Author Topic: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"  (Read 2223 times)

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 19398
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2021, 12:59:46 PM »
I think the mandatory aspect of it, even when commonly blown off, is important in some cases. There are lonely pastors in struggling congregations for whom a conference is like a much needed and deserved min-vacation, rejuvenation, and reconnection to colleagues and higher level theological discussion. But the congregation will not grant the paid time off or hotel/meal expenses unless the pastor, backed up by the DP, can point out that attendance is mandatory. It takes the guilt and awkwardness out of the equation. Obviously, if there is a funeral or something the pastor might have to miss the conference; it is excused. But if it just that the congregation doesn't feel like paying for it or giving the time off, the official rule becomes an important safeguard.

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13347
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2021, 01:06:04 PM »
Many LCMS Districts still have a Spring & Fall Pastors Conference.
It would seem the goal is to provide spiritual and physical renewal.
Maddens Resort in Minnesota supplies a relaxing atmosphere for
this to happen. Other Districts have perhaps found similar resources.

Usually, seminary professors have challenging presentations as our
 our faith is refreshed and strengthened to do pastoral ministry.
The opportunity for fellowship with fellow pastors is indeed a vital
part of the conference whether in worship or recreation.

Bottom Line:  For active parish pastors these District Pastors
Conferences are worth a line item in the congregational  budget

Attendance, at least here in the Minnesota North, is considered mandatory for active pastors.  One is supposed to furnish a valid/legitimate excuse to the district president if one cannot attend.

Does that actually happen, to the best of your knowledge?

Dave Benke

Oh, they bill you even if you do not attend, and I even got calls from the District VP. I responded with two words: Darwin Schauer.

I'm going to imagine, at this juncture, that the bill they sent to you and yours remains unpaid. 

Out here in the open range of the East Coast, we billed congregations for a triennial convention fee, which was to cover the district and national conventions.  That met with mixed success.  But we did not bill for the pastoral conferences.  The only reason to do that would be if the district were paying in advance for the rooms for some reason. 

Dave Benke

Charles Austin

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 14926
    • View Profile
    • Charles is Coloring
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2021, 01:19:27 PM »
Peter writes:
But the congregation will not grant the paid time off or hotel/meal expenses unless the pastor, backed up by the DP, can point out that attendance is mandatory.
I comment:
Why on earth would a pastor have to get the congregation's permission to take part in district events? In New York and New Jersey ELCA, I never ever heard of anyone seeking permission to go to pastors' conferences, the synod assemblies or other events. I never asked permission, I just told them where I was going and why. When asked to "work" at ELCA assemblies, I just told the Congregation Council I had been asked to help, and that pastors had to help the synod and ELCA the way members of congregations have to help the local church. And I always took my 10 days of continuing education annually.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minnesota. Interested in faith related to today’s life; and in church history, choral singing, cooking, movies and live theater.

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 19398
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2021, 02:00:58 PM »
Peter writes:
But the congregation will not grant the paid time off or hotel/meal expenses unless the pastor, backed up by the DP, can point out that attendance is mandatory.
I comment:
Why on earth would a pastor have to get the congregation's permission to take part in district events? In New York and New Jersey ELCA, I never ever heard of anyone seeking permission to go to pastors' conferences, the synod assemblies or other events. I never asked permission, I just told them where I was going and why. When asked to "work" at ELCA assemblies, I just told the Congregation Council I had been asked to help, and that pastors had to help the synod and ELCA the way members of congregations have to help the local church. And I always took my 10 days of continuing education annually.
I don't know because I've never been in the position, but I know of some who have. I didn't ask permission to attend the Indiana conference. But I did submit a mileage/hotel reimbursement form to the church for about $350. I can do that with confidence that they'll reimburse me, and that even if for some reason they didn't, the bill wouldn't break the bank at home. That isn't true for some pastors. The treasurer might ask who approved this expense. Or the church might not have the money in reserve for timely reimbursement, and the pastor not have the resources just to swallow the cost. Or the congregation might says that if the pastor misses the Monday evening service, or catechism class, or adult Bible study, or whatever else might be planned for the days of his absence they're going to count it as a vacation or personal day. The point is that it heads such silliness off at the pass if the pastor can rightfully claim it is not optional. After all, the district puts on "events" all the time. I could be at a conference sponsored by the district or synod half the year. If I just informed the congregation that I was going to the symposia at the seminaries, the larger church conference, the cross-cultural ministry symposium, the Lutheran Schools convention, etc. etc. they'd stop approving it. And some congregations have had pastors in the past who probably did just that. "Why should we approve this conference and not that conference? We can't just approve every conference after all. Oh, this one is mandatory? And the DP enforces that? Okay, fine. But we aren't paying for your stay at the Lutheran Hour Ministries Convocation, the Lutheran Heritage Foundation's fundraiser golf outing, the Ambassadors of Reconciliation Prayer Retreat, the STS retreat, or half the other things you think we're going to pay you to attend." 

