I was disappointed with the beginning of the Page 1 article “Faith in Ferguson” in the September Reporter.
Chapel of the Cross—Lutheran is an LCMS English District congregation in the same proximity to Ferguson as Grace Lutheran Chapel, Immanuel Lutheran Chapel and Salem Black Jack. Our assistant pastor of Missions and Outreach, Rev. Mark Koschmann, and our other assisting pastors have also been on the ground in Ferguson reaching out to those in need. We, too, have members who live in Ferguson and we checked on their well-being when the unrest began.
Chapel of the Cross is an integrated congregation, even if not yet as much as we would like. The chairman of our board of elders is African-American. We provide programs and outreach to our neighborhood, especially to children and families with children.
But what really troubled me was the front-page coverage of the couple from Blessed Savior. I do not question that they feared for their lives nor do I question their decision to leave the Canfield Green apartments. But I believe the otherwise very thorough coverage of the positive work of Rev. Roosevelt Gray Jr. and many other LCMS individuals and groups (including the local churches) reaching out, providing resources and being a beacon of hope to Ferguson residents was overshadowed by the account of the Egberts. Maybe it should have been placed elsewhere. It surely didn’t fit with this story. How sadly ironic that an article entitled “Faith in Ferguson” leads with just the opposite picture! I believe Reporter has done the neighboring LCMS churches a disservice.
Earl Wendt, Richmond Heights, Mo.
Mr. Wendt is president of the congregation of Chapel of the Cross—Lutheran.
Reporter regrets its unintended omission of Chapel of the Cross in its story about the unrest in Ferguson.
Paula Schlueter Ross, who wrote the story, indicates that the Egberts’ comments were included “because I believe they are valuable in relating the fear and anger of Ferguson residents — setting the stage for why it was important for LCMS pastors to respond to the ongoing unrest with their ‘prayers and presence.’ I also thought it was important that the young couple also shared how their faith in God ‘was very encouraging’ to them, as was the support they received from congregation members and friends.”
Although the Egberts are featured in the story’s lead, Ross points out that “most of the story focuses on the Synod’s response in Ferguson and includes a variety of what I consider ‘positive’ viewpoints from those serving in that community.” — Ed.
I read with great interest the article in the September Reporter titled “Lower response clouds 2013 statistics for LCMS congregations.” The report was certainly “cloudy” because only 59 percent of the congregations responded with their parochial reports.
Permit me to suggest a solution which would be such a blessing to our entire church body. Please work with all the powers that be so that Concordia Publishing House, or whoever, again publishes an annual statistical report book. I am in my 54th year of ministry and for many years this book was invaluable for many — to know how parishes were doing in growth, stewardship, education, etc.
In addition, every district president — either through their circuit counselors (now circuit visitors) or by acting on their own — very strongly encouraged and saw to it that every congregation in their districts and circuits sent in their parish report, not merely to their districts, but also to the Synod.
How can I help achieve this plan/solution?
Rev. Marvin Henschel, Oklahoma City, Okla.
Synod Secretary Rev. Dr. Raymond L. Hartwig provided Reporter with his response to Rev. Henschel’s letter. His response follows. — Ed.
Rev. Henschel, you have already helped by bringing this matter to public attention. You have surfaced an issue that has troubled me also for many years. Not only do we not have reliable information that can be helpful to many. We are basing important Synod activities on information we know to be less than accurate.
I have begun to work with the Council of Presidents to address this need for reliable annual information from every congregation of the Synod. I intend to work toward involving district presidents and district offices in helping this to happen if that is necessary. If this also requires change to our Synod’s bylaws, I will work with the Commission on Constitutional Matters and Commission on Handbook to get it done when the 2016 Synod convention meets in Milwaukee.
Thank you again for your letter.
Rev. Dr. Raymond L. Hartwig, St. Louis
Posted Sept. 25, 2014