The Northern Illinois District Convention Part III: President Kieschnick Pays Me a Visit on the Convention Floor, by Pr. Rossow

(The other posts in this series can be viewed by clicking on the Editor’s Blog in the Brother’s Cafe.)


Our last exciting episode chronicling the Northern Illinois District (NID) convention of the LCMS included an accidental meeting with President Kieschnick. This episode includes a not so accidental meeting with him. Before we get to that, I need to wrap up the action on the floor concerning the now infamous “potty mouth” devotion.


During the remainder of the day I asked several folks, confessional and non-confessional, what they thought of the potty talk in the opening devotion. They all discerned that it was unacceptable and deserving of attention by the convention. When I returned the next day for the second day of the two day convention, I was still unsure if I was going to address the convention floor concerning the opening devotion.


I had spoken to President Gilbert toward the end of the first day and he agreed that the “potty talk” references were inappropriate and assured me that he would talk to the erring pastor. I was not counting on that since he was so busy running the convention but sure enough, he did speak to the erring pastor, but now I am getting ahead of myself. (By the way, President Gilbert deserves thanks for running a good convention. He has been very respectful towards the confessional pastors in our district in his first three years as president and we thank him for that. There is however, much that went on in the convention that needs his attention if we are going to become a confessional district.)


President Kieschnick’s presentation was one of the first orders of business on the second and final day of the convention. I will offer a summary and critique of it in the next post. Basically it was nothing more than his usual fundamentalist approach to the faith as opposed to a confessional approach. Included was a scathing critique of the godlessness of our culture, which of course is a fundamental tenet of fundamentalism.


Immediately following the presentation, Bishop Gilbert offered a prayer that called upon us all to forsake course talk and other immoral behavior. That was all I needed to be catapulted to the microphone. After being recognized by Gilbert I asked the convention to consider the course talk that was included in the previous days opening devotion. Since Presidents Gilbert and Kieschnick had just made strong presentation against immoral behavior, I asserted to the convention floor that they were accountable to address the previous day’s smutty talk.


President Gilbert then told the convention that the erring pastor had something to say to the matter. He came to the microphone and gave an apology, sort of. He was very direct and humble for which I give him credit, but his “apology” was in actuality no apology at all. He apologized “if” he had offended anyone. By this time I had returned to my seat and was simply so moved (and surprised) that Bishop Gilbert called him to the microphone that I was not quick enough to ask for a real apology. As you know, apologizing “if” you offended someone is not acknowledging sin but simply calling out the weakness of the offended brother. Bishop Gilbert then forgave him in front of the entire convention. It was a really great moment except for the fact that it wasn’t a real apology. It was a truly emotional moment and so I think we are all taken a bit by surprise.


The other surprise was that a few moments later President Kieschnick showed up at my seat on the convention floor. He had marched all the way across the convention floor (he was seated at the right hand rear of the floor and I and my lay delegate were seated at the front left), while the convention was going on, to confront me. He asked me if I thought he had anything to do with the previous day’s video. I told him no. He then asked why I had held him accountable for it. I told him that I did not hold him accountable for it. He then asked why I had held him accountable before the entire convention. I told him that I did not do such. I told him that I held him and President Gilbert accountable for addressing the situation before the convention, especially since they had just spoken so strongly against immorality.


I have heard that President Kieschnick likes to intimidate people. When I and the three other NICL pastors met with him last spring he was very gracious. This time we met, a year later, he was definitely giving me the stare down. I was not intimidated. When you have had to stare down the devil for 20 plus years of pastoral ministry and when you realize that you are nothing more than a worthless bag of wind called to preach the pure Gospel of Christ and that no man can take Christ away from you, then you realize that no man can intimidate you. I simply asked him if he wanted to go to the back of the room and check the video to see exactly what I said. I also asked him if he wanted to step outside so we could discuss this without disturbing the convention. He said that would not be necessary and then left.


In President Kieshcnick’s defense, we have all done what he did. In the heat of the moment, we hear something different than what was said. It just seemed to be overkill to walk across the convention floor and address this matter with me while the convention was going on. As I stated in the previous post it was all just weird, really weird.


Still to come in these reviews of the NID convention are critiques of President Kieschnick’s presentation, the Blue Ribbon presentation, and the Ablaze grants highlighted on the convention floor. More to come…

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.


The Northern Illinois District Convention Part III: President Kieschnick Pays Me a Visit on the Convention Floor, by Pr. Rossow — 34 Comments

  1. Tim,

    According to the LCMS Constitution and Bylaws, President Kieschnick is accountable –at least as President Gilbert’s ecclesiastical supervisor:

    1. The President has the supervision regarding the doctrine and the administration of:

    a. All officers of the Synod;
    b. All such as are employed by the Synod;
    c. The individual districts of the Synod;
    d. All district presidents.

    2. It is the President’s duty to see to it that all the aforementioned act in accordance with the Synod’s Constitution, to admonish all who in any way depart from it, and, if such admonition is not heeded, to report such cases to the Synod.

    True leaders take responsibility, they don’t avoid it.


