Author Topic: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies  (Read 6729 times)

Richard Johnson

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #45 on: October 25, 2021, 08:59:13 AM »
And now a second question comes to mind, after Rev. Austin's rehearsal of the discussions that led to that agreement: In the almost 25 years since, have further discussions been held to work through those areas of disagreement?  And if so, what progress has been made?

That's an excellent question. It doesn't appear to me that much has happened other than the obligatory appearances of representatives of "full communion churches" at churchwide assemblies.

And the churches  feel they can comment on each other's business. Just this month, the Reformed Church in America had its general synod and was conflicted over sexuality. Bp. Eaton wrote a pastoral letter suggesting that the RCA could learn to live together harmoniously with differing views, just as the ELCA as done. I almost spilled my coffee.
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Dave Benke

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #46 on: October 25, 2021, 09:01:09 AM »
I believe that Christ is truly present in the sacrament even among those Christians who see it as nothing but a memorial meal.

Lutherans do not.

This is probably not correct. Sasse (footnote in This Is My Body) states that although Lutheran pastors warned people not to receive at Reformed altars, they refrained from speculating what the Reformed actually received.

Peace, JOHN

Good catch, John - I'm surprised there aren't more full treatments on this question through the years.

Dave Benke

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #47 on: October 25, 2021, 09:11:15 AM »
I believe that Christ is truly present in the sacrament even among those Christians who see it as nothing but a memorial meal.

Lutherans do not.

This is probably not correct. Sasse (footnote in This Is My Body) states that although Lutheran pastors warned people not to receive at Reformed altars, they refrained from speculating what the Reformed actually received.

Peace, JOHN

Good catch, John - I'm surprised there aren't more full treatments on this question through the years.

Dave Benke

Pieper's Christian Dogmatics, Vol III, p. 371 makes the point that while there was disagreement on the subject among Lutheran teachers, "Most of our Old Lutheran teachers hold that the Reformed 'Supper' is a rite alien to the ordinance of Christ and for that reason is not the Lord's Supper".  Perhaps that is the better option, since if it WERE the Lord's Supper, than I would suspect they would've held that the Reformed communicants would be receiving it to their harm (1 Cor. 11).

aletheist

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #48 on: October 25, 2021, 09:13:31 AM »
I believe that Christ is truly present in the sacrament even among those Christians who see it as nothing but a memorial meal.
Lutherans do not.
This is probably not correct. Sasse (footnote in This Is My Body) states that although Lutheran pastors warned people not to receive at Reformed altars, they refrained from speculating what the Reformed actually received.
Rev. Kirchner is correct. Here is what we as Lutherans believe, teach, and confess regarding this question.

Quote from: FC SD VII:32
After this protestation, Doctor Luther, of blessed memory, presents, among other articles, this also: In the same manner I also speak and confess (he says) concerning the Sacrament of the Altar, that there the body and blood of Christ are in truth orally eaten and drunk in the bread and wine, even though the priests [ministers] who administer it [the Lord’s Supper], or those who receive it, should not believe or otherwise misuse it. For it does not depend upon the faith or unbelief of men, but upon God’s Word and ordinance, unless they first change God’s Word and ordinance and interpret it otherwise, as the enemies of the Sacrament do at the present day, who, of course, have nothing but bread and wine; for they also do not have the words and appointed ordinance of God, but have perverted and changed them according to their own [false] notion.

In the words of Luther as quoted in the Formula of Concord, at altars where they "change God's Word and ordinance" by interpreting it "according to their own [false] notion," they "have nothing but bread and wine." Walther reiterates this position as follows.

