Author Topic: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies  (Read 8542 times)

PrTim15

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2021, 01:43:25 PM »
Seems to me that the necessity of working together may be the salvation of the LCMS.  We sure can find better ways to work together and collaborate. Hats off to Tom and ND District and Dave and his wisdom. Better to collaborate than compete.

Dave Benke

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2021, 02:59:56 PM »
The North Dakota District, like other midwest/rural LCMS districts, has a complicated situation.  I serve the "big" congregation in our circuit as sole pastor (with also have a full time deaconess).  But recently I began serving a small rural congregation about 30 miles from where I live.  They used to be part of a dual parish, but the other congregation closed.  There are no other congregations in our circuit that they could join with because they were either too far away or already a in a multiple parish arrangement (e.g., north of my congregation we have a 3 point parish and a 4 point parish!).  I'm am leading a 2:00PM Sunday service at this small rural congregation where many of the members who live in that small town are elderly and can't easily make the drive to Jamestown where I live.  So, I'm glad I'm able to serve them because they would not have other good options otherwise.  They were willing to have a 2:00PM Sunday service because unless I offered a 6:00AM Sunday Service for them it would need to be afternoon or evening (I have two Sunday morning Services plus a morning bible class at my congregation).

What I described above is going to be more and more the norm for ND because we already have many multiple parish arrangements and some congregations have no other option but to be served by one of the pastors from a nearby larger congregation.

But what about the next 10 years for ND?  Like Tim, I, too, will be retiring in less than 10 years - and so will many other pastors in the ND District!  On the other hand, I can imagine several of our smaller congregations in ND closing within the next 10 years.  It will be interesting to see how this all plays out and what solutions we come up with to deal with the situation.

Awhile back the Wyoming District was at over 2/3 dual or more "parishes," which means multiple preaching stations taken care of by one pastor.  And the same is happening throughout the rural lands of Protestantism.  Included in this is the closing down of a percentage of congregations as well.

A similar scenario is playing out in urban settings, with multiple sites overseen by one pastor or one staff.    The urban difference is the amount of people in the various neighborhoods, which is basically plenty, as opposed to the thinning out of the rural communities (at least that's my impression) through the decades.  Maybe you've been to some of those rural and small town confabs, Tom - what's the thought when it comes to outreach mission in the multiple site preaching stations?  My impression is that a lot of the work could be described as pastoral chaplaincy - taking care of a dwindling and aging small group or two or three of them.  Is there thought given to demographics/potential work in different ways? 

I say this just having been in touch with a pastor who came from an urban background and has really started some new kinds of ministry in a rural setting that I hadn't thought would be possible.  I'm trying to listen in more to understand the context.  But what's your understanding of how this moves forward?

Dave Benke

As you noted, one huge difference between very small congregations in rural versus urban settings is that urban settings have a huge population of people to whom we can witness and who could be potential members.  In contrast, many rural ND towns are dying.  The pastor I mentioned who serves a 4 point parish in our circuit lives in a town of less that 200 people - and that's the BIG town among the 4 communities he serves.  A couple of the towns where he serves congregations have less than 100 people - and those who mainly elderly people.  The young families often end up moving to the bigger communities to obtain education opportunities for their children. 

Now, this doesn't mean we do not have legitimate ministry in these very small towns.  We have to find some way to serve our elderly members who live there - and usually that means a pastor from a nearby congregation or a retired pastor.  It also may mean the District considering calling a full time circuit rider who could travel to these communities and visit our elderly people there.

As for our congregations in these small communities, one challenge to evangelism is that they already know everyone - and they know them all too well.  This familiarity, depending on the history of their relationship, might actually get in the way of witnessing sometimes.  But that doesn't mean they shouldn't try.  In some cases reconciliation ministry is needed in these small communities.   In addition, members of our small rural congregations could find ways to minister to those in their small towns who have various needs - if they are not ministering to them already.  In some cases, the people in small towns in ND are actually doing a good job looking out for one another.

This is a great response, Tom.  Small town/rural America, even with various and sundry problems and issues, still is where people by nature help people out - even if they don't like them much.  A challenge then is combining congregations across larger acreages, when the people from, say, Wautoma, don't really have that much to do with the people from Plainfield.  And that's not just accidental.   Anyway, it takes some wisdom and knowledge of local lore to craft a plan with legs when people are taking their legs and moving out.

On the urban side, it's transition, as all-white neighborhoods were taken over by non-white people a generation ago, and now the grandchildren are coming back to, say, Bushwick, Brooklyn and driving out the people who came in 40 years ago and paying jacked-up rents. 

