OK, one comment – this should give cause to “SAVE ULC” and put your cash where your confession is.
From a Minnesota South Pastor’s page on his congregational website: see it on their website here. Or because these things tend to disappear from the internet, see it below.
October 20, 2011
Dear Members and Friends,
I would rather not write about this, but I think it is important for people to have some idea of what is going on in the Minnesota South District of the Missouri Synod and how it could potentially affect us.
For many years now there has existed a large faction of pastors and congregations in southern Minnesota who want to impose their vision of the church on this district and its congregations. They like to call themselves “Confessional Lutherans,” as though the rest of us aren’t confessional Lutherans, which in itself is outrageous. My designation for this group is the “Restrictive Right.”
There are two main points to their plan of action:
1. The way the Missouri Synod was in the 1950’s is the way it should be for all time.
2. Every congregation of the synod should be identical to every other congregation.
One of their most popular phrases of criticism about those who disagree with them is, “This is not your grandfather’s church.” This is a criticism they would level against Berea and against me personally.
There are three main issues in this ongoing program to homogenize the church. They are popularly referred to as “Wine, Women, and Song.”
“Wine” refers to the practice of closed communion. There are varying degrees of this closed communion. Some say only Missouri Synod Lutherans can be admitted to communion, while others say only members of a specific congregation can be admitted to communion, and others say that people who don’t agree with them should not be communed. For example, there are pastors who will not attend circuit pastoral conferences because they will not commune with fellow pastors who don’t agree with them, and there are pastors who will not celebrate communion when the circuit pastors meet at their church. A few years ago there was a pastor who had been chosen to host the communion service for the state pastors’ conference at Maddens in Brainerd. When he learned that the Synod president would be in attendance, he refused to conduct the service because he wasn’t in fellowship with the synod president. At that time I was one of the district vice presidents. In that role I insisted that it was false doctrine to act this way, and someone else conducted the service. Many of those of the Restrictive Right boycotted the service. It is their contention that we are not a faithful church body until every congregation is equally restrictive and that it is up to district authorities to impose this obedience. The communion policy followed by Berea for decades would not pass muster with these people and they would like to have the control to make us do differently.
“Women” refers to the role of women in congregational affairs. The restrictive Right would be very displeased with the roles women are allowed to fill at Berea. The more extreme of them suggest rescinding the right of women to vote in congregational affairs, but most of them would not allow women to lead in worship, serve communion, read lessons (certainly not the Gospel lesson), or hold offices that they say exercise authority over males. It would be their goal to make this the norm in all congregations.
“Song” refers to worship. Their approach is that every worship service in every congregation would be conducted from the approved services in the hymnal while actually holding the hymnal in one’s hands. Hymns would have to be from the approved hymnal. Worship would have to look and sound as it did in 1950 or there about. It is their contention that any other way is “unlutheran.” In a recent district convention the idea was brought to the floor that no district mission money would be given to startup mission congregations unless they met these criteria. The measure was voted down—narrowly. At the past district convention we dealt with the issues surrounding a congregation in Cottage Grove called The Alley Lutheran Church. The mode of worship in this new start congregation is very informal with mostly modern music and the worship area looks nothing like a church. People from the old Board of Directors visited this congregation at worship and determined that it was not really Lutheran. They therefore denied its application to membership in the Missouri Synod. The convention by a fairly close vote overruled the Board of Directors and granted admission to the synod to this congregation. Now, very few of the people who voted for The Alley Lutheran Church to become part of the synod want to conduct worship as they do, but they voted for them because they recognize that the way The Alley does worship is a legitimate way to do things to reach unchurched people and they should have the ability to do so.
Other issues involve congregational organization and governance and co-operative ministries with non Missouri Synod churches. Berea’s organization would displease many and our co-operative ventures such as Readiness for Marriage, VEAP, Families Moving Forward, etc. would be suspect because they involve us with non Missouri Synod people.
You will no doubt be hearing about issues with selling the campus ministry buildings of the Minnesota South District at the University of Minnesota and Mankato State University. This is becoming a divisive cause in the district as the Restrictive Right is angry with the district Board of Directors for this decision and they have vowed to unseat the district president and the entire Board of Directors. This is partly moot because President Lane Seitz has decided not to run for re-election. However, we have the issue of who will replace him. Will the new president be a mission-minded person or will he be a representative of the Restrictive Right who wish to interfere in and control what is going on in individual congregations? This is an important issue for Berea as we go forward. Again, will the Board of Directors remain a mission minded group or will they be replaced by Restrictive Right people.
What you need to know about the campus ministries is that the campus pastor at Mankato State understands the sale of that building and will continue to do his ministry without it. One the other hand the University Lutheran Chapel is an independent congregation that rents the building from the district. That building is old and tired and very expensive to run, and it is up to the district to maintain it while University Lutheran Chapel pays rent which is less than half of the going rate. These buildings have become albatrosses around the neck of the district. It would be like a family living in a fifteen room house as their income keeps declining; they finally have to deal with the fact that they are unable to support all of the house they have. This is a fact that University Lutheran Chapel will not recognize as they criticize the district for doing what, in reality, is inevitable and has to be done.
You should also know that the Mankato State campus ministry is a very free-form type of ministry that is actually reaching young adults at college, while University Lutheran Chapel is a congregation with a minority of college students who attend. The worship services are rigid and straight from the hymnal. Many of you remember ULC from the old days when it was a vibrant campus ministry serving college students; it is not that any more. It is a Restrictive Right congregation carrying out its ministry in ways that do not reach the typical college student—and then expecting the district to underwrite its expenses with mission dollars.
I take no joy in writing about these things, but when you hear about them, you should know what is going on. It makes no sense to preserve a church so it still seems like 1950. The mission our Lord gives us is to nurture people with God’s promises in ways that make sense to them in their lives. It is perhaps extreme to say it this way, but it is not Gospel honoring to become a type of Lutheran-Amish group stuck trying to preserve a certain point in time for old time’s sake.
The truth is that we at Berea are conservative Lutheran Christians, but we are conservative Lutheran Christians trying to minister to the time in which we live. In fact we are relatively traditional conservative Lutheran Christians. We are in no way avant-garde or out in left field, but we sure don’t want people telling us that we have to go back to the good old days of 1950. When they tell us, “This is not your grandfather’s church,” we respond, “You’re right. This is our church. And some day it will be our grandchildren’s church.”