ACELC — Unbiblical Removal of Pastors, and the Church

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Be sure to mark your calendars for the 2015 ACELC Free Conference Feb 10-12th at Kansas City, MO.

 

ACELC-Logo“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

“Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (I Corinthians 4:1f).

“Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses” (I Timothy 5:17-19).

Christ established the Office of the Ministry in the Church and for the Church, His Bride, “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish”(Ephesians 5:26f). Christ’s ultimate purpose in establishing the Office is to serve as His voice, hands, and feet in order “that [His Bride] should be holy and without blemish.” We know and acknowledge of course that only “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7), and thus it is Christ’s accomplished work in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension which did the heavy lifting. Even so, in a sense not wholly separated from John the Baptist’s role at Jesus’ Baptism “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15), the pastor is placed in the Office to carry out his role through which Christ’s Bride is “sanctif[ied] (set apart) and cleanse[d] … with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church … holy and without blemish.”

On account of this critical end result of having a “glorious church”which is “holy and without blemish,” Jesus’ warning to “beware of false prophets … in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15) is of paramount importance to the Church. This warning comes directly on the heels of His exhortation regarding the two ways of life which are distinguished by the narrow gate and narrow way – versus the wide gate and wide way. The difference between the two He describes respectively as the “few who find it,” versus the “many who go in by it” (7:13f). On account of this vast difference, and the damning nature of getting it wrong, when Scripture speaks of pastors “as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God,” it further qualifies this office when it adds, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (I Corinthians 4:1f).

Faithful pastors, then, are essential to the Triune God’s work on earth, not so much because He needs them on His part, but because His pilgrims and sojourners on earth need the services provided through“the elders who rule well … especially those who labor in word and doctrine” (I Timothy 5:17). Why? Because the Triune God has bound His Church to His rightly proclaimed Word as the means by which He delivers pilgrims and sojourners out of their sin into eternal life with Him. This essential correlation between God, pastors, people, and the Word is so important that St. Paul sets forth two admonitions in the next two verses which are given as a safeguard to prevent wrongful mistreatment of God’s instruments. “For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,”and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.”(I Timothy 5:17-19).

First, it is most important to God that pastors be paid a livable wage in order that they can carry out their “labors in Word and doctrine”without being hindered with temporal concerns which the hearers are able to alleviate through their combined firstfruits giving. After all, it is to the hearer’s temporal and eternal benefit that their pastor be unhindered in his God-given vocation. Second, because of the nature of their office being a divine institution, and because of the importance of their work for the sake of the Church and the world, no one is to“receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.” Why? The rules of evidence require at least that many witnesses to establish guilt for any sin or iniquity (Deuteronomy 19:15), and in the case of pastors this is doubly important because they are Christ’s instruments given to the Church as gifts “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Ephesians 4:11ff).

Scripture is clear, the agenda of the devil – the father of lies – is to destroy and obscure the glory of Christ and the salvation of the Christian. Because this is true, there is no office which is more under attack from the father of lies than the office of pastor – for the one who is placed into this office is given the public authority of the Keys, which opens and closes “the narrow gate” and administers the means for believers to remain in “the narrow way.”

For this reason, the LCMS has always (at least on paper) held to the “accepted practice” in the Church, which lists three reasons – and no other – for the Church, working as God’s instrument, to publicly remove a pastor from his office. These reasons are: 1) teaching false doctrine (Titus 1:9); 2) offensive conduct (I Timothy 3:7); and 3) willful neglect of official duties (I Timothy 2:2 & I Corinthians 4:1f). Deposal of a pastor for any other reason is to remove what God has put in place through rightly ordered means, and is thus an offense to Christ and intolerable to His Bride, the Church. Much more from Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions regarding this topic of unbiblical removal of pastors may be found on the ACELC website, but suffice it to say that the Synod’s historical record in upholding this divine office, especially over the past couple generations, is sad, shameful, and in serious need of review by the Church.

To aid in bringing the light of Scripture and the Confessions to bear witness in this important matter, the next ACELC Conference is titled: “Office of the Holy Ministry, Part II (Unbiblical Removal of pastors).” This Conference will be held at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Missouri from February 10-12, 2015, and you may register online or learn more about this Conference at our website. Also available at the website are all the papers from last year’s conference, which was Part I of this topic.

 
The writer to the Hebrews gives us sound advice in this matter regarding the treating of pastors according to God’ intention: “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).

