Official Publication of the LMS-USA
August 1997
Volume 4, Number 3

Highlights From The LMS-USA

The Fourth Annual Conference and Second Annual Convention

June 7 - 9, 1997, Indianapolis, Indiana

Our Agenda was packed. Some wondered if we could cover all the matters before us. But we did it! Unlike what we have witnessed in being part of so many other church conventions, no one left the convention before all business was completed. There was ample time for full discussion of all issues before the body. The completion of all business before us with full discussion was a highlight!

Three Pastors were approved for Subscriptional membership in LMS-USA. This doubled the number of Subscriptional Pastors on the Clergy Roster.

Letters of Call were approved and extended to 3 Pastors to serve LMS-USA as Mission development Pastors.

A historic highlight of the Convention was the final authorization of ordination for seminary graduate Jeffrey Iverson. He was then ordained into the ministry of Word and Sacrament in LMS-USA at the Convention's Sunday Morning worship Service by the officers of the Ministerium and Synod.

A total budget of $41,700.00 was approved for the 1997-1998 year with $40,000.00 of this slated for Mission Congregation work. LMS-USA income for the 1996 - 1997 year was $3,091.71 and disbursements were $2,439.37. The year end balance on hand reported by the treasurer was $1,419.44.

Three additional pastors were approved for LMS-USA membership and were advanced from provisional membership to Associate membership status. This brought the Associate membership roster to a total of 6 pastors. The total number of pastors on the Subscriptional and Associate rosters thus increased by 5 from the 7 pastors (3 Subscriptional and 4 Associate) on the two rosters at the conclusion of the 1996 Convention. As of the conclusion of our 1997 Convention LMS-USA now has 12 Pastors on its clergy roster (6 Subscriptional and 6 Associate). We rejoice at this significant growth. The growing clergy roster significantly enhanced our Mission development abilities as a Synod.

Approval was given for the chartering of up to 8 new LMS-USA mission congregations in the coming year (one of these a Hispanic mission). Two of the new mission congregations have already been begun. Resurrection Lutheran, York PA and Word of God Lutheran, Minneapolis MN.

The LMS-USA National Constitution was updated and amended. Our bi-cameral nature and uniqueness of organization was clarified in open discussion time which lead up to the amendment process. We are in consensus that our unique constitution and organizational principles truly offer an option for American Lutherans. The amended constitution is now reported to the Subscribing Pastors and Subscribing Congregations for discussion and final consensus approval in light of Scripture. The Ministerium is headed by a Chairman and the Synod is headed by a Chairman. These two officers share the leadership of LMS-USA. The Ministerium (Pastors only) advises and recommends. The Synod (Congregations and Pastors) is the legislative body of LMS-USA.

A major highlight was the final Synod approval of, The Holy Spirit and His Proper Work, as a Subscriptional Document of LMS-USA. This approval was given after further amendment and the Convention approved statement will be sent to the subscribing congregations and Pastors for final review and approval. If given approval, the statement on, The Holy Spirit and His Proper Work, will become an LMS-USA Subscriptional Statement and as such an official teaching of LMS-USA.

One of the two officially approved Catechisms of LMS-USA has now been re-published and made available for congregational use by LMS-USA congregations. This is the Reu Catechism.

The LMS-USA WEB site continues to expand and to develop as well as to receive a large number of visitors.

A great deal of discussion was held pursuant to the next area for Synod Study and reflection. We will move toward adopting the other writings of the Book of Concord beyond the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and the Small Catechism of Luther as LMS-USA subscriptional documents (in the Quia sense). At each succeeding Convention we will examine a specific item from the Book of Concord. In 1998 we will consider adoption of the Large Catechism of Luther. In addition it was decided to begin a study of the Doctrine of Ministry. Within the context of that topic we will be studying in light of Scripture and the Confessions the role of women in ministry. Papers on the Doctrine of Ministry will begin to be presented at our 1998 Convention and Conference.

A major highlight of this years Conference was a presentation made by Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, Fort Wayne Seminary Professor Pastor Kurt Marquardt. Professor Marquardt focused upon the Church Growth Movement vs. the Lutheran Confessional understandings for worship and ministry. We found his words very helpful to us in our deliberations and discussions.

The beautiful setting for our convention in the St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Indianapolis facility together with the wonderful hospitality of the St. Matthew members toward the pastors and congregational representatives continues to be a major highlight of our conventions.

The next Annual Convention of the LMS-USA Synod is set for August 8-10, 1998 at St. Matthew, Indianapolis IN.

