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Topics - Rev. Richard A. Bolland

#1
Your Turn / Farewell
February 06, 2023, 05:02:32 PM
Dear friends,

I believe the time has come to sign out from my social media platforms.   My cancer has progressed to the point that my family is making me aware that my mental capacity might be declining to the point where I might make Joe Biden look like he's at the top of his game.  God forbid that I would in anyway imply that the President of the United States of America is in anyway capable of holding his office, so it must be time to quit.

For me, the issues that concern me at this time are not so much the theological debates within the LCMS or between ELS and WELS.  The time is quickly approaching for me that such designations will no longer have any meaning at all.  We will be in heaven enjoying the beautiful face of our Creator and Lord Jesus Christ and enjoying all the things He has so graciously purchased for us with His very body and blood.  As I contemplate being in heaven, I must marvel at the man that I will finally become.  You know, the man that God created to be perfect and godly in every way.  I marvel that having human relationships untainted with sin, and temptation.  Truly, it is beyond my imagination or comprehension.  My prayers at night are that God might choose to take me home.  Perhaps God has a better idea that there's a good reason for waiting around longer and if so, then I certainly yield to His divine will, but for my money, this waiting game can be over any time for me. 

The worlds of Scripture Psalm 119:94, "I am yours, save me," have become my words along with those of the tax collector, "9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be [d]humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 9-18)


As for the earthly political debacle we are now witnessing in this nation.  All I can do is pray that God will raise up people who have the courage to tell the government to return to a Constitution bases our forefathers in great wisdom created.  Hopefully that can be accomplished by political means, but it not, then real, traditional Americans need to reread that portion of our Declaration of Independence, "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to instituted new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form , as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

If this means by force of arms, then so be it! Since the Declaration of Independence was the bases for the Constitution no law in my mind can override it.

As for me, soon these concerns will be no longer my focus ether.  God is the King of Heaven and no one shall overthrow Him!

So, for now, farewell, dear friends, brothers in Christ, my fellow countrymen.  My God bless you and keep you until we meet again.  Rev. Richard Anton Bolland
#2
  Most of us were taught by our Christian parents to say our prayers at bedtime, at meals, and at church. As we grow older, some begin to consider prayer as something belonging to their childhood but not so much for adults. When your doctor tells you that you are going to die whether the cause be cancer (as it is in my case), heart disease, an injury from which recovery is not possible, or any of any number of diseases that afflict humanity, prayer is often restored to its proper place. Prayer is communication with God. The Bible assures us that God both hears and answers our prayers, because He has promised to do so, and God can never go back on His Word.

For the dying, prayer becomes a real lifeline to God. Not only does prayer permit us to address our specific needs, but prayer also allows us to receive the comfort of knowing that the Creator of the universe is listening and will respond according to our needs. He alone knows that what we need may be more beneficial to us than what we want.

This booklet is intended for those who know they are dying. It is hoped that the thoughts contained, and the examples of prayers offered will provide assurance to those who have lost faith that faith can still save you. If you've lost confidence that prayer is effective and that God is actually listening to His children when they pray, then this booklet may help restore the confidence you had when you were a child.

There is a day coming for every last one of us when death and dying will become a reality for us. Death itself, should be a longed-for event that will become, as the Scripture promises, our very best birthday ever!

https://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Prayers-Christian-Richard-Bolland/dp/B0BQG4LGTG/ref=sr_1_5?crid=65H1X0LJFXTI&keywords=richard+bolland+books&qid=1671920360&sprefix=%2Caps%2C115&sr=8-5
#3
Your Turn / THERE IS NO CLIMATE EMERGENCY
November 19, 2022, 10:21:10 PM
https://clintel.nl/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/ED-brochureversieNWA4.pdf

You've got to remember that funding for climate study is provided almost exclusively by government agencies that must hold the the climate change "theology".  If your proposal doesn't fit the official narrative, then you will not receive funding.  The Scientists in the article above have basically bolted from that closed system and are saying "Hey, what do you say we listen to the science?"

The same, in my opinion, was also true of the Covid fiasco.  If you want money for a study of Covid it basically could only be obtained from the CDC.  If you made a proposal that was not in line with the government narrative, then no money for you.  In response to this closed system of funding many, many medical scientists also bolted the closed system:

https://gbdeclaration.org/   

The pushing of an agenda(s) over actual science and date only destroys the credibility of the government agencies to speak with authority and creates distrust of government restrictions on our Constitutional rights.

I suspect, like many of you, that should the states or the feds attempt again to close worship or limit worship that our congregation for sure will simply not comply again. 

With respect to climate change specifically, I would dare to say that it is simply the greatest incidence of mass child abuse in the history of the world.  What do I mean by that?  Simply that an entire generation of our children now firmly believe that they are going to die if we don't completely restructure the world to "fix" climate change.  That's child abuse if there ever was child abuse.
#4
Your Turn / Some Additional Thoughts on Dying
November 16, 2022, 05:06:31 PM
As some of you may recall, in July I was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. After a series of tests and consultations with gastroenterologists and oncologists I made a difficult decision to forego any further treatment given my age (76 next month, God-willing). It has been an interesting journey thus far. I was given six months to a year as a life expectation at the time so now, four months later those numbers have become two months to eight months.

Some observations:

1. Understanding in an abstract way that everyone is going to die is a very different experience than being told YOU are going to die and soon. This is a concrete understanding of death and there's nothing theoretical about it.

2. As a Lutheran Christian I truly do not fear the event of death itself. I'll freely admit that the process leading up to death is pretty sucky. There's nothing pleasant about your esophagus closing down slowly, having eating slowly becoming impossible and contemplating starving to death and dying of thirst while your organs slowly shut down one-by-one until the Lord graciously delivers me from this life. That said, as each day goes by I am thankful for each and ever one of them regardless of whether they are 'good' days, or "rough' days. I have become utterly convinced that He is using each day to draw me closer to Himself and to teach me how much He loves me and that He has promised to save me and bring be to heaven.

Bringing a retired pastor I shocked myself at how often I was overcome by own emotions when trying to express myself to others. After all, Pastors are supposed to be fearlessly I unafraid even in the face of death. And, it turns out that is actually correct. However, what I discovered was that my tears are not at all about dying. It took me a bit to figure it out but I was crying because from an earthly perspective I am losing every one and every thing I every loved and I am causing my loved ones a great deal of pain for which they will have no convenient drugs to deaden the pain. They much carry on without the help and support of someone they have always depended on as a husband, father and grandfather. Theirs is the harder road.

I have also discovered that there are a myriad of things that I need to do to help my family in my absence. A detailed list of phone numbers, account numbers, government entities and the like must be informed regarding my death. There are numerous things that must be taken care of if you are a veteran and wish to be interred in a national cemetery (most of my families members already are interred in the Santa Fe, New Mexico so the need for arrangements are many.

DD214 forms need to be produced, wills need to be up-dated, will it be cremation or casket? And on and on it goes. Thus again I a grateful for the extended time. '

Most of all when all else is said and done; Jesus Christ is the only thing that matters at all! It really doesn't matter what status or office you've held. It is His life, suffering, and death that has fully paid the penalty for my sins (and like most of us they are many and sameful. I am incredible greatful that I a not receiving what should be coming to me. Christ's resurrections is my guarantee that sin, death, the devil, and hell all lose and Christ wins! He wins for me and ever other Christians who has been washed in the blessef=d baptismal waters of life that grant what Scripture says they baptism bestows on His elect. "The forgiveness of all my sins and the gift of the Holy 'Spirit. Again, and again I have heard the Word of God spoken from the mouths of of called and ordained servants of
Christ sworn to speak only from the content of the Word of
God and properly administrating the Lord's Supper so that the very purchase price of m sins is given into my body- the very body and blood of My Lord in, with, and under the bead and wine provided.

Now the pain is becoming a part of every day as the disease destroys my body bit-by-bit; My hospice nurses had graciously taken care of my med to ensure the pain is manageable until the end

At some point I will need to say very important goodbyes to bride of nearly 53 years and my daughter of nearly 50. I an only hope to have the presence of mind to not have too any meds in my system to be able to say what needs to be said before sliding into the rather predictable drug induced coma that precedes death.

On of my favorite devotional readings is by Johann Gerhard (cur.1611) from
WIPF publishers, Eugene, OR. It is an absolute treasure for the dying. Meanwhile I take comfort I.
Scripture that God does not beak a brused reed no a smoldering wick.


