Upcoming symposium targets infertility ethics

An Infertility Ethics Symposium, sponsored by LCMS Life Ministry and the Concordia Seminary Life Team (CSLT), will be held Saturday, Nov. 8, at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

infertility-INOrdained pastors, commissioned ministers and seminarians are invited to attend this free event that will tackle what the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey A. Gibbs, professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Seminary and faculty liaison for the student-led CSLT, calls “a most timely topic.”

“Infertility is important to address for the sake of the many women and men, wives and husbands, who struggle with grief and uncertainty in relation to this issue,” Gibbs says. “The world around us offers ‘solutions’ to the ‘problem’ which may or may not be God-pleasing ones.”

This ethical question of what is God-pleasing in the field of infertility medicine is at the heart of the symposium.

“Our goal isto open a dialogue about acceptable solutions for couples facing infertility, solutions grounded in a faithful application of God’s Word,” says Ed Szeto, special projects coordinator for LCMS Life Ministry. “Lutherans need to consider the deeper moral and ethical entanglements using such biotechnologies can create.”

Infertility medicine, a largely unregulated industry in America, is making available such controversial assisted reproductive technologies as in-vitro fertilization and embryo adoption. What is the church to think, say and do? How can pastors and commissioned ministers steer congregations through the ethically murky waters of infertility medicine? What comfort can the church offer to those who suffer through infertility and miscarriages?

These and other questions will be addressed by a line-up of symposium presenters including:

  • the Rev. William M. Cwirla, pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Hacienda Heights, Calif.
  • the Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb, executive director of Lutherans For Life and a member of the Sanctity of Life Committee for LCMS Life Ministry.
  • the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Weise, Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis Chair in Pastoral Ministry and the Life Sciences and professor of Practical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
  • the Rev. Dr. Kevin E. Voss, associate professor of Philosophy and director of the Concordia Center for Bioethics at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon.
  • the Rev. Christopher S. Esget, pastor of Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Va., and also a member of LCMS Life Ministry’s Sanctity of Life Committee.
  • the Rev. Peter Brock, pastor of St. John Lutheran Church—Bingen, Decatur, Ind.

“We see the symposium as a starting point, not an end point,” says Szeto. “We want our pastors and commissioned ministers to be equipped and confident in their spiritual guidance to couples seeking answers to these complex issues.”

While the Infertility Ethics Symposium is being offered specifically to pastors and commissioned ministers, seminarians are encouraged to participate in the event, as well.

“Pastors and future pastors will play a key role in teaching, guiding and caring for people who deal with infertility,” says Gibbs. “This symposium will equip seminarians with scientific and theological perspectives, with a safe place to talk about important and difficult ethical issues and with a chance to relate all of this to the Gospel of Christ.”

Admission is free for the Infertility Ethics Symposium, but space is limited. Those wishing to attend may contact LCMS Life Ministry at 314-996-1711 or tracy.quaethem@lcms.org to receive more information as it becomes available.

Posted May 29, 2014

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