* The Flu hit two of our scheduled Conference Forum presenters (one however was able to make it to a Fax and sent his paper to the conference). The Two remaining presenters had more than enough matrial to cover all the empty spots and to stimulate good discussion.
* The Opening Convention session preceded the Forum portion of the Conference on Monday and a large portion of business before the body was covered. Minutes of the previous convention were corrected and approved, Minutes of the 1996 Minister-ium meeting were presented and received. The treasurers report for April 1995 - April 1996 was presented and approved. The 1996 - 1997 Budget was presented, amended and unanimously approved at the beginning of the Convention. This is something that doesn't happen very often in Church Conventions.
* The names of 5 Pastors were submitted to the Convention for approval to the Clergy Roster of LMS-USA. Each was unanimously approved (4 to be publicized in the current issue of Table Talk).
* The names of 2 congregations were submitted to the Convention for Approval to the congregational roster of LMS-USA. Each was unanimously approved (1 congregation to be publicized in the current issue of Table Talk). The reception of the 5 pastors and 2 congregations represented a significant growth in LMS-USA for its first year of existence.
* Special reports were given notifying the Convention of our official dates of Incorporation and reception of Tax exempt Status from the IRS, updating the Convention concerning our LMS-USA World Wide Web Home Page effort; and giving an update on LMS-USA Publications (Printed and Planned for printing.)
* The convention approved the publication of Two Catechisms for LMS-USA use. 100 Copies of the Reu Catechism with the permission of Augsburg-Fortress Press and an unlimited number of the Joseph Stumpf Catechism with NIV and King James Scripture passages printed side by side. The Stumpf Catechism was found to be in the Public Domain.
* During the Conference Forum Sessions a conscious attempt was made to present papers that would be understandable to the laity of our congregations. It was thus edifying to have a good number of laity involved in the various questions and discussion that followed the various presentations.
* A delightful Skit written by Maureen Spears highlighting the differences between the terms "Quia" and "Quatenus" was presented to the Conference and succeeded in providing good humor as well as helping to explain the considerable difference in these heavy latin terms.
* The Conference Chaplain pickedsome challenging hymns to be sung a cappella in devotions for the various Conference Forum sessions. Content and Comments as well as the Monday evening Communion Sermon were exceptional.
* The Food prepared and served by the folks of St. Matthew Church was once again a highlight together with the truly fine fellowship among LMS-USA delegates, pastors, observers and St. Matthew members.
* The Conference Forum portion of our Annual Convention was once again very privileged to welcome official observers from two other Lutheran Church Bodies.
At the second and concluding session of the Convention -
* The convention acted to pursue a Group Exemption determination to cover congregations of the body that would not have their own Individual Tax Exemption status.
* An additional statement dealing with our self definition of being Moderate/ Middle Conservative and approved with the consensus of the Ministerium was presented and unanimously approved by the Convention. [You can find same included with this newsletter].
* A Proposed statement on Eschatology presented by Pastor John Erickson was unanimously approved as an addition to our Introductory LMS-USA brochure.
* The following Missions were unanimously approved and reccomended to the
LMS-USA congregations for their support (Bulletin Inserts on these various
recomended Mission opportunities will be distributed to the congregations
in 1996 and 1997):
- The Latin American Lutheran Mission (LALM)
- Living Faith Evangelical Church, Littlestown PA.
- The Lutheran Bible Translators (LBT)
- Bethel Lutheran Church, Piqua, Ohio
- The Lutheran Association & Mission with Pilots (LAMP)
- Lutheran World Relief (LWF)
* Convention/ Steering Committee Officers for the coming year (April 23,
1996 - June 23, 1997) were elected as follows:
- Convention, Steering committee Chairman - Pastor Roy A. Steward
- LMS-USA Treasurer - Pastor John Erickson
- LMS-USA Secretary - Mrs. Joane Messersmith
* The Convention unanimously designated the subscribing pastors of the LMS-USA Ministerium to serve in the capacity of the Screening and Interview Committee for Clergy and Congregations making application to LMS-USA during the coming year.
* Unanimous action was taken to hold the 1997 Convention in June of 1997 and the 1998 Annual Convention and Conference in early or mid August of 1998.
