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Topics - Dave Benke

Your Turn / Women in Ministry
May 07, 2024, 07:45:31 PM
I agree with Someone.  The LWF thread has its own challenges and opportunities for dialog. 

Women in ministry deserves its own space.

Here's Will's quote from Franzmann:

e've had folks praise (and rightly so) Franzmann's notes in Concordia Bible with Notes. It might of interest to listen to Franzmann on the two passages of Paul that deny the office to women. Here's 1 Timothy 2:

"Paul is fighting to preserve the divine order which honors and fosters both man and woman in their individuality as man and woman. He points first to creation (13) and the Creator's intention to create woman as "a helper fit" for man (Gen. 2:18). Then he points to the Fall, where the very qualities that make woman glorious as "a helper fit" for man (her pliability and openness to suggestion) proved her downfall (Gen. 3:1-6). These two facts support the statement which denies the office of public teaching with its exercise of authority over men to woman." (P. 409)

And 1 Cor. 14:

"In 11:3-16 Paul had established the basic rule for the behavior of woman: Even in prayer and prophecy, where she is her most religious and spiritual self, woman is not to forget or deny her created womanliness. This is now applied to woman's behavior in the churches, the assemblies or meetings. What the law says (Gen 3:16) is upheld by the Gospel: Woman is to be subordinate  and not assume a function in the church beyond that which her Lord has assigned to her. (Cf. 1 Tim 2:11-12; 1 Peter 3:1; Eph. 5:22-33)." p. 314.

Once again, it is clear that on this issue it is not the LCMS that has altered course. It is teaching today exactly what it taught mid 20th century and what the Church has ever taught. As you can see easily enough from Chrysostom's book on the Priesthood: "The divine law has excluded women from the ministry, but they endeavor to thrust themselves into it.... The blessed Paul did not suffer them even to speak with authority in the church. But I have heard someone say that they have obtained such a large privilege of free speech as even to rebuke the prelates of the churches and censure them more severely than masters do their own domestics." (On the Priesthood 3.9)

My read on this is that the less secure the theological underpinnings of ordination into the Holy Ministry, the more tight and restrictive the interpretations of Biblical texts on women's service in the Church. 

Can and do women read lessons in Roman Catholic congregations?  Can and do women distribute the Eucharist?  Can and do women serve as Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers?  Yes, yes, and yes.  Can and do women serve in ministries of care and compassion including prayer and bringing the Eucharist?  Yes.

Our LCMS deaconesses are exhorted NOT to read non-Gospel lessons in church.  Will, you were a pastoral advisor to that group, no?  Did you assist the CDC to move away from that stricture, or do you believe it to be apt?

Dave Benke
Your Turn / Night Travelers on a Great Tundra
April 07, 2024, 04:57:48 PM
This thread is for Someone Writes and other atheist/agnostic readers and participants.  I chose the thread title from a quote in Ross Douthat's Sunday Times Opinion piece today.  The quote is from Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Here's the whole quote:  "Those of us who reject divinity, who understand that there is no order, there is no arc, that we are night travelers on a great tundra, that stars can't guide us, will understand that the only work that will matter, will be the work done by us."

Whatever else might be said, that is an incredibly powerful image.  The Douthat op-ed is entitled "Can the Left Be Happy?"  Here's the link.

This is kind of the way I was educated philosophically reading the French existentialists Camus and Sartre.  "Hell is other people," the real decision in life is whether to commit suicide, No Exit, stuff like that. 

My question is whether that, and Douthat's take, are a caricature of an agnostic/atheist position, and whether an atheist has "hope" as a living option day by day. 

