Thursday, July 14, 2016

What Is a "Non-Candidate" Pastor, and Why Has the LCMS Eliminated The Category?

The LCMS (the acronym for the "Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod") historically had only a few categories, or divisions, for its clergy. To be on the "clergy roster" of the LCMS usually meant a pastor who served in a "called" position, that is, called to serve as a pastor of a congregation of the LCMS. Those not currently in a "called" position were often pastors studying for graduate degrees, or similarly occupied, until they finished when they would also take a called position. So how did the various categories of roster membership grow "like topsy" to include such a thing as a "Non-Candidate", and why did it take the LCMS this long to get rid of it?

As the old joke goes, there are two types of people in this world: those who divide everything into two categories, and those who do not. Those familiar with some aspects of Lutheranism, at least in North America, might put the LCMS into the first of these categories, which would make sense. The LCMS tended to avoid at least two aberrations in its theology of the pastoral office (sometimes denoted as "The Office of the Public Ministry"); one aberration could be called "functionalism", which errs in holding that the church (in effect, the local parish), and not God, has established the Office of the Pastoral Ministry as a function of what must be done. The other aberration could loosely be called "neo-sacerdotalism", which holds that the clergy is an office created by God without specific reference to the Word and Sacraments as practised among the local parish, or other corporate manifestation of the church. Perhaps in a similar manner to the various controversies surrounding biblical criticism, the LCMS appears to take an Hegelian approach that does not resolve into the expected "Synthesis". The Thesis and Antithesis continue in the church, the antithesis being condemned, but not to the point where it is entirely extirpated.


In the realm of biblical criticism (itself a modern and contentious term; it is better expressed as biblical studies of some sort) this has meant that the LCMS has embraced the grammatical critical method while rejecting the worst aspects of the historical critical method. The LCMS embraces inerrancy but rejects fundamentalism and their associated ideas of inerrancy as formulated by the Scottish Common Sense philosophical school. When it comes to the pastoral office, the LCMS seems to reject functionalism, but not enough to extirpate any trace of it.


For those of us (including this writer) who believe the pastoral office is created by God and clergy are ordained into it (by God acting through the church), then the action taken by the LCMS convention on July 13th is indeed welcome. The convention decided that “all current candidates and non-candidates be granted candidate status effective immediately” and that “candidate status will be for a period of ten years”. The convention also decided "That all references to non-candidate status be removed from the Bylaws (Bylaw 2.11.2.3, et al)", abolishing the category entirely. This returns the clergy members of the LCMS to something much closer to the earlier "CRM" distinction (yet another acronym; you see this variously described as "Candidatus Reservatus Ministerii" or "Candidatus Reverendi Ministerii"). Clergy who are CRM as ordained to the pastoral office and are willing to take a called position.


At some point, CRM became "Candidate" in the LCMS Handbook, and then there arose yet another distinction, that of "Non-Candidate". So if ordained members of the LCMS are either "Active", "Candidate", "Emeritus" and "Non-Candidate", what, pray tell, would be the point of having "Non-Candidate" members, if all of these are ordained clergy? Having been all of the above (with the exception of "Emeritus", I think), I am at a loss as to what a "Non-Candidate" would be in reality. It appears to be a "distinction without a difference", but I will let the official form for "Application for Inactive Status" explain it:


A "non-candidate" member is one who is eligible to perform the duties of any of the offices of ministry specified in Bylaw section 2.11 but who is not currently an active member or an emeritus member and who chooses not to be a Candidate member. The member may be continued on the roster for a period of up to eight years by act of the president of the district through which the member holds membership. The non-candidate shall, by January 31, make an annual report to the district president who shall evaluate the member's eligibility for remaining on non-candidate status. The non-candidate's report shall include current contact information and the member's efforts to fulfill the responsibilities of an advisory member of the Synod. Non-candidate members are eligible to serve in ministry situations upon approval of their district presidents and according to the guidelines established by the Council of Presidents. The Council of Presidents may grant an extension of non-candidate status for a second period of up to eight years upon request of the appropriate district president.


So how would this differ from "Candidate"? In the one area of greatest importance, it does not differ at all. As the synodical convention stated, "Candidates and non-candidates in good standing are eligible to receive a call (CCM 09-2546)" (CCM, yet another acronym, is "Commission on Constitutional Matters", and the decision is number 09-2546). The other distinctions - willingness to take a call on the part of Non-Candidates and the rather Orwellian language that Candidates demonstrate "a spirit of.cooperation in any efforts to address any unresolved issues involving fitness for ministry" - might be signifigant, but not signifigant enough. Both are eligible to receive and accept calls.


