Archive for November 2012

‘Remember your roots,’ Lutherans told at Georgia conference

‘Remember your roots,’ Lutherans told at Georgia conference – Chico Enterprise Record

PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. — A renowned British scholar cautioned some Lutheran leaders last week not to lose the “treasure chest” of beliefs they’ve inherited from Martin Luther, who led the Reformation in the 1500s.

Alister McGrath, a professor at Kings College in London, was the keynote speaker at an international conference on theology. The gathering was sponsored by the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod (LCMS), an American denomination, according to a news release sent to this newspaper.

The three-day conference was attended by 120 church leaders who represent 20 million Lutherans in North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Participants at the conference represent “more conservative” Lutheran churches, according to the Rev. Larry Vogel, associate executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations.

McGrath, although he’s not a Lutheran, described himself as having “fallen in love with Luther” because of the clarity with which the Reformation leader described the relationship between people and God. Luther said we are “justified” or forgiven because of Jesus, in whom God’s loving heart for us can be seen, McGrath said.

Vogel said McGrath emphasized the need to do more than simply repeat traditional formulas that came out of the Reformation, such as “justification by faith.” He said such language is no longer understood by many people today.

What’s needed, according to McGrath, is to translate such concepts into terms

that make sense now, Vogel said. It’s needed so that modern people will understand that “the saving work of Christ which reveals God’s forgiving acceptance is the great truth we need today in order to be able to live with confidence, peace, and joy.”

McGrath also talked about Luther’s “theology of the cross,” Vogel said. It “shows that faith in Christ sustains people especially in times of trouble and suffering. Human beings are shaped and matured not by life’s easy times, but by passing through testing and trials with faith in Christ and in his willingness to take on human suffering and death.”

At the conference, such matters as marriage and sexuality, the authority of the Bible and the church’s work of responding to human needs were discussed.

Among conference speakers was the Rev. Jobst Schoene, a retired bishop of Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Speaking on “life together,” Schoene said, “we are linked together as Lutherans who take their confession seriously.”

He told those attending the conference, “There is still a lot to do: more exchange, for instance (in) theological discussion, exchange of teachers, of servants in the ministry, (and) the practice of intercommunion and intercelebration where there is doctrinal agreement. And if that’s missing — to work for such agreement.”

The International Conference on Confessional Leadership, as the gathering was called, was held in Peachtree City, which is about 20 miles south of Atlanta.

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Lord, Keep us Steadfast in Your Word

Just as it began, the International Conference on Confessional Leadership concluded with God’s Word and prayer as participants joined in the the order of Itinerarium (a brief liturgy for those about to travel). Conference chaplain, the Rev. William Weedon, LCMS director of worship, led the service where each participant confessed the Apostles’ Creed and prayed the Lord’s Prayer in his or her own tongue. They prayed:


Lord God, our Father, You kept Abraham and Sarah in safety throughout the days of their pilgrimage, You led the children of Israel through the midst of the sea, and by a star You led the Wise Men to the infant Jesus. Protect and guide us now in this time as we set our to travel. Make our ways safe and our homecomings joyful, and bring us at last to our heavenly home, where You dwell in glory with Your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Concluding the service and the conference was the hearty singing of “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word,” a theme which ran throughout the conference presentations. The worship services, a highlight for many this week, have been musically led by a trio from Concordia University Nebraska with Paul Soulek, cantor of St. John Lutheran Church, Seward,  Ne.; Caley Gerth, music director of Trinity Lutheran in Holly Hill, Fla.; and Robert Cody, senior at Concordia University Nebraska.


With hearty embraces, Life Together and great joy in the Gospel, the participants head back to the four corners of the globe, having been strengthened in the faith, eager to Witness and bear Mercy in their own church bodies.