Officers for the Synod were elected for the coming year:

Chairman of The LMS-USA Synod - Pastor Roy A. Steward, Altoona PA.
Treasurer of The LMS-USA Synod - Mrs. Anita Strickland, Chetek WI.
Secretary of The LMS-USA Synod - Ms. Diane Boekankamp, Indianapolis, IN.

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Following His Leading

by Rev. Jeffrey Iverson

As the first seminarian directly ordained into the Ministry of Word and Sacrament of the LMS-USA (all other pastors in the LMS-USA were ordained by their former denominations), I am often asked how I came to be here. The short answer, of course, is easy: I believe that the Holy Spirit has brought me into the fellowship of the LMS-USA, for what often appears to our limited mortal view as the random chances, changes, and choices of life are often, in retrospect, the guiding hand of God.

Born in 1955, I was baptized, nurtured, and confirmed in the Lutheran faith at a congregation of Norwegian heritage in Hudson, Wisconsin. I attended Sunday School and worship regularly from childhood through my high school years.

I attended the University of Minnesota, majoring in History, where, regrettably, I disengaged from the faith of my childhood. I seldom attended worship over the next decade. After graduation, I went to work for a local book publisher, beginning as a proofreader, but working my way into a position in computer type-setting.

I returned to graduate school at the University and earned a Master's Degree in Business Administration. There I met my future wife, Jean, who was a committed Christian and active in her Methodist tradition. I credit her positive witness with bringing me back to the fellowship of the Christian community. We were married the next year and we joined a United Methodist Church, where I soon became actively involved in leading adult Bible study.

Jean and I both obtained professional employment in our fields and we bought a home. After the birth of our daughter Emma, Jean left full-time employment to care for her. Later we were further blessed with two sons, Trent and Blake.

I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship in the fall of 1989. Bonhoeffer's exposition of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount awakened in me a calling to Christian discipleship. I pondered this calling for two years and during the summer of 1991, I struggled with it a great deal. I explored God's call to individuals in the Bible and their responses. I looked at Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, and others noting their confidence, their hesitance, their willingness, and their doubts. I re-read The Cost of Discipleship and read Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings. The Scriptural witness, Luther's doctrine of grace, and Bonhoeffer's sense of discipleship combined that summer to give me the answer I needed. I began to listen to my call, not with questions and doubts, but with faith and obedience. I accepted God's call to ministry that summer and applied for admission to the M.Div. program at Luther Seminary.

By this time, I had been attending the United Methodist Church for nearly seven years. That faith community had nurtured my return to the family of God, performed my marriage, and baptized two of my children. I had a great deal of appreciation and love for this tradition, yet throughout those years I had become keenly aware of my Lutheran theology. I discussed these concerns with pastors of both traditions and concluded that I should follow my calling in the Lutheran tradition. I joined an ELCA Church in January of 1992 and began full-time seminary work at Luther Seminary that summer.

I soon discovered, however, that the ELCA of 1992 was not the Lutheran Church of my childhood or my heritage. During my seminary career, I became more and more convinced that the so-called "higher" criticisms of the Bible were wrong. I was afraid at first of being labeled a fundamentalist, but God gave me the strength to realize (and proclaim) that my faith rested on an inspired and inerrant Word of God, regarded as the infallible authority for faith and life. One of my interests in seminary was Lutheran history, and my research showed that this type of language was part of my heritage in the Norwegian Lutheran Church and the American Lutheran Church. I could not believe how far down the wrong path the ELCA had trod.

Knowing what to do was a real struggle. It's hard to leave the church of one's tradition, but I came to realize that it is really the ELCA that has abandoned the tradition, not me. Our faithfulness rightly belongs to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the inerrant Word of God, and our Lutheran Confessions. Our faithfulness should never belong to bricks and mortar or earthly institutions.

I met up with the pastors who started the LMS-USA shortly after it was formed in 1995, keeping contact primarily through computer-based electronic mail. After about a year, it seemed clear to me that the Spirit was leading me to work with them, and I applied for admission to the LMS-USA clergy roster.

Our lives are always full of misjudgments and wrong turns, but at those times when we are successful in making God's will for our lives a reality, He affirms our actions by giving us "the peace which passes all understanding." That is how I feel about joining my ministry for the Gospel to the work of the LMS-USA, and I humbly request your prayers for the work ahead.

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The Order of Worship

by Melva Rorem

Editor's note: The following article is from the volume, Ten Studies on THE CHURCH THROUGH THE CENTURIES, Augsburg Publishing House, Mpls., MN, 1949. But in actuality it is a revision of C. A. Sendell's, Little Journeys in His Kingdom, 1923.