Quote from: Walther, Pastoral Theology
The administration of the holy Supper is not made invalid and powerless by the unworthiness, unbelief, or false intention of the administrant (see the Augsburg Confession, Article VIII). But those false teachers who, with the agreement of their congregation, publicly pervert the Words of Institution and give them a meaning according to which the body and blood of Christ are not really present in the holy Supper and are not distributed nor received--those who therefore retain the sound of the words but take away what makes them God's Word, namely the divine meaning, and so deny and suspend the essence of the holy Supper, such as the Zwinglians and Calvinists--they do not celebrate the Lord's Supper, even if they ostensibly retain the consecration. They distribute only bread and wine.
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peter_speckhard

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #49 on: October 25, 2021, 09:18:42 AM »
The discussion of doctrinal disagreements will play a big role in the future of declining church bodies and where they will find clergy. I suspect conservative churches will have to put up with spotty coverage and some sort of circuit rider arrangement, keeping struct doctrinal boundaries while trying to work together with other conservative bodies on points of mutual mission. I still think the parishioner shortage is likely to be a big a problem for the LCMS as the clergy shortage. As for liberal churches, I wouldn't be surprised if they worked together (sort of like the old Synodical Conference) to take geographical areas. This town's Protestant churches will be served by this UCC pastor (or group of pastors), while that town's Protestant churches will be served by this ELCA pastor. The three and four point parishes in ND involve a lot of driving, but a county seat town could have one pastor serving four churches all within a block or two of the parsonage and donning different doctrinal nuances like differing vestments.

Dave Benke

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #50 on: October 25, 2021, 09:19:10 AM »
And now a second question comes to mind, after Rev. Austin's rehearsal of the discussions that led to that agreement: In the almost 25 years since, have further discussions been held to work through those areas of disagreement?  And if so, what progress has been made?

That's an excellent question. It doesn't appear to me that much has happened other than the obligatory appearances of representatives of "full communion churches" at churchwide assemblies.

And the churches  feel they can comment on each other's business. Just this month, the Reformed Church in America had its general synod and was conflicted over sexuality. Bp. Eaton wrote a pastoral letter suggesting that the RCA could learn to live together harmoniously with differing views, just as the ELCA as done. I almost spilled my coffee.

I have known some of the RCA leaders in this part of the world through the years, faithfully reformed in all regards.  Here's a description of what's happening:  https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2021/10/14/reformed-church-in-america-faces-rupture-over-lgbtq-gridlock/

An issue with these splits in the smaller denominations is whether the structure of the organization can withstand the splintering, for one.  Secondly, what about the splintered?  Where do they land and how do they put anything beyond a local agenda together that is built to be multi-generational?  I guess this is a question for NALC and LCMC folks as well - how does strategizing take place for a future that's more than interim?  I can't believe any of the breakaway bodies somehow have only larger and more viable congregational memberships. 

The thing they won't have to worry about is receiving pastors from a seminary or pastors from the field who are misaligned with their stated values.  But the issues of holding on and holding things together for more than 5-10 years remain no matter who you are affiliated with.  So yes - we're looking for a pastor who, say, is opposed to gay ordination.  We can pay the pastor $2000 per month.  Anybody available? 

Dave Benke

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #51 on: October 25, 2021, 09:20:21 AM »
Pastor Bohler:
In the almost 25 years since, have further discussions been held to work through those areas of disagreement?  And if so, what progress has been made?
Me:
Yes, and I do not know.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

Charles Austin

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #52 on: October 25, 2021, 10:19:46 AM »
Peter:
…one pastor serving four churches all within a block or two of the parsonage and donning different doctrinal nuances like differing vestments.

Me:
We do not trivialize “doctrinal nuances.” But which doctrines and which nuances? What is essential for the proclamation of the Gospel, for nurturing faith, for bringing comfort, for inspiring mission and service, for building community? I might start - and maybe finish - with the Creeds.
And scripture. And I might bring less  nitpicking fanaticism to the process then do some others we know.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #53 on: October 25, 2021, 10:30:48 AM »
And now a second question comes to mind, after Rev. Austin's rehearsal of the discussions that led to that agreement: In the almost 25 years since, have further discussions been held to work through those areas of disagreement?  And if so, what progress has been made?

That's an excellent question. It doesn't appear to me that much has happened other than the obligatory appearances of representatives of "full communion churches" at churchwide assemblies.

And the churches  feel they can comment on each other's business. Just this month, the Reformed Church in America had its general synod and was conflicted over sexuality. Bp. Eaton wrote a pastoral letter suggesting that the RCA could learn to live together harmoniously with differing views, just as the ELCA as done. I almost spilled my coffee.