A fellow pastor of mine remindered by that when whe was going through the helll of his cancer treatment he would often resort to a prayer fro119:94, "Lord, I am yours,
Save me!" I hope I have the presence of mind at the end to simply say "Lord, have mercy
Christ have mercy, Lord, have mercy. Then I shall rest I His arm as see Him as He is. I will also see myself for the very first time myself as God has always intended me to be before the foundations of the world were laid. To truly be free of sins and to see my lovee


As some of you may recall, in July I was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. After a series of tests and consultations with gastroenterologists and oncologists I made a difficult decision to forego any further treatment given my age (76 next month, God-willing). It has been an interesting journey thus far. I was given six months to a year as a life expectation at the time so now, four months later those numbers have become two months to eight months.

Some observations:

1. Understanding in an abstract way that everyone is going to die is a very different experience than being told YOU are going to die and soon. This is a concrete understanding of death and there's nothing theoretical about it.

2. As a Lutheran Christian I truly do not fear the event of death itself. I'll freely admit that the process leading up to death is pretty sucky. There's nothing pleasant about your esophagus closing down slowly, having eating slowly becoming impossible and contemplating starving to death and dying of thirst while your organs slowly shut down one-by-one until the Lord graciously delivers me from this life. That said, as each day goes by I am thankful for each and ever one of them regardless of whether they are 'good' days, or "rough' days. I have become utterly convinced that He is using each day to draw me closer to Himself and to teach me how much He loves me and that He has promised to save me and bring be to heaven.

Bringing a retired pastor I shocked myself at how often I was overcome by own emotions when trying to express myself to others. After all, Pastors are supposed to be fearlessly I afraid even in the face of death. And, it turns out that is actually correct. However, what I discovered was that my tears are not at all about dying. It took me a bit to figure it out but I was crying because from an earthly perspective I am losing every one and every thing I every loved and I am causing my loved ones a great deal of pain for which they will have no convenient drugs to deaden the pain. They much carry on without the help and support of someone they have always depended on as a husband, father and grandfather. Theirs is the harder road.

I have also discovered that there are a myriad of things that I need to do to help my family in my absence. A detailed list of phone numbers, account numbers, government entities and the like must be informed regarding my death. There are numerous things that must be taken care of if you are a veteran and wish to be interred in a national cemetery (most of my families members already are interred in the Santa Fe, New Mexico so the need for arrangements are many.

DD214 forms need to be produced, wills need to be up-dated, will it be cremation or casket? And on and on it goes. Thus again I a grateful for the extended time. '

Most of all when all else is said and done; Jesus Christ is the only thing that matters at all! It really doesn't matter what status or office you've held. It is His life, suffering, and death that has fully paid the penalty for my sins (and like most of us they are many and sameful. I am incredible greatful that I a not receiving what should be coming to me. Christ's resurrections is my guarantee that sin, death, the devil, and hell all lose and Christ wins! He wins for me and ever other Christians who has been washed in the blessef=d baptismal waters of life that grant what Scripture says they baptism bestows on His elect. "The forgiveness of all my sins and the gift of the Holy 'Spirit. Again, and again I have heard the Word of God spoken from the mouths of of called and ordained servants of
Christ sworn to speak only from the content of the Word of
God and properly administrating the Lord's Supper so that the very purchase price of m sins is given into my body- the very body and blood of My Lord in, with, and under the bead and wine provided.

Now the pain is becoming a part of every day as the disease destroys my body bit-by-bit; My hospice nurses had graciously taken care of my med to ensure the pain is manageable until the end

At some point I will need to say very important goodbyes to bride of nearly 53 years and my daughter of nearly 50. I an only hope to have the presence of mind to not have too any meds in my system to be able to say what needs to be said before sliding into the rather predictable drug induced coma that precedes death.

On of my favorite devotional readings is by Johann Gerhard (cur.1611) from
WIPF publishers, Eugene, OR. It is an absolute treasure for the dying. Meanwhile I take comfort I.
Scripture that God does not beak a brused reed no a smoldering wick.


A fellow pastor of mine remindered by that when whe was going through the helll of his cancer treatment he would often resort to a prayer fro119:94, "Lord, I am yours,
Save me!" I hope I have the presence of mind at the end to simply say "Lord, have mercy
Christ have mercy, Lord, have mercy. Then I shall rest I His arm as see Him as He is. I will also see myself for the very first time myself as God has always intended me to be before the foundations of the world were laid. To truly be free of sins and to see my loved ones in that new light wii be simply astounding!
#5
Your Turn / When a Christians Faces Death
October 30, 2022, 10:14:59 PM
Every Christian faces death. We know this as an abstract reality, but when your doctor tells you that YOU are going to die, that news comes at you as a very concrete reality. It changes you, and it changes your family.
I've penned a small book about what the experience has been like for my family and I since my terminal diagnosis was made in July. I talk about not merely the spiritual aspect of one's impending death, but the myriad of things that need to be done to prepare your family, when the Lord gives you the time to prepare.
Additionally, I provide a number or resources for the family, the pastor, and, of course, the dying person to help them see what a blessing each additional day can be...even if it's a hard day.
I do hope the book will prove a blessing to every Christian faced with death's eminent reality, for pastors who tend to their spiritual care, and family's and friends who much endure watching their loved ones pass into the eternal care of our gracious heavenly Father.
Psalm 119:94, "I am Yours, save me!"
When A Christian Faces Death: Finding comfort with a terminal illness.
AMAZON.COM
When A Christian Faces Death: Finding comfort with a terminal illness.
Every human being has to die. Scripture tells us the reason for this universal "death sentence" as clearly as it can be said, "The wages of sin is death." (Roman 6:23) Understanding death as an abstract concept that effects all of humanity is not the same as a doctor telling you that YOU are goin...



  ·



https://smile.amazon.com/When-Christian-Faces-Death-terminal/dp/B0BKJ3TPNB/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3UMTGVJH2O6SQ&keywords=Richard+A.+Bolland&qid=1667182062&sprefix=richard+a.+bolland%2Caps%2C1053&sr=8-1
#7
Your Turn / Interesting Letter from Eric Metaxas
October 07, 2022, 05:42:36 PM
Author and self-described "Mere Christian" Eric Metaxas has previously written such books as Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World (2017) and Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (2011).*

In the Introduction to his new book, Letter to the American Church. Eric Metaxas writes:
quote:
I have written this book because I am convinced the American Church is at an impossibly—and almost unbearably—important inflection point. The parallels to where the German Church was in the 1930s are unavoidable and grim. So the only question—and what concerns us in this slim [176 pages] volume—is whether we might understand those parallels, and thereby avoid the fatal mistakes the German Church made during that time, and their superlatively catastrophic results. If we do not, I am convinced we will reap a whirlwind greater even than the one they did....

Throughout this book I will touch on some of the issues we are facing, but let us here say that it is something almost unprecedented: the emergence of ideas and forces that ultimately are at war with God Himself. It's easy to see this with regard to Germany in the 1930s, when we think of the death camps and the murder of so many millions, but we need to understand that in the beginning they had no idea where it was leading, and had no idea they were facing nothing less than the forces of anti-Christ. We are now facing those same forces in different guises. But the extent of it is even worse than it was ninety years ago, because those forces do not have an agenda that is hyper-nationalistic, as in Germany, but that is actually anti-nationalistic—which is to say that it is globalist.

These ideas seem to have emerged lately, but they have been growing quietly in our midst and we have not taken them seriously enough. Many have been fooled into thinking them essentially harmless. We are today like the proverbial frog in the saucepan, simmering along and never realizing that unless we see our situation and leap out now, we are very soon to be cooked and beyond all leaping. The ideas and forces we face have an atheistic Marxist ideology in common, although it never declares itself as such. It knows that doing this would wake many people up who are still asleep, and that would ruin everything.

But what we must dare to see is that these many ideas share a bitter taproot that leads all the way down to Hell. Critical Race Theory—which is atheistic and Marxist—and radical transgender and pro-abortion ideologies are all inescapably anti-God and anti-human....

