More Controversy for President Kieschnick – How the Secular Press is Reporting the Proposed Sale of KFUO

BJS steering committee member Pastor Jacob Erhard of Dwight, Illinois alerted us to an article in a St. Louis online magazine with the following article. (BJS regular commenter “Carl Vehse” also noted this on one of our comment strings.)

Ultimately we lay this at the feet of the president of the synod. As you read the story, note how his Ablaze program has brought a lot of tension and stress into our beloved synod. We can now count among the president’s detractors the fans of Issues, Etc., the fans of classical music in the entire St. Louis area and the descendants of Dr. Walter A. Meier, the Lutheran Hour speaker who put KFUO on the map.

Say whatever you wish to say about President Kieschnick, positive or negative, what is without question is that controversy has been the hallmark of his presidency, including:

  • the Yankee Stadium event
  • the firing of Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz
  • the smearing of opposing candidates at the 2007 convention
  • ballot box stuffing via exceptional voter approval
  • loss of missionaries in the field
  • inordinately excessive fund-raising spending for Ablaze
  • the Ablaze program itself which a large portion of synod has not embraced
  • and now the controversial sale of KFUO to cover a failing LCMS budget due in significant part to congregations that have grown weary of this leadership and are withholding offerings from the synod

Of late, we could add to the list the Blue Ribbon proposals. Clearly the synod is not in a state of unity and peace. Propasals for structural change as bold as the ones in the Blue Ribbon proposals should only be considered by a synod at peace. It is only adding to the unrest in the LCMS to make these proposals now. As Matt Harrison says, it’s time for us to sit down and consider our differences in doctrine and practice and irnon out agreement. It is not time to radically change the structure of the synod. (Many folks are promoting Matt Harrison for the synodical presidency in 2010. To read his document “It’s Time” click here.)

By the way, LCMS Treasurer Tom Kuchta makes some strong comments in this story. From everything we have heard, Mr. Kuchta is conscientious servant and likes our “grandfather’s church,” but of course he would have to speak for himself on this matter.

Here is the article from St. Louis Today.

The Rev. Dr. Timothy A. Rossow

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


More Controversy for President Kieschnick – How the Secular Press is Reporting the Proposed Sale of KFUO — 29 Comments

  1. You’ve short-changed our President by forgetting a couple of bullet points. I’d like to add:

    – A general pragmatic approach in all areas of practice that favors “whatever works” (to increase numbers) at the expense of doctrine, thus embracing aberrant theology and the ways of the world.

    – Fostering a climate which turns a blind eye toward those who should be disciplined by their ecclesiastical supervisor for doctrinal error, and instead allowing discipline for those who confess the foolishness of the cross, labeling them as troublemakers and “museum keepers.”

  2. Tim,

    On this one, Dr. Kieschnick and the LCMS BOD are right.

    Classic 99 (KFUO-FM) should be sold.

    As long as KFUO FM remains in LCMS hands, the Gospel proclamation on KFUO AM will remain the lowest priority at KFUO Radio.

    If people really value the Gospel legacy of Walter A. Maier, they will support the sale of KFUO FM.


  3. [Here’s the comment I just added:]

    “The board committee has acted in near-secrecy in its plans. . . .”

    Welcome to the Kieschnick administration. That’s how they roll.

    One of the main reasons the Synod is hurting for money so bad and scrambling to come up with some is that many of us CANNOT TRUST what the Kieschnick crew will do with the money we send–correction, *used* to send–to the Synod.

    Ironic, it was just about a year ago at this time that they fired the host and producer of “Issues Etc.,” the best program on the AM dial.

  4. TW,

    I will leave it to you to judge the rightness or wrongness of this – I will agree with whatever you say since you know more about this than anyone. The point of the post is that this is another item of controversy in the synod that is being poorly managed. For instance, why wasn’t the station sold years ago when there was a market and when it would have fetched 3 x’s what it will now.


  5. Scott,

    Good point – the list could go on and on.

    As a matter of fact I am going to go back in and edit it to add the untimeliness of the Pabst Blue Ribbon proposals.


  6. “As long as KFUO FM remains in LCMS hands, the Gospel proclamation on KFUO AM will remain the lowest priority at KFUO Radio.” (TW)

    Todd, it doesn’t *have to* be that way. Different leadership could approach the situation in a different way. THe FM side *could* be used in a way to *support* Gospel proclamation, on the AM side and possibly on the FM side also.

    I hate to lose an asset like an excellent FM station in a major market that also streams worldwide.

  7. Charlie,

    Think about it. Fire the largely atheistic and secular management of Classic 99– that’s what you would have to do to turn Classic 99 into what you imagine it could be.

