Author Topic: Seminex in Print  (Read 4152 times)

Michael Slusser

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Re: Seminex in Print
« Reply #75 on: December 20, 2021, 05:33:41 PM »
I heard of one church in the ELCA that withdrew last year because it wanted to call its Pastor without any input from the Synod. That is, it wanted to “hire“ a pastor, whether or not that Pastor was on the ELCA roster or had synodical endorsement.
Isn't that basically happened when congregations insisted on calling non-rostered pastors who would not sign Visions and Expectations? By 2009 there were so many it precipitated a canonical crisis at the Church-Wide Assembly in Minneapolis. There were several maverick congregations out there that were officially without a pastor. It was the ELCA that yielded.

Peace,
Michael
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Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Seminex in Print
« Reply #76 on: December 20, 2021, 05:59:27 PM »
If an ELCA congregation calls a pastor on the ELCA roster without the bishop's/Synod's input can that congregation be removed from the ELCA? If that pastor accepts the call, can s/he be removed from the ELCA?


The simple answer is, Yes, the congregation can be removed. Below are the pertinent articles from the Constitution and Bylaws for the discipline of congregations.


20.31. The disciplinary process for congregations shall be set forth in the bylaws.
20.31.01. Congregations shall be subject to discipline for:
a. departing from the faith confessed by this church;
b. willfully disregarding or violating the criteria for recognition as congregations of this church; or
c. willfully disregarding or violating the provisions of the constitutions, bylaws, and continuing resolutions of this church.
20.31.02. The disciplinary actions which may be imposed are:
a. censure and admonition by the bishop of the synod;
b. suspension from this church for a designated period, the consequences of such suspension being the loss of voting rights of any member (including ministers of Word and Sacrament and ministers of Word and Service) of the congregation at synod or churchwide assemblies, the loss of the right to petition, and the forfeiture of eligibility by any member of the congregation to serve on any council, board, committee, or other group of this church, any of its synods, or any other subdivision thereof;
c. suspension of the congregation from this church for a designated period (with the same consequences as in b.) during which the congregation shall be under the administration of the synod, provided that a congregation may refuse to accept such administration in which case it shall be removed from the roster of congregations of this church; or
d. removal from the roster of congregations of this church.
20.31.03. Charges against a congregation which could lead to discipline must be specific and in writing, subscribed to by the accuser(s), and be made by one or more of the following:
a. at least one-fifth of the voting members of the congregation, submitted to the synod bishop;
b. at least three other congregations of the synod, submitted to the synod bishop;
c. the Synod Council; or
d. the synod bishop.


The criteria for recognition as congregations of this church are given in the Constitution (see below, boldface added).

9.20. CRITERIA FOR RECOGNITION AND RECEPTION
9.21. This church shall recognize, receive, and maintain on the roster those congregations which by their practice as well as their governing documents:
a. preach the Word, administer the sacraments, and carry out God’s mission;
b. accept this church’s Confession of Faith;
c. agree to the Statement of Purpose of this church;
d. agree to call pastoral leadership from the roster of Ministers of Word and Sacrament of this church in accordance with the call procedures of this church, except in special circumstances as defined in the bylaws accompanying this provision, and with the approval of the synod bishop;
e. agree to be responsible for their life as a Christian community;
f. agree to support the life and work of this church; and
g. adhere to the additional commitments expressed in this chapter of the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


Congregations that do not call a pastor from the ELCA roster or call without approval of the synod bishop are subject to discipline. The disciplinary actions can be removal; or it can be a "talking to" by the bishop.
"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: Seminex in Print
« Reply #77 on: December 20, 2021, 06:04:34 PM »
I heard of one church in the ELCA that withdrew last year because it wanted to call its Pastor without any input from the Synod. That is, it wanted to “hire“ a pastor, whether or not that Pastor was on the ELCA roster or had synodical endorsement.
Isn't that basically happened when congregations insisted on calling non-rostered pastors who would not sign Visions and Expectations? By 2009 there were so many it precipitated a canonical crisis at the Church-Wide Assembly in Minneapolis. There were several maverick congregations out there that were officially without a pastor. It was the ELCA that yielded.


