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Author Topic: "The Practice of Ministry"  (Read 7925 times)

Pr Art Hebbeler, STS

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2005, 02:32:43 PM »
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Other denominations use "deacons" in quite different ways than we. For some, being ordained a deacon is a step in the process of ordination as a priest or pastor. (I think that's a process of Roman Catholics and Methodists.)

For Presbyterians, deacons are lay people elected by the congregation and retain that title for life.

Brian Stoffregen


Indeed, Brian, you are correct.  The term "deacon" has a whole bunch of usages in the church.

I suggest that the usage in the context of minister of Word and service (Stephen and the others as the exemplars) is the context in which AIMs, DMs and deaconesses all serve (we can get a whole new thread on deaconesses vs sisters religious, but let's not go there right now  ;)).

I'm not one to rush the church into "new" ideas of ministry, so I would be happy to see us start with the proverbial "magic wand" and make AIMs and DMs into deacons by title and service, and from here forward only create new deacons.

As to the ordination of deacons, while an admirable goal, I am not sure we in the ELCA at least are ready to restore the threefold order of ministry, even if it is Confessional.  Let's get used to deacons and then move forward in the discussion (long overdue) of ecclesiology.

In that discussion, we can determine if we want only a permanent diaconate, only a transitional diaconate, or a combination of both.  Our ECUSA friends have both, depending on one's bishop and his/her attitude toward the diaconate.  In the UMC, the diaconate is, for the most part, transitional to the presbyters (elders, as they are formally called).  The RC and, IIRC, the Orthodox churches, use a combination of permanent and transitional.

In some synods, there is a liturgical diaconate in place.  I question the appropriateness of these synodical rosters (especially when I see synodical deacons vested as such while seminarians serving in a seminary chapel outside of their synod).  At the same time, the deacon has traditionally been the servant of the bishop (the reason why only the bishop lays hands on a deacon at ordination), so maybe it is ok for synodical rosters.

What I think we are all saying in this thread, and elsewhere, is that we Lutherans in North America still haven't come to grips with what it means to be the church and how the Confessions, as well as tradition and Biblical authority, speak to us on the practice and formation of ministry in the church.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2005, 04:28:08 PM »
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What I think we are all saying in this thread, and elsewhere, is that we Lutherans in North America still haven't come to grips with what it means to be the church and how the Confessions, as well as tradition and Biblical authority, speak to us on the practice and formation of ministry in the church.

While related, it is also, or primarily, an issue of leadership in the church. It has been noted often that the LCA defined church as "congregations and clergy". The ALC defined it as "congregations".

As an ALC pastor, I was not automatically a delegate to district conventions, but had to be elected by the congregation just like the lay delegates. (A neighboring pastor had the congregation elect two lay people, usually husband and wife, then he went as a visitor. Didn't have to attend meetings or vote. He went for the fellowship.) I never had vote on congregational councils.

Even in my present congregation, formerly ALC, some members have stated that they do not want the pastor to get too much power.
Brian Stoffregen
“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” ― Albert Einstein

Dave_Poedel

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2005, 08:09:31 PM »
Quote

For some, being ordained a deacon is a step in the process of ordination as a priest or pastor.


Partially true regarding the Roman Church.  While those becoming priests are ordained deacons (called transitional deacons).

Other men, including married men, are ordained permanent deacons.

Pr Art Hebbeler, STS

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2005, 11:45:04 AM »
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Partially true regarding the Roman Church.  While those becoming priests are ordained deacons (called transitional deacons).

Other men, including married men, are ordained permanent deacons.


Ah, Brother Dave...that's what I said  ;)

"The RC and, IIRC, the Orthodox churches, use a combination of permanent and transitional. "
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Gladfelteri

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2005, 12:11:50 PM »
Quote


Ah, Brother Dave...that's what I said  ;)

"The RC and, IIRC, the Orthodox churches, use a combination of permanent and transitional. "
So do many of the "Continuing Anglican" Churches and among the microsynods, the Evangelical Community Church - Lutheran (ECCL)
« Last Edit: September 06, 2005, 04:16:36 PM by Gladfelteri »

Charles_Austin

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2005, 01:33:01 PM »
BUt one of the problems the ELCA has had lies in our fuzziness on the diaconate - ordained or not.