Dave Benke
Your Turn / Lenten Themes and Offerings
February 05, 2024, 03:48:57 PM
Here's a thread for how you and yours plan Lenten observations this year of the Very Early Easter.  After a  three year layoff during and since the COVID shut-down, five LCMS congregations in Brooklyn and Manhattan will journey to one another's sanctuaries and parish halls in mid-week.  Here's the thematic as put together by our illustrious circuit visitor, Dr. Joshua Hollmann:

Theme: Jesus Grants Healing

Hymn LSB 421, "Jesus Grant the Balm and Healing" (the hymn and the five hymn stanzas set the theme for our Lenten midweek services, and each theme below corresponds to a stanza of the hymn):   

 Non-Eucharistic Order of Service   

Week 1: Healing of Mind (stanza 1)   
Week 2: Healing of Body (stanza 2)
Week 3: Healing of Spirit (stanza 3)   
Week 4: Healing of Emotions (stanza 4)   
Week 5: Healing of Eternal Life (stanza 5)
Each congregation will select an appropriate non-communion order of service and Bible verses and prayers that match the themes above and the hymn-LSB 421. 
February 21: St. Paul, Bushwick   
February 28: True Light, Manhattan
March 6: St. Peter, Brooklyn 
March 13: Good Shepherd, Brooklyn 
March 20: St. John the Evangelist, Brooklyn   
Plan on dinner from 6:00-7:15 pm, and evening service from 7:30-8:30 pm. We will be done by 8:30 pm at the latest.
Each church will provide dinner. 

Your thoughts and input appreciated.  Of course there will be a Lenten Self-Denial Folder.

Dave Benke
Your Turn / "Faithful Outreach"
January 29, 2024, 09:49:33 AM
Pastor Ed has requested that there be greater focus on what he terms "faithful outreach".  He didn't begin a thread with that title so I'm helping him out.

I don't know what the content of "faithful outreach" means to him, so he can explain if he so desires.

Certainly there are less folks connected to Christian/Lutheran churches than there have been, and that percentage is accelerating rapidly both because of mortality, age of parishioners in the pew, general disinterest (30% "Nones" is the latest number) and societal divisions, to name some.

What's the response of Lutheran congregations to the general and their specific decline in terms not only inclusive of the membership but in terms of wider "outreach"?  Is anything bearing fruit?

Dave Benke
Your Turn / CTSFW LCMS Presidential Search 2024
January 17, 2024, 01:09:59 PM
OK then - here's the list of nineteen candidates and the process as received this afternoon:

FORT WAYNE, January 17, 2024—Nominations for president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (CTSFW), closed December 31, 2023. Forty-two individuals were nominated for the office by congregations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), the CTSFW Board of Regents, and the CTSFW faculty, per Synod bylaws. The following nineteen men have allowed their names to stand for consideration:
Rev. Dr. Geoffrey R. Boyle
Rev. Dr. Jon S. Bruss
Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III
Rev. Dr. Burnell F. Eckardt Jr.
Rev. Dr. Charles A. Gieschen
Rev. Dr. Gifford A. Grobien
Rev. Dr. Jamison J. Hardy
Rev. Dr. Chad D. Kendall
Rev. Dr. Adam C. Koontz
Rev. Dr. Martin R. Noland
Rev. Dr. Todd A. Peperkorn
Rev. Dr. Paul A. Philp
Rev. Dr. David R. Preus
Rev. Dr. Jeffrey H. Pulse
Rev. Dr. Geoffrey L. Robinson
Rev. Dr. Gregory N. Todd
Rev. Charles E. Varsogea
Rev. Matthew J. Wietfeldt
Rev. Dr. Lucas V. Woodford

In the first phase of the search, prior to the nomination deadline, the Presidential Search Committee conducted surveys and personal interviews to assist them in drafting a report for the four presidential electors on the needs of the seminary, the requirements of the Synod, and the required and desired qualifications of the nominees.

In the next phase of the search, the Presidential Search Committee will evaluate each of the candidates and will recommend at least five candidates from the list of nominees to the four electors. The electors are the members of the CTSFW Board of Regents as a group with one vote (the district president on the board not voting with the board); the district president elected to the board with a distinct vote; the chair of the LCMS Board of Directors with one vote; and the President of the Synod with one vote. The election of the president, which requires three of the four elector votes, is scheduled for May 18, 2024.

The new president will succeed Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr., who will retire from the presidency at the end of the 2023–2024 academic year and return full-time to his role as CTSFW professor of historical theology.

Anyone wishing to offer comments about any of the nominees or ask questions about the search may do so by contacting the search committee secretary, Rev. William Cwirla, at

For updates on the presidential search, visit or navigate to the "About" page at

First off, this is timed precisely during the Great Suaree in Ft. Wayne, aka the Theological Symposium, where Missouri's elite beat their feet.

