Who Says Confessional Lutherans Don’t Have Vision? by Pr. Rossow

Yesterday the voters assembly of Bethany Lutheran Church and School in Naperville, Illinois, the home of the Brothers of John the Steadfast, voted to call a third pastor and also voted to conduct a capital campaign this fall to raise pledges to build a one million dollar building that will house a youth center and a music rehearsal hall. This is a wonderful blessing of God through his mercy in Christ and a sign of how confessional parishes can have a great sense of vision and act on it in faith.

About 130 members showed up for the voters assembly. The ballot was done by voice vote with a nearly unanimous acclamation in favor of the two-fold mission, with only two or three nay votes heard.

About eight years ago our congregation had a horrendous internal struggle. The former church council had tried to enact some staffing changes secretly, without voters’ knowledge. When that came to light the struggle ensued and the congregation lost about a fourth of its members – which makes this vote and blessing even more amazing.

At that point the congregation developed a new constitution that did away with the board of directors known as the “Ministry Council” and replaced it with a Waltherian structure of voters assembly and pastor/elder leadership. We also started focussing on the six duties of the church as drawn from Scripture by C. F. W. Walther (see his booklet titled “The Proper Form of the Christian Congregation,” available from CPH). That structure of transparency and pastor/elder headship as served us well. The vision for this motion to add a pastor and build the new space was drawn nearly entirely from Walther’s first duty for the church – “dwell richly in the Word.” As a confessional church we have also focussed heavily on the second Scriptural duty of the church – “maintain pure doctrine and practice church discipline.”

Moving to this structure has not cancelled out our ability to have vision and act boldly. It has simply taken our courage and shaped it properly by focussing on the six duties of the church, including the last one – “build the church at large.”

Who says confessional churches can’t have vision? Vision is highly over-rated but it is not inherently impossible when one focusses on Scriptural duty rather than warmed over corporate approaches to the Church or trendy changes that try to recreate the Church in the mold of the culture. (Why any right and Scripturally thinking person would ever want to do that defies all logic and all theo-logic.) Vision is not the third means of grace. A simple, humble parish that focusses on administering Word and Sacrament faithfully, is pleasing to God whether they make “bold” steps forward or not, but don’t let it be said that such parishes can’t take such steps and seek the Lord’s blessing as they seek to dwell richly in His Word.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

Who Says Confessional Lutherans Don’t Have Vision? by Pr. Rossow — 45 Comments

  1. What area of the Ministry will the new Pastor be concentrating on? Youth?

  2. I have to say — I was a bit concerned when I first read the first sentence… until I realized my eyes missed the word “and”…

    It reads very differently when you think it says, “voted to call a third pastor to conduct a capital campaign” rather than “voted to call a third pastor AND to conduct a capital campaign”.

  3. calling from the seminary or from the field?

    God’s blessings on the call process and building project.

  4. Great work! People can vote…no secret meetings at the water cooler…A sign of a healthy church…

  5. Perhaps you all can have another vision: for your third Pastor, consider some of the unjustifiable “CRM’s” who have been ‘created’ in the past few years, many for wanting to remain Lutheran.

  6. I agree totally Helen. They should call a CRM to their congregation. Stellar idea!!

  7. Pastor you forgot to include the fact that at the end of the meeting – which had included passionate discussions about not just this vision stuff but also the yearly budget process – the assembled voters stood and sang the common doxology. That seemed to me a great reminder that while we can debate the *how* the *why* never changes.

  8. What is your vision, Pastor Rossow, for the over 1,500 members of your congregation that do not attend Divine Service? I see your average church attendace is only 500, and has been going down, along with baptized and communicant members?

    Will the third pastor be tasked with going after the sheep who have gone astray in your parish?

  9. James Baumgartner :
    What is your vision, Pastor Rossow, for the over 1,500 members of your congregation that do not attend Divine Service? I see your average church attendace is only 500, and has been going down, along with baptized and communicant members?
    Will the third pastor be tasked with going after the sheep who have gone astray in your parish?

    “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. ” (1 Cor 3:6)

  10. James,

    How would you like me to answer your question? I will answer with whatever pleases you. How about: “We are a big church and really don’t care about shepherding people.” How about “People should only be kept on the rolls if they are true disciples so we will soon be culling a few hundred souls from our membership?” How about “We are a confessional church and really don’t care about the lost going to heaven.” What is the point of your question? How would you like me to answer it? What do you really know about church dynamics in general and our parish in particular?

