The Service of Praise and Thanksgiving for Ronald Raymond Feuerhahn was held on 17 March 2015 at the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus at Concordia Seminary, where Dr. Feuerhahn served for 22 years. The press announcement about his funeral can be found here on Concordia Seminary’s website. Several years ago, the students of Dr. Feuerhahn prepared a Festschrift for him titled, Lord Jesus Christ, Will You Not Stay? (This book is available as an ePub and on Kindle from CPH.) Of course, the death of every saint is precious in the eyes of the Lord, but when a teacher of the church enters his eternal rest the effect is felt on a broader scale. A teacher of the church affects his students, his follower teachers, the pastors of the church, and indirectly all the congregation members who had pastors taught by him. Because of this effect, the Scriptures urge the church to take caution in appointing teachers of the church (“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1).
Unlike the Roman Catholic church, Lutherans do not pray to the dead. However, there is a proper remembrance of those who died in the faith, a thanksgiving for the work that the Lord has done in their lives, and even an imitation of how those in the faith who died lived their lives. Children commonly do this by imitating their parents, just as students do their teachers. Hermann Sasse, in Letters to Lutheran Pastors, Volume III (available from CPH in hardcover and on Kindle) wrote about remembering the dead. In his essay “The Remembrance of the Dead in the Liturgy,” Section 8, Sasse writes:
“Let me say a word about that which is specifically important for our death-filled century. The remembrance of the dead needs to be revived in the church. It is one of the bases of the powerful attraction of Catholicism in our day that it has preserved this remembrance, while Protestantism, including Lutheranism, has lost it. Therefore, despite all assurances to the contrary, Protestantism has to a greater or lesser extent become a this-side-of-eternity religion. It was the task of the Reformation to dissolve the symbiosis which in Catholicism brought about a point of contact between the Christian faith and pagan presuppositions about the hereafter. The result of this paganism in the church’s faith and practice has been all too evident; it is no accident that the Reformation began precisely on an All Saints’ Eve (October 31, 1517) with a protest against he fearful commerce which was designed to accomplish the salvation of souls.”
Dr. Sasse goes on to point out how Dr. Martin Luther’s liturgical reforms of the church refocused the church on the purpose of Holy Communion, “forgiven sinners who in the reception of the Lord’s true body and blood are made one with all members of the church, all the saints in heaven and on earth, as the Body of Christ.”
On Sunday morning, in the Proper Preface in the Communion liturgy, the pastor says, “…therefore with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven we laud and magnify your glorious name ever more saying:” Then the congregation sings the Sanctus, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth…” Although dead separates us from the saints in heaven, we are untied together in the body of Christ. Sasse concludes his letter, “It is my hope that the considerations of this letter, for which you waited so long, and longer than you should have, will contribute to the clarification of our thoughts about one of the most difficult theological questions and help us rightly to exercise the church’s ministry of consolation in a cheerless world.”
On Thursday and Friday (March 5-6), Concordia Publishing House hosted the new missionary orientation and the regional directors meeting for the Office of International Mission. The missionary orientation begins and ends each day with worship, and then is followed by a series of lectures on both theological and practical topics. Pastor David Preus, pictured above, said,”This week of missionary orientation is one of the most exciting events in my professional career.” Preus is working to complete his dissertation and will serve as a theological educator and congregational pastor in Latin America.
Dr. Bruce Kintz welcomed the new missionaries to CPH. He spoke how CPH desires to produce materials the missionaries can use to help spread and proclaim the Gospel around the world. Kintz mentioned CPH’s offering of multi-lingual products along with the invitation for missionaries to write and to translate works that can assist their mission work. He also mentioned how CPH tries to assist missionaries with the International Mission Gift Registry which seeks to get books and materials to missionaries in the field.
Dr. Detlev Schulz, former missionary to Botswana and Director of Missiology Department at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, introduced the missionaries to the field of missiology. He and his wife also described for the new missionaries what they could expect in the first year or two of life as a missionary in a foreign country in small group sessions. The missiological instruction provided by Dr. Schulz in the missionary orientation is just the beginning of study for the new missionaries, who will continue toward earning a Certificate in Missiology by taking online modules with Dr. Schulz for 48 weeks. In the near future, nearly all new LCMS missionaries should receive a certificate of missiology in the first year or two of service.
