A Tale of Two Conferences
The LCMS is quite a diverse church body when it comes to things like conferences.
By way of example, here are descriptions of two upcoming conferences that will be happening shortly, less than one month apart, both of which will include speakers and worship services.
The first example is one of the official district conferences to be held this month (September).
Three of the four main scheduled speakers are pastors. One of the three is a Lutheran, and his presentation is first. His topic will be: "Toward Effective Ministry in Transitional Times" and is described as follows:
"Living and serving in God's grace in these changing times involves balance, clarity of purpose and values as well as personal and organizational health. This time will be interactive, informative, and hopefully a time of introducing you to introspection and possible life ministry changes during this conference."
The two remaining ordained speakers come from outside the Lutheran tradition. The first is a senior pastor of a Baptist congregation in Virginia. He is the author of Bod4God: Four Keys to Weight Loss and Get off the Couch. He is also the creator of the Losing to Live Weight Loss Competition.... The media has labeled him 'The Anti-Fat Pastor.'" One has to wonder if he'll be attending the "Taco/Nacho/Chicken Wing Buffet (enough to call it dinner)" that includes "free beer, margaritas and sangria/wine."
Next up will be a pastor representing Cornerstone Fellowship, who is going to speak on "rediscovering a New Small Church filled with hope, passion, and innovative spark of the Holy Spirit."
The "opening worship" is not described other than that it will be held at a local parish, while the "closing worship" will be held at the resort where the conference will take place.
Less than a month later, another conference will take place, not a district function, but rather an annual congregational event.
The keynote speaker will be a Lutheran seminary professor with degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham. He is the "author of volumes 12 (Lord's Supper) and 13 (Eschatology) of the series Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics. His topic will be "The Blessed Sacrament in the Theology of Wilhelm Loehe." There will also be a discussion on "the rubrics and significance of the Mass from the Preface to the Nunc Dimittis."
Like the other conference, there will be food, including a banquet featuring "brats and beer" and an "after the party party" at the pastor's home.
This conference will likewise include worship services, and will open with "choral vespers" and will include "mass" on the next day, as well as a "low mass" and "vespers" on the final day of the conference - all held in the sanctuary of the parish.
If it is true that diversity is our strength, the LCMS must be one of the mightiest church bodies on the planet.