DOXOLOGY: The Gathering Review

The Gathering Review

April 25 – 28, 2010

On Sunday, April 25, I began my journey to Allenspark, CO for the first of three parts for DOXOLOGY, The Gathering.  This part of the program was held at the St. Malo Catholic Retreat Center, as will be the second part.  Due to MapQuest “forgetting” to tell me to make one all-important turn, I found myself driving 90 minutes out of the way and getting lost.  Fortunately, I found a Walmart and after purchasing a GPS, made my way to the retreat center just in time for dinner, having missed the welcome and event preview session.

There were 25 men from various congregations in The LC-MS and a few from the WELS.  Some pastors gathered have been in the ministry for a few short years, while some have been in the ministry for 20+ years and everything in between.

During the time of The Gathering, we met for worship three times a day at the Chapel on the Rock (Morning Office, Afternoon Office, Evening Office), an integral aspect to DOXOLOGY and the spiritual life of the pastor.  Sunday evening consisted of a single module or session.  Monday and Tuesday consisted of 5 modules each and Wednesday consisted of 2 modules and a section for closing comments and preparations for the second part of the program, The Encore.  Each module lasted anywhere from 75 minutes to 120 minutes, with a 30 minute break between sessions.  In order to minimize the amount of time DOXOLOGY has the pastor away from the parish, it was necessary to maximize the information taught.  Therefore, a day began at 7:00 am and ended around 8:45 pm.

The following modules were conducted during The Gathering:

  • Word, Sacrament and Psychotherapy
  • Shepherding Souls: The Classic Model for the Care of Souls
  • A Noble Task: A Christ-centered Paradigm for Pastoral Self-Care
  • Pastoral Ethics and Spiritual Care Challenges
  • The Silent Epidemic: Compassion Fatigue
  • Authority vs. Power: The Pastoral Pitfall
  • What Pastors Need to Know About EQ (Emotional Intelligence)
  • Out of the Depth: Sadness, Despair, and Recovery
  • Depressions, Dysfunction, and Despair: Clinical Realities & Treatment
  • Lead Us Not in Temptation:
    Sexual Misconduct
  • Deliver Us from Evil:
    A Christ-Centered Strategy

The best way to summarize the information received is very similar to drinking from a fire hydrant.  The information came at you very fast and was very information-packed.  During this time, we met in both the large-group setting and also in smaller group settings to look at real-life casuistry issues and to discuss how we would provide pastoral care in such instances.

The objectives completed during The Gathering included:

  • Immersion in a worshipping community at the heart of the program’s experience through the praying of the Daily Office.
  • Affirmation of pastoral vocation, reflection and refreshment for ongoing pastoral work by exploring the essential habits and practice of the classic care of souls and the application of Christian counseling concepts.
  • Enhancement of personal skills through didactic and discussion models to sharpen professional competencies essential to the art of counsel and care.
  • Cultivation of essential tools and strategies for responding to the burgeoning (growing) personal needs of today’s parishioners.
  • Formation of working peer groups of pastors to address matters of congregational casuistry from the perspective of shepherd of souls.
  • Creation of ongoing mentoring and coaching relationships between participants and consulting theologians and/or psychologists.
  • Provision for facilitated conversations among pastor participants for interpersonal support and encouragement (the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren).
  • Renewal of personal pastoral habits in prayer, meditation and ongoing pastoral growth.
  • Optional personal consultation, help and healing for pastors’ emotional and/or spiritual concerns (care of psyche and care of soul).

Overall, The Gathering proved to be very informative and covered a lot of information within a short amount of time.  At The Encore, (June 18-20), I will be bringing with me a layperson from the congregation to take part in DOXOLOGY as well.  During The Encore, there will be 12 modules, 4 for both pastors and laity, 4 for pastors only and 4 for laity only.

The third and final part of DOXOLOGY, The Reunion, will take place August 27-29 at the St. Benedict Center in Schuyler, Nebraska.  For The Reunion, the pastor’s wives are invited.  Wives in attendance network with other women who share the unique blessings and challenges of living out their marriages in the context of parsonage life.  This event allows clergy to hear presentations on pastoral work from some of the finest theologians and practitioners in the area of spiritual care and will allow for a fast-paced and intensive review of their training in the earlier portions of the program.  Dr. John W. Kleinig, renowned Australian scholar and pastoral theologian, will serve as the featured presenter for the 2010 Reunion.

Calls come, but not enough

This last week, Tuesday and Wednesday specifically, both of the seminaries had their vicarage assignment and candidate placement services.  Unfortunately, assignments and calls were not enough.  At Concordia Theological Seminary, it was said that there were a few vicarage-eligible men that did not receive a vicarage assignment.  This is not too terrible, as these men may petition for a delayed vicarage.  The most grievous fact is that there are approximately 30 men who, having completed their studies, having met all their requirements, and having been certified by the faculty, did not receive a call into the Office of Holy Ministry.  Of 60 eligible men from CTSFW, 21 did not receive a placement.  Lord willing, that will change and change soon. 