The Regional Directors of the five world regions (Asia, East Africa, West Africa, Eurasia, Latin America) meet with the new missionaries during the orientation and get to know them during both formal and informal sessions. The Regional Directors also met for ongoing work to the OIM strategic plan and for additional training. The missiology Module 3: Missionary Preparation and Service in Perspective for this regional directors meeting was designed by Dr. Schulz and presented by Dr. Collver. It focused on the care of missionaries and the causes of attrition. An important recognition was that attrition in and of itself is a normal process that happens because, 1. Unpreventable Reasons such as normal retirement, political crisis, death, or a change in job; 2. Marriage and family reasons; 3. Personal Reasons such as immaturity, health problems, inadequate commitment, personal concerns, inability to adapt to a new culture and immorality; 4. Organizational Reasons such as home support (real or perceived lack of support), disagreement with the organization, or theological reasons; 5. Team Reasons such as interpersonal conflicts or problems with partner church leadership. Some of these items are not preventable while others are preventable through better training and mentoring. The regional directors and International Center staff developed a plan to better address the causes for missionary attrition. Part of this plan includes the tracking of attrition. International business organizations who deploy people and missionary organizations routinely report a yearly attrition rate of 30%. The Office of International Mission is glad to report that the attrition rate for 2014-2015 has been around 5%, well below the average of many mission organizations. The Office of International Mission and the Regional Directors are committed to continuing to improve the care that missionaries receive in the field. As the number of missionaries increases by God’s grace, missionary care and retention will be a significant effort of the mission leadership staff. In the near future, we will present more on this topic.
With week one completed of new missionary orientation, we look forward to the second week.
— Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations
2 March 2015
On Monday, 30 adults and 32 children came to Saint Louis for the Spring missionary orientation. Missionaries called in September 2014 and January 2015 arrived for theological lectures by Rev. Dr. Detlev Schultz on missiology, familiarization with the International Center support staff, familiarization of international health insurance and evacuation insurance, training and fund raising. Later in the week, the new missionaries will be meeting with the regional directors for field specific training. The missionary orientation will continue for the next two weeks. The missionaries will literally serve the four corners of the earth.
In the morning session, the missionaries were introduced to one another and to the OIM staff. Not only is there a large number of adults, but more children attending. These missionary children may well be the next generation of missionaries for the church. The Lord has been answering the church’s prayer to send laborers into the harvest.
After the morning sessions, the new missionaries attended Matins in the International Center chapel.
Sermon by Rev. Dr. Edward Grimenstein, Associate Executive Director for the Office of International Mission
Our God has chooses to use the things of this world to bring His salvation into this world. We often call this the “means of grace.” He uses water to bring salvation, bread and wine to give us forgiveness, and words from flesh and blood people to bring His gospel. That is how our God has chosen to work in this world. And that brings us to our very large group here this morning.
Welcome to our Winter class of 2015; our missionaries, spouses, and children. We are very pleased to have you join us here for the next two weeks during orientation. When you started to think about becoming a missionary I am sure you have had many long talks, and late nights deliberating whether or not to take this leap and serve as a missionary in the international field. You have given up close ties to do this. You have been willing to leave people you care deeply about to meet a people you don’t even know yet. What an exciting time.
As you begin your missionary service, I would like to have you remember one thing. And this goes for all of us here at the International Center as well. I would like you pastors and businessmen to remember why you were willing to move on to new calls and new work you may know little about . . . . I would like you women to remember why you were willing to give up what is familiar, established, and working, and leave all of that behind for a life that leaves you with probably more questions than answers at this point . . . I would like you children to remember why you were willing to go along with your parents who probably sat you down one day on a couch or at the kitchen table and said “hey, guess what – we’re moving to another country!” You have also given up friends and schools to also be a part of this work, and you are a big part of this work. . . .I would like everyone here at the International Center to remember why it is you chose to work here, in this place, and not somewhere else.