* The Convention acted to officially appoint Pastor H. Richard Barley as the Director of LMS-USA Pension, Health Benefits, and Foundation; and acted to appoint Mr. Arik Johnson as the Director of LMS-USA Home Page and Internet publications (Web Master).
* The Audit Committeee of Christ Lutheran Church, Chetek is designated to be the Audit Committee for LMS-USA funds and expenditures.
* The closing work of the Convention was a review and discussion of suggested changes to the Preliminary Statement on the Holy Spirit and His Proper Work that is being developed as a future LMS-USA Subscriptional document.
* The 1997 Annual Conference will continue the focus upon the Lutheran Confessions, further reflection on the Holy Spirit and His Proper Work, and will feature The Rev. Dr. Carter Lindberg as a presenter concerning the "Church Growth Movement".
Submitted by Pastor Roy A. Steward
1996 Annual Conference/ Steering Committee Chairman
Brief Statement on Eschatology
approved by the LMS-USA Steering Committee:
We believe in our Lord's imminent return when all the dead together with those still living will be 'taken up' to stand before him in judgment. All unbelievers will be condemned to eternal hell. All the saved will be with Jesus forever in heaven. We reject any form of millennialism.
See our new church facility
AN OPEN HOUSE:
Faith Ev. Luth. Church
June 16, 1996 - 3 to 7 p.m.
Service of Dedication
June 30, 1996
Barley Evangelical Lutheran Church
Bakers Summit, PA
During Faith Evangelical Lutheran's (Altoona, PA) first year of life, several visitors from a rural valley located 18 miles distant, had seen newspaper advertisements of the congregation's independent free Lutheran effort and had visited the worship services in Altoona. The valley, known as "The Cove" because of its encirclement by mountain ranges, was thought to be too far away for these families to make a weekly drive to worship at Faith Lutheran. Pastor Roy A. Steward (Faith Lutheran) set out to find a location in "The Cove" where a second congregation might be planted. He knew of a beautiful stone church building whose Lutheran Congregation had been disbanded by the former Lutheran Church in America. The building was lovingly maintained by an independent association made up of descendants of the former congregation.
In November of 1992 Pastor Steward requested a meeting of the association trustees. A meeting was agreed upon and he presented his and Faith Lutheran's hope of being able to replant a traditional moderate conservative Lutheran Church in the area. The Trustees greeted the plan enthusiastically and asked only for an upkeep remuneration of $10.00/week.
An initial Christmas Eve Service was scheduled and on December 24, 1992, the first Christmas Eve Service since the closing of the former congregation in 1981 was held in the Barley Church building. A total of 34 persons attended.
Regular Sunday worship began with the first Sunday in January 1993. The weather was especially severe that winter but a faithful band, averaging 7-9 persons, attended the weekly services. By Easter, as the weather began to break, the average had doubled. By September it had doubled again. A large number of the folks, were former members of the original congregation who had been attending nowhere or who had felt at loose ends since the closing of their church.
The worship focused upon the Service Book and Hymnal with Communion being celebrated on the first Sunday of each month. For most of the first 3 months the singing of the hymns was unaccompanied and the liturgy was spoken. Yet by the Grace of God, the congregation grew and was strengthened with each passing month.
By Easter 1994, the charter of the new Congregation was opened and Barley became a self chartered congregation as had its sister congregation in Altoona. A Constitution was adopted modeled after that of the Altoona congregation. An official call was extended to Pastor Steward to serve as pastor, and a joint parish agreement was developed between the Faith Lutheran and Barley Lutheran Congregations. Until the opening of the charter on Easter Sunday, 1994, Barley had continued as a mission extension of Faith Ev. Lutheran, Altoona. But at that point, Barley determined to make application to the American Association of Lutheran Churches for membership. At the June Convention of the AALC, Pastor Steward (with the affirmation of the congregation) withdrew the Barley application as a result of what they perceived as the AALC's confusion over its own identity. [The AALC was (and is) trying to be a coming together of three strands of Lutheranism, i.e., the Evangelical, Orthodox, and Charismatic.] On October 12, 1994 Barley received notice of approval by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania of its official Incorporation.