Who do you know, like and think may get the nod, or should not get the nod in your opinion?

I'd like to put a small bet on two District Presidents, since I hail from that national precinct -
Jamison Hardy and Lucas Woodford.  Hardy is a good friend of Matt Harrison, and Woodford has been important in the ongoing anti-CRT publishing and resolution-writing enterprise.

I personally think the best person for the position is Charles Gieschen. 

But how about Al Collver? 

Dave Benke

Your Turn / Global Refuge, formerly known as LIRS
January 17, 2024, 10:07:07 AM
The press release sent this morning by Krish Vignarajah, Chair and CEO: 

As Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service enters its 85th year, I am excited to share the beginning of an impactful new chapter in the history of our organization. On January 17, 2024, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is becoming Global Refuge.

Our decision to rebrand is rooted in the massive worldwide need for compassionate support of those seeking safety. With more than 100 million people displaced by war, famine, climate change, and persecution, our mission of providing the "long welcome" is more crucial than ever. Our Board knew we needed to build a bigger table of supporters. 

The Global Refuge brand fittingly conveys our mission of providing safety and support to refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants from across the world. As our new identity makes us more accessible to clients, partners, and supporters, it leaves unchanged our core vision: to foster a world of just and welcoming communities, informed by our Lutheran heritage and decades of experience. Our faith-based identity remains integral to our organization, reflecting the spirit of love that shapes our work of welcome and strengthens our relationships with Lutheran communities and congregations, as well as with ecumenical, nondenominational, and interfaith partners.

We cannot overstate our gratitude for your continued support, partnership, and commitment to welcoming immigrants and refugees. As we redouble our commitment to advocating alongside, caring for, and empowering newcomers, we hope you will join us in celebrating this new chapter of transformational s

Dave Benke
Your Turn / Cold Snap for the Strangely Warmed
January 12, 2024, 05:37:23 PM
I don't have much content for this thread, but I had to get that thread topic subject out into the world.

It's the largest split in denominational history in the US now, the United Methodist/Global Methodist rift.  Everyone should at least get a participation trophy.  Here's the article:

Dave Benke
Your Turn / Closing Ye Olde Theology Shop
December 11, 2023, 05:31:58 PM
Taking an Advent breath of air to thank Charles Austin for his article "Closing Ye Olde Theology Shoppe" in the December edition of "Forum Letter" so ably undertaken month after month by Richard Johnson.

I enjoyed and empathized with the way Charles describes the physical, and emotional, and spiritual dimensions of paring down in the later stage of life, ending with the woman whose morning prayer is "Help" and whose evening prayer is "Thanks!"

Thank you, Charles, for the article and for the grace and peace with which you wrote it, gifts of wisdom from On High!

I don't hesitate to add that a subscription to the Forum Package is so amazingly reasonable as to put almost no dent in your wallet. 

Dave Benke
Your Turn / Football
September 25, 2023, 08:44:39 PM
I can't find the topic on football, so I'm starting a new one. 

Something happened to me on Sunday that I took for a few hours as a miracle from on High.  I have a "smart" TV hooked up to Charter Communications, which had the contretemps with ESPN/Disney almost messing with the NFL season, but not quite.  So I got to see Aaron Rodgers complete his season with the Jets after four plays. 

However, unbeknownst to me, the Spectrum news channels on their app include the Spectrum news channels from everywhere.  So totally by accident, on Sunday afternoon, I went the wrong way on the remote and somehow was tuned in to the weather in northern Wisconsin.  "They know who I am," I thought.  "How do they know I want the weather in Green Bay?"  About two hours later we figured it out, but now, after lo these fifty years, I can hear the Cheesehead Brigade going through the Packers games.  LeRoy Butler, one of our Hall of Famers (defensive safety) is on the show, so it's possible to hear something other than the crepe being thrown over the Jets season. 

This is a wonderful thing.  Plus, the Badgers looked good against Purdue last Friday evening.  Life is better now.  There's a cable oasis in the Green and Gold desert of New York City.