Why would the convention take this step? The obvious answer is that the distinction of clergy who are "Inactive Members" (which created the subsets of Emeritus, Candidate, and Non-Candidate) is an aberration, and was only recently introduced in 1998. The synod realised its mistake, and tried to correct it some 18 years later, some 5 conventions after the one that instituted the aberration. The other answers are more complicated, and deserve further attention in another post. Suffice it to say here that in practice it may have been too tempting to shunt come clergy into the "Inactive Member" categories to avoid dealing with other difficulties (like problem parishes). This is, to say the least, debatable, and I only have anecdotal data about this. But if so, the synod in convention has done quite a bit to disapprove of anything like this practice.

The Saint Timothy Society is Now a Recognised Service Organisation (RSO) of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

Sometime back in 2007 the Evanglical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK) invited Rev. Tom Aadland to teach at their seminary in Matongo, Kenya following his last term as Presiding Pastor of the American Association of Lutheran Churches.  At the end of that year the Saint Timothy Society for Lutheran Seminary Scholarship was chartered and incorporated to support that work and become a 501c3 organisation in 2008 (for our readers outside the United States, that's one of those pesky codes for non-profits and charities that allow donors to deduct their contributions when paying their income tax; for our readers inside the United States, you have our empathy for having to deal with the current tax code).  We've chugged along for the past nine years doing a lot more than we thought we could largely due to Tom Aadland's excellent success in raising money.  This is often the way of Churches and Church societies; we fail to understand that we can't do what we intend to do, and due to that lack of understanding we manage to do those things anyway.

At some point the Saint Timothy Society decided to apply for what is known as "RSO status", that is, to become a Recognised Service Organisation (RSO) within the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LC-MS).  This came to completion in July of 2016: RSO recognition was given by the LC-MS, the signatures on the agreement were completed by the beginning of August of 2016, and the Saint Timothy Society now appears on the LCMS.org website (and in the RSO directory).

Your humble writer (blogger? that's a word now, eh?) has gained even greater humility (and proud of it!) by being called as the Chaplain for the Saint Timothy Society, which I accepted on July 14, 2016.  So the sporadic postings here will become somewhat less sporadic and will include more information about the Saint Timothy Society, in addition to University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis.  And in the next week I hope to have comments and contact info working on this blog.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Saint Timothy Society Has Been Accepted as a Recogized Service Organization (RSO) of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS)

On July 5th the Saint Timothy Society was offered Recognized Service Organization Status by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Details to follow.

For those who are fond of acronyms, that means the Saint Timothy Society has been accepted as an RSO (Recognized Service Organization) of the LCMS (The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod). For the rest of us, it means that the Saint Tim Society will continue its efforts to help support Lutheran Seminary scholarship and education overseas, most notably as part of the work Tom Aadland does at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya's seminary in Matongo, Kenya. As of this date, we're still waiting to hear in which District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod the Saint Timothy Society will reside. This writer is a member of the clergy roster of the LCMS as a member of the English District, and we're waiting to hear back from them if they would like to be the home of the Saint Timothy Society.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Convention Materials on Google Docs; Readable in Browser or Download

We here at Friends of University Lutheran Chapel Minneapolis have devoted much of this blog to making available to the public the documentation related to University Lutheran Chapel and the chapel's effort to bring the sale of the campus ministry property to a vote by the Minnesota South District Convention.  Along the way, we discovered that Google Drive (formerly Docs) and Google Picassa Web can be very useful in displaying documents either "in-line" or in a new browser window.

So why not do the same for the 2013 Convention Materials for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod meeting this week in Saint Louis?  The "LCMS" (as it is abbreviated) already does an excellent job in making available its convention materials on its own website at http://www.lcms.org/convention/downloads and at http://www.lcms.org/convention.  Why not make some of these available as readable in the browser? The documents are already publicly available, so unless we're asked to remove them, we'll put the links in this post.

As usual, there are many, many caveats, disclaimers, and various other dire warnings, consequences and cautionary tales that go with the the use of the blog and whatever you find here.  See our Acceptable Use Notice (the link is displayed on the right) and read the "fine print" at the bottom of this post.

