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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Udom Center Kenya -- LCMS Work of Mercy and Mission Continues

Dedication of the Udom Orphan Center in Kenya for 1001 Orphans

Imagine my surprise when I saw the picture above come into my email box from Kenya. Originally, I was scheduled to travel to Kenya in April 2010 to dedicate the Udom Orphan Center. However, I was unable to make the trip due to the volcano in Iceland. Although I did not have the opportunity to "open" the orphan center as the plaque indicates, I did have the privilege of working on the 1001 Orphans Project  along with many dedicated staff and caring church members throughout the LCMS during my time with LCMS WR-HC. These sorts of projects are "compeled by the love of Christ" toward our neighbor; they are also something as a church we can be proud to be a part of. In light of the restructuring of the LCMS at the 64th regular convention some people have wondered what becomes of these works of mercy, projects like 1001 Orphans, and the church's work of mission to the world? The short and simple answer, "The Work Continues!"

President-elect Matthew Harrison at the convention said, "Our vision for being merciful and being Lutheran will continue and even expand." The Reporter Online, notes how the work of both mercy and mission will continue in the midst of restructuring. The restructuring changes not the work of the church but simply how that work is carried out, primarily at the International Center. 

How many times has the Coca-Cola company restructured? (The Coca-Cola company was founded in 1886, only 40 some years younger than the LCMS.) You probably do not know (I don't). Do you care? No. Why? Because even when the Coca-Cola company restructured, you still could buy Coke at the grocery store. The internal restructuring of the company did not affect the delivery of the product. 

LCMS Restructuring is NOT Coke II

(A side note: in 1985 Coca-Cola introduced "New Coke" or "Coke II" -- a product of surveys and market research. In terms of the church, such a "new" product would be the equivalent to heresy or a different message than Christ Crucified. Coca-Cola had to repent of its sin and re-introduce "Coke Classic." Fortunately for the LCMS, the Synodical restructuring voted on in the 64th Regular Convention is NOT Coke II; it is not the changing of the "product." The proclamation of Christ Crucified and works of mercy continues.)

Be assured the LCMS' work of Mission, Mercy, and Life-Together continues. Stay tuned: the future is bright and the times are exciting.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Service of Installation Invitation for September 11

Here is the official invitation for the Service of Installation for Rev. Matthew C Harrison, The Praesidium, and other Officers, Boards and Commissions of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod on September 11 at 10 am.

At least as far as I can re-call, this is the first time in recent history that such an installation has invited all clergy of the LCMS to participate in the processional and the service.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Typestache Field Guide

It seems for some reason people have been interested in various types of 'staches. To keep with the 'stache spirit, I wanted to reproduce The Field Guide to Typestaches. Originally, I found this on Gizmodo's post "Know Your Typestache." Enjoy.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

President-Elect Matthew Harrison's Convention Address

On 13 July 2010, Rev. Matthew C. Harrison was elected President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod on the first ballot at the 64th regular convention of the LCMS. Below is the video and text of  his address to the convention.

If one member suffers, all suffer together. If one rejoices, all rejoice together. Right now there are many rejoicing and there are many suffering. Luther says when you’re walking along and you strike your little toe on a chair or a table, a table leg, what happens is the whole body bends over, the face grimaces and grabs that little toe. And there’s no use saying “that’s just a little toe,” because the whole body suffers.

This I realize is a tumultuous change in the life of our Synod. I wish to thank President Kieschnick for his heart for evangelism, and his deep desire to move this Synod forward. Many are suffering, and it will be very challenging times to work together.

I wish to inform you that you have kept your perfect record of electing sinners as presidents of the Missouri Synod. [applause] I guarantee you I will sin and fail. I will fall short. I will sin against 
you. I wish also to say, that right now I forgive all who have in any way have sinned against me or anybody else, and plead your forgiveness for anything that I said or did that offended you. I beg of you your prayers, I beg of you your daily prayers and intercession. These are challenging times. I promise you that I will be as straight with you as I possibly can, to the best of my ability, guided by the Spirit of God. I pledge to you that I will not coerce you. I will do my best by the Word of Christ to lead with a generous Gospel of Jesus Christ, which forgives us all of our sins, and motivates us to love and care for our neighbor in mercy and compassion. And I will work as hard as I possibly can for unity around the clear and compelling Word of God and nothing else.

