Friday, May 27, 2005

Here's What Started It All...

Pastor W. P. T. was born on February 24, 1953, in Oceanside, Long Island, New York. The son of a Norwegian Lutheran father and an Irish Catholic mother, Pastor Terjesen was baptized and confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church, West Hempstead, New York. As a teenager, Pastor's interests were rock music, girls, and skiing. He had his own garage band throughout high school, and learned to play a number of musical instruments fairly well. He graduated from West Hempstead High School in June of 1971.

Not coming from a church-going family, Pr. Tabsented himself from Church from age 15-19. Then, when he was a freshman in college, he began to attend church again, and like many young people in the early 1970's became involved in the "Jesus Movement" and Pentecostalism.

Pastor attended Long Island Bible Institute from 1972 through 1975, and graduated with a diploma in theology. LIBI was a small unaccredited pentecostal school loosely affiliated with the Assemblies of God. Its diploma was not good for much, so Pastor transferred to South Eastern Bible College in Lakeland, Florida, one of only two schools which would accept the credits earned at LIBI. After two years in Lakeland, Pastor graduated with a Batchelor of Arts degree.

During his time in Florida Pastor T discovered several books by Dr. Martin Luther in the college library and began reading them. Then, while browsing in the school bookstore, he came across a copy of Bo Giertz's The Hammer of God on the used book table. He paid $.25 for the book most responsible for his final break with Pentecostalism, and his rediscovery of the Lutheran faith.

The Hammer of God sat unread for a few days in Pastor's dorm room, and one afternoon he picked it up and started reading. There he was exposed to a winsome and revealing presentation of the Lutheran faith in a way that answered all the objections of a mind corrupted by pietism and pentecostalism. He began to devour any Lutheran books he could get his hands on, and started reading whatever Luther he could find.

After graduation Pastor enrolled in Lutheran Theological Seminary, Columbus, Ohio (later re-named Trinity Lutheran Seminary). But to prepare for his first year, he read through the Book of Concord (the Lutheran Confessions) over the summer break. Seminary was an eye opener, for several reasons. First, the level of academic work was more rigorous than anything he had yet encountered, but that was good. Second, the theological liberalism of the faculty was a far cry from anything he had counted on, and that was a bad thing. And third, being out of the enviornment of pentecostalism, he was surrounded by life-long Lutherans from all over the country for the first time, and that was a mixed blessing.

Three years of study and one year of vicarage in Bend, Oregon went by fairly quickly. The fact that Pastor married MEH in his second year, and they had a son, P, while on vicarage in Oregon, helped the time to pass. But during the years in Columbus, Pastor was exposed to liberal Lutheran Theology and the historical-critical approach to Scripture study. While he never really accepted these things fully, they did have a negative spiritual and intellectual effect on him, and it took his first three years in the parish to undo the dammage of soft-headed theology and destructive biblical criticism. Pastor Terjesen graduated from seminary in 1981 with a Master of Divinity degree.

After working odd jobs for about 4 months while awaiting his first call, Pastor received a call to serve the Lutheran Church of the Incarnation, an American Lutheran Church congregation in Cedarhurst, NY, and was ordained in September of 1981. Incarnation was a nice small congregation set in a well-to-do community about 8 miles from Pastor's hometown of West Hempstead. It was a congregation with low-maintanence requirements; all they really wanted was services conducted, Sunday School and confirmation taught, and weddings and funerals conducted. There was no great demand for visitation and an aversion to more meetings than were absolutely necessary. Such a situation would have driven other men to distraction with boredom, but it gave Pastor the opportunity to study and undo the theological and spiritual damage done by a liberal seminary career.

By 1984 Pastor had come full circle and had re-established himself as politically, socially, and theologically conservative, and was learning more and more every day about what it meant to be a genuine confessional Lutheran. He read Pieper, Walther, and most of all Luther, and of course, every Lent he would re-read The Hammer of God. As the number of good confessional Lutheran books began to fill his library, many of the unhelpful liberal seminary textbooks found their way to the "circular file", or to the libraries of liberal pastors who thought Pastor Terjesen was crazy for giving away such "treasures".

