A REPORT ON THE MICHIGAN DISTRICT CONVENTION, by Pr. Thomas Messer

The 99th Convention of the largest District in the LCMS was held Sunday, June 28 – Wednesday, July 1.   Below is a rundown of the significant happenings.      

 

Convention Theme:   “Celebrate Jesus” (Philippians 2:9-11).   Um, what does that passage have to do with “celebrating” Jesus?   Bowing to Jesus, whose Name is above every other name – Yes!   Confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father – Yes!   But, “celebrating” Jesus?   What does that mean?   The convention logo features two individuals standing before a cross, one looks to be dancing, the other is raising hands in praise.   Again, shouldn’t they be bowing?   Maybe I’m being too nitpicky, but it just struck me as odd, and a bit too “happy-clappy, contemporary praise stuff” for my stubborn confessional tastes.      

     

New District President Elected:   Rev. David P.E. Maier (son of WAM II, brother of WAM III) was elected as the 15th President of the Michigan District (Rev. C. William Hoesman could not stand for re-election due to term limits and is planning to retire in October of this year).   Maier won on the first ballot, receiving 51.9% of the votes cast.   The candidate we supported, Rev. David H. Reed, came in a distant second at 21.0% of the vote.

 

Services:   I did not attend the opening Divine Service on Sunday evening, but heard that it was surprisingly right out of LSB and free of any contemporary praise ditties.   My convention experience began on Monday morning with a truncated version of Matins, in which the preacher left the pulpit to deliver his entertaining and energetic “message” from the center of the chancel, the thrust of which was aimed at getting us to break free from our comfort zones and celebrate Jesus by getting out there to reach the lost.   I passed on the Tuesday morning Service, but attended the Tuesday evening Installation Service, in which President Kieschnick preached.   After the five minute introductory comments in which he thanked everyone and their brother, and paid tribute to the service of Rev. Hoesman as DP for the last 12 years, leading the congregation in applause (which led into a standing ovation) – I didn’t clap or stand, since it really makes me itchy to do such in God’s House; but that’s just me – he launched into his message titled, “Life Is Just So Overwhelming.”   It was typical Jerry Kieschnick preaching – every time I’ve heard him preach, he’s followed the same format:   First, he shares personal stories about how he’s “sharing the Gospel” with others, then he emphasizes the utter urgency there is for reaching the lost, and finally exhorts us to follow his example.   The lay delegate from our congregation commented to me that it was a bit like hearing Joel Osteen preach.   To be fair, unlike Osteen, Kieschnick does talk about sin and hell, and even points to Jesus as Savior, but the point is well taken, since he does similarly put himself forward as an example to follow.   Every time I’ve heard him preach, I leave a bit disheartened, since I know I could never be as good a Christian as Jerry is.   What really irked me about his “message” is that he used the same illustrative story I’ve heard him use on at least two other occasions – the story about an infant named Thomas who died and Jerry volunteering to transport his body.   It’s a touching story and all, but, really, how many times must PK share it?   I did hear something new, though, which was the basis of the “message.”   Evidently, a teenage girl committed suicide and, when the parents found her body, she had written on the wall (or on a note – can’t remember), “Life is just so overwhelming.”   PK shared how the world is filled with people like this teenage girl, for whom life is just so overwhelming, exhorting us to get out there and “let our lights shine” and share Jesus with them – just like he’s been doing, by the way.   Anyway, you get the point.

 

Devotionals:   There were over 200 pastors in attendance at the convention and yet all of the devotionals and prayers were led/offered by laymen.   Many of us found that a bit strange.   I have nothing against laymen.   Love ’em!   Used to be one!   But, having laymen lead/offer the devotionals and prayers when there is a room full of pastors is not only a little weird, but is a bit too “everyone a minister” for me.  

