Some Questions for the Council of Presidents from Pastor Wilken and the Spectre of a Skunk Meeting, by Pastor Rossow

Yesterday Pastor Wilken posted a comment on the President Benke story that is worthy of re-posting here for all to read. Pastor Wilken wonders why the Council of Presidents is so concerned about restricting input on the proposals from the Blue Ribbon Task Force.

On Monday we posted one of the typical letters that went out from District Presidents asking people to ignore the Interested Laymen’s Survey that appeared on the web last week. The Interested Laymen are trying to address the secret and opaque way in which the Blue Ribbon Task Force is handling input in response to their proposals. They are taking surveys but not publishing the results. They are also taking input on the synodical website but are not doing so transparently which is so easy to do in this modern information age.

We encourage all of our readers to take this survey. It is fair and balanced and even includes the link to the synodical website so that survey-takers can go directly to the Blue Ribbon’s input page and tell them what they think of the proposals. We here at BJS believe the proposals will increase centralized power in our synod and  also restrict participation from congregations as we have now. We encourage you to take a look for yourself and see what you think. The survey is not easy. It takes at least 45 minutes but the Interested Laymen and made it possible for you to sign in and out of the survey so you can take it a bit at a time.

Yesterday we posted a story including an e-mail from President Benke to the Interested Laymen in which he demanded that they “cease and desist” their efforts to get open and transparent feedback from the synod.

Here is  Pastor Wilken’s comment (comment #4) in response to all of this:

Well now, Dr. Benke’s edict raises so many questions:

  • Why would Dr. Benke want to stifle the free flow of information and suffocate open conversation about President Kieschnick’s plan to restructure the LCMS?
  • Why doesn’t the COP want the laity learning all they can about, and voicing their opinions on President Kieschnick’s plan to restructure the LCMS?
  • Does the COP have legislative authority in the LCMS? Do its decisions have binding force on anyone other than its members? Can the COP issue orders that the pastors, congregations and laity of the LCMS are required to follow?
  • Is Dr. Benke authorized to speak for the COP, or issue orders on its behalf?
  • The legal definition of “cease and desist” is “an order of a court or government agency to a person, business or organization to stop doing something upon a strong showing that the activity is harmful and/or contrary to law.” (Of the several capacities listed by Dr. Benke, I didn’t see that he is also a civil judge or governmental official.)

A “cease and desist” order is usually a prelude to legal action.

Does Dr. Benke contemplate bringing legal action against the recipients of his email if they don’t comply with his order?

We have one more question to ask. We have done a little digging and so far it does not look as though this was an official action from the council of presidents. We have asked several district presidents for documentation that this was  an official act on their part,  including a request from the Interested Laymen to President Benke. None has been forthcoming. So, this all looks like a skunk meeting on behalf of a few district presidents who have made it appear as though it is an official decision of the COP. Since they will not answer the question we will have to wait a month until the minutes come out. If it was an official act of the Council of Presidents then shame on them for seeking to limit free and open input. If it was an unofficial meeting then shame on those presidents who have made it look as though it was official and from on high when all along it carries merely the spectre of an official decree.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Administrative Pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church and School in Naperville, Illinois. He is the founder of the Brothers of John the Steadfast. He is also a partner in Wittenberg Church Consultants. He enjoys watercolor painting, gardening, and watching college football and basketball. He has an M Div from Concordia, St. Louis, an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a Doctorate of Ministry from Concordia, Ft. Wayne.


Some Questions for the Council of Presidents from Pastor Wilken and the Spectre of a Skunk Meeting, by Pastor Rossow — 4 Comments

  1. If a “rump parliament” issued that decree, how many DP’s obediently sent out the discouraging letter? And why did they, if they weren’t involved in the decision?

  2. The last time I checked, DP Benke was not the Chairman of the Council of Presidents. As such, unless the COP has so authorized his letter on their behalf, he (DP Benke) is upsurding the power of the COP for his own interests. If so, perhaps some Christian in the Atlantic District could instruct this DP on vocation and the Fourth Commandment. I can fathom no good reason why a letter to the originator’s of this alternate survey on the BRTFSSG would not bear the entire COP weight if indeed they, as a collective body, are the source of said letter.

  3. The memo that I recieved from the district (secretary) was addressed:

    To: Council of Presidents for Public Distribution

    Re: A response to the unofficial invitation for individuals to respond to the BRTFFS via web survey

    But there was no source indicated in the memo. If the COP is really the source, then I would expect them to claim authorship.

  4. Rev. James Kusko said in #3:
    “But there was no source indicated in the memo. If the COP is really the source, then I would expect them to claim authorship.”

    There is an item posted on the Northwest District Web page that indicates that Rev. Dr. Larry Stoterau, Pacific Southwest District President “has sent out the attached memo to all District Presidents regarding the e-mail from the unofficial group that was circulated recently.”

    I assumed at first that that meant Rev. Storerau “composed” the memo, but I guess “sent out” could just mean that he forwarded it along.

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