Dave Benke
Because of his critical importance to the mission and ministry of the Church, the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, and the education and devotional life of clergy and laity through For All the Saints, his life work, I am printing the entire obituary of our beloved brother in Christ, Fred Schumacher:

he Reverend Doctor Frederick J. Schumacher, born on March 8, 1939, in Brooklyn, NY, passed away on May 14, 2023, at 84 years old. Growing up in Bellerose, Queens, he was active in the Scouts, earning his Eagle badge with one palm, and in youth groups at Holy
Trinity Lutheran Church. After high school, the reverend pursued a Radio and TV Repair career. Still, he felt a calling towards the Lutheran Ministry, which led him to the University of Oklahoma. He was part of the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps,
Delta Chi, and Gamma Theta Upsilon. It was also where he met his wife, Joyce Elaine Morris, whom he married on June 9, 1961.
After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, Frederick J. Schumacher pursued a theological path, obtaining a master's degree from Central Lutheran Theological Seminary and a second master's of Theology from the New York Theological Seminary. He furthered his education by attaining a Doctor of Ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary. Also, he did graduate studies at the University of Nebraska, Union
Theological Seminary, and Teacher's College: Columbia University.
Ordained into the Lutheran Ministry on June 3, 1964, at First Lutheran Church, Jamestown, NY, he was soon called to St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in White Plains, NY, where he initially served as Assistant Pastor and Director of Religious Education, Youth Ministry, and Evangelism. In 1966, he became the pastor of the congregation, a role he fulfilled for 40 years before retiring in 2004 and moving to Manchester Township, New Jersey.
Frederick J. Schumacher was incredibly active in his community, dedicating himself to numerous causes. His tireless outreach efforts were recognized in 2004 when he was granted the key to the city of White Plains, honoring his over four decades of service. His contributions ranged from serving as Chaplain of the White Plains Police and Fire Departments for 39 years to being on the boards of the White Plains YMCA, the White Plains Ecumenical Food Pantry, and the White Plains Interfaith Housing Alliance Corporation. He notably led the Franklin Windsor Housing Development project during his tenure there. Among his many roles, Reverend Schumacher served as the White Plains Lions Club president and on the White Plains Rural Cemetery board. He
received accolades such as the "Citizen Extraordinaire" from the White Plains Historical Society in 1995 and the White Plains Salvation Army Community Service Award in 1999.
In addition to his community work, he was involved with several ethical committees, including the St. Agnes Ethics Committee and the Naylor Dana Institute for Disease Prevention's Animal Care and Use Committee. In 1997 he co-founded the Society of the Holy Trinity, an international order of Evangelical Catholic Lutheran Pastors.
Pastor Schumacher was deeply committed to outdoor and youth ministry programs. He was involved with Pinecrest Lutheran Leadership School, the Lutheran Summer Gathering at Silver Bay, and Camp Trexler, where he transitioned from camper to board member. He also served on the Lutheran Camp for Girls, Camp Ma-He-Tu board, where he has bestowed the honor of being an "Honorary Life Board Member."
Reverend Schumacher had a particular focus on ministry for aging adults. His doctoral dissertation from Princeton, titled "Toward a Theological Basis for the Churches Ministry To, With and by Older Adults," underscored this dedication. However, in his later years, after a light-hearted reflection on his work on aging, he humorously observed that he knew nothing about growing old.
Reverend Schumacher significantly contributed to the Lutheran community as the Executive Director of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau (ALPB) for 23 years. The ALPB, an independent, inter-Lutheran organization, publishes the Lutheran Forum, the "Forum Letter," and numerous books. In 1991, he co-edited a breviary with Dorothy Zelenko titled "For All the Saints: A Prayer Book for and by the Church," which was approved for publication by the ALPB and had multiple printings. His exceptional service to the ALPB was recognized at its 100th Anniversary celebration in 2014, where they announced that "For All the Saints" sales had surpassed one and a half million dollars.
In addition to his many professional accomplishments, Reverend Schumacher was a man of diverse interests. He enjoyed traveling and, together with his life-long partner, Joyce, led numerous tours for congregation members and friends. These excursions took them to many significant locations, including the Holy Lands, the Luther Lands in Germany, Scandinavia, the USSR, and the United Kingdom.
Reverend Schumacher's artistic talents extended to various mediums, including drawing, painting, hook rugging, and writing icons. This last interest led him to write numerous articles on the subject. In addition, he designed a variety of medals and pins to commemorate important events such as the Reformation and significant moments in the church's life. One of his designed medals, marking Pope Francis' historic visit to Lund, Sweden, was presented to the Pope himself.
An avid numismatist, Reverend Schumacher was particularly interested in collecting medals related to Martin Luther and the Reformation. He and Joyce generously donated this extensive collection to Princeton University in 2021. At the time of his passing, he had just completed a two-volume work cataloging this collection, a contribution currently awaiting publication.
One of Reverend Schumacher's most enduring artistic contributions can be seen in the stained-glass windows that grace the front of St. Matthews Lutheran Church in White Plains, where he served as the pastor throughout his career. His artistic legacy, like his ministerial one, has left a lasting imprint on his community.
Reverend Schumacher was a man who cherished family and leisure time amidst his busy career and active volunteer commitments. He enjoyed various hobbies, including fishing, boating, photography, and dancing. The reverend loved sharing his train set passion with his grandchildren. He also dabbled in sports like tennis, racquetball, and golf.
He is survived by his wife, Joyce, and two children: Joy Elaine from Sweden and John Frederick from White Plains. He was also a proud grandfather to John Taylor, Emma Tomiko, and Liam Morris. His son, Frederik Eugene, sadly predeceased him in 2018. Reverend Schumacher's dedication to his family, church, and community will be fondly remembered and greatly missed.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau (ALPB), The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, or The Society of the Holy Trinity.
Funeral to be livestreamed via Zoom, please see information below to log on.
Meeting ID: 593 367 7702
Passcode: 10605
Via Zoom Phone Conference:
Phone: 1 646 558 8656
Meeting ID: 593 367 7702#
Passcode: 10605
To send flowers
to the family, please visit our floral store.