The ELCA are the members of the congregations. They are the voting members at churchwide assemblies who make the decisions for the ELCA. They are the highest legislative body in our church. Our presiding bishop is not a pope. The Church council are not cardinals. Decisions are made (for better or worse) by voting members at churchwide assemblies of which 60% are lay people.
"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]

Dan Fienen

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Re: Seminex in Print
« Reply #78 on: December 20, 2021, 06:19:27 PM »
Almost all of the congregations that we serve have chosen to join a denomination. This naturally has benefits as well as disadvantages, although in my experience and estimation the benefits far outweigh the liabilities. The greatest problems often come when either the denomination goes off in a direction that the congregation cannot tolerate, or the congregation does.


Being a part of an organized church body, both the congregation and the church body has an interest in the calling of a pastor for the congregation. Generally speaking, the Bishop or District President will have greater knowledge of who is available for call, and especially if the congregation cooperates with self-studies, etc., the bishop can be of significant assistance in making a good batch. It is wise that the congregation cooperate with the district or synod process.


Every system is subject to break down and abuse. Congregations can go rogue, and sometimes the bishop or DP can pursue an agenda that he or she values more than the local congregation. It is very unwise to simply assume that is the case.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Jim Butler

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Re: Seminex in Print
« Reply #79 on: December 20, 2021, 11:10:07 PM »
Pastor Butler, on another snipe hunt:
How do you know that they merely wanted to "hire" a pastor and not actually call him/her?
Me:
Blended language. They saw "call" as "hire," that is, "we pay him, we own him."

Don't know why you called that a "snipe hunt", Charles. I'm just trying to understand your argument.

Pastor Butler:
Are you saying that if a congregation calls without the input of its synod, then the call is not valid?
Me:
I'm saying that is contrary to our usual procedures, some of which are spelled out in synodical and constitutional constitutions. The bishop is supposed to have some say over who is pastor in that synod.

LCMS District Presidents are supposed to have a role to play as well. But if a congregation ignores him, the call is still valid.
So, are you saying that if call is made "contrary to [y]our usual procedures" that call is not valid? Just trying to understand what you are arguing.

Pastor Butler:
If an ELCA congregation calls a pastor on the ELCA roster without the bishop's/Synod's input can that congregation be removed from the ELCA? If that pastor accepts the call, can s/he be removed from the ELCA?
Me:
Probably not. But maybe. I did one interim where a pastor had been called against the advice of the bishop, but being a nice guy, he let it happen. Five years later, when the pastor had nearly destroyed the congregation, the synod had to clean up the mess. That pastor was then on leave from call for three years and, having refused additional training or mentoring, was dropped from our rolls.

I've been in District leadership since 1994; I'm stepping away next summer. I could tell you more stories about more situations than you'd ever believe. I can think of one congregation that called a pastor who the DP said would be trouble and he was; the congregation was calling the DP with complaints within a couple of months of the pastor's arrival. At the same time, I can think of another situation where the congregation did everything by the book and the called pastor was a disaster.

No bishop/DP really knows every pastor is her/his Synod/District, especially the larger ones. I recently talked to an ELCA pastor who wants to jump to Missouri. His wife told me about the time he fell off a ladder and was hospitalized for several days. The bishop came to visit him (good!), but had to ask which patient he was (there were two in the room) and had no idea she was his wife. So I'm not sure how good that bishop's advice would be about calling him.

At any rate, I was just curious as to how the rules work in the ELCA. I appreciate Brian for quoting your constitution and by-laws on it. Looks to me as if ELCA bishops have more authority in calling that LCMS District Presidents do.

Good luck snipe hunting. Make sure you wear a mask outdoors in the woods.
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

Charles Austin

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Re: Seminex in Print
« Reply #80 on: December 20, 2021, 11:34:01 PM »
Pastor Butler:
So, are you saying that if call is made "contrary to [y]our usual procedures" that call is not valid? Just trying to understand what you are arguing.
Me:
Not arguing, explaining. If the procedures are not followed that call – in terms of the pastor, congregation, and ELCA – is not valid.

Pastor Butler:
No bishop/DP really knows every pastor is her/his Synod/District, especially the larger ones. I recently talked to an ELCA pastor who wants to jump to Missouri. His wife told me about the time he fell off a ladder and was hospitalized for several days. The bishop came to visit him (good!), but had to ask which patient he was (there were two in the room) and had no idea she was his wife. So I'm not sure how good that bishop's advice would be about calling him.
Me:
True, but…

Pastor Butler:
Looks to me as if ELCA bishops have more authority in calling that LCMS District Presidents do.
Me:
I believe they do. Some bishops use that authority more competently than others.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Former national staff Lutheran Church in America And the Lutheran world Federation, Geneva. Former journalist. Now retired and living in Minneapolis.

