Sadly, on February 21, Concordia College Alabama announced it will close its doors at the end of the spring 2018 Semester. This tragedy puts an exclamation mark on the ineffectiveness of our current Synodical leadership. Our Synod’s only historically black college is shutting down. The closing of Selma is heart-breaking to tens of thousands of faithful people in the LCMS who faithfully supported Concordia Alabama for generations. The problems that led to Selma’s closing — and Concordia Portland’s problems with student clubs and their community — can be traced back to the United Lister leadership that currently controls our Synod. Selma’s Closure Happened during this Synod Leadership’s Watch Who is responsible for the loss of one of our Concordia’s? Fingers will be pointed at many people for the closure of Selma. In the end, Selma’s closure is due to failed leadership at the top of our Synod (CLICK HERE to
Category: Essays and Articles
Essays and Articles by the writing staff of Congregations Matter
A Tale of Two Concordias: Selma and Ann Arbor
The Selma Times-Journal broke the story on February 6: Unless investors are found immediately for Concordia, Selma, the school will close. Click here to read the full story. That’s not what happened with Concordia, Ann Arbor, when that school was in distress. Heroic efforts were made by Michigan District President David Maier, the Concordia University System Board and other Synod leadership to find a solution. If Selma is in desperate need of an investor, why isn’t the LCMS investing? It seems that Concordia College, Selma, is being left by our leadership to go bankrupt. Is that how Synod under President Harrison and the United List majority on the Concordia University System Board make decisions now about the future of our Concordia’s? No vote of a convention. No information shared. Congregations are left in the dark. Is Synod’s leadership so secretive now we must read a local newspaper to find out
LCMS Mission History in Hong Kong
Transparency from the United-Lister Synod leadership in St. Louis is lacking. Without consultation with our largest partner church in Hong Kong, Office of International Mission leaders in St. Louis announced for the first time publicly on Monday, February 5, that LCMS Asia mission operations are moving from Hong Kong, China, to Chiayi, Taiwan, Republic of China. What is causing President Harrison to sell our $35 million Hong Kong property and relocate our LCMS Asia headquarters to distant Taiwan? Did he forget the mission work of the Lutheran Church Hong Kong Synod (LCHKS) he praised just four years ago during the anniversary of 100 years of ministry to China? Please watch and listen to the two minute video below. Hear Matt Harrison honor the work of our partner church, the Lutheran Church Hong Kong Synod. How Will St. Louis Use the $35 Million? Why up to now haven’t congregations in Synod been informed
Character and Ethics Needed in Our Next President
“Faithful churches cultivate character.” Thus writes Concordia Seminary Professor Joel Biermann in his book, A CASE FOR CHARACTER: Towards a Lutheran Virtue Ethics. 1 Rev. Dr. Biermann recounts how Lutherans are unfairly portrayed as soteriological reductionists pitting law and gospel against one another. Some critics say Lutheran theology and ethical teaching simply don’t fit together. Biermann admits some Lutheran preachers have indeed spent too little pulpit time on clear Scriptures regarding how we Christians ought to live. Dr. Biermann’s prescriptions for re-emphasizing our Lutheran Confessions’ solid commitment to character and virtue ethics are valuable. His book’s message is also timely as we witness widely-known men losing leadership positions due to their wrongful actions toward women as revealed via the #metoo movement. Joel reminds fellow pastors, “Christian people need to be trained in virtue. A noble character does not simply happen.” He also believes community can still shape and sustain a
Congregational Self-Governance Versus Hierarchialism
The History, Theology and Practice of Congregational Self-Governance in the LCMS In terms of governance and order, the Missouri Synod has throughout its history balanced power between the baptized and the ordained. We have made our decisions at conventions through votes mediated by an equal representation of clergy and laity. These votes were not to be viewed as mandates, but as carefully crafted and thoroughly dialogued advice. In a fun, tongue-in-cheek essay, the Editorial Staff of Congregations Matter has provided another brief history of the LCMS on one issue: Congregational Self-Governance as opposed to the current Synod trend towards hierarchialism. The essay reviews our history, theology, and the unfortunate, current tendency of our Synod to move from prizing the Priesthood of All Believers and Congregational Polity toward a foreign, non-Lutheran emphasis on maintaining and growing the structure itself and fulfilling its needs at the expense of the our “first love”:
LCMS Historical Bastion for Congregational Autonomy
Missouri Synod history is replete with instances when those who espoused hierarchical control were in conflict with “Missouri’s” understanding of Scripture on the issue of congregational autonomy. We are sad to see the growing attack on the Scripture in our Synod on this principal upon which the Synod was founded! The following article by Pastor Mike Ramey is a comprehensive historical overview of a grave time in our Synod when first and founding President C.F.W. Walther had to fend off attempts by Grabau and Loehe to exert a hierarchical approach to governance at the expense of the local congregation in his day. History Repeats Itself We need to be aware that a full fledged attack on the rights of the local congregation is in full swing in our day. President Walther would have been gravely saddened and moved to pick up the fight should he have lived to see the darkness that is descending upon our beloved Synod in our
Millions of Disaster Relief Dollars Still in St. Louis?
Did you send a check to LCMS Disaster Relief in St. Louis and specify you wanted your dollars to go to Hurricane Harvey victims? Do you know what happened to your contributions? The Selfless Work By Our Texas District First, some good news. If you instead sent your contribution to the Texas District of the LCMS and specified your dollars were for Harvey victims, every single dollar you sent to our Texas District is going to Harvey relief. Not a dime will be kept by the district office as it quickly distributes your funds to families with needs. This is selfless of our Texas District since staff time has been heavily used for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. And, this has been a labor of love for them. But, what if you sent your Hurricane Harvey donations to LCMS Disaster Relief at Synod headquarters in St. Louis? St. Louis Disaster Relief Keeps A
Hurricane Harvey Funds Stay in St. Louis
Did you send a check to LCMS Disaster Relief in St. Louis and specify you wanted your dollars to go to Hurricane Harvey victims? Do you know what happened to your contributions? First, some good news. If you instead sent your contribution to the Texas District of the LCMS and specified your dollars were for Harvey victims, every single dollar you sent to our Texas District is going to Harvey relief. As of November 22, over $1,000,000 has been received by the Texas District and most of it has already been distributed. That percentage will quickly rise to 100%. Not a dime was kept by the district office as it gathered, and then quickly distributed your funds to families with needs. This is selfless of our Texas District since staff time has been heavily used for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. And, this has been a labor of love for them.
Concordia President Asks for Regent Selection Flexibility
“The growth and development of our Concordia University System (CUS) is one of the most remarkable stories in all of U. S. higher education,” writes Concordia St. Paul President, Rev. Dr. Tom Ries. (For a full copy of Ries’ article, click here or the link at the bottom.) Our Concordia’s are asking for support from LCMS congregations. They want Synod to change the governance model of our university system to allow greater flexibility in the selection of members of their Boards of Regents. They ask that we pass a CUS overture at 2018 District Conventions and again in Tampa in 2019 (the CUS overture will be the subject of a future Congregations Matter article). As Ries writes: “The greatest need for help from the church at the Concordia institutions today is a change in the governance model, specifically the formation and responsibilities of the boards of regents….Approval by the Synod in convention
HARRISON BLAMES WOMEN FOR DECLINING MEMBERSHIP
As 2016 drew to a close and Synod President Matt Harrison’s salary ballooned to $252,573 from $210,156, Harrison ended his lucrative year by laying the blame for declining LCMS membership in the laps of what he considers not-pregnant-often-enough LCMS women.