I have known some of the RCA leaders in this part of the world through the years, faithfully reformed in all regards.  Here's a description of what's happening:  https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2021/10/14/reformed-church-in-america-faces-rupture-over-lgbtq-gridlock/

An issue with these splits in the smaller denominations is whether the structure of the organization can withstand the splintering, for one.  Secondly, what about the splintered?  Where do they land and how do they put anything beyond a local agenda together that is built to be multi-generational?  I guess this is a question for NALC and LCMC folks as well - how does strategizing take place for a future that's more than interim?  I can't believe any of the breakaway bodies somehow have only larger and more viable congregational memberships. 

The thing they won't have to worry about is receiving pastors from a seminary or pastors from the field who are misaligned with their stated values.  But the issues of holding on and holding things together for more than 5-10 years remain no matter who you are affiliated with.  So yes - we're looking for a pastor who, say, is opposed to gay ordination.  We can pay the pastor $2000 per month.  Anybody available? 

Dave Benke
I think the generational aspect is key. RJN rejected the dismissal, lamentably common among Christians both lay and clergy, of the “institutional” church. Institution, he pointed out, is simply the word that describes a mission through time. Yes, institutions, like all human things, are inclined to mission-creep into mere self-perpetuation and enlargement (Yes, our school founded for the training of foreign missionaries is still going strong after 150 years! Only now it more focus on oil changes and muffler repair, with some of the proceeds going toward various outreach events!), so the institutional trappings should always be a servant and never a master. But we should see the value of preserving institutions in decline. If we lose them, we’ll soon need new ones and wish we had been able to keep the old ones up and running.

For a church to endure through time it needs doctrinal definition. That has been my criticism of the NALC from the beginning. A church defined by avoiding extremes doesn’t cease to have extremes, it simply has a narrower set of extremes and is still in large part defined by the extremes it rejects. Right now, it works pretty well. The people in the NALC are familiar with the debates and issues, and more importantly, the churchly culture that gave birth to the NALC. But two generations from now all the membership will be all new and the old raison d’etre will not seem urgent to them at all. The work to be done in making the NALC is in building a lasting institution, which means, for a church, a clear understanding of why it exists as a separate institution. That can only mean doctrinal boundaries, which require some justification. Why is this acceptable but that isn’t? And then you’ll have hardliners and “moderates” and all the same old issues.

The NALC strikes me like a temporary solution. A set of people deeply involved in American Lutheranism just needed to come up for air before they drowned in what seemed like unacceptable alternatives. But they will soon have to dive down again to the foundations after they catch their breath. There is much work to be done if there are to be third and fourth generation NALC pastors.


Richard Johnson

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #54 on: October 25, 2021, 10:31:35 AM »
Pastor Bohler:
In the almost 25 years since, have further discussions been held to work through those areas of disagreement?  And if so, what progress has been made?
Me:
Yes, and I do not know.

I don't think that is correct. I've looked at the ELCA page about bilateral dialogues, and there is nothing there about continuing dialogue with, say, the Reformed (it lists AME, AMEZ, Disciples, Mennonites, also Orthodox and Roman though I think those dialogues are primarily through LWF).

Looking back at the Ecumenical report to the last CWA, it simply tells me that with the full communion partners, "coordinating committees meet regularly"--few details are given, but it appears that these committees deal with pragmatic issues such as the logistics of pastoral service in each other's congregations, etc. Nothing about continued theological dialogue. If such dialogue is continuing, nobody's talking about it.
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Terry W Culler

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #55 on: October 25, 2021, 10:48:08 AM »
As someone from a church body that formed in a split 60 years ago I understand what Peter is talking about with respect to the future of a body like the NALC or the LCMC.  In late 2009 we began to see people coming to us from ELCA congregations and I told them that, if their sole goal was to avoid have homosexual pastors, then we were not the place for them.  The AFLC has an identity and a theological position which has endured and keeps us functioning and moving forward. Even though we are a small denomination we can answer the question, "why do you exist" rather straightforwardly and we continue to raise up young people who believe in free and living congregations.  Our problem now is indeed how to replace all the retired and ought to be retired pastors, especially in the rural upper Midwest.
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Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #56 on: October 25, 2021, 10:56:17 AM »
I believe that Christ is truly present in the sacrament even among those Christians who see it as nothing but a memorial meal.
Lutherans do not.
This is probably not correct. Sasse (footnote in This Is My Body) states that although Lutheran pastors warned people not to receive at Reformed altars, they refrained from speculating what the Reformed actually received.
Rev. Kirchner is correct. Here is what we as Lutherans believe, teach, and confess regarding this question.