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Seminex in Print
« Reply #81 on: December 21, 2021, 07:51:02 AM »
I'll make a general statement about the calling process and then tell a specific story. In my experience the call process is most often followed respectfully and in faith. However, when politics get involved, anything might happen. The more politicized a situation is, the more corruptly people behave.

I have served five years now at Emmanuel, an independent congregation. I entered the call process in good faith as I believe the congregation generally did as well. The LCMS Ohio District President installed me with other LCMS clergy participating.

However, after I was installed I was told by some members that I would not be staying and that they owed leadership in the LCMS, who wanted me back on their terms. One older member took me aside, told me his disappointments with pastors he knew from the ALC and how he worked to get rid of them. He told me the same would happen to me---he would outlast me and see to it.

I listened politely realizing this brother had been somehow misled. When he or his wife went into the hospital, I ministered to them without allowing his threats to impede me. The reason I have followed through is I actually believe in the call process and what my church taught me about it. Even if some in the process acted falsely and contrary to sound doctrine, the call was from the Lord. I have served diligently in that belief and that has sustained me in the work despite abusive treatment from some members. As the called pastor, I have responsibility to care for the congregation even if some treat me abusively.

The member who threatened me is no longer with us. His harsh words were not fulfilled. I remain unbroken, open, and sincere in my service because my calling is from the Lord.
I serve as administrator for www.churchhistoryreview.org.

Charles Austin

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Re: Seminex in Print
« Reply #82 on: December 21, 2021, 09:13:31 AM »
There is the “call”, and then there is the call. We in the ELCA believe that a call from God, in terms of service within the ELCA, must be “validated“ through our denominational requirements. One may have a call from God and do whatever is necessary to follow that call. However, if one is to be a public minister in the ELCA, that call has to be filtered through our processes.
Way back in the LCA when we “defrocked” tw9 pastors in western Pennsylvania, and they went on serving certain congregations, a reporter asked me “are they still pastors?”
I said they may be doing work as pastors and their congregation may consider them pastors, but in terms of the LCA they are not pastors under our jurisdiction.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Former national staff Lutheran Church in America And the Lutheran world Federation, Geneva. Former journalist. Now retired and living in Minneapolis.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Seminex in Print
« Reply #83 on: December 21, 2021, 09:22:02 AM »
In the LCMS, the authority to call resides with the local congregation. The pastor may feel internally called to be a pastor, but that does not make it so until God actually calls him to a specific place. The call is neither merely an internal thing nor merely abstract, general, just sort of called to everyplace kind of thing. So the district or synod can't really affect the validity of a call to a congregation. They can only affect whether that pastor or congregation is on our roster. The call remains valid. Pastor Engelbrecht makes that point in serving an independent congregation. Nobody can say his call isn't valid even if no superstructure of a denomination oversees it.

Charles Austin

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Re: Seminex in Print
« Reply #84 on: December 21, 2021, 09:53:59 AM »
But then the call is only between a person and a God. Is that a good idea? Seems to me that could lead to all kinds of difficulties. Is not a call to Word and Sacrament ministry connected to and mediated through the church?
I know we’ve been through this discussion before, but in the LCA and ELCA we are called to the public ministry of the denomination, and that call and connection continues even if one does not have a juridical call to a particular congregation. When I was in secular work, I was still a pastor of the LCA and ELCA, Able to do pastoral work as the occasion and/or need arose.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Former national staff Lutheran Church in America And the Lutheran world Federation, Geneva. Former journalist. Now retired and living in Minneapolis.

Dave Benke

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Re: Seminex in Print
« Reply #85 on: December 21, 2021, 09:59:32 AM »
I've been in District leadership since 1994; I'm stepping away next summer.

