A Missourian’s Perspective on Missouri

Started by Weedon, April 29, 2024, 07:11:46 PM

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Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Jeremy_Loesch on April 30, 2024, 10:52:36 AM
Quote from: Charles Austin on April 30, 2024, 10:17:43 AMSo what "faddish ideas" threatened us or did us damage?
Bultmann?
Tillich?
Moltmann?
Kasemann?
Theilicke?
Kung?
Niebuhr?
Liberation Theology?
Textual criticism of scripture?
The church's engagement with "the world."
All those were prominent, but not dominant in my seminary education.
Ecumenism? Not a big influence in your LCMS.


Yes to most of those but not all.  One has to really be discerning when viewing 20th Century Lutheran theology because there were some deviances from historic Christianity.  And I noticed you did not include Bo Giertz or Herman Sasse on your list? 

And about ecumenism, I'll say it out loud: our two churches think differently about what it means to be engaged in ecumenism.  The ELCA is the church that can't say no.  The LCMS is the church that can't say yes.  Perhaps you should say no more often and perhaps we should say yes more often.

Jeremy
Our full communion partner agreements come after years of discussions. During those meetings, "Not yet," is our ecumenical answer. Consider that Lutheran/Roman Catholic dialogues have been going on since 1967. Neither side is willing to say, "Yes," yet. I believe that over the decades, we have come to better understand and appreciate each side. Neither are quite the same denomination as we were during the Reformation period.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Jeremy_Loesch

Quote from: peter_speckhard on April 30, 2024, 11:29:57 AMI think people in any job go through vocational crises when there is a confluence of adverse conditions, but for pastors there is an added spiritual dimension. To say you're sick of driving a truck and want to open a little restaurant instead is one thing. To say you're sick of tending to God's flock, which is no less likely to happen at times, seems much worse. That's why I think a lot of pastors don't seek the help. They feel not only bad but guilty for even needing it.

Peter, I think that touches the topic pretty well.  "This isn't supposed to happen to me." is a phrase I uttered.  I had the thought that I was supposed to know what to do.  A lot of pastors I had known knew what to do.  I should too.

And I think that is where your idea Will, about a district chaplain would be a great idea. Somewhat related, perhaps Missouri should have 50 districts, so that the DP can visit congregations more frequently and so that the DP could actually serve a particular congregation (likely a larger church that has multiple pastors).  But this way the ecclesiastical supervisor could supervise the ecclesial bodies under his care.  (Missouri could have two districts and MD/DE/DC could be one, so 50 districts would not be too unruly.) 

Jeremy

JoshuaMc

#17
Jeremy,

Thanks for sharing your experience. I flamed out in my first call. After I left it, I was blessed to find an amazing Lutheran spiritual director and an amazing UCC therapist. I'm thankful every day for the time I spent working with them.

Josh
Joshua McGuffie
"But if you're feeling sinister, go off and see a minister..." (1996)

Revpeter

Quote from: Jeremy_Loesch on April 30, 2024, 12:14:16 PM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on April 30, 2024, 11:29:57 AMI think people in any job go through vocational crises when there is a confluence of adverse conditions, but for pastors there is an added spiritual dimension. To say you're sick of driving a truck and want to open a little restaurant instead is one thing. To say you're sick of tending to God's flock, which is no less likely to happen at times, seems much worse. That's why I think a lot of pastors don't seek the help. They feel not only bad but guilty for even needing it.

When I served in Upstate NY synod 1994-2005, The Bishop at the time had each pastor designate someone to be their pastor.  In our first calls (1994-1999) we were also assigned a mentor pastor.  I found both to be extremely helpful.

Peter, I think that touches the topic pretty well.  "This isn't supposed to happen to me." is a phrase I uttered.  I had the thought that I was supposed to know what to do.  A lot of pastors I had known knew what to do.  I should too.

