It’s a shame when an otherwise excellent article is marred by glaring
instances of historical amnesia. Seminaries of 20 years ago (or 30, in
my case) were always far more than “just preacher factories” (April, "More than just 'preacher factories'").
They strove to prepare us for the ministry we would be facing at that
time and to give us the tools to continue to learn for today. They
hardly need to be disparaged in order to talk about today’s needs, as
Richard Bliese seems to feel the need to do. Then Donald Huber talks
about the ELCA of 40 years ago, arguing that “core theological
commitments ... have not changed.” Since the ELCA is only 20 years old,
I wonder what church body he is talking about? And finally Cynthia
Halverson talks about the way the church used to pay for the training
of its pastors in the past. Again I don’t know what church she means
since our predecessor bodies had differing practices, and 30 years ago
I recall struggling to pay tuition. Such statements mislead those with
no knowledge of the past.
Paul D. Schmiege
Have rules changed?
New York, N.Y.
I note Michael Cooper-White’s quote, “Pastors in the future will be spiritual entrepreneurs” (April, "More than just 'preacher factories'
I entered Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, in 1982 from my
former occupation in graphic arts sales. When I raised the points of
marketing and advertising of the church, many Lutheran professors told
me that this seminary wasn’t training entrepreneurs. In both the
candidacy process and theological education process, I was told that I
was to be “faithful and not always successful as I conduct a ministry
under the cross.” Every congregation I’ve served in my 20 years has
been in a poorer, struggling rural community. I have gone where the
synod needed me ... under the idea of “the call.” If Cooper-White is
serious, why not save the ELCA and its congregations much time and
money? The ELCA could simply downsize all theology, biblical studies
and history faculty by three-fourths and prepare pastors with an MBA
and a religion minor. Have the rules changed for ordained clergy in the
ELCA? Shall I demand that I go to a growing metropolitan area where
businesses are booming rather than these small, struggling Lutheran
churches out in the areas where young people are leaving?
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