Archive for July 2011

Papua New Guinea Mission Society Meeting

Worship Folder for PNG Mission Society

Yesterday and today, the Papua New Guinea Mission Society met at Timothy Lutheran Church in Saint Louis, MO. Gathered together were about 75 to 100 people, most of whom were LCMS missionaries who served in the Enga Province in Papua New Guinea between 1948 and the early 1990s. The special guests at the PNG Mission Society Meeting arrived from PNG last evening, including Peter Ipatas, the Governor of the Enga Province for the past 14 years.

Governor Ipatas Address The Group

In his address, Governor Ipatas rehearsed the LCMS’ role in Papua New Guinea, particularly in the Enga Provence, over the past 63 years (since 1948 when the first LCMS missionaries arrived). He noted in particular the contributions that the LCMS made to Papua New Guinea particularly in the areas of theological education, general education, and health care, as the LCMS placed literally hundreds of missionaries between 1950 and 1970 in the Enga Provence. He also with some sadness noted the vacuum left in PNG when the LCMS pulled out the majority of her missionaries in the early 1970s. This corresponds to the massive decline of LCMS career missionaries described by Rev. Dave Birner in the May 2011 issue of The Lutheran Witness, when the LCMS had about 350 missionaries around the world, a good portion of them being located in Papua new Guinea. As Rev. Birner noted in the Lutheran Witness, a variety of reasons led to the decline of LCMS missionaries worldwide, including a change in LCMS mission philosophy and policy. These changes left LCMS partners such as Papua New Guinea wondering why the LCMS left. Currently, the LCMS has three career missionaries in Papua New Guinea according to the LCMS website. Governor Ipatas challenged the LCMS to return to Papua New Guinea with 20 missionaries next year, a fraction of the hundreds of missionaries the LCMS formerly sent. He noted that theological educators who could train pastors and general educators as well as medical teams were in particular need. He pledged to assist in any way he could. Among the former LCMS missionaries to Papua New Guinea, his speech was met with a standing ovation.

LCMS Career Missionaries from 1970 to 2010
Image taken from May 2011 Lutheran Witness
The first LCMS missionaries, Rev. Otto Hintze and Rev. Bill Burce, arrived in Papua New Guinea in 1948 at the invitation of a Wauni tribal leader in Yaramanda, Enga Province. Rev. Hintze and his wife were able to attend the Mission Society Meeting at Timothy Lutheran Church. While Rev. Dr. Willard (Bill) Burce was not able to attend.

Rev. Jerry Burce Preaching on
compassion [σπλάγχνα (splanchna)]

His son, Rev. Jerry Burce was there and led the morning service, preaching on Matthew 9:27 – 10:1; 20:29 – 31. He preached on how Jesus had compassion [σπλάγχνα (splanchna)] on the blind men in the Gospel reading, on all of us, and on the people in Papua New Guinea.

First Page of Saturday Morning Worship
Second and Third Pages of Saturday Morning Worship

The Enga Provence is unique in Papua New Guinea for being in the highlands (Enga people are referred to as mountain men) and for being predominately the same ethnic / tribal group. The predominate religion in Enga is Lutheran (due to LCMS missionaries, about 1/2 of the population of the provence) and Roman Catholic. In 1960, the LCMS via the work of Dr. Willard Burce founded Timothy Seminary in the Enga provence. This seminary is the primary education for pastors of Gutnius Lutheran Church. Martin Luther Seminary (MLS) is another seminary located in Lae.

Flag of Enga Provence
Enga Provence Shaded in Red

Governor Ipatas brought greetings to the LCMS, particularly to President Harrison and LCMS Mission personnel. His administrator Ezekiel Peter gifted LCMS personnel with a hat and a bilum. A bilum is a string bag handmade in PNG.

