By Roger Drinnon
Upon reviewing the final report from the Task Force for Resolution 3-10A, LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison announced he is seeking more input from church workers on candidate and non-candidate status who are without calls, including returning military chaplains and missionaries.
“While the report of the task force stands on its own merit, and I thank the members of the task force for their faithful work and positive recommendations, I still believe I need to do more as president of the Synod to receive input from those who are without calls,” said Harrison in a letter released Feb. 1. “Therefore, my office is working over the next few weeks to create a focus group of such church workers, so that I might hear directly from a representative group of them.”
The task force report and Harrison’s letter are available at lcms.org/convention/task-force-updates/resolution-3-10A.
The 65th Regular Convention of the LCMS, held July 20-25, 2013, adopted Resolution 3-10A, “To Appoint a Task Force to Study the Call Process for Returning Missionary and Military Chaplains and Other Rostered Church Workers Without a Call.” Harrison reviewed that Task Force’s final report in December. After reviewing the recommendations in the report, Harrison said he will form a focus group to examine the issue further.
“The task force recommendations are very helpful, but I believe it will be important for me to listen carefully to the concerns of those directly affected by them,” he said.
In his letter, Harrison said input from both the focus group and the task force report will be provided to the appropriate 2016 Convention floor committee to consider over Memorial Day weekend. Harrison said he hopes the Synod can “up its game” in helping the affected church workers on both candidate and non-candidate status and that congregations will give prayerful consideration to calling affected church workers who desire a call.
Roger Drinnon (email@example.com) is manager of Editorial Services for LCMS Communications.
Another issue to be addressed is when a church “fires” their pastor and the District President won’t put them on a call list. There needs to be an appeal process with someone outside the District to review the actions taken by the DP.
What about emeritus pastors willing to serve smaller parishes?
What is being done to assist those teachers that are Synodicaly trained who for tax reasons only have not re-signed roster? There are many of us caught in catch 22 situations! We we’re schooled at Concordia Universities before the tax laws changed. It’s not our fault that Synod changed the status designations of these teachers. We’re no longer recognized as church workers? We were rostered before. Now we’re candidates again?
Obviously it was important enough for us to train at Concordia and pay nearly double feature our education for the opportunity to be on Roster. We are choosing to work in congregations instead of union backed public schools for at least double the wages!
Something needs to be done to fix this! Roster qualified teachers -either on or off Roster simply because of not being able to afford to pay more taxes because of housing status (renting or do not own a home) do not deserve to have been removed from Roster!
Dr. Harrison, please do something about this situation! I understand that you cannot change the tax code! However, I don’t believeyou understand how deeply this affected those of us that were summarily removed from roster and are now treated as “second-class citizens” by the LCMS!
I personally, would love to see a Deaconess’s in every Church.
Women in the ministry who would serve other women.
“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
Titus 2:1, 3-5 NIV
The superwoman in Proverbs 31 is the “perfect” example. But notice in verse 10a it says,
A wife of noble character who can find????
A woman/wife/Mother can feel like a failure… even though she is seeking God’s will for her life.
Or past failures cause many to give up on God’s purpose.
A Pastor’s may not understand a women’s role like another female. (hopefully, no offense taken)!
I also believe there would be less temptation for gossip, if women had a female mentor/Deaconess: Someone willing to listen confidently, to their heartache and showing them the love of Christ, while God’s Word/Son/Spirit, guides them to the Truth.
In the years to come we will need every seminary-trained pastor we can get. The number of men going into the office of the public ministry through our synod’s seminaries is abysmally low and in the next 8-10 years when the bulk of our pastorate will be of retirement age. I think we need to do everything we can to get ordained men on candidate status back in pulpits. Reasons for pastors going on candidate status spans the spectrum and some may never be able to return to active congregational ministry, but many could and should. I think it’s time the synod leverages its RSOs like Grace Place and DOXOLOGY (and maybe others) to systematically address the interpersonal issues that have resulted from the reason for and effect of candidate status.
I would like to bring the perspective of a Lutheran Educator that is on the roster and is not teaching in a Lutheran School. I have served in Lutheran Schools for thirty years and was “downsized” at a school in the Chicago area during the process of closing. Both Reed Sander and Mike Zimmer in the NID office have been extremely supportive in helping in my desire to return to Lutheran Education.
It is frustrating to see schools hire teachers that are not on the roster, or do not have their degree from a “Concordia” while teachers like myself and many more sit on the sidelines and wait. There needs to be more accountability and the congregational level, or more authority given at the district level to help resolve this issue.
As I read the resolution, it is obvious that the main emphasis was to address Chaplains, Missionaries, and Ordained Ministers. I do not believe I saw teachers mentioned once. I also saw that no teachers were on the task force. If there are more task force meetings, Lutheran Educators need to be part of that task force. I would be glad to serve on such a task force.
Or DCEs who finish their internship but are never extended a call after.
Since my ordination in April of 1982 I have held two “permanent” calls to parishes and one to a Lutheran High School. After each of those calls there was a long term of being without a call, the one after the high school situation is still ongoing (since May 2003). The terms of being without a call have lasted 10 months 4-1/2 years, and now almost 13 years. Each time the district presidents I dealt with (and many times it was more than my own DP) did not give much, if any encouragement that he was doing anything to promote my name to any congregation. This despite the fact that I served numerous vacancies in difficult situations, often for months and years at a time.
