Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In case you haven't heard by now . . .

Easter Divine Service at ULC a couple of days ago - evidently, this is not "missional" enough and the chapel needs to be sold

the "Campus Ministry Property Task Force" of the Minnesota South (MNS) District of the LC-MS unveiled a plan last week, the keystone of which is to sell the two campus properties it owns at the University of Minnesota (ULC) and Mankato State University (CLC).  The plan was unveiled on Holy Tuesday, which brought back for many of us the horrific memories we have of the events which took place on Holy Tuesday a few years back, in 2008, when "Issues, Etc." was suddenly canceled and its host, Pr. Todd Wilken, and producer, Mr. Jeff Schwarz, were both terminated, and the archives of the show were suddenly taken down from the KFUO website, as if it never existed - all done "in the dark" and without explanation to our church body.  I still remember the creepiness I felt that day, and the utter shame I felt to belong to a church body that would act in this fashion, and during Holy Week, no less.  And now, this move by the MNS District has brought back that feeling of creepiness and shame.  Sad.

One of the lessons I've learned from both of these tragic and sad Holy Tuesday events is that "missional leaders" (whatever the heck they are!) must not be all that in to Holy Week, which is supposed to be the most important week in the Church Year for Christians.  I assume that the members of this Task Force identify themselves as "missional leaders," since the Mission Statement of the MNS District is:  "Developing missional leaders in congregations and schools," and it would seem odd, indeed, to appoint members to this Task Force who were not "missional leaders" themselves. 

A few other things I have learned about "missional leaders" from these events is that a) Open and Transparent Communication = Obfuscation and Confidentiality; b) Word and Sacrament Ministry is ineffective and must be replaced with better, more relevant "mission" strategies; c) Confessional Lutheran theology must give way to Americanized, "Evangelical" theology; d) The modus operandi is that the end justifies the means, and the best way to justify the means to the end they desire is to make it seem like it's all about finances, even when anyone with a calculator and an elementary school-level education in math can see otherwise; e) The Office of the Holy Ministry is replaced by the assertion that "everyone is a 'minister.'"  And much else.

Anyway, this year's "Holy Tuesday Treachery" was quickly brought to light by Pr. David Kind and those involved in the virtually self-supportive University Lutheran Chapel (ULC), where confessional, faithful, Lutheran theology is put into practice (which, evidently, is the opposite of "missional"), and where a vibrant congregation of God's children faithfully gather around His Holy Word and Sacraments (which, evidently, is also the opposite of "missional").  I am thankful that Pr. Kind not only refused to comply with the request to keep this matter confidential, but also rebuffed DP Seitz's appeal to 1 Cor. 14 to make the case that "good order" required continued confidentiality by pointing out to him that "good order" never means doing things under the cover of darkness.  Amen to that, brother!

You can read all about the goings on in this matter at the Save the ULC page on the ULC website, where all the pertinent documents are posted for your perusal and study.  I encourage everyone to raise their voices in opposition to the actions proposed by the secret Task Force of the MSN District.

You can read what others are saying about this here, here, and here.  You can also join the "Save the ULC" Facebook page here.   


Anonymous said...

Well, the very fact that there really isn't a word "missional" is plenty of indication that whatever some of these so-called leaders are doing, it isn't following the biblical guidance on the Church's mission of making disciples through baptizing and teaching to observe all Christ has commanded. It basically comes down to their unspoken but all-too-clear doubts that the Word of God is capable of doing what God says it is capable of doing, and their beliefs that it must be "enhanced" and "contextualized" to be "effective" and "impactful".

Dennis Peskey said...

"I have spoken openly to the world. I have said nothing in secret.John 18:20 This was the testimony of our Lord and Savior to Caiaphas.

I cringe whenever a Board or Task Force in our Synod declares "In the interest of open communication and transparency" followed quickly by confidential copies of the documents in the same sentence.

Open and transparent is Christ hanging on the Cross for our sins or the empty tomb on Easter Sunday; confidential is the way of the Sanhedrin operating under the cover of darkness. To twist St Paul's admonition of "decent and good order" as a justification of darkness is an affront to the Light of the World. Kyrie Eleison.
He is Risen! Alleluia.

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

@The Renegade: I think you hit the nail most squarely on the head. At the end of the day, after all the pious platitudes and urgent utterances, it comes down to whether or not one believes the Holy Word and Sacraments are capable of doing what God Himself says they do. Whenever I hear so-called "missional leaders" expressing the need for the church to change this and that in order to be more "effective" and "impactful," I am reminded of Abraham and Sarah "helping God out" by introducing Hagar into the equation - how'd that work out for them?

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

@Dennis: Most excellently stated, my friend! I simply cannot help myself from making the connection between the synodical bureaucrats who plot in secret and try to hide their plans under the cover of darkness and the Jewish religious leaders and authorities who did the same when plotting and planning to do away with our Lord. Of course, making that connection means that I am a most grievous sinner, guilty of violating the 8th Commandment for failing to put the "best construction" on the actions of these synodical bureaucrats. Be that as it may, the connection is there. To plot and plan in secret is not the way of our Lord and we, His disciples. One wonders what would have happened with this had someone from ULC not stumbled upon the BOD Minutes of the MNS District in late March and learned of the existence of this new, secret Task Force. Members of the ULC and CLC were promised that they would be part of any talks related to their campus ministries, but knew nothing of this new secret Task Force and their newly developed plans. Most deviously sad! Kyrie Eleison, indeed!

Btw, it was great to have both you and Pr. Larry Wright with us for our Noon Divine Service on Good Friday.

Dennis Peskey said...

Pastor Messer - What was great for you was a true blessing for me. No distance is too great when you know Christ is waiting for you at the end of your journey. The Service of the Word, the Seven Words of Christ from the Cross, the Litany, the Procession of the Sacred Cross and to finish, the Service of the Sacrament brings more joy than a Lutheran should have on Good Friday. Then, to join in koinonia with members of your congregation afterwards was real fellowship. My thanks to you and your congregation - all praise, honor and glory to our risen Lord and Savior.
He is Risen! Alleluia.