Author Topic: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions  (Read 14924 times)

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 42059
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #30 on: March 22, 2005, 03:46:58 PM »
Quote
I suspect that your "hunch" is correct.  In fact, I'll gladly stipulate that it is correct: these congregations did not "work through their bishop's office."  SO WHAT?  At most they are guilty of rudeness toward their bishop and bishop's staff.

Nope. They are breaking the rules of their own constitutions. To quote from the model -- with boldface added:

*C9.01. Authority to call a pastor shall be in this congregation by at least a two-thirds majority ballot vote of members present and voting at a meeting legally called for that purpose. Before a call is issued, the officers, or a committee elected by [this congregation][the Congregation Council] to recommend the call, shall seek the advice and help of the bishop of the synod.

*C9.02. Only a member of the clergy roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or a candidate for the roster of ordained ministers who has been recommended for the congregation by the synodical bishop may be called as a pastor of this congregation.


Quote
The buck must stop somewhere, and if it stops with the congregation, as we always maintain, then the bishop cannot refuse to sign off on a validly rostered, validly called pastor.

The articles of the constitution quoted above says that they can refuse to sign the call if they congregation hasn't lived up to their part of covenant between congregations and synods.
Quote
(I'm using a little shorthand here, so before someone reprises the "but the bishop is liable argument," let me clarify:  Lutheran synods/bishops have faced liability for bad apple pastors only when it has been shown that they knew of a problem with the pastor and did nothing about it.  That's why I use the phrase "validly rostered" -- if a bishop knows of a problem with a pastor, then he believes that pastor to be invalidly rostered.  he has a duty to act, sure enough, but in that case has a duty to seek a change in the pastor's roster status.)

I don't think that's quite right. If the courts believe that a bishop should have known about a candidate, the synod could still be liable.

To use another example, if a congregation has hired a day care worker, who molests some children, the congregation is still liable even if they knew of no prior misconduct. I believe that to remove (or at least reduce) their liability, a congregation needs to do extensive background checks prior to hiring including directly asking the candidate, and to have periodic checks of the worker(s) during their employment, e.g., unannounced visits.

While the Personnel Information for Synod Bishops includes the questions:

Have you ever been charged with or convicted of the commission of a felony? If yes, please explain.
           
Have you ever been accused of or disciplined for sexual misconduct, child or spousal abuse, or financial improprieties?  If yes, please explain.
           
Are you personally committed to living in accord with Vision and Expectations (ELCA) for rostered persons in the ELCA?  If no, please explain.


I'm not sure that checking to proper boxes relieves bishops and synods from liability. And what if pastors check the wrong boxes? I have a friend who is a convicted felon, and had that on his record when he went to seminary and was called and ordained. If someone says that they are not personally committed to living with Vision and Expectations, what should a bishop then do?
"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]

G.Edward

  • Guest
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #31 on: March 22, 2005, 06:54:32 PM »
When I entered the candidacy process, I was told that V&E was it.  I was asked if I accepted them and would abide by them when I entered and again at approval.  

The church, like any other organization, has the right and even the responsibility to define and uphold standards for leadership and congregational life.  In some respects, it is not all that different from a franchise or a brand-name, except that we usually refer to these elements of this church as "Lutheran Identity."

If someone declined to abide by them, they are excusing themselves from the process leading to a leadership postion.  If someone professed adherence but intended to flout them, then they are demonstrating their own lack of integrity and trustworthiness.  I wonder about people who are willing to deny and lie to get what they want whether they are in the "corporate world" or the "eclesiastical world".  I think that kind of behavior goes under the heading, "the ends justify the means," and we all know where that road leads.

If the church chooses to look the other way when a part of the organization begins to publically change the meaning or intent of the message or one of the franchises, then the brand identity looses some of its clarity and the message and mission ultimately suffer.

We don't have to think the same way, but we do have to have some basic things in common.  The only other choice is to lie to each other, and that is hardly the basis for communion of any kind.

