Letters to the Editor (August)

Wittenberg project

I have been following with interest the formation of the International Lutheran Welcome Center (ILWC) in Wittenberg [covered in Reporter articles including the February commentary], and looked forward to seeing what progress had been made as I made my own pilgrimage there this June.

The first time I was in Wittenberg was in 1986, so I expected many changes in the town.  I was not disappointed in that regard. The Luther House and Museum were first-rate — with exhibits well-lighted and put together, including a new entrance and interesting displays at cellar excavations.  Wittenberg is indeed gearing up for 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. 

However, I was sorely disappointed in what I saw at the old Lateinisches Gymnasium on the square next to the Stadtkirche. Aside from a new lock on the front door and a couple of posters in German and English advertising some kind of summer camp, there was not much to see in that ancient building which will need loads of repairs [to house the ILWC] — from windows to roof, to who-knows-what inside.

My concern or question is how can the combined Lutheran group afford to get the project under way, let alone bring it to fruition? Are our own people going to be sufficiently excited about it to want to help fund it?

Rosalie Streng
Des Plaines, Ill.

The supervisory board for the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg (ILSW), the organization formed to operate the ministry center that will be located in the “Old Latin School” (built in 1564) building, met for the first time in March.  To date, the building has been cleaned out; architectural plans have been made; and necessary archaeological and historical research, including excavations in the building, has been completed.

As for support, donations are welcome.  To contribute, make out a check either to LCMS World Mission or to LCMS World Relief and Human Care, write “Wittenberg Project” on the memo line, and mail it to the organization to which it was made out.  Both are located at 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295. — Ed

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100 songs

A July Reporter story indicated that 100 praise and worship songs were approved for use in LCMS congregations.  According to the article, the songs listed for approval were those taken from a list of the praise and worship songs that were “the most frequently used in LCMS congregations.”  The article also stated that these songs were studied over the past six months and underwent doctrinal review.

Quoting from Reflections on Contemporary Worship from the LCMS Commission on Worship’s Web site, “A topic as crucial as worship demands careful thought and reflection, for the Church’s worship is the place where God Himself distributes His life-giving Word and sacraments.” 

This careful thought and reflection was evident in the planning of Lutheran Service Book, with lists of hymns published to be reviewed by all in Synod. “Prototype” liturgies also were published and input was requested. 

LSB is evidence of the “careful thought and reflection” that is appropriate for the examining of materials used in the Divine Service.  Has this same thought and reflection gone into the approval of these 100 songs? 

Again, according to the article, there was a six-month doctrinal review process.  However, the issue of whether or not praise and worship songs are appropriate for the Divine Service is still an open debate within the Synod.  Certainly there are those who believe it is acceptable, but there are still many who have strong theological reservations as to whether or not “praise & worship” songs should be in use at all.

It would seem to be wise that before a list of songs is submitted to doctrinal review simply because they are widely used in some congregations, these theological reservations should be openly discussed and addressed according to the “careful thought and reflection” that the Commission on Worship has called for in the past.

Rev. Paul R. Schlueter
Milford Center, Ohio

Thank you to the Commission on Worship for the recent blessing given to 100 praise and worship songs.  It is good to see that we are willing to expand the style of music promoted with a sensitivity to Lutheran theology at the same time. 

As a former missionary kid and now pastor, I have seen firsthand the challenge of bringing the timeless truth of God into many different cultural settings.

For churches that want to use or consider using a new genre of music to help reach their community for Christ, this will be a good resource to get started.  Again, thanks to the commission for taking this important step to help people in many different settings join in the worship of our Lord!

Rev. Nate Schaus
Buckeye, Ariz.

Rev. David Johnson, executive director of the LCMS Commission on Worship, responds with the explanation that follows to letters and other feedback concerning last month’s Reporter article about  the 100 worship and praise songs. 
— Ed. 

It is clear that throughout our Synod, congregations already engage in the vital singing of both hymnody and song.  Individual congregations utilize repertoire based on the unique gift sets and knowledge of pastors, musicians, and laity.  Church workers face inordinate pressures to allow congregations to sing hymnody and song that is familiar and faithful.  Without doubt, Lutheran Service Book has and will continue to be the celebrated edition poised to unify the core repertoire of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.  Products and services will continue to be developed, grounding our members in the extraordinary gift of LSB for everyone vested in singing hymnody and song.  To date, 70 percent of our congregations have adopted LSB and have affirmed its theological, doctrinal, musical, and aesthetic value.

In the past decade, it has been the impression of many congregations who engage in the singing of alternative praise and worship songs that they have been inordinately criticized, even ostracized, for using alternative repertoire.  When one is bold enough to engage in conversation, these pastors and musicians are equally hungry for the purity of the Gospel in Word and Sacrament ministry, and eager to proclaim the changeless Christ in a changing society.  There needs to be intentional ecclesiastical care for our Lutheran brothers and sisters in Christ who share the same confession of faith.

By convention resolution, the Commission on Worship is veste

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