And I contend that the problem of ordination in the "micro-synods" - a neologism that I am coming to dislike intensely - partially lies in who decides to ordain whom, to what office, in what community and with what ecclesial authorization. The Church, and our part of it, does not generally have freelance clergy or self-appointed bishops.

In parts of North American Lutheranism there has been an ordained or consecrated diaconate. We aren't sure what to do with such folks.


Gladfelteri

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2005, 03:50:32 PM »
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And I contend that the problem of ordination in the "micro-synods" partially lies in who decides to ordain whom, to what office, in what community and with what ecclesial authorization. The Church, and our part of it, does not generally have freelance clergy or self-appointed bishops.
Speaking for my own microsynod, neither do we.  The other diifferent microsynods choose their clergy in a wide variety of ways.  Most microsynods are more or less Pietistic, and congregational.  The ECCL's polity, on the other hand, is anything but congregational.  Our polity is Episcopal, patterned on that of the Church of England with significant Roman Catholic features.  Potential candidates for our clergy apply to their Diocesan Bishop's office.  There are the usual lengthy application forms, letters of recommendation, background checks, and psychological exams, and the decision to admit a man as a Postulant for Holy Orders is made by the Diocesan Bishop.  Upon completion of seminary (either ours or a seminary of another denomination approved by the Diocesan,) the final decision to ordain or not is made by the Diocesan Bishop.  Deacons (transitional and permanent) and priests are ordained following the issuing and acceptance of a regular call (which comes from the Diocese, never from the congregation although our Canons call for the congregation to be consulted.)  Bishops are selected by the Primate, just as Roman Catholic Bishops are selected by the Pope.  Following the issuance of a regular call from the Primate's Office and its acceptance by the Bishop-elect, Bishops are ordained/consecrated by not less than 3 Bishops, which includes Bishops of other Churches in our Communion, of Churches we are in full communion with but which are not members of our Communion, and a number of Old Catholic and Autogenous Eastern Orthodox Bishops are always invited to participate as co-consecrators.  
Quote
In parts of North American Lutheranism there has been an ordained or consecrated diaconate. We aren't sure what to do with such folks.
 Don't feel alone.  From what I hear from my friends in the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in America, and the Anglican Catholic Church, neither do they.

As an aside:  Frankly, my dear Charles, you go right on and "knock yourself out" liking or disliking whatever you want to your heart's content, with as much intensity as you want:  "Whatever floats your boat."   We certainly don't mind.  So enjoy!  :-*   (Incidentally, sometimes what you write is downright interesting.)    ;) 

« Last Edit: September 06, 2005, 05:49:24 PM by Gladfelteri »

Charles_Austin

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2005, 06:58:27 PM »
 The Archbishop wrote:
As an aside:  Frankly, my dear Charles, you go right on and "knock yourself out" liking or disliking whatever you want to your heart's content, with as much intensity as you want:  "Whatever floats your boat."   We certainly don't mind.  So enjoy!  Kiss  
I respond:
I rarely knock myself out any more, and don't have a boat. But I really breathe easier now, knowing that I have someone else's permission to do whatever it is that I do. I was really waiting for that.  

The Archbishop again:
(Incidentally, sometimes what you write is downright interesting.)  

Me again:
Incidentally? Sometimes?

Brian Hughes

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #23 on: September 07, 2005, 09:44:17 AM »
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The Archbishop again:
(Incidentally, sometimes what you write is downright interesting.)  

Me again:
Incidentally? Sometimes?  


 Well ... 'cause often what you write is downright patronizing.

Brian H.

Charles_Austin

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2005, 11:54:32 AM »
BRIAN H.

'cause often what you write is downright patronizing.


CHARLES A.
Agreed, boss.


hansen

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #25 on: September 07, 2005, 02:18:38 PM »
Pr. Hughes and Bp. Gladfelter,

Why might a pastor be an "interim" pastor, who's been in the ministry for decades, and is not (apparently) in the process of retiring?  I suppose there could be good and respectable reasons for it, but I have seen some pastors who seem to float from one congregation to another to another to another in that role, because they cause a mess wherever they go, and/or no congregation simply wants them around very long.

