On 13 September 2014, the CTCR adopted without dissent a document titled, “Knowing What We Seek and Why We Come: Questions and Answers concerning the Communing of Infants and Young Children.” The CTCR also adopted as a supplement to the aforementioned document, “Response to the Request for a Supplement to the CTCR Opinion, Response to “Concerns of the South Wisconsin District Circuits 18 and 19 Regarding Infant Communion” (1997).” Both documents are given in their entirety below.
Among other questions, the CTCR document addresses, “What historical precedent is there for paedocommunion?” Answer: “there is no evidence for a widespread practice of paedocommunion in the earliest centuries of the church’s history.”
In the early days of the Missouri Synod, the Synod’s Constitution while not mentioning an age for confirmation suggested that a minimum of 100 hours of instruction should be given before a person received communion.
The document also discusses the Scripture passages regarding self-examination and notes how even though the Lutheran Reformers were aware that the Eastern churches practiced infant communion, they did not seek to introduce this practice.
The document is well worth the read.
The supplemental document.
Another helpful resource on the topic of infant communion can be found here:
“Theses on Infant/Toddler Communion” by Professor John Pless.
The Rev. Juhana Pohjola, Dean of the recently formed Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, has been defrocked by the nominally Lutheran Church of Finland. His offence was participating as a founder and leader of the Mission Diocese, which the CoF considers to be “violating his ordination vows.” Dean Pohjola earned a STM at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, in 1999 and will defend his doctoral dissertation at the University of Helsinki on August 15.
The following report is written by The Rev. Samuli Siikavirta, a doctoral candidate in New Testament at Cambridge University who was ordained in the Mission Diocese earlier this summer.
Dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, Rev Juhana Pohjola, Defrocked by the National Church
On 5 August 2014, the Cathedral Chapter [Consistory] of the Diocese of Oulu ordered Rev Juhana Pohjola to forfeit his pastoral office in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, invoking ELCF legislation (ELCF Church Law 5:3.3). The decision came into effect immediately.
Rev. Pohjola was ordained by former Bishop of Oulu, Rt Rev Olavi Rimpiläinen, in 1999 to serve the newly founded Luther Foundation Finland within the Church of Finland. The intention of Rev Pohjola’s work in the Luther Foundation was to build up confessional Lutheran liturgical life within the ELCF and to insure that members holding to the apostolic view of the Office have places where they can receive the Sacraments and hear the Word.
In 2013, the congregations that were part of the Luther Foundation Finland and a handful of other independent ones formed the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland. From 2005 until last year, the LFF was a supporting member of the Mission Province in Sweden. What began as the work of one part-time Pastor (Pohjola) and one congregation in the capital city in 1999 has today grown into a network of 30 congregations and missions nationwide. The Mission Diocese sees itself as an independent, confessional and non-geographical churchly structure in Finland that lives out the official confession of the ELCF that the ‘national church’ has largely abandoned.
The Cathedral Chapter of the ELCF Diocese of Oulu argued for its decision in the following manner:
“The Cathedral Chapter deemed it to be clear that Juhana Pohjola, who had been a member of the clergy of the Diocese of Oulu, has acted contrary to the duties of the pastoral office and transgressed the ordination promise [vow] that he had made on 18 Dec 1999, and turned out to be obviously unfit to be a pastor by becoming the Diocesan Dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, by directing the head office of the Mission Diocese, by belonging to its College of Pastors, by acting as a member of its Consistory and under it, together with being under the pastoral oversight and acting as the aide of the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, Risto Soramies.”
“The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland was founded in March 2013. The said community that is an unregistered association [a Finnish legal term] has organised itself resembling a Christian church by having its own congregations, diocese and bishop. The Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland have stated together in March 2013 that the newly formed Mission Diocese has no organisational status in our church and neither is it attached to the structure of our church. According to the Bishops’ statement, a Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland who acts in the Mission Diocese stands in obvious conflict with the loyalty expected of a pastor and with the ordination promise.”
