Questions for Lutherans (LCMS)

I have a series of questions for Missouri Synod Lutherans. After reading through some threads, I’m confused about some things and hope to get clarification.

First of all, a little background, I have some experience with the LCMS. The LCMS was where I fell in love with the liturgy (the parish was high-church) and I was really close to becoming an Missouri Synod Lutheran at one point.

My questions:

The Missouri Synod has a congregationalist polity, where congregations are organized into 35 districts, the head being the District President.

My question, why not call these “districts” dioceses as that seems to be what they essentially are?

Why not call the District President a “bishop” since his role is essentially that of a bishop?

I have seen some District Presidents refer to themselves as bishops, is this common and do they wear the traditional “garb” of a bishop?

How common are Eucharistic Vestments when celebrating the Eucharist? The “high-church” Lutheran pastor at the parish I visited wore one for the celebration of the Eucharist.

I see that some Lutheran pastor’s prefer to be called by the title “Father,” is this very common?

What is the LCMS position on apostolic succession?

The more I read about the LCMS, the more confused I become about some of the liturgical practices. I want to thank everybody in advance for helping to answer these questions.

=seanman611;11974439]I have a series of questions for Missouri Synod Lutherans. After reading through some threads, I’m confused about some things and hope to get clarification.

First of all, a little background, I have some experience with the LCMS. The LCMS was where I fell in love with the liturgy (the parish was high-church) and I was really close to becoming an Missouri Synod Lutheran at one point.

My questions:

The Missouri Synod has a congregationalist polity, where congregations are organized into 35 districts, the head being the District President.

My question, why not call these “districts” dioceses as that seems to be what they essentially are?

Good question. It seems silly not to. Maybe the vestiges of not wanting to appear Catholic.

Why not call the District President a “bishop” since his role is essentially that of a bishop?

I have seen some District Presidents refer to themselves as bishops, is this common and do they wear the traditional “garb” of a bishop?

Some will say that the local pastor is, in effect, the bishop, since historically there was no distinction between bishop and presbyter. Otherwise, see above.

How common are Eucharistic Vestments when celebrating the Eucharist? The “high-church” Lutheran pastor at the parish I visited wore one for the celebration of the Eucharist.

Vestments are always used in the Lutheran Church. Is that what you mean?

I see that some Lutheran pastor’s prefer to be called by the title “Father,” is this very common?

Not common in America. But I like the idea. :thumbsup:

What is the LCMS position on apostolic succession?

According to the confessions, essentially, desirable and preferred, but not absolutely necessary.

The more I read about the LCMS, the more confused I become about some of the liturgical practices. I want to thank everybody in advance for helping to answer these questions.

Hope that helps,

Jon

That is kind of what I suspected, but I wasn’t sure.

Vestments are always used in the Lutheran Church. Is that what you mean?

Yes, I was wondering if vestments were always used during the celebration of the Eucharist.

Not common in America. But I like the idea. :thumbsup:

Is is common in Europe?

Hope that helps,

Jon

Very helpful, thanks!!

They ought to be, and generally are. If the Body and Blood are being brought to those in the hospital or at home, then the Pastor generally doesn’t robe up. Sound familiar? :smiley:

As I understand it, yes. Perhaps a European Lutheran here could provide corroborating evidence? The practice is also common in pockets around the globe, particularly the East Coast of the US, swaths of Canada and sizable bits of the Midwest. I’m not familiar with the general practice in Australia, but considering the Old Lutherans there are cut from the same cloth as we Confessional Lutherans here in the States, I’d assume they’d have similar tendencies.

Honestly, Lutherans aren’t so picky when it comes to names (Pastor, Reverend, Father, Bishop) as we are when it comes to properly executing what we understand is the Teaching Office of Public Ministry that was established by Christ.

Our pastor introduces our District President as “Bishop” when he visits our congregation. But our Bishop usually dresses pretty conservatively with just a clerical collar. Modest and humble man!