Meyer Preaches on Final Day of Conference

{The Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer, president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, preached the following sermon on the final day of the International Conference on Confessional Leadership, Peachtree City, Ga. The text was Acts 1:4-11.}

I entered the ministry serving two small rural congregations. The work of those congregations only took a few days a week. So I had time to get into other things and one thing was carpentry, working with wood. One day I went to the place we Americans call the lumberyard. I told Lester Going what size boards I needed. He took me into the back to the saw, and cut the wood to the size I needed. Then Lester asked me, “Do you want the Auffalls?” “What?” I said. “Do you want the Auffalls, the scraps, the little pieces cut off?” I said, “Yes.” Over the years, over the decades, that has become for me a picture of the ministry. I tell our seminarians that their main job as students is not to learn the techniques of ministry, as important as that is. Their main job is to seek to know God and to be known by God in Jesus Christ. The result of that quest, the Auffalls, will be blessed ministry. So also for you and me. Our main vocation is not … What are you calling it? Our main vocation is not “Confessional Leadership” but it is to know God personally and to be known by Him in Jesus Christ. The result of that Vocation, the Auffalls, will be God – blessed leadership. Our goal above all else, should be what St. Paul says, to “know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed unto His death, if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)


How is it for you? More and more, I find Jesus Christ to be a mysterious figured, larger that life. This larger than life Jesus mystified His disciples. You heard it. He told them something about waiting in Jerusalem, something about being baptized with the Holy Spirit. But the disciples only knew what they knew and asked Jess about the restoration of Israel. Jesus said, “that’s none of your business,” said something again about the Holy Spirit, and ascended. The Song of God is larger than life. But I’ll tell you, this larger than life Jesus made a lasting impression on those disciples. They obediently returned to Jerusalem, they waited, they received the Holy Spirit, and they became His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and unto the ends of the earth. Larger than life, Jesus made a lasting impression on them and the result, the Auffalls, was witness.


This is our vocation. To gaze at Jesus with the eyes of faith, not of sight. To return home from this conference and to wait, to wait in silence (“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10, to wait in trust (“In repentance and rest is thy salvation; in quietness and confidence is they strength” Isaiah 30:15) and to wait in communion, in communion with the disciples around us and in communion with the holy things, creed, Gospel, sacraments. The goal of all this is not “Confessional Leadership.” You return home for communion with the Spirit of God because the goal is the salvation of your soul. “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same as you saw Him go into heaven.”


Robert Cody, senior at Concordia University Nebraska; Caley Gerth, music director at Trinity Lutheran Church in Holly Hill, Fla.; and Paul Soulek, cantor at St. John Lutheran Church, Seward, Ne.; provided the music to accompany the rich liturgical life of the conference.

Dr. Alister McGrath quoted Wittgestein. “A picture held us captive and we couldn’t get outside it.” The picture that has captured us is Jesus. “the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’ has show in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) That picture has made a lasting impression on us . “When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4) Everything else is Auffals. Amen.




Buba Asks Lutherans to Pray

Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba, North American Lutheran Church

Speaking on the last day of the International Conference on Confessional Lutheranism, Peachtree City, Ga., the Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba of the North America Lutheran Church asked global Lutherans to “be a praying church.”

Buba presented on the topic of Witness (Martyria), urging leaders, “Don’t try to figure out missional strategies and plans. Jesus never outsourced missional leadership to anyone.” Instead, he said, “Ask. Be on your knees. Let us be a praying church one more time,” reminding attendees that Witness work is “in the hand of the Holy Spirit.”

“There is no one . . . who knows better how to do mission that the Designer, the Leader, the Holy Spirit,” Buba noted. “My Jesus spent most of His days praying: in isolated places, gardens, upper rooms, lower rooms. He was praying.”

“A church that doesn’t pray,” he added, “will be powerless.

International Conference on Confessional Leadership Begins Final Day

Over 120 confessional Lutheran church leaders from Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, North America and Australia gathered this morning for the final day of the International Conference on Confessional Leadership. During the morning session, the Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba, North American Lutheran Church, will discuss the topic of “Our Mission Today and Tomorrow.”

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