Thursday, January 20, 2011


I will admit that I go to the Ft. Wayne Symposia as much for the conversation as the erudite papers given.  One of the things about living so far from other Lutheran clergy is that I miss much of the conversation that both edifies and relieves, up lifts and counsels, encourages and corrects.  That is not to say we do not have 6-8 circuit Pastors' gatherings and the rapport and atmosphere is good.  I mean that being together with some 600 other Lutheran Pastors, additional faculty, staff, and seminarians, gives me access to the wider conversation of the Church in a way that I do not have in the more parochial setting of a parish in Tennessee.  So when I get to Ft. Wayne, I spend a great deal of time reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances and connecting with new folks.  It is a great and grand conversation that often continues through some of the other media.

One of the things that I have noticed is how this conversation has waned over the years.  Where I entered the parish ministry, the Atlantic District, we had a crazy conglomeration of folks from pentecostals to genuine liberals, from bronze age Missourians to evangelical catholics of the Augsburg Confession.  It was a place of great conversation and in this conversation rancor and mean talk gave way to honest and passionate speaking and debate.  Under it all was a level of collegiality I have not experienced in this church body for a long time. 

The split in Synod in the 1970s (which now more than half our clergy did not experience directly) contributed to the break down of this conversation.  The polarizations since have inhibited this free discourse and now it is more likely for people to peel off into little conventicles of liked minded folk than to engage others with the great and grand conversation of the faith and of the faithful.

It it this that I hope Pres. Harrison has in mind for the koinonia project.  It is for this that I head to Ft. Wayne i the dead of winter (braving, this year, black ice and snowflakes) in order to enjoy.  In one of those I was standing with a Pastor who spent much of his ministry in the Lutheran Church of England, with the Archbishop of Latvia, with a couple of Pastors from Ghana, with a classmate who is a sem prof, other class mates who, like me, are in the parish, and with a deaconess, seminarian, several District Presidents, and the Senior Assistant to the Synod President.  Ahhhh.... the great and grand conversation of the faith, for the faith, and with the faithful....

BTW you do not have to be a Pastor to enter such conversations.... these are the conversations that characterize the lively fellowship of God's people, proceeding from their place kneeling at the altar rail and extending through the fellowship hall, Bible studies, and personal connections throughout the week.  Work at these... seek them out... contribute to them... and enjoy them... they are essential to the life and character of the Church as the Body of Christ and to each of our lives within that Body as its members, created in Christ Jesus for good works.


Anonymous said...

The Fort Wayne Symposium is in itself
a part of the problem in the
breakdown of communication in LCMS.
This ultra conservative element
enjoys a few days of talking to
each other in the hallways and dining
room. Then the big off campus
banquet which roasts the moderates
in the LCMS is a ego booster for the
right wingers. Burnell Eckhardt's
sword is given to the martyr of the
year who endured moderate attacks.
Great stuff for koinonia.

Anonymous said...


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

So people who agree talking with each other is a break down in communication? Interesting assertion. I'd chalk the communication breakdown to people who refuse to talk to people who don't attend the symposium, but that's just me.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

The Fort Wayne Symposium is in itself a part of the problem in the breakdown of communication in the LCMS . . .

Hard to take seriously such an assertion regarding the breakdown in communication made by one who hides behind anonymity . . . great stuff for koinonia, there - NOT!

Anonymous said...

The Sabre of Boldness Ceremony led
by Burnell Eckhardt will be held at
the La Quinta Motel in Fort Wayne
after the Banquet on Thursday,
January 20, 2011. The Banquet Emcee
is Dr. David Scaer whose ribald
humor is funny.

Pastor Peters said...

Apparently some have not been to a Symposium. There are Lutherans here of all stripes - ELCA included as well Lutherans from all over the world. And the sharpest of Scaer's barbs are reserved for his colleagues at CTS and the LCMS... and the conversations I have had are hardly one sided.

Anonymous said...

2011 winner of Sabre of Boldness
is Brian Saunders, President of
Iowa District East, for his heroic
efforts to place Fort Wayne Sem
grads in his district for pastorates.
Past winners include Wallace Schulz,
who bit the bullet and lost his job
for the sake of his stand against
the hierarchy of the Lutheran Hour.

Carl Vehse said...

Having a retired ???A pastor as an invited speaker to present his family's rambling and erroneous revisionist history of Martin Stephan, C.F.W. Walther, and the Missouri Saxons was not something that can be labelled "ultra conservative" Lutheran.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carl: We are not talking about the
speakers but those who attend the
Symposium. The attendees are ultra
conservatives who come for a group
hug and a booster shot from the
right wing of the LCMS.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

Precisely! We ultra-conservative right wingers simply cannot survive without the annual group hug and booster shot. We're wimps like that. But, at least were manly enough to include our names with posts we make on the internet . . .