There are those who have speculated, even in Catholic circles, that the “presbyters” and “bishops” of the Apostolic Era were, as Lutherans believe, indeed one and the same…as in, all those the Apostles ordained were true bishops in the modern sense of the word. That being said, as early as St. Ignatius of Antioch (circa AD 107), we see an allusion to those who celebrate the Eucharist on the bishop’s behalf and under his authority without being true bishops:

See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.
Epistle to the Smyrnaeans. Emphasis added.

It is not too common but in areas where there are many urban parishes, such as metro New York, some pastors are called ‘Father’ [usually followed by their first name]. I was raised in the LCMS and my own childhood pastor was called ‘Father’; also the headmaster of the school I attended. I am not sure European Lutherans use that title any more than American Lutherans but most national Lutheran churches * refer to the clergy as deacon/ priest/ bishop. Pastor is the overwhelming title for most Lutheran priests.

Chasubles are probably the most common Eucharistic vestments for Lutheran pastors; some also wear the maniple and biretta. When I was a kid many Lutheran pastors [LCMS] wore birettas mainly at graveside ceremonies after a funeral, special festivals involving other clergy, etc. I don’t think the younger pastors are interested in wearing birettas anymore. Vestments are considered adiaphora and conceivably a Lutheran pastor doesn’t have to wear even the cassock/ alb, surplice and stole but I think close to 100% do.*

WELS checking in.

Because “diocese” and “bishop” and “Eucharistic vestments” calling pastors “father” are all way too “Catholic” for me. In fact I find them highly offensive, please don’t use such words and phrases around me.

Come to think of it, I never have seen a WELS member play chess… :hmmm:

You can only play chess with someone if they are in full doctrinal agreement with you :smiley:

If a Lutheran pastor looks like the photos below than you can probably call him ‘Father’ without hesitation. One is a LCMS, the other is ELCA.

Thanks everybody for these answers, I appreciate it!!

Another question, are any of you Missouri Synod Lutherans seeing any unique trends with young people coming out of seminary?

In the Episcopal Church, we are finding that young people coming out of seminary are much more traditional than the baby boomers. By traditional, I mean liturgically and to a certain degree, theologically. Most of them are quite socially liberal, yet they can say the Creeds without crossing their fingers or without reservations. Liturgically, our young priests are not that interested in evangelical worship or praise bands and prefer a high-church or Anglo-Catholic liturgy.

So, with those young pastors coming out of seminary are you noticing any trends like that as far as liturgy goes or are your young pastors more inclined to something more evangelical and modern?

When it comes to worship styles, which we consider to be adiaphora (at least to some extent), there is a wide variance. However, our young pastors are trending away from praise bands and returning to higher liturgical worship. With all its beautiful symbolism, it’s a better tool for teaching the faith. It also comes across as more ‘honest’ to Millennials. “Praise Worship” appears to them as a bunch of God-focused love songs, with a thinly-veiled ulterior motive to ‘become one of us.’ Liturgical worship is what it is, and the honesty is refreshing.

When it comes to theology, we’ve always been relatively united thanks to the oaths each of our pastors take at their ordinations to uphold the Symbolic Teachings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Of course, there are always outliers, and just like in Roman Catholicism, some districts (dioceses) push the boundaries of orthodoxy. But that’s why we have a Presidium and Ministerium.

From what I’ve seen - the younger people coming out a seminary seem quite confessional. The second-carreer baby-boomer seminarians can be a bit dubious.

I see what you did there… :slight_smile:

In regards to second-career baby-boomer seminarians, I have noticed the same thing in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada.

My dad was an LCA/ELCA pastor. I often called him “Father”.

Jon

:smiley:

I remember when older pastors were called ‘Reverend Father’ out of respect.

Thanks for all the answers. The LCMS has always been at the top of my list if I leave the Episcopal Church or the the Church leaves me. I’ve heard they’ve been very welcoming of disaffected Episcopalians.

Thank you for the kinds words.

Years ago when I was ELCA, we were also attending at times an Episcopal. A point came when we were considering changing membership, for reasons I won’t mention here, but the Episcopal rector encouraged us to see things through. I am happy he did, as happy then as I am now that we moved to the LCMS.
My point is, there are a number of Anglican churches that, if available, may be must as good a fit for you.
If not, the door is always open.

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