Funeral Service
May. 24, 2023
10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, White Plains, NY

By visiting this site,, you can add comments and participate in other ways in remembering Dr. Schumacher.

The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau will in the near future determine appropriate activities to memorialize the legacy of our brother in Christ.  One of those activities will be the publication of his story, recently written, of how For All the Saints came to be!

"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them."  For all the saints who from their labors rest, indeed!

Dave Benke
I'm officially off the board for Lent, but want to extend to any who are in Florida an invitation to St. Stephen Retreat Center in Titusville, FL, where the annual LCMS Veterans of the Cross gathering is held this year.  Bonus points for our orthodox participants - St. Stephen is owned and run by the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States.  I believe this includes something different for Lutherans, from what I'm told.  No alcohol. 

Anyway, I'm the keynote on the chosen topic which is "Mind the Gap" - which is in short described thusly:  Every change creates a gap between what was and what is, between what is left behind and what is taken up.  Christ has led the way across the gap from death to life (John 5:24) and we follow Him with the cross lifted high.

These are mostly post-65 (70/80) church workers.  Should be fun. 

Dave Benke
Your Turn / Black History Month
February 14, 2023, 08:19:02 AM
Black History Month

Returning from a COVID-delayed cruise through eight Caribbean islands in early February, I was struck not only by the incredible beauty of this island string of pearls, but also by the centuries-long swipe of the lash in the depredations of slavery and violence against the indigenous populations, African chattel slaves and the indentured by colonial merchants and governments. 

It's an odd juxtaposition now – islands owing 80-90% of their gross national product to travel and tourism welcome enormous ships serving up thousands and thousands of mostly white folks from the US and Europe who disembark to spend their hard-earned money on rum and trinkets and head in droves to the beautiful beaches to burn their sun-starved skin.

At the same time tour guides, invariably with a family history plunged deep beneath the boat-helm into the galleries where cross-ocean slave oarsmen toiled, tell their hearers to make sure their listening devices are turned to the correct channel as they connect the unique island topographies to devastating intertwined island stories of greed and colonial nations' warfare over control of space and the bodies of the enslaved for the sake of the profit margin on sugar cane or cotton ball or tobacco leaf or coffee plant. 