Pastor Bruce G. Ley
Documents Chairman, ACELC
pastorley@leychalet.com

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He’s responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.


Comments

ACELC — Unbiblical Removal of Pastors, and the Church — 30 Comments

  1. Once again this topic surfaces. My suggestion is that unless one can provide evidence, evidence which is based upon other than the claims of the pastor who was supposedly removed improperly, this sort of article amount to nothing more or less than an attempt to stir up trouble.

  2. Something other than the claims by those who are removed. In my adult life, I have known of several situations from several different church bodies, in which men were asked to resign, or were forced out of their calls. In every situation except possibly one, there was fault on both sides, meaning the pastor involved at least shared fault with the congregation.

    In a church body which has (as I recall) over six thousand congregations and about nine thousand clergy, there are going to be situation in which a man is improperly fired. I do not defend it, I merely recognized that pastors are sinful humans as are the congregations they serve. Nothing I have seen, other than from groups like ACELC, says that it is a systemic problem.

  3. I agree with David. Pastors are sinful, and when faced with their own failures they, like everyone else, will try to cover them up. They will cry that they were unjustly removed because they don’t want to admit that they were lazy or a jerk to people or spent all of their time in their office writing articles about the problems in synod. Most of the time, and yes I mean most of the time, pastors that are removed deserved to be removed.

  4. David,
    If reception of truth is dependent on personal experiences no one would have a true saving faith in Christ Jesus.
    Why do I write that? What connection is there to what I write to what you write or the issue at hand?
    Many on this website have experience with one side or the other (or both sides) of this issue, myself included. It is divisive at it’s core for sure! It can jade a person or a congregation for years or a lifetime. But seeking to address an issue is not necessarily decisive in itself. I encourage you to read the following words of our Lord to His Apostles:

    16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

    24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant[e] above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign[f] those of his household.

    26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.[g] 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?[h] And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

    34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

    40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

    Where then is our hope?

    We refute sin and error in the world or the Church where necessary not in an effort to be right or show ourselves on the right side on any given issue but rather to preach and proclaim the truth of Christ Jesus, the one who was sinless yet sacrificed Himself in our place.

    Peace in Christ,
    Noye

  5. For this reason, the LCMS has always (at least on paper) held to the “accepted practice” in the Church, which lists three reasons – and no other – for the Church, working as God’s instrument, to publicly remove a pastor from his office. These reasons are: 1) teaching false doctrine (Titus 1:9); 2) offensive conduct (I Timothy 3:7); and 3) willful neglect of official duties (I Timothy 2:2 & I Corinthians 4:1f).

    Actually, the current “offical” LCMS guidelines for a congregation’s constitution and bylaws (last revised November 2012) now indicate five valid reasons for removal of a called worker (pastor or commissioned minister): “persistent adherence to false doctrine, scandalous life, willful neglect of the duties of office, the inability to perform those duties, or domineering in office.” This is on page 8/16, item 6.4. I suspect that the last one is a fairly recent addition, since it is the only one missing from my church’s governing documents, which were last rewritten about 15 years ago.

  6. @David Hartung #3
    January 8th, 2015 at 07:55 | #3 Reply | Quote
    Something other than the claims by those who are removed. In my adult life, I have known of several situations from several different church bodies, in which men were asked to resign, or were forced out of their calls. In every situation except possibly one, there was fault on both sides, meaning the pastor involved at least shared fault with the congregation.

    Even if your statement is true, David, the proper solution would be for both Pastor and people to resolve their issues with the help of the CC or the DP and for that Pastor to keep his call.
    If agreed, after discussion, the DP might put a man on a call list and help him find another place, in the regular way, in a decent world. No way should good ordained men be shoved out on to the limb of “candidacy”, said limb to be sawn off four years later after the DP has totally neglected his responsibility to find them suitable calls.

    You have been around long enough to have read statements by lay people who have had a Pastor removed by Elders who gave NO reason, Scriptural, “Lutheran” or otherwise. A year or two later, a rumor went around that town, initiated by the Senior Pastor’s wife, that the removed Associate had “preached false doctrine”. No such “false doctrine” was ever identified. In fact, the Senior Pastor had treated the ordained subordinate as if he were a vicar, requiring him to turn in his sermons for criticism a week in advance. If there had been false doctrine it would have been the responsibility of the Senior Pastor who exacted such demeaning requirements!

