Letters to the Editor (February)

Supporting life

The December article titled “LFL invites others to join Jan. 22 March for Life” includes a comment by LCMS President Gerald B. Kieschnick emphasizing that Lutheran citizens should speak out in support of the “God-given blessing of life, from conception to the grave.” The article also quotes Maggie Karner, chair of the LCMS life committee, as saying that we should speak out for the interests of “those who have no voice at all: the unborn and the helpless.”

These comments suggest that leadership of the LCMS may be moving toward encouraging members to express public concern for life issues throughout the life span, instead of focusing just on the beginning and end-of-life with the issues of abortion and euthanasia. 

I find that broad pro-life view a positive signal to the membership that the church supports public advocacy for the helpless and voiceless among us.  These include not only the unborn and the dying, but also those who are without resources the hungry, homeless, and unemployed, as well as those without health care.

How are we to demonstrate public concern for the helpless as individuals and as a church? 

Our synodical leaders already have served as model advocates for the unborn by their participation in the Jan. 22 March for Life in Washington, D.C.  Now we need from them some encouragement and practical guidance about how we can show our concern for other life issues in the public square.

Robert C. Droege
Rockville, Md.

More sem suggestions 

I read with interest both Rev. David Schneider’s “Sem Suggestions” (November ’08) and Dr. Glen Thomas’ cordial response (January ’09).

Some of what Pastor Schneider suggests has other advantages besides cost cutting.  Other ways and settings for training pastors can offer experiences that residential seminary education is less likely to provide. 

I place the highest value on what I learned at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and I suspect seminary education today is far better in many respects.  But what makes an effective pastor has to be forged in life experiences and real working circumstances, as well as in classrooms.  And perhaps 90 percent of what I actually do now as a pastor was learned post-seminary.

While I was a circuit counselor, a number of seminary graduates in a row failed in a small congregation.  A people-savvy deacon was installed and is doing great.  This I have seen happen a number of times.

Did you notice Les Stroh’s article on the back page of January’s “President’s Leadership News” that came with Reporter?  Stroh’s observations speak to the subject.  We have such fine-tuned theological training that we can spot a doctrinal flaw at 40 paces.  But are we equally good at building community on areas of agreement and avoiding unnecessary conflict?

Maybe a couple of generations ago, just about any sem graduate would fit in just about any parish because of so much uniformity.  Today there is such a wide variety of congregations and mission environments that require a large variety of pastoral skills and training. 

Some need to be highly educated, dynamic leaders/communicators.  Others need to be simple, folksy guys who spend much of their time listening to people and praying with them like a dear friend.  I doubt whether one type of “pastor formation” on a seminary campus can provide all the variety the church needs.

Rev. Edward L. Kast
Saginaw, Mich.

Please send letters 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 phone number.  Letters may be edited for length and clarity. — Ed.

Posted January 31, 2009

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