Thursday, February 7, 2013

What do you think of this? Pastor Apologies for Praying at Newtown Memorial Service.

A local pastor in Newtown, Connecticut was asked to pray at the memorial service that was held after the shooting. He was not merely a local member of the clergy called in to say the benediction. One of the children killed in the shooting was from his church. The pastor attended the service and gave the closing prayer.

Now he is being criticized for participating in a service where people of other faiths were not only present but expressed prayers and words of faith. Here is a brief overview of the situation.

Pastor Rob Morris, who leads the Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown and had a young congregant die in the shooting, offered the closing benediction at the interfaith event.In an open letter posted online, Pastor Matthew C. Harrison, the president of Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, wrote that because of "the presence of prayers and religious readings" and the fact that "other clergy were vested for their participation," the event was a "joint worship with other religions."
"I could draw no conclusion other than that this was a step beyond the bounds of practice allowed by the Scriptures," Harrison wrote. "There is sometimes a real tension between wanting to bear witness to Christ and at the same time avoiding situations which may give the impression that our differences with respect to who God is, who Jesus is, how he deals with us, and how we get to heaven, really don't matter in the end."
Harrison then "asked Pastor Morris to apologize for taking part in the service" because he "violated the limits set by Scripture regarding joint worship" and "gave offense" to the Lutheran leadership.
A day after Harrison's letter was posted, Morris apologized in another open letter."To those who believe that I have endorsed false teaching, I assure you that was not my intent, and I give you my unreserved apologies," Morris wrote in a letter to the Lutheran leadership. "I apologize where I have caused offense by pushing Christian freedom too far, and I request you charitably receive my apology."
In the same letter, however, Morris defends his decision to participate, writing that he believed his participation was "not an act of joint worship, but an act of community chaplaincy.""Those who have followed the news reports are aware that this event is not quite like anything that has happened before," Morris wrote. "I believe (and I fervently pray) that my ministry will never involve a parallel situation to the one that faced my congregation and community that weekend."

See the full article here.

I will tip my hand here and admit that I don't see the problem. It is not like the pastor was attending regular services at the local mosque or was suggesting that all gods are the same. He represented a Christian voice at multi-faith service. I don't see that he did anything wrong here.

What do you think? And before you comment please keep in mind not to focus your comments on the denomination he represents since I suspect there are others who are also critical of his participation


  1. I also do not see a problem. From what I can read, his intent was not to join in a "joint worship" setting; rather, he was participating in a joint memorial gathering for the lost.
    In my opinion, the pastor committed no wrong here. I do however, appreciate his willingness to submit to those in whom he recognizes as authority.

  2. I agree that there doesn't seem to be any problem with what the LCMS pastor did. It looks like a community coming together to grieve. I am concerned, tho, about how this kind of sectarianism looks to others.