The Blue Ribbon Task Farce Comes to SID, by Pr. Charles Henrickson

February 21st, 2009 Post by

Charles Henrickson(Note: While many of us are upset about the treatment of Todd and Jeffâ„¢, and rightly so, we need to connect the dots and see this IE issue as a symptom of a larger problem, i.e. [id est, "that is"], The Powers That Be at 1333. Who’s in charge at the Violet Vatican ®, and what they’re planning to do–that’s where we need to pay greater attention and take action, effective action, especially this year and next, to stop them in their tracks and change course. I will have a lot more to say about this in the months to come, and critiquing the sweeping and far-reaching Restructuring Proposals will be a big part of that. CH)

President Kieschnick’s Blue Ribbon Task Farce came to Southern Illinois yesterday (Feb. 20) to put on their traveling dog-and-pony show. And I, like a modern-day Martin Stephan crossing the river from Missouri to Illinois as a form of punishment, was there to observe. Two hours out of my life that I will never get back. But forewarned is forearmed, and that is why I went. North Dakota in January, and now SID in February–these two early conventions are serving as canaries in the coal mine for what’s in store for the rest of us in mid-April to early July.

BRTFSSGThe Blue Ribbon Task Farce–no, that is not a typo. For what I observed was indeed a farce. Even apart from the specific proposals, just the way this whole thing is being handled and presented is a joke. The BRTFSSG was given two hours to present, the first hour to conduct their “survey,” the second hour for Q & A. President Jerry Kieschnick, First Vice-President Bill Diekelman, and Chairman Robert Greene were there to represent the BRTFSSG.

Here are some reasons why I think the whole process is a farce:

A Moving Target. In August the BRTFSSG came out with one set of “Proposals and Possibilities”. In January they made a presentation to the North Dakota District Convention that was significantly different. Now in February the presentation to the Southern Illinois District Convention is different again. Chairman Greene assured us this was the “final” version, as it will be presented to the remaining 33 district conventions, but then President Kieschnick contradicted him and said that the other presentations  could be different still. And these people want us to vote on this stuff next July??

Don’t Mess with Texts! That seems to be the attitude of the BRTFSSG. They have not posted a text-only version of either the North Dakota or Southern Illinois presentations. They have only posted a color-and-graphic-intensive “Flash Player” version, but you cannot copy and paste the text from that into other places, in order to distribute and discuss the proposals within congregations, circuits, and other forums. And they have not posted any version at all of their “feedback” survey form.

Change Overload. The BRTFSSG presents their proposals under 19 (for the moment) major headings, but each category can include several “recommended solutions,” and the cumulative effect would mean huge, broad, sweeping changes in our structure and governance. This is a lot to digest, even if the proposed changes were good ones! And they expect us to make fully-informed, well-thought-out decisions on each proposal, any one of which could have enormous ramifications?

The Devil Is in the Details. And we’re lacking the details. So much is still vague at this point. What would be the exact changes in the Constitution and Bylaws? The proposed changes would entail a mountain of work to be done on the Handbook. And they want us to vote on this next year??

The Clock Is Ticking. See above. We’re about 16 months out from the national convention, a little over a year out from the Convention Workbook–and there’s plenty to prepare for just for the regular business–and this is as far as they’ve got?? I don’t see any way possible for this thing to be ready to go, in final Handbook form, with adequate time for thorough debate and discussion, all across Synod, in every congregation and circuit and district. We’re not even close. And that would be the case even if the proposals were not so far-reaching and controversial, which they are.

One Side. One Slant. One Spin. What would be helpful in weighing these proposals would be to see and hear the best arguments on each side, pro and con, of each question. But instead we only get the “pro” side, couched in flowery terms. Thus it sounds like propaganda.

The Skewed Survey Gimmick (SSG). The first hour of the BRTFSSG presentation consists of Greene and Diekelman reading the 19 proposal sections–with no opportunity for discussion or debate. Each section is immediately followed by the respondents marking a corresponding set of survey statements, on a range from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” But without having a full discussion and debate on each point first, how can we expect the respondents to give well-informed answers? Furthermore, the survey statements, many of them, are worded in a vague, confusing, or loaded manner, e.g.: “2.2 Reaffirm, clarify, amplify, and strengthen Constitution (Art. VIII) and Bylaws to enhance doctrinal unity.” This loaded statement presumes the Constitution and Bylaws need fixing in this regard. What if you want to “reaffirm” the Constitution article and therefore not change it? And who could be against “doctrinal unity”? But if you agree with the need for doctrinal unity does that mean you endorse every “solution” of the BRTFSSG? It should not. But that is how I am afraid the survey results will be extrapolated. “See? 75% are in favor of doctrinal unity! Therefore they support our proposals!” Non sequitur.

By the way, on the BRTFSSG website, they do have posted proposed wording for several constitutional amendments, but a) these are only “provisional,” b) they were not even read (much less discussed or debated) at the district presentation, and c) you cannot copy and paste the text from the website into other formats, in order to discuss them in a forum such as this. This is but a small sample of the inept handling of the process by the BRTFSSG–and this is one of their better cases, where they actually have come up with some proposed Handbook wording!

Enough for now on the flawed process of President Kieschnick’s Blue Ribbon Task Farce. In the days and weeks to come, I will take up the even worse content of the Restructuring Proposals.






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  1. Boaz
    February 21st, 2009 at 18:51 | #1

    So basically, they get 2 hours to propagandize and obtain marketing info to prepare for the big push next year?

  2. February 21st, 2009 at 19:06 | #2

    “So basically, they get 2 hours to propagandize and obtain marketing info to prepare for the big push next year?”

    That’s about it. The second hour is Q & A, and there were some good points made at the mikes by delegates–generally challenging the BRTFSSG proposals–but those could only touch on a few of the many, many proposed changes, and Greene or Kieschnick would say, “Thank you, write it down.”