  2. When I’m the recipient of one of those pseudo-apologies, and when I accept it, or make like I do, I always feel a little uneasy, a little hurt, and a bit dirty.
    You know: as if I, once an aggrieved party, now needs to confess my own dishonesty, weakness, and lack of holding to account another soul.
    Sin. It bites in all directions.

  3. My only knowledge of Pastor Gilbert was his sermon at the BJS gathering (correct?). I found it to be very sound preaching. I applaud the fact that he did address the matter.

    If I might ask, how does one, at a convention, poll confessional and non-confessional pastors? Do they know which category they reside in?

    And a final thought, when those with whom we would disagree behave/present/conduct themselves in such poor fashion, do they not realize it reflects poorly on their theological and doctrinal positions as well?

  4. Kevin,

    In the NID most of the confessional pastors know each other through the Northern Illinois Confesional Lutherans group that meets monthly.


  5. I was seated next to Pastor Rossow at the convention and was taken aback by President’s Kieschnick’s behavior. He did not approach Pastor Rossow in an evangelical manner, but rather was intimidating with his body language, harsh with his tone, and uncharitable in his discourse. And he the basis of his accusation against Pastor Rossow was totally unfounded. It was as if he had not listened to what Pastor Rossow actually said at all.

    The synod deserves better.

  6. Just a note to agree warmly with Cantor Magness.

    Pres. K is in my prayers. It does not sound as if he has peace.

  7. Does this behaviour show perhaps how worried he is about the pet projects that he has and that are being attacked so poignantly?

  8. He did not approach Pastor Rossow in an evangelical manner, but rather was intimidating with his body language, harsh with his tone, and uncharitable in his discourse.

    Okay, so I get that his tone was harsh and his discourse uncharitable, but I’m really struggling with his body language being intimidating. I just can’t imagine PK’s body language ever being intimidating to anyone, let alone Pr. Rossow. But, I digress. 🙂

  9. I wonder if all the past commentary, “GK bashing”, Synod attacks, etc. – including on this site – would have influenced his “non evangelical manner.” Given all the history and the source of this particular challenge, I am not at all surprised that he would have come directly to Pastor Rossow. Can’t have it both ways people – take a look again at the last line of post #1. Take responsibility for your “non-evangelical” approach.

  10. The synodical president was far-removed from the opening devotion. The district president was closer to it, and yes, both have some type of ecclesiastical supervision. The district president addressed the situation with the erring pastor (according to the original post). The DP had exercised ecclesiastical supervision. I am confused as to why the DP and SP were called to accountability when the situation had already been addressed by the DP.

  11. Iggy,

    When I went to the microphone the issue had not yet been addressed by either.


  12. #10 said, “Can’t have it both ways people – take a look again at the last line of post #1. Take responsibility for your “non-evangelical” approach.”

    Doesn’t posting this anonymously dilute or destroy any point you had?

  13. TR, Thank you for the clarification. I was at the convention and really felt the onus was on the erring pastor. The opening devotion stunk all the way around (and not just because of potty humor)! I respect you and your opinion, TR. You are spot-on regarding the content of the opening devotion. At the convention, though, it came off to me that you were holding the DP and SP accountable for the video itself, and not whether they addressed it to the convention. I listened carefully, but I guess I misunderstood your point.


  14. You mean “True leaders take responsibility; they don’t avoid it.”?

    Like another Missourian who said, “The buck stops here.” ?

    What’s non-evangelical about that statement of fact?

    How about addressing the non-apology, Anonymous?

  15. You mean “True leaders take responsibility; they don’t avoid it.”?

    If one were waiting for this SP to take responsibility, don’t hold your breath. While he attended a July 11, 2002, WTC commemoration prayer service/Benke lovefest in the St. Peter-Brooklyn sanctuary, a Jewish, pro-murder-by-abortion congressman, Gary Ackerman, addressing the SP specifically in a “sermon-like presentation”, compared Rev. Wallace Schulz to a Nazi. The SP said nothing.

    The DeathStar Network still has the story.

  16. Carl Vehse,

    that’s really sad. That report simply did not reflect the teaching that I heard from Don Matzat on Issues, Etc. I did notice that it was feel good piece that did not deal with any of the theological issues. It was just…Schulz is a mean guy, Benke is nice. I don’t know any of these individuals personally, so maybe Schulz is mean, but he was theologically correct and everyone knows it.

  17. Did you, Rev. Rossow or anyone else who was offended by the devotion personally approach the “erring” as you call it pastor to express yourself? Isn’t that the Matthew 18 approach? or don’t you follow that?

  18. Jim,

    It is good to follow Matthew 18. In this case it was a public sin committed before 500 people and so it needed to be publicly addressed.

    Also, in my comments to the convention I did not mention the pastor by name. My point was less about him and more about the sorry state of the synod in which this would take place without any commentary from either President Gilbert or President Kieschnick.

    I also did speak with the pastor personally.


  19. Anonymous #10,

    What is “non-evangelical” about the statement, “True leaders take responsibility; they don’t avoid it.”?


  20. Ben,

    I just watched the “Shift Happens” video.