I wish to just introduce my dear wife to you, Kathy. Please Kathy, would you stand. [applause]

I’m so impressed by you at this convention, how you have borne with one another, been patient, asked for forgiveness. This is the greatest privilege and honor of one’s life to stand before this body in this fashion. I could never imagine it. And I pray the Lord will bless you in the days to come to work for unity and love and compassion, that the Gospel of Christ may go forth from all of us, in every single place, everywhere around the world, that many may know, many many more may know, the Gospel of Jesus for eternal life. The Lord be with you. [“And also with you.” Applause.]

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kenyan Guests at LCMS Convention in Houston

This morning in Houston, I was able to greet my dear friends from Kenya, Bishop Walter Obare and Rev David Chuchu of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya. At LCMS World Relief and Human Care, we have worked closely with Bishop Obare and Rev Chuchu on human care projects, particularly with orphans. David Chuchu is in a matter of speaking the counterpart to Rev Matthew Harrison for the church In Kenya as he oversees the human care projects there. Rev. Chuchu also had the opportunity to address Floor Committee 6 (Human Care) about our joint work together. Since the volcano in Iceland this spring canceled my trip to Kenya, it was a joy to see my friends.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Black Ministry Family Convocation Houston 2010

Rev. Matthew Harrison Addressing the Black Ministry Family Convocation

Yesterday and today, we visited the Black Ministry Convocation taking place at the JW Marriott Hotel in Houston, Texas. Yesterday, LCMS World Relief and Human Care people presented on urban ministry and deaconess ministry. Rev. Carlos Hernandez discussed congregational renewal in an urban environment, while Deaconess Grace Rao presented on deaconess ministry.

Today, Rev. Matthew Harrison had the privilege to address the Black Ministry Family Convocation. He discussed the challenges African American Lutherans had in being recognized and integrated into the LCMS. In his discussion, Rev. Harrison quoted from Matthew and Mark on how Simon of Cyrene carried Jesus' cross. Simon of Cyrene was from Libya, Africa. Rev. Harrison noted that the Lord Jesus in his wisdom chose an African to bear his cross to help spread Christianity through the world, and so that when someone said, "You don't belong." The Africans could respond, "We bore his cross when Simon of Cyrene carried the cross of Jesus." Indeed, the cross of Jesus includes everyone -- no person is excluded or eliminated. Rev. Harrison also spoke about the BRTFSSG and how it was a tragic mistake for the Synod to consider eliminating the Board for Black Ministry Services. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Arrived in Houston

Last evening we arrived in Houston after an extended airline flight that included circling the city for an hour before being diverted to Austin for refueling. A two hour flight became something like 5 hours but fortunately we arrived safely. When the plane touched down at the Houston-Hobby airport, the cabin broke into applause -- something unusual for flights in the USA but more common overseas, especially in the two-thirds world. In fact due to weather -- Houston is inundated with rain, thunder storms, and flooding -- Rev. Matthew Harrison, who left Saint Louis three or so hours after me arrived nearly the same time. All things work for good and in this case we were able to head to our lodging together. Houston 2010 is a long way from Chicago 1847 -- might be a toss up where the weather was better but I suspect Chicago. While travel by barges and steamship were slower than a 737, you could at least enjoy a cigar along the way (at least a pipe) -- as we know C.F.W. Walther did. He and his associates thought it helped them ponder theology better. It was a different time and I am not suggesting a cigar is needed for theology. One thing pondering theology over a cigar gave Walther and company was time. Time to study the Scriptures and Confessions, think, mediate, pray, and discuss -- mutual conversation of the brethren. May We have such opportunities in Houston.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

How Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire (Wall Street Journal)

Take a look at the Wall Street Journal article by Brad Greenberg titled, How Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire.

Here is a quotation from the last two paragraphs of the article:

The reality is the Church should be doing both: serving the needy and spreading the gospel. This is what makes the humanitarian work of Christians different than that of the American Red Cross. Both are motivated by the desire to help others, but Christians are spurred by that Jesus thing.
The Rev. Albert B. Collver, an executive with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's World Relief and Human Care division, sums it up well: "It is the recognition that Christ died, that he wants everyone to be saved and that his love for the church is a love for all of mankind."