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13347
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2021, 02:22:45 PM »
I think the mandatory aspect of it, even when commonly blown off, is important in some cases. There are lonely pastors in struggling congregations for whom a conference is like a much needed and deserved min-vacation, rejuvenation, and reconnection to colleagues and higher level theological discussion. But the congregation will not grant the paid time off or hotel/meal expenses unless the pastor, backed up by the DP, can point out that attendance is mandatory. It takes the guilt and awkwardness out of the equation. Obviously, if there is a funeral or something the pastor might have to miss the conference; it is excused. But if it just that the congregation doesn't feel like paying for it or giving the time off, the official rule becomes an important safeguard.

This, of course, was a major theme in one of the Keillor Lake Woebegone episodes for Pastor Inkvist.  I think it was the Rural Pastors Retreat in Florida during the winter.  And Inkvist got burned by the parish council.  Anyway, there's truth there - no time off for the pastor unless it's dictated from on high.

Dave Benke

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1443
    • View Profile
    • church history review
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2021, 02:49:29 PM »
I have not attended a conference in many years. CPH did not take time for conferences unless one was working the booth. The last conference I recall attending was one on Lutheran views of law (2014), and I was one of the speakers.
I serve as administrator for www.churchhistoryreview.org.

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 19398
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2021, 02:52:49 PM »
I think the mandatory aspect of it, even when commonly blown off, is important in some cases. There are lonely pastors in struggling congregations for whom a conference is like a much needed and deserved min-vacation, rejuvenation, and reconnection to colleagues and higher level theological discussion. But the congregation will not grant the paid time off or hotel/meal expenses unless the pastor, backed up by the DP, can point out that attendance is mandatory. It takes the guilt and awkwardness out of the equation. Obviously, if there is a funeral or something the pastor might have to miss the conference; it is excused. But if it just that the congregation doesn't feel like paying for it or giving the time off, the official rule becomes an important safeguard.

This, of course, was a major theme in one of the Keillor Lake Woebegone episodes for Pastor Inkvist.  I think it was the Rural Pastors Retreat in Florida during the winter.  And Inkvist got burned by the parish council.  Anyway, there's truth there - no time off for the pastor unless it's dictated from on high.

Dave Benke
As I recall, the big conflict there was that Pastor Inqvist's wife was looking forward to the trip. While the good reverend could give up the conference for the sake of stewardship (they were going to send the money for the conference to some disaster victims of some kind, I think) he faced domestic issues for robbing his wife of one of the very few perks/benefits of having gone with him to Lake Wobegone, which is the periodic opportunity to go somewhere else. That's one I didn't even have in mind-- in some cases it is a family decision, so conference attendance has the same awkwardness as parsonage living and whether the pastor's wife gets her way, and why should she have nicer things than the other women in town, and shouldn't this money be given to the poor instead, etc. 

peterm

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 878
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2021, 11:58:07 AM »
In the ELCA continuing education is built into the salary package with money and time (minimum 7 days.)  Such conferences would fall under that rubric.  In our annual report to the congregation and the Bishop we are required to report how we used our continuing Ed resources.  Is that not the case in the LCMS?
Rev. Peter Morlock- ELCA pastor serving two congregations in WIS

Jim Butler

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 2015
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2021, 01:25:33 PM »
Hi everyone.  The Missouri District just wrapped up its Pastors Conference and it was really excellent.  I thought I'd share a bit of it.

It was an in-person conference at the Lake of the Ozarks.  That's a good, central location.  It is comfortable with enough room and amenities.  Last year's conference was conducted via Zoom, and it was okay.  But I think the general consensus is that those kinds of conferences can only do so much.  It was so good to be in a large room with pastors, a few spouses, district workers, guests and sing together (The Church's One Foundation, Joy to the World).  It was like a breath of fresh air after collectively going through a difficult time in ministry.  The District intentionally crafted the conference to be primarily a time to just be together and reconnect. 