Norsk

  • Guest
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #32 on: March 23, 2005, 06:31:00 AM »
At the risk of stating the obvious, there are many many congregations out there with a constitution that does not conform to the "model,"  because the model is not mandated by the ELCA except when the congregation decides to amend their constitution.  (You don't have to amend, but if you do amend, you must bring your consititution into line with the model.)  This requirement of the ELCA may be confessionally dubious, but that is another matter.  In any event, in many of these congregations with "old" consistutions, esp from the old ALC, there is no requirement to call only a pastor recommended by the synodical bishop, and calls made solely by the conrgegation are perfectly valid under the constitution of that congregation, the synod and the ELCA.

As for liability, certainly a congregation will have liability for hiring a "bad apple" worker if it is determined by a court that the congregation "should have known" about the problems with the worker.  (This is a squishy legal rule subject to all sort of 20/20 hindsight, but it is a fact of employment law in America.)  But that's because the congregation is the one doing the hiring.  No such rule would apply to a synod that simply recommends a candidate, much less if the synod has no role in the selection process.  In the eyes of the courts, the congregation hires a pastor.  Synodical liability arises when, as in the Texas case, the synod had information that called into question the fitness of the candidate, but did not share that information with the congregation.

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 42059
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #33 on: March 23, 2005, 07:59:44 AM »
Quote
At the risk of stating the obvious, there are many many congregations out there with a constitution that does not conform to the "model,"  because the model is not mandated by the ELCA except when the congregation decides to amend their constitution.

As I recall, congregations were given five years after the formation of the ELCA to adopt an ELCA model constitution. I don't remember whether this was mandated, strongly recommended, or suggested. Whatever language was used, I don't believe that there was any disciplinary process for congregations who did not comply.

While I don't have the model ALC constitution and bylaws for congregations, I know that every Call I had under those rules was approved by the disctrict presidents. What I do remember from being part of a Call Committee, the names we received came from three sources: recommendations from the district office; pastors who asked the district office to submit their names; and members of the congregation could request information from the district about any ALC pastor they would like to consider. From my experience, all names had to go through the district office. If not, I think that the district president could refuse to authorize the call.

My guess is that the old rules also require calling a pastor from the ALC roster. What does it mean now that such a roster no longer exists?
"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]

bookpastor/Erma Wolf

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 380
  • "I'll think about it tomorrow." Scarlett O'Hara
    • View Profile
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #34 on: April 16, 2005, 11:55:13 PM »
Hi.  I'm one of those pesky female ELCA pastors.  Also a subscriber to Lutheran Forum for getting close to 30 years.  Also someone who attends STS retreats, and is prayerfully considering subscribing to the Rule.   This series has really made for some interesting reading.  I just couldn't resist making a comment or two.

 Back when I was preparing for the ordination exam and meeting with my synod's candidacy committee (LCA), I was part of a discussion in a seminary class regarding this process.  The conversation turned to certain male students who were known to believe that women should not be allowed to serve as ordained pastors.  The professor asked, "Well, what will these men do when they are asked what they think about ordaining women?"  The answer came:  "They'll lie to the committee."  I don't know if synods or seminaries still ask what candidates think about the propriety of women pastors, but I would hope that any pastor or candidate would think very carefully about serving in a church body that held a position that he believed was contrary to Scripture.  

   So what to call an ELCA pastor who doesn't agree with the ordination of women?  Well, if he was ordained in the late 1970's or later, he might be a liar.

   Otherwise, what to call a non-ordained member of the ELCA who doesn't approve of the ordination of women?  A brother or sister in Christ.

  I would like to make one small request of those who believe that women should not be allowed to serve as ordained pastors.  And that is for common courtesy when you have to deal with women who are pastors.  Refusing to acknowledge our presence by not returning a greeting, ignoring a hand extended, and in general shunning us in public does not reflect well on you.  Men who act in this way only look like they are boorish and rude.      
Better is a handfull of quiet, than two hands full of toil and a chasing after the wind.  Eccl. 4:6
  "God gave us family so we wouldn't have to fight with strangers." CNN pundit.

Richard Johnson

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 10334
  • Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    • View Profile
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #35 on: April 17, 2005, 06:44:21 AM »
Well said. Thanks.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

djbaer

  • Guest
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #36 on: April 18, 2005, 08:21:44 AM »
About those congregations that haven't updated their constitution, my understanding is that if they didn't amend their constitution, the constitution of record is now the ELCA model constitution for congregations.