A Papua New Guinea Hat and Bilum
Although I was not able to attend the entire event at Timothy Lutheran Church, the time I spent with former LCMS missionary and the delegation from Papua New Guinea was very enlightening and provided me with much foder for thought, particularly how the LCMS might be able to answer the challenge Governor Ipatas presented to send more missionaries to PNG.
— Rev. Dr. Albert Collver

WELS Conference on Worship at Martin Luther College

We are providing this information to help LCMS readers become more acquainted with WELS and their facilities. For us who traveled to the WELS Conference on Worship, the experience has been rather educational. 
Martin Luther College

On Thursday, the worship conference had a change of venue from Gustavus Adolphus College (ELCA Campus) to Martin Luther College, a Wisconsin Synod campus in New Ulm, Minnesota. WELS like the LCMS facing financial challenges regarding the upkeep and maintenance of their colleges, merged their teacher college and their seminary into one campus. The student population of the campus is around 1,000. The crown jewel of the campus is the new Chapel of Christ, recently completed. Martin Luther College (formerly known as Doctor Martin Luther College when it was a teachers college) did not have a chapel for 30 or 40 years… think of a parallel situation at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, being without a chapel since it located in Clayton until 1992 with the completion of the Chapel of Saints Timothy and Titus.

Chapel of Christ

A goal of worship conferences is to “model” worship for congregations. On Thursday, the theme of the conference was Easter with the opening service modeling Easter Sunday. Here the LCMS folk attending ran into a slight cultural difference. When the WELS pastor said, “He is Risen.” The congregation responded, “He is risen indeed!” However, the LCMS folk added (rather loudly) “Alleluia!” This apparently is not part of the WELS Easter custom and we stood out. Nonetheless, our faux pas was quietly ignored and we were treated graciously. Of course, as is in the case of all worship conferences, the “models” often shows what can be done, not necessarily what every congregation can do. Yet this is not bad. The experience is similar to what many people find attending the worship at the Symposium at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, or at the installation of a Synod President, or the opening of the academic year at one of the seminaries. An uplifting experience and a learning experience for the participants.

The inside of the chapel is spacious and holds about 1,000 people. For the musicians, the organ was built by the Schantz Organ Company (Orrville, Ohio, 1873) has 57 pipe ranks, more than 3,000 pipes, and two 16′ pipes. I was told that with the three digital voices the organ can emulate a 32′ pipe — a very low note. This is a worship space done very well.
For me, the altar was the best part of the chapel. “The Altar of Revelation,” is patterned after Revelation 5, and seeks to present the Evangelists’ vision of the Holy Trinity. The Father is depicted as a hand holding a scroll, the Son, as the Lion of Judah, and the Spirit as seven eyes and seven hours. In the vision of Saint John in Revelation 5, the Lion of Judah becomes the Lamb that was Slain.

The Lamb Who Was Slain from Revelation 5
“Behold, the Lamb of God”
In Greek and German

We also had opportunity to stop by and see the Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s Bethany College in Mankato, MN. A few photos below.

WELS National Conference on Worship, Music & the Arts — Gustavus Adolphus College

WELS Worship Conference Book
(Over 200 Pages Long)

Yesterday, a group of LCMS representatives arrived at Saint Peter, Minnesota, on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College for the Wisconsin Synod’s National Conference on Worship. The Wisconsin Synod has been holding worship conferences since 1996, and this is their sixth conference. As of the end of June 2011, nearly 900 people registered for this worship conference. The plenary speaker stated that the WELS Conference on Worship is the largest worship conference in the Western Hemisphere. A significant percentage of WELS church workers (pastors and church musicians) attend the conference. This is remarkable considering the size of WELS (around 400,000 members) in comparison to the ELCA and the LCMS, not to mention other Protestant groups in North America. This shows in part WELS commitment to Lutheran Worship.

Plenary Session “Passing the Torch”
A recurring theme at the WELS Conference on Worship is “authentic Lutheran Worship.” Yesterday, I heard a presentation by Jonathan Schroeder about a WELS mission start in Atlanta (Faith, Sharpsburg, GA) in 2001. The pastor was confronted with starting a church in a strange land to Lutherans — the Deep South, where the predominate religious affiliation is Baptist and other Evangelical groups. He explained the recognition that he did not make a good baptist, nor could his fledging congregation compete with the musical groups or styles of the mega churches. His conclusion, the only option is to be authentically Lutheran. He had many good suggestions for being a “missional” church while remaining authentically Lutheran. Approximately 100 people attended Jonathan Schroeder’s session on “Teaching Worship.” This is a session that would have been good for me to hear starting out as a pastor.
Faith, Sharpsburg, GA (A WELS Congregation)
By way of observation and not comment … Another interesting theme or motif that recurs among WELS people is the Synodical Conference. While I suspect many LCMS folk give little to no thought to the Synodical Conference that broke up in the late 1950s. Yet for many in WELS the Synodical Conference or rather the breakup of the Synodical Conference is a defining moment. In a sense, the break of the Synodical Conference is the sad story about the dissolution of a family — three sisters who could no longer have a Life Together. In any case, I cannot remember the last time I heard the Synodical Conference mentioned at an official LCMS event.

