Atlantic District President Shows Intolerance – Benke Issues “Cease and Desist” Order Against Lay Group, by Pr. Rossow

The  unionistically tolerant Atlantic District President David Benke is intolerant of his fellow LCMS members. A group called Interested Laymen have grown frustrated that the Blue Ribbon Task Force is less than transparent with input to their proposals and so they put online the very same presentation and survey that the task force uses so that all LCMS members can participate in feedback and do so openly. (You can log on and take the survey here. The survey is very lengthy so it will require patience.)


So far the task force has taken surveys at district conventions but they are not publishing the results. The task force is also asking for input but they are not publishing people’s comments. There is a sense among many in the synod that the task force is controlling how the input will be presented, if at all. In an effort to involve more members of synod and do in a transparent way, the Interested Laymen have put the survey out there for all to see and President Benke does not like it. Here is an e-mail he sent to the Interested Laymen:


Dear Brothers undersigned on the email,


The Council of Presidents of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod at its most recent meeting this week  made a decision as a group to  discourage anyone from completing this independent survey, and  on their behalf I  request  you to cease and desist in promoting it.   Instead, please direct those on your email list to participate at in the appropriate forums and interactive ways in the process designed by the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Structure and Governance.


Thank you for receiving this message from me; I serve in many capacities – as the executive director of St. Peter’s Pre-School, as the Pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, as the Education Executive of the Atlantic District, LCMS, and as the President of the Atlantic District, LCMS.


Your timely response would be appreciated,


In Christ, our Lord,



Rev. Dr. David H. Benke


How ironic. The very same President Benke who is tolerant of unbelievers and who actually embraced hands in prayer with Muslims, a Sikh, Jewish rabbis and a Hindu by his own initiative at the Yankee Stadium event, is not so tolerant of fellow Missouri Synod Lutherans seeking transparency in the Blue Ribbon proposals. President Benke welcomes pagans with open arms and hands but talks down to his fellow LCMS members like a cop yelling out demands to fleeing criminals.


President Benke holds hands in prayer with pagans but tells his fellow LCMS members to cease and desist when all they have done is make more public the work of the most significant LCMS task force in recent memory. Do President Benke and the rest of the district presidents (the Council of Presidents also known as the COP) think that we have some sort of hierarchical polity in which they can make adiaphoristic demands of the laity? Many common LCMS folks are reading the proposals and noting that in general they seek to centralize authority and power. They are noting that the proposals take authority away from the members of synod congregations and focus it on the bureaucrats. This action from President Benke and the COP makes it even more clear that the bureaucrats are trying to control the input and feedback on the proposals. The Interested Laymen have struck a nerve with President Benke and those who want wholesale changes in the synod’s structure.


The Interested Laymen are not opposed to people giving input to the task force. They have put the link to the task force on their website and encourage people to send comments to the task force but since the task force is proposing such sweeping changes, the Interested Laymen decided to make the information and survey available to more people via an online survey.


We applaud the efforts of the Interested Laymen and encourage you to take the survey and let your voice be heard.

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.


Atlantic District President Shows Intolerance – Benke Issues “Cease and Desist” Order Against Lay Group, by Pr. Rossow — 42 Comments

  1. For a Synod that publicly commits itself to open communication and dialogue in many forms (missional, ecumenical, fraternal), they spend an awful lot of time telling people to shut up…

  2. A day or so ago, I commented:
    ‘What’s next? A civil suit claiming copyright infringement or the like?’
    I guess it’s ‘or the like’. At least for now.
    Anyone who didn’t see this one coming…
    See why I called them ‘naked people’? They are so over-exposing their thin skin.

  3. ‘Shut up’ is simply their best argument.
    It’s the true sign of a leftward-leaning mind: that an alternative is inherently opposition and needs to shut up and go away.
    Apparently, when we talk, they can’t hear themselves prattling about what Jesus wants us to do.
    Like I said, life is so redundant these days.

  4. Well now, Dr. Benke’s edict raises so many questions:

    – Why would Dr. Benke want to stifle the free flow of information and suffocate open conversation about President Kieschnick’s plan to restructure the LCMS?

    – Why doesn’t the COP want the laity learning all they can about, and voicing their opinions on President Kieschnick’s plan to restructure the LCMS?

