Matt’s Posts

† Rev. James Linderman, former Texas District President

Rev. James R. Linderman, former president of the LCMS Texas District, died Jan. 1 of lung cancer at his home in Austin, Texas.  He was 75.

The funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 5, at 10 a.m. at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Austin.  Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at Harrell Funeral Home, Austin.

As first vice-president of the Texas District, Rev. Linderman became the district’s president in 2001, filling the vacancy of Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, who was elected LCMS president.  Rev. Linderman served as district president until his retirement in 2006.

“He was a man who definitely loved his Lord, he loved his family so, and he loved his country,” said his wife of 52 years, Jean

He enjoyed playing golf, hunting, doing crossword puzzles, spending time at the family ranch and being with his family.

As the son of an oil driller, Rev. Linderman traveled with his parents throughout the southeast Texas and Louisiana oil fields during his youth.  When the family settled to farm and operate a ranch in west Texas, young Linderman attended a one-room school.  He later completed elementary and high school in Eola, Texas.

Rev. Linderman was a 1960 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and held a master’s degree from the University of Kansas in speech, communications and organization.

He also was a graduate of the Basic and the Career U.S. Army Chaplain Schools; attended the Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; and studied Chinese and Russian history and politics at Long Island University.

Rev. Linderman served as assistant pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Houston (1960-62) before accepting a call to become an army chaplain.  His 25-year chaplaincy career included assignments with the 82nd Airborne Division, where he logged 57 parachute jumps, and with the Green Berets in Vietnam.  He also served chaplaincies in Germany and in Fort Hood, Texas.

He has received numerous awards and decorations, including two Legion of Merit medals, and U.S. and Vietnamese Senior Parachute Wings.

He retired from army chaplaincy in 1986 with the rank of colonel.  Following that, he served as pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, Athens, Texas (1986-90), and then as pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Austin.  He retired from the ministry in 1998.

Rev. Linderman has been a member of numerous Texas District task forces, committees, commissions, boards and study groups.  He also served on the Board of Regents for Concordia University Texas, Austin, and more than six years as a member of the board of directors for Lutheran Social Services of the South, Austin.

He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Concordia University, Austin, in 2002, and was the first recipient of the school’s Beto Christian Leadership Award, presented in 2006.

In addition to his wife, Jean, Rev. Linderman is survived by two children — Lisa (John) Curlee of Georgetown, Texas, and Jeffery (Paula) Linderman of Austin; four grandchildren — Josh (Marisa) DeLong of Killeen, Texas; Justine DeLong of Schwertner, Texas; Kristin (Jerrod) Young of Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Quentin Curlee of Mustang, Okla.; and two great-grandchildren — Christian DeLong and Collin Young.

Memorials may be made to:

  • Linderman/Knippa Scholarship Fund, Concordia University Texas, 11400 Concordia University Drive, Austin TX 78726.
  • Lutheran Social Services of the South New Life Treatment Center, 8305 Cross Park Drive, Austin TX 78754.
  • Lutheran Foundation — Jim and Jean Linderman Endowment Fund, 7900 East Highway 290, Austin TX 78724.

Q&A on Restructuring and the First 100 Days of a New LCMS President

From the January 2011 Reporter Insert

These questions were among those submitted by employees of the International Center and answered at a series of employee forums by President Harrison on November 8-10, 2010.

What’s the status of the hiring of a Chief Mssion Officer and the Chief Financial Officer?

The call for nominations for the CMO was issued from the Office of the President with a deadline to submit names to be nominated by December 31. We are encouraged by the many nominations for the CMO position that we have received. We are working on finalizing the timeline for conducting the reviews of the applications and interviews of nominees in January. The bylaws require that the President appoint the CMO after consultation with the Board for National Mission, and with the mutual concurrence of the LCMS Board of Directors. We are hoping that recommendations for a CMO will be ready for discussion at the board meetings in February 2011.

Will there be more position eliminations at the International Center? If so, when and how many?

There is more evaluation and financial analysis that needs to occur regarding how the national office can best be structured for the future. It is possible that there will be more positions impacted, but we are hoping that if positions are eliminated, it will be as few as possible. We desire at every opportunity to be good stewards of the gifts given to us through generous donors and supporters. I know that our donors desire for our good work to continue, and we will seek every possible way for that to happen. We thank each of our donors for their support for our continued work.

Given that the November Reporter story noted that giving has increased, what implication does this have for the Synod’s budget and for restructuring?

The Reporter article has to do with giving at the congregational level. As you know, unrestricted funding for the Synod flows up from congregations through the districts. Both congregational giving to districts and, as a result, district giving to Synod at the national level has been on a downward trend for many years, which is part of the reason for restructuring.

Is there a transition plan for picking up the work that was done by the people whose positions were eliminated? How will the work transition to the districts?

The leadership (e.g., district presidents, district execs, etc.) of those districts that have been impacted by the elimination of functions at the national office are being invited to collaborate with national office staff on workable solutions for the future. Other program areas of the national office, other individuals within the same department, or other partner entities related to the LCMS have already picked up some of the work that was being conducted by individuals in positions that were eliminated. We are appreciative of the cooperative attitude shown by so many who are committed to special areas of ministry and willingly advocate for and carry on the good work in many program areas.

