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Stop...Go...Wait...Uh...

Started by PrTim15, February 04, 2023, 12:11:21 PM

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Dave Benke

Quote from: PrTim15 on February 06, 2023, 09:03:30 AM
I have missed foresight in Synodical leadership in general. This episode shows and ongoing pattern that shows we are led in the  LCMS by an online poll which pops up on social media and is loud, mean and can get personal. From there a decision is made in haste to retreat, then some how inexplicably the decision changes. That's the case on this and also the case on Newtown with the horrible shooting of so many children. THis too leads to the long game of forgetfulness, the same game President Biden plays. Leadership hopes it all blows over with not problems, which of course is the case in the LCMS. Both situations could have been resolved by leading from a gyroscope of Biblical principles and process rather than reaction to situations.

This demonstrates to me that the entire synodical structure that we had introduced through the Blue Ribbon Committee, is flawed. There is no accountability of CEO to board or COP or anywhere. Without that tether, and no real boundary, then the CEO can do whatever he wants which is ultimately a recipe for loneliness, isolation, fear and paranoia. These cause us to be led by fear and reaction rather than a reasonable and realistic idea of the future.

ONe more thing, is term limits. I think we need term limits, maybe three three year terms for all who serve in elected positions. Only a parish pastor knows what parish ministry is like. Others think they know, but they really don't.

Term limits.  We had/have none in the Atlantic District, so I was on the hook for eight terms.  I was MIA for two years, so there's that - a nice break, in its own way.  That was a long, long time.   On a personal basis, the office-holder who's around for more than a couple of decades carries a lot of stuff along through the years.  As an example, I haven't gone back anywhere near the Concordia Bronxville campus yet.  I spent a third of my life hiking up, back and all around from our headquarters on campus.  It's really an aspect of grief and loss.  And congregation and school closings, which are more and more frequent, march through a ton of my own memories, from when those churches and schools were flourishing until they became non-sustainable.  So from the perspective of the office-holder, I'd say a twelve year maximum would be the way to go.  For me, although most of the memories are incredibly positive, there's just too much memory to be held in the bank after a long term.

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

PrTim15

Great response Dave and thoughtful from a man who led with distinction. I was fortunate enough to serve with your colleague Larry Stoterau as he retired. He was such a stabilizing force for so many of us. His wisdom was gained over a lot of years and he too led nationally as chairman of the COP. Sometimes I think, if everybody just knew how smart I was and how well I had everything figured out, they would think the way I think and do what I think is best:)

peter_speckhard

Quote from: PrTim15 on February 07, 2023, 08:59:54 AM
Great response Dave and thoughtful from a man who led with distinction. I was fortunate enough to serve with your colleague Larry Stoterau as he retired. He was such a stabilizing force for so many of us. His wisdom was gained over a lot of years and he too led nationally as chairman of the COP. Sometimes I think, if everybody just knew how smart I was and how well I had everything figured out, they would think the way I think and do what I think is best:)
One of the problems with the current system is how much tinkering with the idea of the divine call people are willing to tolerate. Term limited calls are a trick, as are term calls to begin with. Already the field of candidates for DP is pretty much limited to people who could expect to retire if they didn't get reelected.  If if a good candidate was 45 years old and limited to, say, nine years as DP, what does he do after that? Everybody would know or suspect the stop was a finagled call for the purposes of still having a call, and confidence in the divine nature of the whole things would further erode.

In short, if it is time to talk term limits, and it very well may be, then it is also time to talk about positions that require a call and positions that require a contract.

Dave Likeness

Dr. Dale Meyer had a Divine Call to Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
He served 15 years as President of Concordia Seminary and after
his last 5 years he retired. Speculation was that his contract would
not be renewed for another 5 years due to his age.  So Dr. Meyer
had both a Divine Call and a contract.

Dan Fienen

Just a suggestion. While I definitely agree that divine call with tenure is for several reasons a wise idea, the New Testament does not definitely establish that as the rule. I think it is especially important for parish pastors that they are not subject to the whims and vagaries of parish politics. Parish pastors should not be subject to dismissal except for cause, and that cause would need to be demonstrated.


But ordained clergy also serve in various specialized ministries, such as teaching, church administration, interim ministry, and the like. Sometimes these specialized ministries are better served by more limited calls. Unless the call is limited from the outset (such as interim ministry) protections for clergy called to these specialized ministries need to be in place so that they cannot simply be dismissed arbitrarily.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Tom Eckstein

Quote from: peter_speckhard on February 07, 2023, 11:42:54 AM
Quote from: PrTim15 on February 07, 2023, 08:59:54 AM
Great response Dave and thoughtful from a man who led with distinction. I was fortunate enough to serve with your colleague Larry Stoterau as he retired. He was such a stabilizing force for so many of us. His wisdom was gained over a lot of years and he too led nationally as chairman of the COP. Sometimes I think, if everybody just knew how smart I was and how well I had everything figured out, they would think the way I think and do what I think is best:)
One of the problems with the current system is how much tinkering with the idea of the divine call people are willing to tolerate. Term limited calls are a trick, as are term calls to begin with. Already the field of candidates for DP is pretty much limited to people who could expect to retire if they didn't get reelected.  If if a good candidate was 45 years old and limited to, say, nine years as DP, what does he do after that? Everybody would know or suspect the stop was a finagled call for the purposes of still having a call, and confidence in the divine nature of the whole things would further erode.

