his waning years were spent in a place where he could put first things first. I cannot speak for others, but I never heard him say a bad word about those in the ELCA. To the contrary, he was one of the most genuinely positively-focused pastors I have had the privilege of knowing, even as he was saddened by a church body that left him behind.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2021, 06:23:37 PM by prsauer »

Charles Austin

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 14913
    • View Profile
    • Charles is Coloring
Re: Rev. Richard Niebanck RIP+
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2021, 06:39:56 PM »
It would serve no purpose here to detail the ways in which Richard turned against his former church body. It is enough to say that he turned against it by leaving it. And when he was a pastoral colleague, we always found him gracious and friendly and a lively participant in interesting discussions.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Oh, my. How close we were to a situation where many people with guns could’ve killed many members of Congress. The possible result? Martial law and/or Civil War. Thank God some people are still coming forward to tell the truth.

J. Thomas Shelley

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4287
    • View Profile
Re: Rev. Richard Niebanck RIP+
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2021, 10:01:31 AM »
Quote

Richard J. Niebanck, STS: In Memoriam

Our father and brother in the faith, Pastor Richard J. Niebanck, has entered the church triumphant. It is the only triumphant church he would celebrate. He eschewed triumphalism of any sort in the church militant. He protested a church that sought triumphalism in adopting a business approach to evangelism in church growth strategies. He protested a church that sought triumphalism in society by endorsing a secular agenda. This triumphalism, he wrote, breeds "an abiding anxiety over whether we've 'gotten it right' or 'given enough of ourselves.'" ("Review: Three Books on Peace," Journal of Lutheran Ethics 5 (2005), 5-6.)

Richard was a pioneer in the field of church and society. He had degrees from Hamilton College, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and the New School for Social Research. From 1963 to 1985 he served on the staff at the headquarters of the former Lutheran Church in America. From 1963-1974 he was assistant to President Franklin Clark Fry on matters of church and society. From 1974-1985 he was Secretary for Social Concerns in the Department for Church in Society, Division for Mission in North America. Pastor Niebanck's mission was to chart a course for American Lutherans that avoided the church's captivity to the political left, right, or middle. He maintained the historic Lutheran doctrine of the two kingdoms. In 1980 he published Economic Justice: An Evangelical Perspective.

His concern that the Lutheran Church was moving away from this doctrine drew him into confessional resistance to developments in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He participated in drafting the "9.5 Theses Concerning the Confession of Faith in the ELCA" in 1995. He participated in the meeting at Loyola House in Morristown, NJ in 1996 that issued A Founding Statement calling for the formation of a pastoral society that became the Society of the Holy Trinity. In 1997 he was again present at Loyola House for the final editing and adoption of The Rule of the Society of the Holy Trinity. He was among the 29 founding members of the Society that signed the Rule. Pastor Niebanck brought the whole Society up to date on this history when he addressed the banquet at the Fifteenth General Retreat of the Society at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN.

The Rule invigorated Pastor Niebanck's prophetic stances. In 2001 when the Upstate New York Synod of the ELCA voted in Assembly to bless same-sex unions, he wrote a public letter announcing that he would not commune at any synodically-sponsored Eucharist or at any Eucharist at which the Synod Bishop presided. He also instructed the Synod Bishop or his/her representatives not to participate in his funeral.

When Niebanck's family's home congregation, Immanuel in Delhi, NY, voted to withdraw from the ELCA and return to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Pastor Niebanck decided to remain with his family and congregation. His sight disability precluded driving to an ELCA congregation, such as Atonement in Oneonta, 20 miles away. Rather than making a special exemption in view of his disability, the Bishop of the Upstate New York Synod removed Richard from the clergy roster and forbade him to use the title "Reverend" or to perform any ministerial acts. Through the assistance of John Priest, STS, pastor of Immanuel, Delhi, Richard was received into the ministerium of the LC—MS. However, Niebanck felt a collegiality with many LC—MS pastors and lay people through his years of service as a member of the Board of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau.

Richard's anti-triumphalism was embodied in his own life. He was genuinely a humble man who worked quietly and spoke softly but had an unswerving vision for the church and steadfastness in its confession of faith. As Senior of the Society (1993—2008), I could count of receiving hand-written notes of encouragement from Richard expressing support for my leadership and thanksgiving for the very existence of the Society of the Holy Trinity. We all give thanks for the life and witness of our father in the faith and brother in the Society, Richard J. Niebanck.

Frank C. Senn   

Greek Orthodox Deacon -Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

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.

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 19393
    • View Profile
Re: Rev. Richard Niebanck RIP+
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2021, 10:18:23 AM »
Quote

Richard J. Niebanck, STS: In Memoriam

Our father and brother in the faith, Pastor Richard J. Niebanck, has entered the church triumphant. It is the only triumphant church he would celebrate. He eschewed triumphalism of any sort in the church militant. He protested a church that sought triumphalism in adopting a business approach to evangelism in church growth strategies. He protested a church that sought triumphalism in society by endorsing a secular agenda. This triumphalism, he wrote, breeds "an abiding anxiety over whether we've 'gotten it right' or 'given enough of ourselves.'" ("Review: Three Books on Peace," Journal of Lutheran Ethics 5 (2005), 5-6.)

Richard was a pioneer in the field of church and society. He had degrees from Hamilton College, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and the New School for Social Research. From 1963 to 1985 he served on the staff at the headquarters of the former Lutheran Church in America. From 1963-1974 he was assistant to President Franklin Clark Fry on matters of church and society. From 1974-1985 he was Secretary for Social Concerns in the Department for Church in Society, Division for Mission in North America. Pastor Niebanck's mission was to chart a course for American Lutherans that avoided the church's captivity to the political left, right, or middle. He maintained the historic Lutheran doctrine of the two kingdoms. In 1980 he published Economic Justice: An Evangelical Perspective.