One of the principal ways in which they have gained strength is in persuading so many in the American Church that to fight them is to abandon the Gospel for pure culture warring or for politics. This is not just nonsense, but is a supremely deceptive and satanic lie, designed only to silence those who would genuinely speak for truth....
#9
Your Turn / Unionism & Syncreticism & and Pope
November 30, 2014, 07:39:49 PM
What did you think when you saw the news reports of the Pontiff praying with his face toward Mecca with the Imam of the former Christian cathedral of Hagia Sophia?  For myself, it is yet another example of misguided tolerance of things that God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - does not tolerate and which does not reflect His own nature.  It seems that the Pope defines syncreticism as only possible when celebrating the Mass, but is divorced from all other forms of public worship.  Perhaps it was just a civic event. :-\
#10
Your Turn / Who Are the Extremists in America?
July 20, 2013, 09:43:32 AM
WHO ARE THE REAL EXTREMISTS IN AMERICA?
by Rev. Richard A. Bolland, Severance, Colorado

   Not long ago we celebrated the 4th of July.  It was a day when this nation celebrated its 237th birthday but more significantly it was a celebration of being an independent, free nation.  Ours was a nation that was structured on principles which sought to maximize the personal freedom of the individual and to minimize the coercive power of the government over the lives of its citizens.  Those who preserve, protect and defend these principles are not extremists, but those who disregard these principles are.

   The freedoms we enjoy were to be safeguarded by the provisions of the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.  But tragically, we are quickly and steadily loosing our personal freedom to an increasingly power hungry, coercive federal government.  Rather than "...preserve, protect, and defend.." the Constitution of the United States, the Obama administration, (aided and abetted by most Democrats and some Republicans in Congress), see the Constitution as an obstacle to be circumvented, ignored, and disregarded.  Those who disregard the Constitution are the extremists.

   The Constitution has been eroded by means of unConstitutional "executive orders" as a means to avoid the Constitutional legislative process appointed for the governance of this nation.  The Constitution has been dismissed by an Environmental Protection Agency that is simply out of control and which routinely violates the personal property rights of our citizens, and places governmental regulatory burdens on many businesses in such a fashion as to make doing business virtually unprofitable.  In the name of "Climate Change" or "Renewable Energy", enormous financial burdens and restrictive regulations are driving up energy costs so that President Obama's prediction that "Energy costs would necessarily skyrocket" has become a self-fulfilling prophesy.  Those who disregard the private property rights of individuals and companies are the extremists.

   The Constitutionally guaranteed right of the government not to prohibit the "free exercise" of our religious convictions has been simply pushed aside for those who believe that abortion is the termination of human life.  Under the onerous provisions of Obamacare, which requires that even objecting religious employers must violate their own conscience and religious beliefs by funding abortifacients (morning after pills) and birth control for their employees, the  free exercise has become a causality.  Additionally, the day is quickly approaching when our religious freedom to believe that homosexuality is simply morally wrong, may soon be violated by forcing religious employers to not discriminate against hiring homosexuals in their own churches and schools.  How long will it be before the government considers even biblical speech specifically condemning homosexual behavior to be "hate speech" and prohibits such statements in a pastor's sermons and Bible classes on a Sunday morning, in the public square, or requires that they officiate at so-called "same sex weddings"?  It's not difficult to see such restrictions and violations of our First Amendment rights coming.  It is those who disregard the free exercise of religion who are the extremists.

   Our right to keep and bare arms has already been infringed by the government by limiting our rights to own certain sized ammunition clips or magazines, restricting the kind of weapons that formerly free American citizens could own, by erroneously defining "assault weapons" as semi-automatic weapons that just look like "military" weapons, and by the mass purchasing of ammunition supplies by the Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration disallowing American citizens from the ability to use the weapons they own.  Yet, this is not considered an infringement on our right to keep and bare arms?  A weapon without ammunition is simply called a club!  What seems more than clear is that the Obama administration (if it were able), would have signed legislation vastly more restrictive on gun ownership than the draconian measures that have already been passed by some states and some cities.  It's not hard to see where they wish to go and would go if they could.  The right to keep and bare arms is not limited to hunting, but also includes adequate self-defense.  Those who limit Americans ability to adequately defend themselves are the extremists.

   With respect to the right of Americans to be free from unlawful search and seizure and the right to privacy, the recent revelations that the National Security Agency is seising internet search data, browsing histories, internet download data, emails, text messages, mobile phone data, social media data, credit/debit card transactions, surveillance camera data, commuter/GPS records, and medical information of private American citizens through the agency's PRISM software has brought to an end any semblance of this Constitutional right.  The construction of the NSA's Utah Data Center, near the community of Bluffdale, institutionalizes this invasion of privacy in such fashion that none of the data noted above will ever "go away" but be electronically preserved for whatever use the NSA wishes.  What we have done in the past, are doing in the present, or will do in the future is now or will be a matter of permanent record.  The motto of the NSA is, "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."  Such an Orwellian philosophy implies that as long as you have nothing to hide, that the government has a right to know everything about you.  They do not!  Couple this data collection and storage capability with the provisions of the ill-conceived Patriot Act with its ever evolving definition of "terrorist" (increasingly "domestic terrorist") and you have a formula for the indefinite incarceration of American citizens without due process of law.   Once again the protections of the 4th Amendment have become effectively null and void.  It is those who approve of such violations of the 4th Amendment who are the extremists!

   Standing up for the rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution of the United States of America does not make a person an "extremist".  Having a moral conviction that homosexual behavior is wrong does not make a person a "bigot" nor a "homophobe".  Believing that immigration should occur in accord with the rule of law does not make a person a "racist".  Frankly, it is those who draw such erroneous conclusions about law abiding American citizens who are the extremists. 

   What is our hope for the future?  Our hope lies in the possibility that the American voter will become far more informed about those they vote for.  Elections are not about personality and image.  Elections are not about wondering which candidate you'd most like to have lunch with nor about which candidate is "cool".  Elections are about the policies that each candidate represents and intends to advance if elected.  Do the policies they propose lead this nation toward greater Constitutional freedom for the citizens of this country or do they lead us toward greater government coercion and greater exercise of power over individual citizens?  Do their policies lead us toward a free and vibrant economy, or do they lead us toward more restrictive government domination of the economy?  Does a candidate support the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution or do they only give lip service to our governing documents while their actions speak volumes respecting the disregard in which they are held?

   Ultimately, we elect the government we deserve.  If we are not careful, the long and proud history of this nation will become a victim of voter ignorance and the "Bright light on the hill", might well become only a shadow of its former glory.
#11
Friends,

If you want to hear one of the best conferences on the theology and practice of the Lord's Supper, I would highly recommend the purchase of the ACELC's DVD's of the 2012 conference entitled: "Christ For Us: The Lord's Supper". For the price of a good book you can see and hear some of the best minds in our Synod discuss from a theological perspective instead of a sociological one. They are produced by the Lutheran Catechetical Society and are available from the website link: http://www.thelcs.org/Presentations.html. (Just scroll down to the bottom of the list.)

While all of the presenters did an excellent job, I would particularly direct you to Rev. James Gier's presentation on the topic of "Exceptions" and to Rev. Dr. Brian Saunders presentation on proper practice. Blessings to all, Rev. Richard Bolland

ACELC Conference (February 7-9, 2012)
– Conference Introduction - Rev. Rick Sawyer
– Fellowship in Holy Communion - Rev. Dr. K. Detlev Schulz
– Walther, The True Visible Church, and Holy Communion - Rev. Clint Poppe
– The Ban and Church Discipline - Rev. Dr. Holger Sonntag
– Holy Communion: Doctrine and Practice - Rev. John Pless
– Exceptions in the Practice of Holy Communion - Rev. James Gier
– Berthold Von Schenk: Historical Context and Critique - Rev. Brent Kuhlman

Also included: Q/A sessions with the presenters, Table Talk sessions (Rev. Dr. Mark Buchhop, Rev. Dr. Brian Saunders,
Rev. John Pless), Banquet Presentation: "Our Lutheran Heritage and the Lord's Supper" as well as several
conference sermons

***All conference papers and sermons are included in PDF format***
#12
Your Turn / New Blog From the ACELC Website
February 14, 2012, 05:52:51 PM
Costa Costa Costa Costa Concordia

Honestly, I have NO good reason why Boy George and the Culture Club's song Karma Chameleon should have come to mind when heading this blog entry. I am just WEIRD that way. I admit it. And since I am, we might as well all settle in and make the most of it, 'cause this one's longer than just a three hour cruise!