We had a congregation in a neighboring community that was considering leaving the ELCA.  They were operating on an old ALC constitution.  As I remember it, by remaining in the ELCA beyond the 5 years, they agreed to the ELCA constitution even if they didn't do anything about it.

Practically, what that meant for the congregation was that the pastor and a signficiant group of members left the ELCA but that the assets (church and endowment) stayed with those who would remain in the ELCA.


dfrazer

  • Guest
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #37 on: April 18, 2005, 11:03:58 AM »
Old Constitutions:
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in Lancaster is still using it's original, founding Constitution and By-laws (in English translation) that predate the ELCA, the LCA, etc.,  the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In fact our constitution can only be changed by making a filing with the local court house, because our constitution is an act of the legislature.

On the larger point, how can your affiliation with a voluntary organization change your own constitution? Doesn't each constitution have in it the means of its own amendment. If you don't amend it according to process, it remains unchanged.

hansen

  • Guest
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #38 on: April 18, 2005, 01:22:45 PM »
Quote
Hi.  I'm one of those pesky female ELCA pastors.

What makes you a self-described "pesky" female pastor?

Quote
Back when I was preparing for the ordination exam and meeting with my synod's candidacy committee (LCA), I was part of a discussion in a seminary class regarding this process.  The conversation turned to certain male students who were known to believe that women should not be allowed to serve as ordained pastors.  The professor asked, "Well, what will these men do when they are asked what they think about ordaining women?"  The answer came:  "They'll lie to the committee."  I don't know if synods or seminaries still ask what candidates think about the propriety of women pastors, but I would hope that any pastor or candidate would think very carefully about serving in a church body that held a position that he believed was contrary to Scripture.


I guess it all boils down to what, specifically, the prospective pastor must vow to upon ordination.  If the pastor is required to vow to "x", then he must do and/or believe "x".

Similarly, there are pastors who think that the current decision-making process of the ELCA, where the laity have a big hand in determining church teaching, is contrary scripture.  I (as a layman) share that view.

Quote
So what to call an ELCA pastor who doesn't agree with the ordination of women?  Well, if he was ordained in the late 1970's or later, he might be a liar.


Again -- depending upon what he vowed to.

Quote
Otherwise, what to call a non-ordained member of the ELCA who doesn't approve of the ordination of women?  A brother or sister in Christ.


I don't approve of it.  I just don't think it fits with God-given distinctions between men and women (in scripture, in nature, in psychology, etc.).  And if there's one thing the church is in need of today, it's stronger standards.  We have gobs of "compassion" and warm-fuzzy feelings to offer.  Women inherently evoke the latter.  Female warm-fuzzies are a great and wonderful gift to humanity, but not for the leadership of a church body which is finding it difficult to stand strong for much of anything, other than being "inclusive" and "non-judgmental".

Therefore, it seems the only way to accept female pastors, is to take a "gender-free" view of the pastor, much like someone working in an assembly line (we don't care who assembles the widget -- and rarely know who did -- as long as it works).  But that then supports the agenda of those who want to ordain those who are openly practicing homosexuals.  I.e., if it's little more than a function, where all that matters is whether he can go through the steps of the liturgy, then what does it matter?  You can argue that one is considered sinful (same-sex relations) while the other isn't (being female) but that misses the point.  The point is that if "sex of the officiant doesn't matter" then that plays into the hands of those who are promoting same-sex marriage and ordination.  They (such as Pr. Brian Stoffregen) use such arguments in support of their case, stating that all that matters is lifelong monogamy -- sex doesn't matter.

So, bottom line, you're female (smile).  And from there, we have two choices:  either we recognize that you're different from males, or we try to ignore that (good luck...).      And that leads to two options:  decide if the addition of that "difference" is a net gain for the church (especially at this point in American Lutheranism); or accept the consequences of further blurring male-female distinctions.

Quote
I would like to make one small request of those who believe that women should not be allowed to serve as ordained pastors.  And that is for common courtesy when you have to deal with women who are pastors.  Refusing to acknowledge our presence by not returning a greeting, ignoring a hand extended, and in general shunning us in public does not reflect well on you.  Men who act in this way only look like they are boorish and rude.      