Thanks for your lengthy service in New Englad, Jim, many years in parallel with me in Atlantic.  I only tried once to reunite New England with Atlantic, when Ozzie Lehenbauer was in office.  Going way back, my predecessor at St. Peter's, Bob Riedel, was one of those removed in the Seminex purge.  He ended up serving in Germany.  He was quite a force at St. Peter's, with a Bach children's choir, Gilbert and Sullivan productions, and (this didn't play well in Cypress Hills at the time) the use of incense.  He was the last provider for German language worship, which lasted for over 60 years.  Then came Martin Dienst, an able parish pastor.  Then Dave Mulder, against whom I played an oft-told game of two on two hoops. Then Ozzie Lehenbauer, whose son is long-time CTCR exec.  Then of course Jim K, and Tim Yeadon and now Bob Beinke (both golf buddies through the years).  So yes, you would have a bundle of call process and parish mess stories of the first water, some of which included my involvement.  Well done, Jim! 

Although......what happened to me is that in the late 80s I decided to take a break from district leadership and didn't run for vice-president; in that little slice of time Ron Fink left, Jim Zwernemann filled in (get the picture?) and then I was elected in 1991 running on the platform of "pick someone else, please."  So - beware.  And have a lovely Christmas season.

Dave Benke

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Seminex in Print
« Reply #86 on: December 21, 2021, 09:59:56 AM »
But then the call is only between a person and a God.

I don't think that is at all what Peter stated or what we reasonably can conclude from what he did state.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2021, 10:09:02 AM by Donald_Kirchner »
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Seminex in Print
« Reply #87 on: December 21, 2021, 10:37:07 AM »
There is the “call”, and then there is the call. We in the ELCA believe that a call from God, in terms of service within the ELCA, must be “validated“ through our denominational requirements. One may have a call from God and do whatever is necessary to follow that call. However, if one is to be a public minister in the ELCA, that call has to be filtered through our processes.
Way back in the LCA when we “defrocked” tw9 pastors in western Pennsylvania, and they went on serving certain congregations, a reporter asked me “are they still pastors?”
I said they may be doing work as pastors and their congregation may consider them pastors, but in terms of the LCA they are not pastors under our jurisdiction.


Yes. We had a distinction between being a pastor and being "rostered". Prior to 2009, there were a few congregations who had called pastors who were not rostered in the ELCA. A bishop could have sought to remove those congregations from the ELCA roster of congregations. That did happen back in 1990, if I remember right. St. Francis Lutheran and First United Lutheran in San Francisco were given five years to uncall their unrostered pastors. They didn't. They were removed. However, they continued to operate as if they were still part of the Sierra Pacific Synod. Their pastors and laity attended conference and synod events. The synod assemblies often began with a motion to give their voting members voice and vote, which was approved. They continued to pay synod benevolence.
"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: Seminex in Print
« Reply #88 on: December 21, 2021, 10:38:49 AM »
But then the call is only between a person and a God. Is that a good idea? Seems to me that could lead to all kinds of difficulties. Is not a call to Word and Sacrament ministry connected to and mediated through the church?
I know we’ve been through this discussion before, but in the LCA and ELCA we are called to the public ministry of the denomination, and that call and connection continues even if one does not have a juridical call to a particular congregation. When I was in secular work, I was still a pastor of the LCA and ELCA, Able to do pastoral work as the occasion and/or need arose.

No, the call is not just "between a person and God".  In our understanding, God calls the man through the agency of the congregation (which is the Church in THAT place).  So, the call involves:
 a) God,
 b) the man being called, and
 c) the Church (which is represented by the congregation).


Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Seminex in Print
« Reply #89 on: December 21, 2021, 10:44:28 AM »
But then the call is only between a person and a God. Is that a good idea? Seems to me that could lead to all kinds of difficulties. Is not a call to Word and Sacrament ministry connected to and mediated through the church?
I know we’ve been through this discussion before, but in the LCA and ELCA we are called to the public ministry of the denomination, and that call and connection continues even if one does not have a juridical call to a particular congregation. When I was in secular work, I was still a pastor of the LCA and ELCA, Able to do pastoral work as the occasion and/or need arose.


In the ELCA, more so than in the ALC, the wider church oversees the whole seminary and ordination process through synod candidacy committees. A candidate needs their approval to enter seminary and to matriculate through the years. Requiring synod bishops to officiate at ordinations (unless one is granted an exception), symbolizes that the ordination is a rite of the wider church; not just between the candidate and the calling congregation.


The ALC did not have candidacy committees, but the seminary faculty served as the certifying agency. I received two diplomas from Wartburg Theological Seminary: one was for the M.Div. degree and the other says that I am qualified for the Christian Ministry.
"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]