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Friday, December 31, 2010

WMLT: News and Notes from the President's Office

Check out the "News and Notes from the President's Office," January 2011 in the Reporter Insert and on the Witness Mercy Life Together Blog. Inside are several stories and bits of information you won't find anywhere else.

Stories include:

Expanding the Circle: Restructuring at the International Center

By Barbara A. Below

Expanding the Circle: Restructuring at the International Center…
A Restructuring Work Group (RWG), established by the President’s Office, began its important work on December 6 in St. Louis and will continue through the beginning of February 2011.

Making It Real: Reflections on Witness, Mercy, Life Together

By Herbert C. Mueller, Jr.

Making It Real: Reflections on Witness, Mercy, Life Together

Take a good look at the logo at the top of this page. witness, mercy, life together interlock around the cross. Our life together, our fellowship (koinonia), flows from Christ who received our sin and death on the cross so that He might give us His holiness and righteousness. Forgiven and made alive in His resurrection, we testify, bear witness (martyria) to all that He has done, confessing His saving truth before the world. Sent out with His name, we cannot help but show His mercy by serving (diakonia) others in His love.

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

With President Matthew C. Harrison

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

 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.

‘There Be Lutherans’ . . . in Siberia!

By Albert B Collver

‘There Be Lutherans’ . . . in Siberia!

After the LCMS fellowship discussions in Siberia at the end of October 2010, some may have said, “Lutherans, in Russia? Siberia, Russia? How did that happen?” Perhaps, even more surprising to learn is that before the Russian Revolution of 1917, there were actually millions of Lutherans in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltics, and other territories that would eventually comprise the Soviet Union. Some have estimated that there were 1.2 million Lutherans within Russia and Siberia proper, and another 2-3 million in the other territories. In fact, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Lutheran presence in Russia was larger than The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is today. Yet, by 1937, every Lutheran congregation had been liquidated and their pastors arrested, exiled, or executed. The communists were quite effective in destroying the Lutheran Church in Russian lands.

The Concordia Experience: The Lutheran Difference

The Concordia Experience: The Lutheran Difference

You don’t have to be a trained theologian to understand how theology interacts with education and informs the way professors teach and students learn. But the effective application of theology in the learning process distinguishes one educational experience from another. That is important in the maturing life of college/university students. They will live what they learn!

0111 Presidents WMLT

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Google Books and Genealogy -- Will of John Colver III

Genealogy and Google Books (a little graphic I made)
Rather than working on my paper for Symposium (which btw is titled, "Witness, Mercy, and Life Together in the first five fathers of the Missouri Synod"), I have been doing genealogy research on my family. Years ago my grandfather got me interested in the Collver family. Ever since then, it has been an on and off hobby. One of my great discoveries was the use of Google Books for genealogy. While I have used Google Books for scholarly papers, I never really considered using it for genealogy. Google scanned in all sorts of public documents, including wills, court records, local histories, et al. It is amazing what can be found online. Just a few years ago, quite a lot of research and hunting in indexes would need to be done just to find a book. Then you would have to obtain the book or a copy of the page, perhaps even traveling great distances to see a book that might only have a few lines or a sentence that was needed.

For instance, while researching John Colver III on an Ancestry.Com message board, someone posted there was a "will of John Colver." The person did not post the will because the information was obtained third hand and was considered unverified. The person sent me enough information that I did a search in Google Books for New Jersey, Wills, Colver. Google search produced: Calendar of New Jersey wills, administrations, etc, Volume 30, page 105, the will of John Colver.

Excerpt of Calendar of New Jersey Wills, "Colver John"

1732, Dec. 2. Colver (Cower), John, of the Blackriver, Hunterdon Co., "cordwinder, being sick"" will of. Wife, Freelove. Eldest son, John Collwer; son, Jabsh Coulver. Expected child. Residue of estate to wife, "in this colleny or att nwinglend" (New England). Wife, executrix. Witnesses -- Seth Smith, Leaddy Collver and John Beil. Proved August 20, 1733. Lib. 3. p. 368.
Inventory, without date, ₤95.11.0; including beaver hat, felt hat and Bible. Made by David Collver and John Bell.

The "expected" child's name was Jonas born in 1733. Since the will was executed by August 1733, it is quite possible that John never saw his newborn son. This John Colver III was not living with the rest of his Puritan/Rogerene/Colverite family on Schooleys Mountain, New Jersey. This fact has caused speculation that he did not agree with the religious practices of his father. In any case for my genealogical history, the significant son of John Colver III was Jabez (spelled Jabsh in the will). Jabez later became Rev. Jabez Collver in 1760. He was a Presbyterian minister, one of the first in Ontario, Canada. He also changed the spelling of Colver to Collver in Canada. So if a "Collver" has his name spelled "Colver," he originated on the East Coast. As those "Colvers" migrated West, the spelling got changed to Culver -- hence, Culver City, California. If the name is spelled, "Collver" he is probably from the Canadian branch of the Collvers and somehow related to Jabez. At least, this is my best guess now on the variations in spelling Collver.

