I want to thank The Lutheran Witness for highlighting the great work of healing being offered to the workers of our church body. Kim Krull’s October article, “Recharging with Grace,” was outstanding and will hopefully point our pastors, church professionals, and congregations to a fine resource that is certain to enhance church-worker retention.
Both church workers and congregations need to know the value of this grace-filled resource. I have been working with Dr. Eckrich for the last seven years to plan, coordinate, and host a three- or four-day retreat each year for our fourth-year seminarians. To date, there have been five retreats in the last five years as these men, with their wives, prepare to receive their first call.
Usually, when each couple arrives, they enter the retreat with some reluctance, either because it is not graded or requiredor because they have not had exclusive time together (without their kids) in years! By the first afternoon, they recognize that they are permitted to relax, reflect, and rejuvenate with their spouse. The spiritual, emotional, and relational healing through meditative, biblical devotions and song; modest exercise; and excellent material on proper health, relationship-building, and financial planning is definitely worth its salt. After three or four academically, emotionally, and financially demanding years at seminary—and often also raising a family—this retreat is truly restorative and rejuvenating.
Rev. Timothy R. Puls
Assistant Vice-President for Church Relations
Concordia Theological Seminary
Fort Wayne, Ind.
What if every congregation in our Synod showed respect for and appreciation of their pastors (and called church workers) by helping them pay their outstanding education loans?
Currently, tuition, housing, and related fees for Concordia, River Forest, cost just under $30,000 per year. Many of our pastors leave college with large student loans. Seminary expenses for three years and interest on college loans can be crippling to the budgets of our pastors and church workers.
Those of you who have lived under the burden of debt may understand why this can weigh on one’s mind. It was only recently that I observed firsthand how a pastor and his family were struggling to pay for college and seminary student loans. When one member of the congregation became aware of the pastor’s situation, that member stepped forward and paid, in full, the pastor’s education loans.
When one compares the salaries of our church workers with the salaries of most college graduates, it seems to me that we owe those who serve us spiritually to be free from education debt. Please take a moment to ask your pastor and your church workers if they are still paying student loans. Then pray about how you can organize an effort to lift the load of student debt from them.
Dale F. Wolff
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