And I think that is where your idea Will, about a district chaplain would be a great idea. Somewhat related, perhaps Missouri should have 50 districts, so that the DP can visit congregations more frequently and so that the DP could actually serve a particular congregation (likely a larger church that has multiple pastors).  But this way the ecclesiastical supervisor could supervise the ecclesial bodies under his care.  (Missouri could have two districts and MD/DE/DC could be one, so 50 districts would not be too unruly.) 

Jeremy
ELCA Pastor serving in NW Iowa

Donald_Kirchner

Revpeter,

I trust that this is your comment:

"When I served in Upstate NY synod 1994-2005, The Bishop at the time had each pastor designate someone to be their pastor.  In our first calls (1994-1999) we were also assigned a mentor pastor.  I found both to be extremely helpful."

I like that. It does away with the idea and comment that I've heard now and then over the years: "The District President is my pastor." No, he's the hammer. it has a potential conflict between the confidentiality/seal of the confessional and the Prez's need to take disciplinary action.
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it's not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

wmattsfield

Quote from: Jeremy_Loesch on April 30, 2024, 12:14:16 PM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on April 30, 2024, 11:29:57 AMI think people in any job go through vocational crises when there is a confluence of adverse conditions, but for pastors there is an added spiritual dimension. To say you're sick of driving a truck and want to open a little restaurant instead is one thing. To say you're sick of tending to God's flock, which is no less likely to happen at times, seems much worse. That's why I think a lot of pastors don't seek the help. They feel not only bad but guilty for even needing it.

Peter, I think that touches the topic pretty well.  "This isn't supposed to happen to me." is a phrase I uttered.  I had the thought that I was supposed to know what to do.  A lot of pastors I had known knew what to do.  I should too.

And I think that is where your idea Will, about a district chaplain would be a great idea. Somewhat related, perhaps Missouri should have 50 districts, so that the DP can visit congregations more frequently and so that the DP could actually serve a particular congregation (likely a larger church that has multiple pastors).  But this way the ecclesiastical supervisor could supervise the ecclesial bodies under his care.  (Missouri could have two districts and MD/DE/DC could be one, so 50 districts would not be too unruly.) 

Jeremy

I do think our District does now have - and don't think it was available when you had your struggles - a team in charge of worker care, including being available for Confession and Absolution. Of course, for the team to be effective, church workers have to make use of them. And if we made use of them the way we should, the team would need to be larger, but it's a start.

https://mo.lcms.org/church-worker-care-team/

Jeremy_Loesch

Quote from: Donald_Kirchner on April 30, 2024, 02:12:27 PMRevpeter,

I trust that this is your comment:

"When I served in Upstate NY synod 1994-2005, The Bishop at the time had each pastor designate someone to be their pastor.  In our first calls (1994-1999) we were also assigned a mentor pastor.  I found both to be extremely helpful."

I like that. It does away with the idea and comment that I've heard now and then over the years: "The District President is my pastor." No, he's the hammer. it has a potential conflict between the confidentiality/seal of the confessional and the Prez's need to take disciplinary action.

Amen Don.  I also liked RevPeter's comment.  It appears to intentionally separate the 'hammer' from the spiritual.

Jeremy

Jeremy_Loesch

Quote from: wmattsfield on April 30, 2024, 02:17:27 PM
Quote from: Jeremy_Loesch on April 30, 2024, 12:14:16 PM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on April 30, 2024, 11:29:57 AMI think people in any job go through vocational crises when there is a confluence of adverse conditions, but for pastors there is an added spiritual dimension. To say you're sick of driving a truck and want to open a little restaurant instead is one thing. To say you're sick of tending to God's flock, which is no less likely to happen at times, seems much worse. That's why I think a lot of pastors don't seek the help. They feel not only bad but guilty for even needing it.

Peter, I think that touches the topic pretty well.  "This isn't supposed to happen to me." is a phrase I uttered.  I had the thought that I was supposed to know what to do.  A lot of pastors I had known knew what to do.  I should too.