As for Jabez, many interesting things found in Google Books... perhaps another day.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Goodbye Kodachrome -- The End of A Generation

From the Kodachrome Slide Dating Guide

On 30 December 2010, the last  roll of Kodachrome will be processed. After that, no more rolls of Kodachrome will be shot or developed. It is the passing of an era, the passing of a generation defined in part by Paul Simon's 1973 song, "Kodachrome." "They give us those nice bright colors. They give us the greens of summers. Makes you think all the world's a sunny day," he sang. "... So Mama don't take my Kodachrome away." Yet Kodak stopped manufacturing Kodachrome on 22 June 2009 and at the end of this week, Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas, the last Kodachrome photo-processor in the world, will discontinue this service.

Unless you were a Kodachrome devotee or a Luddite against digital photography, what does this mean? Although Kodachrome was produced for 74 years (1935-2009), it came to the fore after World War II and was iconic of the Babyboom generation. Paul Simon's song, "Kodachrome," and Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah are two examples of this. The CBS Sunday Morning News program described Kodachrome likes this:
"It's a baby boom product," he said. "After World War II - availability of new automobiles, national parks were open - and people were able to have some time to travel and of course now there is a this new color film which you could use to document your family vacations and then of course come back and show your friends and neighbors your slides on your carousel or Kodak slide projector." ("Kodachrome: The Legendary Film's Last Days," CBS Sunday Morning News, 26 December 2010.)
The demise of Kodachrome is more than simply a change in technology or the move to digital photography. It marks the end of an era, the beginning of the end for a generation. Kodachrome, like the Babyboom generation, is unmatched and unsurpassed in some ways. Kodachrome reproduced color in a way no other film product or digital product has. The color was vivid, perhaps, exaggerated. Yet there was nothing quite like it.

Much the same could be said about the Babyboom generation: vivid, exaggerated, and nothing quite like it. Babyboomers regard themselves as special, unlike any generation that proceeded them. This notion that Babyboomers were unlike any human that came before them, led to the rejection of traditional values and the institutions that supported those values. The Babyboomers were the generation that made iconic sex without procreation, distrust of institutions, disklike for established religion, the liberalization of abortion and homosexuality (often seeing these issues in terms of race), and the "Me" generation. Ultimately, history will have to judge if there is any merit to the Babyboomers self-glorification.

The Babyboom generation has been described as being unwilling to plan for a time when others will take care of them. An article in the Milwaukee Business Journal wrote, "Many boomers, clinging to their youthful self-concepts, still avoid talking about death." There are studies "which shows that boomers have not saved for old age, even as census figures indicate theirs is the generation that will break the back of social security." In the political sphere some of the difficult decisions that need to be made regarding taxes, social security, et al. are directly related to the unwillingness to plan for the future by the Babyboomers. The cost of this will be borne by future generations, perhaps until the third or the fourth.

Not surprisingly, the story about the passing of Kodachrome was written by Babyboomers. Few Gen Xers and fewer Gen Ys even knew Kodachrome was passing out of existence. The Goodbye to Kodachrome does mark the end of an era. As a Gen Xer in his late 30s, I find it hard to imagine a product, let alone a particular brand, representing or lasting my entire generation. Maybe Facebook or Google! Every piece of technology is updated every six months to a year. There is little that endures. The transitory nature of this world, the lack of permanence, and the lack of anything reliable perhaps has made Gen X and Gen Y more "spiritual" but not really more connected to established religion. Those who are seek tradition and genuineness -- something that has existed through the ages but still connects with the present. This cultural trend presents a tremendous opportunity for the church -- to go back to what the church always has stood for and taught.

As a teenager, I started to get into photography because I joined newspaper and yearbook. In fact, it was my 8th grade junior high English teacher that first asked me to work on the year book. That year was my first experience with a SLR 35mm camera. I eventually got a Pentex K-1000, all manual SLR 35 mm camera. I used it for many years, but now fortunately have had just about every negative scanned into the computer. That first experience with a SLR 35 mm camera in junior high led to other photographic experiences such as developing black and white film in the dark room, etc. In 9th grade, the school got a Macintosh computer and an Apple Laserwriter printer. I knew I had seen the future. Once you could get the photograph into the computer, you didn't need pica grid paper for layout, darkroom cropping, or worry that someone would open the darkroom door before the photo was fixed. I have even shot a few rolls of Kodachrome. Fond memories. Good experiences. Perhaps formative in my life experience and development, but ... The yearbook / newspaper teacher was actually a newspaper guy, who had worked at several papers and still did freelance stuff. He was a babyboomer.

The passing of Kodachrome is bitter for some. The passing of the Babyboom generation will bring sadness and bitterness. Sadness over the loss of our parents and grandparents. Bitterness over the legacy left. Some (maybe all) the genies unleashed will not be able to be re-corked in the bottle. While the Babyboomers always believed the future would be brighter, those coming after the Boomers aren't so sure. The disillusionment of one generation is also opportunity. Opportunity for change.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from the St John the Evangelist -- She Gave Birth to a Male Child

Woodcut from Luther Bibel 1534, Revelation 12
The Woman Gives Birth to a Male Child
The Christmas account comes to us in Matthew and Luke. Yet Saint John, the Evangelist, also writes about the nativity of Jesus in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 12:1-17 gives a different perspective to the birth of Jesus. A sign appears in the heavens of a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. This "sign" is none other than the Virgin Mary, who is a type of the Church. By Revelation 12:17, if not sooner, the woman seems to be most appropriately understood as the Church. In verse 2, she is pregnant and "crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth." (In my mind, this seems to call into question the tradition that Mary gave birth to Jesus "painlessly." Indeed, the Christ child was sinless, but Mary had the original sin within her. In Genesis, the pain of childbirth was a curse upon women for their sin, not the sin of the infant. But I digress and potentially start a debate that cannot be won...)

