Newsletter of the Society of the Holy Trinity
Societas Trinitatis Sanctae
Volume 9, Number 4, After Pentecost 2006

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From the Senior

First of all, let me thank all of you for your prayers as I underwent surgery for colon cancer at the end of August. I was grateful to be able to be present and to participate in the general retreat by the end of September. While the cancer had not spread to other organs, further testing indicates that I have a high risk for recurrence and therefore I have begun a regimen of chemotherapy—24 sessions scheduled every other week. I have scheduled my sessions at the Evanston-Northwestern Kellogg Cancer Care Center on Tuesdays. Then I wear a bag that pumps the chemo into my body through a portacath for the next 46 hours and I get disconnected on Thursday. I don't know what all the side effects will be, but I already experience a great sensitivity to cold and a general fatigue by the end of the day or the week of chemotherapy.

You elected me Senior again without any of us knowing that this regimen lay ahead. But our same leadership team for the Society is in place and we work well together. Our Vicar, Carl Voges, STS, recently "retired," is willing to represent me and the Society in chapter retreats, and also visit in the parishes of our members. He will also assist Glen Johnson, STS, in the ongoing task of raising endowment money. My travels to retreats will take place during the weeks I have off from chemotherapy—stamina permitting.

One change of schedule needed to accommodate my chemo schedule is the plan for the Leadership Council Retreat. I am scheduled for treatment on the very days of January 30-February 1, 2007, that we would have the retreat. So I am rescheduling the Leadership Council Retreat for February 6-8. I'm also looking into the possibility of holding it at the St. Christopher Episcopal Retreat Center on Seabrook Island, S.C., where the Carolinas Chapter often holds its retreats, rather than in Fort Wayne, Ind. (considering my sensitivity to cold!). The date is available at the Center and Carl is looking into the possibilities of transporting air travelers from Charleston out to the island. The deans will be notified of arrangements as soon as they are made.

We will, however, be convening in general retreat on August 21-23, 2007, on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. The change of location from Mundelein, Ill., is necessitated by the fact that we have almost maxed out accommodations at St. Mary's Conference Center. If even most of our 216 members attended the general retreat, plus visitors and prospective members, St. Mary's could not accommodate us. Such has been the growth of our Society! I am also interested in seeing whether an August retreat will make it possible for most of our members to attend, since the date will avoid September parish and academic schedules. Wouldn't it be great to see the whole Society together in full force?

Why shouldn't that be possible? We've all subscribed to The Rule. We've stood at the altar and made a solemn obligation before God and our fellow pastors in the Society. We have entered into a solemn covenant with each other. We have done everything possible in this Society to make attendance at general retreats possible—scheduling, travel equalization, remission of dues for members for whom it is a financial hardship. It may be that so few of us have had any experience of a real ministerium in our church bodies that we don't understand the sense of mutual accountability that ministeriums used to command. But we have joined in this Society to learn such lessons. So let's all make our plans now to be in Fort Wayne in August—and at our chapter retreats in between.

Yours in Christ,

Frank C. Senn, STS, Senior

Report of the Secretary


The 2006 general retreat of the Society of the Holy Trinity was held September 26-28 at the Conference Center of the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Ill., and was attended by 177 pastors and laity. Frank Senn, STS, was elected by pure ecclesiastical ballot to serve the Society as Senior for a second term of three years. Thanks to dean Mark Knappe, STS, and members of the Wisconsin Chapter for conducting the election. Mark Hoffman, STS, was elected to serve the Society as Bursar for another three-year term.

We owe a special debt of gratitude to Ronald Bagnall, STS, and Richard Niebanck, STS. Both pitched in at the last minute to make presentations that could not be given by James Nestingen, STS, who could not attend due to an emergency.

The next general retreat of the Society of the Holy Trinity will be August 21-23, 2007, at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.


When pastors subscribe to the Rule of the Society of the Holy Trinity, they sign their name in a book and make the following vow: "Before God and my fellow pastors gathered here, and for the sake of the vows I spoke when I was ordained to the Holy Ministry, I, (name), hereby subscribe to the Rule of the Society of the Holy Trinity, asking the help of God and seeking the support of the Society."

