Pastor Likens President Kieschnick Visit to a Visit by the Pope

March 31st, 2010 Post by

Click here for an interesting article in the Saginaw News that likens President Kieschnick to the pope.



The audio from the Good Friday service announced above was posted on this site by a reader; since it works better to post audio in a post and not a comment I’ve modified the post to include the audio here.


The audio was recorded from the webstream of an online radio station, WNEM. It starts mid-service because the person who recorded it didn’t get it started until the OT reading. The clicking noise you hear in the service came over the stream.


Right-click here to save MP3


The following is the sermon by Synod President Rev Gerald Kieschnick, cut from the above, follows. It starts about 13:30 into the above.


Right-click here to save MP3

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  1. Gary
    March 31st, 2010 at 15:00 | #1

    What a colossal blunder. I am sorry to say this is one of my hometown newspapers…

  2. March 31st, 2010 at 15:05 | #2

    Rev. Edward A. Meyer – what he misquoted or would an LCMS pastor actually say that a synod president’s visit is like a papal visit?

  3. Gary
    March 31st, 2010 at 15:10 | #3

    Maybe he meant the purple pope?

  4. March 31st, 2010 at 16:06 | #4

    A comment brought up over on facebook:

    He is speaking at a community of many denominations “Good Friday” service???? Sounding something like Yankee Stadium except evidently it’s Christain denominations..That’s called unionism isn’t it? :-(

    My comment:

    The article says “Lutheran Congregations” in the area .. though 60 LCMS congregations stretches the believability a bit. Quoting from the article: “Meyer said the congregations of more than 60 churches in the Great Lakes Bay Region have united for the service for more than 25 years.”

    Anyone in the area who can follow up to see what types of churches are involved in this gathering?

  5. March 31st, 2010 at 16:19 | #5

    Comments on the article are slamming the paper for the gaff, but the paper was only using the terminology that the pastor did.


    Given how dreadfully inaccurate and sloppy so much newspaper reporting can be (with apologies to our friend M. Z. Hemingway), I’m going to cross my fingers and hope Pastor Meyer was misquoted before I freak out too much.

  6. Mathew
    March 31st, 2010 at 17:15 | #6

    Well, I agree it was a weird comparison and sends the wrong message.

    But to be honest, would not a visit from the Synodical president be, in fact, a much better thing than a visit from the pope – considering our confessions name the papal office to be the true antichrist?

    Now, that would have been an interesting quote indeed.

  7. Mathew
    March 31st, 2010 at 17:17 | #7

    For that matter, the invocation spoken every Sunday by every parish pastor is a much higher and finer thing than a visit by the pope.

  8. PPPadre
    March 31st, 2010 at 18:08 | #8

    Several communities with which I am familiar have community Good Friday services that are not unionist services with pastors from multiple denominations leading a single service. Rather, members of all different denominations are invited to attend/witness a service conducted by a single congregation (or, if there are multiple congregations of that denomination, the clergy of that single denomination). The host congregation (or denomination) changes from year to year. The communities I know where this is practiced do not understand this as a “we are all the same” unionistic practice, but a “we have differences” effort to understand the distinctions between denominations. Most of the Lutheran pastors I know in these situations treat the services conducted by other denominations like weddings or funerals of family members of other denominations – go to support your loved ones but don’t think it is just the same.

    I don’t think Good Friday is necessarily the time to be doing this, but on the other hand – what a better time to contrast the Theology of Glory from the Theology of the Cross?

  9. Nathaniel Jensen
    March 31st, 2010 at 18:23 | #9

    Why not just have everyone attend their own congregation?

  10. March 31st, 2010 at 18:30 | #10

    Odd. When I gave President Kieschnick a noogie, none of the Swiss Guard tackled me.

    (And BTW, I gave Harrison a noogie as well. Elect him so I can tally up my noogie count to 2!)

  11. March 31st, 2010 at 18:32 | #11

    Given the vacuous opinion issued by the CCM in January, 1992, which was used by President Kieschnick in December, 2001, to avoid being brought under ecclesiastical supervision, and the similarly vacuous BRTFSSG recommendations that would pervert Missouri Synod polity, Rev. Meyer’s phrase, “likened to having the pope come to Saginaw,” and the headline word, “pope-like,” are, sadly, reasonably accurate.

  12. March 31st, 2010 at 18:54 | #12

    We have verification that there is no unionism going on .. these are all LCMS churches that have gotten together each year for many years.