Hopefully this post has come across respectfully.  I don't doubt or question your sincerity, and desire to serve the church.  And I would not refuse your handshake.

DH

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 42059
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #39 on: April 18, 2005, 05:41:24 PM »
Quote
On the larger point, how can your affiliation with a voluntary organization change your own constitution? Doesn't each constitution have in it the means of its own amendment. If you don't amend it according to process, it remains unchanged.

However, when the previous organizations no longer exist, any reference to them in a constitution becomes meaningless. How could a congregation call a pastor from the Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States now?
"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]

dfrazer

  • Guest
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #40 on: April 19, 2005, 08:35:02 AM »
Quote

However, when the previous organizations no longer exist, any reference to them in a constitution becomes meaningless. How could a congregation call a pastor from the Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States now?


I know this is very specific to our situation only, but in our case we only have reference to "the ministerium" or "the assembly." We interpret that to mean whatever our current structure provides. It also gives us the freedom to pick and choose if that became the case.

There is one statement that requires pastors from German Lutheran seminaries. We interpret that one as well. It comes from the mistake we made in the 1740s when we called a closet Moravian.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2005, 08:35:33 AM by dfrazer »

Steven Tibbetts

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 10214
  • Big tents are for circuses.
    • View Profile
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #41 on: April 20, 2005, 01:18:45 PM »
Quote
So what to call an ELCA pastor who doesn't agree with the ordination of women?  Well, if he was ordained in the late 1970's or later, he might be a liar.

That could be only if he was asked and and said, "It's fine by me" even while believing otherwise.  FWIW, I was in the Candidacy process from 1986 (initial inquiry in the LCA) through my ordination in 1992, matriculating at PLTS 1988-92.  Never once by anybody -- Candidacy Committee, faculty, classmates, or anyone else -- was I asked what I thought of the ordination of women.

spt+
« Last Edit: April 20, 2005, 01:24:34 PM by przip »
The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
Pastor Zip's Blog

bookpastor/Erma Wolf

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 380
  • "I'll think about it tomorrow." Scarlett O'Hara
    • View Profile
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #42 on: April 26, 2005, 12:43:08 AM »
    I think I struck a nerve with Brother Hansen.  "Female warm fuzzies"?  Well, now I am relieved to know what has caused the downfall of the ELCA, the theological enterprise in North America, and Western Civilization in general.  Not to mention global warming.  

   Seriously, I am all too well aware of the opinion that the ordination of women prepared the way for the entire debate on ordination of homosexuals who wish to be or who are in "committed same-gender relationships".  I don't think that the one automatically lead to the other, or that the former is cut from the same theological or Biblical cloth as the other.  But I am disturbed by the thought that the ordination of women might be used as a rationale for the current turmoil in the ELCA, nonetheless.

    Likewise, if someone truly believes that the ordination of women is a violation of Scripture, and yet seeks ordination in a denomination like the ELCA that does just that, that person may be lying, at least by omission, at least to himself.  I would be very surprised if synods, committees, etc. in the ELCA were to ask if a candidate agreed with the ordination of women.  I would think the not unreasonable assumption would be that a man would not seek ordination in a church body that also ordained women if he had theological reasons to be opposed to that practice.  

    Having said this, I do want to stress that I don't go around asking other pastors whether or not they approve of the ordination of women.  And except in a forum such as this, I don't really think about it, until something happens and I am forced to.  I should have been clearer about one thing:  an ELCA pastor who disapproves of the ordination of women is first and foremost my brother in Christ, as well as my colleague in the Office of Word and Sacrament.  

    Grace and peace to all the brethren.
Better is a handfull of quiet, than two hands full of toil and a chasing after the wind.  Eccl. 4:6
  "God gave us family so we wouldn't have to fight with strangers." CNN pundit.

hansen

  • Guest
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #43 on: April 26, 2005, 01:17:11 PM »
Quote
   I think I struck a nerve with Brother Hansen.


Couldn't respond to me directly?

Quote
"Female warm fuzzies"?  Well, now I am relieved to know what has caused the downfall of the ELCA, the theological enterprise in North America, and Western Civilization in general.  Not to mention global warming.