One of the concerns of the founders of the LMS-USA is the whole matter of Worship. In our brief statements we express that concern this way, "We are a liturgical church. We practice, without reservation, the use of the lectionary, vestments, and an order of service such as that found in the Common Service."

It is interesting to note how Rorem looks for the day when Lutherans can have a form of worship that is somewhat uniform so when persons go from place to place they can feel somewhat 'at home'. One wonders what he would think today, when the Common Service, which was in time arrived at, has now, by most been abandoned, so each congregation can 'do its own thing.'

In the Lutheran Church, there is order and plan (or there ought to be) from beginning to end. There is the opening hymn, the confession of sins, the prayer for pardon, the assurance of forgiveness, the reading of the Scriptures, the preaching of the Gospel...

In the early days, however, everything was simple and informal. There was no fine church, nor a great pipe organ and choir. The pastor did not wear vestments. Perhaps there wasn't even a pastor. Going to church simply meant that a few friends would get together in a safe place - perhaps a home, or in the woods, or in a mountain cave - and there worship as best they could, while perhaps at the same time Roman soldiers were hunting for them because they would not worship the emperor.

"On the day called the Day of the Sun (Sunday)," says Justin Martyr, who died for his faith in the year 166, "there is a gathering in one place of us all who live in the cities or in the country, and the writings of the apostles or of the prophets are read as long as time allows. Then when the reader has ceased, the president speaks to us and urges us to imitate these excellent things. Afterward we all rise at once and offer prayers."

But when persecutions came to an end, leaders of the Church began to plan a more orderly form of worship. The place of worship was built in harmony with the teachings of the Holy Scripture. A special style of dress was adopted for the pastor, so that he would not have to follow the fashions of the world. Hymns and set prayers were composed. Great events in the life of Christ were commemorated by special festivals. The Church Year was planned and appropriate Bible passages were chosen for each Sunday or holiday.

During the Middle Ages the simple form of the early days blossomed into a glory that resolved itself in beautiful details. There was Preparation, Confession, and Introit, Keri Elision and Gloria in Excesses, Collect and Epistle, Gradual, Alleluia, Tract, Sequence , and Gospel, Creed and Antiphon. There was washing of hands and sprinkling of Holy Water. There was swinging of censers and burning of incense, bowing and kneeling and praying and chanting. And all of this was done in a certain, definite order, by priests and cantors, deacons and choir boys. Robes that were worn received careful attention as to color, design, and material. And all was impressive with pomp and circumstance.

All of this would naturally reflect the teachings of the church which were only partly Biblical. When Luther found his way back to the Holy Scriptures as the only authority in matters of faith and there took his firm stand, he did not feel at ease admidst all this ceremony. He found it necessary to prepare a new Order of Worship in harmony with the simple teachings of Holy Scriptures.

In doing this he did not reject everything that had grown up through the centuries. He rather pruned away what was unbiblical, leaving more room for the preaching of the gospel, and giving the worshipers a chance to take a more active part in the service.

Luther, however, did not insist that all churches follow exactly the same form. He merely pointed out certain fundamentals that ought to be observed in all orderly public worship. He left his followers free to work out the details.

And so in each country where the Lutheran faith was established, a somewhat different order of worship was established too. There is no objection to this. But in our country, where so many different nations have met, and where different forms of worship are so much alike, it is apt to be confusing. There is the hope that some day we shall be able to have a Common Service that all Lutherans will use.

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Introducing... An Explanation of Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism

In an article reprinted from the Con-cordia Theological Quarterly, in the November 1996 issue of Table Talk, William E. Thompson quotes Wilheim Loche (middle 19th century), "The Small Catechism of Luther is a confession of the church and of all the confessions, it is one most congenial and familiar to the people. It is the only catechism in the world that one can pray. But it is less known than true that it can be called a veritable miracle in respect of the extraordinary fullness and great wealth of knowledge which is here expressed in so few words." Thompson continues by pointing out that "Loehe wrote an explanation of the Catechism which was narrative in form and which focused on developing a life of prayer based on the text of the Catechism. The narrative explanations explained the Catechism word for word. Scriptural citations were also included in narrative rather than proof-texting form. This tradition was brought to America by the Franconian colonies of Michigan. Following the break with Missouri, the Iowa Synod theologian Johann Michael Reu carried the tradition forward."

This explanation of the Catechism was first published in 1904. More than a hundred thousand copies were sold. In the early 40's this explanation was revised and was again published, this time by Augsburg Publishing House. Now we (LMS-USA) have received permission and have this explanation available in a new 8 1/2 x 11 inch format.