DH

Dave_H

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #26 on: September 07, 2005, 03:36:54 PM »
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Why might a pastor be an "interim" pastor, who's been in the ministry for decades, and is not (apparently) in the process of retiring?  I suppose there could be good and respectable reasons for it, but I have seen some pastors who seem to float from one congregation to another to another to another in that role, because they cause a mess wherever they go, and/or no congregation simply wants them around very long.


I do not want to step in on the debates between Charles Austin and Irl Gladfelter, but I have known too many qualified, quality interim pastors to let this comment pass.  Interim pastors are -- as I recall -- appointed by the synodical bishop.  It seems unlikely that a bishop would continue to appoint someone to that ministry knowing that they were incompetent and likely to cause more damage than good.  Further, I have known pastors who are called to that ministry for extended periods, feeling that the best way they can serve the church is by providing ministry during the (often difficult) transitions that all congregations experience between called pastorates.

Disagreeing with with Pr Austin's comments is no reason to dismiss interim ministry, nor is the fact that he ministers in that role a reason to dismiss what he says.

That being said, perhaps we could resume the discussion about "other rostered ministries" in the ELCA and the possible role of deacons in this church.

Dave

hansen

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #27 on: September 07, 2005, 03:44:53 PM »
Fair enough.  I figured that might be the case.  But given Pr. Austin's blunt writing style of letting it all hang out, I thought I may as well let it all hang out too.  I do know of one pastor who is very well-accomplished theologically, but has a personallity which rubs most everyone the wrong way, and has fit that description I mentioned earlier for most of his career.  But back to the thread topic.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #28 on: September 07, 2005, 04:09:38 PM »
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Fair enough.  I figured that might be the case.  But given Pr. Austin's blunt writing style of letting it all hang out, I thought I may as well let it all hang out too.  I do know of one pastor who is very well-accomplished theologically, but has a personallity which rubs most everyone the wrong way, and has fit that description I mentioned earlier for most of his career.  But back to the thread topic.

There is a difference between short-term calls and intentional interim ministry, in which the pastors are not called but under a contract with a congregation. Sometimes for a specified length of time.

I think that it does fit under this topic. In the ELCA, I don't believe that we have a standard policy or practice for interim ministers. In some synods it is seen as a specialized ministry. Those who want to practice it need to go through specialized interim ministry training. Such pastors are called by the Synod to do interim ministries -- that is, to help congregations get over the previous minister, make sure that they do the self-studies necessary to see what skills they need for a new called pastor, and then help them welcome the new person.

Sometimes interims go in to situations knowing that they will not be liked. They will make changes the congregations needs, but doesn't want. They will say things that need to be said, but they don't want to hear. If a called pastor did some of those tasks, the stay will probably not be very long. If the interim can take the people's anger, but then they are often very happy to welcome the new pastor.

In other situations, interims need to help a congregation grieve the loss of a beloved pastor, especially in cases where the pastor dies in office. In those situations, hand-holding, not rocking the boat, etc. may be what is needed.

However, there are some synods who do not call interim ministers. Rather than intentional interims they are more like pulpit supplies. Often retired pastors who are available to fill a pulpit and do other pastoral things for a time, while the congregation looks to call their "real pastor".

I had a friend who had done interim ministry for 2 years 11 months at two or three different congregations, and was informed by the synod that he was going to be removed from the roster at the next synod council meeting because he would have gone three years without a call.

That's quite a different understanding of interim ministry than the synod councils who call people to the specialized service.
Brian Stoffregen
“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” ― Albert Einstein

Charles_Austin

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Re: "The Practice of Ministry"
« Reply #29 on: September 07, 2005, 04:10:02 PM »
As mentioned upstream, I believe people who know me could describe me as a cuddly, fuzzy lap-kitty.

I'm not a "professional" interim. I was in my last parish 10 years. I was semi-retired, working full-time as a newspaper reporter when the bishop asked me to consider a full-time interim pastorate in a congregation that had gone through some tough times and was in need of making a transition before issuing a regular call. He figured that someone with what he called "maturity and experience" (meaning an old guy) could do them some good.  I'm trying to be that someone.

I have high regard for interims who keep going into really rough situations for short periods of time.

Charles Austin

 

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