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Arts, Workforce… and South Dakota Uses Public Resources to Help Anti-Gay Churches Find a Pastor

In my random blog-walk of the morning, I get from empathy and arts in government to the state helping an anti-gay church find a pastor.

My post just now about art’s ability to develop empathy reminded me of a press release last week from Governor Dennis Daugaard’s office about a workforce development report released at last week’s Western Governors’ Association meeting in Rapid City. This report reflects Governor Daugaard’s approach to education as a cattle chute to meet employers’ needs. In 22 pages, the report hints at a possible role for artsy-fartsiness once, on page 6:

Increasingly, employers identify skills such as critical thinking, creativity and interpersonal communication as keys to success in the 21st century workforce [Western Governors’ Association, 2018 Workforce Development Initiative, June 2018, p. 6].

Critical thinking, creativity, and communication are all skills that are improved by a rich liberal arts education in which students practice those skills by engaging with great novels, poems, plays, movies, paintings, sculptures, symphonies, and songs to interpret the intent of the artists and to live the experiences of the characters portrayed. But the WGA doesn’t mention arts as a component of making better workers; no, no, no, the governors just say we need to Integrate State Efforts to Value All Pathways to Connect Education to In-Demand Careers while we Upgrade Skills and Address Rural Challenges (the latter point is of particular importance, apparently, because robots are going to plant all of our crops and build all of our stuff, leaving most of the rural workforce wondering what humans are for, which existential angst the rural governors will solve by giving rural folks broadband so they can telecommute).

Apparently one of the exemplar Integrated State Efforts to develop workforce is South Dakota’s Hot Careers website, which lists jobs that “meet criteria based on high-wage, high-demand jobs in South Dakota.” According to the South Dakota Department of Labor, “high demand” means more than eighteen openings each year,  and “high-wage” means more than $38,503 a year.

Making that grade is Clergy, which the state says has an average annual demand of 45 and an annual wage of $43,845. But right now, Hot Careers lists just two Clergy jobs: a chaplain at Avera in Mitchell and a pastor in Buffalo. Here’s the pitch from Buffalo’s Shortgrass Lutheran Parish:

Greetings and Gods Blessings to you! Shortgrass Lutheran Parish (LCMC) is searching for our new pastor. We are a 3 point parish consisting of 3 small rural churches headquartered out of Buffalo, SD. All the safety and kindness of a ranching and small town community, but also a Blue Ribbon school district, and plenty of Gods work taking place through the activities of the Parish! We have much to offer and pray God will connect us with the pastor that has been searching for us! If you, or a pastor you know of may be a fit for us, please check us out. If not, prayers are gratefully accepted! Our position is listed on the LCMC website, the Lutheran Core page, or contact: Darwin Latham- SGLP Search Chairman for more information or to request a digital information/application packet. Call or text (605)641-9041 Email . Thank you for your time, and best wishes to you from Shortgrass Lutheran Parish! [job listing #jo_822525548, South Dakota Department of Labor, retrieved 2018.07.02]

The Shortgrass Lutheran Parish is less than a decade old: the three churches—Bethlehem in LudlowLadner; and Little Missouri just across the border in Capitol, Montana—split off from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in opposition to the ELCA’s  2009 decision to allow the ordination of openly gay pastors. Usually Lutheran pastor jobs are handled within the synod; they don’t post their jobs online for applications or interviews; the church council gets together, reviews the roster of pastors available for a new call, invites a pastor to interview and preach, then listens to see if God is calling that pastor to that church. The Lutheran God usually doesn’t make that call through the state job board.

And I don’t usually see my tax dollars being used to help a church find a pastor. Even if the job is high-wage and high-demand—and while I have my doubts about how much compensation a three-point parish with a total average attendance of 62 can muster, I’m sure their demand for a pastor who will drive 125 high lonesome miles to give three sermons every Sunday far outstrips supply—I have to wonder why those of us who don’t get all schismatic over gay pastors or who don’t even go listen to pastors on Sunday are footing the bill for a tiny rural parish’s pastor search.

I do have empathy for my fellow South Dakotans trying to maintain basic community institutions in a place where there’s only one person every two square miles. But I hope they’ll empathize with me when I express First Amendment concerns about expending state resources to help any church find a pastor, not to mention churches that have exacerbated their own workforce challenges by splitting off from a larger organization to preserve their stance against homosexuals.


  1. Mark S Smith 2018-07-02 10:29

    In Huron there was a breakaway church formed as a result of this. Two District 22 Elected Legislative members are in the new church
    because of this.

  2. dave knudsen 2018-07-02 11:32

    The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. After 227 years, this is really getting tiresome. Can someone please tell me what part is hard to understand? U.S. Constitution, Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; …

  3. Nick Nemec 2018-07-02 11:50

    This Catholic boy notes that the Protestant Reformation continues 500 years on. Luther would be proud.

  4. grudgenutz 2018-07-02 12:29

    Is that the same Dave Knudsen (above) who was Janklow’s chief of staff or whatever in ’99, and who tried to carry Bobblehead Bill’s attempt to make a felony out of EVERY “drug” offense through a committee?

    If so, have you had an epiphany?

  5. grudznick 2018-07-02 13:25

    Bob, my good friend, you know that was Dave Knudson, a man with a voracious appetite for eggs but who ate them scrambled and with copious amounts of salt.