Sounds like I'm the one who struck a nerve.

Quote
Seriously, I am all too well aware of the opinion that the ordination of women prepared the way for the entire debate on ordination of homosexuals who wish to be or who are in "committed same-gender relationships".


That argument has been 'out there' for awhile?  I didn't know that.  The logical and psychological link between post-60s feminism, female ordination, and issues related to homosexuality came to me about 10 years ago, while simply pondering it on my own, and discussing such issues with others.  And I hadn't debated any of this in a religious forum until a few months ago.

Quote
I don't think that the one automatically lead to the other, or that the former is cut from the same theological or Biblical cloth as the other.


I agree.  But then, I never made any point to the contrary.  Again, the issue relates more to logic, sociology, and psychology, where the distinctions between men and women are continually blurred, to the point that there is violent hostility to any consideration that there are differences between men and women (aside from their 'plumbing', or if the distinction favors women, then it's o.k. to talk about).  Just look at what happened to the Harvard dean who dared to even consider the possibility -- the possibility -- that maybe the reason far more men go into the sciences than women, is because of some inherent differences.  Thus, my opinion that if the church likewise takes a "no distinctions" view of men and women, then there is little to argue against homosexual relations.  The alternative (as I wrote before) is to accept that there are differences, and then get some idea of what those differences are, and then decide if adding those differences to the church is a net gain (key phrase:  "net gain", meaning all things considered).

And considering how unhealthy much of post-60s feminism has been (e.g., an anger at masculine men, and ironically a desire for women to be like men) it's hard to imagine that adding women to the pastorate was a net gain.

So again, you/we have one of two choices:  conclude that there are no significant differences (which leads to an acceptance of homosexual behavior, and neither women nor men having anything "special" to offer) or accept that there are significant differences, and then decide if those differences are a net gain for the church, if they are added to the leadership).

Quote
But I am disturbed by the thought that the ordination of women might be used as a rationale for the current turmoil in the ELCA, nonetheless.


I think it's one component, but not the only one.  As I determined in discussions with Pr. Brian Stoffregen in this forum, those who are pushing the same-sex marriage/ordination agenda have a liberal-left worldview, of which a 60s "no distinctions" feminism (unless the distinction favors women...) is merely a symptom.  But I think that if conservatives accept the symptoms, then some 'reverse engineering' happens which leads to the worldview being accepted, slowly but surely.  And without even knowing it.  That's because they don't understand the underlying implications of these changes.  And that's why I'm arguing it here.

Quote
Likewise, if someone truly believes that the ordination of women is a violation of Scripture, and yet seeks ordination in a denomination like the ELCA that does just that, that person may be lying, at least by omission, at least to himself.  I would be very surprised if synods, committees, etc. in the ELCA were to ask if a candidate agreed with the ordination of women.  I would think the not unreasonable assumption would be that a man would not seek ordination in a church body that also ordained women if he had theological reasons to be opposed to that practice.


O.k., well that changes it quite a bit.  By that rationalle, why would you excuse a pastor who was ordained pre-1970, from staying in a church body with which he had any theological objections?  Or, how about those who are seeking ordination, who are not sure what they think about it, and then later on decide that it isn't a good idea?  Or, how about those who are fully in agreement with women's ordination when they are ordained, but later change their minds?  Bottom line, should all pastors leave a church body if there is anything about it with which they disagree, theologically?

Seems to me that the obligation is on the church body to decide what the outer boundaries are of what is acceptable, and to enforce.  As for the pastor himself, he has to decide where the best place is to practice his ministry.  Not the perfect place, but rather the best place available at the time.

DH
« Last Edit: April 26, 2005, 01:20:45 PM by hansen »

Padre_Dave

  • Guest
Re: LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions
« Reply #44 on: April 26, 2005, 04:36:48 PM »
I hate to drop in at this juncture, but this thread is called LCMS (and ELCA) Distinctions.  While I have no objection to the current discussion about ministry, what does this have to do with the LCMS?  Maybe the title could/should be changed, or someone who started the thread could define what distinction of the LCMS is being discussed here.  Just a thought ;)