    As a matter of fact, one of the selling points of this great step of faith that the voters of Bethany have decided to take is that having a third pastor will help our pastoral staff to connect to more members. All three pastors will be making delinquent calls. Our current Associate Pastor will now be able to make it a special day to day focus of his.

    What is the point of your question? Do you realize that our attendance is pretty much average for a church our size? Parishes with 300 or so members or fewer can average as high as 45% of their rostered members in church on any given Sunday and with each hundred or so added in membership, that percentage goes down. The larger the church the smaller the average attendance. That is not a good thing but it is a fact of life. Do you also realize that unlike some congregations, we do not pad our statistics. We do not add in weekday services, intra-week festivals, chapels, etc.

    Again, what is the point of your question? Do you think the people of Bethany and our parish are somehow deficient? What do you know about our parish? Do you know that it takes a parish about 10 years to recover from the sort of division I described in the post? That is not from me but from our former district president who pleaded with the former church council to drop thier plans but they ignored his pleas twice and proceded with decisions that were destructive for the congregation and for the congregation’s image in the community. This recent step is a great move ahead to forge beyond all of that but you seem to think there is something amiss about all this vision and mission based on dwelling richly in the word. Maybe you could explain a little more the point behind your question.

    TR

  11. Dear Pastor Rossow,

    It makes absolutely no sense to say that confessional churches can’t have vision. With so many churches struggling today, it is especially nice to see the focus, unity, and strength that God is bringing to your congregation.

    Peace.

  12. I am glad you are planning for a third Pastor. Perhaps someday the congregation will decide it can afford a fourth; it wouldn’t be too many.

  13. Pr.TR,
    I hope you included the big screen and the platform to reach the other 1500 souls.

    Nope just joshing. I think a prayer for the missing and let the word do it’s work.
    Maybe a call or vist.

    Speaking of calls… If I don’t get off the internet and get my elder calls done I’ll be flogged with the word by Pastor.

    J

  14. I would sell all that I have to serve at a church like Bethany. It sounds like a wonderful church with great, caring leaders who are true to God’s Word, the Confessions and want unity. May the Lord be with always!

  15. Seems like one million dollars could go a long way somewhere in which people are starving or dying of preventable sickness.

    Just something to think about.

  16. @CJ #16

    False dichotomy. If God is so wonderful and great, how come we can never “enjoy” worship, with granduer and trappings? Sur eit will be after the Second Coming, but the Ne wJerusalem ha sstreets paved with gold, not rutted out muddy tracks. And what about giving first fruits to God, the best of what we have? The one woman washed Jesus feet with expensive perfume, in an act of humility. Trying to remember if I read it here or one of the other blogs sites, about how the disciples could have bitched and complained about how selling the spendy perfume could have bought lots of food for so many hungry. Not really a loving attitude the disciples had at that moment. But how about sheltering them, as well? And if there is plenty to go around (because God wants to reward us generously, crazy I know) we could give them a soft down bed instead of a stiff scratchy straw mattress. So our giving could/should be a both/and. We give because God wants us to give freely, according to our gifts. If we set up an either/or, then we are trying to tell God what we think, and decide better the He on how to efficiently spend our treasures. Start down the road of decision, decision theology, works righteousness…. Why can’t we just be happy we gave at all? (Maybe doctrine of election could apply here)

  17. How exciting for the saints in Naperville! I remember Bethany’s school fondly from my quarter of student teaching there at the old building, and your congregation will always be a special place to me. I told my wife about it, and her exact reply was “Do they want a confessional DCE along with a third pastor!?” This is from the same woman who has been saying that she doesn’t want to move for 3 more years (without an act of God, of course)! Blessings on the call process, the capital campaign and the future building project!

  18. @CJ #16
    Seems like one million dollars could go a long way…

    Seems like there are a lot of “Monday morning quarterbacks” here!
    I don’t remember Pr. Rossow saying that his church suspended giving to missions or human care while they built additional facilities.
    [It’s been done, elsewhere. :(]

    Perhaps the new building and the new Pastor will bring some of the wandering members back or even attract some of the “unchurched”! (Really unchurched, not just ‘tourists’ from the congregations around them.)

    Seems to me Jesus said something like “The poor will always be with you and you can help them whenever you will [but don’t criticize this woman for doing something else.]

