Thank you for supporting Candidates (CRM)

CRMIn a previous post, I passed along a request to provide some funds to help pastors without calls celebrate Christmas.  That effort was led by Pr. Ken Kelly.  Pr. Kelly sent this note to any of you who helped donate.  I will say thank you too.  From Pr. Kelly:

I told my seminary classmate Pr. Scheer, that my name being mentioned at BJS (in a positive sense), let alone the posting of this brief piece, is a sure sign that the advent of our Lord is much closer than anyone could possibly imagine.
Nevertheless, I asked him if I could write and thank those who had contributed money for our men languishing in the hell of CRM. These men and their families-and we can never forget that when a pastor goes into such a purgatory, he doesn’t go alone: his entire family enters with him-have always been of great concern to me, and all too often are simply forgotten or neglected by both Synod and Districts.
Few ever completely heal from their wounds, and a large part of that reason is that the medicine of mercy and compassion is not given to them; they end up as pariahs-lepers if you will-on the outskirts of the town forced to call out “Unclean.”
So thank you for helping these men, thank you for caring about these men, and thank you for your compassion toward these men and their families.
It’s worth remembering in this season of the Incarnation that Christ took on all human flesh, was crucified, resurrected and ascended, with all human flesh—even that of our CRM brothers. Perhaps someday we will have a Church body that takes the fullness of the Incarnation seriously.
Once again, thanks for your help, and a blessed Nativity season to all!

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


Thank you for supporting Candidates (CRM) — 20 Comments

  1. If you are a pastor of a congregation and have a holy minister on CRM status living nearby, especially for no valid reason or offense, why don’t you pray and seek the LORD, and then His people, and see about extending him a call to serve as an assistant or associate pastor so as to honor God’s calling to him? Offer him as little as $100/month stipend plus payment for services rendered. That will get him off of the besmirched CRM status, and make it more possible for him to eventually receive a call to serve in our Synod. And, it will honor Christ’s call to him through His Church. Plus, you may be amazed at the witness and encouragement of the brotherhood between your people and your new minister! If fellow pastor’s don’t begin to stand up and vouch for brother ministers in a besmirched setting, who will? … I have been there, and back again, by the grace of God and His people.

  2. Are you saying there are Pasters without a call needing congregations? We have been without a pastor for over a year?

  3. Candidate Status will teach a person a great deal about the spirit which animates the Synod bureaucracy. Like all such spirits, it functions in the dark, with secrecy, as it claims its victims.

    However, my only gripe with this posting is the graphic. Unlike the soldiers who have been incarcerated as POW or lost in action as MIA, pastors are free to leave the prison of CRM. All that holds them there, is their own will to remain as a servant of the synod which put them there. POW/MIA have no such option, and I think the graphic is inappropriate.

  4. @Brad #-46

    All that holds them there, is their own will to remain as a servant of the synod which put them there. POW/MIA have no such option, and I think the graphic is inappropriate.

    “All that holds them there” is the knowledge that there are people who need them, as Pastors, if they could just be listed and called (as noted by Larry). “All that holds them there” is their ordination vow to serve.
    (And, of course, there is the little matter of training and education for at least eight, sometimes more, years for this particular calling.) Given Synod’s present care for its pastors, they probably should all have a “tent making” skill to fall back on.) 🙁

    [A POW can choose “freedom” on the other side. A boy I knew in high school did so. Eventually he found out that it wasn’t “freedom” after all, and was able to come home. He got a mixed reception, but no worse than some CRM’s get from their loving “brothers” in the cloth!]

  5. @Larry #2

    Are you saying there are Pastors without a call needing congregations?

    Yes, Larry, there usually are (although the ones I know personally, except one forced out recently for NO good reason, are back at work).
    Is your district trying to soften your congregation up to contemporary worship?
    [That’s the usual reason in Texas, where, if you want a “conservative”, aka Lutheran, pastor you had better get in touch with the confessional network.]
    #1 from Rev Dean Spooner on December 13, 2015 at 9:35 pm
    “why don’t you pray and seek the LORD, and then His people, and see about extending him a call to serve as an assistant or associate pastor so as to honor God’s calling to him?”

    An excellent idea, which has been practiced one place here. The “assistant pastor” was given support for a mission start. Some years later, that mission hopes to have its new multipurpose building finished for Christmas.
    Things can be done, if the “brothers” don’t just pass by on the other side.

  6. Yes Larry, there are many pastors without calls (207 ordained men according to the 2013 synod convention resolution 3-10A) who are able and willing to receive a call.

    I am a Candidate hoping to receive a Divine Call. A grad of Concordia St. Louis, pastor for 10 years. I finished my sabbatical in March of this year and would love a call to a congregation that values and uses the historic Lutheran liturgy!

