Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Prayer of Justus Falckner

Students in my Church History IV course at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, all learn the hymn "Rise, Ye Children of Salvation" (TLH 472).  They hymn's author, Rev. Justus Falckner, was the first Lutheran to be regularly ordained in North America (November 24, 1703).  In preparing for an upcoming section of Church History IV, I came across this little prayer of Falckner's, cited by Henry E. Jacobs in "Justus Falckner," Lutheran Church Review 23 (January 1904): 171.

"O God, who has thrust me into this harvest, be Thou with me, Thy lowly and very feeble laborer, with Thy special grace, without which I must perish under the burden of trials that often overwhelm me.  In Thee, O Lord, have I trusted; let me not be confounded.  Fit me for my calling.  I did not run, but Thou didst sendThou didst force me into this office.  Do Thou forgive whatever wrong a corrupt nature hath unconsciously wrought within me; pardon me, humbly praying through our Lordyea through my Jesus Christ. Amen."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Obama Nominates Gard for Navy Reserve's Highest Rank

President Barack Obama has nominated the Rev. Dr. Daniel L. Gard, an LCMS chaplain in the U.S. Navy Reserve and professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., to serve as a rear admiral (lower half) in the role of deputy chief of chaplains for Reserve Matters, U.S. Navy.

Gard's nomination as rear admiral, the highest rank for a chaplain in the Navy Reserve, must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta announced the promotion, along with several others, Feb. 14.

Gard said he is humbled by the opportunity that awaits him.

"To be a pastor is the greatest honor a person can have and then to have been sent in uniform to minister to America's magnificent men and women who risk all for freedom is a privilege beyond what I deserve," he said. "All I can say is 'Soli Deo Gloria' -- to God alone be the glory!"

Gard is completing a tour of duty as Joint Task Force Guantanamo chaplain, Joint Task Force, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He will resume his seminary teaching duties during Holy Week. He also is the dean of Military Chaplaincy Programs at Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS).

"Dr. Gard's service to this seminary, the church at-large and to his country has been exemplary and provides an excellent example of a good and faithful servant of Jesus Christ," said CTS President Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr. in a seminary news release.

Gard asked for prayers that he be a "faithful servant of our Lord."

"God has blessed me with a wonderful wife and family and with the support of a unique community of faith, study and prayer at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne," he said. "There we have a mission that is unequaled in this world -- to form servants in Christ Jesus to teach the faithful, reach the lost and care for all."

To read the U.S. Navy's release about Gard, click here.

Posted Feb. 21, 2013

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Ethiopian Lutherans Break Fellowship with ELCA

Significant news that affects world Lutheranism.

February 7, 2013
Lutheran church in Ethiopia severs relationship with ELCA

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is severing its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Church of Sweden and “those churches who have openly accepted same-sex marriage.”
     The action for “all Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus departments and institutions (at every level) to implement this decision” was ratified at the denomination’s general assembly, which met Jan. 27-Feb. 2 in Addis Ababa. The denomination’s church council took action at its July 2012 meeting to initially sever these relationships.
     “The ELCA is very saddened by this decision,” said the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director for ELCA Global Mission. “The ELCA and its predecessor church bodies have been walking with the people of Ethiopia for more than 50 years, and our sister church, the Church of Sweden, for more than 150 years. In this journey, we have learned from one another, we have deepened and extended the bonds of fellowship and partnership in the gospel.” Malpica Padilla was in Addis Ababa for meetings with program and ministry partners of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus.
     To ensure that the decisions by the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus are implemented, members of the denomination “will not receive Holy Communion from the leadership and pastors of the (ELCA and the Church of Sweden). The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus will not distribute communion to these churches,” as stated in the minutes of the denomination’s July 2012 council meeting.
     “Representatives of these churches at national level or leaders at every level would not be invited to preach or speak at the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus congregations or other gatherings. They should not be invited for any spiritual ministries of this church,” stated the minutes, which also reflects that leaders and pastors of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus “at every level will not visit the synods, dioceses, congregations and national offices of churches that have accepted this practice without proper permission from the head office of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus.”
     While the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is “closing the door to this partnership,” Malpica Padilla said that the ELCA and the Church of Sweden “are not locking the doors from our side. It is open for when you decide it is time to resume this journey together. It is my hope that in the near future, we will again walk together in Christian love. We will do this not because of doctrinal agreements or consensus, but because the gospel compels us to do so.”
      The ELCA has consistently kept its Lutheran companion churches informed about the ELCA’s process that led to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly decisions, which included the adoption of a social statement on human sexuality, said Malpica Padilla.
      “We shared the study documents and invited their input,” he said. “When decisions were made, we wrote to (leaders of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus) expressing our commitment to not impose our actions and to respect the policy and practice of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus in the assignment of mission personnel,” he said.
     The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, said the actions of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus are “deeply troubling.”
      “Our own statement on human sexuality acknowledges that the position held by the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is also held by members of the ELCA. We are not of one mind, but we are one in Christ, in faith and in baptism,” said Hanson, adding that the relationships between Lutherans in North America and in Ethiopia “has been sustained through periods of oppression, divisions within the Ethiopian church and in times of turmoil among Lutherans in North America. The action of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus church diminishes our capacity together to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, to serve our neighbors and to care for the creation.
      “As the ELCA, we are always standing ready to open the door of conversation for the sake of reconciliation and our shared commitment to proclamation and service,” Hanson said. “Reconciliation is not an option. It is given in Christ, and we stand ready to engage with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus on what this gift of reconciliation might mean for us now.”
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
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