    What would be better is a formal back-and-forth debate, arguments pro and con, both sides prepared in advance, on each proposal. Also, instead of just “A” or “B” options, why not consider “C” or “D”? But all that would take a lot more time, and people would hear “the other side.”

  3. Quinn M
    February 21st, 2009 at 19:10 | #3

    You know, Melanchthon changed the AC a lot too, but that was in order to let false doctrine in, this must be different…

  4. February 21st, 2009 at 19:20 | #4

    Changing structure and governance can be a way to consolidate the power of those protecting or promoting bad doctrine and practice, and, conversely, to marginalize and neutralize those who object!

  5. Bob E.
    February 21st, 2009 at 20:15 | #5

    Thank you so much Pr. Hendrickson for doing this important scouting for us too lazy or busy to attend the SID convention. Kudos to you.

  6. Bob E.
    February 21st, 2009 at 20:16 | #6

    Sorry I spelled your name wrong. I always do that.

  7. February 21st, 2009 at 20:55 | #7

    Could we have a restructuring to rename the restructuring task force?

    BRTFSSG? Acronyms 101 = FAIL

    More seriously, thank you Pr. Henrickson, for keeping us up to date. Wish we could give you your two hours back somehow as a thank you.

  8. February 21st, 2009 at 21:14 | #8

    “Wish we could give you your two hours back somehow as a thank you.”

    The things I do for you people. . . .

  9. Todd Wilken
    February 21st, 2009 at 21:18 | #9

    This is a pig in a poke.

    I bought a used car last week. The salesman let me test drive it, showed me the carfax report, told me how he got the car, reviewed everything he had replaced on the car, offered to let me take it home for a night, and offered me a warranty –all this before I decided to buy it.

    It’s sad when President Kieschnick’s Restructuring is sold to the synod with less due diligence than a used car salesman.

    It’s clear already that these District presentations are perfunctory.

    Not to mention that the proposals, if passed, would rob congregations and the laity of their voice, while requiring them to pay for the privilege.

    TW

  10. February 22nd, 2009 at 08:21 | #10

    The other thing that stood out on this presentation was how President Kieschnick used his “bully pulpit” to spin these proposals. He would jump up and almost push Dr. Greene out of the way to “explain”. It was as if his task force chairman wasn’t smart enough to make the presentation, so K had to “add detail” to the explanation. Kieschnick did this several times at our convention. He went to the mic during the debate on the Fan into Flame resolution to speak. He should not be granted that opportunity. For future conventions, beware of his “bully pulpit” tactics. If possible, call the question before he speaks. He needs to be silenced and allow the districts to be (as he himself put it) “Synod in this place.” We can function wonderfully without him.

  11. Sam Lewis
    February 22nd, 2009 at 08:44 | #11

    This article talks allot about the text not being available to distribute and discuss. Seems to ring a bell to me, hmm, the text of the Confutation to the AC wasn’t available either, unless the Lutherans then promised not to write a response. Maybe Darth K. would offer us the same deal?
    Sam

  12. February 22nd, 2009 at 20:37 | #12

    “This is but a small sample of the inept handling of the process”

    Is it inept or deliberate?

  13. Heartbroken
    February 22nd, 2009 at 22:10 | #13

    No kidding, Pastor Wilken? You bought a car?
    At the BJS conference, Chris Rosebrough showed us how he got his car detailed with the Pirate Christian radio logo….will you be doing the same to your car, or would that be trademark infringement??? ;-)

    Chris’ car is very cool. I’m wishing you would put the Issues, Etc. logo on yours. It would be just as cool. :-)

  14. Eric Ramer
    February 23rd, 2009 at 08:28 | #14

    Elephantschild (#7):

    When you BRTFSSG in polite company, ediquitte demands you say “excuse me”.

    Walking Together – Replacing the Cross that doesn’t with the Cross that isn’t. The Cross in absentia. :(

  15. Luther Gulseth
    February 25th, 2009 at 11:53 | #15


    By the way, on the BRTFSSG website, they do have posted proposed wording for several constitutional amendments, but a) these are only “provisional,” b) they were not even read (much less discussed or debated) at the district presentation, and c) you cannot copy and paste the text from the website into other formats, in order to discuss them in a forum such as this. This is but a small sample of the inept handling of the process by the BRTFSSG–and this is one of their better cases, where they actually have come up with some proposed Handbook wording!

    I have made pdf and odt (OpenOffice.org) files of this document for ease of discussion. They can be found for download here:

    http://www.gulseth.net/LCMS_Constitutional_amendments_proposal.pdf
    http://www.gulseth.net/LCMS_Constitutional_amendments_proposal.odt

    In Christ,
    Luther

  16. Marcy
    February 25th, 2009 at 12:42 | #16

    If you really don’t like the way things are going and this is the feeling I get. The only recourse is – although there are good ideas – is to strongly disagree; or disagree on the survey. Sends everything back to the drawing board.

  17. Ken
    February 25th, 2009 at 16:08 | #17

    Pro and con? Don’t you know by now that that would be a “bureaucratic structure standing in the way of change” and permitting those “who do not share the vision” to get in the way? Read Aubrey Malphurs’ book. You have to get them out of your way; if you can’t bring them around, kick them out!

    (This is known as church growth.)

  18. Luther Gulseth
    February 27th, 2009 at 00:32 | #18

    It has come to my attention that I made some errors formatting the proposal document. I have fixed the error and uploaded the new files. Right click to download the files.

    http://www.gulseth.net/LCMS_Constitutional_amendments_proposal.pdf
    http://www.gulseth.net/LCMS_Constitutional_amendments_proposal.odt

    In Christ,
    Luther

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