    You may recall that there were not enough seminary grads this year.requests from congregations. 154 congregations applied for a pastor but there were only 124 called.

  7. I did an estimate one time to get an idea of how many men in the LCMS were on CRM status. If I remember right, the number was over 200. Unfortunately, my guess is that many DP’s don’t much care to help out men on CRM status. I was one time on CRM status and its not fun. First, I took the attitude I might never get a call, and continued to work the job God had given me. Second, I told the DP I would take almost anything. So when a call to a rural west Texas congregation came up, I took the call, and it was one of the the wisest things I’ve ever done. It has not been without its challenges, but its been a great experience and I continue to gladly serve the Lord and these very fine Lutheran people. SO the best guidance I can give CRM candidates, be open to many different options.

  8. Again, at the 2013 Synod Convention the number of Candidates given to us was 207. There are even more—those on “Non-Candidate Status”. These are ordained men on the roster of Synod who are not able or willing to receive a call but wish to remain on the roster.

    For example, in the Michigan District, according to their 2015 district convention workbook, there were 8 men on Candidate Status and 8 men on Non- Candidate Status. Other districts may have published statistics at their 2015 convention also. So, there may be many more ordained men on Candidate Status than the 207 reported in 2013. But the districts have those statistics. They know who they are.

  9. Dear BJS Bloggers,
    Here is an idea. All the data is in the Lutheran Annual, which can be purchased from CPH for a reasonable price. It just needs to be reorganized for congregations looking for CRMs. Organize the data by state and by county. Use Excel to enter all CRMs from A to Z. Convert their town of residence to county. Then sort by two fields: state A-Z; county A-Z. Publish spreadsheet on web (BJS could host or link to spreadsheet). Congregations can then look to see if any CRM is in their county or nearby county. If so, call full-time if you can; or call as part-time assistant till he gets full time call. Update spreadsheet when new Annual is published.
    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  10. Pastor Noland, that is a lot of spreadsheet work, and I am a software developer. It is easier to write earnest letters to your DP.

  11. @Martin R. Noland #-39
    Let’s hope I don’t get moderated. Not to be wise a**, but pastor Noland what you suggest should be done by the district presidents and secondly, what has your church done to help these men out, my good and faithful Ambrose instructor?

  12. With due respect to Dr. Noland–which is great deal of respect–the situation is far more complex that a spreadsheet.

    I know a stunningly competent Confessional pastor who is no longer on CRM because while he was on CRM he was forced out of Synod. (A great victory for some.)

    I know a pastor who finally abandoned the congregations he had been destroying through incompetence and abuse, while the district who foisted him on said parish turned a blind eye to the situation and a deaf ear to their pleas for assistance. I believe he is currently on CRM and eligible for a call.

    I know a pastor who refuses to retire and is sucking the last dregs of life out of a congregation which is all but dead as a result of 20 years of his deliberate negligence, obfuscation, and abuse.

    I know a faithful Confessional pastor who had his salary deliberately withheld for a year-and-a-half, and who no longer even has a church building after those who withheld his salary walked out and took their money with, but who still retains his call to and continues to serve the 40-or-so that remain.

    That being said, in maybe 50% of our Districts, it is the DP who is keeping men on CRM under wraps; both those they are embarrassed of but haven’t the – er – courage to do their job and sack, and those they view as threats to their vision of the “church”. So, in those situations, an earnest letter to the DP wouldn’t be much help.

    For those congregation seeking a pastor, I strongly recommend Rev. Scheer’s “Call Process Primer” here on BJS from June 8.

    I find Rev. Spooner’s suggestion VERY attractive. In fact, it was the route I was planning to advocate for our church after our head-pastor retired and we were able to call our stunningly competent Confessional associate-pastor full time–but that’s not gonna happen.

    soli Deo gloria,

  13. @Grendelssohn #-36

    I find Rev. Spooner’s suggestion VERY attractive.

    So do I. And I am reminded that I have heard two stories of “assistant/mission planters”, and the second Sr Pastor was probably NOT applauded by his DP for stepping in, but he did what was right anyway. [The first congregation probably wasn’t applauded either, but they go on being confessional.]

    Contrary to Brad’s opinion, Pastors serve God, not Synod.

  14. @helen #-35


    If you think my opinion is that pastors serve the synod rather than God, then you have radically misunderstood me (or I have horribly miscommunicated.) Particularly in Lutheran theology, our ordination vows are specifically to the Word of God, and that Word properly presented in the Lutheran Confessions. A pastor is always primarily accountable to Christ, whose Office he serves in.

