In early March, Mid-South District President, Rev. Dr. Roger Paavola was invited to serve as guest speaker and Bishop in Residence (an honorary English title) during the three-day convocation at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
An alumnus of the seminary and affiliated Brock University, Paavola participated in meetings with seminary students and staff to address the topic of pastoral ministry and the state of the Church in the 21st Century.
During his visit to the campus, he also delivered a sermon in the chapel and gave a presentation during a student potluck lunch on Thursday.
As described on the Concordia St.Catharine’s blog, “Rev Paavola stressed the importance of pure, Biblical and confessionally Lutheran teaching and preaching as the means for true growth in the Church. While numerical growth in attendance, membership and giving is easy to measure and compare, the most important growth in the church is not shown in the annual congregational statistics; it is the growth in faith and love which the Holy Spirit produces in people who hear the gospel rightly preached and sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution. At the same time, this is also the way to lasting growth also in memberships and attendance. Especially young people are today drawn to those congregations that actually believe what they say they believe [in their official documents].
“(Paavola) encouraged the students of CLTS to study the Lutheran confessions and go deeper in our Biblical faith, noting how Lutherans have too often tried to compete with evangelical, non-denominational churches in their own game of emotional religious entertainment, almost always falling short. Instead, Lutherans should proclaim the very thing that is distinctively Lutheran and which no other church has in such clarity: correct distinction of Law and Gospel and the forgiveness of sins through the means of grace.
“ ‘When we present this unaltered understanding of Scripture and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church, there is no competition that stands in our way,’ Paavola told listeners.
Contributed by Judy Otto