What is the role of the National and International Mission Boards in restructuring?

These two boards will provide input, feedback, and consultation to the President and Transition Team regarding restructuring, but their role is primarily focused on establishing the policies by which the Offices of National and International Mission will conduct themselves. The boards make broad decisions regarding the program areas by establishing boundaries, parameters, and principles for the work of the two new offices.

Besides creating policy, what else do the two boards do?

The boards also participate with the President in setting goals and defining success for the two offices. While the boards have a relationship with the mission offices and provide oversight of the implementation of policies, it is the President and CMO who provide direction to the mission offices and supervise their day-to-day activities. The boards are not responsible for the specific programs, staff matters, or budgets related to the program areas like past boards have conducted their work. These issues, according to the new structure approved by Res. 8-08A, rest with the President. While we are waiting for the CMO to be selected, the President and his Executive Staff are responsible for all matters related to program areas (World Mission, World Relief and Human Care, school ministry, youth ministry, etc.) of the national office.

Will you bring back KFUO-FM and Issues, Etc.?

The transfer of the FM license is final. However, the station has been streaming classical music at www.classic99.com since the transfer took place. There are no specific plans for Issues, Etc. at this time, but all options remain on the table.

Does the installation of the two new mission boards mean the elimination of our largest branded ministries—World Mission and World Relief & Human Care?

Absolutely not. The work of these ministries will continue. The goal is to streamline and eliminate redundancies, but these brands will continue and carry forward. Both brands have been successful fundraising tools for the national office, and over the last several years, both departments have brought in many new donors, supporters, volunteers, and advocates to the witness and mercy work of the church through the use of these two powerful brands. Restructuring work will look only for ways to enhance these brands and the ministries they represent.

How will communication efforts of the national office be included in the discussion of building a new structure that is leaner and brighter for the future?

The President’s Office has established a Restructuring Work Group (see page 1) that will work with the Transition Team to identify the ways in which the communication efforts of the Synod can be more focused, driven to a common goal, establish consistent messaging, and save money. Res. 8-08A identified that there is some duplication in communication efforts in the national office, and the Restructuring Work Group will be analyzing the communications that come out of the national office and identifying ways in which this can be done with the greatest value at the most reasonable cost. In addition to looking at current communication tools, the RWG will also make recommendations to the Transition Team about enhancing new communication options (such as increased use of video and social media) which the Synod has yet to fully develop and which could better enhance fund development efforts for program areas.

Is the new Witness, Mercy, Life Together logo now the new logo for the LCMS?

No, the burgundy, tripartite cross design remains the logo for the LCMS. Witness, Mercy, Life Together are the President’s emphasis for the work of the church and are used as the underpinning for the restructuring work to suggest a strategy for moving the church into the future. The Witness, Mercy, Life Together emphasis has already been widely received in the LCMS and is easily understood by both youth and adults. The logo is a tool that anyone can use when thinking about your district, congregation, school, or personal life. These are the three areas of the work of the church that are present in whatever the church does—proclaiming the Gospel, sharing Christ’s mercy with others, and living in fellowship with Christ and with one another.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the President’s first hundred days in the office?

Coming into the President’s Office has been like trying to drink from a fire hose. Despite having worked in the building for nearly a decade, there has been much to learn and become accustomed to in the President’s Office. Restructuring the national office is the most urgent work of the Synod, and it’s taking precedence over everything else that we do. In addition to the responsibility of restructuring, we are also trying to balance the scheduling demands required under the new structure for the Office the President, especially during this time when we do not yet have the CMO in place. We have a great team of administrative assistants and executive staff in the President’s Office who work hard to put all these components together. We have also been helped by the many talented laypersons and pastors throughout the Synod who have agreed to serve on various boards as the President’s representatives. God has blessed mightily, and it has been an incredible hundred days!

What has been the most surprising part of the first hundred days as President?

I would have to say it would be the overwhelming support and encouragement that has come from all parts of the world from all kinds of people who have been so kind and generous to me and the staff. So many people, whether district presidents or local pastors, have said, time and time again, we are praying for you. That is a strength to me during difficult days, and it greatly encourages me.

What do you like most about being President of the LCMS?

I really enjoy people coming into my office, sitting on the couch, and I in the leather chair, and then we talk. We call it the “living room.” It feels very much like inviting people into my home. It’s relaxed, and I find that we can have some of the most productive and enjoyable meetings sitting together and talking with folks who just want to see their church do well.

Regarding the Call to Village, Ladue

Statement by Matthew Harrison
on the Acceptance of a Call
to Serve as an Assistant Pastor

To: District Presidents of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (for distribution as they see fit)

From: Matthew Harrison, President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Date: December 19, 2010

Grace and peace in Jesus, “the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25)!

This morning, Sunday, December 19, 2010, I personally informed the pastor, elders and members of Village Lutheran Church, Ladue, Missouri, that I had accepted the congregation’s call to serve as their assistant pastor. The call was not acted upon hastily, or without significant consultation In providing you with the following information, I want to lay out for you a brief explanation of the personal and theological reasons why I am taking this path.