  6. Porter Lansing 2018-07-02 16:08

    Thanks, Grudzie. I wondered who G-Nutz was.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-02 16:17

    Can anyone else give examples of churches advertising for pastors on the state job board?

  8. dave knudsen 2018-07-02 18:33

    Grudgenutz – if you check your spelling, that was a “-son”, not a “-sen”, and possibly even Norwegian. So I can’t make any excuses for his behavior. Besides, in ’99 I was living in Santa Cruz. No, really. Incidentally, if I read the dictionary definition correctly, I have an epiphany at least once a day.

  9. Porter Lansing 2018-07-02 18:50

    Although they aren’t hard and fast rules, it seems common for Norwegian surnames to end in sen and Swedish surnames to end in son. (or sson, if they haven’t been shortened). As an exercise, pay attention to the athlete’s names in the next winter Olympics. Most Norsk are sen’s and most Swedes are son.
    As an aside … As a young kid I asked my fully German Grandma why we didn’t talk funny, like the people in Minnesota and many of the people in Eastern SoDak. She immediately replied, “Because your Grandfather was Swedish, not a stupid Norwegian.” (just thought I’d share that, even though it’s not true.) :0)

  10. dave knudsen 2018-07-02 19:03

    I can’t speak on whatever the svensk are up to, but most of the norsk I’ve encountered here in SD spell it Knutson. My family’s Dansk, and at least here in the midwest they seem to be consistent in the same manner. Although once, on a rainy afternoon, I counted 17 different spellings of Knudsen on 26 pages in the Kobnhavn DK phone book.

  11. Porter Lansing 2018-07-02 19:14

    That’s a lot of variety, huh? From the article (The last line is common in USA because of Norwegian jokes, Sven and Ollie? lol) …
    ~ Danish people generally use -sen (or just -s, as in Johns instead of Johnsen) for a son and -datter or -sdatter for a daughter. Southern Danes sometimes used -sen or -s for a daughter, as well.
    Danish surnames ending in -sen are the most common type of Danish surname these days. In the U.S., descendants of Danish and Norwegian immigrants often have similar names that end in -sen, though some people in the U.S. have changed the spelling to -son.

  12. Debbo 2018-07-02 21:27

    Is advertising on the Hot Careers site free with the state footing the bill? That would be a problem. I think. However, it is a job. A job is a job is a job, right?

    Yeah, it’s not going to pay $38,000, unless they throw in some acreage to go with the parsonage, livestock, transportation or something similar. I suppose the Missouri Synod expects them to pay for insurance and so on.

    They really hamstrung themselves going with the LCMC, thereby cutting their pastor pool in half. The Missourians think only men can be pastors.

    Oh well. Good luck. They’re gonna need it.

  13. grudznick 2018-07-02 21:32

    What do the Germans do, Mr. Lansing?

  14. Porter Lansing 2018-07-02 21:45

    What do you mean, Grudz? Germans in Germany or Russian Volga German descendants in The Dakota’s?

  15. Porter Lansing 2018-07-02 22:19

    Grudzie and I are old enough that when we went to school the cultural mannerisms and tendencies of a student’s heritage were avoided. We were taught that, “We’re all the same, inside.” What a crock!! Kids where I live are taught just the opposite. There’s a reason people think, speak and act the way they do. Middle aged and older people avoiding those heritage tendencies is a big cause of USA’s division. Everyone’s heritage is special. Denying and criticizing that is mostly “white supremacy”.

  16. grudznick 2018-07-02 22:19

    I think I meant the Volga ones, who drink beers in returnable bottles at the bowling ally there. Yes, the Russian German descendants, specifically those who live in Volga, SD. What do they do?

    I only ask, as I’m in the process of taking one of those spit tests to find out if I’m a prince in Bucharest or Liberia. I find that at my age, if one does not have an inquiring mind one goes insaner than most on just sheer boredom.

    PS: My spit test took hours.

  17. Porter Lansing 2018-07-02 22:34

    Those Germans, huh? Lots are like you and Kurtz. Some are like me and Cory. I’ll predict Grudzie is 1/3 German, 1/3 Irish and the rest is just Billy-goat. 🐐🐐🐐

  18. Anne Beal 2018-07-03 07:43

    Reading these comments, it seems few are disturbed about clergy jobs being posted on a state website, even less disturbed by doctrinal differences. Which is a good thing. First Amendment and all that.
    If we start seeing job postings for wives in Pringle we might be a bit concerned.

  19. mike from iowa 2018-07-03 08:02

    PS: My spit test took hours.

    They should have shown you a photo of HRC.

    As for me, any wingnut photo would get me spitting.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-03 15:46

    Correction, Debbo! The parish in question isn’t part of Missouri Synod; LCMC is Lutheran Congregations in Missions for Christ, the “Core” churches that broke off from ELCA after 2009.

    Anne, the government has no First Amendment rights. The government cannot promote religion. The church has First Amendment freedom from interference from the government, but it does not have a First Amendment right to use taxpayer dollars to advertise itself, its mission, or its job needs.

    I will be just as upset if the state starts posting job openings for imams at mosques.

  21. T 2018-07-03 16:30

    Can’t help but wonder if
    It was a moslomic religious leader
    Once a door is opened …,,,,
    All must be allowed in

  22. Debbo 2018-07-03 21:32

    Oh. Thanks Cory. Too many nearly identical denoms of Lutheranism. Baptists are about the same. Whenever somebody gets peeved, they branch out into a new denomination. Go figure.

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