Next in the text, a red dragon appears with seven heads and ten horns. Satan always tries to mimic and imitate the Lord God. The birth of Jesus cast Satan down from heaven (or was it the beginning of his public ministry? Luke 10:18). Luke 10:18 is not a contradiction, for at his birth Jesus saw Satan fall and Satan's kingdom crumble. With the casting out of Satan, a third of the stars, or angels rather demons went with him. The significance of the casting out of Satan is explained in Revelation 12:10, "the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down." In the birth of Jesus, Satan can no longer accuse us before the Lord God. Because Jesus bore our sin, all accusations are directed to him, which was answered for on the cross.

Note that the dragon sits before the woman, waiting to devour her child. In the Gospel accounts, we hear how King Herod sought to destroy Jesus and when Jesus escaped into the wilderness in his wrath he slaughtered the holy innocents. Because Satan's power was destroyed through the infant Christ and the instrumentality of the Virgin Mary, a woman, Satan's anger rages against women and children, hence the reason we see such heinous crimes committed against them.

The key message of Christmas from this text is Revelation 12:5, "She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to the God and to his throne." Jesus is born, the Savior of the world. John sees the birth of Jesus and his ascension as one event in this vision so that Christ is born and at the right hand of God. Satan is defeated but rages for a time because his time is short.

This is where Christmas and Advent meet. Advent prepares us for the return of Christ in his glory. With the birth of Christ, the last days were ushered in. Satan is defeated. The Christ child continues to protect his church against the gates of hell. Through the waters of baptism, the church gives birth to Christians, "who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus." (Revelation 12:17)

Merry Christmas! "She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron ... Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come." (Revelation 12:5 & 10)


A facsimile of Luther's 1534 Bible.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Collverites -- A Quaker-like Religion

I have been doing some genealogy research on the Collvers. The name "Collver" or "Culver" means "dove" or "pigeon." It seems that the first Collvers who came to America were of the Puritan sort, arriving in 1634. Of interest to me (especially as a Lutheran pastor) is that some of my ancestors were involved with the Rogerenes (check them out in Wikipedia). Apparently the Collvers had their own version of it and lived on Schooley's Mountain, Morris Co., NJ. In any case, the book Pioneer Families of Northwestern New Jersey by William C. Armstrong describes the "Collverites."

WMLTBlog -- Fellowship Recognized Between LCMS and SELC

Check out the Life Together story titled, "Fellowship Recognized Between LCMS and SELC" on the WMLTBlog. Here is a preview:

On 17 December 2010, the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) approved the recognition of church fellowship between The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC). The approval of the recognition of fellowship between the LCMS and the SELC occurred twelve years after the SELC first requested fellowship discussions with the LCMS under President Alvin Barry.  Under Bylaw, after a request for fellowship, consultation with the Preasidium, and the approval of the recognition of fellowship, the President of Synod may declare recognition of such fellowship.

Read the rest on the WMLTBlog.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2010's world gone wild: Quakes, floods, blizzards

Last Judgment, Michelangelo

2010's world gone wild: Quakes, floods, blizzards

Dec 19, 11:26 AM (ET)


This was the year the Earth struck back.

Earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed at least a quarter million people in 2010 - the deadliest year in more than a generation. More people were killed worldwide by natural disasters this year than have been killed in terrorism attacks in the past 40 years combined.

"It just seemed like it was back-to-back and it came in waves," said Craig Fugate, who heads the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. It handled a record number of disasters in 2010.
"The term '100-year event' really lost its meaning this year."

And we have ourselves to blame most of the time, scientists and disaster experts say.

Even though many catastrophes have the ring of random chance, the hand of man made this a particularly deadly, costly, extreme and weird year for everything from wild weather to earthquakes.
Poor construction and development practices conspire to make earthquakes more deadly than they need be. More people live in poverty in vulnerable buildings in crowded cities. That means that when the ground shakes, the river breaches, or the tropical cyclone hits, more people die.

Disasters from the Earth, such as earthquakes and volcanoes "are pretty much constant," said Andreas Schraft, vice president of catastrophic perils for the Geneva-based insurance giant Swiss Re. "All the change that's made is man-made."

The January earthquake that killed well more than 220,000 people in Haiti is a perfect example. Port-au-Prince has nearly three times as many people - many of them living in poverty - and more poorly built shanties than it did 25 years ago. So had the same quake hit in 1985 instead of 2010, total deaths would have probably been in the 80,000 range, said Richard Olson, director of disaster risk reduction at Florida International University.

In February, an earthquake that was more than 500 times stronger than the one that struck Haiti hit an area of Chile that was less populated, better constructed, and not as poor. Chile's bigger quake caused fewer than 1,000 deaths.

Climate scientists say Earth's climate also is changing thanks to man-made global warming, bringing extreme weather, such as heat waves and flooding.

