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Walther Conference Review, Harrison Visits Walther's Home in Germany, DVD Available

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      Dec. 9, 2008


      Walther Conference Review, Harrison Visits Germany; DVD’s Available

      By Rev. Jack Cascione reclaimnews@...


      After being banned since 2006, the Seventh National Free Conference on C. F. W. Walther was allowed to return to Concordia Seminary’s Werner Chapel, in St. Louis on Nov. 14 & 15, 2008.  The theme for this year’s conference was, “Walther and the Synod.” The guest speakers were Rev. Matthew Harrison, Dr. John Wohlrabe, Dr. Fredrick Baue, Dr. Martin Noland, Rev. Todd Wilken, and Rev. Alan Wollenburg.


      If you couldn’t make it to the Walther Conference, DVD’s of all the speeches are now available.


      The Walther Conference, by the agreement of St. Louis Seminary President Dr. Dale Meyer, was once again allowed to meet at Concordia Seminary’s Werner Hall.


      In place of Dr. Meyer, who was called out of town, we were greeted by Dr. Andrew Bartelt.  We appreciated Bartelt’s kind words.  We also noted his concern that the LCMS had to be careful not to become a footnote in the history of American Christianity.  These words reminded us that Concordia Seminary held its first; “Beyond Walther Conference” two month’s earlier, in September.


      The Walther Conference never plans to go beyond Walther.


      Counting Rev. Herman Otten, there were exactly 100 people who registered for the Conference.  This was a considerably lower attendance than in previous years, but then again we had not been able to hold the Conference for two years by order of the Synodical President.  Perhaps the conference will recover some of its former interest if we are allowed to return next year.


      The attendance may have been low, but the speeches were some of the most informed and well prepared that have ever been offered at our conferences.  The speakers were:


      1. Dr. Martin Noland: “Then and Now: Duties of an Evangelical Lutheran Synod”
      2. Rev. Alan Wollenburg "Whose Church Is It, Anyhow? Walther and Congregational Autonomy"
      3. Rev. Fred Baue “Walther’s Synod: The Last Nation-Wide Witness to Six-Day Creation?”
      4. Dr. John Wohlrabe “Doctrine of Ministry in the LCMS’s Formative Years”
      5. Rev. Todd Wilken "First Things First: Walther Is Speaking; Are We Listening?"
      6. Rev. Matt Harrison “Walther and Synodical Unity”


      For the first time in the history of the Conference, Rev. Matthew Harrison, in preparation for his paper, actually visited C. F. W. Walther’s home in Germany , showed pictures, and reported on the records kept in the community of the LCMS founder’s birth. 


      Needless to say, Harrison ’s paper gave far more information and insight than we had expected.  Harrison ’s DVD will be educational for any LCMS adult Bible Class.  There is nothing like it available.


      Doctor Martin Noland, the former historian of the LCMS at the Concordia Historical Society, is a meticulous analyst.  His speech on the duties of an Evangelical Lutheran Synod would benefit any Circuit Conference or Board of Elders.  Few, if any in the LCMS, could have given a more thorough and succinct explanation of Walther’s view of what the LCMS should be.  At the moment, it appears the LCMS Council of District Presidents has a Synod it doesn’t know what to do with.


      Like his now-sainted cousin Dr. George Wollenburg, Rev. Allen Wollenburg explained Walther’s church and ministry from the perspective of practicality and congregational life.  You got the instant feeling that this man would make and excellent circuit counselor.  He blended encyclopedic knowledge of citations from the LCMS Handbook with Walther’s teaching, conventions, congregational constitutions, and congregational autonomy into one unified fellowship.  As listened, I thought, “Where was he when I needed him for some advice?”


      Reverend Doctor Martin Baue’s presentation of creationism in the LCMS was a more theological than scientific history.  He pointed out that no church body in America had a stronger position on creationism than the LCMS, with the Seventh Day Adventists running in second place.  Walther was a vociferous writer against Darwinism and Atheism, which are reflected in the “Brief Statement” and numerous Convention Resolutions.  To our surprise, Dr. Baue, a former editor for CPH, tied the evolutionist theory of life with the current evolution of LCMS worship.


      Reverend Doctor John Wohlrabe is one of the foremost experts on Walther’s “Church and Ministry.”  His speech was an adaptation from part of his doctoral thesis dealing with the formation of the LCMS.  His contribution raised the scholarship of the Walther Conference to a new level.  We were honored to hear a man of his education and learning speak about how the Synod actually came into existence.


      Reverend Todd Wilken, the former LCMS speaker on KFUO’s, “Issues, Etc.” was the banquet speaker.  Wilken is an expert at drawing people’s attention and emotion to a subject.  After analyzing Walther’s position, he led the audience to consider if Walther would be qualified to be a pastor in the LCMS today.  After Wilken was finished, it was obvious that if Walther were a Seminary graduate in his own Synod today, the Council of District Presidents would not place him in an LCMS congregation.


      Perhaps more than anyone, Rev. Matthew Harrison examined Walther’s heart, possibly because Harrison had put his own heart in the assignment.  References to Walther’s life, childhood, and personal victories, confessed public sins, defeats, tragedies, conflicts, and challenges were quite moving.  Time and again he showed that Walther’s perseverance and desire for excellence were overshadowed in his life by God’s abundant grace when he was powerless.  Walther’s perspective was that we are all in need of repentance.  Harrison focused on little-known details about Walther’s ministry, such as his struggle with a cholera epidemic.  The death of 8,000 of the approximately 48,000 citizens in St. Louis in the 1860’s was an integral part of his ministry.  Harrison brought Walther to life out of the history books.  We are indebted to Harrison ’s tireless effort in presenting this paper.


      You can order the DVD’s as follows:


      The price per DVD is $10.00 which includes shipping & handling.


      DVD #1  Wohlrabe & Harrison    $10.00


      DVD #2  Noland & Wollenburg    $10.00


      DVD #3 Baue & Wilken                $10.00


      Please print the number of DVD’s you want and write to:


      Christian News

      684  Luther Ln.,

      New Haven, Mo 63068-2213

      (573) 237-3110 - Fax (573) 237-3858

      checks made out to “Christian News”


      writing or calling Rev. Neil Schmidt

      checks made out to “Christian News”

      1709 Summergate Circle - St. Peters , MO 63303

      (636) 447-5211

      fnp@hope—lutheran.org  or  fnpnrs@...


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