LHM and Concordia Chicago kick off Reformation 500th Anniversary

Lutheran Hour Ministries and Concordia Chicago Welcome member of the German Union Church to kick off festivities for the Reformation’s 500th Anniversary.

In an E-mail invitation sent by Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) pastors have been invited to a special reception on the campus of Concordia University – Chicago (CUC) by Christine Lieberknecht, the Minister-President of the Free State of Thuringia, in preparation for the “500th Anniversary of the Great Lutheran Reformation.” (click on the invitation to see it larger)

My first reaction was why would a German politician be speaking on this topic?  Further investigation reveals this woman was a pastor in the EKD before entering politics.  The EKD is basically the union church in Germany where there is altar and pulpit fellowship between Lutheran and Reformed.  In other words this is the old Prussian Union that Walther and others fled from to preserve the true teaching of the Gospel that the Reformation stood for.

One has to wonder if LHM and CUC could not have found someone better to kick off the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation than a Union Church clergy person turned politician.  One would hope that they would see this anniversary as an opportunity to proclaim the message of the Reformation; not to promote those who seek to water it down.

Pastor Roger Gallup
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
River Grove, IL

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

LHM and Concordia Chicago kick off Reformation 500th Anniversary — 29 Comments

  1. May 26, 2011, is a pretty early date for a kick-off 500th Anniversary of the Great Lutheran Reformation! Were all of the 2014-2017 dates already taken?

    Oh, wait… it’s to a “reception in preparation” of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Why do I think that those who attend better bring their checkbooks?

  2. Carl Vehse :May 26, 2011, is a pretty early date for a kick-off 500th Anniversary of the Great Lutheran Reformation! Were all of the 2014-2017 dates already taken?
    Oh, wait… it’s to a “reception in preparation” of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Why do I think that those who attend better bring their checkbooks?

    Where have I heard that before. Let me see….. Hm……. Oh yes, “Get out your checkbooks!”

    Got it!

    Johannes (I’m busy that day)

  3. Couldn’t find someone from the SELK? You know, the one we ARE in fellowship with? CUC still can’t learn? (from the previous safe zone b***s***)

  4. People, why are you surprised? Consider who is sponsoring this. First you have good ole Lutheran Hour Ministries. You remember these fine folks who did the hatchet job on Rev. Schultz for faithfully carrying out his duties as VP in the DP Benke/Yankee Stadium affair. Then you have Concordia Chicago and Dr. Johnson. We remember these from their recent sponsorship and support of the gay, lesbian and transgendered agenda. Now both of these fine organizations are sposoring a Reformation event with the German Union Church. Of course there is an ex pastorette featured. I guess if the E?CA can be in fellowship with reformed bodies why can’t LHM and Concordia Chicago be in fellowship with the reformed in Germany. Makes perfect sense to me considering the players involved

  5. Related to this thread and the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation is a March 2008 article, Wittenberg Project Legally Constituted, which included:

    On March 17th, 2008 the first board meeting of the newly constituted “International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg” (ILSW) was held in the Old University “Leucorea” [Greek for Wittenberg] in Wittenberg, Germany.

    Present for the meeting were leading representatives of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) from the USA and from its German sister church, the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) [SELK Bishop Hans-Joerg Voigt was then Board Chairman of the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg (ILSW); the Dr. Samuel H. Nafzger is now ILSW Board Chairman.]…

    Bishop Hans-Joerg Voigt (Hannover) reported the establishment of an agreement between the SELK and the territorial church prominent in the Wittenberg region, a denomination in the Union tradition of the Protestant Federation in Germany (EKD). The agreement regulates the use of church buildings by guest groups and proscribes any proselytizing in Wittenberg. The mutually agreed principles reiterate what is already standard procedure in the rules of the Association of Christian Churches [ACK – Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen, of which SELK is a member] in Germany and those in the Charta Oecumenica.

    The Charta Oecumenica applies to the Project Wittenberg-related International Lutheran Welcome Center and included requirements such as:

    In the course of publicity work and outreach efforts in Wittenberg the SELK declines actively to proselytize Christians from other churches

    All worship services are public. In the SELK admission to Holy Communion is regulated in this way: worshipers confessing the true presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar may be admitted, subject to the responsible decision of the officiating pastor.

    The SELK declares that the International Lutheran Welcome Center, planned jointly with the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), is open for guests from all denominations according to scheduling possibilities.