 

Resolutions:   The way we handled the business of the convention was more than a little disappointing.   Of the 22 resolutions which called for our action, only 11 were acted upon (and the action of one of those eleven was simply to table it until the next convention).   Especially disappointing was the fact that we conveniently skipped over two resolutions (one that called for us to reject gender neutral language in Scripture, translations, liturgies, and hymns; the other that resolved that we seek unity in worship practice) to get to a resolution to address clergy mental health (especially “burnout”), which was amended to address “professional church worker” mental health, instead of just “clergy” mental health.   Here’s a rundown of the resolutions:

 

Floor Committee 1:   Theology, Mission and Relations

1-01         To commend the use of “Partners in Ministry:   Ethical Conduct for Congregations and Professional Church Workers” (Passed with overwhelming majority and little debate)

1-02         To encourage accountable internet usage in Michigan District Churches (Passed)

1-03         To promote healthy marriages (Passed)

1-04       To promote the Biblical understanding of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman (Lots of discussion on this one, which was prompted by a pastoral delegate going to the mike to oppose the resolution on the basis that he felt we would be taking the civil rights away of many of our children who he argued did not choose to be gay or lesbian, but were made that way by God.   He brought up the polygamy found in Scripture and argued that different cultures and different times called for a different approach toward marriage.   The resolution eventually passed).  

1-05         To oppose embryonic stem cell research (The same pastoral delegate who opposed 1-04 went to the mike to oppose this resolution as well.   Lots of discussion, but eventually passed)

1-06         To reject gender neutral language in Scripture, translations, liturgies, and hymns (Skipped this one – too theological, I guess)

1-07         To encourage congregations of the Michigan District to seek unity in worship practice (Skipped this one – again, too theological, I guess)

1-08         To address clergy mental health (amended to 1-08A and passed with the title “professional church worker” replacing “clergy”)

1-09         To plan for the 500th anniversary celebration of the Reformation, etc. (Didn’t get to this one)

 

Floor Committee 2:   Administration/Constitutional Matters

2-01         To transfer Prince of Peace Lutheran of Ortonville from Circuit #12 to Circuit #17 (Passed)

2-02         To implement changes to future Michigan District Conventions (Lots of discussion on this one; it involved changing the timing of the convention from summer to fall, combining the All Professional Church Workers Conference with the Convention, and changing from a Sunday-Wednesday format to a Thursday-Saturday format; many changes to District bylaws would have been required; it was tabled until the next convention)

2-03         To revise District Convention nomination and election procedures (Skipped)

2-04         To revise the Church Extension Fund bylaws allowing the participation or purchase of loans or investments outside of the Michigan District (Passed)

2-05         More changes to CEF bylaws to enable the 2-04 passed resolution to stand (Passed)

2-06         To amend the District Bylaws regarding Article X on the CEF to enable the 2-04 passed resolution to stand (Passed)

2-07         To encourage participation in National Lutheran School Accreditation (Didn’t get to this one)

2-08         To affirm mission through Lutheran Schools (Didn’t get to this one)

2-09         To support the Lutheran character of Lutheran schools (Didn’t get to this one)

2-10         To commend the Lutheran Heritage Foundation (Didn’t get to this one)

2-11         To support Synodical Pre-Seminary Programs (Didn’t get to this one)

2-12         To encourage Michigan District congregations to embrace disaster preparedness (Didn’t get to this one)

2-13         To ensure proper accounting of congregational money (Didn’t get to this one)

 

As I said, the way we conducted business was more than a little disappointing.   More important to the chairman was to stick to the “orders of the day” (i.e. schedule), which included several advertisements, promotional videos, and speeches of various RSOs and such that most of us have heard and seen many times.   I say we do the business we’re responsible for doing and then, if we have time, we can hear from all those organizations.   Besides, there’s a “Ministry Tent” housing dozens of tables (booths) for all of these organizations (and more) that we can visit throughout our time at the convention.   It just seems a little ridiculous to me to leave half of the resolutions the convention delegates are called together to address unattended in order to make sure that we get all the ads in there.      

 

No Matt Harrison:   One of the things I was looking forward to the most was hearing Matt Harrison speak, but, alas, he didn’t make the schedule.   Evidently, many tried to convince President Hoesman to allot Harrison some time, but he wouldn’t do so.   He was briefly acknowledged for the wonderful work he is doing, but wasn’t permitted to address the assembly.   I wonder why.

