Thursday, August 03, 2006

Racetrack Petition

Dear Blog Readers,

I received a phone call and email some time ago from a Rev. Dave Krueckeberg, an LCMS pastor in the Chicago area. Rev. Krueckeberg has been serving a unique community as part of his congregation, namely the horse "caretakers" at two Chicago area thoroughbred racetracks.

Because this pastor pressured the owners of the racetracks to provide better working/living conditions for their employees, he has been banned from the sites. Since then, he has started a petition drive to regain access to the stables, where the people he serves not only work but also live. Rev. Krueckeberg has the support of many prominent LCMS leaders in his struggle, including:

The Rev. William Ameiss, President, Northern Illinois District, LCMS
The Rev. Matthew Harrison, LCMS World Relief & Human Care
The Rev. Daniel May, President, Indiana District, LCMS
The Rev. Robert Kuhn, Chairman, LCMS Board of Directors
The Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, President, LCMS

If you are interested in reading more, I submit the following documents, which will explain more of the situation and how you can help.


Anonymous said...

I understand the part about a pastor needing to be restored to his congregation, but doesn't the lobbying for better working conditions seem to be more of a Kingdom of the Left issue? Freedom of speech and religion is not freedom from consequence.

Preachrboy said...

I think your question is valid. I don't know the entire story, only what the pastor himself told me and what I read in the documents posted here.

However, since I too am interested in the RH/LH kingdom distinction, I would be willing to discuss: Is it EVER permissible or proper for a pastor to work for a left-hand kingdom cause? If so, what are the guidelines so that we don't muddy the distinction between the kingdoms?

It sounds to me that this pastor was simply "looking out for his people". Isn't it right for a pastor to show the love of Christ in word and deed? Or, more to the point, isn't it the job of every Christian? Was he simply showing care and concern for the poor who were being mistreated? Maybe it depends on how he went about it.

Again, I don't know all the details or what this pastor's particular methods were. But these are interesting questions.

An interesting story from our own district is of the Confessional Lutheran pastors who successfully lobbied the state to change the laws on communing prisoners. Previously, a pastor could not bring even a drop of alcohol into a prison for the sacrament. Now that has been changed. Were those pastors inappropriately working in the "wrong kingdom"? I don't think so...

Scott Scofield said...

Reverend - Thanks for visiting my site. I do have the "moderate" option selected - thanks for the advice! Though I haven't posted to your site recently - I always stop by to see what's happening in your world. In fact - I was reluctant to put up my own blog for awhile as I didn't want to spend any $$ on just posting my own writing - seemed too self-promotional. But when I eventually did follow the links to and realized I could do it for free - and with a pretty professional look to it - well, that swayed me!

As for the RH/LH Kingdom discussion - I'm not a Pastor or any kind of man-of-the-cloth if you will - so I can't say I have any personal experience with determining where that line may exist for a Pastor. However, it seems to me through personal experience in other advocacy positions I've held - the line between a ministry and a lobby (for lack of a better word) is identified by asking, "Am I doing for others what they can actually do for themselves?" If I have provided the appropriate emotional and spiritual guidance and support that facilitates making difficult choices and taking difficult actions by the individual - then If I also assume the responsibility for solving the problem (whatever it is) - then I have probably crossed the line from advocate to lobbyist.

Conversely - if, as in the case of the prisoners and communion, the individual cannot effect the necessay change through their own actions (personal responsibility), then I feel free to use available, appropriate resources to bring about that change on their behalf.

The challenge is defining "appropriate resources." Often this merely entails working with the local political or leadership structure within an organization, in a non-threatening manner, to develop solutions to whatever the challenge is.

I'm certain this approach is not a panacea - it may not even get at the heart of the challenge for a Pastor - but asking myself if I am doing the heavy lifting for someone else that is capable of it - but won't take responsibility for it because I have - this perspective has saved me more than once from becoming responsible for someone else's choices.

Thanks again for your comments on my site. I actually have "Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings" edited by Timothy F. Hull, on my bookshelf - though I admit I haven't read all 755 pages! I have an idea that I want to spend some time this coming Fall semester thinking and writing about the theological system of Luther compared to that of Bernard of Clairvaux - perhaps a focused comparison of their writings on Free Will. I have read (and do own) Luther's "The Bondage of the Will," his dialogue/debate with Erasmus. I don't know yet what Bernard held regarding Free Will, other than perhaps the prevailing (at the time) Catholic perspective that man can participate in seeking God. I suppose I'll find out!

I hope you don't mind I linked your blog on my site - I'm always impressed with the tone of your responses to those that don't particularly see things your way. I also appreciate the questions you raise, allowing people to work through the process towards an answer - or at least a different perspective.

Thanks again,



Preachrboy said...

Thanks for your comments, Scott.

I would say that per our phone conversation, this pastor gave me the impression that many of the individuals he served there were non-English speaking (though legal) immigrants, and were also socio-economically disadvantaged. I appreciate the importance of personal responsibility, but in this case his efforts on their behalf may have proved more effective than their own. (Though, sadly, in reality it seems there was little effect).

One other thought here, and that is the particularities of Hispanic culture, with its client-patron model, may be part of the picture too.