When, in January 1995, the Altoona congregation and Pastor Steward left the AALC, the Barley congregation became an active participant in the plans leading up to the formation of the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod - USA.
Like its sister congregation, the Barley congregation voted unanimous approval of LMS-USA and its Subscriptional documents. On Pentecost Sunday 1995, the Vice President of the Barley Congregation made subscription to the LMS-USA foundational documents on behalf of the Barley Congregation. Thus Barley joined Faith, Altoona and Pastor Steward as being the first to subscribe their names to the new Ministerium and Synod's foundational documents. Another first for the Barley congregation was their joining with Faith to host the historic first gathering of the LMS-USA Ministerium, held February 18-19, 1996. The first sessions of the Ministerium where held in the Sanctuary of the old 1842 Stone Church
When the Charter of the Barley congregation was opened, 46 Adults signed on. The Charter was closed one year later with just under 85 members. The congregation began its third year of existence with 115 members. This truly was a remarkable growth from its initial little band that was so faithful back in the winter of 1993. In its first year of existence as a chartered congregation the Barley Congregation followed in the footsteps of Faith Lutheran, Altoona, and joined with the Faith Congregation in sponsoring a third mission congregation that was forming in the South Central PA town of Littlestown.
Barley Congregation holds a 9:15 A.M. worship service each Sunday as well as a 7:30 P.M. Thursday Evening Suffrages Worship (this serves as the context for a regular Bible study session). The congregation continues use of the Service Book and Hymnal. Looking ahead, plans are in the early stages for a possible addition of a fellowship and educational building on the property. This is most exciting when one takes into account that a leveling of the building was a real possibility only a few short years ago.
The Predecessor Congregation
Any history of the Barley Ev. Lutheran Congregation would not be complete without a brief account of its predecessor congregation. Because a significant portion of the new members of the Barley congregation are former members of the St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran church, in a very real way the former congregation continues to exist today.
The early history of Barley Church dates back to 1792 when Nicholas Barley and his family settled in what was even then known as "The Cove". Nicholas Barley was instrumental in the construction of the first Log Lutheran Church in the area. Later a second Lutheran church was constructed near the site of the Potter Creek Cemetery and was officially organized in 1812. In 1842 plans for a third and new place of worship were being made to replace the former churches. However, a disagreement arose among the Potter family (of the Potter Creek Church) and the Barley family. Thus in 1842 two new churches were built: St. John Lutheran of Potter Creek and St. Paul Lutheran of Baker's Summit.
On June 10, 1842 the cornerstone of the Barley Church was laid. The Rev. John Ellinger offi-ciated at the laying of the cornerstone and later became the first Pastor. The Church was built upon land of the Barley homestead. The church was built of brown stone at the cost of $2,000.00. The congregation became part of a larger charge or parish that was known as the Martinsburg Charge. The original constitution required that the pastor be bilingual: English and German. There were 24 confirmed members when the church was organized and by 1843 it had grown to 60 members.
Between 1842 and 1879 twelve different pastors served the congregation. Records show that during the early years the pastors received a salary of $160.00 per year. By 1895 the salary had been increased to $280.00 a year. November 11, 1900 saw a rededication of the church. The church had been renovated and a bell tower was added. However, it was not until 1930 that the bell was acquired for the new bell tower.
The last full time Pastor to serve the Barley congregation died while serving the pastorate in 1976. From then on the congregation was served by what was known as Vice-Pastors and Sunday worship was led by a variety of seminarians and lay preachers.
At the 135th anniversary of the congregation in 1977, the congregation reported an active confirmed membership of 35. When the congregation disbanded in 1981 the Synod desired to demolish the Stone Church. However, the remaining membership of the congregation formed the Barley Association and elected a board of trustees to maintain the Church. Between 1981 and 1992 an annual Homecoming service was held each year in September and an occasional wedding or funeral also made use of the facility. Otherwise the church remained closed.
Pastor Roy A. Steward
Faith and Barley Lutheran
There are many in society today, and sadly there are also those in the church, who would wonder, Why all the fuss over Scripture... over the Bible?