I would like all of you to remember – why? Why did you do this? And if you can’t remember, or if you think you may forget sometime in the future, then go back to our passage in Isaiah 49 and remember when God says to you and to all of us, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel, I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” So, why did you do this? Because you know, you believe, and you confess, that your God is not satisfied with staying in one corner of the world. The world is His and all that is in it, and He desperately wants that world and her people to come back under His protective wing.
When Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died a perfect death, He could have done so just for the Jews. But He didn’t, because that would have been too light a thing. The gentiles should also benefit from His perfect life and His perfect death for them. When Jesus rose from the dead He could have just stopped with a promise that the Jews would also be resurrected from the dead. But that would have been too light a thing for our God who promises all of you a resurrection from the dead through your baptism into Christ. And it would have been too light a thing to restrain the Holy Spirit only to call back the tribes of Israel. Too light a thing for our God who is the Creator of all the heavens and all the earth, too light a thing for our God who demands that all of His creation be given a salvation that reaches to the end of the earth.
Our God does not do things lightly. And truly nothing bigger was ever done than His own sacrifice for our sins. All of you have a life in Christ that is so great no disease can stand against it no temptation can seize it, and not even death can separate that life in Christ away from you. So, as you head back to work in this building, or if you are getting ready to take a step into a new land, always remember why you do this. Because your God doesn’t do things lightly. Your God wants His salvation to go out to the ends of the earth. Christ is a light for all the nations, and Christ will see His gospel spread as He sees fit – to the end of the whole earth. Amen.
And now may the peace of our God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
The President of the Synod requested the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) to prepare guidelines for Communion statements for congregational, district, and synodical use. The request came to the CTCR after the president made numerous visits to District Conventions and congregations and witnessed a wide variety (and no small disparity) in statements addressing admission to the Lord’s Supper.
The entire document can be downloaded here, or seen below.
A Portion of the International Mission Budget According to the Six Priorities
At the LCMS International Center, we are engaged in the budgeting process for the next fiscal year which begins on July 1, 2015. At times, people wonder how budgeting priorities are decided (in fact the Synod Board of Directors recently asked this question of me), in particular for the Synod’s work in International Mission. Since January 2014, the Office of International Mission has been guided by a strategic plan which is based around the six mission priorities adopted by the Synod in the 2013 convention (2013 Res. 3-06A — “To Adopt Mission and Ministry Emphases for the 2013-2016 Triennium”). These mission priorities were not created in a vacuum, but based upon the Synod’s constitution and the reason and purpose for the formation of the Synod.
The theme of the Office of International Mission strategic plan is “Consolidate, Focus, Renew and Establish Partnerships.”
When this theme was developed, the Missouri Synod listed working in 90+ countries but had only about 68 career missionaries, which works out to 1.3 countries per missionary. Some of the Missouri Synod’s work was grants and disaster response. The question that the OIM leadership and the Regional Directors asked was, “What sort of impact could we have with one missionary per 1.3 countries?” The answer was not nearly as much impact as we would like. Additionally, having missionaries scattered around without a community was not good for pastoral care or for missionary care in general. A field driven decision (the Regional Directors) to consolidate the missionaries into tighter teams was made. This not only allows the Missouri Synod to have a greater impact but also affords better missionary care. From these positions of strengths, the Regional Directors would branch out into new areas. Another significant part of the strategy is to recruit people based on the positions needed, rather than find people and then scramble to identify a position where they might serve. People are recruited on the basis of filling the field leadership first, and then the other support personnel for a program or a country. This strategy is in alignment with the Synod’s convention goal of doubling the number of career missionaries (2013 Res. 1-11). Career missionaries by definition include pastors, rostered workers, and other lay people who desire to serve in international mission for more than 2 years. As of January 2015, the Missouri Synod has increased the number of career missionaries from 68 (the number of missionaries at the Synod convention in 2013) to 105 career missionaries called or appointed. This is more than half way toward the goal of doubling the number of career missionaries. The Lord indeed is sending laborers into his harvest.