In the summer, one weather system caused oppressive heat in Russia, while farther south it caused flooding in Pakistan that inundated 62,000 square miles, about the size of Wisconsin. That single heat-and-storm system killed almost 17,000 people, more people than all the worldwide airplane crashes in the past 15 years combined.

"It's a form of suicide, isn't it? We build houses that kill ourselves (in earthquakes). We build houses in flood zones that drown ourselves," said Roger Bilham, a professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado. "It's our fault for not anticipating these things. You know, this is the Earth doing its thing."
No one had to tell a mask-wearing Vera Savinova how bad it could get. She is a 52-year-old administrator in a dental clinic who in August took refuge from Moscow's record heat, smog and wildfires.

"I think it is the end of the world," she said. "Our planet warns us against what would happen if we don't care about nature."

The excessive amount of extreme weather that dominated 2010 is a classic sign of man-made global warming that climate scientists have long warned about. They calculate that the killer Russian heat wave - setting a national record of 111 degrees - would happen once every 100,000 years without global warming.

Preliminary data show that 18 countries broke their records for the hottest day ever.

"These (weather) events would not have happened without global warming," said Kevin Trenberth, chief of climate analysis for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.
That's why the people who study disasters for a living say it would be wrong to chalk 2010 up to just another bad year.

"The Earth strikes back in cahoots with bad human decision-making," said a weary Debarati Guha Sapir, director for the World Health Organization's Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. "It's almost as if the policies, the government policies and development policies, are helping the Earth strike back instead of protecting from it. We've created conditions where the slightest thing the Earth does is really going to have a disproportionate impact."

Here's a quick tour of an anything but normal 2010:

While the Haitian earthquake, Russian heat wave, and Pakistani flooding were the biggest killers, deadly quakes also struck Chile, Turkey, China and Indonesia in one of the most active seismic years in decades. Through mid-December there have been 20 earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or higher, compared to the normal 16. This year is tied for the most big quakes since 1970, but it is not a record. Nor is it a significantly above average year for the number of strong earthquakes, U.S. earthquake officials say.
Flooding alone this year killed more than 6,300 people in 59 nations through September, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, 30 people died in the Nashville, Tenn., region in flooding. Inundated countries include China, Italy, India, Colombia and Chad. Super Typhoon Megi with winds of more than 200 mph devastated the Philippines and parts of China.

Through Nov. 30, nearly 260,000 people died in natural disasters in 2010, compared to 15,000 in 2009, according to Swiss Re. The World Health Organization, which hasn't updated its figures past Sept. 30, is just shy of 250,000. By comparison, deaths from terrorism from 1968 to 2009 were less than 115,000, according to reports by the U.S. State Department and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
The last year in which natural disasters were this deadly was 1983 because of an Ethiopian drought and famine, according to WHO. Swiss Re calls it the deadliest since 1976.

The charity Oxfam says 21,000 of this year's disaster deaths are weather related.

After strong early year blizzards - nicknamed Snowmageddon - paralyzed the U.S. mid-Atlantic and record snowfalls hit Russia and China, the temperature turned to broil.

The year may go down as the hottest on record worldwide or at the very least in the top three, according to the World Meteorological Organization. The average global temperature through the end of October was 58.53 degrees, a shade over the previous record of 2005, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

Los Angeles had its hottest day in recorded history on Sept. 27: 113 degrees. In May, 129 set a record for Pakistan and may have been the hottest temperature recorded in an inhabited location.
In the U.S. Southeast, the year began with freezes in Florida that had cold-blooded iguanas becoming comatose and falling off trees. Then it became the hottest summer on record for the region. As the year ended, unusually cold weather was back in force.

Northern Australia had the wettest May-October on record, while the southwestern part of that country had its driest spell on record. And parts of the Amazon River basin struck by drought hit their lowest water levels in recorded history.

Disasters caused $222 billion in economic losses in 2010 - more than Hong Kong's economy - according to Swiss Re. That's more than usual, but not a record, Schraft said. That's because this year's disasters often struck poor areas without heavy insurance, such as Haiti.
Ghulam Ali's three-bedroom, one-story house in northwestern Pakistan collapsed during the floods. To rebuild, he had to borrow 50,000 rupees ($583) from friends and family. It's what many Pakistanis earn in half a year.


A volcano in Iceland paralyzed air traffic for days in Europe, disrupting travel for more than 7 million people. Other volcanoes in the Congo, Guatemala, Ecuador, the Philippines and Indonesia sent people scurrying for safety. New York City had a rare tornado.

A nearly 2-pound hailstone that was 8 inches in diameter fell in South Dakota in July to set a U.S. record. The storm that produced it was one of seven declared disasters for that state this year.
There was not much snow to start the Winter Olympics in a relatively balmy Vancouver, British Columbia, while the U.S. East Coast was snowbound.

In a 24-hour period in October, Indonesia got the trifecta of terra terror: a deadly magnitude 7.7 earthquake, a tsunami that killed more than 500 people and a volcano that caused more than 390,000 people to flee. That's after flooding, landslides and more quakes killed hundreds earlier in the year.
Even the extremes were extreme. This year started with a good sized El Nino weather oscillation that causes all sorts of extremes worldwide. Then later in the year, the world got the mirror image weather system with a strong La Nina, which causes a different set of extremes. Having a year with both a strong El Nino and La Nina is unusual.