Phillip Magness, Secretary of the LCMS Board for International Mission
Presents on the Psalms as the Hymn Book of the Bible

The Conference Book is literally a book of over 200 pages. The conference is rather impressive and well done. Below are some photos of the Gustavus Adolphus Campus. Tomorrow, we have the opportunity to visit the Wisconsin Synod’s Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota.

2011 Worship Conf Brochure Web

Representatives from the LCMS include: Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Rev. Herb Mueller, Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, Rev. Jon Vieker, Rev. Larry Vogel, and Rev. John Willie, District President of South Wisconsin. As few people know us, we are able to go about the conference more or less incognito. Thus far the conference is not only impressive but rather edifying.

Gustavus Adolphus College

Gustavus Adolphus College is affiliated with the ELCA and is rooted in a Swedish and Lutheran heritage. The college is 150 years old. The campus is rather impressive.

Gustavus Adolphus
King of Sweden (1611-1632)

Gustavus Adolphus was the King of Sweden from 1611 to 1632. He fought for the Protestant cause during the 30 years war, and made Sweden the third largest nation in Europe after Russia and Spain. He was known as the “Father of Modern Warfare.” He restored a number of territories to the Lutheran faith, but his early death resulted in the loss of several territories to the Roman Catholic forces. He is honored as a hero in many Lutheran lands for his efforts during the 30 years war.

Alfred Nobel Building

Gustavus Adolphus College hosts the Nobel Conference each year since 1963, where top scientists, philosophers, and Nobel Prize winners lecture on a variety of topics. The Nobel Conference for 2011 is the 47th and is on the topic of The Brain and Being Human.

Nobel Conference 47 Poster

The jewel and figurative if not the literal center of the campus is Christ Chapel.

Christ Chapel
Crucifix Outside of Chapel

Missionary Sending Service

On Friday, 15 July 2011, President Harrison preached at the LCMS’ missionary sending service for 34 Career, GEO, and Lutheran education missionaries who were being sent to 16 countries including Cambodia, the Czech Republic, England, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Kenya, Macau, Russia, South Africa and Taiwan. The theme of President Harrison’s sermon was “Jesus Only.” In the sermon President Harrison alluded to Dr. Martin Luther’s description of the body of Christ feeling the pain of other Christians around the world. He said, “When you stub your toe, we will feel it here at the International Center and pray for you.”

The Order of Service for the Missionary Sending service was the Divine Service with the celebration of Holy Communion. Village Lutheran Church, Laude, Missouri Sponsored the service. President Harrison services as the assistant pastor to Rev. Dr. Kevin Golden, Senior Pastor at Village Lutheran.

Rev. Dr. Kevin Golden, Senior Pastor at Village Lutheran Church in Laude distributes Holy Communion in the picture above. President Harrison, assistant Pastor at Village Lutheran Church, was the celebrant.

The Missionary Sending Service was a great joy. It was a great privilege to have  District President Ray Mirly from the Missouri District at the service.

A reception was held for the missionaries after the Sending Service at the LCMS International Center.

The LCMS Reporter Online has a story on the sending service titled, “Synod commissions 34 new missionaries.” The Saint Louis Post Dispatch posted a photo gallery called, “Missouri Synod missionary sending service.”

The Pentecost Task — Missionary Orientation

Acts 2:1-13
Day of Pentecost
Rev. Dr. Timothy C. J. Quill

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard the sound [of the apostles speaking], a multitude gathered together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language….Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” (2:5-6, 12)

When confessing the third article of the Apostles’ Creed, Martin has us ask the same question, “What does this mean?” And the answer: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.” Luther’s Explanation in the Small Catechism is a perfect summary of Pentecost.