And I think that is where your idea Will, about a district chaplain would be a great idea. Somewhat related, perhaps Missouri should have 50 districts, so that the DP can visit congregations more frequently and so that the DP could actually serve a particular congregation (likely a larger church that has multiple pastors).  But this way the ecclesiastical supervisor could supervise the ecclesial bodies under his care.  (Missouri could have two districts and MD/DE/DC could be one, so 50 districts would not be too unruly.) 

Jeremy

I do think our District does now have - and don't think it was available when you had your struggles - a team in charge of worker care, including being available for Confession and Absolution. Of course, for the team to be effective, church workers have to make use of them. And if we made use of them the way we should, the team would need to be larger, but it's a start.

https://mo.lcms.org/church-worker-care-team/

Glad to see that Wade. 

Jeremy

John Mundinger

Quote from: Revpeter on April 30, 2024, 12:36:50 PMWhen I served in Upstate NY synod 1994-2005, The Bishop at the time had each pastor designate someone to be their pastor.  In our first calls (1994-1999) we were also assigned a mentor pastor.  I found both to be extremely helpful.

Peter, I think that touches the topic pretty well.  "This isn't supposed to happen to me." is a phrase I uttered.  I had the thought that I was supposed to know what to do.  A lot of pastors I had known knew what to do.  I should too.

And I think that is where your idea Will, about a district chaplain would be a great idea. Somewhat related, perhaps Missouri should have 50 districts, so that the DP can visit congregations more frequently and so that the DP could actually serve a particular congregation (likely a larger church that has multiple pastors).  But this way the ecclesiastical supervisor could supervise the ecclesial bodies under his care.  (Missouri could have two districts and MD/DE/DC could be one, so 50 districts would not be too unruly.)

In Montana, counseling used to be available for pastors through Lutheran Social Services.  LSS went through some reorganization and is now under the umbrella of St. John's United.  But, I suspect that service is still available.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Charles Austin

Pastor Loesch, I have known several LCA/ELCA congregations that were clergy killers. The New Jersey Synod provided a counselor who knew the problems of troubled clergy for any pastor who felt badly enough to seek therapy.
   Once, with a fellow pastor, I went to the bishop and said "do not send another pastor into that parish."
   "If I don't," he said, "they will close or leave us."
   My colleague and I said exactly the same thing. "Good."
   We take lousy care of our pastors. We let the incompetent ones stumble on, and we don't see when the good ones are burning out, coasting on their reputation, or being pecked into depression or dysfunction by clergy killers in the parish.
   An assistant to a bishop once asked me to take an interim assignment in a clergy-killing parish. "Are you nuts?" I said, "they treat their pastors terribly!" I cited the two previous pastors and one had left the ministry.
   "I know," the assistant said, "but you're tough. You can take it."
   "And at my age," I said, "why would I want to do that unless a booming voice from the sky tells me to?"
ELCA PASTOR. Iowa born and raised. Former journalist. Former news director and spokesman for the LCA. Former LWF staff in Geneva, Switzerland.  Parishes in Iowa. New Jersey and New York.  Retired in Minneapolis.

John Mundinger

Quote from: Charles Austin on April 30, 2024, 03:43:32 PMPastor Loesch, I have known several LCA/ELCA congregations that were clergy killers. The New Jersey Synod provided a counselor who knew the problems of troubled clergy for any pastor who felt badly enough to seek therapy.
   Once, with a fellow pastor, I went to the bishop and said "do not send another pastor into that parish."
   "If I don't," he said, "they will close or leave us."
   My colleague and I said exactly the same thing. "Good."
   We take lousy care of our pastors. We let the incompetent ones stumble on, and we don't see when the good ones are burning out, coasting on their reputation, or being pecked into depression or dysfunction by clergy killers in the parish.
   An assistant to a bishop once asked me to take an interim assignment in a clergy-killing parish. "Are you nuts?" I said, "they treat their pastors terribly!" I cited the two previous pastors and one had left the ministry.
   "I know," the assistant said, "but you're tough. You can take it."
   "And at my age," I said, "why would I want to do that unless a booming voice from the sky tells me to?"