As the indigenous Arawak, Taino and Carib tribes were either wiped out or found tiny jungle footholds to survive against all odds, the black slaves arrived.  Within decades island by island they vastly outnumbered by factors of 20-1 and more the white overlord plantation owners, who had the firepower to keep them in line.  Barbados and other islands were the first stop early on, as the American colonies in the Carolinas, for instance, often received their slaves by way of Barbados. 

In most islands monuments in the public square pay tribute to both the Carib native leaders who revolted, or the black slaves who revolted and organized against their masters, breaking the chains of bondage.  The cane has all but ceased to be cut on most islands.  The cotton balls are on tiny remnant plots, the tobacco leaves and coffee plants only on select hills – they do not cover the land any more.

There is great pride in the Caribbean in the eventual independent status achieved in the latter part of the 20th century and through to today by most of these islands.  That legacy is being built by descendants of those who made it through the dark days of bondage.

People of faith, hope and purposeful determination have made this possible.  To those who arrived on the farther shores of the United States and settled on the Golden Shore in New York, so many of whom are in the communion of saints in Brooklyn, in this Black History Month I offer a prayer of thanks for your devotion to God, to Church, to family and to freedom!

Dave Benke
On our Live-Stream Facebook services and studies, I or one of the vicars invariable begin with "Good morning - this is St. Peter's Lutheran Church coming to you from Brooklyn, New York in the East New York section and the Cypress Hills neighborhood on Highland Place near Fulton Street, so you know exactly where we are."  Location, location, location. 

And as in all post-pandemic highly virus-afflicted neighborhoods, we're trying mightily to get back into high gear.  Yesterday Sunday School began for ten children with new teachers and fresh lessons, followed by a Guyanese feast of curry chicken, rice and peas, pulauri and cakes.  Forward!

At the same time, a new police crime show has entered through CBS - it's called, of all things, East New York.  That's it.  That's the title.  Because everyone would know that - uh-oh - it's about East New York where crime spikes upward at the drop of a hat.  If you watch it, the location shots, including the precinct house (74th, not 75th), will take you to where I spend my working life.    Jesus loves the little children meets Annie Get Your Gun.

Because to put the icing on the cake, the NYT feature in this Sunday's Metropolitan section was titled locally "Crime is Up.  Cypress Hills is used to it.  It's a tough read for me - the woman pictured sent her child to our school a few years ago.  And this is precisely where we at St. Peter's Lutheran Brooklyn live and work.  Right there a half block from Fulton Street.

So the East New York section of Brooklyn and the Cypress Hills neighborhood are now - and a sense have been for the longest time - part of a portrait of the church pushing through all that surrounds and afflicts it with love and compassion, but with the main portrait being drugs, crime, death and violence as well as predatory gentrification.

What we will see is whether the portraits painted in the media and on the TV show include
St. Peter's Sunday School
The Nehemiah Project homes, numbering over 2500 in East New York
St. Peter's Pre-School serving 80 mostly poor neighborhood families
Black and Latino families working and living with dignity and raising their children

Dave Benke
I'm just going to cut and paste most of a post from Don E as a way to dialog about what the past several years have done to an already bumpy road that pastors and other health care professionals travel on the road to processing grief from the care given at the time of dying and death.  Here's Don:
I just came off of a week-long symposia at CTSFW.  First time I had been away from my parish for this long since the pandemic hit.  I almost cancelled but even my wife sensed that I needed to go.  The crush of the last two years was building up and showing through, at least to those closest to me.  I think I can sense some of what Pr. Loesch noted when he talked about "pastoral grief."  I buried an unprecedented number of parishoners in 2020; and dealt with death outside my church through chaplaincy work.  This year I have already laid to rest two dear saints.  I think some of it came to the surface as I went to the Divine Service at the symposia on Tuesday and Wednesday.  As I sat there I honestly wanted to cry. The stress of nearly two years flashed over me. Even as I write this I feel those emotions again just at the surface.  Not sure entirely what it is.  But I know that being ministered to was critical and I must continue to process where my mind and heart are at going forward.  I appreciate Pr. Loesch's willingness to share since I sense many of us out there feel many of the same emotions and dysfunctions and struggles.
I do not have all the answers; I hardly have any, other than I know my strength and healing is at the altar, with my Lord, being fed by His hand.  That much I know.