The Six Mission Priorities were developed on the basis of the Missouri Synod’s Constitution and Bylaws. They were adopted by the 2013 Synod Convention. These mission priorities guide all the activities of the Office of International Mission (OIM). In fact, the Board for International Mission (BIM) policies were written with the six priorities in mind. How these priorities are carried out is partially governed by the Toward a Responsible Lutheran Church. For instance, how these priorities are carried out depends upon where the partner church or non-partner church, or church plant is at in its life. Church bodies always are in relationship with one another, and are interdependent upon one another. When a missionary goes into a new area, that missionary is the primary person who preaches, teaches, and baptizes. After there is a group of believes, the training of local indigenous leaders begins. After a period of time, those indigenous leaders preach, teach, baptize, and so forth, while the LCMS missionary takes on a supportive role of further training and support.
- Plant, sustain, revitalize Lutheran churches.
a. Nurture, plant, embolden churches in mission.
In the area of church planting, the Missouri Synod has planted churches which later became partner churches of the Synod — churches such as the India Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELC) in 1894, the Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LCN) in the 1930s, the Lutheran Church of Korea (LCK) in the 1960s, and so forth. Today in these church bodies, the Missouri Synod supports the church planting efforts of our partners by providing training for evangelists and pastors. In many places in Africa, the single biggest challenge to church planting is the lack of tin roofs. One area of church planting support is the Office of International Mission’s tin roof program. In the tin roof program, the local church builds the walls and the Missouri Synod helps by providing roofs. Partner churches and non-partner churches alike request assistance in training the indigenous evangelists and pastors who will go out and plant new congregations. In some cases, partner churches ask for an LCMS missionary to do church planting. Usually, these are special cases where tribal differences or other circumstances make it more logical to have a Missouri Synod missionary do the actual church planting.
When it comes to church planting, a question that needs to be asked is where to plant the church. If Missouri Synod missionaries are working in a country that has a Lutheran church, the question needs to be asked if we can work with that church, or if we need to plant a new church. In many cases, we are able to work with the existing Lutheran church in some way. In the map above, the primary places where Lutheran churches do not currently exist are in Muslim countries or other closed countries. Where we might have work in Muslim countries or a closed country, the Synod is not really able to publicize the work. When we are working with an existing Lutheran church, our work falls into the realm of support and theological education. Many existing Lutheran churches, particularly with the sexuality decisions made by the ELCA and the Church of Sweden, are seeking the Biblical and Confessional position of the Missouri Synod.
- Support and expand theological education.
a. Support Seminaries (foreign and domestic).
b. Provide regional conferences, short-term training, pastoral continuing education.
c. Train evangelists.
Other than a request for missionaries, the most significant request that the Missouri Synod receives is for theological education, which is broadly defined as scholarships to Concordia Theological Seminary or Concordia Seminary St Louis, as scholarships to regional seminaries, as requests for missionary professors to teach both short and long term, as continuing education opportunities and seminars, as training for evangelists, church planters, and deaconesses, and as requests for theological books and materials. A significant portion of these requests are handled by the Global Seminary Initiative. Dr. Baue pictured above is teaching the Lutheran Confessions at the Mekane Yesus Seminary in Ethiopia as a result of the Global Seminary Initiative (GSI). Another recent project of the Global Seminary Initative was to partner with the Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF) to bring 30,000 copies of the Ecumenical Creeds, the Augsburg Confession, and the Small and Large Catechisms to Ethiopia in both Amharic and English. In March, the South East of Lake Victoria Diocese in Tanzania will celebrate the sending of 21 ordained pastors and a number of evangelists out, trained in partnership between GSI and Concordia Theological Seminary. In March and April, a number of professors from both Concordia Seminary St Louis and Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne will help advise students in the masters of theology program in Ethiopia (another GSI project). Theological education is one of the greatest ways that the Missouri Synod can have an impact on world Lutheranism.
3. Perform Human Care in close proximity to Word and Sacrament ministries.
a. Work closely with church partners and/or Lutheran congregations to reach out to those in need.