Pastor's relationship with the people of Incarnation was very good. They appreciated him, and he enjoyed them. His 8 years among them were peaceful and edifying, both for Pastor and his people. But during those years the merger movement that eventually became the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) began to develop. Right from the beginning, Pastor realized that this new church was not something he wanted to be a part of. It was going to be heierarchal, liberal, and semi-confessional from its inception. The people of Incarnation, as nice as they were, were not really interested in the whole matter one way or another, and Pastor began to realize that he was going to have to make a move.

In the spring of 1988 Pastor T went to speak with the president of the Atlantic District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) about what it would take for him to go through the colloquy program and become a pastor in the Missouri Synod. He was told to contact a number of LCMS clergy in the area and talk with them about life in Missouri. He then went to his ELCA bishop (William Lazareth) and informed him of his decision to leave for the Missouri Synod. Then in the Spring of 1989 Pastor Terjesen flew out to St. Louis to meet with the colloquy board who agreed to receive him into the colloquy program, which would involve a semester of work at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and a year of what they called a "convertible vicarage" in a congregation in the Atlantic District.

This was a very trying and humbling time for Pastor T. He had begun his application process in the Spring of 1988, and now a year had passed and he was accepted into the program, but there was as yet no LCMS congregation willing to take an ELCA refugee on a "convertible vicarage" basis. A convertable vicarage means that one serves one's first year as a vicar under the supervision of a local pastor, and then, when the Synod approves one's certification, the congregation can then call you to be its pastor. And so, time ticked on: May, June, July, August, September, October, and then finally in mid-November of 1989 the Atlantic District president called and said that he had a congregation that might be a good match, and might be willing to take Pastor.

On a cold day in early December 1989, Pastor drove from Long Island up to Peekskill, NY to meet with the people of the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer. Back then Peekskill was much more run-down than it is now. It was just beginning to come out from under the blight of urban renewal foisted on it in the 1960s. There was no shortage of boarded up buildings, shabby neighborhoods, and neglected lots. Not exactly paradise for someone coming from an affluent neighborhood on the south shore of Long Island.

The Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer was itself suffering from a certain neglect. Having been through a very public scandal involving pastoral immorality in the early 1980s, followed by a brief and unhappy pastorate of a man who was not a good match for a congregation that had been through the trauma it had, the congregation became vacant and dwindled in size to the point where they were seriously thinking about closing down. If it had not been for the care of a retired pastor in the area by the name of Henry Schroeder, the congregation would never have been built up the point where they felt strong enough to try calling a full-time pastor......

(there's more, but its more chest thumging and theological puffery).

Here's the original email I wrote, but DID not send.

Rev. T,

Hello, my name is K L. My father, Rev. E G. L was your predecessor in Peekskill, New York. I am writing to you because I take exception to something you wrote on your "About Pastor T" page of the Our Redeemer website. The pastor you that you wrote as having "a brief and unhappy pastorate" as "a man who was not a good match for a congregation that had been through the trauma it had" was my father. I feel that this statement is wholly untrue and almost to the point of slander. I also feel that it flies in the face of the eighth commandment.

My father had a difficult ministry in Peekskill, yes, but it was not his doing. As a matter of fact his pastorate in Peekskill almost drove him from the ministry. Simply put: Our Redeemer couldn't afford a pastor. My father's first paycheck bounced. His salary was cut in half and, believe it or not, the congregation stopped paying his Concordia Health Insurance for so long that my father, when we moved, had to be reinstated into the program because of nonpayment.

My father served honorably in Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. He worked hard and ministered to his flock the best way he could through thick and thin. It is tough to read something like this that in my opinion is at best a half-truth and worst an out and out lie. I'm not sure why you found the need to belittle my father's pastoral service unless you found it necessary to bolster your own "savior complex;" and after reading your missives it does appear to me that you think you can walk on water and might just be able to turn that water into wine.

To say that I am upset and angry and not a little hurt is an understatement. It is my sincere hope that you will reword or completely delete that whole passage.


(I was quite pleased with the bolded sentence. I thought it had a nice flow, but I knew it wouldn't do anything. I didn't want to go where he went. I call it the highroad approach).