 

BRTFSSG:   Everything I’ve heard reported about this presentation ran true to form, with the exception that Rev. Jon Braunersreuther (PK’s right hand man), who led the presentation, continuously repeated the phrase, “The Task Force has a congregational bias” (I haven’t heard anyone make reference to this in their reports).  I was trying to keep track of how many times he made reference to the Task Forces’ supposed “congregational bias” – I think it was about 14 times during his presentation.   It was like he was trying to use a Jedi Mind Trick on us, as if repeating this phrase over and over again would cause us to believe it to be true.   I woke up in a cold sweat that night, shouting, “congregational bias” (not really).   Obviously, this is an attempt to thwart the ever-growing opinion that one of the main reasons many do not like these proposals is the resultant centralization of power which would be furthered if adopted.   During the Q&A, Rev. Braunersreuther did a fabulous job of evading the questions asked and the concerns raised, continuing to try to play the “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” game.   Like his boss, he is one heck of a politician.   I kept waiting for him to shout, “Is you is, or is you ain’t, my constituency!” (a reference from one of the greatest movies ever made – “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”).   We’re supposed to buy what he’s peddling, since, after all, no matter what concerns we may have, we should a) trust our synodical leaders to do right by us and b) just believe that the proposals are necessary to save the synod (sense of urgency emphasized big time).   I don’t think it worked, as it seems that even those who support PK and his administration with great enthusiasm are not too keen on these proposals.   At least that’s the “buzz” I heard.      

 

President Kieschnick’s Report:   Same “Trouble in River City” video played for our viewing pleasure, followed up by a live speech about how united we are and what a beacon of light we are to so many others out there because of our doctrinal unity, etc.   The things that divide us pale in comparison to those things that unite us.   These are “unprecedented times” we are living in, presenting us with “unprecedented opportunities” to reach and save the lost.   Ablaze!(tm) is our “mission of outreach” and “is being accomplished while simultaneously upholding our doctrines and confession of faith.”   I beg to differ.   When this “mission of outreach” involves the funding of new mission starts (Ablaze![tm] Covenant Congregations) that purposely do not include Lutheran in their names, and go out of their way to avoid giving the appearance that they are Lutheran in any way, shape, or form, it is NOT “upholding our doctrines and confession of faith.”   PK went out of his way to try to convince us that he is well aware of the problems our synod is facing.   At one point, he said, “Look, I’m no imbecile; no dummy.   I know there are things that divide us.”   I wish he would make up his mind.   Are we united or divided?   I guess that all depends on the audience.   In any event, it is clear to me that PK is of the school that believes that doctrine and practice are two completely separate things; that we can remain Lutheran in doctrine, while following (mimicking) the practices of the methabapticostals and Americanized “evangelicals.”   For the life of me, I simply have never been able to fathom how trained Lutheran pastors could ever adopt such a flawed and theologically untenable approach.   It ain’t rocket science; it’s not even rock science – if you worship like methabapticostals, you is gonna become methabapticostals.   It’s the whole “lex orandi, lex credendi” thing at work.   Even a 7-year old can figure this stuff out.   So, why do so many grown men and women struggle with it?   It is mind-boggling.   As for the Q&A, the questions had to be submitted beforehand.   There was only time for around 5 canned answers to 5 pre-submitted questions.   Of those 5, the only real question asked had to do with worship practices.   I was surprised that it was permitted at all.   The question was something along the lines of, “President Kieschnick, you have stated that one of the areas in which there is some division in our synod is in the realm of worship practices.   Can you tell us what specifically is at the root of that division?”   The answer:   “What kind of music is permissible; how much or how little of the liturgy must be present; whether or not congregations must use hymnals; that sort of thing.   Our Commission on Worship is working hard at defining the appropriate parameters of worship among us.”   I’m paraphrasing, as I didn’t record his answer word-for-word, but that was the gist of his answer.   Very short.   No detail.   Devoid of explanation.   We got 5-10 minutes of stump-speech for all the other answers, but about 20 seconds for this one.   Things that make you go, “Hmmm.”   PK’s answer is just plain wrong.   What stands at the root of the division among us in regards to worship is wholly theological.   It’s not a matter of style or taste, as he seems to believe (and so many others like him), but it is a matter of whether or not we adhere to the theology of worship revealed to us in Holy Scripture and exposited in our Lutheran Confessions.   At one point, PK made the claim that he is always studying Scripture and our Confessions.   How can that be when he endorses and promotes a theology of worship that is so contradictory to them?   The last question asked of him was a big, fat, juicy softball placed on a tee for him to hit out of the ballpark:   “What can we do to support you as our synodical president?   What is it that you need from us the most?” (or something to that effect).   In his answer, PK indicated that a person in leadership will receive criticism no matter what he says or does.   A leader is to expect that.   I agree with him on that.   It is definitely true that there will be criticism lodged in every leader’s direction no matter how faithful he is.   All parish pastors know this to be true.   Having said that, he asked that we keep him in his prayers.   But, even more so, that we keep his wife, Terry, in our prayers, for while PK can handle the criticism that comes his way, it is often much more difficult for a leader’s wife to do so.   This led into an emotional moment in the convention hall, wherein the assembly rose to their feet and faced Terry, who was seated in the back, to give her a standing ovation.   Now, I’m a sentimental chap and do not want to give the impression that I think there is anything at all wrong with acknowledging our spouses and thanking them for their love and support.   Lord knows I would not be where I am today were it not for the love and support of my lovely wife.   So, while I have no problem with PK drawing our attention to his wonderful companion, I do think that his time would have been better served to answer serious theological questions during this limited time for doing so among us.   But, as I said, the only real question asked of him received about 20 seconds worth of answer.