    In this Welcome Center the SELK will not normally schedule worship services at the same time as regular services in St. Mary’s Church.

    Within its own scheduling plans and possibilities the EKKPS agrees to the occasional use of their church buildings for services by the SELK. Such services should not take place in close time proximity to the regular Sunday worship services. The SELK plans to conduct all its church activities, especially worship services, in the house chapel of the Welcome Center.

    Legally binding decisions regarding use of the Castle Church (the right of usage lies with the Protestant Seminary) [and where Luther nailed the 95 Thesis] must be agreed upon by the Directors of the Seminary, the EKKPS and the SELK.

    .

  6. Here’s a brief explanation of various German church body acronyms, some of which were in my previous post.

    The Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD or Evangelical Church in Germany) is a federation of 22 Lufauxran, Reformed (Calvinist) and United (Lufauxran plus Calvinist) Protestant regional church bodies in Germany.

    One of the 22 church bodies is the Evangelische Kirche in Mitteldeutschland (EKM – Evangelical Church in Central Germany), which was formed in 2009 from the Evangelische Kirche der Kirchenprovinz Sachsen (EKKPS – Evangelical Church of the Church Province of Saxony – which established the Charta Oecumenica with SELK involving the International Lutheran Welcome Center) and the Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Thüringen (ELKT – Evangelical-Lufauxran Church in Thuringia, which back in the 1980s had assigned Christine Lieberknecht as vicar). The abominations of pastrixes and homosexual “marriages” are permitted in these Lufauxran churches.

    The Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche (SELK – Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church) is a confessional Lutheran church body of Germany and a member of the International Lutheran Council (ILC), as is the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

  7. However you all may feel about CUC inviting a former EKiD priestess to speak, could we for once get this right: Walther did not flee the Prussian Union! That’s just historically false. Saxony did not have a Union Church when the Stephanites emigrated. Rather, Saxony had a nominally Lutheran church (i.e. de jure ,not de facto). The consistory was controlled by rationalists. That was the problem.

  8. She is the leader of the “state” in Germany that will be hosting the celebration of the Reformation. That may be why she is coming – to promote the event which will be a big boon to her economy.

  9. This is a good example of why we have a funding problem in our Synod. Looking through the Lutheran Witness this month something really hit me. Check out the graph on page 13. We are not giving less money to Synod now than we were in 2001. We are giving less unrestricted funds. Total donations are not decreasing – in fact they are millions higher today than they were in 2001. The difference is that the vast majority are designated gifts. So what does that tell us? It tells us that we don’t have a money problem we have a trust problem.

    I a have faith in the new administration, but as of right now I have not really seen any big changes to our Synod that would rebuild the trust that the previous administration squandered. If Synod is really interested in rebuilding the trust, a special addition of the Lutheran Witness is not going to get the job done. Action on these kinds of activities would. The President needs to speak about things like this. It is a public issue and we have asked him to lead. So, lead.

  10. Yes, Richard @8, you may be onto something. With nothing on the CUC or the LHM websites about this invitation in which “pastors have been invited to a special reception,” the possibility of a promo for special group tours of Lutherland during the Reformation Anniversary period does seem like a possibility.

  11. @Joe Olson #9
    “Check out the graph on page 13. We are not giving less money to Synod now than we were in 2001. We are giving less unrestricted funds. Total donations are not decreasing – in fact they are millions higher today than they were in 2001. The difference is that the vast majority are designated gifts. So what does that tell us? It tells us that we don’t have a money problem we have a trust problem.”

    I am familiar enough with the workings of synod/district to agree with you that there is a trust problem/issue. But there’s more to it than that. The Synod for at least 20, if not 30 years has been pushing designated giving. Those who sponsored this scheme thought that people would start giving to designated ministries, while not decreasing undesignated gifts. It just doesn’t work that way. I have not studied data outside my district, but there is a definite correlation between giving and (are you ready?) attendance. Hello? Based on membership/attendance figures, perhaps the per capita giving is increasing–I don’t know. But when you factor in inflation, it may be quite the other way. In our district it’s almost a direct relationship between giving and attendance–both are decreasing. But the per capita giving is almost even. So, we have a stewardship issue, but it’s stewardship of souls. Now that’s something to think about.

    Johannes (been there, done that)

  12. Why celebrate schism in the first place? I never understood the attempt to celebrate “Reformation Day” aside from an attempt to displace Halloween.