    In another case, Elders and the Senior Pastor admitted [to me and others] that there was no fault that would prevent an Associate from taking another call… and still forced him to resign! Subsequently, when people asked why he was removed (and the Elder left no doubt in my mind that the Pastor was forced out, without any questions from the Elders or any opportunity to speak to the Elders), the Senior Pastor “blames the victim”: “he resigned”. No explanation.

    I heard the sermons of both of these men and was served by them for seven years each.
    I say, David Hartung, that they were faithful Pastors. There was no Lutheran reason why either of them should have been relieved of their calls. In neither case, did the whole congregation participate as is proper for issuing and for rescinding a call. Most of them still don’t know what happened. Large numbers were dismayed and contacted the Associate for answers. Some members left both congregations.

    But in both cases, the core majority sat still and let their leadership do as they pleased.

    “All that is necessary for evil to prevail is that good men do nothing!”

  7. David,
    As a wife of a pastor who is currently going through being ‘forced out’ by a congregation, I can tell you that yes, my husband does have some fault in the current situation at our church. But that is because he is the pastor here, it is not because he has done any of the reasons that are set by the LCMS as acceptable reasons for removal of a pastor. My husband has fault because he is involved. I have fault, because I am involved. But congregations have somehow become non-accountable to anyone, be it Christ, the district or anyone else. A hire and fire mentality is sweeping across the congregations of our Synod, and this is very unfortunate. As a family that is being torn apart by this new mentality, I ask that you look a little closer at the real reasons that pastors are driven out of congregations, instead of assuming that all have done wrong. These are faithful men, and putting them on CRM status where they sit for years on end is not making our synod any stronger, it is driving a wedge between us.

  8. @Michelle #8
    Michelle, I am so sorry that you are in such a horrible situation. Please know that you and your family, especially your husband, and the congregation he serves, are in my prayers. You are right. The hire/fire mentality is gaining momentum. Thank God that ACELC is calling us to repentance on this very issue.

  9. So, anecdotal evidence by men who have been removed is not sufficient? But why should we accept your anecdotal evidence, David, that in all the situations you claim to have seen, less one perhaps, that the pastors were at least half at fault?

    Pastor Poppe’s question is a good one. What evidence or statistics would satisfy you, and from what source would they be acceptable?

    If we discount the claims of men who have been removed, must we then discount the claims of district presidents and/or congregations who have removed them?

    Would any district president or congregation willingly admit they had removed a pastor for unbiblical reasons? Or that they had so embittered a man’s life and undermined his ministry that he finally resigned in despair and in the hope that he might get a little severance package in order to feed his family for a few months? How do we categorize those situations?

    Imagine calling up a district president. “Hello Mr. District President, would you be able to tell me how many men during your tenure you and/or congregations under your care have removed
    from their calls for unscriptural reasons? Hello, hello? Are you there, Mr. District President?”

  10. I believe David may have unintentionally revealed the heart of the problem when he wrote, “there are going to be situation in which a man is improperly fired.”

    It is this “hire/fire” mentality that allows congregations to forget about the nature of a call and seek to remove a man without working to correct the situation. Is that different from the world’s view of marriage; if problems arises — just get a divorce?

  11. @David Hartung #3

    David,

    Thank you for the response. Sorry for my delay in responding; I have had a very busy day with pastoral duties. Since I have never been removed or forced to resign, hopefully you will receive my comments with a different perspective.

    You are certainly correct that there is generally fault on all sides. Sinners sin. Thanks be to God for the precious blood of Jesus that forgives and heals. The issue at hand is when a congregation uses criteria other than the Scriptural criteria we have all agreed upon to evaluate and even terminate the call of their pastor. This problem is not unique to the LCMS. Christianity Today, in a survey of pastors of all denominations, reports that over 25% of all ministers have been terminated or forced to resign. http://www.christianitytoday.com/leaders/newsletter/cln00712.html

    Certainly the numbers are not that high in the LCMS, but specific numbers are difficult to obtain. I can personally attest to at least 12 pastors that have been removed or forced to resign, contrary to the Scriptural reasons that we have agreed to, in the last ten years here in my district; three are currently members of the congregation I serve. The problem is real. Some have theorized that this is simply the natural result of Church Growth principles and business models being incorporated by LCMS congregations. A “we hired him and we can fire him” mentality is very real in some if not many of our congregations.