Rev. Matt Harrison On Friday, April 30, Rev. Matthew Harrison, Executive Director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care (and God willing, future president of The LC-MS), preached at CTSFW.  The sermon is only 6:40 in length, but I think a very well-preached sermon.  To listen to it, check out his blog here.

Drive to DOXOLOGY –1, Jared – 0

Yesterday began my trek to Allenspark, CO for the first of three DOXOLOGY events.  I followed the directions that MapQuest gave me.  Unfortunately, that will be the last time I follow MapQuest as it led me about 90 minutes out of my way because it failed to tell me one all-important turn to make.

Driving around and around and around, I finally stopped in a sporting goods store to purchase a GPS because I was beyond lost and quite frankly, I’m not even sure I could have found my way back to where I just got off from.  They had one unit and was way more than what I wanted to spend.  (As a side note, I stopped in Walmart real quick Sunday morning and thought about buying a GPS “just in case”, but decided against it, thinking I would be ok.  Bad idea.)

I found a Walmart and ran in and purchased me a TomTom XL 325•SE.  It’s not the top of the line, but it got the job done.  With “Samantha’s” help (the name of the female voice), I made it to my destination at Saint Malo Catholic Retreat, Conference & Spiritual Center.  I started my trip at 9:30 am and arrived at 6:03 pm.  What should have taken me 6 hours, 3 minutes according to MapQuest, took me 8 hours, 30 minutes.

I made it just in time for dinner, rather frazzled to say the least.  I got my stuff, ate, threw my computer in my room and went out to the car to get the rest of my stuff. 

The weather here is kinda nice.  I ran out to the car this morning to get something out of it and found the car covered in snow.  Yes, COVERED in snow.  If I’m outside later, I’ll try to snap a picture of the car.

That’s all for now.  I’ll be posting a review of DOXOLOGY once I return to Gillette (or I may make some smaller post each night, don’t know).

Advent is blue for a reason=Depression

I was doing some looking into the trends of churches which use blue over purple for Advent.  Several of my pastor friends have thoughts as to why it should blue over purple or purple over blue.  Then I came across this post, Advent is blue for a reason.  This pastor writes:

I would argue that Advent is blue and for a reason.  For many pastors, the season of Advent is a very depressing time. 

He later goes on saying:

Needless to say, the season of Advent, and the entire month of December, can be draining on a pastor, both physically and emotionally.  I always look forward to a vacation right after Christmas, but that may not happen for every pastor.  During December, a pastor is running at 200% and still has things on his “To-Do” list.  Through all of this, a pastor has to have a smile on his face and seem as if nothing is bothering him.

He hasn’t posted anything in a little while, but I think that this is a good post.

Ordination anniversary

Four years ago today, I was ordained into the office of holy ministry.  On April 26, 2005 when I received my first call to be a pastor, President Wenthe read these words to the men who had just received calls:

Go, then, take heed unto thyself and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghose hath made thee an overseer, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.  Feed the flock of Christ, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lord over God’s heritage, but being an example to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, thou shalt receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.  The Lord bless thee from on high and make thee a blessing unto many, that thou mayest bring forth fruit, and that thy fruit may remain unto eternal life.  Amen.  (The Lutheran Agenda, p. 109)

These words are a very tall order.  They should put the fear of God into a man who has received a call into the office, for it is indeed a very important office which we undertake.  These last four years have been challenging, both on a personal and spiritual level.  However, if asked if I would trade my vocation for that of another, my answer would wholeheartedly be no.

Congregations and New Pastors: A How To Guide

My installation (7-17-05)Rev. Paul McCain from Cyberbrethen posted a wonderful article entitled “Congregations and New Pastors: A How To Guide.” This is a wonderful article and I encourage all pastors to read this! It is sound advice for congregations which will receive a newly ordained candidate, churches who will call a pastor from the field, and finally, for ALL churches with a pastor.

Men called into the office of holy ministry

Tonight, Concordia Theological Seminary placed men into the office of holy ministry.  The following are calls to men who will be placed in the Wyoming District where I am a pastor:

Long Beach, CA

Morrill, NE
Wyoming District

Casper, WY
Crawford & Harrison, NE

Wyoming District
Carmel, IN
Gordon, NE

Wyoming District

The following will be the vicar (intern) assigned for the upcoming year:

Thomas J. Marth
Holly, MI

Christ the King Lutheran Church
Cody, WY
Wyoming District

The following will not be coming to the Wyoming District, but is the brother of one of my members:

Powell, WY

Haven, KS
Kansas District

The ironic thing about this assignment is that his brother vicared there a year ago, I believe.  Both of the Bonine brothers will be in Kansas and just a few hours apart from each other.

God’s blessings to these men and to all who receive their vicarage assignments and their first calls into the office of the holy ministry.