There's been a good bit of discussion regarding the COST of dealing with the aftermath of the tragic foundering of the cruise ship Costa Concordia a month ago. What to do with the capsized hulk? Right it or scrap it? How to make sure a devastating human tragedy doesn't also become an environmental one? Not to mention, of course, the rescue efforts and legal claims of those who lost loved ones, and the future prosecution of Captain Francesco Schettino, who is held on charges of manslaughter for having made the unauthorized and wreck-causing change in course - to grandstand and impress island residents! - as well as abandoning ship before all passengers had been evacuated.

The wreck of the Costa Concordia cannot help but evoke a certain sad parallel with the foundering concordia of what has been fondly referred to as the good ship Missouri! Of course, the Missouri Synod is not the Ship of Faith called the Church. She is a man-made and arranged collection of pastors and congregations who originally came together because they recognized in one another a common walking together in faith and life, in doctrine and practice, and committed themselves to continuing in and preserving the same for the benefit of future generations. The world needs concordia; not concord in its error and darkness, but concord in the One True Faith which Christ entrusted to His saints, which is revealed in Holy Scripture and confessed by our forefathers in the documents collected in the Book of Concord; even prayed for by Our Lord!

Concordia is an important word for us Lutherans, but it is more than a name; more than something to call our colleges and universtities, despite their often allowing the inroads of feminism, worldly worship forms, alien doctrines, the teaching of women's ordination, evolution, and open communion. Remember that Concordia – as a name – is still applied to that hunk of metal lying on its side off the coast of Italy, in whose hull those who did not escape still tragically remain, most likely lifeless, unless, by some miracle they have beaten the odds and survived. God grant it, for mercy's sake! Hope, as one family member put it, is the last thing to die!

So also, hope in the future of the concordia that is called the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is still living. It is living amongst the member pastors and congregations of the ACELC. It is living in those of other confessional groups and efforts in our Synod today. It is living in those who hold office, such as our President Matt Harrison and others of his staff. It is living in many pastors and parishes which have not yet joined the ACELC formally, but pray as we do, that the once good ship may be righted and not scrapped. It is even living in those who are safely on shore and praying from the outside for us who remain.

Can righting our ship still happen? More surely than that the Costa Concordia will sail again! But the cost of getting Missouri to that point will be daunting! It will require what we call in church terms, repentance! That's the big one, and it is Christ's alone to give!

Remember in the movie, The Poseidon Adventure, when the two parties met each other, one heading toward the top of the ship and the other heading toward the bottom? Both groups were convinced they were heading the right way. They HOPED they were heading the right way. Only ONE was heading the right way! Presumably, those who were convinced of their wrong direction and remained in it died.

In our Synod today, there are groups convinced of the direction they are taking; a change of course not unlike that tragically and theatrically made by Captain Schettino. They have introduced worship practices borrowed from heterodox traditions, which are designed to attract and impress "island residents" by conforming to worldly patterns, but which are alien and even hostile to the orthodox faith and life we have received from our forefathers. It is a remarkably sharp and dangerous change of course. Just consider what passes as worship in some of our churches! I'll admit that it can be entertaining! I happen to like rock music myself, and so I watch a video like this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1odf46sQEUE) and think . . . Cool band! Cool technology! Poor execution of choreography, but it IS impressive, and anyone in tech and multi-media will tell you that this is more than your grandma sitting with her gal friends to glue some felt banners together for a mission festival! Still, is it worship?

Art can convey meaning, don't get me wrong! Movies can be art! MTV videos can be art! Plays and many other performances can all be art, and art can be used in the service of God! But that's true even when it's a Super Bowl half-time performance by Madonna! It doesn't HAVE to be ripped out of its proper context as entertainment in order to be in service of and to the glory of God! After all, aren't the crayon drawings our children make, which we post to our refrigerator door, in service to the glory of God? Unless we've forgotten what Luther taught against the rank monasticism of his day, we have GOT to answer: "Of course! Just because it isn't happening behind monastic walls or being done by clergy or in the Lord's House doesn't make it less than holy! After all, if one's whole life is holy in Christ, then all that we do in Christ is pleasing to God and in His service, even if only entertaining to our neighbor or our parents who happen to be watching us play at the Lego Table. What we do for our neighbor as the Baptized, we do it to Christ."

That's what Jesus said. Luther was just repeating!

So, we can let football be to the glory of God on the football field, and entertainment be entertainment in the movie theater, our living rooms, on a bikini laden beach or anywhere else. We don't have to bring these in and force them into what they aren't by nature, and they are NOT the Divine Service! But many are setting THAT aside to make ROOM for impressive displays of techno-entertainment, which most properly glorifies God when it is evoking a "WOW!" from us – because that's what it was meant to do! You know, like the fireworks displays at Disney World and Epcot Center! WOW! COOL! AWESOME! How much money do you think they spent on that!?

Nothing's wrong with being moved by entertainment – even to shout out a "Praise Jesus" around the lake at Epcot after the laser lights, music and smoke have cleared! But when we set Christ and His Service aside, which historically haven't gotten quite the applause given to coordinating iPads and music like a Christmas light display choreographed to TSO's Wizards in Winter, when the historic liturgy is set aside for what most in the world would admit is entertainment, something's terribly wrong. It's only a matter of time before it becomes clear that our behavior is criminal, in a spiritual sense.

I realize the other string of passengers on the good ship Missouri don't agree. They're heading one way, and it's not the same way we are! They want to look more and more like the world, and it's attracting more and more of the world as people look for an exciting, entertaining, moving worship experience. They know people want to see the impressive sight of a huge luxury liner pass perilously close to their island, and they're willing to give them a show! They've got numbers on their side, too! I didn't count, but maybe those heading in the wrong direction in the Poseidon Adventure also had more in their queue than those heading in the right direction.

Numbers don't matter in this. Jesus is the one who said that the way leading to hell is wide and easy and there are many on it; while the road to heaven is narrow and hard and there are few upon it. Numbers just don't make it when the Word of God has spoken clearly. Over and over in Holy Scripture, God speaks an unpopular Word which itching ears don't want to hear, and hardened hearts don't want to believe! We are driven, according to our fallen nature, by FEELology rather than THEology; by how we FEEL when something moves us instead of by what God actually says!

I'm still waiting for someone to show me where God says to measure the popular tastes of the world and meet them in order to win the world over. From what I recall, that was always where Israel got things wrong; namely, by wanting to be like everyone else, when God was calling them to be separate and distinct; not what everyone wanted, but what all people need, a Light shining in dark places, even though men prefer the darkness to the Light. Is this really anything new? Or hard to grasp? It's not rocket science, but it DOES rock the boat! It rocks OUR boat, like Jesus calling Peter out on the waves! I think Jesus knew what He was doing when He did that. Peter needed to go down before being raised up. Peter needed to quit thinking he was a wave-walker like his Lord (though it WAS Cool, Awesome, Impressive - I wonder how he did that?) and start crying out, "Lord, SAVE me!" Peter needed a Savior, and so do we!

We can see throughout the history of the church how the Lord continues to captain His Ship, the Church. He is no Capt. Schettino, either grandstanding or saving himself at others' expense! Jesus doesn't go down WITH the Ship, but FOR it! He goes down and comes back up again, and then He entrusts to His Church His Word and Sacraments, sound doctrine, faithfulness and love, firmly instructing AGAINST changing course to put on a show for those who want it!

Nadab and Abihu changed course. Turned out badly for them! Aaron let the voice and wants of the people force him to change course too, and the first ever alternative worship service turned into quite a nasty gulp of water for the people!

When the Lord sends out His Church, He bids us teach the nations to hold to EVERYTHING He has commanded, knowing that many won't want it. They didn't want it from Jesus in John 6. They didn't want it when they persecuted the apostles and martyrs. They didn't want it from Luther. In none of these instances does Jesus teach us to run after the world and try to become what it requires of us in order for it to stay!

And so, the pastors and people of the ACELC are indeed heading in the opposite direction of many! It may seem like the wrong direction, the way heading to the bottom of a ship seemed counterintuitive for those convinced otherwise. The way heading to a cross seemed counterintuitive to those who wanted Jesus to put on a big show! But it is the direction clearly given us in God's Word and in our Confessions! It may not make as much business sense as giving people what they want, but that's not what the Lord has called us to do. He's called us to remain afloat and on the right course, because the world needs the Church and Faith and the Gospel of Christ as surely as people bobbing in the midst of an angry sea need a sound ship, not a foundering one, to come along and rescue them!