The constitution and bylaws of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod specifically allow the President of the Synod to hold such an office. The bylaws state:

The President of the Synod shall be a full-time executive and shall serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors of the Synod. (a) He shall not be in charge of a congregation or hold a chair at any educational institution but may be called as an assistant pastor, provided such services do not interfere with his official duties as President. (3.3.1)

There are a number of reasons for this action. I shall only note a few items here. With respect to the Synod’s national office:

  • Though no President (or congregation) has acted on this privilege for many decades, in its wisdom the Synod recognizes that its President may be a called pastor at a local parish. This was long the practice of the Missouri Synod, and has been the practice of the Lutheran Church in general for most of its history.
  • While those of us in national leadership have noted a lessening of local loyalty to the national church, we have less often acknowledged the local perception that the national office has distanced itself from congregations. Accepting this call is my own concrete affirmation of the vital, in fact, most vital role of local congregations and pastors in our mission, mercy, and life together as a Synod (John 10:12-16).
  • The new structure of the Synod greatly increases the CEO responsibilities of the President. It is more vital than ever that amidst the many tasks of the office, it be carried out pastorally, and with the church’s pastoral and missionary task firmly in focus and close at hand (1 Pet. 5:2).
  • In this called, pastoral position, I am directly responsible to the senior pastor and board of elders of Village Lutheran for my preaching and teaching there. I believe it is healthy even (especially!) for the President of Synod to be directly accountable to a local congregation in this way, and to God himself for such a congregation (Heb. 13:17).

With respect to my particular person I note the following.

  • St. Paul states, “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Tim. 3:1).
  • In the core of my being, I am a pastor. I view life pastorally. I view the mission of the church pastorally (Jer. 3:15). My work at LCMS World Relief and Human Care moved the church’s work of mercy to a pastoral model, closely connecting care with local altars, fonts, and pulpits worldwide.
  • I am energized by and find great joy in preaching, teaching, and pastoral visitation (2 Cor. 1:24).
  • A called pastoral relationship with a local congregation allows me and my family to be cared for by a group of Christians in a way that would otherwise not occur (Gal. 6:6). Village Ladue recognizes this care as a vocation of service to the Synod.
  • My two boys are in high school. Their time at home is short. For ten years they have rarely heard me preach or teach. I desire to preach to my own children in these vital years of their Christian formation. As Synod President I could well be absent every weekend. For the sake of my wife and boys at this stage of our lives, travel must be reasonably limited. Wonderful things may be accomplished for the Missouri Synod over the next number of years, but (God help me) not at the expense of the faith of my own family (Eph. 5:25; 1 Tim. 3:4).

The bylaw states that the president “may be called as an assistant pastor, provided such services do not interfere with his official duties as President.” I note the following:

  • This called pastoral position involves preaching once every month or two; teaching the occasional Sunday Bible study; and visiting a handful of shut-ins each month (1 Tim. 5:17; Matt. 25:36).  It involves no meetings and no administrative duties. I shall receive from this position no compensation, or even reimbursement for mileage. This call is a gift. My service shall be a gift (1 Thess. 2:9). This call is not a so-called “status call”a call merely for the purpose of an ordained man being able to remain on the LCMS roster.

  • My clear priority is and has to be the called position of Synod President, which is more than full-time (Luke 17:10; 1 Cor. 15:58).

With respect to district presidents:

  • While I have chosen to act upon a matter of freedom, not all district presidents have such freedom in their respective district constitutions, nor are their respective circumstances the same. I will guard each district president’s freedom, right, and responsibility to act as he and his district believe is best for his particular circumstances (2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 5:13). Their office alone makes them worthy of our deepest love, support, and continual prayer (2 Cor. 11:28).

Finally:

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. . . . Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:18-21).

Pastor Matthew Harrison

Harrison Sermon at Concordia Theological Seminary (Ft. Wayne) Chapel

Friends in Christ,

I pray you are well, and just about ready for Christmas! I enjoyed my first official visit to the Ft. Wayne Seminary this week past, at the invitation of President Wenthe. Flew up on Tuesday morning, and back to St. Louis on Wednesday afternoon. Meeting the faculty was a great pleasure. We discussed many issues. I particularly enjoyed hearing from each of them about what they have been working on as of late.

I preached Wednesday at Kramer Chapel, a place and pulpit that hold for me many fond memories. You can listen to the sermon by clicking HERE: Harrison Sermon at CTS Chapel. After chapel the entire student body met for a convocation. I could have spoken interminably (as a Synod official I have that particular ability), but I decided simply to take questions for the entire hour. It was marvelous. Great questions. Good theology. Wonderful humor. We spoke about preaching, pastoral practice, the importance of residential theological education, Luther, and many other topics.

The highlight of the visit was a walk into, through and around the new Ft. Wayne Seminary Library facility, still under construction. Unbelievable. President Wenthe, the faculty and the Board of Regents deserve the Synod’s deepest appreciation and gratitude for their stewardship of this great institution.

Blessed final days of Advent!

Matt Harrison