|Worshipful Master is the Sun in the East -|
Masonic Lodge lore.
Here is your chance, especially the anonymous commenters of this and other blogs, and particularly the anonymous commenters who claim these blogs don't do anything but bellyache. The first email address above is for District President Charles Degner, the remaining DP holdout participating in the 2015 Christian Leadership Experience. The second is President Schroeder's email address. Send an email urging DP Degner's withdrawal from the 2015 Christian Leadership Experience. Mine has already been sent.
Sorry, but it will be difficult for you to do this and remain anonymous. And yes, there are risks involved.
Pilgrim's website provides links to videos of the SON Experience. You can find themhere. I haven't had a chance to watch all of the videos in their entirety, but what I've seen is extremely concerning.
Most concerning is a "SON Message" in which Dr. Scott Gostchock (who is not a pastor) preaches a "sermon" in which he states the following:
|A member of the Synodical Council (WELS)|
and Don Patterson's parish said this.
I didn't manage to get all the way through Gostchock's "Community in Christ" message. I stopped around 2:22. Maybe he was speaking poorly (in which case, shame on him) or maybe he really is wishy-washy on the Trinity (in which case, a lot of shame of him) but he talked about God having three distinct beings, parts, pieces...
This runs counter to Col. 2:9 "For in Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form..."
Jesus is truly 100% true God. He is not a part of or just one third God.
Same with the Father. He is truly 100% true God. Not just one third God.
And Same with the Spirit. He is 100% true God.
Yet, paraphrasing the Athanasian Creed, we do not have 300%. We do not have three Gods, but one God.
Nor do we have a piecemeal God.
He would have best said that there are three distinct persons in the Trinity and left it at that.
I paused writing this and listened to the speech a little more. I get what he's trying to do. He doesn't want Christians who just sit there and read the Bible and are separate from their fellow Christians. But the way he gets to that point feels very wrong. Claiming that the Bible isn't enough and we need to look at each other and see Christ "in us" is so very dangerous. Schwaermer-enthusiasm.
With his message Mr. Gostchock wanted to talk about "community." How he ever got that from the text he read is unbelievable. In fact, after the initial minute or two he simply left the text behind and spoke about what he wanted to speak about. Might this best describe the CGM movement in WELS, GIA particularly?
"We need to experience God's presence among us...sometimes that comes from just this overwhelming sense of peace...sometimes it comes from the warm embrace of a friend...sometimes it comes from us giving to others. We need to experience that love of God...its more than just words on paper."
These words are taken directly from the linked video. I also see what the speaker is attempting to communicate, which I think is the need to have a living, active faith. That is a fine thing to have an active faith, but any real faith is bound to be active through the work of the Holy Spirit. If faith is not active, it is probably because it has been starved of the things it needs to live and grow--the Means of Grace.
The linked sermon sounds like pure Pietism to me. Read Jacob Spener and you will see the exact same sentiments: use methods to encourage holy living, which is the only real measure of one's true Christianity.
I do agree though. It is not about just "words on a page" because God's Holy Word is not just "words on a page. To apply such a flippant remark to the Holy Word of God is very dangerous. Again, we are talking about the very word of God, the mighty double-edged sword that always has effect and needs no help from our pathetic efforts to be more effective. We experience God's presence among us in Word and Sacrament, not in feel-good, happy-clappy emotional and enthusiast worship.
As a female lay person, I would like to know more from the
learned men here on this blog about this SON group and situation. This is a sincere statement.
When planning a wedding in a WELS congregation, the participants of the service, including the soloist, organist, etc are required to be in affiliation. I adhered, without issue, to this when making my own wedding preparations several years ago.
Reviewing the SON Experience and their website, I see no connection that these are WELS members. Have things changed and it is acceptable to have services, without confessional members within or associated with WELS, providing the music? I don't see a separation form Pilgrim Lutheran and S.O.N. One can only assume they are affiliated.
This group proclaims their Vision as: "Savior of the Nations services through the power of the Spirit will reach and teach the Twin Cities one soul at a time through God's elect."
I viewed their individual biographical information at:
And that's where my questions and concerns are--their biographies. Do we now avoid or delete any religious education? Otherwise, I'm sure there are much more talented starving artists that I can get together and play and sing off a sheet of music. Executive Director Dr. Scott Gostchock lists no affiliations in his brief bio. Just a minister. My question is where, when, for how long? These have to be my questions. My Christian upbringing told me to ask.
Or is mute because they are reaching out to the unchurched. But they don't say unchurched...they say one soul at a time. That one soul includes me. Do I join in service with a minister whose anonymous experience is with a Methodist or Presbyterian church? Or is it even a church service and none of this applies because its an experience.
The responses to my verbal questions about these blogs are Don't read, stay away, or just shake their head...they fail to realize that Google, Yahoo, and ever other search engine will spider these pages faster than they can tell me what or why to avoid. But I'm reading supporting documentation. I see no vagueness here; but I do see it on the S.O.N. biographies. From rationalwiki: Lying by omission, otherwise known as exclusionary detailing, is lying by either omitting certain facts or by failing to correct a misconception.
I enjoy reading your views on a much higher level than mine so forgive a more simplistic view of this group and issue. I'm learning with your responses to each other. May the Lord bless me and keep me and I continue to do so.
^ *as (not and) I continue to do so.