    – Does the COP have legislative authority in the LCMS? Do its decisions have binding force on anyone other than its members? Can the COP issue orders that the pastors, congregations and laity of the LCMS are required to follow?

    – Is Dr. Benke authorized to speak for the COP, or issue orders on its behalf?

    – The legal definition of “cease and desist” is “an order of a court or government agency to a person, business or organization to stop doing something upon a strong showing that the activity is harmful and/or contrary to law.” (Of the several capacities listed by Dr. Benke, I didn’t see that he is also a civil judge or governmental official.)

    A “cease and desist” order is usually a prelude to legal action.

    Does Dr. Benke contemplate bringing legal action against the recipients of his email if they don’t comply with his order?


  5. I forgot to add… Dr. Benke’s timely response to my questions would be appreciated.


  6. Benke was not only unionistic (as A.L. Barry censured him) but also syncretistic, as approved by the current administration. Why have we not entered a state of confession?

  7. If the COP is afraid we laity might find out what’s in the “proposals” we laity had better be very afraid of what’s in them!

    [If Benke was “carrying water” for the COP they sure picked the least effective “waterboy”!]

  8. Dr. Benke’s position and language would make sense if people could respond to the survey or to the task force but not both, and if their actions were somehow assuming responsibilities of an ordained minister.

    Neither seems to be the case, though it makes me wonder how often human institutions are confused with divine ones and even vice versa.

  9. I saw that our Pacific “Concordia” wants to open a law school. Is that to supply graduates to the firm of lcms inc. ?

  10. The Council of Presidents of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod at its most recent meeting this week made a decision as a group to discourage anyone from completing this independent survey, and on their behalf I request you to cease and desist in promoting it.

    This statement sounds like that of a person hell bent on using his authority to take away our free speech. I wonder if, should the proposed changes become LCMS law, he would actually be given such authority by the member congregations and pastors of the LCMS. I guess at least we will still have the freedom of speech given us in the U.S. Constitution.

  11. Scott,

    I am still laughing as I write this comment.

    Thanks for a laugh that should get me through at least to the end of the week.

    I’m off to go pay due homage to my pre-school director.


  12. Ross (#11),

    In a word, Yes.

    The Task Force has posted proposed amendments to the Constitution of Synod. Article VII.B convers precisely that, although it’s worded in such a way that the members sign over their rights voluntarily.

  13. “I serve in many capacities – as the executive director of St. Peter’s Pre-School, as the Pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, as the Education Executive of the Atlantic District, LCMS, and as the President of the Atlantic District, LCMS.”

    This is what bugs me the most about this letter. This quote is totally unnecessary.

    Marcy BA Ed-Concordia, River Forest, IL; Nursery Sunday School Teacher; First Year Confirmation Teacher; All-Round Congregational Cheerleader; Extremely Concerned Laymen

  14. In Benke’s defense, I think he lists all those things because he thinks he is talking to a bunch of naive laymen who may not recognnize who he is.

    Having said that, I agree with you that it is disturbing.


  15. Some might want to take a look at this again:

    According to some supervisors:
    St. Ludovic Locuta Est – Causa Finita Est.*
    *(at least until the next convention, when we find something new in the Bible through a new study document, task force, or commission)

    Since, therefore, bishops have tyrannically transferred this jurisdiction to themselves alone, and have basely abused it, there is no need, because of this jurisdiction, to obey bishops. But since there are just reasons why we do not obey, it is right also to restore this jurisdiction to godly pastors [to whom, by Christ’s command, it belongs], and to see to it that it is legitimately exercised for the reformation of morals and the glory of God.
    Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope,
    the Power and Jurisdiction of Bishops, 76

    “If the bishops wanted to be true bishops and to attend to the church and the gospel, then a person might — for the sake of love and unity but not out of necessity — give them leave to ordain and confirm us and our preachers, provided all the pretense and fraud of unchristian ceremony and pomp were set aside. However, they are not now and do not want to be true bishops. Rather they are political lords and princes who do not want to preach, teach, baptize, commune, or perform any proper work or office of the church. In addition, they persecute and condemn those who do take up a call to such an office. Despite this, the church must not remain without servants on their account.”
    + Smalcald Articles, Part III, Article 10,1-2 +

