- Retain the Specific Ministry Program
- Narrow the specificity of the Program
- Conduct a Study of the Various Alternative Routes to Ordained Ministry (currently there are 2 residential routes and 6 distance routes)
- Add Greek to the curriculum
- Maintain an SMP enrollment that protects residential routes
- Continue the various alternative routes already in place
- Conduct a feasibility study for an ordained diaconate (specifically in reference to additional staff on larger parishes that might have been filled by an SMP individual)
The down side in all of this is that many will push for delay and more study before making any recommendations. Absent an urgency, this may sit well with uncertain delegates. My point is that this IS far too urgent to delay and any delay will only further entrench the position of the status quo AND erode the position of residential seminary education as the primary path to ordination. Nobody that I know of predicted the rapid rise in SMP numbers. Everyone I know is concerned about the future of residential seminary education (if for no other reason than cost). It seems to me the most foolish thing we could do is the retain the status quo and study things more. We need to act before the numbers of those in residential seminary programs becomes a minority of those on the path to ordination.
Some see the SMP program as the solution, even though a band aid, to the problem of licensed deacons (regularly performing the full compliment of duties of a Pastor but without ordination). The two programs (SMP and the licensed deacon programs operating apart from the seminaries) in the Districts) are not unrelated. In fact, these are connected from infancy. Others want to see the options further expanded (both lay service and non-residential seminary routes). So what is your pleasure -- non-ordained deacons doing Word and Sacrament ministry, short circuit pastoral training programs sending out ordained but largely untrained pastors, or an even more radical definition of training, call, and ordination? According to Concordia, St. Louis' response to the SMP task force, it may be solved by doing away with ordination since it is "by no means a necessary element." Stay tuned for more...
You can read it all here.
Or it is available here:
I get to be in on the discussion because I will be there as a voting delegate in St. Louis in July. I bet you wish YOU were me...