I've had two email exchanges today that explain a bit more about the nature of the vicarage to LCEF, and I thought they were definitely worth the sharing. I am very appreciate for the openness that both showed in engaging the questions raised with kindness and directness.
First, from Karen Drier:
Dear Rev. Weedon:
I have been a member of the LCEF staff for over 30 years and on numerous occasions I have had the opportunity to witness many, many opportunities when a pastor on staff provided great comfort and reassurance. For example, the death of a co-worker who passed away unexpectedly without any connection to a church home or family. My boss and I visited with the family before they made the difficult decision to remove life support. There were very young children involved and some days I am still haunted by the experience – was there something I could have done differently to change the life of this young woman. Yes, I had my pastor who I could turn to and did but to talk about her life and sudden passing with a pastor who knew her was a wonderful comfort. Without going into all the details, Rev Jeff Miller (member of the LCEF staff at the time) officiated at the funeral so the eternal life promised to each believer upon the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was proclaimed.
Another employee faced a brain surgery not once but twice. This employee had a church home but of another denomination – one that didn’t visit or nurture the sick. It was LCEF staff who stood by her side with her family, who sent cards, made phones calls and visited with her in the hospital. This employee eventually had to go on permanent disability and when that happens the people who worked side by side with this individual also needed counseling and care to understand how such a terrible experience could happen to such a wonderful human being.
I remember very well when LCEF President Art Haake passed away after a morning jog, an employee was killed in a car accident on her way to work, and an active energetic employee woke up one morning paralyzed never to return to work again. The stories go on and on. I have been a lifelong Lutheran and can tell you from personal experience it was a tremendous comfort to be reminded of a Savior who never leaves nor forsakes at times such as these.
Not everyone at LCEF is an LCMS member of a congregation because we are governed by the laws of our great country. This means there are members of our staff in need of the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have even had the awesome opportunity to baptize a co-worker. Because of the work I do for LCEF I have also had the experience of speaking with a pastor or church worker where the call ended with a prayer.
I have been reading lately that there are people who have turned from “church” as we know it. They will never again sit in a pew or participate in Holy Communion. Their choice. My heart breaks when I hear of such stories or of such facts. The church of the Bible and when Jesus walked this earth was a church of community where we took care of each other without pause to reflect on the cost to do so or the risk to our personal well being. God has blessed LCEF at this time with an individual which great business experience and talent. He also has a heart calling him into ministry. Our Seminary is offering an opportunity for men to go through a training experience where they will be equipped to do ministry. How God will use this individual is a beautiful mystery to me outside of the opportunities I have described to you earlier. But I know in my heart that God will use this individual to further His kingdom. The new LCEF President Rich Robertson (new because he joined our staff in January this year) is a very relational person. He believes we will accomplish so much more being out in the field working face to face with the people in congregations than on the phone or through emails. I can’t help but think having a trained Institutional Chaplain on staff will lead to endless possibilities of sharing our faith to all kinds of people.
In closing, the SMP programs offers Vicar training as an Institutional Chaplain. LCEF is a ministry of the LCMS that provides expertise in stewardship and financial consultation. LCEF actively supports LCMS districts and congregations. This role will benefit the organization in terms of internal expertise (under the supervision of Revs. Gundermann and Miller) to provide theological and doctrinal consultation relative to LCEF’s core business of supporting ministry through loans and investment. Lastly, our more than 100 employees will benefit by having a focused individual to provide pastoral care for their families and themselves.
Thank you for your inquiry and giving me the opportunity to share my views and experience; please do not hesitate to contact me if you have additional questions. May our good and gracious Lord continue to bless you in all your efforts to serve Him!
Karen S. Drier
Assistant Vice President, LCEF Information Center
1-800-854-4004, extension 6327
Karen's comments were very helpful because I'd not really thought of an institutional chaplain working in the LCEF - I always thought along the line of our nursing homes or hospitals or such.
Second, Vicar DeBeir was also kind enough to contact me and provide further information for me about the nature of his vicarage. I specifically had asked if they had chapel and what sorts of things he'd be doing. Here's his helpful reply:
To answer your questions ...
Yes, we provide chapel twice a week at our office. Typically if you are providing chapel on a Tuesday or Thursday you would be providing both at the IC and LCEF. We are in a separate building from the IC (across the street). I have been providing chapel both at the IC and LCEF since 2005. I have my homilies reviewed by ordained ministers, always have - and have learned a lot in so doing.
As Karen indicated, the vicarage is to provide pastoral care for our more than 110 plus employees at the LCEF building, facilitate bible studies, provide hospital visits for employees and their families (all of which is under supervision) LCEF recognized the need to train an employee in this regard and nominated me ... I then went through the whole process of qualification, admission, etc.
For the organization it should benefit LCEF in terms of developing internal expertise (under the supervision Revs. Gundermann and Miller) to provide theological and doctrinal consultation relative to LCEF's core business of supporting ministry through loans and investment. As well as specifically enhance my area of responsibility, ministry services.
Yes, my understanding is that after ordination, I will be limited to this ministry context. LCEF is a unique ministry that is blessed to partner with many areas of the church.
There is another chaplain in my cohort, the rest of the men are from congregationally ministry contexts (urban, rural, suburban) of various age ranges.
I think my 15 minutes of fame on your blog is about up, but it has been an interesting day. I'll do my best to introduce myself to you on the 11th, that will be a great day, indeed!
I wish you continued blessings on your ministry, and thanks, again, for regularly updating your blog ... it has served as a blessing for me, particularly your Homilies as well as the quotes provided from our church fathers.
Your brother in Christ,