This may take a long time to load, depending on your bandwidth, connection speed, and the overall load on google apps servers, but feel free to try to view the
If that doesn't work, you can try to


The First Issue of Today's Business is a smaller file, and you might have more luck viewing
Or you can try to


And now the "fine print". The versions of these documents here may be incorrect, inaccurate, out of date and suffer from various other defects. Refer to the official website of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (URL's given above) or to the convention officers for complete and accurate versions and other documentation. The server host provider(s) for this blog also have limitations and restrictions, including limited bandwidth and availability depending on your location and connection speed.

Which means that at some point the downloads and views may (and probably will) exceed the quota for this account on Google Apps for Business, and the links will no longer work, the page may not load, etc. Until then, we hope this is of some use.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

No Secrecy or Non Disclosure Here - The Settlement Between ULC and the District

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) meets in convention on July 20th.  Here at Friends of ULC we have been trying to help those involved by sharing the relevant documents concerning University Lutheran Chapel and its struggle to have the Minnesota South District Convention vote on the sale of the campus ministry property in Minneapolis.  In our last post we dissected one erroneous reason why the LCMS should not vote on convention workbook memorial 1-15, and urged that this memorial go to the delegates for a vote.

In this post we dissect yet another erroneous reason why the LCMS in convention cannot  - or should not - vote on memorial 1-15, "To Commend and Support Campus Ministry at University of Minnesota".  That would be that the legal settlement between University Lutheran Chapel and the Minnesota South District involves some sort of secrecy or non-disclosure.  We don't know if that reason has been suggested to the floor committee or others at the upcoming convention.  We hope not, but we have heard and seen this speculation elsewhere, and it would not be surprising if this were offered as an excuse to decline to consider the memorial.

In the same way that some have made demonstrably false oaths, affidavits, and sworn statements exposed elsewhere on this blog, this line of argument could prove ultimately very embarrassing to the arguer.  The first question to them should be, can you produce the text of the settlement and show us where it supports what you say?  Even if the text of the settlement were not available, it would be a shame to make this case to any deliberative body or convention.  They would want the delegates to decline to consider a memorial based on a settlement whose terms we cannot know, whose text we cannot see, and hidden from us by a non-disclosure or secrecy clause we cannot examine.

But the text of the settlement is available, just like almost every other document from the legal action.  It was part of the order dismissing the eviction and litigation.  And there is nothing in the settlement to prevent the synod, or any district, from acting on this memorial, or, for that matter, just about anything else they would like to address regarding the Minnesota South District or University Lutheran Chapel.  The only limitation the settlement mentions is that University Lutheran Chapel and the Minnesota South District will no longer litigate against each other on the specific grounds of the legal actions dismissed by the settlement.  The synod in convention can do a vast number of things (especially so in convention) just like the Minnesota South District Convention was correct in wanting to vote on the sale, but was prevented from doing so by their former district president.

But don't take my word for it. Read the text of the settlement agreement
or
.

If you find the legalese too dense, get a lawyer to explain it to you (as I've said earlier, unlike many other pastors, I know I'm not a lawyer). Some individual names and the signature and exhibit pages (giving the legal description of the property) are redacted in this digital copy (including the last 10 pages of the 23 page document), but anyone interested can ask the Minnesota South District for a full copy. If for some reason they wont give it to you (it should already be available to all their pastors and congregations as members of their corporation), ask if University Lutheran Chapel will give you a copy. Or get a copy from the 4th district court records office (that's my favorite method; it's a charming trip to the downtown Minneapolis courthouse, and the records office is part of the scenic underground parking ramp!).

Why not just let the delegates vote on the original workbook memorial 1-15? Conventions and floor committees have a lot of work to do. Spurious reasons for not allowing the delegates to vote on memorials are a distraction, and waste everyone's time. Conventions and floor committees have more than enough to do without having to sift through speculative theories which are not established by the documentary evidence.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Another Convention, Another Chance to Vote on ULC? Let's Make that Happen.

Visitors to our humble little blog are probably aware that we've been doing what we can for some years to help University Lutheran Chapel (ULC) and get the word out about the sale of the campus ministry property by the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.  We don't claim any credit for any of the good things that have happened so far, but we're glad to play some small part.

It appears as if we have another chance to do some good, or, more accurately, all of you have a chance to do some good before and during (and after, if you like!) the upcoming convention of the The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod July 20 - 25 in Saint Louis.  The good news is that there is an excellent memorial in the Convention Workbook on page 139 "To Commend and Support Campus Ministry at University of Minnesota":




So the convention will get to vote on this, right?