The following 17 pastors subscribed to the Rule at the 2006 general retreat:
        Matthew Bahnfleth, Pierce, Nebr. / (Member at large)
        James E. Bennett, Kyle, Tex./ (Member at large)
        Charles Albert Brophy, Carlisle, Pa. / (Susquehanna Chapter)
        Joseph S. Copeck, Springfield, Ga. / (Carolinas Chapter)
        Douglas W. Giles, Cold Lake, Alberta / (Rocky Mountain-Canada Chapter)
        Larry C. Glaeske, Noonan, N. Dak. / (Rocky Mountain-Canada Chapter)
        Gary G. Hatcher, Greene, Iowa / (Member at large)
        Albert Llewellyn Hock, Strawberry Point, Iowa / (Member at large)
        Wollom A. Jensen, Alexandria, Va. / (Chesapeake-Potomac Chapter)
        Bonny Kinnunen, Iron River, Mich. / (Wisconsin Chapter)
        Dennis A. Meyer, Atlantic, Iowa / (Member at large)
        Sally Marie Meyer, Atlantic, Iowa / (Member at large)
        Norman Earl Nething, North Huntington, Pa. / (Passavant Chapter)
        Gary Carl Nuss, Galion, Ohio / (Northeast Ohio Chapter)
        Ralph W. Reitmeyer, Universal City, Tex. / (Member at large)
        Steven Martin Saxe, Greenville, S.C. / (Carolinas Chapter)
        Christopher Baird Staley, Luana, Iowa / (Member at large)

Please remember these new subscribers to the Rule in your prayers, that they may be encouraged and persevere in their callings.

John E. Priest, STS, Secretary

Report of the Bursar

The following report from the Bursar of the Society is for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2005, and ending June 30, 2006.

BALANCE FORWARD, 6/30/05:                $41,813.87
    Deposits:                           $59,437.15
    Interest:                                   119.01
    Transfer to Money Market:   (5,000.00)
TOTAL DEPOSITS                                    $54,556.16

    Administration:                        239.00
    Fund raising                                0.00
    General & council retreats:   32,693.86
    Newsletter:                            2,710.00
    Chapter visitation:                    570.07
    Travel equalization:               9,426.58
TOTAL EXPENSES                                  ($45,639.51)

GENERAL ACCOUNT BALANCE             $50,730.52

Mark A. Hoffman, STS, Bursar

Thank You

The Society of the Holy Trinity would like to thank the following Archangels, Angels, and Saints for their financial contributions during the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2006:

    ARCHANGELS—for contributions of $500 or more
        Pr. Francis Bonadonna
        Douglas and Gerri Elletson
        Pr. George Muenich
        Helen Smith
        Charles H. Solem
        Christ Lutheran Church, York, Pa.
        Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Wichita, Kans.
        Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Abington, Pa.
        Redeemer Lutheran Church, Allentown, Pa.
        St. John Lutheran Church, Royal, Ill.
        St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Farmingdale, N.Y.
        St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, White Plains, N.Y.

    ANGELS—for contributions of $250 or more
        Arthur Birkenstock
        Pr. Louis R. Fawcett
        Pr. Daniel Hoffmann
        Pr. James Peters
        Pr. W. Stevens Shipman
        Pr. Jack Traugott
        Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Lexington, Va.
        Grace Lutheran Church, Hockessin, Del.
        St. Mark's Lutheran Church, Williamsport, Pa.
        St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Dillsburg, Pa.
        Zion Lutheran Church, Peoria, Ill.
        Zion Lutheran Church, Worcester, Maine
        Zoar Lutheran Church, Lebanon, Pa.

    SAINTS—for contributions of $100 or more
        Pr. Cathy Ammlung
        Pr. Ronald B. Bagnall
        Marjorie McDaniel
        Pr. Robert McGurn
        Pr. Richard J. Niebanck
        Pr. David Poedel
        Pr. Frederick J. Schumacher
        Pr. Kenneth Tegtmeier
        Jean L. Weingarth
        Pr. Larry J. Yoder
        Wayne Yoder
        Christ Lutheran Church, East Moriches, N.Y.
        Christ the Mediator Lutheran Church, Chicago, Ill.
        Grace Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, Pa.
        Hope Lutheran Church, Mojave, Calif.
        Zion Lutheran Church, Seven Valleys, Pa.

Appreciation for Society Hospitality

The following letter was sent to Senior Frank Senn and all members of the Society by Josh Messner. Josh represented Augsburg Fortress Publishers at the general retreat in September, bringing with him an ample supply of available books. With his permission, we include his letter in this newsletter so that all members of the Society may read his gracious thank-you for the hospitality shown at the recent retreat.

Dear Pr. Senn and all members of the Society,

Greetings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Pastor Senn, for extending the invitation to attend this year's general retreat and thanks to all of you for the warm welcome and great interest in our book display.

It is clear from being with you that you are faithful servants to your flocks and skillful preachers of Christ. The Society is truly a blessing and I am glad to see it strengthening and comforting those who pour out so much of themselves for the Gospel every week. We can only pray that all clergy would be as committed as you to the prayerful deliberation of God's will.

It was also a joy—even a relief—to see so many black clerics. It is no small thing to wear a uniform properly.

In addition to depleting our supplies of The Hammer of God and The People's Work, many of you took home an assortment of other Augsburg Fortress titles. I hope these books will edify you and your parishioners and strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ.