But from the point of view of the founding pastors and congregations of the LMS-USA , the understanding of Holy Writ (God's Word), is most basic, and could even be called 'a deciding factor,' as to whether a particular expression of the Church is, in fact, a faithful and true representative of Christ's Church here on earth.
Most all conservative Christians would make the confession that the Bible, more than merely containing God's Word, is God's Word. Many of these Christians would understand the Bible to be the message of Christ and of the salvation He has accomplished for man. But, good and wonderful as that is, can we say more?
Indeed we can, and must! More than merely containing the message, God's Word, the Bible, is also the instrument or the means by which God's Holy Spirit brings Christ and his salvation to us.
In Genesis 1, the word God spoke in the various days of creation, not only identified that which was to come into existence, it also was the means by which all came into being ("God said... And it was so"). We could look elsewhere, but certainly Jesus' miracles also point to the Word of God being more than merely the message. Just one example - when in Mark 5 Jesus was confronted by a man whose daughter was dying (soon she was dead) we find him going to the home where he announced, "The child is not dead but a- sleep." That was the message of the 'saving' that was to be. Then Jesus spoke, "Talitha koum!" And, "Immediately the girl stood up and walked around." The spoken word, more than merely the message, was also the means, or the instrument through which God's grace instilled new life to (in) that child.
In the New Testament record, when it speaks of Jesus' 'saving' (swzw), it is often difficult (even impossible) to know whether it is speaking his saving of the body or of the soul; whether the saving was physical or spiritual, or both. But whatever, it seems that without exception, the Word of God was the instrument God used to bring about the work of healing/saving grace.
This shouldn't surprise us. God through the prophet Isaiah made known the fact that the Word was the means or instrument he had chosen to accomplish what he desired to do. "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Is. 55:10-11). Note: God says, "My word... will accomplish..."
Now notice something else. It does not say, if I believe it, then God's word will accomplish it. No, it is God who does what he wills, when he wills, in the way he wills. His 'doing' is as natural as the way the rain and snow come down to water the earth (something that happens irrespective of what I may wish, believe, or do).
If what God wills, will happen, irrespective of what I may or may not do, or believe, then is my (or church's ) understanding of the Bible going to make any difference? Ought it be be foundational to a congregation or church body? Is it necessary that we require pastors and congregations wishing membership in the LMS-USA to subscribe to our strong statement in this regard, i.e., the Indianapolis Annotated Statement on Scripture?
For an answer, let us start with this question - To be truly saved, must one believe the Bible to be the divinely inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God; and beyond that, that it is the instrument God uses to bring his salvation to your life? The answer is an emphatic NO! The salvation of our souls is the free gift of God, not of any kind of 'work' on our part (and that would include working toward the knowing of certain things). Rather, the gift of salvation is linked to is receiving and believing that which is freely offered to us in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:12; Mark 16:16; Acts 16:31). Belief in, or holding to some particular understanding of the Bible, or doctrines such as the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Christ, the Trinity - none of these or any other doctrinal understanding is necessary for salvation.
But, that is not to say such understandings are not important. For when one comes to saving faith, then with that faith will come a growing understanding of the mercy and grace, of the person, and of the will and ways of God. Put another way, when one comes to true and saving faith, then one would expect also a growing awareness and acceptance of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith as set forth in Scripture until that one comes to believe in the virgin birth, in the bodily resurrection of Christ, in the Trinity, in the inerrancy of Scripture, and in the Word of God as being the message and the means of God's working his grace in the life of the believer.
Why? Because God's self revelation to us of his person and work (the Bible) tells us of these things (Jn 16:13).
In that a 'high' view of the Word is not necessary for salvation, ought we require pastors and persons seeking membership in our congregations to subscribe to this 'high' view before they can become members of the LMS-USA? Let me take the latter category first.
