Thursday, December 11, 2008
ST. LOUIS- In a bold move designed to attract disenfranchised couples who have been ostracized from other Lutheran churches because of their cohabitation, a prominent Missouri-Synod congregation has reversed its policy on allowing cohabitating couple to commune.
Long seen as a “black eye” to its missional posture was the church’s position that couples living together should at least say “I’m sorry” before coming to the Lord’s Supper. Not anymore.
Senior Administrative Pastoral Vision-Caster Ted told the Organ, “Legalism is passé. What matters isn’t how you live as long as you’re a member of a church—preferably ours—and give an offering at least semi-regularly. The only rule Jesus gave us is the Great Commission.”
So far, numerous couples from “less-pastoral” congregations have expressed interest in a church that will allow them to be in fellowship without regard for what happens in their bedrooms (or cars, hotel rooms, county water towers, or sandy beaches). One anonymous couple said, “We want to go to church and have some wine and crackers without everyone passing judgment on us. And we want our children to have a place where they feel welcome to run around and scream like rabid wildebeests. We just weren’t getting that at [DELETED] Lutheran Church.”
According to Pastor Ted, “What’s worse: having a couple living together not going to church because they have hurt feelings or having a couple in a committed cohabitation who aren’t afraid to come to church? It all comes down to a church’s dedication to mission. If you’re in a missionary position, you’re welcome here.”
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Long hailed for its ability to turn everyday conversation into rip-roarin' ablaze contacts, the Ablaze bracelet with its six colored beads will come in a new variation.
In an effort to invite papist-leaning Lutherans into the Ablaze! camp, the synod will make available a version of the Ablaze! bracelet, known affectionately as the Lutheran Rosary, with a crucifix.
Rev. Scott Snow, who demonstrated how to get your sinner friends to ask Jesus into their hearts with the original Ablaze! bracelet, explained this most recent incarnation. "The premise is the same. When someone asks you why your bracelet has six different colored beads, which they do all the time, you answer simply: 'The black bead tells us we are separated from God because of His Law, which is sorta like Jim Crow laws. The red bead reminds us of Jesus' blood, and Valentine's Day, when we send Jesus love notes in our praise songs. White, which rhymes with right, reminds us that we are right with Jesus, which was an old way of saying "We cool, Jesus?" The green bead tells us to grow in our faith, like weeds. The yellow bead reminds us of heaven, where all the walls are painted yellow.' Then, when you get to the crucifix, you invite your friend to pray the Sinner's Prayer to Mary."
According to Snow, the innovation of praying the Sinner's Prayer to Mary is what makes this allthingtoallmen initiative palatable to papistic Lutherans, some of whom still believe Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born.
"Honestly, whether your friend prays the Sinner's Prayer to Mary or to Jesus, what matters is that you go to www.lcms.org/ablaze to record the event."
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Local St. Louisans have long been proud to call the Missouri Synod of Lutheranism their own. Now, however, with the buyout official, corporate ownership of the Missouri Synod will be moving to Minneapolis, MN. The warm affection even non-Lutherans had for this smaller, locally-owned Synod was witnessed by the neighborhoods in Kirkwood, the home of the LCMS corporate headquarters, with signs in the front yards saying, “Keep Missouri in Missouri.” To no avail.
The offer from the ELCA was to buy Missouri for $25 a person. With over two million members, that amounted to $50 million. Early speculation was that the LCMS Board of Directors would reject the offer, preferring to keep control of the synod in their hands. That rejection was expected to be met with a hostile takeover bid, with the ELCA offering $25 to each shareholder-member of the LCMS individually. Most church pundits speculated that Missouri’s shareholders would quickly jump at that offer, sensing their desire to get, as one anonymous Missourian said, “nothing for something.” Today’s decision, though, makes that reaction unnecessary.
Speculation about cutbacks in Missouri’s synodical officials were met with firm denial. Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, announced in a press release, “We will not eliminate any top-level bureaucratic positions. The strength of a church body is in the number of its officials ant the depth of their pockets. Only local clergy need to fear downsizing, which we prefer to call ‘accommodation.’”
Rumors about the new conglomerate’s name abound. Among the least popular suggestions is the Evangelical Lutheran Synodochurch in Amerimissouri. Something trendier like bigChurch might be catchier.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
In 2000, Dr. Neil Clark Warren launched eHarmony.com as a dating site that attempts to “move beyond ‘traditional’ online dating.” Dr. Warren perfected eHarmony’s patented Compatibility Matching System™ that has since propelled eHarmony into the position of the America’s “#1 trusted relationship service.”
Maybe the relationship just wasn't meant to be, brother.