Quote from: FC SD VII:32
After this protestation, Doctor Luther, of blessed memory, presents, among other articles, this also: In the same manner I also speak and confess (he says) concerning the Sacrament of the Altar, that there the body and blood of Christ are in truth orally eaten and drunk in the bread and wine, even though the priests [ministers] who administer it [the Lord’s Supper], or those who receive it, should not believe or otherwise misuse it. For it does not depend upon the faith or unbelief of men, but upon God’s Word and ordinance, unless they first change God’s Word and ordinance and interpret it otherwise, as the enemies of the Sacrament do at the present day, who, of course, have nothing but bread and wine; for they also do not have the words and appointed ordinance of God, but have perverted and changed them according to their own [false] notion.

In the words of Luther as quoted in the Formula of Concord, at altars where they "change God's Word and ordinance" by interpreting it "according to their own [false] notion," they "have nothing but bread and wine." Walther reiterates this position as follows.

Quote from: Walther, Pastoral Theology
The administration of the holy Supper is not made invalid and powerless by the unworthiness, unbelief, or false intention of the administrant (see the Augsburg Confession, Article VIII). But those false teachers who, with the agreement of their congregation, publicly pervert the Words of Institution and give them a meaning according to which the body and blood of Christ are not really present in the holy Supper and are not distributed nor received--those who therefore retain the sound of the words but take away what makes them God's Word, namely the divine meaning, and so deny and suspend the essence of the holy Supper, such as the Zwinglians and Calvinists--they do not celebrate the Lord's Supper, even if they ostensibly retain the consecration. They distribute only bread and wine.

Don, Steven, and Jon, that is also what I recalled from my training and reading.

John, are you able to give us the page and footnote in Sasse, which would be helpful for this topic?

The original topic was about how to supply church workers for the future. I had recommended free conferences, brainstorming with the laity to draw grassroots attention to the issues and get folks working on it from top to bottom. Perhaps something like this is already done or in the works but I imagine we would benefit from broader attention to the challenges.
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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #57 on: October 25, 2021, 11:01:38 AM »

John, are you able to give us the page and footnote in Sasse, which would be helpful for this topic?



I wish I could but I had to downsize my library several years ago. I do recall that it was toward the end, probably in that last section where he discusses the import of Luther's stand at Marburg.

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Michael Slusser

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #58 on: October 25, 2021, 11:13:42 AM »
As someone from a church body that formed in a split 60 years ago I understand what Peter is talking about with respect to the future of a body like the NALC or the LCMC.  In late 2009 we began to see people coming to us from ELCA congregations and I told them that, if their sole goal was to avoid have homosexual pastors, then we were not the place for them.  The AFLC has an identity and a theological position which has endured and keeps us functioning and moving forward. Even though we are a small denomination we can answer the question, "why do you exist" rather straightforwardly and we continue to raise up young people who believe in free and living congregations.  Our problem now is indeed how to replace all the retired and ought to be retired pastors, especially in the rural upper Midwest.
I can report a comparable instance in the RCC from the 80s, when Anglican/Episcopalian priests were first allowed to become RC and be ordained as RC priests. A member of the colloquy committee (which was headed by then bishop of Springfield/Cape Girardeau, Bernard Law) told me that, to exclude merely reactive moves, each man was asked whether, if the Pope authorized ordaining women to the priesthood, they would accept that. If their sole goal was to avoid ordaining women, then we were not the place for them.

Peace,
Michael
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Charles Austin

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Re: Filling Future Pastoral Vacancies
« Reply #59 on: October 25, 2021, 11:26:43 AM »
Knowing a number of people involved in forming the NALC, I once opined that the NALC was the ELCA without partnered gay pastors. Some said that appellation was not true.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.