Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pastors With Advanced Degrees Who Choose to Stay in the Parish

Rev. Dr. Scott Murray
Rev. Dr. Richard Stuckwish
Rev. Dr. Burnell Eckardt
Rev. Dr. Frank Senn
As I thought about the many well-credentialed pastors in my denomination I often wondered if many  of them had aspirations of positions in academia.  Undoubted some do. Possibly many tried and could not secure a place for any number of reasons. Yet there are many who would be great assets to the universities and seminaries, yet who choose to remain in the parish.  I am certainly not aware of all who possess advanced degrees and doctorates on the clergy roster, but the ones I know of seem content to be pastors.  Dr. Stuckwisch, who I noted in the last post is one.  Another is Dr. Burnell Eckardt, or Dr. Karl Fabrizius.  All three of these men, by the way, are associated with the worship journal Gottesdienst.  Still, there are others out there who have taken the time and energy to earn these terminal degrees, men from a variety of backgrounds and interests.  One in my district would be Dr. Timothy Roser, recently elected as the first vice president.  He holds the degrees STM and the Ph.D from Concordia, St. Louis, and teaches part-time for the SMP program. Two others would include Dr. Scott Murray, fifth vice president of the LCMS and a published author among other achievements, and Dr. Frank Senn, a noted liturgiologist and accomplished author (and the only one listed here who is from outside of my synod). I am currently using his magnus opus, Christian Liturgy - Catholic and Evangelical as part of my research.   Obviously many of these men use their academic achievements for the greater good of the church by teaching (sometimes overseas at partner church bodies) and by writing.  Yet what fascinates me are why these men remain in that first call, the humble call as a local spiritual shepherd. How highly they must view this sacred trust.  I'd love to interview some of these men on this very topic; pick their brains and see what moved them to stay where they are.  Maybe someday.  Someday when I'm not overwhelmed with my own graduate work.....

Graduate Work

Images of what you imagine and pictures of the reality of what is often clash.  So it is with graduate work.  Begun in the summer of 2010, I well imagined that the coursework would be completed and the thesis finished at least by the beginning of this coming year.  Well, the coursework was completed by the end of the summer of 2011, and then came that long arduous task of the thesis.  Unfortunately I completed my M.Div without a thesis.  I say "unfortunate" because it left me without any real sense of what is involved in such a project.  Nashotah House has truly been a wonderful place to study and retreat, but from the time I began the program to now several transitions have taken place at this campus.  The dean resigned after a decade's service.  The one in charge of the STM program changed.  And during this time it seemed as if a lot of adjustments and changes were being implemented.  It was indeed a time of transition for Nashotah, on many levels.  And as it is in times of transition, details fall through the cracks.  Thus, I suspect that my progress might have been a bit faster but for the glitches along the way and lack of firm direction.  So is life.  Since this time, however, I was able to attend a very informative graduate seminar this year and as a result was able to discover what was missing and lacking in my next stage.  Now  I have a draft of my proposal in process, a process I may add that is far more involved that I realized.  Advanced master's  degrees may not be doctorates, but the journey seems rather similar.  I was encouraged today in reading the Rev. Dr. Richard Stuckwisch's recollections about his dissertation experience.  When I read that it took him six months to develop his dissertation proposal I didn't feel so discouraged. Research takes time, and good research worth doing takes a lot of time.  The other day the seminary emailed me inquiring about my plans for graduation.  Apparently they will hold only one commencement a year and that will be in May.  Given where I am right now that doesn't seem possible.  Still, it's o.k.  Eventually I would like to take the material for this thesis and work it into a published book.  So stay tuned.