"Letters" March 2004

More on sem wives

I simply could not believe my eyes when I read the comments in the February “Letters” from two individuals who were protesting the Council of Presidents’ policy  that the wives of seminarians be LCMS members.  What if the wife were Baptist and didn’t believe in infant baptism?  Would that not place an undue strain on the pastor?  What if she were Methodist and thought of the Lord’s Supper as a mere memorial meal?  Of course, in keeping with the Word of God and our Confessions, she should refrain from taking the Supper to her own harm.  What if she were Roman Catholic, Episcopalian or believed like any other Reformed denomination teaches?  Would not these things create an undue pressure on the pastor himself?  Pastors deal with these conflicts every day, and now according to these two writers he should go home and battle some more in his own home.  These writers simply can’t be serious.

Rev. Roger Vernick
Parkersburg, W.Va.

I am greatly pleased by the Council of Presidents’ policy to require seminarians’ wives to be members (in good standing) of an LCMS congregation before the student will be assigned a vicarage.  (And no, it does not matter if she can play the organ, teach or sing in the choir.) 

Joseph H. Constant wrote that he has been a member of a church where the minister’s wife was a member and it made no difference.  Has he been a member of a congregation where the minister’s wife was not a member? 

If the seminarian and his wife had a child during the vicarage, where would the child be baptized — in the church of the vicar, or at a church of a different faith?  Where would the children go to church and receive instruction?  It only makes sense that the vicar’s wife is a member of the church. It is hard to raise a family today.  It certainly is much easier if the father and mother are the same religion and attend the same church weekly as a family.

Charles Gotta Jr.
Ironwood, Mich.

We were saddened by the two letters in the February Reporter denouncing the COP’s new guideline regarding wives of seminarians.  If a pastor is not of one mind with his wife (Phil. 2:1-2), how can either of them be a good example to the flock (1 Tim. 3:4-5)?  Too many couples in our parish “agreed to disagree” on matters of faith, and the end result in almost every case has been children who opted to follow the spirit of this world and not the Spirit of Christ.  Furthermore, if a man considers our church’s understanding of the Gospel so unimportant that he would marry someone who rejects that understanding, how committed will he ever be to spreading that Gospel (Rev. 2:15-16)? 

We also hope the remarks about pastors’ wives being organists and Sunday-school teachers were not meant to disparage the many faithful Christian men and women, some of whom happen to be married to pastors, who take on those God-pleasing tasks week after week.

Rev. Charles and Deborah St-Onge
Ridley Park, Pa.

Another side

I write in response to Dr. James Pragman’s letter in the February Reporter.  As both a parish pastor and a district officer, I know how frustrating it is for both the Synod and the districts to receive fewer unrestricted congregational dollars.

It is true that member contributions received by the congregations I have served have shown an overall increase over the years.  But there is another side to the story.  Over those same years, the operating costs of these congregations have skyrocketed.  In spite of the fact that most salaries are below our district guidelines, congregational personnel expenses have increased dramatically.  Worker-benefit expense continues to climb at a mind-boggling rate.  Casualty insurance and utility rates also have increased dramatically.  All these increases have outpaced increases in contributions.  Simply put, many, if not most, congregations have fewer funds available over and above basic operating expenses than they did several years ago, not more!

Where does the answer lie?  In good stewardship, of course.  The motivation for our contributions to the church always lies in the Gospel.  Yet, contrary to what I often hear, I do believe that we also must communicate our needs clearly.  Congregations as well as districts and the Synod need to assess critically our operating budgets, eliminating inefficiencies, and then communicate exactly the financial need to the members of our congregations.  We will never get to the bottom of the problem by simply assigning blame.

Rev. Andrew Spallek
Florissant, Mo.

Pastor Spallek is fourth vice president of the Missouri District. — Ed.

No conclusions 

Your February story about the Jan. 5 meeting between the Board of Directors and the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) contains a telling phrase.  I refer to CCM Chairman Walter Tesch’s comment about the meeting.  Your article reports, “He said that no conclusions were reached.”

Last year, district conventions invested precious time discussing fellowship practices.  Unless I missed it, it seems that “no conclusions were reached.”  I recall reading a few years back that all the pastors in the Florida-Georgia District were called together for at least two full days to discuss issues surrounding Communion practices.  I distinctly remember reading your report of that gathering.  In effect you observed, “No conclusions were reached.”  The Benke case has been concluded for months.  But recently a lengthy letter from the Synod president to pastors would lead the reader to feel that “no conclusions were reached (or accepted?).”

When people are unable to reach conclusions, they are probably being unduly influenced by fear.  When they habitually fail to accept conclusions, they as yet may not have learned how to live as healthy families live.

Rev. Richard W. Patt
Wauwatosa, Wis.

“Letters” may be sent via e-mail to REPORTER@lcms.org or by mail to REPORTER Letters, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295.  Please include your name, postal address and telephone number.  Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

Posted February 27, 2004

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