There were three presenters: Tom Egger and Larry Rast, presidents of St. Louis and Ft. Wayne seminaries respectively, and Michael Ziegler, present speaker of The Lutheran Hour.  Both of the presidents spoke about joy in ministry.  Tom Egger is an OT scholar and spoke about Moses' ministry revealed in Exodus.  Larry Rast is an historian and he offered some glimpses of LCMS history and ministerial practices.  Michael Ziegler offered a presentation on Bible telling, and it was very interesting and a nice way to bask in the richness of scripture. 

Tom Egger was recently elected and installed as president of Concordia, St. Louis and we had some discussion here about his election.  He began his presentation by talking about the assets of the seminary, her challenges, and her priorities.  Three of the challenges are an aging faculty, preparing pastors for a polarized church in a polarized world, and determining what is the place of residential field ed.  (In addressing the faculty, Tom noted three new faculty members- Ely Prieto, a Brazilian who is teaching in the practical department and will oversee EIIT; Kevin Golden will teach OT in the exegetical department; and Phil Penhallagon will also teach OT in the exegetical department.)

I was encouraged to hear the priorities of the seminary that Tom laid out.  They are: 1. Daily chapel as the center of sem life (Jon Vieker is the new dean of chapel and a professor in the practical department) 2. Classroom learning that is formative 3. Campus life 4. Synodical partnerships 5. Worldwide service. 

Larry Rast shared some observations of pastoral ministry and brought some data points to view and referenced a 2010 book by Philip Clayton titled "Theology and the Church after Google."  Here are some random points that Larry offered:
-Statistical decline in the LCMS began in 1971 (50 years!)
-Clergy nationwide who responded to surveys about stress and depression are about 70%; the LCMS claims about 25%.  Larry says we should split the difference and then say that about 50% of LCMS clergy are stressed and/or depressed.
-Technology has far outpaced human adaptability.  We can't keep up and we can't catch up. 

Looking to the future...what do we do as a church, what will it be like?  According to his presentation, the future church: will not be a linear continuation; will not be wholly different; will fit in with the times (and fitting in is not the same as conforming); will notice that the pattern of things will be different but the 'how' cannot be discerned right now; will need to develop spiritual, personal, and relational habits. 

Those are summaries of their presentations.  They were really good.  And it was just good to have a normal pastors conference again.  It was good to peruse the CPH table, to spend a few moments with some comfort dogs, to talk with Concordia Plans people, yada yada yada.  And I think that these last sentiments were shared by a number of other clergy.  The last 18-24 months have been, and remain, challenging.  But there is joy in the ministry because it is the Lord's ministry.  He has put His pastors where they are.  And when the Lord does the putting, there's not a whole lot that can be done about that. 

Have other pastors here had their own district conferences?  What are your reactions to them?

Peace to you all.  Jeremy

I appreciate Jeremy posting this. Yes, the Lake of the Ozarks a beautiful place for a conference. My family has owned property on the Lake since I was about four. I still love going down there.

The New England District held its first conference since October, 2019 in Sturbridge, MA. Leopold Sanchez was our speaker. He walked us through issues of immigration and racism and how Lutheran theology can help inform our understanding of those topics. We all agree that it was a timely topic and very well done. It was really good to be with the other pastors.

Jeremy, I was in your area a couple of weeks ago, running in the Kansas City Marathon--my first (and maybe only). My time wasn't the best 5:04, but I finished! It was wonderful to run through my hometown.
The significance of the passage of time, right? The significance of the passage of time. So when you think about it, there is great significance to the passage of time. -- VP Kamala Harris

Jim Butler

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 2015
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2021, 01:27:23 PM »
In the ELCA continuing education is built into the salary package with money and time (minimum 7 days.)  Such conferences would fall under that rubric.  In our annual report to the congregation and the Bishop we are required to report how we used our continuing Ed resources.  Is that not the case in the LCMS?

While we strongly encourage such things, we do not require them. Given our polity--that the Synod is only advisory in non-theological matters--I don't think we could require them. Does make me a bit jealous!
The significance of the passage of time, right? The significance of the passage of time. So when you think about it, there is great significance to the passage of time. -- VP Kamala Harris

peterm

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 878
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #25 on: October 27, 2021, 11:43:45 AM »
In the ELCA continuing education is built into the salary package with money and time (minimum 7 days.)  Such conferences would fall under that rubric.  In our annual report to the congregation and the Bishop we are required to report how we used our continuing Ed resources.  Is that not the case in the LCMS?

While we strongly encourage such things, we do not require them. Given our polity--that the Synod is only advisory in non-theological matters--I don't think we could require them. Does make me a bit jealous!