 

Conclusion:   The Michigan District will remain a beacon of light for the new direction our synod is heading.   There was very little controversy and conflict in the convention hall, mostly due to the fact that nothing controversial really made it to the floor, but was cleverly and conveniently passed over.   The only time things got even remotely heated was during the resolutions concerning marriage and embryonic stell cell research, both of which should have been slam dunks.   It was, at the end of the day, a rather boring three days where nothing much was accomplished.   But, I think that was exactly the plan.   Maintain the status quo and avoid things that would give the appearance of there being divide in our District.   That, and to give PK center stage, upon which he could shine (he is good friends with our District).   So, in that respect, mission accomplished!  

 

In Christ,

Rev. Thomas C. Messer

Peace Lutheran, Alma, MI

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.

Comments

A REPORT ON THE MICHIGAN DISTRICT CONVENTION, by Pr. Thomas Messer — 35 Comments

  1. Rev. Messer, thank you for the thorough report. I find hearing what happens at conventions in other areas is helpful in seeing how things are on a larger scale rather than in my own little corner of Christendom.

    “My convention experience began on Monday morning with a truncated version of Matins, in which the preacher left the pulpit to deliver his entertaining and energetic “message” from the center of the chancel”

    I have often wondered what the arguments are for and against a pastor staying behind a pulpit and for and against not standing behind the pulpit.

    “emphasizes the utter urgency there is for reaching the lost”
    “PK shared how the world is filled with people like this teenage girl, for whom life is just so overwhelming, exhorting us to get out there and “let our lights shine” and share Jesus with them”

    It seems to me that in situations in which we need to let our lights shine it would be far better to grab the huge flashlight of a solid confessional, Christ-centered cross-focused understanding of Scripture rather than the dim candle of a reduced Gospel.

  2. “Rev. Jon Braunersreuther (PK’s right hand man), who led the presentation, continuously repeated the phrase, “The Task Force has a congregational bias” (I haven’t heard anyone make reference to this in their reports).” –TM

    I noted the same thing in my recent BJS blog on the Missouri District Convention, “Harold Hill Comes to the Show-Me State”:

    “Throughout, he kept emphasizing what he called the “congregational bias” of the Task Force. However, it seemed like a case of “he doth protest too much,” in other words, that Braunersreuther knew what the objections would be and that if he just said “congregational bias” often enough, people would believe it.”

  3. Pastor Messer reported, “…Rev. Jon Braunersreuther (PK’s right hand man), who led the presentation, continuously repeated the phrase, “The Task Force has a congregational bias.”

    To be sure the Task Force has a congregational bias. It’s just a bias against congregations!

  4. Great report Pastor Messer, although I am a little disappointed in one aspect of it. I would have appreciated a video version as well – I’d have savored actually watching you articulate all of that. I’ve a feeling it’d add a lot to the report.

  5. Nice report.

    I bet one reason Harrison wasn’t on the agenda is that a competing stump speech couldn’t be allowed in a key district like MI. If MH rocked the house there as hard as he did in Ft. Wayne at the IN-D shindig, he would’ve stolen the show (again). And that just couldn’t be allowed to happen, knamean?

    -ghp

  6. Here’s another angle on the whole “congregational bias” thing.

    In the theological principles document that they wrote to undergird the proposals they made a bid deal out of the fact that the congregation is the basic building block of the church but then they turn right around and make numbers the basic building block of the church, e.g. the larger the congregation, the more the representation.

