OVERTURE TO RETURN PASTORS TO PARISH MINISTRY

 

WHEREAS      the 2003 edition of the Lutheran Annual at Page 727 disclosed that between 1981 and 2001, 593 members of the clergy of the LCMS left the parish ministry and took a position with Synod, Districts and others, and

 

WHEREAS      page 727 disclosed that in the same twenty years the number of vacant parishes in the LCMS went from 672 to 1,180, an increase of 508, at a time when the total preaching stations in the LCMS totaled 6,150, and

 

WHEREAS,     the LCMS experienced rapid growth during the period from 1940 to about 1975, and that Franklin Littell of Temple University wrote in a 1976 atlas entitled The Macmillan Atlas History of Christianity about the LCMS:

“Church growth today seems to be a function of lay initiative and lay initiative seems to be most vigorous in those churches which have no strong hierarchies or judicatories...

One of the most rapidly growing churches is the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod which has in the last fifteen years added nearly 600,000 members. Since 1940 it has shown a 120% increase, while the more liberal Lutheran churches have registered less than 60% increase...Under (Walther's) leadership an extensive system of parochial schools was inaugurated. In 1872 a Lutheran Synodical Conference came into being which united several conservative groups which stressed the responsibility and initiative of members of local congregations.”

Littel stated that the most important cause of growth is decentralized policy which he properly defines as those churches which have no strong hierarchies or judicatories. The term "Judicatory" means a system of courts of law for the administration of justice.

Rev. Martin R. Noland, in his address to the Association of Confessional Lutherans on April 4, 1997, at Chicago stated:

“The survival of Biblical and confessional theology in the Missouri Synod was chiefly a result of its decentralized policy, not of any particular virtues in its membership or even its theology,” and

 

WHEREAS,     On September 8, 2001, President Kieschnick gave an extensive speech in St. Louis on his view of the current status in the LCMS.  In this speech he related the figures in columns 1, 3 & 4, but for some reason never even mentioned the figures in column 2.

 

1970 1980 1990 2000
1.   Member Contributions $200,000,000     $1,000,000,000
2.   LCMS Congregations $48,846,524 $69,274,271 $101,757,161 $127,554,235
3.  Districts sent to Synod  $25,000,000     $25,000,000
4.   Baptized Members  2.8 million     2.6 million

          

Source: Lutheran Annuals; speech by President Kieschnick, 9-8-01 at St. Louis; Church Information Center LCMS.  President Kieschnick mentioned 1, 3 & 4 in his speech.  For some reason he did not mention 2.  Could the reason be that he was a Past District President from Texas?

 

WHEREAS,     Our church is in a profound crisis.  If we don’t take effective action now, in 10 years there may not be a LCMS.  Do the math.  About 400 pastors a year leave the clergy roster from retirements (at age 65), deaths and just plain leaving before retirement (about 175 a year).  Together, our two seminaries graduate about 200 pastors a year.  400 minus 200 means the LCMS is experiencing a net loss of about 200 pastors a year.  If we don’t change our current direction, in 2013 the LCMS would have 3,180 vacant parishes rather than the current 1,180.

 

BE IT RESOLVED,      that our congregation, a member of the LCMS, requests that the 2004 convention of the LCMS direct that over the next three years the 593 pastors of the LCMS serving in “District, Synod and others” be returned to the parish ministry of the LCMS and that the funds currently being expended by “District, Synod and others” to support these pastors be returned to the LCMS congregations of the Synod which contributed said funds.

 


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