According to Warren, “For decades, maybe longer, churches have relied on chance, dumb luck, or even prayer to pair pastors and congregations. SET forms and PIF inventories are as outdated as Match.com. They don’t work. And they don’t provide happy marriages between pastors and congregations. The only way to find a perfect relationship between pastor and parish, the only way to find the one pastor that’s right for your congregation, is to use our patented Compatibility Matching System™.”
“Don’t get stuck in a bad relationship with a pastor who’s not perfect for you, who doesn’t meet your needs, who isn’t compatible with your personality," said Warren. "Sign up today.”
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Stortz describes the move as one designed to shift the focus of afternoon programming “away from the ‘issues’ over to the ‘etcetera.’”
"Stern is a voice capable of reaching far more listeners than any of our other radio personalities,” Stortz said.
While a schedule has yet to be released, stay tuned to The Organ for up-to-the-minute news as it becomes available.
"There is a renewed effort in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod to actively engage the pressing questions and issues in our culture," says one LCMS spokesperson. "One such issue is whether you can be a follower of Christ and vote Democrat. Though only God can judge a man's heart, we are able to make what I like to call a 'Theolgical Guesstimation.'"
The issue has become a point of interest, since past elections have hinged in part on the vote of conservative Christians, who played a major role in securing the election of President George W. Bush to his first and second terms.
The decree from on high in the LCMS, however, is not without contention. The dissent focuses, for the most part, on two issues:
-The key role a donkey played in the ministry of Jesus, specifically on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
-The fact that it is hard to imagine that God would really want George W. Bush in office.
At the time of publication, the Republican National Committee office had no response to these two issues.
Political pundits covering both major parties view the announcement as somewhat of a formality, as their poll numbers already show that pretty much all the LCMS Lutherans vote Republican anyway.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
But firefighters were greeted with some confused employees in the church office and no smoke billowing out of the windows. As it turns out, a neighbor was concerned when he overheard the pastor of Christ Our Savior talking to the cashier at a nearby coffeehouse about the problem his church was having being “ablaze.”
After evacuating the church, firefighters determined there was no fire.
Leaders in the church are hopeful this confusion won’t happen again, but there are no guarantees. At the height of the Pentecostal movement, many fire departments responded to calls by neighbors worried about rumors that the churches were set on fire by a spirit.
Monday, February 4, 2008
ATLANTA- A local Lutheran church will jettison the traditional Ash Wednesday service in favor of something designed to appeal to a wider audience. Pastor of St. Liz Lutheran Church in the heart of Atlanta Steve Carter explains, “We’ve been noticing a decline in attendance at church in general, but our Ash Wednesday service has been particularly disappointing in the past few months. So we’ve renamed it a bit and added something a lilt more familiar to most people than ashes and litanies. The late Johnny Cash is really popular with all generations nowadays. So this year we’re going to celebrate Cash Wednesday instead.”
The approach is getting mixed reviews from members, and some have gone so far as to complain that Cash Wednesday dishonors the dead country star. Others aren’t sure that the emphasis will draw the crowds that Carter hopes it will.
Whatever the result, if the new approach is unsuccessful, it won’t be for lack of planning. “We’re planning to sing ‘Man in Black’ for our opening hymn,” said Carter.
The 43-year-old pastor is no stranger to controversy. In December of 2005, the church sent out mailers to neighborhood homes announcing their alternative approach to Advent fellowship: “You weren’t going to come anyway, but could you at least mail your offering?”
“We sorta had high hopes for it,” said Carter. “It could have worked either as reverse psychology and people would have come because we told them not to, or they would have taken us seriously and mailed offerings. Neither happened. Fewer people came, and we received less in the offering plate.”
But Carter remains optimistic for the Cash Wednesday idea. “What’s not to like? Everyone likes Johnny Cash: grandmas, college kids, suburbanite yuppies.”
Assuming Cash Wednesday succeeds, Carter plans to expand it for next year. “If it goes well, next year, we’ll replace Good Friday with Ring of Fireday. We’ll see.”
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
ST. LOUIS- In a continued effort to keep the "Ablaze!" movement at the forefront of the collective consciousness of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, the synod Board of Higher Education (BHE) today announced an exciting partnership between the Concordia University System schools and the synod.
The ten Concordias - as well as the two seminaries - have all agreed to change their respective nicknames to names more befitting the fire-inspired "Ablaze!" movement and its sister capital campaign, "Fan Into Flame." The new school names will be as follows:
- St. Paul Pyros
- Ann Arbor Arsonists
- Wisconsin Critical Eventers
- "Great" Chicago Fire
- Selma Heartburn
- Portland "Thy Word is a Light to My" Trailblazers
- Seward Prairie Fire
- Irvine Igniters
- Bronxville Flamers
- Austin Ablaziacs!
- Ft. Wayne Pentecostals
- St. Louis Fire and Brimstone
A press release from an Ablaze! official released earlier today states the following: "We could not be more pleased with the effort shown by our institutions of higher learning to lead the way in reaching 100 million people with the good news about Jesus. We can think of no better form of evangelism than a group of athletic teams with fire-themed nicknames, mascots, and logos."