I think you make a valid point.  But, as a member of our synod's consultation committee, I have also witness and example or two of pastors who were "congregation killers".
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Dave Benke

I'll save this specific Missourian's perspective on Missouri for a little while to weigh in on the clergy care/counseling side issue.

a) Describing (for the umpteenth time) the District President's role as "the hammer" manages to be both simplistic and banal, and is semi-useless. Effective ecclesiastical supervision does not begin and end in the LCMS Handbook and its bylaws, manuals and convention resolutions.  It is a pastoral office, to the member individuals and institutions and to the community at large in the geographical region (if there is one) of service.  It is an office of the Gospel under Schmalkald 4 - the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren.  That locus is in the pastor's study or the parsonage, the church council meeting room or the local sanctuary, the disaster response coordination unit gathering after the storm, any and all of the above. 

That conversation and consolation calls for wisdom and discernment, for the application of Law and Gospel.  The rules and rubrics of the organization LCMS are involved, and are circumscribed by policies and procedures.  What they do not allow is for the effective ecclesiastical supervisor to wash his hands from the get-go and pass the buck or, counterclockwise, to get enmeshed and unable to investigate, delegate or make a decision.

b) a hard nut from my experience was and is the pastoral office as vocation.  As our profs (shout out to Prexy Walter Stuenkel, who invariably taught while waving his arms that we were entering the "highest profession and calling in the world, given directly by Jesus Christ.")  No pressure there.  Expectations that high coupled with less than stellar results produce - what?  Mental health issues.  Good grief.  How could they not?  Plus a ton of the training is up in the clouds at the theological level, when the local mess has more to do with imbedded grumpy controllers and the blame for the out of balance budget somehow lodging at the pastor's feet. 

So a lot of clergy struggle with passive-aggressive behavior patterns, and underneath that, a low-to-mid-level depression that sucks the joy out of day to day life in the parish.

Support groups, counseling options readily available, and having a Confessor are three directions to take; a fourth is psychiatric involvement including medication.  Another thing - not discussed very much - is having a Plan B.  Or C. 

I try to think through how those guys taking the six-point parish are doing.  St. Matthew/Mark/Luke/John/Calvary/ - how are you this morning?  After awhile, you'd meet yourself on County Trunk D and State 47, headed both North and South.

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

Donald_Kirchner

#27
Quote from: Dave Benke on April 30, 2024, 04:55:46 PMI'll save this specific Missourian's perspective on Missouri for a little while to weigh in on the clergy care/counseling side issue.

a) Describing (for the umpteenth time) the District President's role as "the hammer" manages to be both simplistic and banal, and is semi-useless.

I expected this inflammatory response from you, Dave. We've been down this road before. In the context, the DP is the hammer, as I would hope, in the sense that a pastor should never put his DP in such a conflicted position.

If Darwin Schauer had still been pastor at Trinity, Lake George, and had come to me for confession/absolution, confessing that he was having sex with his 15-year old stepdaughter and maybe another parishioner's underage daughter, I would hear his confession. And I have vowed never to divulge what I was told under the seal of the confessional. Moreover, he states that he has no intention to stop engaging in his sinful and egregious behavior. Whether or not I'd absolve him is a separate issue. Whether or not I would urge him to stop such sinful activity is another issue (Law and Gospel.) But I may not divulge what was told to me under the seal of the confessional, even if he refuses to relent.

I would hope that his DP, upon learning of his actions, would take disciplinary action. As a confessor, one may not do that if it breaks the seal of the confessional. Hence, the conflict context.
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it's not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

John Mundinger

Quote from: Donald_Kirchner on April 30, 2024, 05:10:06 PM
Quote from: Dave Benke on April 30, 2024, 04:55:46 PMI'll save this specific Missourian's perspective on Missouri for a little while to weigh in on the clergy care/counseling side issue.

a) Describing (for the umpteenth time) the District President's role as "the hammer" manages to be both simplistic and banal, and is semi-useless.