    “St. Peter prohibits the bishops to rule as if they had the power to force the churches to do whatever they desired [1 Peter 5:2]. Now the question is not how to take power away from the bishops. Instead, we desire and ask that they would not force themselves into sin. But if they will not do so and despise this request, let them consider how they will have to answer to God, since by their obstinancy they cause division and schism, which they should rightly help to prevent.”
    + Augsburg Confession, Article XXVIII,76-78 +

    “Every prince, nobleman and city should boldly forbid their subjects to pay the annates to Rome and should abolish them entirely;[1] for the pope has broken the compact and made the annates a robbery, to the injury and shame of the whole German nation. He gives them to his friends, sells them for large amounts of money, and uses them to endow offices. He has thus lost his right to them, and deserves punishment.”

    Martin Luther, “Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate (1520)”, published a year before Luther’s excommunication in 1521 (Decet Romanum Pontificem) by the Roman Pope.

  16. Is there any precedent that these “proposals” go through the districts for approval and recommendation (not just be presented/discussed) before being presented at the Synod Convention??

    Kind of like constitutional amendments in the good old USA?

  17. For many years some of the Pastors have dumbed down the confirmation process and the result is an uninformed laity. Not to throw it all the responsibility on the pastors, the laity doesn’t dig in either. This is one reason we are in the situation we are in. The Lutheran church has always been about knowledge and correct interpetation of the bible for the pastors and the laity.
    Our Pastor has been breaking down the Blue Ribbon proposals for the board of elders. He has shown us how a single word change changes the whole relationship between synod and the churches. This document has to be reviewed very carefully and thoroughly.

    Why not accept input? Why not let the laity provide discussion and see the results? Because, an ignorant laity will make ignorant decisions. I believe slave owners also used this tactic in the 1800’s. It didn’t succeed then. We cannot let it succeed now.


  18. AC XXVIII, 76: “In 1 Peter 5:3, Peter forbids bishops to be lords and rule over the churches.” Of course, it says nothing about Executive Directors of Preschools.


    It is not fair to make someone getting over a chest cold laugh so hard. I am still coughing from the laughter! 🙂

  19. One would think that within our laity there are many individuals gifted with knowledge and abilities relevant to constitutional matters, much as was found regarding the copyright issue. It would benefit everyone in the LCMS to utilize such people in this “project.” But, as has been said by nearly everyone prior to me, the “powers that be” (I never did like that phrase; it’s so evasive!) don’t want information, knowledge, wisdom, or input from “outsiders;” they want control, pure and simple. My hope and prayer is that by exposing these attitudes and agendas now, they will “cook their own goose” before they have a chance to lead us to the slaughter. It seems the more they say, the more they show their true colors.
    Keep up the good work as we strive toward real unity in the one, true Faith!

  20. As I have said elsewhere: If a DP can behave like this now, how will the DPs behave after President Kieschnick’s restructuring vests them with greater power?


  21. Jim (#19),

    These proposals eventually have to take the form of Amendments to the Constitution, Amendments to the Bylaws, or Convention Resolutions (which could include delegating them to the CoP, BoD, etc. for implementation), and then follow the procedures for approval by the Convention.

    Amendments to the Constitution require subsequent ratification by the congregations of Synod. Bylaw amendments and Resolutions do not.

  22. I really do think the way that this will go is that the COP/Growing Together/Blue Ribbon people will announce something like “Hey, look at all the feedback we got! Boy, we sure are glad we can listen to you guys!”, list a bunch of comments mostly from JesusFirst/Daystar plants, and then declare the Blue Ribbon Commission a “Job Well Done!”

    Surely there must be a way that delegates can submit or post their comments OUTSIDE of the conventions–something along the lines of “we went to the convention, voiced these concerns, and submitted these comments, verbatim” and then each concerned delegate would submit their comments for the record. If the COP/Task Force wants to claim each convention was “unified in agreement”, well, then we have an accounting that says otherwise. Would this be a good idea?

  23. It’s a good idea Ariel but just like at the district conventions, they will not allow time for discussion. If each of these comes up seperately at the convention, there will be some time to discuss them until someone calls the question.

    There is a nasty rumor floating around that the plan is to present all of them in an omnibus resolution. That will either be a disaster or a godsend for the Task Force.