I've had a long hesitancy about statistics trying to demonstrate that only 40% of rural people have a church home.  Maybe that's the case, but my childhood with rural relatives and their friends contained no one who wasn't in somebody's church.

Dave Benke

Well, Plainfield IS Ed Gein country.

Yes, there is that.  It's almost psycho.

Dave Benke

PrTim15

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2021, 03:06:08 PM »
My grandmother was a nurse for years in a County Mental Hospital that was a lot like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next. I could never figure out why each county in WI needed a mental health hospital. Thanks to Gramma for scary us away from drugs…stories are amazing and we were scared straight.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2021, 03:11:52 PM »
It’s always hard to measure percentages of churched/saved/Christian. Is it official membership? Baptized? Have a place where they attend? Christianity is so global that the first job of outreach is convincing people they don’t already know what you have to say. Which plays into the disjointed witness of the Church, because usually when you try make the case that your message is news, you end up trying to convince them that what they think they heard (probably secondhand) some other preacher or church say was wrong. It ends up being a question of why they should listen to you and not some other guy when Occam’s Razor would suggest we’re all wrong.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2021, 03:26:27 PM »
Seems to me that the necessity of working together may be the salvation of the LCMS.  We sure can find better ways to work together and collaborate. Hats off to Tom and ND District and Dave and his wisdom. Better to collaborate than compete.


The ELCA has created multi-point and multi-denominational parishes, e.g., Lutheran-Presbyterian; Lutheran-Episcopalian, etc. Even without that, a small town community where I had served had their Presbyterian and Methodist congregations close up. Many of their members ended up at the ELCA congregation.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2021, 03:35:53 PM »
Seems to me that the necessity of working together may be the salvation of the LCMS.  We sure can find better ways to work together and collaborate. Hats off to Tom and ND District and Dave and his wisdom. Better to collaborate than compete.


The ELCA has created multi-point and multi-denominational parishes, e.g., Lutheran-Presbyterian; Lutheran-Episcopalian, etc. Even without that, a small town community where I had served had their Presbyterian and Methodist congregations close up. Many of their members ended up at the ELCA congregation.

Our next door neighbor, a 1000+ member ELCA church, shares its second pastor with the local Presbyterian church.  I think it works well for them both.  But I always wonder what a Lutheran preaches/teaches in a Presbyterian church: Lutheran doctrine or Presbyterian?

Charles Austin

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2021, 05:18:04 PM »
Pastor Bohler:
Our next door neighbor, a 1000+ member ELCA church, shares its second pastor with the local Presbyterian church.  I think it works well for them both.  But I always wonder what a Lutheran preaches/teaches in a Presbyterian church: Lutheran doctrine or Presbyterian?
Me:
And do you believe that every sermon, and every situation is either “Lutheran“ or “Presbyterian”? Is there a Lutheran Gospel? Is there a different Presbyterian Gospel?
Our ecumenical agreements speak about how although we have disagreements in certain areas of the faith, we can still be together in worship, sacrament and service.
I am preaching and presiding next Sunday at an Episcopal church. On Reformation Sunday, nonetheless! The only difference between this sermon and one I would preach in a Lutheran church is the references to the English reformation.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2021, 08:11:56 PM by Richard Johnson »
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #22 on: October 24, 2021, 06:48:19 PM »
Pastor Bohler:
Our next door neighbor, a 1000+ member ELCA church, shares its second pastor with the local Presbyterian church.  I think it works well for them both.  But I always wonder what a Lutheran preaches/teaches in a Presbyterian church: Lutheran doctrine or Presbyterian?
Me:
And do you believe that every sermon, and every situation is either “Lutheran“ or “Presbyterian”? Is there a Lutheran Gospel? Is there a different Presbyterian Gospel?
Our ecumenical agreements, which to you probably read like word puzzles in ancient Ugaritic, speak about how although we have disagreements in certain areas of the faith, we can still be together in worship, sacrament and service.
I am preaching and presiding next Sunday at an Episcopal church. On Reformation Sunday, nonetheless! The only difference between this sermon and one I would preach in a Lutheran church is the references to the English reformation.

So, if you were my neighboring ELCA pastor who preaches and teaches at the Presbyterian church, would you teach the kids that the Lord’s Supper is the Body and Blood or only symbolizes it?  Would you say this is what Lutherans believe and this is what Presbyterians believe?  If the second, how do you reconcile that with what you confessed to believe and teach?  Or don’ ELCA pastors make that vow anymore?  And if you believe one thing but teach another, doesn’t that make you a hypocrite or a mercenary hireling?