  19. Just wondering, but is there any concern with the fact that Pr. Rossow’s congegation gives so little to “work at large” here is the record of the congregation’s giving over the past number of years:

    Work at home – Work at Large – Year

    44576 5000 – 2001
    43597 6245 – 2002
    54673 7465 – 2003
    51665 5565 – 2004
    95021 6135 – 2005
    108523 1750 – 2006
    100980 1000 – 2007
    116463 1200 – 2008
    120566 500 – 2009
    112887 500 – 2010

    Please notice how the congregation’s giving to work at large has dropped dramatically.

  20. Actually Mr. Baumgartner, I am much more concerned by the snide tone you take when speaking to and about brothers and sisters in Christ. If you have questions about the giving level at Bethany then the proper approach is to ask the pastor about them, rather than to hoist what you clearly believe to be these people’s dirty laundry up a flagpole for all to see.

    In my ministry I have learned many things, but the most profound is that no good ever comes when a divisive attitude prevails among the brethren. Believe me, my District President can attest to the fact that I do not sit quietly when I believe that I see wrong — I suspect there is a thick fine bearing my name in the District Office. However, the approach you are taking only tears down and divides.

    I have never met Pastor Rossow, nor have I ever attended a service at Bethany. I have no idea whether the issues you raise are valid concerns or, as Pr. Rossow suggests above about the attendance issue, a problem that is being addressed. Your objections may be valid, but your words, perhaps unintentionally, are coming across as attacks rather than a loving attempt to persuade brothers and sisters to correct their course.

    As a fellow Christian I ask you please to raise your concerns in a less demeaning way.

  21. Congratulations on the step your are taking. It is one our own congregation hopes to make in a few years. Our congregation is growing very rapidly and recently moved into a new church building that is already proving inadequate. As a result we are finding that our operating structure is having difficulty keeping up with the membership growth. Beyond the pastor/elders day-to-day leadership and voters assembly decision-making on the broad vision items, could you explain the intermediate structure that is used in your congregation? We currently have about 750 baptized and 525 communicants members with a weekly worship attendance of approximately 375, one pastor and no other called staff. Any ideas? (And, yes, we are also a confessional congregaton!)

  22. Rev. Bagnell, I’m sorry you think I’m being “snyde” about this. Pr. Rossow has posted information about his congregation’s financial decisions here and it seems therefore that the information that is available publically from The LCMS’ web site about the congregation’s attendance and and finance is open for discussion.

    I’m not sure why you believe public information must first be discussed privately with Pastor Rossow.

    I remain concerned that such a relatively small percentage of the total membership at Bethany is actually attending Divine Service.

    I am encouraged by Pastor Rossow’s response to that concern.

    I look forward to his explanation as to why his congregation only gave $500 to work at large in recent years.

  23. ^ are you sure your numbers are right? How can such a large congregation run on $112,887?

  24. Not only that. Anyone who seeks to judge a congregation by numbers is playing a fools game.

    Elijah did that once when he was in the cave. He was mistaken.

    There are many many factors that pure numerical analysis simply cannot take into account. Oh we’d like to reduce everything down to numbers so that we an feel like we understand, but in regard to the life of a congregation they are often only a blunt instrument.

  25. The Lord bless your call efforts and building project.

    Seems to me like a million dollars could be used to care for souls and foster a greater Life Together among the saints that God has gathered at Bethany (and actually serve other congregations by providing musically trained people who later in life move to other areas, talk about work at large) – Oh wait, that is what you are doing with it.

    Man, for a post meant to be joyous, this certainly drew out some critics!

  26. I double checked and it appears I was looking at the wrong congregational stats. My apologies for that error.

    Here is the latest work at large/work at home data for Bethany Naperville:

    $1,913,050 (work at home)
    $46,250 (work at large – 2% of the congregation’s total contributions of $1,959,300)

    http://locator.lcms.org/nchurches/c_graphs.asp?C622837

  27. @James Baumgartner #20

    Maybe Bethany is doing thins more locally, just like the TCN seeking the lost crowd wants. Maybe they have expansion plans to run a soups kitchen. After all, that has to be more effiecient (cheaper) to invest a one time cost than to pay large shipping fees everytime someone want so send food overseas. Could be they want some sort of hostel, so they can house homeless in their neighborhood themsleves. Why give money to a secular anti-Christian local government when we can give them shelter and the Gospel? Could be they are BUILDING things to help others in stead of GIVING money to others, which may get los tin graft or improperly used on frivolous items. And hasn’t the synod over years been encouraging people to direct their monies to specific projects instead of to the general fund use?