And in the United States, FEMA declared a record number of major disasters, 79 as of Dec. 14. The average year has 34.

A list of day-by-day disasters in 2010 compiled by the AP runs 64 printed pages long.
"The extremes are changed in an extreme fashion," said Greg Holland, director of the earth system laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

For example, even though it sounds counterintuitive, global warming likely played a bit of a role in "Snowmageddon" earlier this year, Holland said. That's because with a warmer climate, there's more moisture in the air, which makes storms including blizzards, more intense, he said.
White House science adviser John Holdren said we should get used to climate disasters or do something about global warming: "The science is clear that we can expect more and more of these kinds of damaging events unless and until society's emissions of heat-trapping gases and particles are sharply reduced."

And that's just the "natural disasters." It was also a year of man-made technological catastrophes. BP's busted oil well caused 172 million gallons to gush into the Gulf of Mexico. Mining disasters - men trapped deep in the Earth - caused dozens of deaths in tragic collapses in West Virginia, China and New Zealand. The fortunate miners in Chile who survived 69 days underground provided the feel good story of the year.

In both technological and natural disasters, there's a common theme of "pushing the envelope," Olson said.

Colorado's Bilham said the world's population is moving into riskier megacities on fault zones and flood-prone areas. He figures that 400 million to 500 million people in the world live in large cities prone to major earthquakes.

A Haitian disaster will happen again, Bilham said: "It could be Algiers. it could be Tehran. It could be any one of a dozen cities."
Borenstein reported from Washington. Reed Bell reported from Charlotte, N.C.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Asian Winter Games 2011 Almaty-Astana

In the previous post I mentioned the Asian Winter Games being held in Almaty-Astana in 2011. The snow leopard above is the symbol of the games.


Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


This morning we got up to leave Astana after a stay of about 24 hours. It is truly a remarkable city, created in the steppe of Kazakhstan. In about 50 days, the Asian Winter Games will be held here and in Almaty. This is a huge deal as it is the first time in post-Soviet Russia that Olympic games are being held in a former republic.

Stadium for the Winter games.

A New Year tree stands in front of the Astana International Airport. After 1934 Stalin reintroduced the "Christmas" tree , which had been prohibited from 1917 until 1934. The tree was renamed "New Years Tree" and the star on top was a Communist Star rather than the Star of Bethlehem. Alexei Streltsov told me it was a remarkable day, when after being a Christian for a number of years that the star on the tree was not a communist star but the star that led the wise men to see the Christ child.

Yesterday we visited some Lutherans who lived in Astana.

Here is a stained glass window of Jesus rescuing Peter from the sea. I have never seen this represented like this before.

A large mosque in Astana. Kazakhstan has a large Muslim population.

A mural from the hotel we stayed in.

Tim Quill, Collver, Gennadij, and Alexei at the airport in Astana.

The trip here was good and very educational.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cows for Kazakhstan -- Not A LCMS WR-HC Project

Photo of Cows to Kazakhstan Article
While in Kazakhstan, I read this article from the Bismarck Tribune about "hardy cows from North Dakota" being shipped to Kazakhstan to rebuild the beef industry here. Anyway, reminded me of the Cows for Kenya program of WR-HC. I managed to find the full article below, if you are interested.


North Dakota cows take off flying to Kazakhstan

By JAMES MacPHERSON Associated Press Writer | Posted: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 12:45 am

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Dozens of hardy cattle bred to withstand North Dakota's harsh winters took off on a jumbo jet to Kazakhstan on Tuesday, the first wave of animals being sent to help rebuild the former Soviet republic's beef industry.

Most of Kazakhstan's cattle were sold or slaughtered after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and its herd has been reduced from about 35 million animals in the early 1990s to about 2 million today, said David Yerubayev, chairman of the government-supported KazBeef Ltd.

The oil-rich nation is now spending billions of dollars to rebuild its agriculture industry, including its beef production, Yerubayev told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Astana on Tuesday.

A deal between Bismarck-based Global Beef Consultants LLC and the Kazakh government calls for 2,040 Angus and Hereford cattle to be shipped on a dozen flights to central Asia by Dec. 15, Global Beef chairman Mike Seifert said. The $50 million project also includes construction of two 2,500-animal breeding facilities and a feedlot, Yerubayev said.

About 170 pregnant cows and heifers weighing more than 80 tons were loaded in metal crates at the Fargo airport Tuesday and shipped by air freighter to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. A veterinarian and two North Dakota cowboys accompanied the cattle on the 22-hour flight operated by UPS Inc.

UPS officials said it was the first time the company had hauled a herd of bovines in the belly of one of its Boeing 747 freighters.

"We've shipped all kinds of animals, from whales to pandas but I can't recall cows," said Ronna Branch, a UPS spokeswoman at the company's headquarters in Atlanta.

Herds of U.S. dairy cattle have been shipped abroad before but usually by ship and trains, Seifert said. The beef cattle were flown because it was quicker and less stressful for them and because Kazakhstan is landlocked, he said.

"I believe this the first of its kind for beef cattle," he said.