Lest it be forgotten, WE in the ACELC aren't the ones making unauthorized changes in the course of the ship we call Missouri. Others are doing that. Others have done it already, compromising our worship forms, urging the ordination of women, having laymen serve as pastors before they are called and ordained, practicing open communion, leaving the unrepentant in their sin instead of calling them to change direction and follow the AUTHORIZED course given by the Lord. You see, changes in direction ARE permitted, especially when God is redirecting us from death to life. We call it repentance. That's the costliest thing about righting the concordia of Missouri, if that's even still possible. We pray it is. It would be a sad thing to see things scrapped, cut up, sold off. It would be a sad thing if all the living needed to abandon ship, leaving only the dying and dead behind. Could that happen? It's happened before! If it happens again, the Lord will still be Lord of His Church, wherever that is found in those who are gathered by Him around the Gospel purely preached and the Sacraments rightly administered; where error is contended against and not allowed to gush in as through a hull whose side has been ripped wide open. We pray for the righting of our Synod. We are working for it, and urging others to change course and return to the right path. We know many others are urging the same and watching – and hoping – that concordia may still be saved!
#13
Your Turn / Are the Masks Off Yet?
November 02, 2011, 09:36:36 AM
From the ACELC website blog:   www.acelc.net

Of Masks and Martin and Our Reformation Faith

Lots of masks at my front door last night! How about yours? Happy post-traumatic Halloween to us all! No more door bells setting the dog to yapping! Just a few artificial cobwebs still hanging from my neighbor's trees (she likes to go all out!) and too much candy left in my house for me to consume!

Halloween. All Hallow's Eve. Of course, it was also the Feast of the Reformation yesterday, though most of us likely observed it Sunday!

So, are the masks off yet?

What I mean is, do we rah-rah being Lutheran on Reformation Sunday without the Faith we believe, teach and confess actually going further than skin-deep?

If we observed the feast of the Reformation, chances are we heard from John 8. Have you noticed that Christ is speaking to "believers" in that chapter?

ESV John 8:30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

As if it weren't enough to say it once, the Evangelist makes sure we hear it twice; after all, what unfolds next will make it easy to think that Our Lord wasn't speaking to believers at all! So, John writes . . .

ESV John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples. . .

Unfortunately, what John 8 reveals is true for all of us at one point or another. It was true for St. Peter at Caesarea Philippi, where he made the good confession and was commended by Christ. Then, after hearing the precious Gospel preached, how the Son of Man must be crucified and rise again, Peter lets his heart get the better of him and he rebukes the Lord, saying: "This shall never happen to you!"

The Lord pulls the mask off rather abruptly after that, revealing who is really speaking in and through the passionate eruption of Peter's love for his Savior. With a bluntness that would get the average LCMS pastor in some pretty hot water if he spoke to any of his members in the same way, Jesus says, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" You no longer have the things of God in mind, but those of men.

If Peter's mask can come off that quickly, anybody's can! So, when the believing Jews start turning, well, rather more into a mob of the Walking Dead than the living disciples of Christ, it shouldn't surprise us! One moment, they're described as having "believed in him," and the next, as if hell had burped out a host of zombies!

ESV John 8:33 They answered him, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?"

Umm, apparently zombies don't remember their past life, 'cause the Old Testament's FULL of God's people being enslaved – by Egypt, Babylon, not to mention their own persistent tendency to take what God gives as a Gift and turn it into the works by which men think they can carry on in their own ways, having put on the right costume, rung God's doorbell and run off with His treats to play all the tricks they want on their neighbor! As if God's going to be fooled by our veneer-thin plastic masks!

Jesus isn't fooled. That's why He puts no stock in the believing of men, but pokes His finger through our molded make-up and touches on the heart of the matter. "If you remain in – abide in – My Word, THEN you are truly My disciples; you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!"

It's not about our hearts, but about HIS mouth! You know, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by Christ's preaching!"

The problem with us, however, is that we're so sure of our believing that we really don't like the words coming out of Christ's mouth! What's this about calling us slaves to sin? What's this about Jesus talking as if everything depends on Jesus! Aren't we something, in and of ourselves? Can't God see that we believe!?

When Luther posted His 95 Theses, the first of which said that when Christ said "Repent," He meant that the whole life of the Christian should be one of repentance, Luther was trying to get us off US! It's not about me! It's about Jesus!

When we say, "Sola Fide" at Reformation, we're not saying that I'm saved – as long as God can seen in my heart that I believe!

We Lutherans do a lot of rah-rahing without really paying attention to the Scriptures or what our own Confessions say on the basis of them!

It's not what I say I believe, but what Christ speaks, does and gives; and what He goes on giving and doing and saying in and through His Holy Ministry in the Church (which Luther called the Larvae Dei - or Masks of God through which CHRIST is at work to save us)! Nothing skin deep about them! No way! Scratch beneath the water of Baptism and . . .  Jesus! Scratch beneath the preaching, teaching and absolving of your pastor and . . . Jesus! Scratch beneath the bread and wine of Holy Communion and  . . . Christ's own Flesh and Blood!

It's about Jesus! Or as Jesus puts it, "If the SON sets you free, you are free, indeed!"

If the SON says you're forgiven, your forgiven! If the Son says it's finished by His dying on the cross, then it is! Forget about what YOU say and listen to God's Son!

That made the Pope on his throne just a little nervous! It made the Jews in John 8 rabid! Today, someone would tell Jesus He was speaking as if only Jesus is going to heaven and everybody else is going to hell! They'd say He needed some work on interpersonal relations; needed to work on speaking in a way people can hear!

Jesus would say: "They're hearing me just fine. They just don't like what they're hearing! Their problem is that they are not of My Father but of the father of lies! They are sons of darkness and hell, not of light!"

Yeah, that'll get you a visit from the District President or Circuit Counselor, for sure!

You might hear the letters CRM float around! Maybe a nice vacation, Jesus, or a call to a congregation where you've got a better fit with the people!

Instead, Jesus stuck it out and they crucified Him. He went the distance, despite all the outcries against Him, all the acrimony and hate. He did it in love – for their salvation!

1500 or so years later, Luther got excommunicated. He didn't play the political game. He didn't play nice with error. He spoke the truth – in love, and those who were against it heard him loud and clear. Luther was willing to discuss and debate, of course, but he would only be captive to God's Word and sound reason. He stepped on some pretty big toes when he said that councils and popes can err. That's like saying Synod in convention can err! I wonder if anyone told him he wasn't following the agreed upon way of voicing his dissent? Luther just wanted the Church to get back to its proper moorings. If he was wrong, he was willing to listen. But he wouldn't be quiet.

Neither would Our Lord! Christ kept speaking until the masks of those who believed came off and their unbelief was revealed. He wasn't being mean or cruel or intentionally divisive; not in a bad way, at least. He was being their Savior; stripping them down until there was nothing left for them but Jesus, along with everything He said, commanded, did and put in place for their freedom! To oppose that isn't of the Spirit, but of the Father of Lies. So, Jesus called Peter "Satan." And Jesus told the Jews who had believed in Him that they were the spawn of hell, as long as they kept opposing what He said.

By that, He meant to save them! Sadly, instead of repenting and being His disciples, instead of being set free, they chose slavery to their own sins, desires and opinions. They chose to keep Christ at arm's distance and so picked up stones to kill Him!

What a lesson for us all, now that the rah-rahing of being Lutheran is over and the costumes are put away!

We say we are Lutherans, but that is no child's game; no costume party! What the Lord says to us is not always easy to hear! It calls us all to repentance, for feigning love of Christ but then, not trusting what He has given us, not even wanting to hear and learn it as we should! We bandy about the name of Luther, but if he were our pastor, preaching how the false teachers should be pelted with dung and driven out of the church, how many of us wouldn't be phoning someone to complain about how unloving Pastor Martin is!? Would we be unsure about associating with someone who is, well, that volatile, impassioned, whose convictions run so deep that he doesn't seem to pull his punches, but even dares speak out against what synods had put in place long before?!

Do we still have the depth of Luther's conviction? I wonder. I wonder how many of Luther's sermons I could get by with in today's Missouri Synod; how many times the term "damnamus" would be permitted before someone said we needed to play nice. I wonder how many who take pride in the Reformation would have a fit to hear Luther urge them to private confession or to make the sign of the cross? I wonder how many of us who loudly assert our agreement with the Lutheran Confessions don't really care to hear what they have to say or look beyond a bare surface treatment of their words? I wonder how many of us prefer them not to interfere with our way of doing "ministry"?