  13. mbw
    March 31st, 2010 at 19:16 | #13

    @Norm Fisher #10

    Damage already done?

  14. Todd Wilken
    March 31st, 2010 at 19:23 | #14


    You wrote: “Damage already done?”

    I’d say, given President Kieschnick’s track record of tolerating unionism in the Synod, the questions asked here so far about this Good Friday service were fair and legitimate.


  15. March 31st, 2010 at 19:27 | #15

    Please don’t get me started.

  16. mbw
    March 31st, 2010 at 22:09 | #16

    @Todd Wilken #12

    I’m happy that there’s no unionism going on in this case.

  17. March 31st, 2010 at 22:20 | #17

    This event used to be sponsored by local LLL chapters. It was held downtown at the Heritage Theater (now called theDow) for decades. The breakfast and crosswalk is maybe 20 years in the making, but the service is a long-standing tradition. In recent years it has moved to a banquet/event center.

    We need a BJS representative to report on the festivities. How about youtubing the “keynote speaker?”

    I no longer live in this area, or I would be happy to provide the footage.

  18. Rev. Roger Sterle
    April 1st, 2010 at 09:01 | #18

    @Deacon Brian Hughes #13
    Deacon Brian,
    You have never held back before!!! :-)

  19. Deacon Brian Hughes
    April 1st, 2010 at 12:54 | #19

    @Rev. Roger Sterle #18
    Rev Sterle, if Kieschnick’s visit is like that from the Pope, and the Pope is the antichrist, as to office and ‘person’, in our Confessions, then need I say more.

    Talk of being condemned out of the mouth of your own supporter.

  20. mames
    April 1st, 2010 at 15:27 | #20

    Info coming out the press or the Synod always requires further investigation.

  21. Lutheran Lady
    April 2nd, 2010 at 13:20 | #21

    Sorry, but there are some LCMS congregations that I would lump into the Unionism category as they are Willow Creekers and bear almost no resemblence to confessionalism any longer. Many of them are right here in St Louis MO. @Norm Fisher #12

  22. Jon Enge
    April 2nd, 2010 at 15:36 | #22

    I just returned from the Good Friday Community Worship Service in Saginaw and can provide some additional details.

    This was my third or fourth time attending the annual event and the structure and content have, in my experience, always been unmistakably Lutheran.

    I can certainly understand the concern many have expressed over possible unionism based on the article in the Saginaw News, and I am glad that Mr. Fisher (in comment #12) was able to confirm that that was not the case.

    I also share the embarrassment of having one of our LCMS pastors quoted in the Saginaw News comparing President Kieschnick to the Pope. I would like to think that this was just a poorly chosen analogy meant to emphasize that Kieschnick is well known among LCMS Lutherans and holds a prominent position in the synod.

    Audio CDs and DVDs of the service will be made available for just two dollars, so anyone who would like to see the service for themselves can contact (989) 686-0176 for ordering information.

    A few notes from the bulletin:

    The Readings for the service:
    Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 52:13-53:6
    Epistle: 2 Cor. 5:14-21
    Holy Gospel: John 19:17-30

    Congreational hymns:
    LSB 837 “Lift High the Cross”
    LSB 550 “Lamb of God”
    LSB 452 “O Perfect Life of Live”

    Special music included:
    The Valley Lutheran High School Choir singing “Passacaglia of Praise,” “Adoramus Te, Christe” (sung in latin with english translation printed in bulletin), and F. Mendelssohn’s “Grant Peace, We Pray” for the benedition.
    The Valley Lutheran Brass provided preservice music and an arrangement of “Oh, Precious Jesus” during offering.
    Rev. Edward Meyer (the one quoted in the Saginaw News) sang LSB 561 “The Tree of Life” as a solo prior to the Gospel reading.

    I am certain that I am not qualified to publicly critique President Kieschnick’s sermon, so I will leave that to others.

    Someone managed to slip in a couple Ed Riojas images from the “Higher Things: Ecclesiastical Art” CD, so Higher Things got a plug in the Copyright Information section of the bulletin.

    Anyway, I’m already looking forward to next year’s Good Friday Community Service and hope many of you will consider attending. It’s very early in the process, but if all continues to fall together properly for the proposed 2011 guest preacher, I believe my fellow BJS members and other readers of this blog will be quite pleased.

  23. Rev. M. Dent
    April 2nd, 2010 at 16:09 | #23

    Jon Enge :
    I also share the embarrassment of having one of our LCMS pastors quoted in the Saginaw News comparing President Kieschnick to the Pope. I would like to think that this was just a poorly chosen analogy meant to emphasize that Kieschnick is well known among LCMS Lutherans and holds a prominent position in the synod.