    TR

  7. Oh, yes. Its [large] congregational bias.

    I’ve heard two such presentations, and in both, the presenters got rather defensive, and exhibited a tendency to “slam dunk” the questioners if they didn’t like the question.

    Questions, anyone?

  8. As for the sodomphilic pastoral delegate who opposed 1-04 and 1-05, why wasn’t a motion made to excrete this blasphemer from the convention? Did the newly-elected DP do anything when the heretic started his theological flatulating, or just hold his nose and look the other way?

    What is name of this heretical pastor and what is the name and location of his Michigan coven?

    Fifty years ago the Missouri Synod would not tolerate a delegate (much less a pastor) to promote such filth at a convention. Now reports of such convention occurences get little more than a blasé recognition.

    Shameful!

  9. I’d also be curious as to the name of the Pastor who believes that marriage is a civil right that should be available for any two people. I sure hope he’s not from my LCMS church! I’m not surprised by Pastor Messer’s report. The majority of congregations in the Michigan District are headed in a direction inconsistent with our Confessions. In all things, God’s will be done.

  10. Re: website shown in comment # 10:

    Interesting .. same “lack of cross” as the BRTFSSG .. the cross is defined by what is there and not a cross in itself. It appears to be a tear in the fabric of reality that shows the cross on that website.. the fabric is torn, revealing the white sheet under it.

  11. The coding for the website mentioned in #10 is kind of goofed up. It doesn’t work in Firefox, but shows up partially in IE. I checked the source code and found that the webpage is hosted by Concordia/Ann Arbor and the Michigan District. Is this standard in that district or unique to this congregation?

  12. Interesting website. How sad. They promote open communion, if questions, direct you to talk to ushers before communion. And July 5 at 6:00 you can join them with others churches and pastors for citywide worship in the park. Kyrie eleison!

  13. Having attended the Michigan District Convention as a lay delegate, I would offer the following observations:

    1. Not one person attending could offer a clear definition of “Celebrate Jesus.” (You’ll not find such rubbish in St. Paul’s epistle to the Philippians.) This alone seemed to be appropriate for our convention; lack of definition and direction.

    2. New DP David Maier elected – we knew this was foregone at our regional conference in Grand Rapids (back in May). While Rev. David Reed would have been prefered, the politics said Rev. Maier (as the votes cast confirmed).

    3. We attended the openning Divine Service. DP Rev. Hoesman’s sermon was Law lite and Gospel-less. What throughly distracted my worship was the two hugh screens (one by the lectern – one by the pulpit) These are totally unnecessary (and worse when the lectionary spoken differed from the printed version on the screens!)

    The Monday Matins was more than I could bear. Repeatedly, I pleaded with my Pastor for leg irons to chain that “preacher” to the pulpit. His actions focused all attention on him; in effect, a total abrogation of preaching. Between the screens and the clown show sermon, I left with no understanding of the message given.

    Since all the devotions were lead by laymen, I informed my Pastor I would not be in attendance. (I had attended a Tre Ore service during Holy Week sponsored by a different circuit – they assigned a deacon to preach on “It is finished.” I will not sit through such rubbish again as long as God permits my feet to function.)

    The only acceptable worship was the Memorial Service on Tuesday morning. The liturgist did not wear or utilize a microphone – we sat in the back and clearly hear his Invocation, Readings, the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, the Prayers, i.e., the Liturgy. If you haven’t guessed by now, this Pastor regulary attends our Confessional study. The sermon had Law and Gospel – this apparently has become a novelty in Lutheran Worship, but it is still as refreshing to hear preached.

    We had to forgo attending the Installation Service that evening. I just had to swallow my deep disappointment at missing SP Kieschnick’s well rehearsed sermon. We had other convention business requiring attention and little time. (On a humorous note, we were joined by several attendees afterward. We spent several minutes retelling the sermon they just heard – nearly word for word.)

    4. Resolutions:
    1-01 Unfortunately necessary in our fallen world of litigation.

    1-02 I was one of two voting against. If this is ongoing in your congregation, you had better flee to Luther’s Small Catechism. There exist more problems than any resolution can address (or correct).

    1-03 Passed; for this I give thanks to God.

    1-04 Passed with unacceptable opposition. I will address the opposition below.

    1-05 Passed with me standing at the mike to call the question. Some well-meaning amendments to include invitro fertilization threatened to cloud the issue (and that other opposition [see 1-04], but we did get what we had proposed.