Yes, Halloween's over and the masks are off! But Christ and His Word remain, and He would have us remain in them! Only in the external Ministry of the Faith He put in place, which Luther boldly confessed, do we remain His disciples – and truly free!

A Happy post-Reformation – All Hallow's Eve to you! And yes, that would make this a Happy All Saints' Day to one and all!

Pastor Rick Sawyer + Good Shepherd Lutheran Church + Brandon, MS
#14
Your Turn / ACELC Elects New Leadership
July 28, 2011, 03:14:46 PM
Dear Friends,

About a week ago our newly elected Board of Directors met at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Missouri to organize themselves and get started on the work of the ACELC. The new Board consists of the following persons:

The Rev. Clint Poppe, Chairman
The Rev. Rick Sawyer, Vice-Chairman
The Rev. Dan Bremer, Speakers Bureau Chairman
The Rev. Bruce Ley, Documents Chairman
Dr. Bart Goddard, Technology & Media Chairman
Mrs. Ginny Valleau, Secretary

If you need to contact any of them directly you can send them an e-mail through the ACELC Website under the BOD tab.

Also, yesterday we sent out our most recent e-mail blast, which was written by our new Vice-Chairman, the Rev. Rick Sawyer. If you didn't receive a copy of it, you can view it here:  www.acelc.net.

If you would like to add your name to the list of those receiving this e-mail blast, you can add you name to this list on the same website.

We would also like to invite any of you who are supportive of our work to consider joining either with your congregation or individually as an Associate Member. You many also add your signature to the Fraternal Admonition document.

Yours In Christ's Service,
ACELC Board of Directors
#15
Friends,

   Kindly consider the following:


How the ACELC is participating in the Dissent Process and the Ecclesiastical Supervision Procedures of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
From the time the ACELC sent out its "Fraternal Letter of Admonition," some within the Synod have made the inaccurate claim that the ACELC is not following the dissent process nor the Ecclesiastical Supervision procedures for addressing our concerns.  Following are actions taken by the ACELC that comply with the Dissent Process and the Ecclesiastical Supervision procedures as written in the "2010 Handbook" of the LCMS.
First what does the Dissent Process in the Synodical Bylaws actually say?
Bylaw 1.8 – Dissent:
1.8.1   While retaining the right of brotherly dissent, members of the Synod are expected as part of the life together within the fellowship of the Synod to honor and uphold the resolutions of the Synod.
1.8.2   Dissent from doctrinal resolutions and statements is to be expressed first within the fellowship of peers    and then brought to the attention of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations before finding    expression as an overture to the convention calling for revision or recision.  While the conscience of the    dissenter shall be respected the consciences of others, as well as the collective will of the Synod, shall also    be respected."  (p. 40, 2010 Handbook)
What concerns of the ACELC fall under the parameters of the Dissent Process?
   According to the Bylaw quoted above, the Dissent Process can only be used for those concerns which have been adopted by doctrinal resolutions of the Synod in convention.  Of the 29 concerns identified as errors in the ACELC document, "A Fraternal Admonition to Correct the Errors of Our Beloved Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod," dated July 15, 2010, those four errors which fall under the parameters of the Dissent Process are:
   4.   Unionism and Syncretism:
•   Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions condemn every expression of unionistic worship (that is, joint worship with other Christians with whom we are not in doctrinal agreement), or syncretistic worship (that is, joint worship with those who are not Christian).  Yet in our day there are some LCMS officers, pastors and congregations who, with impunity, have joined in worship services with those with whom we are not in doctrinal agreement, and even with those of non-Christian, false religions.  We reject this error.

   5.   Service of Women in the Church (Order of Creation):
•   Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions are very clear that life within the Christian congregation should be governed in accord with the doctrine of the Order of Creation. Today the LCMS has condoned, and officially adopted a position in which women may serve as elders, congregational presidents and vice-presidents, may assist with communion distribution, and publicly proclaim the Word of God in worship services by reading Holy Scripture. Such changes within the LCMS represent a capitulation to the culture, deny the third use of the Law,
and promote Gospel Reductionism, which our Synod previously rejected. We reject these errors.
   6.   The Office of The Holy Ministry:
•   Holy Scripture, in such passages as Romans 10:15; Hebrews 5:4; I Corinthians 12:28; Numbers 16; Jeremiah 23:21; and Acts 1:15-26, and the Lutheran Confessions declare in the Augsburg Confession, Article XIV: "Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call." At the Synodical convention in Wichita, Kansas (1989) the unbiblical category of "lay ministers" was established. This has resulted in laymen, neither ordained nor rightly called, errantly serving LCMS congregations. Even now some Lay Ministers continue to serve in Word and Sacrament "ministry" to the congregations of Synod.  We reject this error.

•   While there may be different routes to prepare a man to serve in the pastoral office, this violation of Augustana XIV was furthered by the establishment of Distance Education Leading to Ordination (DELTO) in which laymen not properly called and ordained continue to provide Word and Sacrament Ministry to LCMS Congregations. We reject this error.


How has the ACELC complied with the Synodical Dissent Process Respecting the above four errors: 

1.   Has the ACELC expressed its dissent first within the fellowship of our peers?

   a.   With respect to the members of the initial ACELC Steering Committee which worked to formulate    the documents which were later adopted by the Association as a whole after it was formed on    March 3, 2011, every one of us has taken these concerns to the fellowship of our peers in our own circuit pastor's conferences in our respective areas.

   b.   Additionally, attempts to seek redress of these errors had previously occurred by means of overtures submitted to many district conventions and Synodical conventions – often by multiple districts of our Synod, but without success.

   c.   The Fraternal Letter of Admonition of July 15, 2010, continues to be an on-going attempt to express dissent within the fellowship of our peers.

      NOTE:     The Bylaws quoted above never define what constitutes a "fellowship of peers."  It does not define such a fellowship as only occurring on a circuit level, a district level or a Synodical level.  Therefore, the ACELC is complying with this first step of Bylaws 1.8.1 and 1.8.2., at every level of the Synod in a good faith effort to express our concerns to    our peers – the pastors and congregations of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

      NOTE:     The Bylaws quoted above never define a timeline within which to complete the expression of dissent within the fellowship of our peers.

2.   Has the ACELC expressed its dissent to the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR)?

   a.   As of June 1, 2011, the ACELC has not yet submitted our concerns to the CTCR.
   
   b.   We are under no timeline to do so and none is required in the Bylaw in question.

   c.   That having been said, the ACELC does intend to submit our concerns to the CTCR for their consideration following the election of a permanent Board of Directors.  The current Board of Directors Pro Tem is in the process of carefully formulating the documents for submission to the CTCR for consideration by the permanent Board of Directions following their election.   This election should be complete shortly after July 1, 2011.  Thus, when submitted to the CTCR, then we will continue to be in compliance with the Synodical Dissent Process and will have done so within the timeframe permitted by the Bylaw itself.

   d.   Additionally, we intend to submit each of our concerns to the CTCR consecutively so as to receive a singular response to each concern should they choose to respond.

      NOTE:     The Bylaws in question do not require the CTCR to make any response to a submission nor provide any timeframe for such a response.

3.   Will the ACELC express its dissent through the submission of overtures to district and Synodical conventions as provided in the dissent Bylaw?

   a.   The ACELC has appointed an Overture Task Force and it is in the process of preparing overtures in anticipation of both district and Synodical conventions for this coming 2012/2013 cycle.  When they are approved by the ACELC Board of Directors, we will make them available to all interested congregations for their use in submitting them to the appropriate deliberative body.

      NOTE:   It is curious to us that the Dissent Process seems to require that expressions of dissent be submitted to the CTCR before they can be considered for submission as overtures,    when it has been standard practice among congregations, pastor's conferences, and circuit forums throughout the Synod to submit concerns for many of the very same concerns the ACELC has without ever first submitting them to the CTCR.   Is it technically a violation of the Dissent Process to submit any overture addressing theological concerns directly to the district or Synodical conventions without prior submission to the CTCR?  If so, then there are a huge number of such submitting bodies which are in violation of the Dissent Process.

      NOTE:   Since there is no requirement for the CTCR to respond to expressions of dissent and since there is no time frame for such response if it were required, how does a congregation or pastor's conference know if they have waited sufficiently for a CTCR response prior to submitting such concerns to district or Synodical conventions?