Well, maybe, maybe not.  This gets a little arcane, but the process goes something like this.  Memorials to a synodical convention are sent to one of several floor committees.  In this case, that is floor committee #1 (also called "Witness"; I won't try to explain this beyond saying the names are apparently an attempt to designate the general topic area of the committee).  So floor committee #1 should do their thing, and decide what to do with the memorial.

The process might involve taking a memorial, then fashioning it into an overture, which then may or may not become a resolution (more details later will be added to this very rough description).  Floor Committee #1, however, has decided to ask the convention to decline to consider this memorial in the First Issue of Today's Business:





The reason given for their action is "Issue has already been resolved by Minnesota South Distr", which apparently means the Minnesota South District.  But this is precisely what did not happen.  From 2008 to the present, the district president, directors and officers of the Minnesota South District refused to let their district "resolve" in any way the question of the sale of the campus ministry property in Minneapolis, or Mankato.  In fact, the district president refused to let his own convention vote on the matter by ruling a motion to do exactly that out of order.  And to make matters worse, the officers and directors of the Minnesota South District continue to refuse to discuss the sale, or to respond to the process in the LCMS Handbook which specifies how to "resolve" disputed issues (dispute resolution).

More posts will follow, but please consider contacting Floor Committee #1 to have them send the original memorial 1-15 to the convention delegates to have them vote on it.  If you do, make sure you are courteous, polite, respectful and follow the words of Scripture, "Speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). From what I can tell, the floor committee is open to more information, and is willing to correct whatever incorrect data it has been given to date. If it helps, you can
I sent to Floor Committee #1 on 2013 June 17 or
it as a .pdf file. If you are interested in the supporting documentation, you can see the other entries on this blog, or you can see the dispute resolution letter from
or
the .pdf File. The dispute resolution letter from
is online here, and is also available for

Monday, May 13, 2013

Same Sex Marriage as "No Tolerance Policy" to Charities (Religious or Otherwise)

Previous posts have outlined the very bad effects of the same sex marriage legislation being considered by the Minnesota Senate today.  Those posts have already pointed out that the "fig leaves" lightly pasted on the legislation - the religious exemption and the use of the term "civil marriage" - will not fix the basic problems with same sex marriage.  Yet another proof of this is the history of same sex marriage in other states.  A striking example is Catholic Charities of Boston, an organization which no one would describe as "conservative", and which for 100 years or more included placing children for adoption as part of its charitable work.

So how did same sex marriage affect this charity, which has never performed marriages?  The effect was simple and devastating: it shut them down as an adoption agency.  In 2005 the Roman Catholic Church insisted that Catholic Charities of Boston cease placing children for adoption with same sex couples (which it had done for 15 years) and follow the church's moral and religious teachings.  Catholic Charities of Boston (itself a rather liberal social service agency) was caught between its church and its state.   They asked the State of Massachusetts for permission to continue their work from the state in a way that did not violate their beliefs.  The answer was "no".  So Catholic Charities of Boston ceased the "pre-adoption" work of their agency.

This example is instructive because it shows the effect of same sex marriage legislation on a religious organization which no one would consider conservative.  In fact, the (now former) director of Catholic Charities of Boston resigned for the stated reason that the Vatican's directive contradicted their single adoption criteria, the "best interest of the children".  The former director, Mr. Meade, is of course entitled to his opinion, but one obvious point would be that Christianity, Western Civilization, and the vast majority of religions around the world do not and have not considered homosexuality and same sex marriage in the "best interest of the children".  This is one reason why, today, liberals, leftists and radicals are consistently mocked when they claim that their program should be carried out "for the children".

So how would a religious exemption clause from performing same sex marriage in the Minnesota legislation protect similar charities in that state which do not perform marriages?  The answer would be that it cannot, which would leave the more liberal agencies (many of whose names have a Christian denomination in front of "Social Services") caught between their church and their state.  But for those charities and social service organizations that take the teaching of their church seriously (or are forced to do so by their sponsoring religious group), the consequences would be much more dire.  Same sex marriage law combined with other laws  (like fair housing accommodation) would allow those who are intolerant of traditional morality to persecute them and put them out of business.  This would include the litigious, the intolerant, and those who sympathize with them in various state, county and local agencies.

The experience with same sex marriage in other states shows us that it will not be just churches and their affiliates in the crosshairs.  And charities which are not affiliated with any church or religion may fare much worse.  The attacks on the Boy Scouts have already shown us what happens to those groups that are not religious and insist on a simple traditional moral code that includes a belief in God and the rejection of homosexuality.

If this legislation becomes law, expect the same here.