LCMS President Harrison issued an apology for the way he asked Pastor Morris to apologize. You can read my thoughts on the initial apology from last week.
At this point, I’m waiting for someone to apologize and explain those responsible for sacking the people who have just been sacked, have been sacked.
There are three new letters, one from District President Yeadon, one from President Harrison, and one “Statement of Reconciliation” from Yeadon, Harrison, and Pastor Rob Morris. You can read all three letters in their full context at wmltblog.org. There are some interesting pieces to President Harrison’s letter I’ve been thinking about:
That plan failed miserably. Pastor Morris graciously apologized where offense was taken as a humble act to help maintain our often fragile unity in the church (1 Corinthians 8). He did not apologize for participating, even as he carefully provided his reasoning for participating due to deep concern for his flock and the people of his horrified community. I immediately accepted his apology, looking forward to continued conversation toward greater unity in the church.
What’s the point in pointing this out?
Is this to make sure people understand that Pastor Morris didn’t apologize the right way? Is President Harrison asked him to specifically apologize for taking part in the service and that didn’t happen? And he accepted the apology, anyway, and that was the mistake? I still think Pastor Morris offered an excellent apology. He acknowledged he caused offense with his choices and he apologized for it. He didn’t say “if” he offended people. He knew he did. And he apologized. Apologizing for taking part in the service is simultaneously telling the family who suffered the murder of a child he cannot fully be their pastor when they need a pastor the most. President Harrison, to me, still doesn’t seem to get this (I also know there are those who would say I don’t get his stance; I’d appreciate your kind insight, if you have some to offer).
Later in his letter, President Harrison apologizes in this way:
I take responsibility for this debacle. I handled it poorly, multiplying the challenges. I increased the pain of a hurting community. I humbly offer my apologies to the congregation, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Newtown, Conn.; to Pastor Morris; and to the Newtown community. I also apologize to the membership of our great church body for embarrassment due to the media coverage.
How? How? Why? And Ah.
How did he handle it poorly? How did he increase pain? Why does he apologize? Ah. The media didn’t report the story correctly. What I don’t see in this apology is regard for the family of the victim. To me, that’s unfortunate and doesn’t address the real issue.
The real issue is why the president of the LCMS reprimanded a clergyperson for being a pastor. This is what many persons inside and outside of the LCMS are wondering. It’s just so foreign to me, to not take part in an interfaith service or vigil or dialogue so there isn’t (perceived) association with “false teachings.” At no point do I see how this situation could possibly supersede Christian faith.
What will it take for the LCMS to take a good hard look at this real issue? The real reason people reacted the way they did, this raising of the question that caused “embarrassment” after it became a news story. For now, we won’t know. District President Yeadon, President Harrison, and Pastor Morris released a statement of reconciliation which contains in part:
We have mutually forgiven each other where we have fallen short.
We are reconciled.
We are at peace.
Reconciliation is the long game.
It comes in steps, in pieces, in patient ways. For now, these three ministry leaders have reconciled over the way they’ve interacted with each other. Reconciliation with other faiths? That is perhaps down the road, the long game. And as anyone who’s tried to take on a New Year’s Resolution, sit down and study a book for their major because they’ll need it for their job someday, or even decide to finally stop putting off creating a living will plan will tell you, the long game is the toughest game to play.
But wow, is it worth it.