In short, if it is time to talk term limits, and it very well may be, then it is also time to talk about positions that require a call and positions that require a contract.

IMHO, I think we should abolish terms limits for DPs as we do with the Synod President, and once a man is elected as DP or SP he stays in that office until he dies, retires or takes another Call.  He should NOT be "elected out" of his Call.
I'm an LCMS Pastor in Jamestown, ND.

Dan Fienen

But what are we going to do with a Synod President or District President who once elected to office turns out to be a) not perfect and b) unable to accomplish all the wonderful things that those who elected him to office expected him to accomplish? No president lives up to expectations which means that the true believers who got him elected and expect such great things from him need, absolutely need, to have the opportunity to agitate to vote him out of office so that they can elect their new great hope. If they are elected for life (or until retirement) all they can do when their chosen one disappoints is gripe and look up procedures for impeachment.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

D. Engebretson

Quote from: Tom Eckstein on February 07, 2023, 12:38:18 PM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on February 07, 2023, 11:42:54 AM
Quote from: PrTim15 on February 07, 2023, 08:59:54 AM
Great response Dave and thoughtful from a man who led with distinction. I was fortunate enough to serve with your colleague Larry Stoterau as he retired. He was such a stabilizing force for so many of us. His wisdom was gained over a lot of years and he too led nationally as chairman of the COP. Sometimes I think, if everybody just knew how smart I was and how well I had everything figured out, they would think the way I think and do what I think is best:)
One of the problems with the current system is how much tinkering with the idea of the divine call people are willing to tolerate. Term limited calls are a trick, as are term calls to begin with. Already the field of candidates for DP is pretty much limited to people who could expect to retire if they didn't get reelected.  If if a good candidate was 45 years old and limited to, say, nine years as DP, what does he do after that? Everybody would know or suspect the stop was a finagled call for the purposes of still having a call, and confidence in the divine nature of the whole things would further erode.

In short, if it is time to talk term limits, and it very well may be, then it is also time to talk about positions that require a call and positions that require a contract.

IMHO, I think we should abolish terms limits for DPs as we do with the Synod President, and once a man is elected as DP or SP he stays in that office until he dies, retires or takes another Call.  He should NOT be "elected out" of his Call.

In some ways and some places this is virtually the way it works out. With the advantage of incumbency I suspect that most DPs are reelected year after year until they decide on their own to retire.  And with the structural changes in Synod where the SP is elected directly by congregational electors, the result is much the same, it would appear.
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

I wonder:

If John Tietjen and J.A.O. Preus both had life appointments,  would that have been better for the church?


ghp

Quote from: Tom Eckstein on February 07, 2023, 12:38:18 PM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on February 07, 2023, 11:42:54 AM
Quote from: PrTim15 on February 07, 2023, 08:59:54 AM
Great response Dave and thoughtful from a man who led with distinction. I was fortunate enough to serve with your colleague Larry Stoterau as he retired. He was such a stabilizing force for so many of us. His wisdom was gained over a lot of years and he too led nationally as chairman of the COP. Sometimes I think, if everybody just knew how smart I was and how well I had everything figured out, they would think the way I think and do what I think is best:)
One of the problems with the current system is how much tinkering with the idea of the divine call people are willing to tolerate. Term limited calls are a trick, as are term calls to begin with. Already the field of candidates for DP is pretty much limited to people who could expect to retire if they didn't get reelected.  If if a good candidate was 45 years old and limited to, say, nine years as DP, what does he do after that? Everybody would know or suspect the stop was a finagled call for the purposes of still having a call, and confidence in the divine nature of the whole things would further erode.

In short, if it is time to talk term limits, and it very well may be, then it is also time to talk about positions that require a call and positions that require a contract.

IMHO, I think we should abolish terms limits for DPs as we do with the Synod President, and once a man is elected as DP or SP he stays in that office until he dies, retires or takes another Call.  He should NOT be "elected out" of his Call.
I disagree. We've muddied the waters by misunderstanding/misapplying the Call to a political structure/position.


I believe it to be beneficial if a political officeholder (i.e., DP, SP) or academic officeholder (i.e., Sem/Univ Pres, Sem/Univ Faculty) to have, as Pr. Benke so wonderfully put it, a side-hustle as a Called Pastor to a congregation (as Pr. Benke & Pr. Harrison have done), primarily because it helps keep them in touch with parish ministry. Their primary vocation once elected or selected, however, is that political or academic office.


