Board of Elders

June/July 2017

          The Call Process – a historical perspective

 

We are in the midst of the Call Process – that is calling a pastor for our congregation – which can be a special time for reflection and prayer for GLC. Calling a pastor, however, has been established by God as the office of public ministry for the purpose of preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments. Christ himself established the office of public ministry, so he also places individuals into that office. In Mathews 28:18-20, Jesus commissions and sends out his disciples to “make disciples of all nations” and give them authority to forgive and retain sins (John 20:21-23). Many biblical writers, such as Paul in 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus, give instructions regarding the ministry and its functions. However, the New Testament appears to be more concerned with the qualifications of individuals called to serve, but it does not provide any explicit directives regarding the practice of the call or for placing an individual into office. For that, we look into The Lutheran Confessions and the fallout from it.

 

The Lutheran Confessions stresses two points: pastors are not self-appointed but must be “rightly called” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession) and papal bishops are not the exclusive ones who may ordain (Treaties on the Power and Primacy of the Pope). The latter was in response to bishops who refused to ordain in an attempt to confine the spread of Lutheranism. In response to the bishops’ refusal, Lutherans ordained their own pastors. C.F.W. Walther (and the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod) established the premise that appropriate care of a congregation requires that it elect and call a pastor. He then listed several steps for the election process – such as 1) advice of one or more pastors who already have gained experience in the ministry, 2) every voting member may suggest a candidate, 3) eligibility of candidates is to be discussed on the basis of 1 Tim 3:2-7, Titus 1:6-9, and 2 Tim 2:15, 24-26 and 4) the one who receives the most votes is regarded and accepted as the one called by God through the congregations. This is also GLC’s call process.

 

Rahul Saxena, Elder

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