Eventually, Kazakhstan, the ninth-largest nation in the world, could buy as many as 50,000 cows from North Dakota, he said.

"This is just a pilot project," Yerubayev said. "But it is the biggest upgrade of cattle in our history.

"Everyone in our country knows about this project, including the president."

A delegation of Kazakhstan officials were invited to North Dakota in frigid January to look over cattle herds. The bitter conditions proved to be a big selling point.

"The winter in northern Kazakhstan gets hard like in North Dakota," Yerubayev said. "That's why we chose North Dakota cattle."

North Dakota cows typically have thicker coats and more marbling and fatty tissue "because of the environment in which they're raised," Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said.

Bill Price, president of Global Beef Consultants, said cattle for the Kazakhstan project would come from ranches throughout central and western North Dakota.

"We have the northern genetics that everybody is after," said Price, who runs a ranch with his mother and brother north of Bismarck. "That's our selling point."

Kazakhstan already is the fourth-biggest importer of North Dakota products, mostly farm machinery. The state exported $40.3 million in goods last year, up from $25 million in 2005.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kazakhstan -- Russian Germans, Hymnals, and Mountains

Evangelical Lutheran Church -- Prayer House. Note LCMS Style Cross
I don't have much time to write. So far so good in Kazakhstan. What momentarily has me fascinated besides the mountains is the German-Russian congregation we visited yesterday. I would like to write about the German-Russian Agenda and hymnal... for some reason that is foremost on my mind now.

German - Russian Hymnal

Same Hymn as above but see TLH 80, "All Praise to Thee, Eternal God"
The Russian translation in some ways is closer to the German than the English. This is, of course, a Martin Luther hymn, adapted from a Latin Sequence... I should leave comments about hymn history to those who know it... Note the German says, "Gelobbet seist du, Jesus Christ..." Praise to you, Jesus Christ." The English is "All Praise to thee eternal God..." Needless to say, the Russian here is closer. We sang this hymn for Advent 2.

Frozen River

Tim Quill, Alexei Streltsov, abc3+ on Mountain
Well, we made it to the mountains... would love to write more but on a tight schedule... more later.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Natural Law Sampler

CPH has made a sample of the Natural Law book available. Take a look below.

Natural Law Sampler

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Church Relations News: Ethiopian Lutherans Reject Same Sex Clergy and Marriage

Out of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus reiterated its rejection of the ELCA decision that allows gays and lesbians to become clergy. The majority of Lutherans in Africa are in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Kenya. This accords well with Natural Law.


2 Nov 2010 14:51 / Last update: 4 Nov 2010 13:26

EECMY Reiterates Rejection to Same sex Marriage, blessing to registered same sex partners for clergy services

The President & General Secretary Chairing the meeting
In a letter addressed to the Right Reverend Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) reiterated her firm stand, in rejection to the decision of the ELCA that allows gays and lesbians to become clergy and engaged in the Church ministry. The EECMY believes and relentlessly asserts that acceptable marriage is only the marital union between man and woman, as this is preordained union by God the creator to form a family (Gen. 2:22 & 24).
The letter is written in view of the decision of the six Council of the Church, which met in Gimbi Jorgo Synod of the Church from July 6-13, 2010. The Council reaffirmed the previous decision of the Church against the unbiblical decision of the ELCA, which is “to bless "registered homosexual partners for leadership in the Church".
The letter noted that the EECMY since August 2009,has been extremely shocked by the direction that ELCA chose to take without taking into consideration first of all the teachings of the Bible which is the only ground of true Christian faith and secondly the mutual partnership that both Churches are having on the basis of serving the Lord. The fundamental position of the EECMY on any ethical issue including homosexual practice rests on her belief in the eternal truth of the teaching of the Holy Scripture and not on human decision that deviates from the scripture, the letter added.
Gimbi Choir ofering songs
The letter further underlined that ELCA’s un-biblical direction has compelled the Council to question the place of mutual belonging, unity of purpose and mutual care for the well-being of the whole body that encompasses the EECMY and the ELCA and others who are united in the body of Christ. According to this letter addressed to the ELCA with serious concern, the unilaterally taken direction by ELCA, has deeply disturbed, saddened and dismayed the EECMY constituency at large and provoked worries and uncertainties pertaining to the long-standing relations between EECMY and ELCA.
On the other hand, it was indicated that the council expressed sincere appreciation to the devoted commitment of the forefathers from EELCA who served in the EECMY with different positions as pastors, teachers, theologians and others involved in social and development works that the church carries out in Ethiopia. The letter in particular acknowledged the legacy of persons like Rev. Dr Herbert Schaeffer and many others that will continue to remind the EECMY the importance of love, care and passionate commitment that they demonstrated in their ministry to the Church of God.
In addition, taking into consideration the long-standing historic Partnership between herself and the ELCA, which is deeply grounded in true biblical faith and Lutheran identity the EECMY has not only expressed deep concern, but called upon the leadership of the ELCA to rethink of the truth for which their forefathers have committed themselves and lived for it. Accordingly, the council unanimously voted to call on the ELCA to consider lifting its decision for the sake of the unity of the body of Christ, the universal Church to which all true Christians belong together.
It was noted that the response from ELCA, on this plea of the EECMY will be reported to the 7th Council of the Church for appropriate action in line with Standard Agreement. The Council further decided that “having given notice to the partners in question, petitions and intercessory prayers be carried out for the Church bodies concerned; by all EECMY members at all levels of the Church during the one year of waiting, that they may truly return to the inspired Biblical teaching.
The EECMY had and has the conviction, the council underlined noting the historic Mission partnership between the EECMY and the ELCA would continue to bear witness on the basis of the biblical faith of both parties and their Lutheran identity in the years to come. It further affirmed that the Bible is the inspired word of God and a guide for for the partnership in God's Mission, which is the sole ground on which the forefathers of both churches had built their mission partnership and entered a covenant to abide with it.
participants of the Council
Earlier, the three president emeritus’ of the EECMY also in a separate statement expressed their concern in connection with ELCA’s decision that allows blessing to homosexuals and lesbians to hold the positions of leadership/clergy services in the Church. Rev. Francis Stephanos, Rev. Yadessa Daba and Rev. Itefa Gobena in their statement of concern to ELCA stated that human behavior and practices may change over times but the eternal Holy and Inspired Word of God will never change.
Accordingly, the emeritus presidents said they will urge the ELCA in the spirit of the long-standing companionship with it, expressing their deep concern and resentment to the decisions of ELCA’s assembly which has come down in the form of social statement, ministry policies and practices and does not adhere to the true biblical teaching.
Written by: Shibru Galla, EECMY Public Relation Officer