There is no believing without the Holy Spirit. That was true in the 16th century when Luther wrote his Small Catechism, it is true today, and it will be true in the future when we leave here and travel to distant lands. It has been true from the very beginning, when it all began on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus accomplished our salvation through his sacrificial death on the cross. After his ascension into Heaven, the risen Lord Jesus continued the work of salvation by distributing his saving gifts, namely, the forgiveness of sins, through preaching, Baptism, and the Breaking of Bread/Lord’s Supper. Pentecost was about preaching the Word of Christ and about baptizing in the name of Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

A lot of exciting things happened in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. But we must not lose sight of the essential things. Pentecost was and is about the preaching—preaching Jesus Christ crucified and risen. Pentecost was and is about the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit who gave to the apostles what they were to clearly proclaim in the streets of Jerusalem. Thus the Holy Spirit was the real preacher on Pentecost even as he is the real preacher today. On that day the Holy Spirit preached through our Lord’s Apostles. Today the Holy Spirit preaches through pastors when they faithfully proclaim what has been given them to say by the same Spirit through his inspired Holy Scriptures—that is, Jesus Christ crucified and risen.

A lot of exciting things happened in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. Today things are far from exciting as sit here quietly in the chapel of the LCMS International Center looking through glass windows at the sky. The streets of Jerusalem are replaced with concrete avenues and interstates highways. Today, the people in the crowds are isolated from one another as they speed past us in their air-conditioned cars. Some of these folks are undoubtedly good Christians. Some are literally on a highway to hell. Each car contains real people for whom Christ died—each with their own story. And here we sit, quietly listening to God’s Word, confessing Christ, saying our prayers and singing hymns. Nothing exciting about this, however it is important and essential.

When you hear the account of Pentecost, have you ever been tempted to wish it could be like that again today? Pentecost was like an exciting Christian fireworks-filled Fourth of July—tongues of fire, violent winds, loud “dynamic” preaching, three thousand baptisms, and instant language ability. / / Even as I’m speaking, seminarians at both our Fort Wayne and St. Louis Seminaries are struggling through agonizing weeks of summer Greek and Hebrew. What they wouldn’t give for a Pentecost miracle language course, GSL and HSL (Greek as a Second Language and Hebrew as a Second Language) is yours in just seconds, not weeks and years.

But one should be careful for what one wishes for. Luke tells us, “They were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Would you really like that to happen today? Do you really want to sit in a glass chapel while tornados like winds rip through the International Center like an out of control freight train? It’s terrifying. I’m told this is what happened here at the International Center a few months ago. Be careful what you wish for. When the frightened apostles were filled by the Holy Spirit to preach in the city, the Spirit gave them both the things to say, and the courage to speak them. They fully expected that they would be met with the same fate as Jesus from the angry mobs, church leaders and government officials. And in time, most met a martyr’s death.

The tongues of fires were also impressive. Fire was a symbol of the presence of God who is an all consuming fire. A head set ablaze is not a pretty sight. But as was the case with Moses before the burning bush, a fire that doesn’t consume is a divine revelation that allows us to see into the very heart and nature of God—at the core of his being, his divine nature, the Lord God is a God of grace and mercy.

In Luke’s account in Acts 2, the tongues (γλῶσσαι) of fire give way to the apostles speaking in other tongues (γλῶσσαι), or languages. When God’s Word comes off the tongues and out of the mouths of his apostles and pastors in sermon and absolution, it comes with the very presence of the Holy Spirit. Where the Word of Christ is proclaimed, there is Christ and his promised Holy Spirit. The words are nothing other than the powerful, Spirit filled, sin-forgiving, words of life—the creative Spirit filled wind or breath that creates faith and life.

“When they heard the sound of the apostles’ preaching, a crowd came together in bewilderment.” Today it is our mission task to help gather the bewildered multitudes from all nations to come to where Christ and the Holy Spirit are present—to the church with its pulpit, font and altar. We invite others to join us at church where we are devoted to the apostles teaching, to the fellowship, that is, the breaking of bread and to the prayers of the church. The Old Testament harvest festival of Pentecost was a time of joy and thanksgiving. The Divine Service with Word and supper is a time of even greater joy and thanksgiving. This is indeed the greater harvest, the greater Pentecost.

So, what does this mean? Why did all of us come here for two weeks? Why are we driven to go into all the world in order to invite people to come to Church? Because…as we confess in the explanation of the 3rd Article of the Creed: “In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.”