St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer on Harrison’s call to local church

[St. Louis Post-Dispatch/stltoday.com religion writer Tim Townsend has a new article today on LCMS President Matt Harrison (right) accepting a call as an assistant pastor at a local church here in St. Louis. You can click the link to go to the complete article, Missouri Synod president to assist at Ladue parish church. I’ll just post some excerpts here. CH]

As a student of synod history, Harrison knew that no president of the church had simultaneously helped pastor a church since John Behnken in the 1950s. He also knew, as the author of a book about the church’s first five leaders, that for the first century of the denomination’s history, it was common practice for a synod president to have a pastoral role in a local congregation. . . .

In a move not seen in the synod for 60 years, Harrison will not only manage the second-largest Lutheran denomination in the country, but he’ll also get his uniform dirty.

“The Missouri Synod has been stagnant for 40 years,” Harrison said. “There are many different reasons for that, but this is a public affirmation of the importance of a local parish, and local pastors.”

On Oct. 11, after Village Lutheran called Harrison, he let it be known to his nearly 3,000 Facebook friends that he’d been asked.

His status update said he was “deeply humbled by the fidelity, confidence … and love of these saints & Pr. Kevin Golden. I and my family request your prayers.”

And he got them — in 80 comments (along with 194 “likes”).

“What a wonderful possibility that a Synod President could have one foot in the parish!” one person wrote.

“Even the prez needs to keep his preaching chops!!” wrote another.

“Am I dreaming?” another asked. “Is this my grandfather’s church?”

A few were more realistic. . . .

“Hate to break out the ice water,” one person commented on Harrison’s Facebook page. “But that old country saying about riding two horses with one behind comes to mind. You’ve saddled up the largest parish in the world. All 2.4 million of us. I know how you love a challenge and if there is a mortal man today who could do it all, it’s you. Praying for you Matt; real hard.” . . .

Village Lutheran will install Harrison as its assistant pastor at its 10:45 a.m. service on Jan. 9. His first duty will be to officiate during Communion. . . .

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