We would not expect that all congregational members would be required to meet a certain level of understanding before becoming members of a congregation. What did the disciples know (understand) before Jesus invited them to join his band? What, for that matter did they really know/understand after being with him for three years? Rather, I would hope that we lay out before our prospective members what we and the Confessions understand to be the Biblical understanding of the Word. Having done so, and if prospective members then indicate their desire to be part of a church that preaches and teaches from that understanding, and thereby having an openness to grow in their own understanding (whatever their present understanding might be), then they should be considered desirable candidates for membership; fully trusting that through the Means of Grace, God's Holy Spirit might lead them into the truth.
On the other hand, when we talk about pastors, and church leaders, that is a different matter. Pastors too, when seeking fellowship and possible ministry with us, if they come with an openness to the work of the Spirit to teach and 'lead them into the truth' then they should be welcomed as associate clergy members. However, before pastors should be given a vote or positions of leadership, we must expect a willingness on their part, to subscribe to the understanding of Scripture as we find it in our Indianapolis Annotated Statement. Likewise, our lay leaders, and those who teach (on any level) in our congregations should (must?) be expected to, in good conscience, subscribe to our subscriptional documents. After all, how can we hope to encourage persons into a full and biblical understanding of these things if those who teach and preach do not hold to these understandings themselves.
No one of us can know or understand all things, but on the other hand, there are some basic understandings that we must insist upon which will always leave ample room for continued growth in the Word which, as the hymn writer describes it, "is like a deep, deep mine; and jewels rich and rare Are hidden in its mighty depths, For every searcher there."
Rev. John S. Erickson
Christ Lutheran, Chetek, WI
Rev. Richard Barley is one of five pastors whose names were submitted to the LMS Steering Committee at Convention in Indianapolis, April 22-23. That same Committed appointed him Director of LMS-USA Pension, Health Benefits, and Foundation.
Rev. Barley writes...
One of the concerns of pastors (and everyone else, for that matter) is to have a pension plan so that they have a secure retirement. To assist them I offer individual consultation with pastors, and others who ask for help, and a pension plan is then structured to meet the person's specific goals.
For the past two years I have been working to establish an arrangement with the ELCA Board of Pensions so that our pastors will be able to transfer their pensions from the ELCA to our LMS-USA pension. Thankfully, that task is nearly completed. This is welcome news, because one of the first questions that pastors ask, when they look into our Synod, is, "What about a pension and benefits?" When they are told that we have it all, they are greatly relieved. The availability of a pension program and insurance benefits adds a lot of credibility and legitimacy to the LMS-USA. It will help us to grow.
I am also willing to work with members of our congregations who would like help in the areas of investment, retirement or insurance planning.
During the fourteen years that I have been the insurance and investment business I have written and conducted seminars on charitable giving. There are many ways of making gifts to the church and other charities. When these gifts are given, the recipient benefits and the donor receives a nice savings on taxes. By advising people in the area of making charitable gifts, there will be a long-term benefit to our Synod. For example, money would be available for things like mission development, building funds, scholarships, and many other things. To assist in this area I will be working to establish a Foundation for Charitable Giving. Until that time, individuals and congregations can still use my knowledge to take advantage of the many techniques that are available.
In summary, I give thanks to God for the knowledge and experience that I have. I can benefit the LMS-USA by helping pastors (and others) with pension and insurance planning. Also, I can help our Synod grow and achieve stability through charitable giving.
I may be contacted:
at my office (1-800-955-0776)
or at home (1-717-838-9716).
I will be happy to assist pastors, congregations and individuals.
Accepted to our Associate Roster at the 1996 LMS Steering Comittee were:
Rev. Jack Keeler, Mifflinburg, PA., Rev. Larry Douthwaite, Littlestown, PA., Rev. Richard Barley, Palmya, PA, Rev. Mark Dankof, Kerrville, TX, and the congregation of Living Faith, Littlestown, PA. One pastor and one congregation, by request, is not being publicized.
Some Thoughts On The Ordering Of The Church
by Rev. Roy A. Steward
LMS-USA Vice-President Pastor
Every system of ordering the Church should affirm that Christ is the head of the Church. Christ is the head of the body and His Word alone is to lead, guide and direct. The Church is to go forth Baptizing in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost but is also to teach all that Christ Jesus has commanded. The Holy Ghost will bring to the remembrance of the Church all that Christ has spoken. Therefore Solus Christus head of His church is a basic ordering principle for the Christian Church at all points of expression - Congregation, Conference, Synod, Local, National and International.
