(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…