  13. bcb :
    Why celebrate schism in the first place? I never understood the attempt to celebrate “Reformation Day” aside from an attempt to displace Halloween.

    Thank you for this amusing post! We certainly commemorate All Saints Day and its “eve” as well!

    We were kicked out. Take up your accusation of schism with the pope. Check out the Council of Trent if you haven’t done that yet. 🙂

  14. @mbw #13

    Hi mbw. I went to a LCMS school K-8. At first we had a Halloween Carnival, then we had “Fall Festival” with an eventual emphasis on “Reformation Day”. I’m glad I was able to amuse you.

    Even if “we were kicked out”, was it not still schism? How do you understand the word? Is there a better word to use?

  15. bcb :@mbw #13
    Hi mbw. I went to a LCMS school K-8. At first we had a Halloween Carnival, then we had “Fall Festival” with an eventual emphasis on “Reformation Day”. I’m glad I was able to amuse you.
    Even if “we were kicked out”, was it not still schism? How do you understand the word? Is there a better word to use?

    So the schism wasn’t necessary?

    J

  16. @bcb #14
    You said, “Even if “we were kicked out”, was it not still schism? How do you understand the word? Is there a better word to use?”

    Yes, the better word is “Reformation.” And the choice of all St’s Eve was, well, inspired.

    But, taking your argument further, we ought not celebrate the “schism” between Jesus and the Jews, between the New Testament and Old Covenant.

    Or the “schism” that our observance on July 4 represents.

    To be sure, many use these observances/celebrations as occasions for Jew-bashing, or Britain-baiting, or anti-Catholic rants. We’ve all heard them. However, the celebration of freedom, especially Christain freedom, in the best sense of the word is important, and I submit, necessary, and can and ought be observed without the rants, bashing, etc. that often accompany them. If you want to use the term “schism” go ahead. But don’t invest it with all the negative baggage that often accompanies it. If it was indeed a schism, it was absolutely necessary. “When in the course of human [and spiritual] events, it becomes necessary, etc., etc…..”

    Respectfully,

    Johannes

  17. bcb – we celebrate it because it represents the return of the true Gospel of our Lord to the pulpits of his Church. How could we not celebrate it?

  18. @Johannes #11

    Good points. I will say from my conner of the world it is a trust issue. We used to blindly send money to our district (who would then send much of that on to Synod). We switched to a designated giving model because we no longer trusted the Synod. I hope the Harrison admin. gives us reason to trust again.

  19. Lutherans celebrate the Reformation on October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther sent a letter along with 95 Theses opposing indulgences and other papal abuses to Elector Albrecht (Albert) of Mainz, who promptly forwarded a copy to Rome, and, as tradition has it, also posted the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

    The threat of schism was issued on June 15, 1520, as the papal bull, Exsurge Domine, with its demand that Martin Luther retract the errors of his writings by December 10, 1520. On December 10, Martin Luther burned the papal bull and other church canon near the Elster Gate at Wittenberg. As they shed a habit of political correctness and quietism Lutherans are starting to recognize and celebrate December 10 as a day when Luther stood up (again) to the intimidations of the Antichrist and his hellish horde.

    The schism was on January 3, 1521, with the papal bull, Decet Romanum Pontificem, excommunicating Martin Luther, and any followers, from the Roman Church. Nevertheless, Martin Luther and those who became Lutherans remained in the Holy Catholic Church (that is the true invisible Church) and formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church (the true visible Church). The pope remains the Antichrist; the Roman Church remains a heretical and schismatic sect.

  20. Just so we are all clear, LHM is an auxilliary of the synod. It is not an RSO. There is no control the synod has over an auxilliary. You can read all about it in Section 6.1 of the synod handbook (gotten to on the Board of Directors link on the LCMS website). RSO status can be yanked by the President’s Office but not an auxillary. It is pretty scary stuff when you get an auxillary that goes the way of Church Growth or liberalsim. Only the synod in convention can do anything about it.

    We have had some helpful dialogue on this site with the lay head of LHM. He seems like a guy who wants to listen and do the right thing. In this case, LHM did the wrong thing.

    TR

  21. Jason :
    Couldn’t find someone from the SELK? You know, the one we ARE in fellowship with? CUC still can’t learn? (from the previous safe zone b***s***)

    I see nothing in the invitation that even hints she is coming as a representative of the church.