Early estimates are that with the combined exposure of the multiple athletic teams of the multiple schools spread all around the country - including nearby major urban areas - upwards of 35 million people will be reached for Jesus through this effort alone. Talks are ongoing between the LCMS and the CUS schools about changing their respective fight songs to the Albaze! theme hymn, which would fit better with the new nicknames.
Monday, January 21, 2008
While the move is unprecedented, many conclude that it’s not altogether unexpected. Aufdentisch has been a strong proponent of absolving sins since coming to Our Savvy Savior from Topeka a few years ago.
While calls to the Synod’s International Center went unreturned late Sunday evening, The Theological Organ got to speak to a guy who comes in a few evenings a month to empty wastebaskets. While electing to remain anonymous, the source said there’s a palpable fear among Synod’s leadership. “There have been some e-mails in the trash that mentioned it. Frankly, if you ask me, it don’t make a lick of sense. Why would they ubsolve [sic] things that most folks don’t think are sins?”
Some of the voters from Our Savvy Savior seemed uncertain about the congregation’s future with the Synod. Longtime-member Dorothy Rogers said, “As long as things stay the same, we’ll stay here absolving the Synod. But if things change and there are no more sins to absolve, we may have to break fellowship and look for a Synod in need of some absolution.”
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Those who voted in favor of the review expressed concern that placing Jesus first may violate what many see as standard Trinitarian theology. “Jesus is the incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. To call Him the First seems to confuse the matter,” said a member of the COP who elected to remain anonymous.
“If it’s true that JesusFirst emphasizes the primacy of Jesus to the exclusion of the other two persons of the Trinity, this seems to be some kind of Swedenborgianism. If they want to be correct, maybe they should call themselves ‘Jesus Second.' And for crying out loud, the spacebar is the big, unmarked one at the bottom of the keyboard. Use it. ”
Calls to the JesusFirst office were not immediately returned.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
ST LOUIS- 301 Missouri Synod congregations have completed orientation to become Ablaze! "Convent Congregations," pledging to start up to four "daughter" convents each over the next decade. The goal for the end of 2007 was to have 100o congregations on board, taking seriously Christ's Great Convent Mission to preach and baptize within the walls of a convent.
"We surpassed our expectations, but not our goal, which is an indication that this is the right thing to do at this time in our church body," said Grace Grayson, national director for new convent field testing.
The short-term goal is 10 percent -- or 600 -- of the Synod's 6,000 congregations seeing themselves as "mission outposts," according to Grayson. "The long-term goal is that every congregation will become a convent-planting congregation," she says. "Can you just imagine all 6,000 congregations planting one convent [each] in the next 10 years?" he asks. "It would double our convents."
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod has seen its roster of nuns decline "because we are not taking the ministry of convent planting seriously," according to Grayson. "The number of Lutheran nuns in the United States has not grown proportionately to population growth," he adds, "which indicates that there are a lot of women who need to be in convents."
It's a positive sign that 300-plus Synod congregations so far have signed contracts with their districts and LCMS World Mission to make outreach to single women their top priority, equip their members to witness their nunnery to others, and send and support their members in convent planting, Grayson says.
As Convent Congregations, they will have access to funding, assessments, and training from LCMS World Mission, Lutheran Church Extension Fund, Convent Development Partners, the Center for U.S. Missions, and the two LCMS seminaries. "I think congregations are excited about it," Grayson said. "In the past, convent planting was the responsibility of the districts, but now congregations are seeing this as their responsibility, as they are increasingly realizing that they are in the mission field."
Dr. Joe Fiedenthaler, president of the Synod's Northeastern District (NED), says the Convent Congregations idea "has come along at precisely the right time" because, while NED has always been "habit-focused ... in recent years we have been putting more emphasis on moving the mission forward through the planting of new convents.
"Many of our existing congregations seem to agree because they are the ones who have helped us identify 170 opportunities for a new convent throughout our region." Creating that "mission mindset" was due, in large part, to the district's primary focus on "solitude and the Serenity Prayer" for individuals and congregations, according to Seaman.
"We emphasize Word and sacrament ministry, and seek to be faithful to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, understanding that to be faithful implies vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience."
While Kieschnick has yet to name his appointees to RoWTFtFtAoTAtBaOCRTF, several unnamed sources expect this announcement soon, as the RoWTFtFtAoTAtBaOCRTF has work to begin immediately. Eventually, the RoWTFtFtAoTAtBaOCRTF will make recommendations to the president about future task forces and the appropriate color ribbons for them. This is a bold move by the president that will reduce the amount of bureaucratic red tape, or at least, the amount of red ribbons. For now.
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