    When a pastor finds himself on the dreaded “candidate” status, or even worse “non candidate” status, he is often times considered “damaged goods” by any potential calling congregation and moved to the bottom of the list. Few District Presidents fight to get their names on a call list. They are often forgotten. The situation is tragic.

    Several years ago, when I served on the Nebraska District Board of Directors, I commented at a Presidium meeting that it seemed that the number of these removals/forced resignations was on the increase. I asked, tongue in cheek, if there was some sort of “playbook” that District Presidents use, because the pattern was so similar in each case. At our next meeting we were each given a copy of “an internal COP document,” authored by Will Sohns, titled, “The Divine Deposal/Dismissal of Ministers of the Word and Sacraments.” Since that time, I have discovered that this document has been around in various forms for more than 20 years, is used by several District Presidents, has not been approved by anyone other than the COP, and has never been through doctrinal review. More than two years ago the ACELC asked for an official doctrinal opinion (gutachten) from both the St. Louis and Ft. Wayne seminaries; we have heard nothing.

    I could give you specific names and details of many situations that I am familiar with, but I don’t see how this would help. In fact, it could quite possibly make it even more difficult for them to receive a call.

    If you haven’t already done so, I would encourage you to check out the materials from last year’s ACELC Conference. If you would be willing to attend this year’s conference in Kansas City, I would be happy to pay your registration out of my own pocket; that way you could hear everything first hand and ask any questions you may have of our presenters.

    In Christ, Clint

  12. @Rev. Clint K. Poppe #12
    If you would be willing to attend this year’s conference in Kansas City, I would be happy to pay your registration out of my own pocket; that way you could hear everything first hand and ask any questions you may have of our presenters.
    In Christ, Clint

    I sincerely hope that David Hartung will accept your offer!

  13. Well, Pastor Poppe’s comment is much more helpful than mine. But I don’t back away from my comment. The question needs to be asked, “What will count as acceptable evidence and from what source would it be acceptable?” And why?

  14. Congregations–Pastors–all of us–do sometimes face the choice of whether to be unhappy, or to be forsworn.

    In a marriage, in a Call, both sides make vows. Sadly I think too often the ‘But I’m unhappy’ outweighs the vow. Kyrie Eleison.

  15. @Jon Alan Schmidt #6

    >> … or domineering in office.” This is on page 8/16, item 6.4. I suspect that the last one is a fairly recent addition …

    Its pedigree is from Walther, Kirche und Amt/Church and Ministry [Office], thesis IX, “the Preacher may not dominate over the church”?

  16. @Gregjgrose #16

    … or domineering in office.” This is on page 8/16, item 6.4. I suspect that the last one is a fairly recent addition …

    Extremely “subjective”… and out of date. The “domineering” become bureaucrats these days.
    It’s not nearly as easy as it once was to be “domineering” over a congregation. Too many times it’s the other way ’round, on that level.

  17. @Rev. Clint K. Poppe #12

    Pastor Poppe, I could also give you examples of situations of which I am aware in which pastors were in a situation in which they refused to admit their fault. I have no doubt that you sincerely believe that there is a problem, and you are working diligently to correct it. The problem is that without objective evidence, your claim that this is a systemic problem gets, in my opinion very close to the 8th commandment line.

    Like many other people, I have had to deal with others passing judgement without getting all the facts, and I have become somewhat hard core about the issue. My suggestion is that unless you have spoken with people on both sides of these issues, you do not know the whole story, which means that you cannot make an informed call.

  18. @David Hartung #18

    David,

    Thank you for your response, but I’m not really sure what you are looking for. I too can give examples of situations where pastors have refused to admit their fault, but that is not the issue at hand, is it? When pastors are guilty of persistent adherence to false doctrine, a scandalous lifestyle, or willfully neglecting their duties, they should be called to repentance, and if they fail to repent, they should be removed. I would hope we are all agreed on that; I believe we are.

    You earlier stated that you were not aware of pastors being removed from office or forced to resign for reasons that were not Scriptural. You asked for examples. I gave you several examples, including an internal COP document that outlines the process for a congregation to depose or ask their pastor to resign. These are all very public and very open situations. I spared you many of the personal details to protect the reputation of those involved.