Announcement-- Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal

CPH is publishing a great book on Natural Law in January 2011. Take a look below.

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to inform you that Concordia Publishing House will release Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal <>  in January, 2011. At 302 pages, this unique book includes 15 essays on this almost-forgotten topic by American and German theologians, who represent five different Lutheran church bodies. Helpful study questions for each essay and indices to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord (1580/4) make this book a great resource.

If you would like to receive a PDF sampler of Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal for a possible review, simply respond by return e-mail.

Foreword by:
J. Daryl Charles,
Director and Senior Fellow of the Bryan Institute for Critical Thought & Practice/Professor of Theology and Christian Thought, coauthor of War, Peace, and Christianity: Questions and Answers from a Just War Perspective (with Timothy J. Demy), and author of Retrieving the Natural Law: A Return to Moral First Things.

Essays include:
A Lutheran Affirmation of Natural Law, by Carl E. Braaten (ELCA)
Natural Law and the Lutheran Confessions, by Roland Ziegler (LCMS)
Natural Law and the Orders of Creation, by Armin Wenz (SELK)
Natural Law and the ELCA, by Marianne Howard Yoder and J. Larry Yoder, STS (NALC)
The Natural Law of the Family, by Ryan C. MacPherson (ELS)
According to Nature, Adiaphora, and Ordination, by Albert B. Collver, III (LCMS)

and much more!

Here is what others are saying:
God's law is written in two ways and two places: Not only in the words of revelation, but in our being, for we are made in God's image. For a long time, many Christians neglected or even denied this insight because of the mistaken idea that if the image of God can be obscured by sin, then for all practical purposes there is no natural law. How ironic, and how deadly to our common witness, that this common ground among all human beings, this universal prologue to the gospel, should have become a battle ground among Christians themselves. Catholic myself, I rejoice to see the rekindling of reflection on natural law among Lutherans, and I look forward to many interesting conversations.

J. Budziszewski
Professor of Government and Philosophy
University of Texas at Austin

Natural law was a common idea among the Reformers and their heirs. There has been some fledgling reconsideration of this heritage in recent years in my own Reformed tradition, and it is very encouraging to see similar discussions taking place among Lutherans. Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal helpfully wrestles with natural law from various historical and theological angles and also explores its relevance for several important social and ecclesiastical controversies of the present day. These essays on natural law—some enthusiastic, some cautious, others skeptical—are a wonderful contribution to the literature and should help to stimulate important conversations about this perennial issue for years to come.

David VanDrunen
Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic
Theology and Christian Ethics
Westminster Seminary California

As a Catholic, I found it fascinating to read these fine essays and “listen in” on a conversation about natural law conducted by an outstanding group of Lutheran scholars. The authors consider such topics as whether there really is a natural human capacity to identify and affirm valid moral norms, and whether belief in a moral law accessible to unaided reason is compatible with an acknowledgment of the devastating impact of sin on the human intellect as well as the human will. Lutherans will benefit from reading these essays, but so will everybody else.

Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence
Princeton University

Sincerely yours, and wishing you God's blessings for the holiday season,

Rev. Robert C. Baker
Senior Editor, Adult Bible Studies
General Editor, Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal (CPH, January, 2011)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Blog -- Witness, Mercy, Life Together

Check out the new blog Witness, Mercy, Life Together. « The first post is by President Harrison titled, “Whoever believes what the Gospel declares, has what it says.” -- Martin Luther.

On a regular basis President Harrison, First Vice-President Mueller, Dr. Ray Hartwig, Rev. Jon Vieker, Barbara Below, and Dr. Collver will each contribute to the blog.