Theo. L. Fitschel wrote a workbook for this explanation which was also published by Wartburg Press, and which was, in 1951, assigned to Augsburg Publishing House. This too we have reproduced, not in book form this time, but as individual worksheets.

Reu's explanation was (is) written, as mentioned above, in narrative form; it is not divided up into lessons as is the case with most explanations. Fitschel's workbook, however, has, of necessity, made such divisions, with the result that there are 50 lessons. Each lesson heading includes the relevant page numbers from the explanation (text). The material is easy to use.

Although we were limited in not being able to update material in a couple minor areas where that would have been helpful, we were given permission to include the NIV Scripture verses, and we did so in a parallel format.

The explanation includes, the complete Luther's Small Catechism, The Explanation of the Five Chief Parts of the Catechism, and in the Appendix - excellent articles on 1) The Bible, 2) The Christian Year and, 3) The History Of The Church.

If you have questions, or would like further information, or if you would like to place an order - contact Rev. John S. Erickson, P. O. Box 31, Chetek, WI 54728. Or call - 715- 924-2552. Cost of the 50 lesson, two year program is $10 each.

A copy of the answer key to the Fitschel worksheets is also available upon request.

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Book Binding

Do you have hymnbooks - or Bibles - or reference / library books that need replacing because of bad repair?

There is help available. The South Dakota State Peniteniary has a book bindery. The bindery regularly does work (especially hymnbook work) for churches of a number of denominations. For example, a hymnbook that is in good condition (no loose pages - just needs a new cover and binding) the cost is $5 per hymnal. If there is considerable work to be done the cost may be $9.50 per hymnal - still considerably less than most new hymnals.

If you have a Bible that needs repair - minor repair and binding will cost from 10 to 17 dollars - there are loose pages and some renewing to be done maybe around $ 25. If the Bible is to be bound in leather it will cost more. The will also work on large family Bibles. There may be discounts for volume orders.

If interested, it is best to contact the bindery at:

South Dakota State Penitentiary
Prison Industries, Inc.
Book Binding Plant
1600 N. Drive
P. O. Box 911
Sioux Falls, SD 57117-0911

Or call: 1-605-367-5064

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The Strength of the Church

by Rev. Ralph Spears

The strength of the Church was recently proved all over again in a way unexpected.

Half way to a call on the west side of Indianapolis, a neighbor to our church called my cell phone to tell me that someone had run into the church at a high speed. (She usually lets me know when stolen radios are being sold in our parking lot, etc.)

Ten minutes later and back at the church - sure enough two young boys (15 and 13) in a stolen car, trying to evade the police attempted a turn into the alley and hit the corner of St. Matt. at 40 to 45 mph. Gasoline and pieces of the old Plymouth were all over the place and the boys in cuffs were in the police cars by then.

The corner of the building had made its imprint on the car... a perfect two and a half foot wedge depressed into the front end.

And the Church building? Well, it is made of Indiana oolitic limestone, not unlike the material in the Great Pyramid. Except for some rubber and paint that had come off on the stone - THERE WERE NO MARKS at all!

Old St. Matts. holds up to sin pretty well - especially on the outside.

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News from LMS-USA PA Mission Field

For the most part, it has been very interesting to see the extensive news media coverage that has been given the various LMS-USA mission efforts. The secular press has picked up on our efforts in an amazing way.

As we consider all our new church starts and as we look for direction to begin in still other areas, let us be in prayer that the Lord of the Church might lift up willing and effective lay and pastoral leadership to work in the carrying out of the Great Commission of our Lord; providing worship and fellowship opportunities for those seeking such in light of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

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The Rhythm of Prayer

by Rev. Ralph Spears

One of the reasons for attending Seminary was to learn to pray. Not that I would have admitted it to anyone - because if there was a sense of vocation in me, then certainly I should have had a firm grasp on the matter of how to pray. But this had eluded me.
Behind me were the broken sessions sometimes on my knees (which always hurt on the bare floor) when I repeated the Lord's Prayer but my mind got side tracked and I was obliged to repeat it- yet again. There was some concern and embarrassment over all of this. All the more reason then to "learn" how to pray.

But the seminary experience was no help at all. As the three years went by, it was assumed that everyone knew how to pray already. It was fair to wonder if others felt this way - but there was no way to ask.

Finally well into the fall of my first call, very helpful printed resources came together and the regular 'times' of prayer began in earnest.