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


"The Lutheran Church of O___ R_____ was itself suffering from a certain neglect. Having been through a very public scandal involving pastoral immorality in the early 1980s, followed by a brief and unhappy pastorate of a man who was not a good match for a congregation that had been through the trauma it had, the congregation became vacant and dwindled in size to the point where they were seriously thinking about closing down. If it had not been for the care of a retired pastor in the area ... the congregation would never have been built up the point where they felt strong enough to try calling a full-time pastor. "
-- Taken from the website of a church my father served in mid-eighties

My father is the pastor referred to in the "unhappy pastorate of a man who was not a good match" phrase. I think this borders on slander. My father almost left the ministry because of this church. The congregation lied to him almost from the start. His first paycheck bounced as a result of no money to pay him. After we had left we found out that they had stopped paying his health insurance and for over six months we as a family were not covered.

I have half a mind to write a letter to the pastor of the church and demand an apology. It has been 19 years since we left the congregation (I say we because pastoral ministry is a family affair, don't let any one tell you different). It was not an "unhappy" pastorate, but it was very trying for my father and for us as a family. The stresses my father faced in this congregation were many. I will never forget the night of the infamous voters meeting where they cut my father's salary by half! HALF! He became, in effect a "worker priest" he started substitute teaching in the local highschools to make ends meet, but he soldiered on. He ministered the best way he could.

I am sure there is more that happened that I'll never know about. I was in elementary school when we were at this church and I think my parents kept things from me which is fine.

Here is the church building. It is in an 19th century mansion. The church is on the bottom floor and the "parsonage" is on the top two floors. It looks out over the Hudson River.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Con-You, I'll Miss Ya

This morning in church, when I should of been paying attention, but I was having a hard time concentrating because I had an unpleasant dull, throbbing migraine, I let my mind wander a bit and started thinking about the fact that my alma mater is going to be moving and a wave of sadness rolled over me. If for no other reason than the fact that the Behnken Boy/Killian Boy rivalry will be a think of the past for good. I know that with the building of the new Harms Hall a few years ago they effectively killed that any way, I hadn't heard if they'd reopened Behnken and I think that Killian was turned into office space or something (at least I think that's what I'd heard-- its tough to keep up when I'm so far away). Then I thought about all the money that had been spent in the last few years in campus improvements: new science center, sprucing up of Kramer Hall (classrooms, etc) and then that new fountain in the middle of campus. I wondered how the people that gave so much money for these projects must feel right now. I think I'd be spitting mad.

I know that UT had, in the past, offered to buy my little campus, but were always turned down. Now, I'm not sure who is planning to buy the land. I'd heard something about St. Davids Hospital has expressed interest in it. I don't know.

On one level I'm truly upset. My life in Texas was bearable because of two places: Con-You, Austin and Camp Lone Star. If it hadn't been for those two places I think I probably would of gone nuts, or at least truly hated Texas. Con-You Austin is my home. When I think of Texas I think of Con-You and I think of that little campus. Behnken Hall, the Inn and even, believe it or not, Texas Hall. That is sacred ground for me. Con-You is where I finally heard and talked with God. Con-You was the place that I finally felt comfortable with my Christianity and Lutheranism (loofrin-izm). And now, that home (both physical and spiritual) will be going away, eventually.

On the other hand, though, I'm excited about the fact that Con-You is going to be strong and continue on into the future. When I graduated I was afraid that Con-You wouldn't be around at all in ten years. Part of that, though, was because of the President and his cronies. I'm thrilled that Con-You is thinking forward and for the future. They know they are land-locked and the only way they could grow is to build up or down (ie underground).

I think that my sadness for the eventual dissapearance of my campus outweighs the joy and excitement of the possibilites of Concordia growing. I just hope that they can keep the new campus as close to Austin as they can. I think that is important.