    Five years ago I was PROMISED by members of the LCMS Presidium that after the 2007 convention, things were going to change at KFUO AM and FM.

    In fact, an attempt by the BCS to make management changes at KFUO AM and FM in January of 2005 was thwarted (their vote was rescinded) by a leading, CONSERVATIVE LCMS officer.

    That very officer PROMISED changes at KFUO after the 2007 convention. Nothing happened. The same people are still running the place.

    Charlie, it’s sad, but those who are fighting to save Classic 99 aren’t doing so in hopes of changing how KFUO operates.

    They are doing so to keep things JUST AS THEY ARE.


  8. The article says of Rev. Donald Muchow, the Chairman of the BOD:

    “Muchow said he had no problem with allowing a small group to make the decision unilaterally, without input from the entire board. ‘We’re trying to reach 100 million people with the gospel by 2017, and the board is looking at ways to do that.'”

    Apparently, our “Ablaze!” goal has become so important, that it’s worth bankrupting the Synod, both monetarily and doctrinally, to achieve.

  9. There are two ways KFUO-FM *could* serve the Gospel mission of our church:

    1) Just be a classical music station that generates revenue and then use the profit to support the AM religious format.

    2) Use the FM band also for Christian content, whether in whole or in part, whether the station makes money or not.

    If neither of those options is ever going to happen, then the FM station is not serving the mission of the church except as an asset to be sold. But I am not convinced that one of those two things could *not* happen. Until I am convinced, I am not in favor of losing the station.

    What I *am* in favor of is losing the Kieschnick administration, so that our congregations can be more confident about sending their money to the Synod.

  10. Charlie,

    You wrote: “Until I am convinced, I am not in favor of losing the station.”

    Do this. Go over the 85 Founders’ Lane. Ask to meet with Jim Connett, program director for Classic 99 –Jim Connett, the man in charge of the day-to-day programming on Classic 99.

    Talk to Jim about Classic 99 serving the Gospel mission of the LCMS.

    You’ll be convinced in less than a minute.


  11. Perhaps if I were convinced that Jim Connett would always and forever have to be the program director. It is possible for a radio staff member to be fired, you know. 🙂 A different BCS, a different BOD, a different SP, and you *could* take the thing in a different and better direction. Not saying it’s likely to happen, though.

  12. I would be interested your all of your thoughts regarding KFUO AM. Even though is has not been mentioned as part of the sale, do you feel that it too is at risk? Some of the LCMS members who have voiced their opposition to the sale of KFUO FM are doing so, as a result, of this concern.

    Any Thoughts?

  13. Charlie,

    The most conservative BCS ever DID vote to fire Jim Connett in 2005-6. And an equally conservative officer of synod (still serving) immediately thwarted their action, and pressured the BCS to reverse itself. Why? Connett was connected to St. Louis money, and it would hurt Classic 99. Staff members can be fired, but not that staff member.


  14. Mark,

    The AM station is not being sold. Period. Anyone who tells you otherwise is uninformed or lying (most of them are doing the latter).


  15. If the FM was not used for the Gospel, then selling it isn’t bad – I agree with Pr. Wilken.

    I just can’t understand why President Kieschnick won’t say anything, why not just say – hey we need the money.

    He says surprising little. Isn’t that odd?

    All of the other points listed are really just a short list of the points that should make every one left in the LCMS question why the LCMS itself should not be liquidated.

    To those in the LCMS, I write this: There are other confessional synods out there that would benefit from your fellowship, that are not terminally ill. Yes, they too have sickness, but I think that you could make us more healthy.

    On the anniversary show of the cancellation of IE, Jeff said something of a certain synodical President who called with his sympathy. This is really telling – I can’t believe that more people don’t see that the door is open to a re-unification of confessional Lutheranism in North America.

  16. Great comments over on the Post Dispatch in response to the author of the piece. It sounds like she feels she’s entitled to have a classical station to listen to & someone else should provide it for her.

  17. If the arts community of St Louis wants a classical station why don’t they fund their own station. Or they could just download any music they want.

    I would sell both stations and give the money to pay for the training of future pastors. I also believe the “Ablaze” funds should go toward the funding of seminary training and Lutheran teachers.

  18. If losing the classical music station would be such a major blow to the St. Louis area, then KFUO FM fans should start some ‘evangelism’ and ‘stewardship’ programs. It sounds to me that they need listeners with a passion for making disciples of such music. That failing, aren’t there Satellite radios that can access stations outside St. Louis?

  19. Better yet, if losing a classical music station would be such a major blow to the St. Louis area, then KFUO FM fans (many of whom have very deep pockets) should get together and buy KFUO FM themselves, instead of insisting that the LCMS continue to operate the station at a loss.