Luther quotes

I’ve been bad…I haven’t been keeping up with the Treasury of Daily Prayer like I should have been.  I have to say that I really enjoy the Writings for each day.  Here are two writings from Martin Luther that should remain at the forefront of our minds.  The first writing is about baptism and the value and importance and meaning of it.  The second writing is about the office of holy ministry, something very important, as I am one who holds that office.  Enjoy these snippets from Luther.

Wednesday After Easter

For just as the truth of this divine promise, once pronounced over us, continues until death, so our faith in it ought never to cease, but to be nourished and strengthened until death by the continual remembrance of this promise made to us in baptism.  Therefore, when we rise from our sins or repent, we are merely returning to the power and the faith of baptism from which we fell, and finding our way back to the promise then made to us, which we deserted when we sinned.  For the truth of the promise once made remains steadfast, always ready to receive us back with open arms when we return….

It will therefore be no small gain to a penitent to remember above all his baptism, and, confidently calling to mind the divine promise which he has forsaken, acknowledge that promise before his Lord, rejoicing that he is still within the fortress of salvation because he has been baptized, and abhorring his wicked ingratitude in falling away from its faith and truth.  His heart will find wonderful comfort and will be encouraged to hope for mercy when he consideres that the promise which God made to him, which cannot possibly lie, is still unbroken and unchanged, and indeed, cannot be changed by sins, as Paul says (II Tim. 2[:13]): “If we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself.”  This truth of God, I say, will sustain him, so that if all else should fail, this truth, if he believes in it, will not fail him.  In it the penitent has a shield against all assaults of the scornful enemy, an answer to the sins that disturb his conscience, an antidote for the dread of death and judgment, and a comfort in every temptation–namely, this one truth–when he says: “God is faithful in his promises [Heb. 10:23; 11:11], and I received his sign in baptism.  If God is for me, who is against me?” [Rom. 8:31].1

Thursday After Easter

This ministry [that is, the Word of God, Baptism, and Holy Communion] will endure and is not to be replaced by any other.  But the incumbents of this ministry do not remain; they die.  This necessitates an ever-new supply of preachers, which calls for the employment of certain means.  [This ministry] came directly from Christ; but later Christ departed from this earth.  Now a new way of sending was instituted, which works through man but is not of man.  We were sent according to this method; according to it, we elect and send others, and we install them in their ministry to preach and to administer the Sacraments.  This type of sending is also of God and commanded by God.  Even though God resorts to our aid and to human agency, it is He Himself who sends laboreres into His vineyard.

There everyone [who preaches] must realize that he has been sent.  That is, he must know that he has been called; he dare not venture to sneak into the office furtively and without authorization.  It must be done in the open.  The sending is done through man, for example, when a city, a prince, or a congregation calls someone into office.  But at the same time this person is sent by God.2

1) Writing from Martin Luther, “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,” pp. 59-60 in vol. 36 of Luther’s Works, American Edition
2) Writing from Martin Luther’s sermons on the Gospel of St. John, p. 482 in vol. 22 of Luther’s Works

Third Anniversary

Today marks my third anniversary in the ministry.  Three years ago, I had the priveldge of being ordained in my home congregation, St. Paul’s, in Indianapolis.  While I have pictures, unfortunately, none are digital.

This vocation of pastor to which I have been called to serve is not something that is to be taken lightly.    I do not take this call lightly.  I strive to be the shepherd of my congregation to which God has called me.  At times, the work of a pastor is frustrating.  It is difficult.  It is challenging.  But at the same time, it is rewarding.  It is exciting.  It is what God has called me to do.

As classmates of mine are celebrating their ordination anniversaries, here is a prayer for us all:

Lord God, heavenly Father, You promised to send Your servants the Holy Spirit and to give them power from on high. We give thanks that through Your Word You also called [name] as Your servant and entrusted him with the Office of the Holy Ministry. We praise Your mercy and faithfulness and ask that You continue to keep him in good health and firm faith. Grant that he may continue to be a blessing to Your people and that they may be a blessing to him. Open everywhere the hearts of the faithful that Your Word may be received and that laborers in Your harvest may not be lacking. Cause Your Church to grow up into Him who is the head, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, amen.

Unity of the Spirit

In the May 2008 newsletter to pastors, President Kieschnick has some good words regarding the unity of the Spirit.

A word from St. Paul: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3).

The unity we have as Christians is a precious gift of God. If it then behooves us as Christians to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” how much greater is our responsibility in this regard as ordained ministers of the Gospel?

While much could be written about these few verses in Ephesians, I find a comment in Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary worth sharing: “By striving after the virtues named by the apostle: love, peace, meekness, humility, long-suffering, patience, the Christians maintain the unity of the Spirit given to them in the Word. As soon as these virtues are disregarded, the result is dissension and disagreement, division and sectarianism.” It’s my prayer that all of us-and I begin with myself-will exhibit these virtues and maintain the gift of unity given us by God’s Spirit.

May this be our prayer!