    My point above, was that synodical reserve status is a synodical construct. A pastor sentenced to reserve status is only constrained to remain there, so long as he chooses to remain there and the synod keeps him there. Unlike a POW/MIA who is not free to leave the prison imposed upon him, a pastor is free to leave that reserve status to serve elsewhere should the Lord call him outside the synod. The Evangelical Lutheran Church is composed of more than just the LCMS.

    Peace to you.

  15. After serving a pastorate for 6 years, I followed the call to another congregation and was thrown out after 1 year of service for no cause. Yet “better that one should perish, than a whole nation (read congregation)”… My District was able to cover my family health insurance for 3 months, else we were on our own. Within 3 years, Synod removes me from any active consideration merely because – well – 3 years have passed and your time is up. Three strikes and you aren’t even allow to sit on the bench anymore … It’s a basic Christian principle, you know… My family financial situation was very dire for 7 years [a Biblical “sabbatical” ?].

    But I did not let go of the Call that claims me. I became a substitute teacher and took ANY work I could find; especially preaching, helping a VBS program, etc. Synod as administration always responded well to me when they saw me, but nothing ever came from through them. I earned a teaching license in Science, and then finally landed an engineering job again (a profession I had given up after 3 years to go to the seminary). It was a neighboring pastor, who left a small congregation and recommended to his people that they consider me (I had filled-in there a couple of times). [By the way, sub-teaching in public/parachial schools is a fantastic way a pastor can earn more income while being a pastor and also make great connections with children and families in the neighborhood – highly recommend it for your consideration]

    The congregation had become so small and my family had become so indebted over thoes 7 years that we agreed in Christ, that I continue my engineering job, and also serve the small congregation fulltime. Our District President also saw wisdom in it. Six years later and it is still a blessing for all.

    In that time, we learned of another area pastor that followed the call elsewhere and was deceived. By his conscience and their implacability, he resigned and was left without any worker compensation and without any employment or congregation. He was coming up on that Christian Synodical principle of 3 years and then moth-balls, ya know…

    That is when the idea came to me, and my congregation amazingly took to it, too. After serving us for next-to-nothing for several years and taking any and every other job he could find – today, that pastor is successfully serving God’s people as a senior pastor of a large suburban LCMS congregation.

    It works.

    And he will tell any of you how valuable that meager, honorable and true call we extended to him has meant to him and his wife – and how healing it has been to them.

    I am glad to say that our District President Timothy Scharr is on-board with the idea; and I beleive District President Dan May of Indiana is, too. Or at least, you could help boast and support them in the notion. The difficulty, as most of you lament, is the awareness and logistics of connecting the two together: a congregation and her pastor willing and the knowledge of a pastor in such straights in their region. On top of that is the hush-hush, shame-shame status of it all.

    If you ever come across such a fellow pastor in our ministerium (or even another confessional Lutheran minister), please pray and consider it for the good of the Church. Thank you, Pr. Scheer, for the article to bring out this discussion more!

  16. @Rev. James Douthwaite #3

    Hi James, blessed classmate from ancient times! Dr. Noland and others below have responded in part to your good question – which is the crux of the matter. I learned of some pastors in that status through our joint circuit brothers and through lay folk. But also, when you desparately seek for an LCMS minister who can fill-in for you when you need vacation, etc, and that pastor is less than 65 years of age and you are not sure of his status – ask him! He might be someone on candidate status, or on in-elligible status because 3 years of candidate status have come and gone!

  17. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Pastor Spooner brings up an excellent point. Our LCMS circuit visitors need to keep track of the CRM pastors in their circuit, and to regularly present their availibility to the pastors at their monthly meetings. Although the CRM pastors may not be able to attend those meetings due to employment, they should attend if they can do so without penalty. CRM pastors and spouses should also be invited to circuit social occasions, if you have any. Our circuit visitors here are very good about keeping us informed about the two CRM pastors, and I have had both of them preach for me in my absence at my congregation.

    Of course, what the CRM pastors really need is a full-time call. That is why having a regularly updated list, organized by geography would be helpful. Lay elders of vacant congregations could refer to such a list, and invite the CRM pastor to preach on occasion if within reasonable driving distance. Such occasional preaching often leads to a full-time call.

    Congregations should realize that a CRM is unlikely to say “NO” to their call, since he presently has no call. And almost all CRM pastors have more experience than seminary candidates.

    The key question that lay elders need to ask a CRM pastor is, “Are you mobile?” i.e., are you willing to move if you receive a full-time call with reasonable compensation. Almost all CRM pastors are mobile and would be happy to receive just about any call.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  18. @Martin R. Noland #-31 Dear Pastor Noland – it seems that “mobility assistance” should be a line item in the Synod’s budget where congregations are unable to put up such funds. Reading of Pr. Spooner’s travails makes it clear that call related moving expenses, especially inter state, would create a terrible catch-22 for a family at the end of its rope.

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