Different principles of organization have been implemented in different places and periods of Church life. There have been variations of the monarchical and hierarchical models and there have been the variations of egalitarian and democratic models. As long as Christ is truthfully and clearly acknowledged as the head each variation of order can be valid. All models however are prone to error where Christ is not clearly Lord and Master and where His Word is disregarded.
The dangers of the monarchical or hierarchical models are clear. In this model one or a few are to have oversight over the members of the Church.
These systems make it hard to hold accountable to Scripture those who ascend to positions of princely power. Supererogation often takes place wherein those in positions of power arrogate for themselves controls really not given them by Christ Jesus. Obedience to those in the princely positions is often confused with obedience to Christ and His Word. Thus very frequently the priesthood of all believers is downplayed and the distinctions are made between laity and clergy and between lower clergy and higher clergy. This kind of distinction appears to result wherever those in supervisory capacity are given or assume authority beyond that of preaching, teaching, counseling, and advisory encouragement/ admonishment. The varied models of governance and organization can lead again and again to veritable Babylonian Captivities of the Church.
The dangers of the democratic models are equally clear. Christ Jesus and His Word is never to be subjected to popular vote in order to be determined valid or invalid. Majorities err as often as do princely hierarchies. Councilitor movements because of the dynamics of large legislative assemblies can easily become dominated and controlled by charismatic personalities and/ or highly organized administrations/bureaucracies. Even consensus democracy can have everyone in the church agreeing to agree based upon human logic and reasoning. The spirit of the times and of the contemporary age can work its will upon the church precisely through majority views and votes thereby choosing to ignore Christ the Head of the Church and His Holy Word even while pretending to lift these up.
Our LMS view is that With Christ clearly understood as the Head and with The Word of Holy Scripture as the basic principle that consensus democracy (that is unanimous approval) in light of Scripture is the best guarantee that the church will stay faithful to the word of her Lord and Master. Thus throughout our LMS-USA organizational and ordering documents consensus IN LIGHT OF HOLY SCRIPTURE is the modus operandi stressed. Thus when something new is introduced or stressed the proponents of such must convince all of the pastors and congregations of the Ministerium and Synod of its validity based upon the clear witness of Holy Scripture and of the Lutheran Confessions. A new focus or direction or doctrine is adopted only when all have become satisfied IN LIGHT OF SCRIPTURE and IN LIGHT OF THE CONFESSIONS. Note how this "Consensus in light of Holy Scripture" model is significantly different from the other models of church ordering. The decision making is normed by Scripture alone! In other models - one or a few Individuals promulgate doctrine and direction with few avenues of recourse by the body if such does not accord with Holy Scripture and the headship of Christ Jesus. The gate keepers are in control. In Scripture Jesus proclaims that He alone is the gateway or the doorway to the sheepfold. In other models special study commissions reflect upon doctrines or direction, receive the approval of the bureaucracy and then submit the item to an assembly for majority vote approval. Thus the decisions in each of these cases may or may not be normed by Scripture alone whereas the consensus in light of Scripture gives greater surety we believe that such will indeed be the case.
The Third Indianapolis Conference is now history. The Conference presentations are again being made available. Audio tapes can be obtained by contacting:
Pastor Ralph Spears
St. Matthew Lutheran
2837 East New York St.
Indianapolis, IN 46201
For presentations in booklet form (@ $5/each) contact:
Pastor John Erickson
Christ Lutheran Church
P. O. Box 31
Chetek, WI 54728
The LMS-USA is a 'Forum by Subscription' in the Moderate Conservative or Middle Conservative position in American Lutheranism. As a 'Forum' the intent is that there will be an ongoing discussion of theological issues and concerns among clergy and lay alike. The LSM-USA meets annually for a Theological Conference and this publication, besides carrying news of the Ministerium and Synod, functions also as a vehicle for this continuing dialogue.
For information or to make comment contact:
2837 East New York St.
Indianapolis, IN 46201
AOL & Internet Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
P. O. Box 31
Chetek, WI 54728