I appreciated the straightforward and candid comments many of you made regarding the Augsburg Fortress publishing program. Such constructive and engaging criticism is to be commended. Please continue this thoughtful, honest engagement with us at AFP as we work—with varying degrees of success—to meet the needs of a struggling church.

God willing, I will join you again in the future. In the meantime, God's peace be with you. Thanks again for your hospitality.

In Christ,

Josh Messner

From the Tippet Master

All members of the Society who would like to order a tippet may do so from C. M. Almy [1-800-225-2569]. The tippet is Order #32410 and the cost is $75.00 each; the seals are Order #49229 and the cost is $94.00 each. There is no cost to apply the seals when you order the tippet and seals together. If you should find yourself having difficulty, you may call on me. I can be reached by e-mail at or you may call St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Farmingdale, N.Y., 516-249-1220.

Francis D. Bonadonna, STS, Metro New York Chapter

Iowa Chapter to Be Organized

Senior Frank Senn will be traveling to Iowa to help organize an Iowa Chapter on November 13-14 at the American Martyrs Retreat House near Cedar Falls, Iowa. He will also serve as teaching theologian and give a talk on "Normative Lutheran Piety." Thanks to David Aanonson, STS, for pulling together the new and prospective members in Iowa to make this new chapter a reality.

Multi-Chapter Retreat

A multi-chapter retreat of the Society took place on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS), Fort Wayne, Ind., November 6-8, 2006. Participating chapters included Great Rivers (Timothy D. Hubert, dean), Michigan-Eastern Canada (David M. Darling, dean), Northeast Ohio (Richard L. Ramirez, dean), and Northern Illinois (Keith Forni, interim dean). Confessors for the conference were provided by the Northeast Ohio Chapter, and Chaplains were provided by the Great Rivers Chapter. William Kirsch-Carr, STS, served as teaching theologian, focusing on "Theosis." Keith Forni, STS, led a panel presentation and group discussion on keeping a holy Advent season in the parish. Coinciding with the retreat, the annual conference of the Good Shepherd Institute offered retreatants the opportunity to gather in worship for choral vespers and to take in a sampling of plenary and elective sessions offered by CTS faculty members. The multi-chapter retreat made it possible for members of the Society to spend time in mutual care and consolation of brothers and sisters across local chapters.

Reported by Keith Forni, STS,
interim dean, Northern Illinois

Chapter News

Dean, Michael Guy,

The Chesapeake-Potomac Chapter met August 1, 2006, at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Comforter in Washington, D.C. Mark Schroeder, STS, dean of the Virginia Chapter, was the Society visitor. In the afternoon Mark oversaw the ecclesiastical balloting and the election of dean. On the seventh ballot, Michael Guy, STS, of St. Phillip's Church in Baltimore was elected. We who were in attendance look forward to Michael's leadership. He was installed as dean at the general retreat in Mundelein in September.

The annual Advent retreat of the chapter will take place December 4-5 at the Trinitarian Spiritual Center, Park Heights, Baltimore, Md.

Reported by Rod L. Ronneberg, STS,
former acting dean, Chesapeake-Potomac Chapter

Dean, Rodney L. Eberhardt,

The Metro New York Chapter conducted its fall retreat November 6-7 at St. Ignatius Retreat House in Manhasset, N.Y. We welcomed several new guests.

Our winter retreat will be held at St. Ignatius on February 26-27, 2007. The subject will be the ecumenical commitments and significance of the Rule. We have tentatively scheduled Fr. Benedict Groeschel as our presenter.

Our usual business and reflection retreat will be held on May 14-15 at St Ignatius.

The chapter is honored to be celebrating the consecration of Aubrey Bougher, STS, as bishop in the International Lutheran Fellowship and the 25th anniversary of ordination of Eric Mathsen, STS. We are currently engaged in pastoral visits of the members of the chapter.

Dean, William J. Wilson,

The Minnesota Chapter will hold its annual Advent retreat from noon to noon on December 4-5 at Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo, Minn. The Rev. Larry Wohlrabe, former assistant to the bishop in Southwestern Minnesota and currently Senior Pastor at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Moorhead, Minn., will present several sessions on N. T. Wright's book, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. Chapter members are asked to re-read the book before the retreat. Other features of the retreat will be an Advent hymn sing and the election of a dean.

Reported by Pari Bailey, STS,
Minnesota Chapter

Dean, Richard L. Ramirez,

Members of the Northeast Ohio Chapter attended the general retreat of the Society in September, enjoying the hospitality of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. We also attended the multi-chapter retreat at Fort Wayne in early November, once again enjoying the exemplary hospitality shown us by the Concordia Theological Seminary folks.