  24. I wasn’t sure that I was going to take the time for the survey until I got a note from the district (Eastern) secretary suggesting that I not participate. Looked like a red flag to me! It wasn’t nearly as strong as the letter from SED: “All members of the synod are encouraged to respond directly to the task force after reviewing the current work of the task force as posted on the synod web site….” But I took the survey any way.

    I really cannot determine the source of the memo since it was addressed to “Council of Presidents for Public Distribution”, but there was no indicated sender. I don’t respond well to anonymous messages.

  25. that should have been “anonymous” not “anonomus”!

    I don’t trust either of them!

  26. This is beyond amazing. Do they NOT see that they are actually working against themselves by ignorant decrees like these? We soooo need a change-up in leadership all over this synod. Too many of these guys seem to have forgotten that we are to serve Christ’s church (that’s congregations, not districts or synods, boys and girls) as servants rather than as lords. Every day these guys unwittingly drive me back to my Lord Christ: Kyrie, eleison!

  27. When I read this,

    “Thank you for receiving this message from me; I serve in many capacities – as the executive director of St. Peter’s Pre-School, as the Pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, as the Education Executive of the Atlantic District, LCMS, and as the President of the Atlantic District, LCMS.”

    I couldn’t help it, I thought of the Steve Miller Band’s “Space Cowboy”:

    “I’m a picker, I’m a grinner, I’m a lover And I’m a sinner.
    I play my music in the sun. I’m a joker, I’m a smoker,
    I’m a midnight toker.”

    And somewhere in there, I thought, “Whoop de frickin’ do.”

    Sorry to say, that’s just how my mind works when confronted with pompous sorts who think they can bully others.

  28. Pr. Rossow, no, what I mean is that even before the delegates attend the convention, they draw up a list of comments/criticism, things that they intend to bring up at the actual convention, and then submit it to a central website. The idea being “Hey, just in case it doesn’t get voiced by ‘accident’, this is what we want to say, now it’s out in the public and on record.” It’s using the Internet for what it was meant for: complete transparency and accountability. It makes it a lot harder for the COP to break their back patting themselves on it.

  29. I will definitely take the survey now simply to demonstrate that the COP does not have the authority to tell me that we may not do it.

  30. Months ago I emailed comments to the Blue Ribbon Task Force. How do I know that anyone read them?

    A few years ago, Benke’s Atlantic District ordered Pr. Henrickson to cease and desist from showing the Yankee Stadium video. I recall that he ripped their letter in half and threw it in the trash.

  31. “There is a nasty rumor floating around that the plan is to present all of them in an omnibus resolution.”

    It’s scary sometimes the parallels I see between the leadership of our synod and our country.

  32. ‘It’s scary sometimes the parallels I see between the leadership of our synod and our country’
    Amen, sister.
    Let me be redundant in saying how redundant life is these days.
    And neither leadership is doing the bangup job it wants to celebrate itself doing.

  33. Cheryl wrote: “It’s scary sometimes the parallels I see between the leadership of our synod and our country.”

    That’s not a fair comment. President Obama & co. have been far more transparent and forthcoming and far less paranoid than LCMS Inc.


  34. I actually saw more parallels between the previous administration and our current Synod leadership.

  35. Ditto, Matt Phillips. Including the tendency to ignore (when not disparaging) those who don’t find them fascinating or awesome.
    Both entities seem to expect everyone to fall into line, even if some malcontents grouse a bit while doing so.
    Both entities seem to expect that, sooner or later, all will be assimilated, or, if necessary, thrown under the proverbial bus.

  36. So Dave “Mr. Dialogue” Benke is telling his laysisters and laybrothers to “cease and desist” from encouraging a free and open discussion of the restructuring proposals. Instead, he should be saying, “It’s OK to Survey!”

  37. “A few years ago, Benke’s Atlantic District ordered Pr. Henrickson to cease and desist from showing the Yankee Stadium video. I recall that he ripped their letter in half and threw it in the trash.” (Tim Schenks)

    You are correct, sir. We should not these clowns’ bluster intimidate us.

  38. In the midst of all this seriousness, my dear esteemed anonymous brother above quoted the wrong title for the Steve Miller Band song. Those lyrics are from “The Joker,” my friend, not “Space Cowboy.” See what the ’70s did to us?

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