    1-06 & 1-07 These never had a chance of seeing the “light” of the convention floor. At least we got them in the workbook for all delegates to read.

    1-08 Passed with little damage inflicted.

    1-09 Nice but not necessary – didn’t get a chance.

    2-01 Passed – blessings to Prince of Peace on their new circuit.

    2-02 Tabled – after having a root canal without novacaine (or a shot of scotch). This had (and will have) no chance in its present form; for this we give thanks to God.

    2-03 Lost in purgatory – there’s always another convention.

    2-04, 05 & 06 All passed on the final day without any zeal.

    2-07, 08 & 09 All dealing with Lutheran Schools – not meriting a hearing at this convention. All lost in time.

    2-10, 11, 12 & 13 Did anyone actually believe we would discuss the Heritage Foundation, Pre-Seminary Progams, disaster preparedness or proper accounting of congregational monies? I’m sure we can safely put these off for three more years. What possible disasters could befall our money, our seminaries – and our Foundations? Oh yes, all delegates were given a copy of CUAA President Ahlersmeyer’s letter explaining how the very building we were utilizing were not going to be sold – maybe. With strong support from CUAA supporters and the blessings of LCMS BoD, they can simply “leverage a small portion of its land assets.” Did I hear Noah say, “It looks like rain!”

    Much of the convention’s time was wasted on material not germane to the purpose of a state convention. We had several important resolutions die without a word so we could be exposed to “other” material available within walking distance.

    BRTFSSG: This blue ribbon special has a definite congreational bias. This monster does not like congregational imput – especially all you little critters who keep annoying Districts and Synod with your “beliefs”. Our small congregation co-sponsored nearly half of the theological resolutions. If this passes in any form, I will do better service to the church by cutting my neighbor’s grass in July than ever attending a state convention. WE WILL BE SILENCED – do not underestimate this fact. God’s Word will prevail – but not in the LCMS.

    My father taught me if I have nothing good to say, then shut-up. So I say nothing regarding our SP Kieschnick.

    Final point – When Pastor Metcalf addressed our resolution on marriage, I was shocked. This man is a called and ordained minister of the LCMS. His opposition centered on two points; 1) People are born homosexuals; they did not choose to be one, and 2) The marriage proposal infringes on their civil rights. This rubbish was clearly spoken to the chair, our District President and the entire assembly. I wrote two notes to address in rebuttal to his heresy.

    First, I did not choose to be born a sinner. I am a sinner. God does not approve of sin – but loved me enough to give His Son for my sins. If I choose to persist in my sin, I am an enemy of God. Kyrie Eleison.
    Second – read Ephesians 5:3-5 to the assembled. Follow God’s Word. Pray for Jim Metcalf, pray for St. John Lutheran, pray for our Michigan District to do what must be done, pray to Our Father “Thy will be done.”

  14. Well, I’m certainly not surprised about any of this given the state of the Michigan District (to which I’ll be moving soon). Luckily, there are still many solid congregations around. Pastor Metcalf, however, should have been rebuked and is clearly in need of greater theological training.

  15. I’m curious pastors,

    As much as I’d like our Synod to “promote the Biblical understanding of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman,” “oppose embryonic stem cell research,” “reject gender neutral language in Scripture, translations, liturgies, and hymns” or “encourage congregations of the Michigan District to seek unity in worship practice,” are these issues that a Confessional synod can in good faith put to a vote? A District or Synod that can vote TO interpret scripture in accordance w/ scripture as required by our Confessional subscription can vote NOT to interpret scripture in accordance w/ scripture as required by our Confessional subscription.

    In my opinion, even when we “win” on such votes, we lose in the long term by setting the precedent that these are matters where the majority of delegates could have voted the other way. I fear that in putting this sort of resolution forward, Confessionals are adding to a whip that is already being used on our own backs.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  16. Matt,

    Good point. In a Biblical synod these things are taught as the convention essays and not debated on the floor.

    There are ways these things can come up properly. For example, in the NID Pastor Ben Ball brought a motion to the floor to encourage the ELCA to uphold Biblical teaching on moral issues at thier convention this summer.

    Things are so bad in the LCMS these days that I wonder if there isn’t some good however, in introducing these motions to call people out as was done in this case.

