Dear Leaders of the Nebraska District,
We are well over a year away from our 2018 District Convention, but planning is well underway. I have been discussing the theme with the presidium, staff, and Board of Directors. We are going to focus on confession and absolution as we deal with our brokenness within the body of Christ. Rev. Ed Keinath will be our keynote speaker, leading us as those who are reconciled in Christ to God and to one another, and in Christ, called to be reconcilers for the world. The intention is to learn very practical ways to employ God’s grace in our daily relationships, both within and outside of the church.
In that very spirit, the presidium has been working to help me engage with congregations that are not financially supporting the district general fund. First Vice-President Pastor Scott Porath reported to the Board on a “listening post” held for pastors at the spring Pastors’ Conference in Kearney. Ten pastors attended, besides VPs Niemeier, Porath, and me. We were there to listen. The thoughts and comments revealed complaints that have roots going back several decades. Without reconciliation these issues have festered.
Comments included concerns about the removal or resignation of pastors; perceived and actual un-Lutheran practices; District/Synod spending; and lack of theological unity. Positive comments were made about the District’s work with schools, help with the call processes, visitations by President Snow, and Synod mission work.
I’ll be working now to follow up individually to see how we might clear up some of these issues as we seek to walk in unity with one another. The members of the board are also trying to get out and visit congregations. We are finding that many of our congregations are unaware of what the District does in service and mission.
We also discussed the upcoming placements of seminary graduates and the concern that the number of graduates being produced by LCMS seminaries is not keeping up with the number of pastoral retirements and vacancies. I’ll be sharing more detailed numbers and trends at our June Board meeting.
I was very pleased with the District pastors’ wives retreat in February. We are working at building relationships that foster encouragement and support. There were 63 attending.
As we look ahead at the convention, I want to remind everyone of the importance of making nominations for our elections. As it does with each congregation, our work depends on active and faithful servants. We will soon start the nomination process for next year’s convention. Initial letters will be going out to congregations in the next couple of weeks and information will be in the July/August Reporter. To foster efficiency and accuracy, we’ll be doing the nomination process electronically for the first time.
Finally, you have or will soon see information on Prairie Fire: Building Bridges, Saturday, August 5, at Concordia University, Seward. The day will be filled with encouragement and practical tools designed to help everyone learn how to build genuine, caring relationships within their various vocations of family, workplace, church, neighborhood, and recreational communities. Please look for details in the May/June Reporter or here at the Prairie Fire: Building Bridges page on our website.
In His Service,
Rev. Richard Snow
Nebraska District President