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #23 on: October 24, 2021, 07:53:13 PM »
Seems to me that the necessity of working together may be the salvation of the LCMS.  We sure can find better ways to work together and collaborate. Hats off to Tom and ND District and Dave and his wisdom. Better to collaborate than compete.


The ELCA has created multi-point and multi-denominational parishes, e.g., Lutheran-Presbyterian; Lutheran-Episcopalian, etc. Even without that, a small town community where I had served had their Presbyterian and Methodist congregations close up. Many of their members ended up at the ELCA congregation.

Our next door neighbor, a 1000+ member ELCA church, shares its second pastor with the local Presbyterian church.  I think it works well for them both.  But I always wonder what a Lutheran preaches/teaches in a Presbyterian church: Lutheran doctrine or Presbyterian?


When I was serving a Presbyterian congregation along with my Lutheran congregation; it was the same sermon at both congregations. The main differences between the two denominations are about polity. They use essentially the same Words of Institution that we use. They use the same creeds. They use the same scriptures.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #24 on: October 24, 2021, 08:20:39 PM »
Seems to me that the necessity of working together may be the salvation of the LCMS.  We sure can find better ways to work together and collaborate. Hats off to Tom and ND District and Dave and his wisdom. Better to collaborate than compete.


The ELCA has created multi-point and multi-denominational parishes, e.g., Lutheran-Presbyterian; Lutheran-Episcopalian, etc. Even without that, a small town community where I had served had their Presbyterian and Methodist congregations close up. Many of their members ended up at the ELCA congregation.

Our next door neighbor, a 1000+ member ELCA church, shares its second pastor with the local Presbyterian church.  I think it works well for them both.  But I always wonder what a Lutheran preaches/teaches in a Presbyterian church: Lutheran doctrine or Presbyterian?


When I was serving a Presbyterian congregation along with my Lutheran congregation; it was the same sermon at both congregations. The main differences between the two denominations are about polity. They use essentially the same Words of Institution that we use. They use the same creeds. They use the same scriptures.

Well, they may SAY the same words but they do not believe they mean the same thing.  Presbyterians do not believe it is the Body and Blood but only represent them.  So, which would a Lutheran preach/teach?  Maybe you can "fudge" it in a sermon or service by simply saying the same words, but what do you teach the kids or adults in Bible class?

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #25 on: October 24, 2021, 08:25:06 PM »
Pastor Bohler:
Our next door neighbor, a 1000+ member ELCA church, shares its second pastor with the local Presbyterian church.  I think it works well for them both.  But I always wonder what a Lutheran preaches/teaches in a Presbyterian church: Lutheran doctrine or Presbyterian?
Me:
And do you believe that every sermon, and every situation is either “Lutheran“ or “Presbyterian”? Is there a Lutheran Gospel? Is there a different Presbyterian Gospel?
Our ecumenical agreements, which to you probably read like word puzzles in ancient Ugaritic, speak about how although we have disagreements in certain areas of the faith, we can still be together in worship, sacrament and service.
I am preaching and presiding next Sunday at an Episcopal church. On Reformation Sunday, nonetheless! The only difference between this sermon and one I would preach in a Lutheran church is the references to the English reformation.

So, if you were my neighboring ELCA pastor who preaches and teaches at the Presbyterian church, would you teach the kids that the Lord’s Supper is the Body and Blood or only symbolizes it?  Would you say this is what Lutherans believe and this is what Presbyterians believe?  If the second, how do you reconcile that with what you confessed to believe and teach?  Or don’ ELCA pastors make that vow anymore?  And if you believe one thing but teach another, doesn’t that make you a hypocrite or a mercenary hireling?


I would teach them what the Bible and our liturgies say: "This is my body." I have never heard a Reformed Church liturgy say, "This represents my body." They, like us, use the words of Scripture.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #26 on: October 24, 2021, 08:28:25 PM »
Well, they may SAY the same words but they do not believe they mean the same thing.  Presbyterians do not believe it is the Body and Blood but only represent them.  So, which would a Lutheran preach/teach?  Maybe you can "fudge" it in a sermon or service by simply saying the same words, but what do you teach the kids or adults in Bible class?


Nope, "representative" language was Zwingli; and Calvin, like Luther, didn't agree with Zwingli's teaching. Presbyterians use "real presence" language like us. Of course, you could argue that "they may SAY the same words but they do not believe they mean the same thing."
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Charles Austin

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #27 on: October 24, 2021, 08:28:40 PM »
Pastor Bohler:
So, if you were my neighboring ELCA pastor who preaches and teaches at the Presbyterian church, would you teach the kids that the Lord’s Supper is the Body and Blood or only symbolizes it?
Me:
The former, obviously.

