Must Read Commentary from Martin Noland

(Editor’s Note: Martin Noland was recently relieved of his position as Director of the Concordia Historical Institute and so is quite familiar with synodical machinations. For details click here Augsburg 1530. He is commenting on Chris Roseborough’s provocative comment which is the 12th  comment on Mollie’s post titled “About the 64 Listeners…” This post of Martin’s is also from that same string of comments, but we thought it was worthy to post on its own. Thanks to both Marty and Chris for these insights as we continue to sort through the politics that led to the cancellation of Issues, Etc. on KFUO. For those new to this discussion, Issues, Etc. is back on the air and can be heard on the internet every week day thanks to your donations and the efforts of Chris Roseborough and his Pirate Christian Radio Network.)


I need to respond to Chris Roseborough’s post, since I know about many of the people involved in this affair.


First, it would be great to have Issues, etc. back on KFUO. That is really where it belongs.


Second, innocent people should not be punished for other persons mistakes. Innocent people are the good folks who work at KFUO, including Diane Sommers, Paul Clayton, Chuck Rathert, Tom Baker, the engineers, the maintenance men, the receptionist, et. al. I don’t believe that any of them draw a very large paycheck. They do it for the love of the work, the audience, and the Gospel. I know many of these people and they don’t deserve this treatment.


Third, the complaints should be directed to the persons who are responsible. David Strand is not necessarily that person. He is in the situation I used to be, that is, according to LCMS bylaws “he serves at the pleasure of the board.” He may be very unhappy about the decision of the Board for Communication Services to discontinue Issues, etc., but he is obligated in his position to obey and execute their decision. He might voice a protest in a board meeting, off the record, but never outside. If he gave the board any resistance over their decision, he would lose his job. David is a very amiable and cooperative man, in any event.


Fourth, the persons responsible are the board majority of the Board for Communication Services. I know that Mr. Garbe, Pastor Vogts, and Dr. Berger have always been very supportive of Issues, etc. I doubt that they would have voted to close the program, but I don’t know for sure. That leaves four persons probably responsible: Dr. David Kluth of Concordia-Austin, Mrs. Candace Mueller (I believe a sometimes writer for Lutheran Witness or the Reporter), Rev. John Bush of Brownstown, Michigan, and Mr. Dennis Clauss. Clauss’ name rings a bell from seminary class lists, but I can’t locate it, and he is not on the LCMS ordained roster. I believe Clauss is the chairman of the board. If people are going to complain about the decision, complaints should be directed to Kluth, Mueller, Bush, and Clauss, not to the innocent folk who work for the church sacrificially.


Fifth, in the broader scheme of things, people need to understand that the synodical offices really are undergoing a severe financial cutback this year. The Treasurer of the Synod and the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Funding the Mission did an excellent job of analysis of the problem of operational funding and suggesting solutions in the last triennium. Their report was submitted to the convention, where it was basically ignored. Now all of the offices and boards that are in the “corporate synod” are going to have to make cuts in staff. There really is no other choice in most departments.


Sixth, the Board of Communication Services did have other options, such as selling KFUO-FM, and using the millions from that sale to keep KFUO-AM afloat for the next decade or so. This option was proposed by many different people in the last couple of years, with extensive debate on the subject in the Board of Directors of synod. Check the minutes of both boards going back for the last five years, available on synod’s website.


Seventh, and I think this is the main issue, the BCS chose to close down a national ministry that had an evangelistic, educational, and apologetic focus, instead of a Saint Louis arts station, with no religious function at all. This suggests, at first glance, that the board majority at the BCS has a preference for Saint Louis over the rest of the USA; and a preference for classical music and the arts, over evangelism and religious education. But that really makes no sense, does it? Why would they keep a Saint Louis specific function, and ignore the rest of the USA, when the Lutherans in the rest of the USA are the ones who send in the dollars that keep all the ministries of BCS afloat? What makes Saint Louis so special that the rest of the nation should pay for its arts program? And I love classical music!

I am glad that Todd and Jeff are willing to continue their program, and I pray that they get lots of financial supporters. It won’t go for long without that folks! Talk to your congregations, and ask them to commit to regular monthly payments, because that regular stream of unrestricted funds is what keeps these ministries afloat.

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