    “Minister” in her title does not refer to a religious office in any way. “Minister-President” is equivalent to “governor” in the US. As far as I can tell, she is coming as an elected representative of her government, not the church. A SELK person is not coming because that office is not currently held by a SELK individual.

    Would we have objected to the governor of Missouri or the Mayor of Saint Louis, for instance, if they had hosted a reception for the LCMS at the 150th anniversary of our founding back in 1997? For that matter, do we object to Thrivent hosting receptions at conventions or giving out little gifts to those attending conferences?

    After all, Thrivent has pretty much thrown out any semblance of Lutheranism or even, frankly Christianity, while still claiming to be a religious benevolent association. They will not even match funds for any cause that is pro-life, anti-evolution, or anti-gay-affirmation. I’d much rather have a governmental official from Germany who hold her office through a legitimate election representing the state than a Thrivent hack who illegitimately claims to represent Lutheranism.

  22. @Matt #21

    Yes, if that is more the case, as a political representative, I can understand. And there is no confussion about roles or stances. If she was coming as a representative of a church, then there is a different tension, and whether we would pretend to accept or whatever kinds of wierd (mis)understandings. Not sure how to express that last sentence, but I was thinking along the ridiculous lines of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, that was really a silly feel-good excersize. I get worried when we pretend to play nice with differing denominations and doctrines, and then delusionally say “we are all Christians.” That just glosses over important issues, treating them as irrelevant. As per other threads: the lack of trust within the synod, and some new comments on and reports form the recent free conference in Seattle. Sorry if my thoughts sound jumbled, as I process these many threads into a coherent learning on my part.

  23. It is doubtful that Thuringa State Governor Lieberknecht will engaged in any Prussian Union brow-beating of prospective donors or tourists during the reception at Concordia-Chicago. Of more concern would be any handwaving by the Lutheran Hour Ministeries and Concordia-Chicago representatives regarding Lutheran ecumenical arrangements in Thuringa and Saxony for the upcoming Reformation Anniversary events.

    An example this kind of koinonia handwaving can be seen in WMLT’s “A Picture of Possibilities” regarding a recent conference of the E?CA-dominated Lutheran Services in America, one of the three large so-called “cooperation in externals” in which the Missouri Synod participates with the E?CA.

  24. Brothers (didn’t see any sisters checking in on this subject):
    Interestingly I received no phone calls on this subject. No one called to check facts before posting on this site. So, once again, let me jump in and see if I can clarify what is happening here. Once you know the facts, then, if you still find LHM in error on this endeavor, please call me and tell me why (314-317-4101)

     

    • President Lieberknecht came to us. Why? Because working with Trans World Travel, we sent a lot of people to the Passion Play in Oberammergau and the same PR firm which advertised Oberammergau is also helping her advertise the upcoming Reformation visits for Thuringia. She wants tourism in her province and she knows we can bring it.
    • This is not a fellowship issue on any level at all. It really has nothing to do with German church bodies–everything to do with German tourism and our proclamation of the Gospel from key German Reformation sites. If it is a fellowship issue, then I totally lack understanding of what Altar and Pulpit Fellowship means and I would expect that you would enlighten me as to how this violates any fellowship standards we might have.
    • We didn’t involve the SELK because the SELK didn’t approach us. Neither, by the way, did the EKD. This has nothing to do with either church body. It has to do with us working with the President of the province in which many Reformation sites are located. Through this involvement, we also have the ear and attention of the President of Saxony-Anhalt which should open some other doors for us in the coming years as we move toward 2017. If there are SELK members who can get us better access to the Reformation sites—who are in power in these two key provinces especially—we’d be happy to talk to them. As a matter of fact, we’d be happy to talk to the SELK folks any time—and do have conversations with them on occasion.
    • There is no money changing hands here. There are no under the table deals. This is not, in any way, a fund raising event. There are, of course, advantages to both parties:

    To Lutheran Hour Ministries

    • We will have the opportunity to record sermons and shoot video in some of the key Reformation sites in Thuringia—and now, probably, Saxony as well. We are hoping for and will probably get some unique access to these locations—access that the normal tourist won’t have. I think it will enrich the ministry here and be of benefit to the LCMS at large and to our 80,000 plus unchurched listeners as well to hear/see our Speaker, Greg Seltz, and our Speaker Emeritus, Ken Klaus, explaining to them what God has done through the events of the Reformation as they stand at the very location of the event.
    • We will have the opportunity to do an in depth interview with President Liberknecht on her home turf. She has been an instrumental force in the reunification of Germany and has a story to tell about that. We may end up with similar access to the President of Saxony.
    • We will probably be able to wire together some pretty unique Reformation land tours due to our association with these two governmental leaders.