    I am saddened that you would make the false assumption that I have not spoken with people on both sides of the issue, but I will not play the 8th Commandment card with you. As I stated earlier, three current members of the congregation I serve were either removed or forced to resign their call. Do you think I would not know their whole story? Not only I, but several members of my congregation worked with folks on both sides to try to bring reconciliation. In one case, when a pastor was being forced to resign for non Scriptural reasons, I encouraged him to stay and do his duty. I received an angry phone call from one of his elders, telling me that I “had no right to try to talk his pastor out of resigning.” When I stated that I was trying to support him and encourage him to follow the 10th Commandment, he replied, “To hell with you and to hell with the 10th Commandment.”

    I have also talked directly with many congregational leaders of pastors in crisis; I have sat with traumatized wives of pastors during meetings calling for their pastor-husband’s removal; I have been told that I could attend a congregational meeting as a support for a pastor being voted out of office and then denied access to the meeting; I have negotiated with the lawyer’s of congregations for severance pay when they were forcing their pastor to resign; I have spoken with several seminary professors and district presidents about the issue; I have spoken directly with President Rast and President Harrison about the issue.

    This is my last post here on this topic. If you still believe that this is a non issue, I pray that you never find yourself being removed from your call or forced to resign because of non Scriptural reasons. But if you do, I will fight just as hard for you and the truth of God’s Word as I have had the privilege to do for several brother pastors (some of them, by the way, were theologically the polar opposite of what many would call a “confessional” LCMS pastor.)

    In Christ, Clint

    PS My offer still stands regarding the ACELC Conference in Kansas City.

  19. @David Hartung #18
    unless you have spoken with people on both sides of these issues, you do not know the whole story, which means that you cannot make an informed call.

    I have and I can, (which is probably more than you can say.)
    And probably Pastor Poppe has, as well.

    Your avatar begins to make sense, Mr. Hartung.
    Don’t overload it; you might get stuck in the field.

  20. One wag had an amusing solution . . .

    After a congregation loses its third pastor (co-blame or not) . . .

    Disband the congregation.

  21. David Hartung :Once again this topic surfaces. My suggestion is that unless one can provide evidence, evidence which is based upon other than the claims of the pastor who was supposedly removed improperly, this sort of article amount to nothing more or less than an attempt to stir up trouble.

    Do you think that this is published somewhere? Congregation leaders and district presidents do not publicize their problems, so I don’t understand what evidence you’re looking for. When I was a congregation president I went to a sister congregation’s public meeting to defend their pastor and was asked to leave. I do know for a fact that a nearby sister congregation kicked out or drove away four pastors in a row. A small group tried to kick out my own pastor and one other in my circuit (a district vice president at that…), and three other congregations within a two hour drive.

    The LCMS Council of Presidents has pretty much built-in the failure of congregations to call a CRM Status Minister. For example, their 2000 Explanation of Candidate Status Form presumes guilt of some sort and this form is automatically sent to calling congregations and their District Presidents:

    Name of Candidate________________________________________
    Final Copy Approved 9/2000
    EXPLANATION OF CANDIDATE STATUS FORM
    This Form will be shared with other District Presidents and Calling congregations.
    It must have both the Candidate’s and the District President’s (or his representative’s) signature to be valid.
    (Please use additional paper to fully answer all questions — It is essential that your answers are complete)
    1. Date Candidate status began (month/day/year)
    2. Reason for going on Candidate status (Check as many as apply)
    ___ Advanced Degree ___ Burnout ___ Conflict ___ Specialized Certification ___ Team Ministry Problems ___ Forced Resignation ___ Voluntary Resignation ___ Vocational Reassessment___ Health ___ Family Concerns ___ Alleged Misconduct ___ Finances
    3. Please explain in detail all items checked in Question 2.
    4. Explain what insights you have gained through your Candidate experience.
    5. Explain what pro-active measures you have taken in response to your Candidate experience.
    6. Comment on your readiness to be considered for a Call at this time.
    7. Comment on your expectations of a calling congregation/school.
    8. List any limitations you feel are important in your consideration of a Call.
    9. Describe any other matters or circumstances which you feel a calling congregation/school should know about you and/or your family.
    10. Describe your involvement in ministry while on Candidate status.
    11. Are there any other personal or professional concerns that the District President or calling
    congregation/school should be informed about? Explain fully.
    12. Please share any other information which you feel would be helpful.
    13. The answers I have given are true and correct and I consent to this information being shared with other District Presidents and Calling congregations.
    ________________________________________ ______________________________________
    Signature of Candidate Date
    14. To the best of my information and understanding, these answers are accurate and complete
    ________________________________________ ______________________________________
    Signature of District President or his representative Date
    This form must be accompanied by up-to-date PIF and SET or PEIF and LEIF forms.