  20. Aren’t the Friends of KFUO FM exploring the option of buying the station but being stonewalled & kept in the dark by this secret committee?

  21. It’s not a secret committee. It’s a joint committee of the Board of Directors and the Board for Communication Services that has been looking into KFUO matters and exploring the sale of Classic 99 for more than a year. I think the members’ names are somewhere in the BOD and BCS minutes.

    Of course, the St. Louis Post Dispatch story didn’t mentioned that.

  22. Todd, if it’s in the minutes, then it’s secret as far as I’m concerned! 🙂

    Thanks for keeping on top of this for us all.

  23. Yes we too will miss the classical music. We do not like rap, hip hop, rock and roll and whatever.

    However this whole thing about Kfuo has been going on for a long long time. It seems that people are shocked and then they are shocked over the Ablaze doings and findings…but we have one more you can stump the people. Just ask them their opinion of the Blue Task thing that is going on…”I don’t know what you are talking about” No this is not just another funny.

    Larry and Millie Meyr

  24. If the radio station is sold, then it is an asset that can never be reclaimed. As it is, it is not being utilized, so I suppose selling it is acceptable, although I would agree with CH that it could be better utilized of course.

    Now if and when it is sold, where are we going to spend the millions, and who will decide?

    Hmmm, will the money be as poorly used as the FM channel itself?

    Kevin in Indiana

  25. “Now if and when it is sold, where are we going to spend the millions, and who will decide? Hmmm, will the money be as poorly used as the FM channel itself?”

    Ha! We’ll sell the classical music station in order to fund contemporary music Ablaze barns!

    Money down the drain, by selling an under-utilized asset we can never get back.

  26. “He says surprising little. Isn’t that odd?”

    No, not at all. It’s called plausible deniability.

    That way, your underlings can be the scapegoats for your responsibilities.

  27. Speaking of sales, what was the final financial result from the 2007 Concordia University sale to Washington University of the Christian Brothers College high school property near the seminary after the 2004 Concordia Seminary purchase of the property from the Schwan Foundation? Was there a net profit made after subtracting legal fees, inflation, and administrative costs?

  28. Brothers in Christ,

    I certainly appreciate the thought that you have all put into this question and many of the other problems facing this synod. As one who recently came out of the Lutheran Charismatic movement for confessional Lutheran teaching, I too desire to see a strong, Gospel-proclaiming synod that uses the gifts of congregations with prudence and integrity. I also want radio stations, schools, programs, etc. that are financially stable and boldly proclaim the Gospel. In the “golden age” of the synod, it did this.

    Incidents like these remind me of St. Augustine’s great work, The City of God, wherein he reminds us that we cannot build God’s Kingdom on this earth. Earthly institutions like synod will come to an end, and we cannot trust in them. By constant attacks on Kieschnick and church bureaucracy, spending all of our energy critiquing and arguing amongst ourselves about the financial decisions of an institution THAT IS NOT THE CHURCH, we will accomplish nothing. We will only turn our eyes more and more upon the things that do not matter. Perhaps we will even begin to think that changing that institution will somehow bring us back to a wonderful “golden age.”

    Are there not more important things upon which to spend our time and energy? Should we not spend more time teaching the truth rather than attacking the imprudence and unfaithfulness of a human institution? Having relatives in Lutheran education, having attended a Lutheran high school, and having many friends in the Lutheran university system, I have seen how little Lutheran identity still remains among the youth of the church. While we argue about these financial difficulties with no listening audience that will respond (IE the BOD), these youth are leaving in droves, “graduating” in eighth grade.

    I am grateful that this site contains many tools that can be helpful to those who want to hear the Gospel, however, I fear that much of the time and energy is being spent sensationalizing conflict rather than teaching the truth. Issues, etc. provides one much needed voice, but our laymen and churches (where the Church is truly found) must start schools and classes, teaching fathers how to catechize their children. Those children will become the next source of pastors, laymen, and teachers. Let us focus on training up those children in the way they should go so that when they are old and the synod (and its radio stations) are all gone, they shall not depart from it.

    In Christ Crucified,

  29. Dan,

    I think a lot can be gained from those who are willing to stand up and say, “All is not well in the LCMS.” Why not say, rather, that “attacking the imprudence and unfaithfulness of a human institution” does well to alert those WITHIN that institution that they may want to begin cleaning house, or looking around for alternatives? Kinda like an early warning system.

    You rightly say that a synodical institution is not Church. You will probably get no disagreement on this site.

    As for “sensationalizing conflict rather than teaching the truth”. What other Lutheran organization is promoting Confessions Study Groups, encouraging male participation in Church, and standing up for the Historical Liturgy?

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