Last week, the Eastern Region of the English District held its Pastors' Conference in Ocean City, New Jersey. For several days, my fellow ministers and I were able to meet together for prayer and worship, instruction, business, and leisure. It also was a time to catch up with several ministers who were fellow students at seminary. As with most conferences, not every minister was able to attend: often parish duties (e.g. funerals, member hospitalizations) will keep ministers from travel. Hopefully, they will be able to attend the District Convention this upcoming summer and our conference next fall.
This was the first conference I attended, as I am new to the District, and I found it to be very good and worth attending. Dr. David P. Scaer from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, (my alma mater) presented several lectures to us. As is often the case, Dr. Scaer focused on the Gospel of Matthew, but he also commented on the Epistle of James, a book that Lutherans often overlook due to Luther's unfortunate comments about its being "an epistle of straw." Dr. Scaer's presentations are nearly always provocative, but worth hearing, especially as the Gospel of Matthew is being read and taught in our Divine Service during this church year.
Bishop Stechholz and the District Staff also gave presentations regarding issues being discussed in our Synod and District. One hot topic was the proposed restructuring of the Synod, an issue that will be discussed in depth over the next two years. Another topic was the mission of the Church in a society where Christian presuppositions and an assumed positive role for the Church are no longer the norm. I'm sure that more will be heard on this topic.
Next fall, we will meet at the same place for our conference. Ocean City provides a good setting with a long boardwalk to wander on during down times. And for a born Midwesterner, it also allows a new experience of viewing the Atlantic, even if it doesn't really look much different than the Great Lakes. I'll look forward to the speaker and events that the planning committee has in store, even if this past week is hard to beat.