I'm not sure about one word in Don's post, and that's "dysfunctions."  Grief is not dysfunction.  It is the function that takes a human being through loss, whatever the loss may be, and especially when it's human life and most especially when it's the human life of someone close to you. 

Grief occurs, and reoccurs and in times of trial or death after death after death it also bears, in my experience, a cumulative weight on the heart/soul/spirit.  How are those on this forum processing or dealing with or ignoring grief in these days and times?  What are the symptoms that it's not being dealt with?

Dave Benke
I just came upon this today - our historian Richard Johnson and others may want to comment on page 360 of the Lutheran Witness volume from 1918:

So from the very first days, this inter-Lutheran palaver was seen as a non-starter out there in St. Louis.  And yet here we are over 100 years later.

Also, if you're interested, the LCMS did have a chaplain in the army during WWI - listed earlier in the volume.  And - about half of all the Witness produced there in 1918 was a stentorian Proud To Be an American and Let's Get Behind Our Boys approach to that war, including a beat-down on Kaiser Bill's religious practices.  It's possible there may have been some pressure to get on the right (American) side on this Realm of the Left issue.

And for us New Yorkers, a lovely piece on the 50th Anniversary of St. Mark's Brooklyn, begun in 1968.  150 years later the location is luxury condos, congregation closed.

Dave Benke
Received today via email.  For comment and discussion - see the attachment

Dave Benke
Your Turn / Twenty Years from Now
October 08, 2021, 12:11:26 PM
I was taken by this phrase from the Corona Virus thread - 20 years from now, and thought maybe we could spin it out a bit.
I am in process of completing my participation in events connected to September 11, 2001.  One big event to go in a couple of weeks.  It brought national attention for awhile, with one of the primary insights being how for a brief shining moment, the whole nation came together. Except of course that the "shining" was planes hitting buildings and killing thousands. 

Personally, I did not take any active role on September 11 itself this year, and instead was given a better opportunity, for me, which was to reflect and participate as a listener/singer/receiver of prayer and pageant.  Which was very positive for me.  What is relatively unique to the New York metro area is the effect of those 3000 deaths on those we know, families and systems of family support.  And "we will never forget" seems to me to me to be in large part true in the metro area. 

Will that be the case 20 years from now based on what we've been going through for the last 18 months?  I don't know - it's been taken in directions in polar opposition.  Maybe people will simply choose to wipe this period out of their minds as quickly as possible.  Events of such high significane took place ten to fifteen years later - Depression/Hitler/Dust Bowl/ramp-up to WWII, that the flu pandemic was way in the rearview mirror.

20 years out - how about church?  If participation continues at the current pace of downturn, I would guess a third of the congregations of any kind will be gone.  The rise of the Nones seems destined to continue as less and less individuals and families know or care about the Story.  We're on a bit of a vacay and I stumbled on an ale called Church Music.  Sharp, hoppy, sing-alongy in that sense.  Of the three places I had it, only one of the young servers made a connection to - church.  I would go, "Church Music - what a name.  What's it sound like?"  And two of the three servers went - I don't know that it has a sound - it's ale.  Just a little vignette there. 

20 years out many people are thinking of a great societal dissolution, as the current polarization accompanied by what certainly seems to be a turbulent period in weather patterns and natural disasters lead to .........what?  A turning to God?  Seems unlikely.  A turning to violence?  Seems more likely.  A turning to common sense solutions that unite?  Seems impossible.

Your thoughts welcomed.

Dave Benke
Your Turn / Two Realms and the Military
July 15, 2021, 05:49:11 PM
Several of  the honorees at the Atlantic District Witness in the Public Square event through the years were military and civilian political leaders.  I think especially of Gen. Jack Vessey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Edwin Meese III, former Attorney General of the United States.  The event invariably began with the Pledge of Allegiance, often led by Atlantic District Board member and Chair of the Economics Department at the USMA, then Colonel (now General) Mike Meese. 