Is the ACELC utilizing the Ecclesiastical Supervision Procedures provided by the Synod?


1.   Why isn't the ACELC using the Dispute Resolution Process to seek redress of its concerns?

   a.   Primarily, the ACELC does not find that the Dispute Resolutions Process, (pp. 42-56 in the 2010 Handbook), speak to the kind of issues that we wish to address.  The Dispute Resolution process is designed to bring concerns between contending individuals or congregations respecting non-theological issues to resolution.  The Bylaws themselves underscore this point when in Bylaw 1.10.1.1 says:

         "Parties are urged, in matters of a doctrinal nature, to follow the procedures as outlined in Bylaw section 1.8." (p. 43, Handbook)

   b.   The ACELC is not disputing with any individuals or any congregations of the Synod, but simply wants to address the profound theological issues which are dividing our Synod, and finally resolve them under the Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions.

2.   Why has the ACELC itemized actual examples of erring congregations within the LCMS in their "Evidence of Errors" documents?
      
   a.   The examples of errors that we have cataloged in our ten "Evidence of Errors" documents serve only to demonstrate that the errors we have identified actually have taken place and do exist within our Synod.  They are not intended to accuse any of those listed, but simply to provide evidence to the elected ecclesiastical supervisors that the concerns we are raising are real.  The ACELC has absolutely no interest in attempting to provide or exercise ecclesiastical supervision          over anyone but only desires that those who have been given that responsibility do what they have been elected to do and address the errors we have identified for them.

   b.   If the ACELC had not provided the examples of errors in our "Evidence of Errors" documents, then we could not have substantiated the existence of the errors themselves and could well have been dismissed as assuming there were errors when there was no proof.

   c.   Some have condemned the ACELC for "outing" the pastors and congregations cited in our "Evidence of Errors" documents, however, the information we provided was virtually always    available on the world wide web and had been posted by the congregations themselves.  These matters are already then, matters of public record having been provided by the congregations.    

3.   How is the ACELC properly using the Synod's elected ecclesiastical supervisors?

   a.   As previously pointed out only four of the 29 errors we have presented in our "Letter of Fraternal    Admonition" can be dealt with through the Dissent Process since they alone are officially adopted errors of the Synod in convention.  What then can be done about the 25 other errors which are NOT officially adopted errors but which are errors tolerated within our Synod which are in violation of the biblical position of our Synod?  (For example the official position on    the administration of the Lord's Supper is closed communion, but many congregations in our synod practice some form of open communion in violation of the Synod's official position.)

   b.   The ACELC, once it has a permanently elected Board of Directors, will be submitting all of the other errors itemized in our "Fraternal Letter of Admonition" along with our "Evidence of Errors" documents to the chief ecclesiastical supervisors of the Synod – the elected Praesidium of The LCMS.  Thus, the ACELC will have worked within all the applicable appointed means of redress provided by the Synod for every identified error of concern.

      NOTE:     We have chosen to submit the remaining 25 identified errors to the Praesidium because they are errors of the entire Synod and the members of the Praesidium are the chief    ecclesiastical supervisors of the whole Synod.  They may deal with them as they see fit.  The ACELC will simply be asking these brothers to deal with the issues we've identified and verified as actually occurring within our Synod.

4.   Once the identified errors of the Synod have been provided to either the CTCR, the Praesidium, or the    Synod in convention, what is the continuing role of the ACELC?

   a.   The primary aim of the ACELC is to continue to raise awareness of the identified errors in our Synod.

   b.   Help the Synod to understand the dangers to our Synodical unity that these errors represent.

   c.   Encourage broad-based, Synod-wide study of the profound theological issues these errors raise.

   d.   Provide biblical and Confessional study materials to assist in understanding these matters.

   e.   Work together with all others in our Synod (especially President Harrison's proposed "Koinonia Project"), to resolve these matters of concern so as to restore unity of doctrine and practice within our beloved Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.


#16
Your Turn / ACELC Convening Conference Press Release
March 17, 2011, 04:23:36 PM
ACELC HOLDS CONVENING CONFERENCE

On March 1-3, 2011, the Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations met at Trinity Lutheran Church, Kearney, Missouri, for its Convening Conference.  The 130 pastors and laymen in attendance heard an array of excellent speakers discussing the issues and errors which have sadly divided our church body, The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

Rev. Dr. John Wohlrabe, Concordia, Geneseo, IL (Second Vice President of the Synod), traced the problem of unresolved error in the Synod to issues occurring following the First World War.  Rev. Richard Bolland, Holy Cross, Kansas City, took the conference attendees through the history of our Synod's failure to biblically and Confessionally resolve our errors under God's Word and our Lutheran Confessions from the infamous "Statement of the 44" in 1945, to the recent advent of an over-emphasis on numerical growth, and the employment of the methods of the Reformed "Church Growth" movement during the past decade, and provided a presentation of the errors associated with the failures of Ecclesiastical Supervision and the Dispute Resolution Process to adequately address and resolve them. 

Rev. Scott Porath, Immanuel, Eagle, NE,  spoke on the unbiblical removal of pastors from their divine calls, while Rev. Clint Poppe, Good Shepherd, Lincoln, NE, outlined the errors associated with a misunderstanding of the Church's mission.  Forth Vice President of the Synod, Rev. Daniel Preus, Director of the Luther Academy, spoke to the conference on the importance of maintaining purity of doctrine and called the correction of such impure doctrine a loving and Christian act.  Rev. Rick Sawyer, Messiah, Vicksburg, MS, outlined the errors association with contemporary worship, while Rev. John Wentzel, Trinity, Walton, NE, spoke on the Order of Creation.  Additionally, Rev. Brent Kuhlman, Trinity, Murdock, NE, outlined the errors associated with the practice of open Communion and unionism.

During the business meeting on Thursday, March 3, 2011, the ACELC was established as an informal association of LCMS congregations.  Eight Congregations chose to join the ACELC with ten deferring affiliation until they can report back to their respective congregations for a decision.  Since the business meeting, three more congregations have joined the ACELC, bringing the current total to eleven. The initial period of affiliation was extended to May, 1, 2011, in order to accommodate those congregations deferring action and to allow other congregations the opportunity to join the ACELC during this initial period.  Enrollment will remain open to all LCMS congregations wishing to work together to unite our Synod in doctrine and practice for the foreseeable future.

In other business, the proposed ACELC Governance Guidelines were adopted, the theological documents:  The Definition of Confessional Lutheranism In Light of Present Day Issues; The Fraternal Letter of Admonition & Catalog of Errors; and the ten ACELC documents, Evidence of Errors In The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod  were all adopted as official ACELC documents.  All of these documents are subject to clarification and improvement by the association and are intended to assist our Synod to engage in fraternal discussion leading to a resolution of these errors among us.  The ACELC also passed a motion in support of the proposed "Koinonia Project" being brought forward by LCMS President Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, and clearly stated that the goal of the ACELC is to uphold the first objective of the LCMS, "The Synod, under Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, shall -  1.  Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith (Eph. 4:3-6; I Cor. 1:10)...and provide a united defense against schism, sectarianism (Rom. 16:17), and heresy."  (2010 Synodical Handbook, p. 13)

The current ACELC Steering Committee members were authorized to organize as a Board of Directors Pro Tem, until the initial phase of enrollment is concluded on May 1, 2011. Nomination and election of permanent officers of the association can be completed by the member congregations no later than July 1, 2011.  Those Pro Tem officers are:   Rev. Richard A. Bolland, Chairman; Rev. Drew Newman, Vice Chairman & Committee Chairman – Technology/Media; Rev. Bruce Ley, Committee Chairman – Documents; Rev. Daniel Bremer, Committee Chairman – Speaker's Bureau.   Additionally, Mrs. Ginny Valleau was appointed to serve as ACELC Secretary and Mrs. Connie Brammeier as ACELC Treasurer.

#17
Your Turn / ACELC/COP MAKE RECOMMENDATION
November 13, 2010, 07:05:12 AM
Today, November 12, 2010, 3 representatives of the ACELC Steering Committee met for 5 hours with 1st Vice-President Herb Mueller and District Presidents Russ Sommerfeld and Ray Mirly. During that time we had some very frank, but cordial, fraternal discussions regarding the ACELC and the issues we had brought forward in our Fraternal Admonition. The following is an official New Release of that meeting. Please feel free to disseminate this News Release freely. The only caveat is that it must be circulated exactly as it appears below with no modification or alternation. Needless to say we are very pleased with the way this has been handled by the leadership of our Synod, and we give most hearty thanks to God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in this process as it has thus far progressed, and we pray will progress in the future.