The chapter is planning a local retreat on December 4-5. The topic for the retreat is "Praying the Daily Office: Resources, Techniques, and Growing into the Rule."

Dean, Brad Everett,

James Nestingen, STS, will be the teaching theologian and Society visitor when the Rocky Mountain Chapter meets in retreat November 26-28 at the Providence Renewal Centre in Edmonton, Alberta. For the last several years our chapter has begun its November retreat on Christ the King Sunday. While there was some initial resistance to having a retreat so close to Advent, with all its activity, the chapter has found it is a good opportunity to take a step back and regain our focus in preparation for this season. It is also a helpful reminder that our real business as pastors is prayer, no matter how busy the time.

Dean, Beth A. Schlegel,

The Susquehanna Chapter is gathering for an Advent retreat at Villa Sacred Heart in Danville, Pa., on December 4-5. We will reflect on the Pastoral Rule of Gregory the Great and elect a chapter dean.

From the Vicar

Admittedly, this is a biased view, but the retreats of our ministerium (both general and chapter) are, quite honestly, gifts from the Lord God to our ministries. As the Society matures, the retreats help us see more clearly and deeply how the Lord's Life works into and through our parish communities.

While we are keenly aware of the driftiness within the Lutheran church structures, we are equally aware of the difficulties in carrying out the ministry given us by the Lord God. Such difficulties can leave us gasping for rejuvenation. We fret over the baptized who are drying off the waters of that holy event while re-settling themselves in the life given them at birth! We keep running into people who build their lives around the gods of their making (one person of my acquaintance says we need the three Ls: Luck [this was designated the most important!], Love, and Longevity)!

With these realities swirling around us, we made our way to the September general retreat. There we were drenched with the Lord's Life overflowing us through his Scriptures and Sacraments. Through the worshiping, the teaching, the preaching, the conversing, and the praying, the richness of his Life bore fully into our lives. The impact of those three days and two nights was overwhelming. As we pulled away from the retreat Thursday afternoon (exhausted and exhilarated) we recognized again that it is the Lord God who continually rejuvenates the Society of the Holy Trinity.

This rejuvenation does not occur because of us (even though we are very much involved). It occurs because the Lord is pushing his Life into ours through the Scriptures and Sacraments. Even though we are not worthy of such a push, through his grace and mercy he is relentless in doing it. This pushing stirs up and sustains the Life we have in him.

It is necessary and stimulating that this rejuvenation occurs. It enables us to carry the Lord's Life to those skipping over their Baptism or embracing it; to those ignoring the Scriptures or reading, hearing, and studying them; to those waving off the Supper or seeking it at every opportunity; to those dismissing forgiveness or aching for it.

Yes, carrying out the ministry given us by the Lord God is difficult. We are constantly struggling with the cultures that swirl around the lives of all the baptized. With an unrelenting attractiveness, the cultures plead with us to focus on ourselves, to build up power, to accumulate incomes, and to seek pleasure.

We are also constantly dealing with the driftiness within the structures of the Lutheran church. Increasingly we notice that the gnosticism and pelagianism of the Church's early centuries is still surfacing today. Like deadly viruses, these "isms" have not gone away, but have skillfully merged into current forms and patterns of thinking and doing. This driftiness is also being fed by pharisaism. It is startling to note how huge that presence is in the Gospels, but how little it is perceived today. This virus is just as deadly as the other "isms" and needs to be confronted by the Lord's Life so we can be freed of its grip.

This is why it is so good for the Lord God to gift us with the retreats of our ministerium. Through the breaking and restoring that is unique to him, he continues to work his Life into and through our parish communities. Thankfully, his working includes the rejuvenation of those who serve his parishes!

Carl A Voges, STS, Vicar


News and reflection from the Society of the Holy Trinity

Volume 9, Number 4, After Pentecost 2006
Editor: Constance R. Seddon
Editorial office: 6239 Rosebury Ave., 1E, St. Louis, MO  63105
314-721-8262 /

To be placed on the De Trinitate mailing list or to report a change of address, please contact the Secretary, below.

Senior: Pr. Frank C. Senn
Immanuel Lutheran Church, 616 Lake Street, Evanston, IL  60201
847-864-4464 /

Vicar: Pr. Carl A. Voges,
129 Pond Ridge Road, Columbia, SC  29223
803-788-6656 or 803-269-6656 /

Secretary: Pr. John E. Priest
Immanuel Lutheran Church, 17 High Street, Delhi, NY  13753
607-746-2098 /

Bursar: Pr. Mark A. Hoffman
St. John Lutheran Church, 502 E. Nueva St., San Antonio, TX  78205
210-223-2611 /

Society of the Holy Trinity

Copyright © 2006 Society of the Holy Trinity. All rights reserved.
Last Revised -- 2 December 2006

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