    TR

  17. Am I the only worried that in the two reports given, not a word was mentioned about Biblical sitting down with this pastor to share the Gospel, since obviously the feelings of Law have already been cast down upon him. There in lies our problem in the church. We judge, but very rarely do we take the steps to step out and help our brother on the right path. I was actually present for those proceedings (marriage/stem-cell). I was floored to see any opposition raised. As I listened to the opposition I wondered what the response and fallout would be to those who raised opposition. Would it be the beating of Law with a blunt object from a distance or would those clergy present take it upon themselves to approach this brother in Christ in Biblically Christian manner that has been set forth by our Lord.

    There is time to do the right thing. By posting his name and congregation, all you’ve done is made situation worse. We will continue to pray for him, but there is more his fellow clergy could be doing. Hopefully, this Law beat down followed by passing the buck is not a running rampant throughout the Synod.

  18. Eric,

    This is not a matter of law and gospel. We should certainly speak the truth in love but when someone denies the truth of God’s word the need is not for Gospel but for the clear teaching of God’s word, in this case His law about marriage.

    I have not witnessed anyone speaking the truth without love here. Concerning the need to speak to him personally, that would be a fine thing but now that he has made his false confession public there is no blame for anyone who addresses this issue publicly.

    You can certainly take your own advice. Have you spoken to the pastor yourself?

    TR

  19. It would be one thing if this pastor would have come to me personally and privately and spoken with me or another brother pastor about his stuggles with this. It is another thing all together for him to stand before his gathered brothers and sisters, lecture us on how unfair we are, how we think our gay and lesbian children are disgusting, how we make salvation dependent on faith plus the work of abstinence, and in general wag his little finger at us and the Word of God. This man needs to be disciplined. Let us no longer neuter the power of the Word with this ridiculously obsessive desire to be polite and kind above being faithful.

  20. Read your report with extreme interest. Brother Walt forwarded it to me from St. John the Steadfast. My wife’s large relationship attend nauseating Messiah in Clio. I confronted Rev. Kostizen in his office one time about his responsive reading that replaced liturgy. Responsive reading on servanthood, line by the congregation, ” The more we serve, the more saved we are”. Works righteousness heresy. Also confronted him about a real hilarious chancel drama, telling him, ” The Holy Spirit lead me to faith and did not need help from Rodney Dangerfield and phyllis Diller”. In the 50’s I worked for the C&O RR and relieved the Alma station operator one day a week for his day off.

    Bill Dissen, Walt’s younger brother

  21. Another thing to consider: Is the Gospel for unrepentant sinners? Can unrepentant sinners receive the Gospel?

  22. All, now that I actually know his name… missed it at the Convention I will definitely be extend a prayer and call out of love. I’m not saying he doesn’t need Law or discipline. I’m simply saying that I expected someone to say we need to pray around this brother figure out his issue and get him back on the right track. As I recall there was circumstances brought during his speech to why his thinking is skewed. Knowing the entire situation is very important No doubt he knows what the Law is, but for some reason he has rationalized his beliefs (post-modernism at its best). Sad and disturbing, but I’m sure discipline will be handled as it should be or the process may have already begun.

  23. From Walther’s Law and Gospel, Theses VII and VIII:

    The Word of God is not rightly divided when the Gospel is preached first and then the Law; sanctification first and then justification; faith first and then repentance; good works first and then grace.

    The Word of God is not rightly divided when the Law is preached to those who are already in terror on account of their sins, or the Gospel to those who live securely in their sins.

  24. Eric,

    That was a balanced comment (#22). It is too bad that even though this error was committed in public, most likely, as as happened dozen of times before, we will never know that any discipline is being done. This also hurts the morale of the synod pastors.

    TR

  25. Hey! I was wondering what the outcome was on Concordia Ann Arbor. I have heard rumors but not really what truly happened. Did they get bought by Concordia Mequon? And if so, what does this mean for both schools and other Concordia’s such as Concordia Chicago?

    Just wondering because I am a Concordia Student Myself.

    Thanks for any information you have!

    God’s peace that passes all understanding.

  26. Eric Ekong: No doubt he knows what the Law is, but for some reason he has rationalized his beliefs (post-modernism at its best). Sad and disturbing, but I’m sure discipline will be handled as it should be or the process may have already begun.