Steppin Into the God Ring

"I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." Jonah 4:2 (b)

"Your arms are too short/to box with God" Kid Rock

I am almost finished with the Old Testement. It has taken me almost a year to get through it, I have tried to read at least two or three days a week, but more often then not I have gone for week or two stretches and not dipped into the Word at all. Las Sunday was an exception. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and the Spring had officially sprung. So, I sat out on the porch and read the word. I read Jonah. If you had put a gun to my head and asked me who Jonah was I would of said he was a character in the Old Testement (which he is) and if you had asked me "what book is Jonah located?" I couldn't of told you. I most certainly couldn't of told you that Jonah was actually a small book at the end of the OT. I guess I always just assumed he was a character in one of the other books. That is all irrelevant, though.

I read Jonah and I read the above quote and was amazed. How many times have you said (or heard someone else say) that God was angry god, who hated them and that as why they were running from Him. Or that were afraid God was going to punish them because of such and such and this and that? I'll raise my hand on both counts and I'll go so far as to admit that I've probably said those exact statements a few times, but then I read that quote and just stopped. I had to wrap my brain around it. Jonah ran away from God because he KNEW that god was compassionate and just! God came to Jonah and told him to go to Ninevah (a city) and prophesy (preach) the populace there and tell them that God was upset and was planning to do away with them. This didn't sit too well with Jonah so he up and left, hopped a boat heading the other way and settle in for a night's sleep. And, as per usual, God had other plans. Long story short: God got Jonah off the boat and into the belly of a large fish (not necessarily a whale, mind you) and held him for three days in the belly of said fish (hmmm, discussion of the resurection any one?) Jonah got the message and went to Ninevah gave them God's message and then settled into watch the heavenly wrath befall the Ninevites. He was sorely disappointed. The Ninevites turned their evil ways and became Godfearin folk. Jonah was not happy. So, called God out and complained. God listened and then retorted. Then Jonah responded with this:"I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." Wow, talk about faith, huh? He was upset because he knew EXACTLY what would happen.

Jonah went the other way because... God was compassionate. God IS compassionate. If He wasn't compassionate would he have sent his son Jesus Christ to take our place on the cross? No. If He wasn't compassionate would He of allowed Jesus to rise from the dead and defeat death and Satan? No. If God wasn't compassionate would Jesus of told us that "there are many rooms" for us in Heaven? No.

Those two lines above have been rolling around in my head all week. The Jonah one for obvious reasons, but the Kid Rock one for others. The Kid Rock quote really speaks to me about not only Jonah's attitude about God and man, but our ideas about man and God. How many times have I taken God on in a fight? How many times have I taken a swing at God and gotten nothing but thin air, spun around on my feet and fallen flat on my butt only to have Him reach down, grab me by the hand, stand me up and let me take another swing?

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Can't Go Home Again


Relocation of Concordia University at Austin

Whereas, Concordia University at Austin’s mission is to develop Christian leaders, and

Whereas, Concordia University at Austin’s vision is to be recognized for its integrity, academic excellence and Lutheran ethos, and

Whereas, Almighty God has blessed Concordia University at Austin by nearly tripling the student enrollment since the school became a four-year institution, and

Whereas, the capacity of the current campus in areas such as parking, available classrooms and student housing will seriously constrain continued growth in student enrollment, and

Whereas, after studying expansion options for the existing 23-acre campus within the context of the university’s strategic plan, we find that we can use a location with more space in order to best accomplish our mission,

Therefore be it resolved, that after prayerful consideration, the Board of Regents notify the Board for University Education of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Synod’s Board of Directors of its intent to relocate Concordia University at Austin, and

Be it further resolved, that the Board of Regents direct the president of Concordia University at Austin to actively seek a buyer for the existing campus in line with appraised value, with final approval of the Board of Regents, and

Be it further resolved, that provisions be made for honoring the many contributions made by those who have supported Concordia, and

Be it finally resolved, that Concordia University ask all its constituents to actively pray for the success of this project.

Adopted unanimously, May 13, 2005

In taking this action the Board of Regents affirms:

1. the importance of our mission to the church and our community.

2. the need to recognize and honor the contributions of the many families who have made Concordia what it is today.

3. the need to maintain a site in Austin to support the pivotal role that the ADP and graduate programs play in the life of the university.

4. the need to select a new site for the main campus from among the many gracious offers within the Central Texas community.

5. its support of the administration in making the organizational changes necessary to accomplish this task.