    Really, this post is a silly attack, as I hope my comments here are. We should rejoice that Chritians a happily giving fruits to the speading on the Gospel, in whatever ways their gifts allow and direct them. The danger in trying to force heavy use of human reason is that now we are trying to determine, and tell God, what is the best way to spend His money, because we can do it better than Him. For everything there is a time and place, and Pr. Rossow’s church is doing what they are gifted to do in their part of the Christian community.

  28. Mr. Baumgartner’s statistics only show the synod’s breakdown of our offerings according to their definition of “work at large” – which means “gifts to district/synod”. Accordingly, they do not reflect the significant giving of our congregation to missions through our Freed to Connect program and various designated offerings. His numbers only show how our unified offerings were allocated. Just as the synod operates with restricted and unrestricted funds, so does Bethany have “designated” (restricted) and “unified” (unrestricted) offerings.

    So here’s “the rest of the story”:

    It is true that we reduced our gifts to District/Synod a few years ago. This was because our Elders and our Voters’ Assembly decided that, while we needed to continue a base level of support for the administration of synod, it would be better for the Gospel to give directly to various projects that had lower overhead and were more consistent with our approach to ministry. But that doesn’t mean we decreased our support for “work at large”. Indeed, over just the past 3-4 years we have spent well over $100K doing such things as:

    *Building a church in Russia.
    *Supporting an orphanage in Madagascar
    *Sponsoring teaching seminars in Sudan, Indonesia, and Congo
    *Direct support to missionary pastors in need
    *Supporting confessional Lutheran publishers & broadcasters (LHF/Issues, etc)
    *Disaster Relief in several countries and in the US

    As the synod moves toward rebuilding congregations’ trust in the use of our unified “work at large” offerings, I anticipate that Bethany will revise our current mission strategy. In the past year we have seen positive moves from District and Synod that are rekindling confidence. However, given our congregational polity in the LCMS, we reserve the right to contribute directly to areas of the mission field that we believe demonstrate the greatest need.

    So, in short, after 14 years in a new building that lacked a room for our youth or a rehearsal space for our choirs and day school bands, we are now going to add rooms to our campus that most larger congregations build “up-front”. And, in the process, we are adding a third pastor to the staff, filling a vacancy in youth work that has been covered by our Associate Pastor working overtime the past four years. And we continue to support mission projects throughout the world with our designated mission offerings, even as we anticipate renewed support for synod projects as we are encouraged by the current efforts of both our district and synod leadership. All this as we are convinced what is best, by the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren, according to God’s holy Word.

    I am blessed to be part of a congregation that acts with such wisdom both in advancing the kingdom of God in our own community and in spreading the Word of God abroad throughout the world.

  29. lcms.org is not the whole story. One can give directly to LCMS RSO’s and there is no lack of appeals. Other people have told me that they distribute funds, as they are able, (as I do).

    If Bethany is keeping its school up and running in the economic climate of the last four years, they do well! A Lutheran school is also a “mission” to keep the ‘already Lutherans’ and to expose others to Lutheran teaching. It expends no small amount in scholarships and aid to families who have lost employment. People in need are not all overseas, (though there are many of them there!)

    Take care of that plank first, you who are inclined to be critical!

    How many of you listen to Issues, Etc? How many support it? Feed the soul, also.

  30. @Jason #17

    Think you’re reaching a bit there, Jason.

    @helen #19

    Personally, Helen, I favor playing running back. But that’s just me.

    Additionally, please notice that I did not accuse anyone of anything, especially of a lack of giving. Just wanted to draw attention to the fact that one million dollars is a lot of money, especially to be spending on a building that is (as far as we have been told) meant solely for Bethany’s members.

    If there’s one thing megachurches should have taught everyone by now, it’s that the mindset of ‘if you build it, they will come’ only works in Field of Dreams. You build a new building and you attract some people, but they won’t stick around, especially when they see the newest shiny thing across town. In the end, you’re merely shuffling the deck.