Each day

  1. at the same time (11 AM)
  2. in the same place (a little used study isolated from the rest of the church ). Prayer slowly but surely became a scheduled rhythm of the day.
  3. then quieting the mind's thoughts so that they didn't 'play' like a radio in my head, was most helpful and most difficult. Still these prayer times were very personal and discreet for, although alone, I wouldn't have wanted anyone to "see" what I was doing.
  4. the most important factor; calling on Christ confidently to surround, protect, guide and be present (sort of all run together) brought an immediate and an almost surprising sense of focus.

The paradox of reality dawned on me that I had gone through elaborate preparation to discover something readily available to anyone.

Christ IS always present as we ask, and WAS there as I struggled with His prayer as a boy. Why didn't I know it then?

Soren Kierkegaard said that we should 'work out our salvation with fear and trembling to God'. More likely it is that this applies more so to prayer. With great respect (fear and trembling) we should work out our own prayer communication with God

For Martin Luther said; - "you cannot find a Christian without prayer, just as you cannot find a living man without a pulse. The pulse never stands still; It is always throbbing and beating by itself, even though a man is sleeping or doing something else and, therefore, is not aware of it."

Yet Luther reports of himself that it was in the midst of a great lightening storm that he prayed in 'fear and trembling' to God through St. Anne. If it had not been so, then perhaps the job of Reformer would have fallen to another, later in time, for he vowed that he would dedicate his life to God if he was spared the terror of that experience.

Even so, as a young priest, Luther seems to have found the solace of prayer with great difficulty at times. It was there as it is with all of us but at times we are just "not aware of it"!

Indeed for the remainder of his life, Luther found the 'rhythm of Prayer' in the 'hours' of the morning canticles to the evening vespers while writing with great enthusiasm that we pray also morning and evening, in thanks, for guidance and forgiveness.

"Praying" Luther said, "is the work of Faith alone!" And so in Faith, Prayer is the "work" of every Christian.

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Luther - on Prayer

Why and How to Pray - ...elsewhere I have often taken up and discussed the component parts and the characteristics which every real prayer has to possess; therefore I shall only summarize them briefly here. They are as follows: first, the urging of God's commandment, who has strictly required us to pray; second, His promise, in which He declares that he will hear us; third, an examination of our own need and misery, which burden lies so heavily on our shoulders that we have to carry it to God immediately and pour it out before Him, in accordance with His order and commandment; fourth, true faith, based on this Word and promise of God, praying with the certainty and confidence that he will hear and help us - and all these things in the name of Christ, through whom our prayer is acceptable to the Father and for whose sake He gives us every grace and every good. [Weimar ed. of Luther's Works, 32, 415]

No Christian Without Prayer - Here he [Peter] exhorts Christians to pray and thereby shows incidentally that the duty (Amt) to pray is imposed on every Christian, for "the Spirit of grace and of supplications" is poured out on all believers (Zech. 12:10). Therefore let the man who fails to pray not imagine that he is a Christian. [Erlangen Ed. of Luther's Works, 52, 162]

Luther's Daily Prayer Life - I still find it necessary every day to look for time during which I may pray. And I am satisfied if, when I retire, I can recite the Ten commandments, pray the Lord's Prayer, and then add a Bible verse or two. Meditating on these, I fall asleep. [Table Talk, in Weimar ed. 5, No. 5517]

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Our LMS-USA Seal

As we approach another anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation (our next issue of Table Talk will not be out until November) it is appropriate to take a moment to pause and reflect on the meaning of our Seal.

The center is Luther's Seal. Luther desired that the cross be black for mortification, the rose white for the joy of faith, the field blue for the joy of heaven and the ring (not included in our seal) gold for eternal blessedness. His seal symbolizes the truth that even under a cross the heart of a Christian abides on roses.

We have enclosed the seal in an equilateral triangle, which expresses the idea of the eternity of the Three Persons of the Godhead.

Around the triangle we have the three 'Solas' of the Reformation, Salvation by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, as revealed to us in the Scripture Alone. Added to this is a fourth 'Sola' reminding us to preach 'Christ Alone'. (see I Cor. 1:23 and Acts 4:12).

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Table Talk mailing --

If you no longer wish to receive Table Talk, or if you would like to have us add to the list a person or persons you know would like to receive this publication, please let us know. Drop us a note to, P. O. Box 31, Chetek, WI 54728 or call 715-924-2552. Since we are mailing this publication first class, we generally catch up with changes of address without any problem, but, to be safe, you might want to contact us of any address changes anyway.

If there is a topic or issue you would like to see addressed in Table Talk, we would be interested in knowing that also.

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 LMS-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:

President/Pastor, LMS-USA
2837 East New York St.
Indianapolis, IN 46201

Internet Email:,

Table Talk
P. O. Box 31
Chetek, WI 54728