6. that this will be a multi-year process.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

wine buying and other blues*

when a neophyte wine drinker like myself buys a bottle of wine said neophyte wine buyer doesn't want to hear this: "oh, this is a good wine. it tastes just like welsh's grape juice. careful, man, it packs a punch. whooo-wee." i don't need that. i don't drink wine to get toasted. i don't drink wine to get beshitted and befucked, i drink wine to relax and settle down. (example: right now i am drinking a glass of wine and listening to classical music). as the checkout person said this to me i wanted to look around for the candid camera. she went on to say "i save this one for myself. i just drink beer, mainly, but i like this stuff (points to the wine) it really does taste like welsh's grape juice. becareful if you drink the whole bottle." i almost put the bottle back.

speaking of buying wine. the other day i was in samsclub. i don't know about the sam's clubs in your respective areas (where ever that may be) but my sam's club has quite a collection of wines. i mean rows and rows of wines. of course, in my sam's club i can also buy these gallon bottles (at least they looked like gallon jugs) of jack daniels, jim beam and other highly intoxicating beverages.

tonight i bought two new wines that i've never tried before. the first one i bought (but haven't tried yet) is from an indiana winery (olivery winery near bloomington).
here is its label:
the other one comes from an australian winery called Little Penguin and the wine is a cabernet sauvignon.
(here is its bottle)
its not bad, but i like their shiraz and (bandwagon here, i'm sure!) merlot. it doesn't have the umph in taste and texture that the merlot and shiraz do. its not a bad wine, though. when i open the other bottle the "soft red" i'll have to make sure i have a glass of ice... what better way to have grape juice then over ice, right?

something else i need to put on the "to do list" is get myself a real wine glass. this bastardized wine glass i use which is actually a little beer glass i got from a bar a few weeks ago is just a bit too rednecky for me (not there's anything wrong with being rednecky or for that matter hillbilly-y).

oh, hell, who am i kidding. i'm eating ritz crackers with lerraine cheese on them.

oh well. so be it.

*posted on my online diary, hence the lowercases.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Relaxation is a Gift

This blog is getting a bit too serious for me. I've discovered that I only really write here when my brain is loaded with something that's why my posts tend be a bit more rambled then they might otherwise be-- I just type away and let the words fall where they may. Call it a intellectual vomiting or something along those lines, not that writing about faith or about my various thoughts on the whole God-thing would qualify as intellectual vomiting (though, I'd be willing to bet money that there might be some that might think my musings might be theological nincompoopery, but that's alright, too).

Right now I'm sitting at my computer with an unlit cigar lightly tucked into my jaw, a glass of wine (I don't have a proper wine glass, though, it is a small fluted Budweiser glass I got in a bar one night a few months back) and the radio plays some classical music. The wine I'm drinking is this:

It is described thusly by the Yellow Tail Winery's Homepage "Impressive spice, licorice and red berry aromas. This wine is perfectly balanced with silky tannins, accompanied by big, ripe fruit flavors." Or as I would say "its got a nice full taste to it. Rolls over the tongue and pallette well." I don't really know what I'm saying, but all I know is I like it.

Here is the unlit cigar I have right now:

I had my first cigar on my 18th birtday. Most guys buy a Playboy on their 18th birthday. Not me, I wasn't that cool, I bought a cigar. I've never liked cigarettes and trust me I've tried to like them, but a good cigar every now and again really makes the world seem not so bad.

The music? Well, there is something about classical music that makes me feel good and comfortable.

So, until next time. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

How The Guys Showed Me

My last summer at camp I was blessed with a cabin of ten teenage boys. That sounds strange, but its true. I was given charge of ten guys. Nine of them were athletic and very strong, but the other one was small and, I hate to say it "nerdy." God used those guys to teach me more lessons then I have learned before or since.

That was the week of the non-bible study bible studies. I figured out pretty quickly that these guys wouldn't get it if I sat them down and got them into the Word. I also had a sneaking suspicion that they wouldn't get into doing peer bible studies, as I called them-- a "peer bible study" was something I did with teenagers. I broke them into pairs and would give them each a day and they would come up with the study. I was often amazed at how well they did, but this crew-- I wasn't so sure. So I came up with bible studies on the fly. In short, they were object lessons.