    I happen to know the brother who made the remark. In fact, he was instrumental in my decision to enter the Seminary when I did. I haven’t spoken with him about it, but I doubt that the comparison was meant as anything but an attempt to express the excitement felt at the attendance of someone of President Kieschnick’s position in the synod and his name recognition.

    Certainly an unfortunate analogy, but I think somewhat forgivable given that the average Lutheran pastor doesn’t often interact with the media. And if the quotation was obtained during in an unplanned interview (for example, if the reporter had called to find out what was going on at this service his editor just told him to get info about), it’s easy to get excited and make such mistakes. Too bad it got published…

  24. mbw
    April 2nd, 2010 at 16:16 | #24

    @Todd Wilken #14

    Norm issued a correction and nobody meant to do any harm. I understand.

  25. April 3rd, 2010 at 12:44 | #25

    (( editor: This user posted the recordings of the community service that was presented by the group of LCMS churches in MI. I’ve moved the audios to the original post; scroll up to listen to them. It works better to include audios in the original posting rather than a comment, the podcasting works in posts but not in comments ))

  26. Rev. Kurt Hering
    April 3rd, 2010 at 15:47 | #26

    No unionism, but what kind of Good Friday proclamation is it? Would that it *was* unionism.

    This shameless PR and glorification of men and their institutions–especially the chosenness of the MI District to warrant the Synod President’s visit–does not belong in a Lutheran worship service.

    What chutzpah!

    I guess maybe “outreach” isn’t so much about saving souls with the Word of God after all.

  27. Helen
    April 3rd, 2010 at 17:15 | #27

    We have better things to do and think about today and tomorrow.

    A Blessed Easter to you all!

  28. mames
    April 3rd, 2010 at 17:57 | #28

    Forgive me but the presence of any President is of no major importance, especially this error ridden man.

  29. April 3rd, 2010 at 18:24 | #29

    Rev. Kurt Hering :
    No unionism, but what kind of Good Friday proclamation is it? Would that it *was* unionism.

    I guess I don’t understand. If I recall, in the Prussian Union, from which this ‘unionism’ terms springs, weren’t all of the pastors/congregations in the same body, in spite of having different (i.e., mutually exclusive) teachings?

    Why is it, then, that Missourians think something is ‘not unionism’ because no one from a different church body was involved?

    Isn’t the nature of the LCMS at this point already ‘unionistic’, in that membership in it assumes (and mandates) fellowship between those of differing confessions? ‘Unionism’ was not ‘doing things with the Romanists’ (or others), but being one with those whose confession was false. It was by extension that the early Missourians (rightly) applied this to joint activity with those outside of Missouri’s fellowship; I think, though, that if you asked C.F.W. Walther about modern Missouri, he would conclude that it was the same (with regard to this particular error in fellowship) as what he fled…but with one difference: the situation in Germany was forced on the pastors/churches, but modern Missourians choose to be/remain in such a state.

    Somehow, I think he would conclude that this was worse.

    Helen :
    We have better things to do and think about today and tomorrow.

    Better, yes; but no weighing of importance may be done by this means. Just as the Confessions must have not only affirmative theses but, also, condemnations, so the true celebration of the Resurrection requires the condemnation of all that does not uphold and further it.


  30. Helen
    April 4th, 2010 at 18:33 | #30

    @Rev. Eric J. Stefanski #29

    I listened to about three minutes of GK and had enough. He’s not likely to change so I felt that I could defer thinking about him till tomorrow at least. I understand your point.

    Blessed Easter!

  31. Rick
    April 8th, 2010 at 23:46 | #31

    The public hears a Lutheran Church President compared to a pope. As unfortunate as the comparison is, this gives us the perfect opportunity to explain to those unfamiliar with Lutheranism how the position of LCMS President differs from the hierarchical Roman position of “Pope.” We can stress the adversarial and supportive role of Synod in contrast to the more dictatorial role of those in the R.C. hierarchy. And the LCMS President does not make the claim of being the Vicar of Christ, or speaking “ex cathedra.”

    And it gives our current Synodical President the opportunity to show that he does not desire to fill the role of a Lutheran “pope”, but seeks to serve rather than be served. I did not witness this presidential visit, but hopefully those who were unfamiliar with the LCMS had a chance to explore a group of Christians who are rarely featured in the news in a positive light.

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