Today, September 29 is the feast of St. Michael and all Angels, the most ancient of all the angel festivals. Michaelmas, as it was known, was the Christian equivalent of the autumn equinox. It is the time the weather changes.
In the Book of Revelation, Michael leads God’s armies against Satan’s forces.
September 30, 2010 at 1:53 pm
Having received a solid theological education at Concordia Seminary – Saint Louis, I would not wish to see the discipline diminished. It is singularly noteworthy that the LC-MS has one-half the number of members as the ELCA but requires only two seminaries to produce their Pastors. As tough as the decision would be with regard to which seminaries would be eliminated, one solution seems to be to reduce the number of seminaries in the ELCA.
September 30, 2010 at 2:21 pm
Orangeburg Lutheran Church
Bethel Lutheran Church
Trinity Lutheran Church
Luther Memorial Lutheran Church
Nebraska Lutheran Men in Mission
Mark Schubert Memorial Fund
Sheridan Lutheran Church
This is the list of congregations which contributed to my seminary education. I rejoice that I was not a Fund for Leaders in Mission handout. Rather, I was the recipient of embodied communities and people.
My home church has a Big Fat Fall Festival every year to generate financial support for seminarians. Trinity values educated leaders. I had the joy of visiting every congregation that helped pay for my seminary. I was thoroughly connected to them, and they to me. In my interactions with these congregations, I learned that all of these congregations and foundations value educated leaders. Not only this, but the matter became personal for each church/person I’ve listed. Whether it was due to having gone through a recent vacancy, or whether it was due to actually knowing me and participating in raising me up in the faith. It mattered to these congregations that a seminary education be financially feasible for a fellow brother or sister discerning a call to ministry.
Now more than ever, we need leaders in the church who have been well-formed. You get what you pay for. Once upon a time pastors were the most knowledgeable members of the communities they led. I’m not so certain that’s still the case. And again, it’s not only knowledge that is at stake here, it’s also formation. The conversations, the relationships, the challenging course material – God uses these experiences like a refiner’s fire.
The issue is not the shortfall of money – that’s simply a symptom of an even larger issue: congregations who fail to embrace the baptismal promise to support and pray for their brothers and sisters and their (entire) life in Christ. Leaders in the Church are being called RIGHT NOW to be good stewards of those baptismal promises…to help congregations see the connections, the covenant, and the value in raising up and supporting leaders in the Church. 2 years is not enough. I wonder whether 4 years even cuts it in some congregations.
In matters of formation, too, we might also reflect on the recurring problems of pastoral malfeasance. A shorter, streamlined formation for leaders in the Church, in my mind, does not give heed to the recurring problems of pastoral misconduct. Sifting happens in the seedbed that is seminary. Not enough sifting, it would seem. The easy answer, in my mind, would be to economize here. Much more difficult to address the disconnect and lack of faithfully and faith-filled congregations…I side with this difficult work, because I have encountered a powerful God who makes it possible.
September 30, 2010 at 2:25 pm
“faithfully formed and faith-filled” – correcting an omission in my last sentence.
September 30, 2010 at 5:23 pm
I take offense to your comment about not being a handout to the Fund For Leaders in Mission. I was one of those recipients and to me it wasn’t a handout. To me it allowed me to go to seminary. Had I not received it, I might not have gone. To me it made me sense that the “larger” church valued me and God’s calling in my life. Let’s not forget, there are a great many people who invested in this fund and I don’t think they are any less appreciated than the churches you listed above. I see no difference. We need more congregations like those you mentioned above and more people like those who contributed to the Fund For Leaders In Mission to help decrease the debt on our students in seminary.
October 1, 2010 at 11:29 am
Luther seminary has one donor who gives more than the ELCA and synods combined.
October 1, 2010 at 12:23 pm
Conference of Bishops disccussion this morning with the eight seminary presidents was vibrant, and all over the board. There was a lot of conversation around distance learning, consortiums (interdenominational seminary clusters) and working more closely with our ELCA colleges and universities. There was lament that the market too often dictates where we go with our structures. Nevertheless, what if we had interdenominational seminaries with Lutheran departments all over the U.S? We could have a seminary in every major city of the U.S. There are excellent seminaries in Dallas, Houston and Austin. Why not have the option to learn in a rich interdenominational environment in all three places and more? This might allow people to be in theological formation while also staying engaged in their specific ministry context. There was also conversation around training 1,000 evangelists, if evangelism, mission, outreach is truly our priority. Seminaries evolved because the education that universities gave pastoral candidates coiuld be bookish. The seminary was designed to supplement the academy with spiritual practices. What if seminaries were primarily about spiritual formation?