Funding the mission
Considering how the Synod’s national “common good” services might be funded, it seems appropriate to examine the manner in which the monies forwarded by congregations to their respective district offices are apportioned. In passing, I would note that labeling such funds as contributions to “missions” is misleading and dishonest, since only a miniscule fraction ultimately is used to support what the average layman would consider “mission” work.
For the 2001 fiscal year (as reported in the 2003 Lutheran Annual, assuming that the overall approach to apportioning funds is basically no different now), from the approximately $125 million that districts received from congregations, about 20 percent ($24 million) was forwarded to support the programs, projects, and operations at the Synod level. Districts forwarded amounts in the 3 percent to 39 percent range of the monies received from their respective congregations.
Do such figures reflect the correct relationship between the Synod’s districts and its central headquarters and the national “common good” services? I am able only to offer a personal opinion, if asked.
But I will note that in our Synod’s corporate structure, the districts constitute administrative sub-units, established on a geographic basis (except for two non-geographic districts). Unlike the states of our nation, they are not self-validating, self-defining, semi-autonomous, and sovereign entities.
To me, this means that districts have an obligation, jointly and separately, to support the Synod’s national “common good” services in a fair and equitable manner; and that men of good will could figure out what that means in terms of percentages and abilities to contribute.
Leonard C. Johnson
It is past time for Christians to “retrieve” the true reason for the Christmas season. We need to be more intentional about our Christian visibility in our communities and with fellow Christians.
All it takes is for each of our households and churches to display a visible Christian symbol … a nativity scene, a cross, a star … to have an impact of witnessing to others.
It seems there are fewer public Christ-centered displays as the years go by, including outdoor displays by Christian congregations.
Last year, our congregation — Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Chesterfield, Mo. — displayed a nativity scene at the corner of the church property, and received many positive comments from passersby and members of the community.
A pattern for a nativity scene (Model CYD72) is available from the Winfield Collection. Call (800) 946-3435 or go to the company’s Web site at www.thewinfieldcollection.com.
Let’s all try harder this year with our Christian witness through what we display to honor our Lord during Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany.
Ken Kircoff’s letter in the October Reporter about Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto’s commentary “In Times of War” touches on an interesting topic — the positions of the Synod.
Kircoff writes, “Since Reporter is an official publication of the LCMS, the commentary becomes the position of the Synod.” He may be on to something.
Case in point: the Missouri Synod has no official position regarding contraception. Yet, reading from official publications of the Synod over the last several decades, one can certainly come away with the understanding that the Synod officially endorses contraception — even though officially it has no position.
Rev. M.L.F. Freiberg Sr.
The Synod has no officially adopted position that either condemns or affirms contraception. However, in 1981 the Synod did commend “for study and guidance” the Commission on Theology and Church Relations report “Human Sexuality: A Theological Perspective.” In this document, the CTCR states: “In view of the biblical command and the blessing to ‘be fruitful and multiply,’ it is to be expected that marriage will not ordinarily be voluntarily childless. But, in the absence of Scriptural prohibition, there need be no objection to contraception within a marital union which is, as a whole, fruitful.”
While Reporter — as an official periodical of the Synod — supports the official position of the Synod in everything it publishes, not everything published in Reporter becomes for this reason “the official position of the Synod.” An article such as Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto’s commentary “In Time of War” is precisely this — a commentary which expresses the opinion of its author. — Ed.
This is in response to the pastor who wrote about his alcohol use in the October “Pressure Points” column.
I want to share some information about use, abuse, and dependence in regard to alcohol use. “Use” refers to anyone who has an occasional social drink. “Abuse” refers to drinking to the point of impaired judgment. “Dependence” is about loss of control over when and how much one drinks.
Let’s take a look at the admission of the letter-writer. He says, “I think I can handle it,” but then adds, “only a few times has it gotten in the way of my ability to function.” In my opinion, that is an admission of losing control.
Two of the most common symptoms of a drinking problem are minimizing and denial. The writer says it only happened a few times — minimizing; and that he only does it “to relieve tension” — denial of the problem.
Is drinking still “natural and normal” when it affects his ability to function, or when it begins to affect his marriage? It would seem that his wife is quite concerned, since she encouraged him to write the letter.
If I were to ask this pastor, “Are a few beers more important to you than your wife’s peace of mind?,” he would no doubt answer, “Certainly not.” But that isn’t the case. Would he have written that “Pressure Points” letter if his drinking hadn’t already become an issue?
I encourage this friend to contact someone in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It’s a very supportive organization where all matters are kept in strictest confidence. AA may save his marriage, his ministry, and his health.
Rev. Ed Eggert
Reading the November article about the ELCA-LCMS dialogues, I was surprised — but not overly