    The message for the LMCS seems clear: 1) buy one of those future $1,000 laptops, 2) elect the $1,000 laptop president of synod, and let it run things.

    I’m all for that.


  21. I watched it. Yeah it was a stupid title and was a unwise choice at a convention of Pastors.
    But my questions are:
    So what did the video really tell us?
    How was it applied to the devotion, much less Lutherans as a group?
    What was the point?

    Ok so computers will be smarter than dumb old John. Well my Father in heaven is smarter than all humanity now. Big deal.

    John Hooss

  22. What was wrong with a video about shift(change)happening in the world today? where’s the “potty”connotation? Are you that narrow -minded that you don’t see the world changing around you? Get into the 21st century in your thinking or your church will die around you!

  23. I just watched the video.

    I am not sure that myopic rant was worth illustrating much of anything. More honors students in India than the US has students? That might actually have some bearing on something IF their education system resembled ours (like having an honors curriculum). The video seemed to be an exercise in throwing random thoughts together without structure under the pretense of making a point about how great human innovation is. There is nothing new under the sun:

    “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build… and let us make a name for ourselves…'” (Gen. 11:4)

    I would be concerned if that video were used as an ILLUSTRATION in any topic, speech, devotion or sermon, let alone as the basis for the talk. Is this really the best that Christians have to offer as they gather in convention?

    Reminds me of a conference I attended about five years ago (I don’t remember what conference it was) where the man introducing the keynote speaker “warmed up” the crowd by reading a dozen or so random humorous anecdotes he had printed off of his e-mail. (I am sure that the subject line of each of those printouts began “RE: FW: FW: fw: FW: FW: FW:” since I had received each of the stories at least half a dozen times in my own e-mail.) When he ran out of material, he simply said, “Our speaker today is …” No biographical information, no curriculum vitae, no rationale why this person was speaking or what topic he was addressing. It was almost as if he was told “you have five minutes to introduce the speaker. Fill it.”

    When you speak in public, your hearers deserve for you to actually say something in a meaningful way. How much more is this true at a convention, when floor time is at a premium? How MUCH MORE is this true in a devotion/sermon, when the words you have are the Word of Life?

    The Padre

  24. Big Dog-
    Shift happens is a play on the term S*** happens. I’ll direct you to the film Forrest Gump if you haven’t heard of the terminology and I apologize ahead of time for bringing the scatological to your mind.

    When I saw the clip at our convention I asked out loud “What does this have to do with the Gospel?” The answer – nothing. But of course, I am narrow minded. If only my mind could be opened to the 21st century then the congregation here in Brookfield would be booming! The oceans would stop rising, hope and change! People would stop dying! Well, maybe not.

    The 21st century thinking is perhaps our problem.

    21st century thinking –

    1. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a stumbling block and foolishness (kind of like the 1st century)
    2. Lutheran, Orthodox Christianity is out of date
    3. The claims of Lutheran Orthodoxy are contrary to reason
    4. Lutheran, Orthodox liturgy and hymnody are cultural barriers to be overcome for the sake of growth
    5. Homosexuality is normal and should be rejoiced in
    6. Abortion on demand is not only a good thing, but should be funded by the state
    7. Those who oppose women’s ordination are misongynist, against homosexuality, homophobes
    8. on and on and on…

    Pr. Ball+

  25. Big Dog,

    You wrote “Get into the 21st century in your thinking or your church will die around you!

    Odd, I think Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

    What do you think the Church needs to change in order to survive as the world changes?


  26. #24 BIG DOG:

    Nothing wrong with a video, but you would think that the opening devotion at a LCMS district convention might mention Jesus.

    Don’t tell me that you are so jaded that you missed the “size” and “shift” double entendres. Again why at a district convention?

    How has the church managed to survive for 2000 years without flashy/trashy videos and us baby boomers re-creating everything in our image? What makes you think Christ can’t preserve it beyond our feeble attempts?

  27. Actually pastor Wilken, that video *is* a gateway to hell.
    The hell of boredom and self-important irrelevance thrust upon a captive audience.
    It’s as worth a Lutheran’s time as a Joel Osteen sermon.

  28. #28 I would venture to guess that the video was not the entire devotion. The commentary from the presenter is not here, so I can’t comment on whether Jesus was mentioned or not.

  29. As explained here in Comment 5, the video is based on a start-of-the-school-year pep talk given to a Colorado public high school faculty by their director of technology.

    While the presentation was probably not a “gateway to hell,” it was originally never designed to be a devotional.

  30. Big Dog,

    If you read the post from Monday you will see that there was no mention of Jesus in the devotion. You can read it here:

    As I mention in that post, the District President rightly discerned that the “devotion” had no mention of Christ or the forgiveness of sins and so he segued from the devotion to the next activity by saying “…and we know that the Gospel is the forgiveness of sins.” He had to mention that because there was a brief reference to the Gospel and that was about it.


  31. #27 – I think Jesus also said “Go and make disciples of all nations…”

    As far as change – change the delivery , keep the message. Reach out to the lost, use whatever means of communicating the message that are available today.

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