November Letters

The way of escape

In my role as facilitator of the 2007 LCMS National Youth Gathering’s planning team, I was one of 13 Gathering-related leaders stranded in a New Orleans hotel as Katrina-driven waters rushed toward us down Canal Street.

I want to say what a fantastic job the members of the Synod’s Youth Ministry office did in response to our plight.  Rev. Terry Dittmer, Gretchen Jameson, Krista Miller, Jim Lohman, and Mark Kiessling were God’s hands, feet, and heart at a very difficult time.

First, Jim and Mark stayed with those of us who could not find a way out, even when they probably could have.  They exhibited grace under pressure — and great spiritual leadership — making sure our needs were provided for as best they could.  They encouraged us to pray and to talk about our experience, even as it was happening.  There were many moments when hard decisions had to be made.  Neither Jim nor Mark shied away from that responsibility, and their decisions were wise. 

They helped us all to know what was happening and what our options were.  They knew enough to listen to the guidance of Bobby Bergeron, a contracted person for the Gathering who grew up in New Orleans.  It was Bobby’s connections and quick thinking that ultimately saved us from a rapidly deteriorating situation.  I thank God for these wonderful men! 

Second, Terry, Gretchen, Krista, and Krista’s husband, John, drove to Baton Rouge after we got out and took some of us back north (some in our group had found other ways home from Baton Rouge).  They drove straight through the night to get us to safety and to our own homes and churches.  Their sacrifice of time and love is a great example of the service they regularly give to the Synod.  I can’t tell you what that meant to me and to all of us who had been stranded.  I feel blessed to be part of a church body that has such fine people as its servants. 

Sue Steege, DCE
First Trinity Lutheran Church
Tonawanda, N.Y.

Capable laity

One of those quoted in the report on the Synod’s Second Model Theological Conference (September issue) encouraged the church to emphasize the importance of laypeople being able to judge doctrine.  I couldn’t agree more.  Praying, paying, and obeying are not the only things we want LCMS laity to do.

Martin Luther translated the Bible into the language of his people so they could know God’s will and the message of grace won for all by Jesus Christ.  Luther had confidence in the laity’s ability to discern and judge doctrine.  And they did.  

Having served in a small as well as three very large congregations for more than 50 years, I have encountered many laymen and -women with a thorough knowledge and understanding of Scripture.  Some were outstanding Bible-class teachers.  They knew Lutheran doctrine and were able to judge and apply it.

What a shame it would be if judging doctrine in the Synod were left exclusively to the clergy.   Our laity should always be well represented at our theological conferences and convocations.  There is little danger that those chosen to attend would be incapable of evaluating doctrine.  To exclude or limit their participation would be to deny the doctrine of the royal priesthood of all believers.  The laity is as much a part of the church as the clergy.

Rev. Arno Krentz
St. Louis

A time and a place

It is time to stop printing “Letters to the Editor” in which various individuals, groups, and organizations seek to debate one another and use this medium as their personal forum.  If participants in these exchanges want to continue their specific debates, there are plenty of other professional or unofficial publications they can use.  The Synod’s Reporter doesn’t need to be one of them.

Publishers of newsletters often have said a newsletter (or, in the case of Reporter, a tabloid newspaper) should not contain sermonizing but actually be a way of informing readers of news, programs, and reports of what is going on.  The letters-to-the-editor section should be available for both laity and clergy to write in with their questions, comments, praises, thanks, and blessings upon various things.  It shouldn’t be to listen to a small group of people debate issues that have been around since creation and evidently have not yet been resolved.

There’s a time and place for everything under heaven.  “Letters to the Editor” is not the place for ongoing, polarizing debates.

Rev. Jack Karch
Rome, Ga.

“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 Oct. 27, 2005

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