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #26

    That sure is a lot of inward focus…

    @Jason #17
    @Jason #28

    Jason – first, I think you’re reaching a bit with decision theology and doctrine of election in that case…

    Also, if Bethany does intend to do such things with their new building, great! But as far as we know, the building is to be used for youth and music rehearsal. I (sort of) understand the need for rehearsal space, but as far as the youth group – why keep them cooped up in a church building? Youth are perfectly capable of meeting in homes, in coffee shops, in parks, at pools…in fact, they prefer it (I speak from a youth’s experience and from a DCE’s experience). I see a youth building as a needless expenditure. Youth want to serve and be engaged in their community, bearing good fruit by the power of the Gospel. They don’t need their own fancy coffee bar and room of foosball tables.

    I find it interesting that when one mentions those who are starving or sick, minds always jump to those overseas. There are people right in our own backyards who are starving and sick. There’s no need to pay large shipping charges or fees in order to be faithful to God’s calling (James 1:27).

  31. Sorry, Jason – didn’t mean to double that response to your first post. Darn editing…

  32. I am mystified that others would question anothers church attempts to further meeet their needs.
    And with the sick and elderly and the members who go only once a month whether they need it or not, 50% is excellent

  33. @CJ #31

    Music is a magnet. There could be many unbelievers, especially among the youth, drawn to the rehearsal hall, conscious at first of the music as music only, and unconsciously at first being exposed to the Word of God through the music, coming to consciousness as they go. A rehersal hall could turn into one of the most brilliant things a congregation invests in, used strategically.

    That, of course, is beside all the perfectly good Gospel reasons aside from evangelism to have a rehersal hall.

    Congratulations to Bethany.

  34. @Phillip #29

    This is exactly the same kind of refocus many congregations took during the last decade or so; my congregation included. While I share Phil’s desire for a rebuilding of trust that would allow congregations to increase the money sent to synod, until that happens good stewardship would seem to demand that congregations engage in designated giving as opposed to blindly turning over money to synod inc.

  35. @Rev. Steve Bagnall #21

    Rev. Bagnall,

    Tone can be very difficult to interpret in written word. Still, I’m curious, do you see a “snide” tone in any of the following articles?

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=8450 (an article that openly mocks the former Synodical President–the artist behind it refused to provide his or her name and was protected by the author)

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=8751#comment-68628 (an article that prompted the comment section to be closed due to a need to “continue [the] discussion in a more civilized fashion”)

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=10181 (an article that appears to “hoist what [some might] believe to be another LCMS organization’s dirty laundry for all to see”)

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=8061 (an article under which Pastor Rossow repeatedly refers to SMP candidates as “half pastors” in the comment section–does this mean their sermons need to be twice as long?)

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=14333 (an article that encourages readers to mock the practices of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ)

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=14380 (another possible “dirty laundry” article that asserts in the headline that the Concordia University system is failing us–all based on an “eyewitness account” from someone who refused to provide his or her name and was protected by the author)

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=8999 (an article describing practices at an LCMS congregation–note that the writer of the song highlighted in the article joins the discussion without the commenters even noticing)

    NOTE: What we see above is merely a small sampling of the articles found at this website–definitely a minority.

    Rev. Bagnall, are you concerned with the perceived tone of any of these articles? I applaud your vigilance and concern for Pastor Rossow. Still, while I can easily agree with much of the theology at this website, I find that some practices here are extremely questionable.

    Perhaps the commenter whose tone concerns you is taking his cues from Pastor Rossow and other BJS writers. This doesn’t justify bad behavior, but it is important to examine everything with the same filter. Take a look and see what you think.

  36. Mr. Baumgartner,

    I want to thank you for your kind response. I hadn’t intended to suggest that the numbers you bring should not have been included in the discussion. I’m sorry if I implied that these queastions should have been asked privately — I didn’t mean that at all. Rather, just that there is a difference between sentences that begins, “Pastor, I notice in this information from the LCMS website that your congregation’s giving to synod has only been X in these past years. I wonder if you would help us understand these numbers in light of the expense you plan for a new building.” and “Just wondering, but is there any concern with the fact that Pr. Rossow’s congegation gives so little to “work at large” ” The first is a polite, public inquiry directed toward someone, the second is a challenge.

    It is always rude to speak about a person who is part of the conversation as though they are not there. Rather one speaks directly to that person. The same courtesy applies in an internet conversation. My point is not to berate you — I have been equally aggressive when trying to convionce siomeone on a point I find to be important. I applaud your zeal. However, The former approach is more likely to receive a reasonable response and, eventually, to convuince your brother to change — if necessary. I believe a changed approach to giving is what you wish to bring about, isn’t it?