  22. Jon Alan Schmidt :

    For this reason, the LCMS has always (at least on paper) held to the “accepted practice” in the Church, which lists three reasons – and no other – for the Church, working as God’s instrument, to publicly remove a pastor from his office. These reasons are: 1) teaching false doctrine (Titus 1:9); 2) offensive conduct (I Timothy 3:7); and 3) willful neglect of official duties (I Timothy 2:2 & I Corinthians 4:1f).

    Actually, the current “offical” LCMS guidelines for a congregation’s constitution and bylaws (last revised November 2012) now indicate five valid reasons for removal of a called worker (pastor or commissioned minister): “persistent adherence to false doctrine, scandalous life, willful neglect of the duties of office, the inability to perform those duties, or domineering in office.” This is on page 8/16, item 6.4. I suspect that the last one is a fairly recent addition, since it is the only one missing from my church’s governing documents, which were last rewritten about 15 years ago.

    First, it’s a “sample” guideline. It wasn’t adopted by the Synod or any congregations.

    Second, it’s still three Scriptural reason that would warrant deposing a pastor. I believe they added a few examples to give a better explanation. Willful neglect is in the same category as inability to perform (incapacitation). Domineering in office could fall under false doctrine (offending in adiaphora) or scandalous life (fruits of the flesh)…its not a new category.

  23. Dr. Noland pointed out in an earlier BJS article that for 150 years if there was any sort of conflict the pastor would quietly seek a call elsewhere.

    It seems to me that today more pastors have taken the “you’re not going to throw me out” position, perhaps because district presidents don’t or won’t circulate pastors names on call lists. Our district president even uses “missional” vs. “maintenance” labels on pastors when meeting with calling congregations.

    This will become more of a public event as it keeps going on.

  24. helen :
    @David Hartung #18
    unless you have spoken with people on both sides of these issues, you do not know the whole story, which means that you cannot make an informed call.
    I have and I can, (which is probably more than you can say.)
    And probably Pastor Poppe has, as well.
    Your avatar begins to make sense, Mr. Hartung.
    Don’t overload it; you might get stuck in the field.

    Helen, I also have, which is why I take the position I take.

  25. @Tim Schenks #24

    Tim, et al:

    The presentation I am making at the ACELC conference (Feb. 10-12) deals a lot with historical evidence of unjust treatment against faithful Lutheran pastors by congregation members – but from even further back than 150 years ago. The time period this happened was in the late Reformation era / early Confessional era (around 1570’s to 1590’s).

    While I do not wish to spoil my thunder here, I will simply say that the evidence for my presentation is not anecdotal from those who suffered the abuse, but from investigations carried out by independent authorities and recorded in archives (and hence researched and written about today).

    One thing that has become clear to me as I have researched this and am preparing to present, is this. The devil effectively attacked the preaching of the Word in this way in the late 1500’s. He turned the hearts of some who heard the Word against the faithful pastors and embittered their lives. Some faithful pastors in the late 1500’s, the devil was even able to drive out of their pulpits by hardened hearts in their congregations, because these pastors held to Luther’s teaching.

    So if the devil has this effective strategy for attacking the preaching of the Word, hounding faithful proclaimers of the Word, and embittering their lives, and that he did it so well at least 500 years before, why would he give it up now?

    By the way, I do hope you take Pastor Poppe’s gracious offer and come to the conference.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  26. @David Hartung #27

    Thanks, David. I see that I addressed my former comment to Tim Schenks, and meant most of it for you. I only wanted to tell Tim that my presentation was going further back than 150 years.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  27. @Rev. Robert Mayes #28

    Thanks, David. I see that I addressed my former comment to Tim Schenks, and meant most of it for you.

    I sort of figured that out. If your paper is in the same quality as your brother’s(Benjamin) teaching, it should be an excellent paper.

  28. @David Hartung #29

    David:

    I do even refer to one of Ben’s papers. He helped me out a little bit with some background on the era in particular.

    I hope my paper is indeed excellent, and is received as such, as well. However, it must be finalized before that can happen.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

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