Pastor Bohler:
Would you say this is what Lutherans believe and this is what Presbyterians believe?
Me:
I probably would not dwell on the us/them theme. I might say that we both believe that Christ is truly present in body and blood, in the word and in the assembly, although our ancestors in the faith used different word and ideas in teaching that.

Pastor Bohler:
If the second, how do you reconcile that with what you confessed to believe and teach?  Or don’ ELCA pastors make that vow anymore?  And if you believe one thing but teach another, doesn’t that make you a hypocrite or a mercenary hireling?
Me:
See above. As I frequently have said, you have no ability to grasp or understand the results of our 20+ years (that’s two decades) of dialogue. And I cannot “catch you up,” because your mind is set and your heart is hard.
FWIW, in my last full-time “regular” - not interim - call, we had a three-year cooperative relationship with a Presbyterian church, joint worship, especially in the summer and some holidays like Thanksgiving. When I retired, the Presbyterian congregation moved to weekly celebration of the sacrament, coming forward to the altar to receive. At my retirement dinner, two members of the Presbyterian church thanked me for what I taught them about the sacrament and for making their services “more reverent.”
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #28 on: October 24, 2021, 08:32:10 PM »
Pastor Bohler:
So, if you were my neighboring ELCA pastor who preaches and teaches at the Presbyterian church, would you teach the kids that the Lord’s Supper is the Body and Blood or only symbolizes it?
Me:
The former, obviously.

Pastor Bohler:
Would you say this is what Lutherans believe and this is what Presbyterians believe?
Me:
I probably would not dwell on the us/them theme. I might say that we both believe that Christ is truly present in body and blood, in the word and in the assembly, although our ancestors in the faith used different word and ideas in teaching that.

Pastor Bohler:
If the second, how do you reconcile that with what you confessed to believe and teach?  Or don’ ELCA pastors make that vow anymore?  And if you believe one thing but teach another, doesn’t that make you a hypocrite or a mercenary hireling?
Me:
See above. As I frequently have said, you have no ability to grasp or understand the results of our 20+ years (that’s two decades) of dialogue. And I cannot “catch you up,” because your mind is set and your heart is hard.
FWIW, in my last full-time “regular” - not interim - call, we had a three-year cooperative relationship with a Presbyterian church, joint worship, especially in the summer and some holidays like Thanksgiving. When I retired, the Presbyterian congregation moved to weekly celebration of the sacrament, coming forward to the altar to receive. At my retirement dinner, two members of the Presbyterian church thanked me for what I taught them about the sacrament and for making their services “more reverent.”


Another benefit of our agreements is that when I had retired Presbyterian ministers and an UCC minister attending the congregation I was serving; they preached and presided for me when I went on vacation - and in one case, when I was in the hospital. They preached from the same scriptures. They used our liturgies. They had been worshiping with us for many, many months. They were part of our body of Christ. (They have all since moved away.)

Oh, and when I left the congregation in Wyoming, where the nearest ELCA retired clergy was 200 miles away; the local UCC minister preached and presided every week. Until they were able to Call their own pastor. For a while, the congregation I retired from had a retired UCC minister as their interim. (He died suddenly from cancer.) My home congregation in Portland, OR, has a UCC minister as their interim.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2021, 08:34:42 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #29 on: October 24, 2021, 08:45:27 PM »
Yeah, I know.  They say they believe Jesus is present.  But not physically or bodily.  Lutherans disagree.  This IS My Body, as Luther famously quoted at Marburg.  You in the ELCA have agreed that the difference is not worth arguing over; I get that.  But what would a Lutheran pastor be expected to teach in a Presbyterian church?  The Lutheran view that it IS the Body and Blood of Christ?  The Presbyterian view that Jesus is present but only spiritually, not bodily?  Explain both understandings and leave the hearer to decide?    Rev. Stoffregen and Rev. Austin talk about merely preaching in Presbyterian churches; perhaps there one can shrug off the differences and just say the words.  But what about in teaching (and remember, in the case I mentioned of the ELCA church next door to mine whose second pastor IS the pastor of the Presbyterian church, that pastor does all the pastoral work for that congregation)?  What about if someone asks what they receive in communion -- how does a Lutheran pastor answer that without either giving the Lutheran position or rejecting the Confessions' clear and unambiguous teaching?  And if the latter, in what way are they truly Lutheran?  If the answer does not matter, why have separate churches?