    Perhaps we should consider ourselves to be fortunate or blessed to have Mr. Ekong as a commenter, who proclaims the ability to know the inner thoughts and knowledge of someone previously unknown to him until mentioned on this thread. And also that we can receive Mr. Ekong’s assurance that the “discipline” thingee will be handled “as it should be.”

    This handling presumably would involve the Circuit Counselor, Rev Thomas F. Meyer, whose St. Mark Lutheran Church-Kentwood website one will have to explore rather thoroughly before finding any mention of it’s being a member of the Missouri Synod. However it was very easy to find their answer to the question, What if I want to receive Holy Communion (the Lord’s Supper)?:

    “As Lutheran Christians, we believe and teach that Christ’s body and blood are truly present in, with, and under the bread and wine. We also believe and teach that we receive all the treasured blessings Christ earned for us, forgiveness of sins, power over death and the devil, power to live the Christian life on earth, and to receive the goodness of the Lord. If you agree with this, you are welcome to join us.”

    I’m beginning to sense, even without telepathy, that the Michigan District has a number of other problems.

  27. One man’s opinion as to the root cause, but in this pastor’s “made that way by God” I see a denial of the fall, and original sin. It’s the same error that the current Bishop of Rome dabbles with in his little book about Genesis, and it appears to be a consistent logical consequence of signing on to “theistic evolution.” If we were created as we are through a long process of death and mutation, there is really no place left for an historical fall. Saying that death and a fallen world is the result of our first parents’ sin becomes nonsense if they were “created” through death and mutation.

    Perhaps the bigger problem becomes the reversal of roles that this heresy eventually requires. If, as this pastor implied, we are as God designed us to be, then it is God and not man that bears the responsibility for sin, pain and death in the world. If this is so, God “owes” us salvation, and we are perfectly justified in living out any sinful desires that can be traced to our “God created” genetic makeup. In the end, however dangerous this pastor’s antinomianism may be, this error quickly becomes an even more profound Art IV issue.

    Treat the disease not the symptoms.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  28. Well said, Matthew Mills.

    To quote a couple of people in a garden long time ago:
    “It was this sexual orientation you gave me…”
    “You gave me this sinful nature and I obeyed it…”

    As I recall, the Questioner did not accept these excuses.

    But, that was in a garden, a long time ago…. It ain’t your great-great…grandfather’s garden!

  29. Rev. Weinkauf,

    The sad thing is that Metcalf was in the Kansas District 30 years and I wondered at the time how long he would last. Unfortuantely, he appears to have hung on and gotten much worse over the years.

  30. Thank you for the report. I too am troubled by a heretic being allowed not only to speak but to maintain such a warped theological perspecitve and remain a LCMS Pastor. Haivng been involved in some serius concerns over the unethical and immoral behavior of an LCMS Pastor and having received very little bully pulpit, old fashioned wood shed treatment from the outgoing Michigan DP to correct the man I wonder if anyone takes these issues seriously anymore. Time was when Heinz or a Schlect would resolve these issues qorm the Michigan DP

  31. I am currently sitting at the Central Illinois convention, and I think we have you beat! “Congregational bias” has been mentioned at least 20 times, in one way or another!

    Also, Kieschnick briefly spoke against one of our proposed resolutions asking our congregations to support Brothers of John the Steadfast (although he did not mention it by name!).

  32. The word, “bias,” usually suggests a viewpoint that is held a priori or despite or contrary to available reliable evidence to the contrary.

    Are the Kieschnick cronies having another “Trouble in River City” moment?

  33. Colin Mildred wrote, “Also, Kieschnick briefly spoke against one of our proposed resolutions asking our congregations to support Brothers of John the Steadfast (although he did not mention it by name!).”

    This is unfortunate since BJS supports one of President Kieschnick’s favorite radio programs, Issues, Etc., and one of his favorite books, the Book of Concord.:) Maybe he will change his mind the more he listens to Issues, Etc., reads the Book of Concord, and follows the BJS website.

  34. For what it is worth: I did call Rev. Metcalf (he is in my circuit) and left a message. He has not returned my call. I also spoke with Rev. Pres. Hoesman about Metcalf’s false-teaching and Rev. Meyer, Circuit Counselor. Rev. Meyer is really doing a first-rate job in handling this, and I trust that he will do what he has said he will do. Pray for guidance and faithfulness in this issue for Rev. Meyer, that he may be strengthened to do the right thing for Metcalf.

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