Pastor Flack (if I may be so bold as to address you in such manner) - Thank you for once again doing the job that the synod should be doing and do not, will not, or cannot. Why is it that so many of these churches/conferences/pastors, etc... are not properly vetted? Who's minding the store? Why is it people must find out about such crap as goes on at Pilgrim, and this insane leadershi* meeting from an anonymous blog, rather than the District and Synod Presidents? Older WELS pastor have told me in the past that they were proud to be "ragged individuals," and to both stay out of neighboring pastors' business, and insist that they stay out of theirs. Everyone was - and still is - very afraid of being known as a "busy-body in another man's parish." They are more afraid of that than of false teaching or false teachers! How foolish and stupid! And irresponsible! What does the body have leaders for in the first place but to monitor doctrine and practice? I'm so glad I am no longer a part of this mess of a church! Sad for those still stuck in it.
Female lay person: they are all WELS. Pilgrim is WELS. The Pilgrim website lists this affiliation, and also links to a WELS statement of beliefs.
Regarding Anonymous comments at 5:14 PM:
Yes, Pilgrim Lutheran is WELS. If you dig on the web site, you might find it, eventually.
Check the home page. Nothing on it about WELS. In fact, you have to look pretty hard to know it is even Lutheran. Check the header. "Pilgrim" in extra large font. "Lutheran" is in tiny font beneath it. Go to the bottom of the home page. "Pilgrim Church and School"! Where is the "Lutheran"?
Is this what it means to be confessional Lutheran? To hide the fact that you are Lutheran? There is no confession here. This is Church Growth; to hide the fact that you are Lutheran.
Check the "About" page. Look long and hard to find "Lutheran" or "WELS".
We did a project on Intrepid about WELS Church home pages several months back. A number of people scoffed about the study and what we found. What we found is that more and more WELS congregations are suppressing the fact that they are WELS ... or even Lutheran.
Where do you think this comes from? It comes from the likes of the 2015 Christian Leadership Experience.
Lay people of the WELS, wake up!
Pilgrim saw unprecedented growth
because of the inspired vision of its Pastors and members.
I'm not a member of Pilgrim and agree with most of the thoughts on this blog. I do not find that Pilgrim is hiding the WELS affiliation. I often look at other churches websites and if the affiliation is not on the first page then I go to the "Links" tab or the "About us- What do we Believe" section. BOTH had the WELS affiliation clearly listed. Lets not make this something it isn't. Focus on the band, the style, the message, those are worthwhile discussions but Pilgrim's website doesn't look like it is purposely hiding it's (sic) affiliation.
Dr. Scott Gostchock
Director of Christian Development
"I work with development issues for the church and school. My current duties involve supervision of curriculum and instruction, assistance with church and school administration, and exploration of developmental possibilities throughout the community and abroad.
My goal here at Pilgrim is to help all people to see Jesus. Through educational efforts, community service projects, and much more, it is my hope that I can serve you in a personally meaningful way."
Pilgrim Lutheran is the "St. Mark Church of DePere" of the Twin Cities. They have the full blessing of the DP. Always have. I recall, many years ago, a former pastor of mine returning from a service at Pilgrim, nearly livid. Not only was the band mounted in the front of the assembly area facing the audience -- in the location and orientation normally taken by Called Ministers of the Word as they address the congregation by the command and in the stead of Christ -- but members of that band would spontaneously preach their own mini-sermons to the congregation, or engage in impromptu "ex corde" prayer, on themes related to the subject of the music they were singing at the audience. Worse, the most dominant "worship minister" during his visit was one of the female vocalists... No problem with that sort of thing in the WELS anymore, though. Not in their district.
This "SON Band" looks pretty young. They must be new. Several years ago, it was the in-thing for older men to be leading these bands. At least there was some maturity present... HA! One woman from our congregation was mortified, however: "Look at these gray haired old men! With pony-tails and electric guitars!! In church!!! What a bunch of overgrown children!!!" Yeah, other guys that age just go out and buy a corvette... it's called mid-life crisis...
Anyway, the worship entertainment scene in the Twin Cities seems to be a fairly tight-knit. I have several evangelical friends and family members involved. Everyone seems to know everyone else, especially the groups that have been around awhile. I know that they often go places to hear each other play, will jam or practice together, will even flip gigs with each other and trade band members. I recall -- again, awhile back, now -- that there was a flap with one WELS band regarding this kind of involvement with Evangelical "worship ministers." Someone suggested that there might be a Fellowship issue involved by "worshiping" with, and "practicing for worship" with these other non-WELS, non-Lutheran "worship ministers", especially given that in many cases there was joint prayer and study of the Scriptures involved. The responses I heard were something like, "Na, we're just tradin' licks" or "Na, we're just bouncing musical ideas off one another" or "Don't you think they would benefit from the influence of a REAL Christian, I mean, like, you know, a WELS Lutheran?" or "It's our Evangelism ministry" or ... a whole host of excuses which made it very plain that (a) these musicians see very clearly that what they do is not worship, per se, it is entertainment in a worship venue, and that (b) these worship entertainers view themselves as Ministers of the Word. The only things that makes what they do "worship" is the venue (because if they did the same thing in a saloon they wouldn't see it as worship at all) and the fact that they have appointed themselves Ministers of the Word, and thus spiritual leaders of those they find themselves addressing through their entertainment efforts.
Grace in Action - The Next Disciple -
One of Many WELS Shrinker Websties