Further, there is a stigma among congregations concerning the pastor without a call, which is not being adequately addressed by the DPs or Circuit counselors when dealing with the calling congregations. The pastor without a call is considered “damaged goods”, a problem to be avoided, and little is done to dispel such notions.
But, there is another point that needs addressing. The handbook is extremely poorly written and further stigmatizes the pastor who goes more than 4 years without a call. Though it is not clearly stipulated, after 4 years that pastor, regardless how much he wants to be considered for a call, is forced out of the classification of “Candidate,” into the classification of “NON-Candidate”. During this last term of being without a call I began serving a vacancy for a mission in Davenport, IA, while I worked part-time for the federal government. I put in more than 20 hours a week at that mission, and offered pulpit supply to neighboring parishes at the same time, but was never once offered a call, not even a part-time call to that mission. And then, because they could no longer classify me as a candidate my status changed to NON-Candidate, even though I continued to serve that mission part-time, offer pulpit supply, and assist the congregation where I was a member.
In short, during my times as a pastor without a call I was treated as lower than dirt. When I was able to secure a full-time position with the federal government that took me out of Iowa to Michigan, the mission board moved rather quickly to replace me with a pastor whose parish required him only part-time, and he was soon extended a call to the mission.
The DPs, Circuit Counselors, and all the fellow pastors should be concerned about the pastor without a call, support him, encourage, search for every possible way to bring him and his skills back into service in the church.
I would love to be back in a parish, preaching, visiting the sick, etc., but I have found a well paying job that uses a lot of my skills and interests. I have also filed to be considered as Emeritus. Maybe with that label on me congregations will have a different attitude towards me and eagerly seek out my services (ha!).
I would like to see our District President loose the worldly label and return to Bishop. Also why has the Convention not been informed of all the ordained clergy forced to resign and improperly removed from their ‘ Call’ because of (not compatible with the church). Let’s take as our example ,the Prophets , the Apostle’s and our Lord Himself not being compatible with Preaching the Law and Gospel in the church MILITANT. I haven’t seen or heard of any scriptural evidence of any such removal of Christs’ Called Servants. We have endured rigid interview processes. We were qualified by the Seminary, Synod,Bishops and called by the church to Preach, Teach and administer the Sacraments properly. There are a lot of brother clergy like myself who have been terminated from our call by our church because we are ‘Zealous’for the Lord His Word the BoC and uphold our ordination vows to the Almighty God who Called us out of our cozy prosperous professional and skilled livelyhoods. To surrender our lives to the highest and Divine Calling on this earth. Luther calls us beggers.’ Than the Holy Spirit speaking through the writer of Hebrews adds the Responsibility of being ‘Leaders, who have to give an account.” (Heb13:17).
I haven’t even brought up the family or financial turmoil that it has caused all of us that have been improperly removed from our calls and the roster after the cutoff time to check in with the ( DPs). Oh yes! than try every three years after you’ve been dropped from the roster only to go through the process of reinstatement! Only to be told that you weren’t accepted and no reason given for us to appeal! The Apostle Peter Denied knowing the Lord ran from his persecutors among many other examples of being a sinful man. Yet the Lord forgave him and reinstated Peter. I could go on about all the mental and physical anguish that the wrongfully terminated Pastors have endured. However there are churches in the Synod that would love to have a Pastor shepherd them and not be told that there are no Ordained Clergy available for Calls.
I myself would love to shepherd a small congregation in this synod.
I thought we needed pastors, if we don’t issue calls to those already ordained,why keep training new men? I know of a man who was let go by a congregation and the DP would not take his phone calls, nor would the DP in his former district. What is he to do? Can he appeal to St,Louis or who? He is now working at another job, he has to eat and support his family. Something is definitely wrong in Synod. This is a Christian Church or is it?
Please add my voice to those of others who are concerned that there is no appeal process available to a pastor who has been removed from a congregation by questionable means and motives. It is both short sighted and wrong to disregard the experience and spiritual gifts of church workers who have been deprived of their career, and their opportunities for full time service, by congregations who may have acted selfishly in dismissing these servants. That the possibility isn’t even considered the basis for a review, formal investigation or intervention is baffling in a church body which preaches grace, forgiveness and love to its members.
In my district, there was supposed to be a team of “peacemakers” that would counsel with congregations racked by internal conflict. But when that conflict included the removal of the pastor from office, none of the “peacemakers” could be found to pursue the case. My case was not the only one at the time to suffer this fate; another doctor of the church, and former professor at a Synodical university, was set aside at the same time in the same way. Neither of us has had a full time position in over 10 years. In the face of the claim of congregational sin, district officials appear reluctant to look analytically at the claims of a congregation. Personnel records are locked away from access by the dismissed pastor. In the long run, the failure of the structure to exercise Christ-like discernment is more damaging than the offense that brought about the trouble in the first place.
All these things are the opposite of what one would expect where God’s gifts are recognized and treasured. The rush to negative judgment without benefit of a fair hearing, the resultant rejection (black balling) of the accused merely on the basis of accusation, supporting the stigmatizing of the accused with the result that he is denied further opportunity for full time service, these are abuses unbefitting the Body of Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew our Lord has harsh words for those who claim to know him but act as if they do not (Matt 10 and 25; Mt 7:21). Let us look again at how much, or little, of the mind of Christ is shown by our attention to fair treatment of the accused.