    To Thuringia and President Lieberknecht

    • I’m sure it is all about tourism. Our association with them will bring more tourists to Thuringia and thus, more money to the province. We will bring tour groups and that benefits the German economy.
    • Our broadcasts that may originate from Thuringia will bring a world-wide awareness of the Reformation anniversary and heighten people’s desire to visit this area. Again, more tourists will bring more money.

    Please, gentlemen, if you have questions about something we are doing, before you jump to conclusions, call my office. I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can and am always willing to listen.

    Blessings,
    Bruce E. Wurdeman
    Executive Director
    Lutheran Hour Ministries

  25. “She wants tourism in her province and she knows we can bring it.”

    That would have been a good quote to put under “Lutheran Hour Ministries” in the reception invitation to congregational pastors.

    Perhaps someone with ancestry back to the Lutheran immigrants who came to Texas with Pastor Jan Kilian could be useful in getting special tour arrangements in Saxony. Saxony Ministerpräsident Stanislaw Tillich is Wendish. OTOH, the German newspaper, Der Spiegel has claimed that in the old Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), Tillich was a border guard and an informant for the Stasi (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit), the infamous East German secret police.

  26. Perhaps someone should contact the director of the LCMS-SELK organization that is in charge of the Wittenberg Project. Wouldn’t he be in a position to help out?

  27. I listen to Issues, Etc., Pirate Christian Radio, and watch Worldview Everlasting.

    Lutheran Hour? What’s that? 😉

  28. Maybe Thuringia State Governor Lieberknecht also had a reception in Perry County in Missouri with representatives of the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society and Southeast Missouri State University’s Global Studies program. Here’s a February 4 notice from the Altenburg Museum blog:

    We are already filling up slots for the 2012 Germany trip, and I haven’t even had a chance to advertise it! The Perry County Lutheran Historical Society and Southeast Missouri State University’s Global Studies program will be hosting a “Return to Your Ancestral Roots” tour of the Saxony/Thuringia region of Germany. The trip will launch in May of 2012, and the cost is approx. $2,500. Please contact me if you wish more details. You will be chauffeured throughout the trip, will have translators, and helpers in digging up your family genealogical information. I don’t look for the slots to be open for much longer. Call, today.

  29. @Bruce E. Wurdeman #24
    Ah, a quid pro quo resulting in a win-win situation. Nice!

    LHM delivers the tourists. The state delivers the permits for the recording of sermons, unique trip and interview opportunities, etc.

    I didn’t know that LHM was a travel agency and institute for the study of modern German history, too — all things to all people, I suppose.

    These trips to the “original sites” — be they in Germany or in Greece or in Palestine — can certainly be educational on so many levels (even if just for seeing what NOT to do), but they also can be reminiscent of the pilgrimage industry in Luther’s day.

    If you’ve ever been to Wittenberg, then you know that there is — besides historical monuments (and historical falsification, e.g., in the castle church where Calvin, by Prussian early 19th-century design, stands peacefully next to Luther and Zwingli) — precious little true gospel proclaimed at the present. It is a spiritual ghost town, now even with carefully crafted “ecumencial” rules that don’t disturb the graveyard peace there.

    An LHM sermon recorded at Wittenberg or Eisleben or on the Wartburg is thereby not more orthodox or powerful than one delivered by a faithful pastor in Montana or India. The power of God’s word is in that biblical word itself, not in any location. (Applies to fancy church buildings too.)

    In other words, as Luther reminded poor misguided Christians in his day concerning Christian relics and wasting lots of money on spiritually harmful trips to the Holy Land or elsewhere: if we’re seeking “Luther relics”, then let’s use the upcoming anniversary to delve into Luther’s writings in earnest. There we find much more of the genuine Luther (and gospel) than in Wittenberg.

    A good beginning can be made here: http://lutheranpress.com/books.htm

    In his word and sacraments, God is our ever-present help in trouble. That’s Ps. 46 — and the basis for a well-known hymn.

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