The Office of International Mission (OIM) was given the task to carry out LCMS World Relief and Human Care’s international work after the restructuring mandated by the 2010 Synod convention. A hallmark of the Missouri Synod’s human care and disaster response work is that it is done in close proximity to Word and Sacrament ministry. Most often on the international scene this is done in conjunction with a Partner Church of the Synod. James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” The church cares for those of the church who are in need. In most cases, the Missouri Synod does not do this work itself, but aides and supports the works of our partners around the world. The human care work is carried out where the people who receive help can hear the Gospel preached. The Tertullian reported that the pagans would say of the Christians, “See how they love another.” Christian love and compassion spills out of the church to the neighbor. Gerhard Uhlhorn noted, “For the world before Christ came was a world without love.” Uhlhorn continued, “The fundamental distinction between the ancient liberalitas and the Christian caritas lies in this, that the latter always keeps in view the welfare of the poor and needy; to help them is its only object; whereas the Roman, who exercises the virtue of liberality, considers in reality himself alone (I do not mean always in a bad sense), and exercises his liberality as a bribe wherewith to win the favours of the multitude.” Christian charity is only to help, not to win favor. Missionaries in an area frequently see people in need. There is a distinction between relative poverty and critical poverty or need. Relative poverty is poverty compared to another place, such as the United States. The goal of Christian charity is not to elevate everyone to the same level as in communism or in some egalitarian fantasy, but rather to help those who are in critical need or whose lives are in danger. Such aide or help always is provided in close proximity to where the Gospel is proclaimed. Often times the church’s work of mercy is to care for those no one else will help. In fact, the Missouri Synod’s mission work in India in 1894 began among the dalit, or the untouchable cast in India.
4. Collaborate with the Synod’s members and partners to enhance mission effectiveness.
a. Mission programs support the Synod’s objectives to promote unity of ministry effort.
The Missouri Synod’s international mission team strives to work with our partners — church partners and RSOs, auxiliaries, and mission societies. We can accomplish more together than we can individually. This was in fact one of the reasons why the Synod was founded. After the founding of the Synod, other groups and organizations formed to address specific areas or specialities that the Synod did not have the capacity or some cases the interest to pursue at a given time. Our partner churches and RSOs, auxiliaries, and mission societies help increase the impact that the Missouri Synod has world wide. The Office of International Mission desires to partner with these groups to expand the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus.
5. Nurture pastors, missionaries and professional workers to promote spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.
a. All people serving in the field (foreign and domestic) will receive spiritual care in Word and Sacrament.
One of the reasons that the Regional Directors recommended that “consolidate” be part of the Office of International Mission strategic plan was to provide better pastoral care for missionaries. When people are scattered about it can be difficult to provide good care. One way that OIM is attempting to address this is to call pastors to act as a regional chaplain for the missionaries. We also are attempting to place people together into communities so that they are not as isolated as they might have been. A part of the strategy is to send out missionaries in teams of three or more families. Where possible missionaries should worship with partner churches; where this is not possible the missionary team can hold regular worship. Other opportunities for missionary care includes continuing education and online courses in missiology as pictured above led by Dr. Detlev Schultz. As the number of missionaries on the field continues to increase, a significant focus of the Office of International Mission will be on missionary care and retention.
6. Enhance elementary and secondary education and youth ministry.
a. Schools will support the need to offer high quality education that is distinctly Lutheran, careful not to capitulate to the culture, seeking opportunities to expand the work of witness and mercy.
The Missouri Synod is known as a church that excels at education. Parochial schools have a long history in the Synod. It is no surprise that the Synod’s mission efforts have included Christian education as a part of the strategy. Currently, the Synod has three international schools: Hong Kong International School, Concordia Shanghai, and Concordia Hanoi. Some of our partner churches such as the Japan Lutheran Church (NRK) operate schools such as the Urawa Lutheran School. Other partners also have schools where Missouri Synod teachers are able to serve as missionary teachers. In some cases, government regulations do not allow for the creation of a parochial school so other opportunities for teaching the youth are sought including Sunday school and Vacation Bible Schools.
This post just begins to scratch the surface of the Missouri Synod’s mission work around the world. The Lord has provided many opportunities for service and He provides the laborers for His harvest. We have much to be thankful for as we ask for his help to carry on the proclamation of the Gospel to the world.
— Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations