Roegner resigns (Mollie)

FYI — Dr. Robert Roegner, the executive director of the LCMS Board for Mission Services, announced his retirement yesterday, effective Sunday. This is the board that has overseen world outreach under Ablaze!(tm) as well as actual missionary efforts — which have not fared well, as we’ve discussed earlier.

President Kieschnick issued the following memo in response to the resignation.


To: Leaders of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
From: Gerald B. Kieschnick
Subject: Dr. Robert Roegner’s Resignation
Date: November 10, 2008

Dear Friends in Christ:

Grace and peace be with you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

By now many but possibly not all of you have received this morning’s notice (included in the attachments above) from Dr. Robert Roegner announcing his resignation as Executive Director of the LCMS Board for Mission Services, effective Sunday, November 16, 2008. While the statement from Bob announcing his decision is clear and self explanatory, I believe it is appropriate for me to add a few words regarding his service to the Synod and LCMS World Mission through this memo. Several points are pertinent:

  • When Bob was called as LCMS World Mission Executive Director, approximately 6 ½ years ago, World Mission was in a transition period with respect to a number of issues/items:
    • World Mission’s budget was in the process of significant increase from the mid-to-late 1990s to the early-to-mid 2000s, almost doubling during that period of time.
    • World Mission was transitioning from a form of operational governance best described as an Executive Leadership organization with limited sharing of authority (mostly retained in St. Louis) to a form of operational governance best described as Team-based Leadership with shared authority and accountability transferred from St. Louis to regional directors in the world mission field and associate directors in St. Louis.
    • World Mission was transitioning from an operational concept of sending missionaries to plant churches and serve them through Word and Sacrament ministry to the sending of missionaries who would plant churches and simultaneously identify, train, and supervise local and indigenous pastors who would themselves assume responsibility for Word and Sacrament ministry, freeing the missionaries to replicate the process in other mission field locations.
    • This led to the development and implementation of a strategic plan for mission outreach—both in North America and with our Partner churches around the world—that our Synod has identified and in convention has affirmed as the Ablaze! movement, supported by its Fan Into Flame $100 million fundraising effort, also initiated and affirmed by Synod in convention.
    • During this period of time World Mission also faced a significant change in how operational revenue was generated to fund the mission from a paradigm where 80% of the funds raised came through Sunday morning offerings from congregations through the 35 districts of the Synod, with only 20% raised through direct/designated gifts to World Mission, to a new paradigm today where approximately 90% of the funds are raised through direct/designated gifts with only approximately 10% coming through Sunday morning offerings from congregations through the districts of the Synod.
  • Also during this period of time World Mission was faced with a dramatic revenue shortfall requiring a significant number of missionaries to be brought home from the mission field. It is my understanding that today World Mission has been able to recover that lost number of missionaries in the mission field.
  • Bob Roegner filled the role of Executive Director of LCMS World Mission during this time of both growth and challenge. He was instrumental in the development and implementation of the outreach strategy and worldwide movement our Synod and others around the world have come to know as Ablaze!

Suffice it to say that our Synod will miss Bob Roegner’s presence and leadership of LCMS World Mission. His ministry will be remembered in many ways, especially his deep concern for and commitment to reach with the Gospel those who are lost, without Christ, as a response to and motivated by God’s love in Christ. I know you join me in praying for our Lord’s leading, guiding, and directing in Bob’s future life and ministry and in expressing to Bob and his dear wife Kristi our sincere love, appreciation, and affection for their faithful service among us.

Blessings in Christ to all of you!


Roegner resigns (Mollie) — 9 Comments

  1. Translate, Mollie!
    I don’t know how much or what to believe.

    Pr. Mays has said he raised his own support, with a good chunk retained in the “home office”, however defined. Is that what is meant by “90% direct/designated gifts?
    Can anyone with a straight face really equate short term female ESL teachers with career missionaries (male) as this seems to do?

    Interesting that World Mission revenues almost doubled, until “the early to mid 2000’s”
    [which will arrive in 15 to 35 years by my reckoning.] More accurately, they increased until “Ablaze” perhaps?

    As far as “training indigenous Pastors and teachers” goes, Lutheran Heritage Foundation/CTS have been doing that and supporting them with “indigenous” language materials, which World Mission does not do.

    Perhaps “World Mission” should close up shop and get out of the way of LHF?

  2. Yes, Mollie! Dig deeper on this one. Who announces their retirement a few days before it is effective? Typically people plan ahead, announcing it months in advance, and the organization has a new person in place to take over for the retiree. What happened to cause the quick announcement and the prepared response from LCMS Inc?

  3. Mollie,

    This came as as much of a surprise to me as the events of Holy Week and Dr. Noland’s sudden departure from the Concordia Historical Institute.

    I went to to get more information and was unable to find any. This seems more newsworthy than much that’s on the home page of, and to search for information and find absolutely nothing, not even a simple press release is quite surprising.

    What’s going on at 1333 S. Kirkwood Rd.?

  4. Paul Mueller, Area Secretary for Africa, has also resigned recently. What’s going on at LCMS World Mission?

  5. Hi from the mission field of Africa. My name is Brent Friedrichs. I served as Businesss Manager (BM) for Nigeria from 1997. Then later promoted to Area Business Manager (ABM) for English Speaking West & South Africa – then again later promoted to ABM for all of West and South Africa.

    Since about 2004 I served as Regional Business Manager (RBM) for all of Africa until my wife & I resigned as missionaries in LCMS-WM and as RBM for Africa in June 2007.

    My wife and now serve as “independent Missionary” (aka. A “Direct Hire Missionary”. I am Executive Director – “Mission Consults” , Jos, Nigeria

    As RBM for Africa Region there was rarely a receipt that I didnt see for all of Africa. For over 10 years my office published a monthly report on finances for all of LCMS-WM’s (and some LCMS-WR) for all of Africa – but since 2005 no one wanted shared anymore for reasons that it was simply just too factual – it was the numbers and numbers dont lie.

    For the most part things were going along reasonably well until Africa Region restructuring of January 2005 (as head in Johannesburg). From then things just keep getting worse and worse and even worse.

    I can tell you stories (supported by numerical fact) for several days that would just make any genuine mission minded Christian cry in the soup. – as can the rest of the former Business Office staff (African) still working here in Jos.

    What an absolute horror of an organization. The atrocities continue to even this afternoon.

    My only regret is that my wife and I didnt resign 2 months earlier. We made the mistake of thinking that we could still work within the system and make gradual/subtle change. It didnt work.

    Simply put LCMS-WM needs to Phoenix – and the sooner the better. Just get it over with and done.

    Brent Friedrichs
    Missionary to Africa
    Former Regional Business Manager (RBM)
    Africa Region LCMS-WM/WR

  6. Thank you for posting this Mollie.
    As an LCMS-WM volunteer from the 1990’s, I already met Rev Roegner but can’t remember what his role was at the time.
    In case anyone hasn’t figured it out yet, when we spray any announcement from the Purple Palace with bologna spray these days, to remove the bologna, over 95% falls away. What remains may or may not have any names, verbs or any other essential information.
    It’s already been years since I’ve had to explain, to an LCMS-WM phone calling fund-raiser, that I could no longer support them because of their falling away in terms of doctrine, accountability and any other respectability.

  7. The writers in comments 6 and 7 have clearly expressed some serious angst about past, and presumably ongoing, activities in the LCMS-WM.

    Yet, while alluding to it, there are no specific facts, dates, names, or substantiation to support what has been described as an “absolute horror of an organization.”

    Now I’m for a good tar-and-feathering party on deserving bureaucrats as much as the next person, but offering a teaser that something is wrong in our Synod (“Duh?!?”) isn’t going get me cranking up my tar pot.

    We need data, man. Documentation. Signed letters. Financial records. Invoices. Signed letters. Whose closets have the skeletons. Where the dead bodies are buried.

    …or an anonymously sent CD with .jpg or .pdf files of these. (Don’t forget to wipe off the fingerprints.)

  8. Carl Vehse

    I am writer #6 but not #7

    Much of the information you refer to is available – especially “Financial Information” letters and documentation. For reasons of time, bodies buried and skeletons should perhaps be a separate discussion. From 1997 to 2007 I saw things go from “many problems but manageable” – to “resembling Enron” – and the donors/supporters response to all of it speaks for itself. They went/headed elsewhere – and who could blame them……soaring admin cost, little ‘bang for the buck’, instability/uncertainty = better deal next door, “a 10 year goal with a flexible rate of interest”, “if you see the sign we count ya”, strained ‘donor to field’ line of continuity, corporate mindset, pyramid scheme of management (inverted), a job vs calling, ‘cold call’ telemarketing, overruns on budget, conference frenzies, Purple Palace Lutheran Church Frequent Flier Club, “no boots on the ground”, “missiles pounding sand”, “bridges–they built em–we burn em”, a tabloid reputation of “having more money than sense”.….

    The initial question I have is – are you, or any other there, capable of doing anything with what you prompt for? Unsensored ‘information’ is certainly available and from many sources – but sharing it doesn’t do much good if you don’t have the systems in place to understand it or do anything with when it comes – or anything about it. There are a lot of curious people out there – but far fewer who can dissect information and say a) “Houston we have a problem” b) here is the exact component(s) that broke c) here is what we need to do to fix it and d) stick around to see it through.

    Ie. If even an ‘evidence bag is handed to you with a “smoking gun” in it’ this afternoon do you have the capability of checking hands for powder residue?

    There is a lot of financial data out there and available. My office published 120+ monthly reports and forwarded each report to 7 different locations. A stack of A4 over 32 feet tall – just monthly reports alone. Some very concerning stuff believe you me – graying of facts, switching accountancy standards to help doctor budget reports, trivializing/dismissing bad reports while flaunting good ones…etc. There is a lot of bad news (even horrible news) that can be extracted from information like financial data. But once you have had access and come to the mutual conclusion that something is horribly wrong – then what? Are you (or any other) in position to do anything about it? I don’t know you from Adam- maybe you are and maybe you are not.

    It also bakes the question – once more “bad news” is in your hands and you are even past the phase where your mouth has dropped to the floor in disgust – then what? Call your congressman?

    Even under the most ideal of circumstances donor/member confidence can take years to regain.

    How do concerned people such as you and I transform more “bad news” into an again healthy mission agency (which ramps up even synod)? How does more “bad news” return donor confidence in LCMS-WM? How does more “bad news” help to recruit (not just hire the ‘walkins’) the best of the best missionaries back to the mission field?

    As they say……”the first step towards solving any problem is to first realize that the problem exits”. There are a lot of members out there that simply don’t know (or admit)(or want others to know) that there is even a problem. There is only so much that can be blamed on fate and poor financial times. At some point in time someone needs to look out the window and yell (actually out loud -not just think it) “””WOW! we have a serious problem” – and for the majority of the members to likewise somehow come to realize it. Are we even to that point? – that first step? – where the majority of the members even know a problem exits?

    Then as second step we (someone) need to tell the bologna factory “hey enough is enough” – because last I checked my dining room table it still getting produced and sent out there bulk mail permit. Remember, this was an Enron approach – “NO BAD NEWS” – “only top few need to know”- “we sell it then develop it” – and it sure didn’t work for them. The problems of OUR church’s mission department MUST be shouldered by all members – not just a select few. We are all in this ship (Missouri) together.

    Next step: we/someone somewhere finds a forum (maybe this is it?) where concerned & capable people (not the curious) pool, find out what went wrong and what can be done to fix it (I have a partial list). One thing I do know is that it is extremely unlikely that this will come from the International Center (aka Purple Palace). I’ve been there several and know the ‘don’t make waves’ mindset. Those with a paycheck will in a case like this make horrible ‘problem solvers’.

    Sorry for rush, ramblings, and typos. But I need to get back to deployed missionary work. There is still a lot to do here in Africa. The good news…Yesterday we received approval for 10 new immigration quota slots so 10 additional missionary families can come to Nigeria – and we are all ‘aglow’ about that bit of news. We have also been working with CAC in Abuja towards the incorporation of two new mission orgs (the vacuum effect) and its kept staff and I rather busy this week. So yea, His work does indeed continue – but (bad news) increasingly so by someone else’s church not mine.

    [email protected]

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