Conversing with these leaders, there were several invariables - faith, family, humility, respect for God and country, and a deep love for the military chaplaincy.  Indeed, when we determined to keep the work at the USMA going after the ELCA dropped out of the inter-Lutheran relationship, the Lutheran staff at West Point were absolutely clear about the mission of our Lutheran effort, that it was distinct from the other chaplaincy efforts there, that it should be held and cherished at the Old Cadet Chapel, and that search for chaplains would seek to bring the best pastoral care to students, staff and others at West Point from our distinct theological position. 

That being said by way of introduction, I am interested in discussion of the place of Lutheran theology, especially as delivered by our chaplains, to the officers they minister to in their various locations around the world.  Gen. Meese chaired the Anti-Terrorism task force of the combined forces for some time, so he and I worked through Romans 13 and how the appropriate exercise of government, God's Realm of Power/Left, is indeed involved in terror.  Those governing authorities are to be a terror to those who do bad (Romans 13:3). 

So - where in the chain of command and the exercise of pastoral ministry by chaplains does dialog about the appropriate role of the governing authorities take place?  We have a number of chaplains/ex-chaplains here, and others who serve with other governing entities locally.  "Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?", for instance, is a valid question.  And what role does the chaplain play in that conversation?

Dave Benke
Your Turn / The ALPB Warehouse for Used Vestments
June 30, 2021, 04:25:50 PM
After conferring with members of the ALPB Board, I determined that the topic of what to do with used vestments and church worker garb fits well with our vision for serving the Church through evangelical and catholic theology and practice. 

The various clergy and other worker vestments and garments should be treated with care, first of all.  This is more than an altar guild or sacristy issue.  It goes to the servant character of the office of pastor, and to care for the things of God.  We in the Lutheran tradition all remember the placing of the stole of the pastoral office; some congregations and districts have a similar rite for the placing of the deacon's stole/tunic/dalmatic. 

Steve Bohler brought this topic up among our little online forum, and it's a worthy one.

I have subsequently spoken with a long-time friend/colleague, who owns the preferred church supply store in our part of the world, John Chiarelli.   He's a devout Roman Catholic, with a fine collection of priestly garments and other items in his store, now on Long Island.  Here's their website:  Recently John also has purchased a warehouse.  And he is willing to do the following for his Lutheran friends:

a) receive on behalf of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau individual or congregational church worker garments, shipping costs provided by the individual/congregation.
b) place the items in a designated area of the warehouse - the ALPB Zone.
c) tag those which are fit for sale, place them on the market he has, find them a new home, and give the proceeds to the person who sent the garments - or that person's designated charity
c) make a determination with an ALPB representative of those items which are not fit for sale
e) work with the ALPB representative to have them appropriately removed from service through a churchly ritual, and disposed of.

This provides a dignified and churchly way for someone with the vocation of church goods and garments to assist in disposing of that which is no longer in use, and keep that process inside an independent Lutheran organization dedicated to evangelical and catholic theology and practice.

This is not a completed task, so
a) your thoughts, and prayers, appreciated
b) there will be more information forthcoming.

I am personally committed to this because of garments - the District President/Bishop's cope, for example - that I received from my predecessor and gave to my successor, and from a very large set of liturgical garments donated to me some years back.  In that sense, it's a mitzvah.

Dave Benke
Your Turn / 90% (!) Vote to Delay LCMS Convention Cycle
February 16, 2021, 04:02:09 PM
With a whopping 63% of the congregations participating, an absolutely overwhelming 90% + of the LCMS voted to delay the convention cycle by one year:

That's an amazing total, really, across 35 districts and 50 states.  Amazing. 

It represents a gigantic outpouring of sanctified common sense, vote by vote, congregation by congregation. 

1) Do the right thing.  This was the right thing.
2) Follow the leaders.  The leaders - the Council of Presidents - led.
3) What was lost?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing of substance.
4) What was gained? Health, time to heal and process parish life and ministry anew.

Thanks to the leaders for leading, and giving us a chance to catch our breath as God's direction unfolds in these unprecedented times.

Dave Benke

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