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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'Shrinking church' not an inevitability

Interns, skipping church, shootings, youth coverage bring responses

'Shrinking church' not an inevitability
The shrinking and closing of congregations isn't inevitable (January, page 22). Lutherans suffer from an over-dependency on seminary trained, professional, paid clergy and an amazing lack of imagination and creativity in finding ways to provide competent spiritual leadership. In Britain, there are numerous examples of collaborative ministry models we could learn from. My prayer is that we learn from what others who really believe in the priesthood of all believers have been doing for more than three decades.

The Rev. Richard O. Hill
Coram, N.Y.

Lutheran cover

Reclaim 'evangelical'
As I read "The shrinking church" I thought about my return to church after a 20-year hiatus. I was happy to discover that the ELCA is more accepting of diversity and liberal thinking than the Lutheran denomination I was raised in. But I only discovered that because my parents had joined the ELCA some years before. I had a negative view of the word "evangelical" thanks to the mix of conservative politics with religion. Many who seek to connect with our loving God in a spirit of tolerance and compassion equate evangelical with being pushy, narrow-minded, hypocritical, anti-science and biblical literalism. Liberal followers of Christ need to reclaim the word evangelical in the media and in public opinion.

Brenda Bielke
Boise, Idaho


Interns bring a lot

I appreciated the article on seminary interns (January, page 30). A growing number of seminarians are second career folks with families who can't relocate for various reasons. I commuted to Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary for seven years and also served as an intern in a congregation, receiving a stipend of $200 a month. We must begin to see these "exceptions" as the new norm and receive with gratitude the blessings these circumstances offer. My internship congregation could have never had the unique and rewarding experience of an intern had my seminary and synod not been open to creative ideas.

The Rev. Trudy L. Franzen
El Dorado Hills, Calif.


Article spot on

David Hansen's article "Why don't people come to church?" (December, page 34) should be required reading from the pulpit of every church in the country. All one has to do is look at how Christians behaved during the recent political campaign to come to the conclusion that "if that's what Christianity is, I don't want any part of it." How many pastors had the courage to address that behavior from the pulpit? My guess is very, very few.

Bob Cooper
Millersville, Pa.


Prove in action

I have to agree that church is more about how we treat one another than about programs. If genuine love is shown to one another there would be more people in church. I was ill for more than a month and someone from my congregation visited me every weekday while my husband was at work. They came because they cared enough to welcome me into the fold. The experience demonstrated the ELCA tagline "God's work. Our hands." What a powerful motivation to want to go to church.

Cathy Foelske
Dekalb, Ill.


Concern over guns
I'm a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and we have much stricter gun control here than in the U.S. As I watched the latest gun tragedy in your country and felt the pain of so many people, I want to ask your church two questions. Will we be provided with guns when we get to heaven to keep us safe from treachery? And is the U.S. statement "In God We Trust" really believed, or is it "In Guns We Trust"?

The Rev. Donald W. Johnson
North Vancouver, B.C., Canada


'Lame' coverage
This note is long overdue. My granddaughter participated in the ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans (September, page 14). More than 33,000 attended and The Lutheran gave it three pages. How pathetic. You give individual congregation activities two pages. Small photos. As my grandson would say, "Lame."

Annette Sell
Hanover, Pa.


One church

I greatly appreciate the article "Deeper understandings" on the use of "catholic church" in the Apostles' Creed (December, page 20). However, I sense that it is above the heads of many J.Q. Pewsitters. I've repeatedly heard comments like, "I'm not Catholic" (I know they mean the denomination), or "We are Lutheran." How far amiss am I to try to instill that Christ instituted one holy Christian or universal/catholic church. The basic belief in Christ as the one sent by God to redeem is believed by the universal/catholic church, and it is denominationalism that has brought us to thinking in terms of churches separated by differences more than united in Christ.

The Rev. Donavan E. Doerfer
Lakeville, Ohio


Stick to the basics

Our church offers the peace, truth, compassion and hope in the liturgy and hymns of the sages. The Lutheran Book of Worship is a treasure house. No fads needed here, just doing all well so we can find the word in each segment of our powerful worship. Let us not be caught up in what the world thinks is important and water down our worship opportunities.

Adele Lindberg
Elgin, S.C.


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