Interesting...
Rev. Peter Morlock- ELCA pastor serving two congregations in WIS

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13347
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #26 on: October 28, 2021, 11:12:09 AM »
Hi everyone.  The Missouri District just wrapped up its Pastors Conference and it was really excellent.  I thought I'd share a bit of it.

It was an in-person conference at the Lake of the Ozarks.  That's a good, central location.  It is comfortable with enough room and amenities.  Last year's conference was conducted via Zoom, and it was okay.  But I think the general consensus is that those kinds of conferences can only do so much.  It was so good to be in a large room with pastors, a few spouses, district workers, guests and sing together (The Church's One Foundation, Joy to the World).  It was like a breath of fresh air after collectively going through a difficult time in ministry.  The District intentionally crafted the conference to be primarily a time to just be together and reconnect. 

There were three presenters: Tom Egger and Larry Rast, presidents of St. Louis and Ft. Wayne seminaries respectively, and Michael Ziegler, present speaker of The Lutheran Hour.  Both of the presidents spoke about joy in ministry.  Tom Egger is an OT scholar and spoke about Moses' ministry revealed in Exodus.  Larry Rast is an historian and he offered some glimpses of LCMS history and ministerial practices.  Michael Ziegler offered a presentation on Bible telling, and it was very interesting and a nice way to bask in the richness of scripture. 

Tom Egger was recently elected and installed as president of Concordia, St. Louis and we had some discussion here about his election.  He began his presentation by talking about the assets of the seminary, her challenges, and her priorities.  Three of the challenges are an aging faculty, preparing pastors for a polarized church in a polarized world, and determining what is the place of residential field ed.  (In addressing the faculty, Tom noted three new faculty members- Ely Prieto, a Brazilian who is teaching in the practical department and will oversee EIIT; Kevin Golden will teach OT in the exegetical department; and Phil Penhallagon will also teach OT in the exegetical department.)

I was encouraged to hear the priorities of the seminary that Tom laid out.  They are: 1. Daily chapel as the center of sem life (Jon Vieker is the new dean of chapel and a professor in the practical department) 2. Classroom learning that is formative 3. Campus life 4. Synodical partnerships 5. Worldwide service. 

Larry Rast shared some observations of pastoral ministry and brought some data points to view and referenced a 2010 book by Philip Clayton titled "Theology and the Church after Google."  Here are some random points that Larry offered:
-Statistical decline in the LCMS began in 1971 (50 years!)
-Clergy nationwide who responded to surveys about stress and depression are about 70%; the LCMS claims about 25%.  Larry says we should split the difference and then say that about 50% of LCMS clergy are stressed and/or depressed.
-Technology has far outpaced human adaptability.  We can't keep up and we can't catch up. 

Looking to the future...what do we do as a church, what will it be like?  According to his presentation, the future church: will not be a linear continuation; will not be wholly different; will fit in with the times (and fitting in is not the same as conforming); will notice that the pattern of things will be different but the 'how' cannot be discerned right now; will need to develop spiritual, personal, and relational habits. 

Those are summaries of their presentations.  They were really good.  And it was just good to have a normal pastors conference again.  It was good to peruse the CPH table, to spend a few moments with some comfort dogs, to talk with Concordia Plans people, yada yada yada.  And I think that these last sentiments were shared by a number of other clergy.  The last 18-24 months have been, and remain, challenging.  But there is joy in the ministry because it is the Lord's ministry.  He has put His pastors where they are.  And when the Lord does the putting, there's not a whole lot that can be done about that. 

Have other pastors here had their own district conferences?  What are your reactions to them?

Peace to you all.  Jeremy

I appreciate Jeremy posting this. Yes, the Lake of the Ozarks a beautiful place for a conference. My family has owned property on the Lake since I was about four. I still love going down there.

The New England District held its first conference since October, 2019 in Sturbridge, MA. Leopold Sanchez was our speaker. He walked us through issues of immigration and racism and how Lutheran theology can help inform our understanding of those topics. We all agree that it was a timely topic and very well done. It was really good to be with the other pastors.

Jeremy, I was in your area a couple of weeks ago, running in the Kansas City Marathon--my first (and maybe only). My time wasn't the best 5:04, but I finished! It was wonderful to run through my hometown.

Happy to hear of the NED pastoral conference.  No such item here in Atlantic as yet.  I'm with the Bishop tonite at an event and will mention the thematic - Leo is the director of the Center for Hispanic Studies, in which program one of our "vicars" is enrolled.

Dave Benke