"On Friday, November 12, 2010, in a meeting at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Missouri, representatives of the Steering Committee of the ACELC, !st Vice-President. Herb Mueller, and District Presidents Russ Sommerfeld and Ray Mirly agreed that there is an urgency for a comprehensive study of doctrinal and practical issues within the LCMS. We therefore strongly encourage the Council of Presidents to recommend to President Harrison and 1st Vice-President Mueller to consider the incorporation into a Koinonia project the topics addressed by the "Ten Concerns" of the ACELC. We further suggest that a high priority be given to develop in-depth Bible/Confessional studies for laity and for clergy that lead to a Synod-wide study of Worship and Holy Communion. We ask that all clergy and their congregations commit themselves to participate in these studies. It is further encouraged that these studies will be expanded to be conducted at a Circuit Forum level to engage clergy and laity in this effort."
#18
Your Turn / ACELC: dispute resolution
July 29, 2010, 10:31:47 AM
Let's see how well the Dispute Resolution Process actually works for those who use it.  There is nothing in the least hypothetical about this situation:

Rev. Tim Tolar's experience.  (Used with Rev. Tolar's permission.)

   One of the most recent cases involving contradictions in a Dispute Resolution Panel case is that    of Rev. Tim Tolar and the "faithful" at Star of the North Lutheran Church in Kenai, AK.  It began in    2006, and concluded in 2008.  Here, in Rev. Tolar's own words, is a summary of their experience.
   The Dispute Resolution Process case was in response to actions and events which resulted from    an improperly called meeting that was forced upon the congregation by a group of parishioners in    cooperation with the Northwest District President, Alaska Regional Vice-President, and Alaska    Circuit Counselor.  
   The meeting took place on May 7, 2006, and primarily involved two parishioners making    accusations against me pertaining to my interaction with them and others as the pastor of Star of    the North Lutheran Church.  Both individuals stated that no one was claiming, nor wanted to    claim, that I was a "bad pastor" and they even testified that I would be a "good pastor" at some    other parish, but I just was not a "good match for Star of the North."  There was no evidence    provided to demonstrate any violation of sound doctrine or pastoral duties, but yet there was a    supposed "vote" by some present at this meeting which asked me to "resign" as the pastor of    Star of the North Lutheran Church or they would "rescind my call."
   The President and Vice President of the Congregation both declared the meeting null and void    because it violated the Parish Constitution and Bylaws, but the Northwest District President,        associated with them claimed the meeting was valid and that the vote had removed me as the    pastor of Star of the North Lutheran Church and also from the Office of the Holy Ministry.  
   There were of course many conversations with ecclesiastical supervisors, etc, during the    following weeks while attempting to reconcile the various parties which were becoming ever more    polarized within the parish.  Approximately two weeks after this May 7, 2006, meeting, the    ensuing division within the parish was greatly increased by three individuals going to the local    police department and filing a complaint against me "on behalf of Star of the North Lutheran    Church" and threatening to call the police on Sunday to have me forcibly removed from the pulpit    if I entered the building.
   This escalation led to a severe schism that resulted in roughly half of the church and myself    holding worship services in a parishioner's garage and my making formal request for a Dispute    Resolution Process Panel.
   In June 2006, I was notified by the District office that my family's Concordia Health Plan coverage    had been cancelled and I would not be receiving any compensation from Star of the North    Lutheran Church.  
   In August of 2006 the Northwest District President sent a synodically trained reconciler to chair a    formal "reconciliation" meeting regarding the case and this reconciler told us that the purpose of    the hearing was not to resolve the dispute or reconcile the parties, and that there was no way I    would be reinstated as the pastor of Star of the North Lutheran Church due to the meeting.
   The official report/decision of this Northwest reconciler stated the same position and led to me    requesting a Dispute Resolution Process Panel be formed to hear and reconcile the case.  We    had a Dispute Resolution Process Panel convene in January of 2007 and they delivered their    official decision in April of 2007.  That decision declared that the actions taken against me were    not in accord with the Holy Scriptures, the Lutheran Confessions, the LCMS Constitution and    Bylaws, nor the Constitution and Bylaws of Star of the North Lutheran Church and thus should be    "reconsidered and amended" by Star of the North Lutheran Church.
   Unfortunately, this decision, in a subsection of the decision, listed several allegations of abuse    and/or dereliction of duty against me that were never mentioned during the events leading to the    Dispute Resolution Panel nor during the Dispute ResolutionProcess Panel hearing.  I requested    evidence or proof of these allegations as well as their source since nothing mentioning these    allegations was contained in the record/evidence from the case.  In fact, the evidential    documentation that was provided by myself and Star of the North Lutheran Church for this    Dispute Resolution Panel instead proved that these allegations made by the Dispute Resolution    Process Panel were false.
   The moderator/chair of the Dispute Resolution Process Panel responded to my inquiry by    informing me that nothing would be provided to substantiate these allegations so I appealed this    part of the Dispute Resolution Process Panel's official decision which resulted in a Dispute    Resolution Process Review Panel hearing which took place in January of 2008.
   The Dispute Resolution Process Review Panel issued a decision in May of 2008 which did not    include the false allegations, and basically repeated the previous panel's declaration of the    actions taken against me being null and void.  The individuals who had seized the parish property    through the threat of disrupting divine service by calling the police back in 2006 refused to    acknowledge this decision and the Northwest District President refused to take any action to    enforce the Dispute Resolution Process Panel decision and instead produced a document stating    his opinion of the case as well as his opinion that I was no longer the pastor of Star of the North    Lutheran Church nor a holder of the Office of the Holy Ministry.
   This resulted in the duly elected officers and dispossessed members of the parish attempting to    gain control of the property and assets of the parish in the summer of 2008 in order to implement    the Dispute Resolution Process Panel decision and hopefully facilitate a meeting of all parties to    move toward reconciliation of the differences.  This attempt to implement the Dispute Resolution    Process Panel decision resulted in those opposed to me, along with the Northwest District Panel,    Alaska Regional Vice-President, and Alaska Circuit Counselor plus legal counsel acquired by    these individuals, attempting to bring criminal and/or civil suit against myself, the officers of the    parish, and certain other individuals who supported me.
   The civil/criminal suit initiated by those opposed to my serving as pastor of Star of the North    Lutheran Church required the dispossessed (faithful) parishioners of Star of the North Lutheran    Church and me to enlist the services of legal counsel and convinced us that the half-dozen or so    congregational members (along with certain synodical officers) who were opposed to me serving    as pastor of Star of the North Lutheran Church were willing to destroy the parish, as well as    consume any and all assets the parish possessed, in order to prevent the faithful members from    gaining control of the parish and/or have me serve as the pastor of Star of the North Lutheran    Church.
   Though we were told by our legal council that we could win the court case and that I had a solid    case for wrongful termination, we believed the damage that would be done to the body of Christ,    as well as the proclamation of His gospel in our community and beyond would be far too great if    either action were initiated.  Since for us the central issue from the beginning had been the pure    proclamation of the Holy Gospel and the rightful administration of the Sacraments as instituted by    our dear Lord Jesus Christ, the faithful members of Star of the North Lutheran Church chose to    relinquish any claim to the property and/or name of the corporation known as Star of the North    Lutheran Church.
   This resulted in the case being settled out of court in the spring of 2009 with all claims being    dropped and the dispossessed members of Star of the North Lutheran Church receiving a    settlement from the opposing parties involved in the case.  The faithful parishioners subsequently    formed Saint Luke Lutheran Church (UAC) and issued a divine call asking me to shepherd them    as their overseer.  In the meantime I requested and received removal from the LCMS clergy    roster, was received into membership of the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America    (ELDoNA), and accepted the divine call as pastor of Saint Luke.
   soli Deo gloria,
   Rev. Tim H. Tolar
   Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America
   Pastor, Saint Luke Lutheran (UAC) - Kenai & Homer, AK
   Chaplain/Firefighter/EMT, Nikiski Fire Department - Nikiski, AK
   Deckhand, F/V Ryan J - Soldotna, AK
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