His concern that the Lutheran Church was moving away from this doctrine drew him into confessional resistance to developments in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He participated in drafting the "9.5 Theses Concerning the Confession of Faith in the ELCA" in 1995. He participated in the meeting at Loyola House in Morristown, NJ in 1996 that issued A Founding Statement calling for the formation of a pastoral society that became the Society of the Holy Trinity. In 1997 he was again present at Loyola House for the final editing and adoption of The Rule of the Society of the Holy Trinity. He was among the 29 founding members of the Society that signed the Rule. Pastor Niebanck brought the whole Society up to date on this history when he addressed the banquet at the Fifteenth General Retreat of the Society at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN.

The Rule invigorated Pastor Niebanck's prophetic stances. In 2001 when the Upstate New York Synod of the ELCA voted in Assembly to bless same-sex unions, he wrote a public letter announcing that he would not commune at any synodically-sponsored Eucharist or at any Eucharist at which the Synod Bishop presided. He also instructed the Synod Bishop or his/her representatives not to participate in his funeral.

When Niebanck's family's home congregation, Immanuel in Delhi, NY, voted to withdraw from the ELCA and return to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Pastor Niebanck decided to remain with his family and congregation. His sight disability precluded driving to an ELCA congregation, such as Atonement in Oneonta, 20 miles away. Rather than making a special exemption in view of his disability, the Bishop of the Upstate New York Synod removed Richard from the clergy roster and forbade him to use the title "Reverend" or to perform any ministerial acts. Through the assistance of John Priest, STS, pastor of Immanuel, Delhi, Richard was received into the ministerium of the LC—MS. However, Niebanck felt a collegiality with many LC—MS pastors and lay people through his years of service as a member of the Board of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau.

Richard's anti-triumphalism was embodied in his own life. He was genuinely a humble man who worked quietly and spoke softly but had an unswerving vision for the church and steadfastness in its confession of faith. As Senior of the Society (1993—2008), I could count of receiving hand-written notes of encouragement from Richard expressing support for my leadership and thanksgiving for the very existence of the Society of the Holy Trinity. We all give thanks for the life and witness of our father in the faith and brother in the Society, Richard J. Niebanck.

Frank C. Senn   

I never met him, but he sounds like the sort of person one would be blessed to know.

peterm

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 878
    • View Profile
Re: Rev. Richard Niebanck RIP+
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2021, 10:33:46 AM »
He was one of my mentor pastors in my first call in Upstate NY.  I very much appreciated the help and support he gave to this "newbie" from the low church Midwest.  I always appreciated our conversations.  May God grant him eternal rest.
Rev. Peter Morlock- ELCA pastor serving two congregations in WIS

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13342
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: Rev. Richard Niebanck RIP+
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2021, 12:53:55 PM »
Let me bring a little more personal remembrance.  The parish into which the Niebancks settled in upstate after an initial time of separation from the nascent ELCA was/is our very own ALPB headquarter congregation, Immanuel Lutheran in Delhi, NY.  It's a college town - SUNY Delhi - up in the beautiful hills.  In the Great Upsetment in the 1970s, Immanuel left the LCMS for the AELC and eventually the ELCA.  But it remained foursquare ALPB; our business office remains there.

At a certain point into the 2000s, I received a phone call from then pastor John Priest to meet with him and the congregation in order to talk through re-joining the Missouri Synod.  Having been involved in that specific situation a couple of times prior, my conversation with pastor and congregation was to do things, as they say, decently and in order.  Which included me speaking clearly about membership in the LCMS to the congregation, and then the pastor, and explaining the process.  The key feature in the process was to match the entrance of the pastor and the parish into the LCMS.  The daily double. What if something goes wrong in the congregational vote?  What if something goes wrong in the pastoral colloquy interview? 

In this case, the congregation was, and I pray is, a lively communion of saints interested in doctrinal conversation as well as polity issues.  So that was super from my perspective. 
And at the highest level of articulation theologically were the Niebancks, Richard and Shirley.  Off we went into the back and forth as they also listened to the ELCA Synod's perspective.  Both denominations/leaders were aware of the back and forth dialog.

As the process transpired, it became clear that both pastor and parish were interested in returning to their original home, the Missouri Synod.  And so it took place.  There was not a lot of love coming from the ELCA side of the aisle, but it was cleear-cut and pretty much unanimous.

The person left then was Richard Niebanck, rostered in the ELCA.  So we undertook to bring him through the colloguy procedure, including the trip out to St. Louis for the interview and the eventual vote of the LCMS Council of Presidents.  In this time period, things got way out of round, as the ELCA leadership determined to de-roster him and do so in what seemed to me a punitive and unnecessary  manner.  As a veteran of these inter-denominational moves, I was unpleasantly surprised by the vehemence attached to Richard's case of demission. 

This was only exacerbated from my perspective by his demeanor throughout, which was calm, patient and understanding.  Certainly he held positions dis-aligned with the ELCA.  But he was moving to the LCMS.  Why not let him go in peace?  That wasn't the strategy for this peaceful soul.  It became and remained unseemly.  He bore up under it. 

The vote was unanimous to receive him on emeritus status onto the LCMS roster, where he spent out his days.  His wife, Shirley, became rostered as an Atlantic District Deacon after taking our 10 courses, even though she was already on the ELCA diaconal (I forget the title) roster, and continues to serve in that capacity. 

The treatment Richard received along the way prior to my involvement at the colloquy level, going back to his days at the national church level and then leaving when the move was made to Higgins Road, was also in my estimation sub-standard and discourteous.

What Richard gave the Church was a lively, insightful and traditional (in the best sense of the term) pastoral teaching vocation, until life's end.  It was a blessing to know him.

Dave Benke