We were “surprised by joy” last week to receive a letter from St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Stratford. It opened with a quotation from C. F. W. Walther’s The Right Form of a Lutheran Local Congregation, exhorting,
“a congregation shall see to it that gifted boys and young men are dedicated to the service of the church and that it is made possible for them to prepare themselves for this work.”
Teaching that the synod grew up out of her congregations, Walther perhaps wanted people to ask themselves just where they thought pastors would come from if the congregations themselves didn’t point y0ung people towards the ministry … and support the work of the seminaries.
The letter from St. Peter’s continued with the joyful news that their voters’ meeting had decided to allocate $3000 of their 2011 budget for the support of this seminary. We’re aware, of course, that many other congregations of LCC do the same; we just don’t always know whether the cheques they send us are a result of a congregational budget decision, or simply the passing on of designated gifts.
In this budget-setting time of year, we would like to offer our thanks to the many congregations who have chosen to support us in this way. And we’d also like to encourage other congregations to join the effort. Just think how our seminaries would flourish if every congregation of synod allocated even a small portion of their annual budget to help ensure pastors will be available to them and their sister congregations in the future.
By the way, it was perhaps by God’s guidance that I began my weekly work on Ephesians the next day by reading a sermon of Dr Martin Luther’s on the text at hand. Luther, always able to work the preaching office into a sermon, echoes Dr Walther’s thoughts in his own courageous way (see below).
Peace to you in your Advent preparations for our Lord’s return.
Tom Winger (Acting President).
In my admonitions I have often enough urged those who have influence, to use all diligence in drawing the young to school, where they may receive proper instruction to become pastors and preachers; and I have earnestly advised that in cases of necessity ample financial provision be made for students. But, alas, few communities, few States, are interested in the matter. In all Germany, look at the bishops, princes, noblemen, the inhabitants of town and country–how confidently they go on sleeping and snoring in their indifference to the question. They presume to think there is no need for action; the matter will adjust itself; there will always be pastors and preachers. But assuredly they deceive themselves if they think they are consulting their best interests in this affair; for they will, as the text says, become foolish and fail to recognise the will of God. Therefore they will some day have to experience what they do not now believe: in a few years after our day they will seek preachers and find none; they will have to hear rude, illiterate dolts who, lacking understanding of the Word of God, will, like all stupid Papists, preach the vile, offensive things of the Pope, about consecrated water and salt, about grey gowns, new monasteries and the like. (Martin Luther, Sermon for the 20th Sunday after Trinity, Eph. 5:15-21; Lenker, 8:319)