The defrocking of a pastor is the most severe punishment that the ELCF can issue. Excommunication or the revoking of membership is no longer a possibility. The Diocesan Chapter appealed to paragraph 5:3.3 of the ELCF Church Law, stating,
“A pastor who acts against the duties of the pastoral office and the ordination promise, or neglects them or behaves in a way unfit for a pastor, may, according to the quality of the matter, be given a written warning or suspended from the pastoral office for a minimum of one and a maximum of six months by the Diocesan Chapter. If the pastor’s unseemly behaviour, neglect in the pastoral office or other behaviour indicates him/her to be obviously unfit to be a pastor, the Diocesan Chapter can order him to forfeit his pastoral office [i.e. be defrocked].”
In a blog post on the Mission Diocese website, Rev Pohjola acknowledges that the decision to be defrocked pains him deeply but that it was also to be expected in the current church-political situation.
“The words ‘obviously unfit’ leave no room for interpretation. They are rough especially when talking about the office in which one is to act constantly with the great Day of Judgment in view. Being defrocked also contains shameful dimensions. Hardly anyone wants to be unfit and dismissed.”
The defrocking of those Mission Diocese pastors and bishops who were ordained in the ELCF before the Luther Foundation or Mission Diocese were formed may also have wider consequences on the identity formation of the Mission Diocese.
“The message, ‘you are obviously unfit for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’, has been sent to thousands of people attending Mass in the Mission Diocese”, Rev Pohjola writes.
He maintains that the decision shows the theological decline that is going on in the ELCF.
“This decision of the Diocesan Chapter is yet another step within the reformation [in Finnish: ‘purge of the faith’] that is going on in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Instead of the Church being purged with God’s Word, she is being purged from God’s Word.”
Despite being now defrocked by the national church, Rev Pohjola will continue preaching the Word and administering the Sacraments, now as a pastor only of the Mission Diocese.
“What now after this? One friend reminded me of a liberating Bible verse: ‘set apart for the Gospel of God’ (Rom. 1:1). That gives me, too, enough to do in the Apostolic Office until the end of my life!”
An interesting church historical quirk is that Rev Pohjola will be defending his doctoral dissertation at the University of Helsinki on 15 August on the topic of ordination rites in the ELCF between 1963 and 2003 and their understanding of ordination and the pastoral office. His Opponent at the defence will be Rt Rev Jari Jolkkonen, ELCF Bishop of Kuopio.
Link to Dean Pohjola’s statement (in Finnish):
Links to reports on the confessional Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland:
Christopher C. Barnekov, PhD
Scandinavia House Fort Wayne
1925 Saint Joe Center RD
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
Ph. (260) 399-6565
Participants: Dr. Joel Lehenbauer (CTCR – LCMS); Dr. Albert Collver (LCMS); Shinri Emoto (General Secretary NRK); Rev. Saito (Mission Secretary NRK); Rev. Ando (Director of Disaster Relief NRK); Mr. Ando (Urawa Lutheran School NRK)
16 July 2014
Representatives from the Missouri Synod and the Japan Lutheran Church (NRK) met to discuss rekindling the the 50 plus year partnership between the two church bodies. Dr. Collver noted that the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM) strategic plan calls for renewing and strengthening partnerships and that the discussion with the NRK could not have occurred at a more opportune time.
This past spring the NRK elected a new president, Rev. Shimizu Shin after President Kumei retired. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer attended this convention as the LCMS representative.
The Urawa high school founded by the LCMS in 1953 occupied a significant portion of the conversation. Currently, the high school has approximately 700
students. The school has out grown its facility and plans to build a new building to house more than 1000 students. The student body, only 10% of whom are Christian, is to reach the other 90% through Bible classes and daily chapel services.
In addition to the high school the NRK asked if the LCMS could send missionaries for the following work:
– A pastor for the Okinawa Lutheran Church
– A Seminary Professor in Tokyo
– Chaplain for Urawa Lutheran School
LCMS OIM agrees to begin recruiting for these positions.
Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver
5 April 2014 — For Immediate Release
The Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, Dean of International Studies at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne (www.ctsfw.edu) and Director of Theological Education for the LCMS Office of International Mission (www.lcms.org), fell ill on Wednesday, April 2, in Adelaide, Australia. Quill was taken to Royal Adelaide Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm (subarachnoid hemorrhage). An immediate procedure (craniotomy) to relieve the pressure was followed within twenty-four hours by surgery to repair the aneurysm (surgical clipping). The first week after the surgery is critical and he is being carefully monitored by the medical team. Quill remains in the Intensive Care Unit.
Dr. Quill was traveling with Mr. Darin Storkson, LCMS South Asia and Oceania Regional Director, to visit Australian Lutheran College (www.alc.edu.au) in Adelaide. After Australia, Quill along with CTS Professor Robert Roethemeyer, Director of Library and Information Services and Director of Institutional Planning and Assessment, were to travel to Papua New Guinea to visit Timothy Lutheran Seminary in Birip and Martin Luther Seminary in Lae for the Chemnitz Library Initiative.
Mr. Storkson, along with Rev. Neville Otto, Secretary and Mission Director for the Lutheran Church of Australia, found Dr. Quill unresponsive on Wednesday before Lenten Vespers and called the ambulance. Professor Robert Roethemeyer, who was enroute to Australia, joined them on Thursday morning before the surgery. Rev. Dr. John Kleinig, professor emeritus of Australian Lutheran College (ALC), prayed with Quill before his surgery. Rev. Dr. Gregory Lockwood, professor emeritus at ALC, and Rev. Dr. Andrew Pfeiffer, Director of Pastoral Education at ALC, also visited Quill in the ICU. Pastors of the Lutheran Church in Australia (LCA) have been wonderfully supportive and helpful during this trying time. Quill’s wife, Annette, and daughter, Katie, arrived in Adelaide on Friday morning after the surgery, followed by Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations/Regional Operations, and Missionary Jeffrey Horn, Papua New Guinea.
Quill remains at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Doctors are currently establishing a timeline for his convalescence and his return to the United States. Dr. Quill, his family, Concordia Theological Seminary, and the LCMS Office of International Mission are grateful for the care provided by the Royal Adelaide Hospital, by the Lutheran Church of Australia, and the many people around the world who have expressed concern and offered prayers on his behalf.
Is there really a uniquely LCMS approach to mission?
That question is at the heart of the Journal of Lutheran Mission, a new e-publication available for your use from the Synod’s Offices of National and International Mission.
The scholarly journal, published digitally, exists to encourage discussion between you and those you serve, pastors, colleagues and social media friends on the interwoven nature of mission and Church.
Why take the time to read this journal? “The journal matters because mission matters,” said Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the Office of National Mission. “Christ has given all things to the Church, and the Church shares those gifts with the world.”
In addition, “The desire of the Journal of Lutheran Mission is to move beyond words (a missiology of rhetoric) to reflect the work of Christ through His Church globally,” explains the Rev. Randy Golter, executive director of the Office of National Mission. “His words are performative, and so the mission exists, is ongoing and is accomplishing His purpose. In this lies the confidence of Lutheran mission and every Lutheran missionary.”
The journal’s list of contributing editors is extensive, including faculty from both seminaries; clergy from Germany to Madagascar, Ethiopia to Siberia; Synod staff as well as two district presidents. Day and Golter serve as executive editors.
The debut issue of the journal features papers from the Synod’s Summit on Lutheran Mission, held in San Antonio, Texas, in November 2013. A first-of-its-kind event, the conference served as a venue to discuss the question, “What is our Lutheran identity when it comes to mission?”
Published three times a year, the journal can be downloaded in a variety of formats at www.lcms.org/journaloflutheranmission. Individual articles from the journal are also available so that you can share them – and continue the conversation – through social media.
“It is our desire to follow the tradition of mission that led to the founding of the Missouri Synod, to highlight and expound good examples of Lutheran missiology and to raise the height and breadth of discussion on mission so that every member of the Missouri Synod prays for the mission of the church, engages in it him/herself and supports it each according to their vocation,” explained LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison.
We hope you’ll join in the discussion. Download the journal, share it with your friends and email your thoughts to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.