    I guess I would point to the friendly nature of your response to me as an example of how much impact tone can have on a discourse. I feel that you and I are talking as Christian brothers who are trying to understand one another. It’s a good thing!

    I look forward to reading more of your input, since the questions you are seeking to raise do seem relevant to the issue.

    In Christ,

    Pastor Bagnall

  37. Rev. Gilbert,

    Actually, tone is very easily understood from written words — it has been taught as a component part of composition for over a thousand years and I taught it successfully to college freshmen. One example of it can be seen in the suggestion I made to Mr. Gilbert in my last post. That simple change in words would, indeed, have changed the tone of the writing.

    As tou your other point I woulld make this analogy: As part of my daily duties in the parish I deal with children from Preschool through 8th grade. It is a basic rule that “he did it first” is no excuse for improper behavior. One does not have to correct every incidence of am misdeed in order to be correct in dealing with the current example. Either the child in question called his classmate a Doo-doo head, or he did not. I model this approach on the way God deals with sin. He doesn’t ask if I am better than my friends, He asks if I am perfect as He is perfect.

    If seeking a better tone in synodical and theological discourse is your goal than you ought to see me as an ally and not shower me with additional complaints.

  38. @Phillip #29

    Thanks for stepping in as Paul Harvey and giving us the “rest of the story”! It was very helpful to see your explanation. Praise God for the work being done throughout the world by means of Bethany!

    @Rev. Steve Bagnall #39

    Rev. Bagnall,

    Thank you for your response. Based on your words, I must admit that it is likely I was projecting my own struggles at interpreting tone from written word, specifically in my experiences at this website. I have seen that in some instances when a commenter offers up an opposing view, it’s not uncommon for others to assume that he or she is “angry” or “embittered” or in some way driven by negative emotions rather than trusting that this person is simply host to a disagreement in what or how something was said. I’m sure there is plenty of both going on.

    Regarding your response to the “he did it first” argument that you saw in my comment, I hope you’ll re-read my closing paragraph:

    “Perhaps the commenter whose tone concerns you is taking his cues from Pastor Rossow and other BJS writers. This doesn’t justify bad behavior, but it is important to examine everything with the same filter. Take a look and see what you think.”

    I should have been more clear on this, and for that I apologize.

    As you can see from my comment, I have found some articles here at the BJS blog to be coming from you describe as a “divisive attitude” which can and does tear down and divide.

    Because I don’t recall seeing your name here in the past, when I read your words…

    “Believe me, my District President can attest to the fact that I do not sit quietly when I believe that I see wrong…”

    …I assumed too quickly that you hadn’t read much here and that you would want to see specific examples that would back up my claims. Rather than simply accusing the authors here of publishing such things, I thought providing evidence to support my opinion would be an important inclusion.

    Though you saw my words as complaints against you, I hope you can see now that I was asking for your opinion on how James Baumgartner’s words lined up with past articles by Pastor Rossow and others here. Again, bad behavior does not merit more, but given the description you provide as one who does not sit quietly when you see wrong, I wanted to “hear” your thoughts. Okay, bad joke.

  39. Pastor Gilbert,

    Thank you for your kind response. I understand now what you were doing. I am not going to follow those links, not because I don’t believe you, but because I don’t have the time to correct every error — I can’t even seem to identify (much less correct) all of my own! I would not be surprised to see other instances of people’s intense feelings about an issue leading them to speak in less-that-respectful terms. I, too, live in the flesh and know I am often guilty of the same myself. I join you in hoping discussions can continue in a brotherly fashion here and everywhere in the Church.

  40. @Susan Keller #37

    Wow Susan! I can only say that my first reaction to you letting me know that is “stunned!” I hope you’re doing well, and that the Lord is blessing you richly! I have such great memories of Mrs. Carnavale and all of my “kids” from that quarter! It’s hard to believe that it has been about 16 years ago!

  41. I just caught wind of this discussion. Please note, the postings of “James Baumgartner” on this website so far are not affiliated with Pastor James S Baumgartner of the LCMS.

  42. Rev. Bagnall is a great and smart pastor. It is no wonder that our church has so many pastors in the congregation. Keep up the great work.

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