Here are two of them. Sunday night I got to know the guys and I knew I had to "break them" pretty quick, so Monday after lunch I took the guys up to the what was then simply called "the slab," it was nothing more then a large concrete slab that was destined to become an outdoor, enclosed basketball court (eventually to be dubbed the "hangar" by yours truely). I took these guys up to the slab with brooms and told them to sweep it up, I wanted it clean and I wanted it done quickly. They protested, but they did it. After about ten minutes I called them together and told them to remember that because I wouldn't hesitate to do something like that again if they gave me any problems. They got the message pretty quick. Suddenly an idea struck me. I took one of the brooms and put the end of the handle on my hand and the bristle end was vertical and I started to balance it on my hand. I did this for a few minutes and asked if anyone else wanted to try. Of course these guys said sure. So they tried and failed, miserably. So I did it again and was successful. I asked if could figure out what they were doing wrong. None of them did (like I said they weren't the brightest bunch in the box). So I showed them again. They tried it again and they started to get the hang of it. I gave them a hint: look at the bristles, not your hand. That worked. They got it. They took turns keeping the broom upright and they were quite proud of themselves, until, that is I asked them what they had learned. They were stumped. They didn't get it. *sigh* I broke it down for them.

What happens when you look at your hand and not the broom?
Broom falls over.
What happens when you look at the bristles and not the hand?
The broom stays up and is balanced and you can walk around with the broom on your hand and look all cool.
How is the broom like faith?
Keep your eyes on the prize. Keep your eyes (heart on Jesus) and you can't fall over. As soon as you look down and to yourself you fall down.
The guys got that and felt pretty good about themselves.

The next one really blew my lid and I think effected me more then anything else in my four summers at camp.

One day, after lunch we didn't have anything planned that we had to be at-- in other words no pool time that required lifeguards. I wasn't sure what we were going to do, but as we left the cabin another idea struck me. The only reason this worked was none of these guys had been to camp before-- amazingly. I said simply "take me to the place of the white cross." They looked at me like I had a hole in my head. They started asking me questions "where is it?
"Pnut, you're crazy-- what are you talking about?"
I replied "take me to the place of the white cross."
So they started walking, but they didn't know where they were walking to. They saw a fellow counselor and they said "Pnut's gone nuts. He wants us to go to the white cross. Do you have any idea what he means?" Believe it or not the counselor didn't have a clue. So we walked on. They would pester me about "being crazy and dumb" and I would repsond "take me to the place of the white cross." This went on for a good hour or so and we went in the complete wrong direction. We actually ended up at what was called Alleluia Hill. They were pretty happy with themselves! They had found a place of three crosses! I busted their bubbles pretty quick. Yes, it is three crosses, but not THE white cross. They started grumbling again.

So they started walking again, but this time they were headed in the right direction. I just telling them I wanted to the place of the "white cross." They started asking campers and counselors. Longish story shortened: they were pointed in the right direction by a counselor who looked at me with a crazy look. He told them he thought it was at Sunset devotion site. They became ravenous, seriously. They started asking any one they could find where Sunset devotion was, once they got on the right path they started running. I walked slowly. Finally, I heard: "HEY, PNUT! WE FOUND IT! WE FOUND IT!" And sure enough, they had. They all sat down the bench by the white cross and looked all kinds of happy. Then I hit them with this: good job-- now what did you learn. I saw it bloom on their faces one by one. They had stopped everything and started looking for the place of the white cross. It had become all engrossing. It became a mission of sorts. Then I pointed out WHAT they were looking for...

I didn't have to say anything more. They were in shock after it all came together.

I said to them simply: "keep that in mind in your walk. Never lose site of the cross. Its there. Always." They were quite a bit quiet as we walked back to the cabin. I noticed that evening they were busy telling others about the adventure and they made it a point to find the counselors that either led them astray or didn't help at all. That night as we got ready for bed I reminded them about what they had done and also told them about the "going and telling" they had done.

I think they learned alot that day. I know I did. That was a life lesson for yours truly.