Come and check it out! If there is something you want to hear about, let us know.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

House Mountain Hike

West Overlook of House Mountain in Knox County
On the day my family and I drove back to Saint Louis from Knoxville, Tennessee -- after I had spent a week in Nashville for the Fall Leadership Conference, my son, my father, me, and Coco, an English Cockerspaniel hiked to the top of House Mountain in Knox County. House Mountain is the highest point in Knox County, rising 2,100 feet above sea-level. While the ground is hilly, this is East Tennessee, this ridge seems to rise out of nowhere above the surrounding landscape. This mountain is about 8 miles or so from my parents house and a place that I have hiked and bicycled many, many times.  The geologists say House Mountain was formed when the North American plate collided with Africa, resulting in the ground here in Knox County to buckle, forming the "mountain." As for the date of this event -- well no point in quibbling over a few years -- at least in my mind occurred when Noah and his crew of seven (total of eight) was sailing his ark around the world. You can read about House Mountain at the official Tennessee State Government website here or on Wikipedia here.

The 3 mile hike took us a little less than 1 1/2 hours, but keep in mind it is a 1,000 foot climb up, plus a boy and a dog. Well, the dog was no problem. She charged ahead, even climbing the rock ledge of the West Overlook by herself. While she had no fear of the ledge, we did and thought it best to help her down lest her descent be more rapid than anyone, including her, would like.

Coco on the rock ledge
View from Top of House Mountain
It always is difficult to capture what the view looks like. Below is a video that might give a little better idea. Seeing this kind of makes me want to sing Rocky Top.

Here are some more photos from the hike up House Mountain. Below the photos is a map of the House Mountain State Nature area.

House Mtn

Friday, November 26, 2010

O Christmas Tree, Black Friday, Thanksgiving 2010

Kit and Grandpa Preparing to Cut Tree Down
On so-called "black" Friday, our family followed a long standing tradition of going to cut down a Christmas tree in Tennessee, near House Mountain. The selection of trees was rather limited due to a drought that killed nearly 3,000 trees this year.  Nonetheless, we managed to find a Christmas tree.

The video was shot and made on my iPhone 4 using iMovie for the iPhone. Amazing what this little device can do.

We cut our tree at T-n_T Tree Farm. T-n-T Tree Farm is owned and operated by Douglas and James Toliver. White pine, Virginia pine and Scotch pine are all available, and this farm will be open daily from November 23 to December 22. Hours are Monday thru Friday from noon till dusk, Saturday from 9 am till dusk, and Sunday 1 pm till dusk. Wreaths are also available, and hot drinks are served to patrons. T-n-T is located at 8237 Millertown Pike, Knoxville, Tennessee 37924. Feel free to contact them for any questions at 865-932-0658 or 865-919-8118. Also, they can be reached by email at

Sun setting behind the ridge
Here are a few other photos.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Worldwide -- Witness, Mercy, Life Together

Sign on Silesian Lutheran Headquarters

This post is much less about the Silesian Lutherans that I have written so much about lately, and more about the Synodical Emphasis of Witness, Mercy, and Life Together. One thing I have noticed in my travels to various churches throughout the world is that nearly every church focuses on three areas summarized by witness, mercy, and life together. Various churches do not necessarily call their work by these names, nonetheless, this is the work that they do. I was rather surprised (and pleased) when I saw that the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession had an evangelism department, a diakonia department that is celebrating its 20th year, and a church fellowship department.

Evangelism (Witness) Area of Silesian Church
Witness Emphasis for LCMS

In John 1:19 - 20, the words for witness (martyria) and confess (homologein) are used interchangeably. For the past several years or so, it seems as if the Missouri Synod has been engaged in a struggle over "evangelism / witnessing" and "confessing / remaining confessionally faithful." St. John, the Evangelist, shows that "witness" and "confession" are synonyms and that they belong together. A person cannot witness the truth unless the confession is correct and orthodox. A person retain the orthodox confession without bearing witness to it. Witnessing and Confessing are two sides of the same coin. In ecclesiastical terminology, a "martyr" is a person who gave his or her life bearing witness to Jesus. A "confessor"is a person who did not lose his or her life but who stood before the authorities, kings, or governors and confessed the truth about Jesus at risk to life and limb. Therefore, Robert Barnes is a confessor and martyr, while Martin Luther is only a confessor. Ignatius of Antioch was a martyr, while Cyril of Alexandria was a confessor. Witnessing leads to confessing and confessing leads to witnessing.

Diakonia (Mercy) Area of Silesian Church

Mercy Emphasis for the LCMS

Church Fellowship (Life Together) Area for Silesian Church
Life Together Emphasis for LCMS
In the Missouri Synod, it seems that every new Synodical President brings a different emphasis, slogan, or program to the church. In some ways, this is inevitable and not entirely bad. The time in which a given President serves requires that Law and Gospel be divided for the church at that time and for him to focus on what he believes is most necessary at that moment. This is simply providing pastoral care to the Synod as a whole, not unlike what a new pastor does upon arriving in a congregation. President Harrison's office has strived to not call Witness, Mercy, Life Together a program or slogan, but rather an emphasis. Witness, Mercy, Life Together isn't really anything new. It is really just what the church does as she lives under the cross of Jesus. What these areas are called isn't ultimately important, simply that the church carries these out. The example from the Silesian church shows that Missouri Synod isn't alone in the task but the Christian church throughout the world engages in Witness, Mercy, and Life Together -- even if different church bodies and groups of Christians call it something different.