If it truly is a Divine Call, then what Pr. Eckstein describes has to be the model. And if this is how we want to handle it, then let's stop putting political titles on the office (particularly DP & SP, where the office is a full-time position) and be honest/realistic about our polity and start calling them Bishops & letting/holding them to true ecclesiastical supervision. (Side note/observation:  IMO, our polity in the LCMS is what it is because of the dual factors of reacting against Bishop Stephan and being in the American democracy.)


I'm not saying it is/will be easy, but I am saying that we (collectively) need to start being honest with ourselves about these foundational matters. Much of the sturm und drang we are currently (and have been for generations) experiencing is cognitive dissonance generated by foundational uncertainties. I've experienced it in congregations that I've been a member of, as well as when I was on CUI's Board of Regents from 2010-13.


Terry W Culler

I don't know if this is still the case, but originally in the AALC, the head of the denomination was the Presiding Pastor and he was required to be on staff in a congregation, even if that was mostly nominal.
"No particular Church has ... a right to existence, except as it believes itself the most perfect from of Christianity, the form which of right, should and will be universal."
Charles Porterfield Krauth

Dave Benke

Quote from: ghp on February 19, 2023, 02:26:48 PM
Quote from: Tom Eckstein on February 07, 2023, 12:38:18 PM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on February 07, 2023, 11:42:54 AM
Quote from: PrTim15 on February 07, 2023, 08:59:54 AM
Great response Dave and thoughtful from a man who led with distinction. I was fortunate enough to serve with your colleague Larry Stoterau as he retired. He was such a stabilizing force for so many of us. His wisdom was gained over a lot of years and he too led nationally as chairman of the COP. Sometimes I think, if everybody just knew how smart I was and how well I had everything figured out, they would think the way I think and do what I think is best:)
One of the problems with the current system is how much tinkering with the idea of the divine call people are willing to tolerate. Term limited calls are a trick, as are term calls to begin with. Already the field of candidates for DP is pretty much limited to people who could expect to retire if they didn't get reelected.  If if a good candidate was 45 years old and limited to, say, nine years as DP, what does he do after that? Everybody would know or suspect the stop was a finagled call for the purposes of still having a call, and confidence in the divine nature of the whole things would further erode.

In short, if it is time to talk term limits, and it very well may be, then it is also time to talk about positions that require a call and positions that require a contract.

IMHO, I think we should abolish terms limits for DPs as we do with the Synod President, and once a man is elected as DP or SP he stays in that office until he dies, retires or takes another Call.  He should NOT be "elected out" of his Call.
I disagree. We've muddied the waters by misunderstanding/misapplying the Call to a political structure/position.


I believe it to be beneficial if a political officeholder (i.e., DP, SP) or academic officeholder (i.e., Sem/Univ Pres, Sem/Univ Faculty) to have, as Pr. Benke so wonderfully put it, a side-hustle as a Called Pastor to a congregation (as Pr. Benke & Pr. Harrison have done), primarily because it helps keep them in touch with parish ministry. Their primary vocation once elected or selected, however, is that political or academic office.


If it truly is a Divine Call, then what Pr. Eckstein describes has to be the model. And if this is how we want to handle it, then let's stop putting political titles on the office (particularly DP & SP, where the office is a full-time position) and be honest/realistic about our polity and start calling them Bishops & letting/holding them to true ecclesiastical supervision. (Side note/observation:  IMO, our polity in the LCMS is what it is because of the dual factors of reacting against Bishop Stephan and being in the American democracy.)


I'm not saying it is/will be easy, but I am saying that we (collectively) need to start being honest with ourselves about these foundational matters. Much of the sturm und drang we are currently (and have been for generations) experiencing is cognitive dissonance generated by foundational uncertainties. I've experienced it in congregations that I've been a member of, as well as when I was on CUI's Board of Regents from 2010-13.

I agree with you on a lot of this, Glen.  "Foundational uncertainty" is a great descriptor.  A book written back in 1999 by Mary Todd speaks about it through the lens of women's involvement in the denomination beginning with the Stephan beginnings and the resultant constitutional framework of the denomination and its adherent members leading to the local voters' assembly being the arbiter of doctrine and practice.  The teachings on the topic via Walther's transference theory in my opinion hold the balance toward local autonomy nicely with the wider church body, but fall prey often to manipulation.

There are time-designated, ie non-tenured divine calls for rostered workers including clergy.  Most congregations grant a tenured call, but in these days of diminution, there are more congregations simply stating that absent an income/member inflow, the compensation, and as a result the call itself, are going to last only three years.  but most of the non-tenured calls are to institutions - schools, nursing homes, and the like, into which pile goes the three year electoral cycle for those placed into full service as district or national "executives." 

The hard conversation about the use of the ecclesial term Bishop is long overdue, but I don't necessarily think it ends with acceptance of the term Bishop or the end of the an election cycle.

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

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