Thursday, May 5, 2011
Thoughts on Calls...
Second it seems that worship remains a BIG issue in the call situation. Several who seem to be in the know indicate that the reason Ft. Wayne graduates have borne a larger proportion of the burden of no calls at graduation is that the Ft. Wayne graduates tend to be more "rigid" in their traditional worship "style" and less "flexible" or "open to" or even familiar with contemporary worship and music. Ooooohhhh boy is there something there I would just love to jump on -- but being so quiet, passive, and charitable, I cannot go there (for now, anyway)...
So worship has a great deal to do with the whole thing..... Hhhhhmmmmm. I thought that worship wars had subsided somewhat (or at least some had told me this). Could it be that the seminaries and their graduates have become either pawns or players in a war increasingly waged behind the scenes? Could it be that this is a big deal when it comes to the great difference perceived between the two seminaries and their graduates? This might explain why larger numbers of Ft. Wayne candidates tend to go out as solo Pastors in smaller congregations more typically using "traditional" worship formats and larger numbers of St. Louis graduates tend to go out as associate or assistant Pastors in medium and larger congregations more typically open to "contemporary" worship formats?
In the end the perceived gulf between our seminaries and the divide between those in "traditional" and "contemporary" worship camps is growing. St. Louis guys are open and flexible and will do what the people want and Ft. Wayne guys are narrow, rigid, and will insist upon something whether the folks in the pew want it or not. I hope that this perception in wildly inaccurate and that both seminaries produce narrow minded Lutheran clergy who insist upon being Lutheran in theology and practice, who are unbending in their commitment to the Confessions and the liturgical identity that flows from those Confessions, but who are pastoral and patient in their catechesis of the people in the pew as they lead and teach them of this confessional Lutheran identity and the faithful liturgical practice that flows from this doctrinal and confessional identity. But then again it is probably only because I am narrow minded, rigid, and insist upon being Lutheran... so I guess I am not the right person to comment upon this...
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The St. Louis versus Fort Wayne
calls goes back to the 1980's and
President Robert Preus of Fort Wayne.
He was sending out seminary grads
with a mission: use only the 1941
hymnal, rescind woman voting rights
in voters assemblies, make the
pastor superior to the voters
assembly, and other issues. These
rigid grads were repudiated by many
parishes who were blown up by their
"new pastors." Hence St. Louis looked more flexible to parish
My husband graduated from St. Louis, and I will say that there is the perception that Ft. Wayne grads are rigid, too-serious-to-laugh-at-themselves, high church supporters. We have found this to be totally untrue, as we are friends with many Ft. Wayne grads. That being said, we have now also known 2 Ft. Wayne grads who deserted their churches and joined the Greek Orthodox. These things make news in the LCMS community, which leads some to say "We will not call another Ft. Wayne Grad."
It's sad, but this is something that Ft. Wayne needs to be addressing. Perception is reality to most laypeople outside the ministry, unfortunately.
Rev. Hans Fiene wrote some time ago about the double standard that exists when defining a "bad" seminary. His comments are worth looking at again in light of the above post:
Do not forget the baggage of the
predecessor to Fort Wayne which would
be the Springfield Seminary. They
definitely had lower academic
standards than St. Louis in the
1950's and 1960's. Grads of the
Senior College would sometimes go
to Springfield instead of St. Louis
because they barely got through the
Fort Wayne classes.
The things you say are lies.
How much is institutional inertia? We just made a call (one of the St. Louis grads) but our current pastor graduated from St. Louis, our assistant pastor who is leaving (back to St.Louis for a PhD) is from St. Louis, etc, etc. I cannot imagine our congregation even considering a call to a CTSFW grad - the plug into CSL is so strong that it is too convenient to bother changing - even though it might be a good thing to consider. How much of this is due to which seminary a DP graduated from?
I think the stereotype is held by laymen, clergy and Seminarians alike. Ask anybody who knows me, I am a St. Louis Grad and a 100% Lutheran Pastor in a pastor-killer District. My strong Confessionalism was taught at the Sem and is the norm. Every class has crackpots at both Sems. The sooner we stop hating on each other, the sooner the bigotry might end.
--Rev. Brandt Hoffman
I wonder how much of it is connected to the influence of the seminarians' fieldwork congregations and vicarage congregations. I had a fantastic fieldwork supervising pastor who I owe a great deal to the way I conduct myself in terms of pastoral practice today. I would surmise that the seminarians who did their fieldwork at a big suburban St. Louis church-growth style ministry...or who served as a vicar in a similar congregation will very likely be the same thing. Similarly a new pastor who is "ultra-traditional" (I know, bad term, but I can't think of anything better) will very likely have been strongly influenced by either the pastor at his home congregation, fieldwork congregation, or vicarage congregation.
I know for a fact that if your SET answer to the worship question is perceived as "too" rigid, certain DPs will not accept a placement into their district. In fact, seminarians are nearly instructed to be less than forthcoming on their SET and give as ambiguous an answer as possible.
Honestly, having recently seen how the COP manipulates the call process, I place the blame squarely on them. The unfortunate result of this is that good pastors are given the political stiff.
Frankly, I think the Synod would be far better off if a congregation could only place a call to the entire candidate pool and if District Presidents placed these men without knowing which Seminary they came from. I do understand that a certain level of "fittedness" might make for smoother goings, especially when there are other pastors/staff to work with, but even a pastor who is a poor fit personality wise is sent to that congregation by God... and we should not diminish that fact.
Is there a reason why a call is sent to a specific seminary and not for a graduating seminarian from either? Is that scenario even a possibility?
I don't see why not.
"Every class has crackpots at both Sems"
Really? then why are they certified for a call?
"I know for a fact that if your SET answer to the worship question is perceived as "too" rigid, certain DPs will not accept a placement into their district."
But I thought congregations could call who they want. Is that not so?
stop posting anonymously.
To answer your question: There are crackpots who say things like "cooperate and graduate".
If you come from my District, you know that if you come back, it's with the understanding that it's an uphill battle but worth it to bring what you learned in Sem back to the salt water districts. My SET was worded like this:
(RE: Worship Style)
"I am convinced that the historic worship which has served the church for centuries is as vital and rubust today as ever. I am of course willing to discuss this with anyone who believes a worship-style change is important."
Confessional Lutherans are ALWAYS willing to gently discuss and teach to a proper worship theology without konking anyone on the head.
Any future responses to you should only come when you start using your real name.
In His service and in yours,
--Rev. Brandt Hoffman
The stereotype is such:
Fort Wayne Grads love the doctrine, thus they hate the people,
St. Louis Grads love the people, thus they hate the doctrine.
And yet in my time in student government at CTSFW, we encouraged the continuation of the student-swap, and even stongly encouraged the presidents of both sems to swap profs for a quarter or two. Stereotypes are not reality, but they take some of their credibility in certain truths.
Are there CSL students who 'play the game' at the sem and go hog-wild in the parish? Yes. Are there CTSFW students who 'put on a good show' just to get run out of their first parish within 6 months? Do I even need to answer?
And yet, we focus on the wrong arguments at times - because the bigger problem is that BOTH seminaries are recruiting students to a field where it seems as though there are no jobs for them when they finish their studies...
which is my real name, aka Past Elder, which is the name of my blog.
I'd be less concerned about which seminary a candidate comes from than how many of his professors did their graduate work at Notre Dame or other bastions of postconciliar Catholicism.
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