I expected this inflammatory response from you, Dave. We've been down this road before. In the context, the DP is the hammer, as I would hope, in the sense that a pastor should never put his DP in such a conflicted position.

I would hope that his DP, upon learning of his actions, would take disciplinary action. As a confessor, one may not do that if it breaks the seal of the confessional. Hence, the conflict context.

There is nothing "inflammatory" about suggesting that "the hammer" is not an appropriate way to describe the role of an ecclesiastical supervisor, even in the situation that you described.  There are ways to appropriately exercise discipline without being heavy handed.  And, in the situation you described, the role of "hammer" is reserved for the judge responsible for issuing the prison sentence.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Mark Brown

Quote from: Weedon on April 29, 2024, 07:11:46 PMI know that this is a pan Lutheran board and anyone can comment on any thread. Still, this thread is aimed not at getting a non-LCMS look at the LCMS (maybe someone should start that thread), but providing a place for those inside the LCMS to reflect upon her: her strengths, her weaknesses, her challenges, her failures and her triumphs.

I want to start it off by noting that my primary attitude toward my Synod is one of deep gratitude. She has consistently been an instrument of great blessing in my life. She baptized me, confirmed me, educated me, married me, further educated me, ordained me, further educated me again, and has provided me with countless opportunities to preach and teach, to sing and to celebrate the joyful good news of sin's forgiveness and death's defeat in our Lord Jesus.

I am grateful for her staunch liturgy and hymnody and for the theological education she gave me above all.

One of her weaknesses, in my opinion (I know many will disagree), is her attempt to hold together disparate theological convictions and pretend that we can say "yes" and "no" at the same time. Another of her weaknesses is her tendency to elevate the current status quo to a norm (the CTCR quoting itself!) and thus stifling the ability of the Lutheran Symbols to actually challenge and correct our course. She has had a fatal tendency to mistake theological schemata (by which some of her theologians sought to make sense of the theological data) for the actual dogma of the Church.

Her biggest challenge is that her structure only works the way it was intended when the parishes are populated by Lutheran Christians who take seriously their confirmation vows and intend to preserve the Lutheran heritage as a priceless gift. She doesn't have a back up plan (I am not sure there is one) when LINO becomes a thing, as people refuse to be held to and to insist on upholding the Book of Concord.

Her biggest failure in my book isn't in the area of evangelism, but in the area of piety. She has sought overwhelmingly to impart Lutheranism as a school of thought (hence, you learn it in a class) rather than a way of confident living from the bounty of God's divine giving, what Kleinig calls "receptive spirituality." I am convinced that if the piety piece were addressed and the faith came to be lived again in our homes (daily prayers, table blessing, study of the Word together, singing the hymns of our church), we'd find the outreach problem solved on its own.

Her biggest triumph is also, in my opinion, a great danger. I refer to her turning her back on the way of liberal higher criticism and seeking for a way of studying the Scriptures that honored their divine origin by the Spirit. The devil will never cease trying to falsify and take the Word away from the Christian people, and the mistake is to think having won a battle, we can relax. The war goes on and he is indeed a wily foe.

Okay, my scattered thoughts. I'd be curious from my fellow Missourians about their own thoughts or reactions to any of the above.



Will, I'd largely say exactly what you did with maybe a few tweaks, none really worth mentioning.

But I would amplify or maybe connect two things you note. Our weakness, trying to hold together things that can't be, is directly connected to our lack of piety. You can only hold together yes and no in a mental construct. When you are forced to incarnate it into piety, you know immediately it doesn't work. We should just admit this.

Which is the great challenge. Our congregationalism only works for a growing, practicing, confident, unified people.  Which largely we are not. As we bury the last of that group, we really need the courage to reform ourselves for a new work.  The triumph is simply that I think that work of reformation has been done twice in LCMS history. Walther did it first after Stephan. They collectively did it a second time across the wars as German became English. This third reformation looks to be tougher. We are too worldly in too many ways. But the Spirit doesn't really work by increment, but by death and resurrection.   


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