Bishop's Blog

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tending to the Safety of our People in church

Author: Bishop John Roth
There has been much conversation in conventional media and social media about what churches should do to best prepare and protect themselves against a violent intruder.  I googled “church active shooter” and got 2,940,000 hits.  There is no lack of options, suggestions, analyses, and arguments available with the click of a mouse.  So, the few things that I will mention here are not meant to be all that could be considered or proposed.  Nevertheless, I do believe that it is appropriate for the synod’s bishop to draw attention to particular points having to do with the care of God’s people in our churches, particularly in light of the recent advice to churches conveyed over some media that church members should carry firearms with them to church in order to protect themselves and others.  
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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Pastoral Letter in the Aftermath of the Violence in Charlottesville

to the Central/Southern Illinois Synod

Author: Bishop John Roth

     As all of you undoubtedly know, Charlottesville, Virginia, became a flash-point for neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and white nationalist groups protesting the decision by the Charlottesville City Council to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.  The violence in Charlottesville was instigated by neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and white-supremacists in their confrontations with counter protesters.  People of various Christian traditions including the ELCA, both local and national, where among those who gathered in Charlottesville at that time to stand with the intended victims of racism and to provide a counter-witness in the name of the God of justice, mercy, and equality whom we know in Jesus Christ.  

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Word to Good Friday and Easter 2017

Author: Bishop John Roth
“Death is ugly, a rotten deal,” writes author and preacher Fleming Rutledge.  And it is still a rotten deal even when it brings relief from pain or incapacity. The translation of John 11:39 in the King James Version is a favorite of mine because it so vividly expresses what Martha says to Jesus at the tomb of her brother, Lazarus; Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days.  Jesus says, “Take the stone away from the opening,” and Martha doesn’t think that’s a good idea.  Martha says, “Lord...he stinketh.”
I remember clearly the first time I saw an unembalmed dead body.  Her name was Bobbie.  ...
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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Word to Ash Wednesday 2017

March 1, 2017

Author: Bishop John Roth
The Scripture readings for Ash Wednesday seem to give us conflicting admonitions: on the one hand (if you are using the passage from Joel), the prophet Joel says to return to the Lord “with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning,” and on the other hand, Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel, “whenever you fast, do not look dismal…(instead) put oil on your head and wash your face.”  In other words, on the one hand, “do something public and explicit to show that you are devoting yourself to repentance and contrition.”  On the other hand, “disguise the fact that you are devoting yourself to repentance and contrition.”
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Word to Christmas 2016

Author: Bishop John Roth
On any given Sunday, but particularly around Christmas, someone is walking into a Christian church for the first time – someone who’s never been to a church service before – anywhere.  That Christian church – it could be one of our churches – may have terrific music in the service; but more than likely it wasn’t the music that tipped the scale to get that person to walk through church doors.  That church might have a pastor who is a dynamic preacher; but that visitor probably didn’t show up because of someone’s preaching reputation.  That a church might be the biggest church in town: bigness plays a role in where a person first tries out this or that church, but bigness doesn’t explain why a person tries out “church”.    That church might have a reputation for friendliness; friendliness, like bigness, influences where someone tries out church, but not why.  Meaning no disrespect to NASCAR or NASCAR fans, I’m not 
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Bishops Blog
S. John Roth was elected bishop of the Central/Southern Illinois Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in June 2011.