Letters to the Editor (September)

Sabbaticals for pastors

I enjoy the column “Pressure Points” and consider it a very important place for dialogue and understanding in our Synod.
I would like to add one more idea to the July column in which advice was given on how to welcome the new pastor and encourage a long pastorate: develop a sabbatical policy and gladly encourage it.

Sabbaticals can do the following:

  • bring renewal to the congregation and the pastor.

  • break up the ruts that pastor and congregation sometimes fall into. And, speaking of falling, some plates the pastor has been spinning will crash to the ground and the congregation will decide if they need to be picked up.  Besides the pastor, who will do this?

  • encourage the pastor by recognizing in a tangible way his professional contributions and skills, which always need updating.

  • attract and retain clergy and decrease the number of pastoral vacancies — which is wise for the institutional health of the congregation.

Sabbaticals are becoming commonplace in mainline churches’ call/salary packages. An LCMS congregation adopting such a policy would be a leader in the Synod.

Sabbaticals are a tangible way of caring for the clergy’s mental, spiritual, psychological, and familial heath.  They also are a concrete expression of gratitude for faithful service, which will repeatedly be given back to the congregation after the pastor returns.
I am currently on a four-month sabbatical.  I am deeply grateful to my congregation for its sabbatical policy –- and, even more, the blessing I received from the church in taking the sabbatical.  That blessing is critically important.
Our Synod in convention more than a decade ago adopted a resolution encouraging congregations to create and implement sabbatical policies.
The Alban Institute has a very useful video on the reasons and need for sabbaticals.  Grants are available to help pay the costs of a sabbatical, although implementing a sabbatical should not depend on a grant’s approval.

I am blessed to be called to St. Stephanus Lutheran Church, and I eagerly want to be a blessing to the congregation when I return.

Rev. Jim Bender
St. Paul, Minn.

Church-worker indebtedness
I received the August Reporter and a “What A Way” booklet on the same day.

While the booklet extolled the blessings of a church-work vocation, the “Commentary” on Page 3 of Reporter expressed alarm at the financial crisis many church workers will face.  In particular, I was shocked to read that the Council of Presidents has a policy that will remove a worker, should that worker be forced into bankruptcy.  Perhaps this policy needs to be reviewed by delegates to the 2007 Synod convention.

It is heartening to see that the Synod acknowledges a problem with a large segment of its workers.  Our seminaries and universities expect students to go into very deep debt for their educations or else they will never become pastors, teachers, deaconesses, or other church workers.  Before entering the classroom for the first time, the student meets the financial aid officer who shows him or her how to apply for student loans.  The culture of debt starts on the first day of class, with the Synod’s full approval.
Then I read on Page 5 of Reporter a joint response to a letter to the editor in which President Kieschnick and Rev. Harrison speak about showing compassion to illegal immigrants.
How does defrocking a bankrupt pastor, who is following the law, display the same compassion we show an illegal immigrant who is deliberately breaking the law?
The threat of district presidents removing bankrupt pastors or other church workers is chilling.  The COP may mean well, but unless this policy is revoked, how many indebted workers will seek the Synod’s help?

Rev. Jack A. Kozak
Akron, Ohio

Kudos to CPH

In our Synod, which has certainly weathered its share of controversy over the years, there are rays of hope.  This is about one of those hopeful signs.

Our congregation just finished two weeks of vacation Bible school. Kudos to the editors of Concordia Publishing House for the “Treasure Cove” VBS program which we used.

The lessons were indeed treasures –- Bible-based and Christ-centered.  In the well-established community which our Grace Lutheran Church has served for 65 years, the children –- real treasures of the church –- were fed with the soul-saving Gospel.

Those who attended VBS reflected the changing makeup of our community –- Caucasians, African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and Middle Easterners.  They all related to the Gospel message and music of “Treasure Cove.”

God bless CPH and our beloved Synod — ablaze with the Gospel of Jesus.

Dr. Victor F. Halboth
Redford, Mich.

Immigration concerns

This is in response to President Kieschnick’s and Rev. Harrison’s response to Linda Cherry’s concerns regarding the LCMS position on illegal immigration [August “Letters”].

As a mother who has adopted two children internationally and followed the laws of the country from which I adopted and the immigration laws of the United States, I feel that the law of immigration is not out of accord with the law of God.

On this issue, there would be no tension between the law of God and the law of the land if we didn’t blatantly ignore the law on immigration.  As we turn our backs on the law of immigration, the tension is created.

The problems associated with illegal immigrants are caused by the suggestions that we ignore the law and actually break the law.

Instead of recommending that church members break the law further by aiding and abetting illegal immigrants, why not suggest they abide by the law and report illegal immigrants?

I welcome those who enter our country and have followed the proper procedures to be here.

Kathy Johnson
Richfield, Minn.

Work of the LCMS Foundation

I so much appreciated the article in the  June  edition’s President’s Leadership News insert titled “Sunday offerings no longer fund most Synod work.”  It was both very moving and most enlightening as it outlined how changes in giving patterns affect and challenge our Synod as we strive to do our Lord’s work.

However, there is one bit of information that article failed to mention: the work that the LCMS Foundation is doing to ensure the continuation of our Synod’s ministries

A few years ago

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