Archive for the ‘Clergy’ Category

Bad Vestments?

If your pastor comes out of the sacristy wearing this – run, or laugh!

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Clergy Stress

A thoughtful post from Pastor Mark Henderson: “Logging thousands of kilometres a year in the car, the e-mails, phone calls, on duty 24/7, 365 days a year, 60-70 hours a week, dwindling membership, pressure to “grow” the church, feeling guilty about taking time off…maybe not taking time off at all. This insight into the lives of American clergy, courtesy of a very good TV report from a public television program Religion and Ethics Weekly, all sounds familiar to clergy “down under”, I’m sure (perhaps what is not so familiar to us is the number of female clergy in the church, but to comment on that would take us off topic).
Watch it here:

“Curiously, one thing that isn’t mentioned in the report is intra-denominational conflict (very curious, given that The Episcopal Church in the US (Anglicans) is imploding as I write), which is known from surveys to be a major factor in clergy burnout (forget inter-denominational conflict; most pastors are likely to have closer friends among the clergy of other denominations than their own, which surely says something!). I also believe, after watching the report, that US denominations are much better at looking after their clergy than is the case here in Australia; we’re a long, long way from the kind of clergy retreats that are shown in the clip – synodical leaders, take note!

“I have seen fellow pastors fall by the wayside – it is a tragedy for them, their families and the church. I’m reluctant to offer unbidden counsel on this topic, since what works for one pastor may not work for another, and I don’t wish to portray myself as some kind of expert in this area, but here are some common sense things I do to avoid burnout: I take a day off per week…religiously (Mondays); I have a hobby (or two, if you include blogging!); I dedicate (and jealously guard) time in my diary for what I am most passionate about in the ministry, i.e. the study of the Word and preaching – I find this then becomes a source of spiritual and mental energy that sustains me through the week (so, devote most time to what is most central to the ministry); and I try to follow the old pastoral rule: mornings in the study, afternoons visiting, evenings with my family or meetings…of course, there are exceptions, so it’s more a guide than a rule – we Lutherans aren’t big on rules ;0). Oh, and I work to keep meetings to a minimum – generally one evening per week in both my previous and present parishes; I suspect there are so many meetings in the church because everyone (especially the clergy?) is anxious to be seen “doing something”. If a minister is spending more time in meetings than he does with his Greek New Testament, it’s a sure warning sign that his priorities in ministry are skewed. Trust me, parish life will continue perfectly fine with a minimum of meetings, and your sermons will improve – praise the Lord!

“Lastly, I think some ministers “burn out” or lose a sense of vocation because, in a misguided attempt to compensate for the hidden, unnoticed nature of pastoral work, they come to devote so much of their time and/or energy to what is at best tangential to the ministry – office administration, denominational and inter-denominational commitments, public relations and various political and/or social involvements, and thus end up short-changing what is essential – Word and Sacrament ministry to the particular people of God whom we are called to serve, caring for their souls and not least our own.”

(Cartoon courtesy The Church Times, churchtimes.co.uk)


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For those who keep saying that the ordination of women has no bearing on the issue of the ordination of homsexuals, please note the comment in bold/itals (emphasis mine) in the story below.

Presbyterians take step towards ordaining homosexual clergy

By Chris Herlinger
New York, 9 July (ENI)–The general assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved a measure that would allow those in committed same-sex relationships to be ordained as clergy.

The proposed change to the denomination’s polices must still be approved by the U.S. church’s 173 presbyteries. In 2009, 94 of the local bodies voted against the change following a similar decision by the 2008 general assembly.

Proponents of the measure said the move that was made on 8 July is a historic step that puts the Presbyterian Church on the right side of history.

The denomination, meeting for its 219th assembly in Minneapolis, Minnesota, also debated whether to broaden its definition of marriage to include people in same-sex relationships.

The assembly, however, voted to maintain the current definition of marriage – between a man and a woman – in its constitution.

Lacy Morris, a delegate to the assembly quoted by the Presbyterian News Service, said that on the issue of ordination, the church had to decide which was worse: possible division or failing to do what was right.

“We’re talking about history, but we need to talk about the future,” Morris said, noting that the ordination of women also risked divisions, but had proven to be the right decision.

There was no immediate comment from traditionalist groups within the denomination about the move, though on its Web site, Presbyterians for Renewal, had said the previous day that “the news is not good from the Twin Cities” (of Minneapolis and St. Paul).

The move would change language for the denomination’s Book of Order, which only permits ordination for those who are either married or celibate.

If approved by the two-million-member denomination, which is the 10th largest in the United States, the church would join a number of Protestant denominations, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, that in recent years have changed their ordination rules regarding gay and lesbian clergy.

Debates over the issue of sexuality have proved contentious, though, and have caused splits within the U.S. Episcopal (Anglican) Church and between it and other Anglican churches elsewhere in the world. [360 words]

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Here, here Luther.  I found this snippet on Luther talking about preachers preaching Easter and neglecting Pentecost, and the power that Pentecost brings.

They are excellent preachers of the Easter truth, but miserable preachers of the truth of Pentecost. For there is nothing in their preaching concerning sanctification of the Holy Ghost and about being quickened into a new life. They preach only about the redemption of Christ. It is proper to extol Christ in our preaching; but Christ is the Christ and has acquired redemption from sin and death for this very purpose that the Holy Spirit should change our Old Adam into a new man, that we are to be dead unto sin and live unto righteousness, as Paul teaches Rom. 6:2 ff., and that we are to begin this change and increase in this new life here and consummate it hereafter. For Christ has gained for us not only grace (gratiam), but also the gift (donum) of the Holy Ghost, so that we obtain from Him not only forgiveness of sin, but also the ceasing from sin.”

Martin Luther, On The Councils and the Churches, quoted by Dr. C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel  : 39 Evening Lectures, p. 121

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Last week something very sad happened on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana and the campus of Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis, Missouri. Over thirty men who had gladly responded to the Lord’s call, “Who shall go for us?” saying, “Here am I, send me!” did not receive calls into the office of the holy ministry. Thirty men. Thirty men who had heard how much our Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod needs pastors. Thirty men who have been told how many are the vacant congregations in our Synod. Thirty men who heard how great and urgent is the immediate need of the church for laborers for the Lord’s harvest. Thirty men who spent many years being prepared to be the best possible pastors they could possibly be, receiving the finest training they could possibly receive. Thirty men who went through multiple moves, to seminary, out to vicarage, back to seminary, and they are ready to move again. They have known financial want. They have known difficulties and hardships, sacrificing much for the sake of the Ministry, and when the time came, there was not a single call to serve as a pastor, for them.

I was lucky.  When I graduated in 2001, there were more calls than students.  It’s strange how in a few years, the situation can completely reverse.

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