Conservative “United List” Group Releases its Recommendations for Praesidium

(Editor’ Note: In July 2010 the LCMS will meet in synod convention. For years there has been an anoymous group that releases a list of recommended candidates for offices that will be elected at the convention. The group is called the “United List” because in the past conservative groups would put up different names and tend to split the vote. These various groups came together years ago and began presenting a united front. The group remains anonymous so that there is no attempt to influence its members. We were sent a copy of the list and asked to publish it. This list will be archived on our LCMS Politics page.)


RELEASE DATE: September 8th, 2009

The “United List” announces its recommendations for the following offices of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS):

Synodical President: Rev. Matthew Harrison of Saint Louis, Missouri

First Vice-President: Rev. Herbert Mueller, Jr. of Waterloo, Illinois

Second Vice-President: Rev. John Wohlrabe of Geneseo, Illinois

Third Vice-President: Rev. Daniel Preus of Saint Louis, Missouri

Fourth Vice-President: Rev. David Adams of Saint Louis, Missouri

Fifth Vice-President: Rev. Scott Murray of Houston, Texas

Alternate for VPs 2-5: Rev. Carl Fickenscher of Fort Wayne, Indiana

The offices listed will be filled at the upcoming convention of the LCMS in July 2010. Nomination forms for these offices will be sent by the LCMS Secretary’s office to congregations at the end of October 2009. Congregations are free to nominate any qualified candidate of their choice. Congregations are encouraged to consider and submit the names listed above as their nominations.

Since 1998 the “United List” has served the congregations of the LCMS who seek to be faithful to the synod’s constitution and confessions. It has done this by recommending candidates who also uphold the synod’s constitution and confessions, who are impeccably ethical, and who have proven themselves in every way for service to the Lutheran church.

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.


Conservative “United List” Group Releases its Recommendations for Praesidium — 32 Comments

  1. May the Lord guide the hands, of those, who have a vote. It will be as, HE wills, it to be so. I/we who wait upon those who may have a pen & paper to cast, may do so with His will, not their own, nor anyone else’s, may THAT, be on the paper they may cast. Be mindful of those within your privilged care & shepherding.
    His will, be done to His glory.

  2. We received a comment on this post today from Rev. Herman Otten. Some of you may know him as the editor of the conservative Lutheran paper “Christian News.”

    We are not publishing the comment because there are some assertions in the comment that we deem to be personal in a way that is not fitting for this discussion and that we cannot prove nor disprove. However, the comment does contain some information that is fair and that our readers ought to consider.

    Pastor Otten endorses Matt Harrison for president but for first vice president he endorses Wallace Schultz. Schultz is a courageous fighter for pure doctrine and practice in the LCMS and is a fine candidate. We also believe that the United List’s choice of Herb Mueller is a fine selection. As always, we encourage our readers to discuss this matter in further comments below.

    Here is a part of Pastor Otten’s comment:

    “At the 2007 convention, Schulz received 526 nominations for President and H. Mueller received 100. Schulz received 540 nominations for First Vice-President and Mueller 69. Listen to the congregations and not some secret group. Hopefully, John the Steadfast will get behind the men suggested on page 1 of the September 7 Christian News.”

    It is the practice of the LCMS to elect its synodical leaders. We could cast lots but instead we have chosen to have elections. That means that there will differences of opinion. Hopefully this website can serve in some small way to air those opinions and help the LCMS elect solid confessional men to lead the institution.


  3. Now the question that arises every three years – who compiles the United List and by what authority do they do so? The names are generally good (in my opinion) but at least one, Dr. Adams, is a proponent of the SMP Program. A couple of others have been on the ballot before and have not been elected.

    I often disagree with Pastor Otten but he is right as far as this being a “secret group.” That is a problem and it will be used by both the dissidents on the right and the liberals on the left to discredit these candidates. Operating in secret without consensus outside your own circle is a recipe for one thing: three more years of the current administration.

  4. Pastor Rossow, I respectfully suggest that the so-called United List not be posted by you, or anyone else. It is the responsibility of the authors to sign their names to what they write. Take it off this blog, and mention it no more.

  5. I agree with Pastor Kozak.

    Lists of full presidium candidates are over-ambitious and invite internecine squabbling. We’ve seen what that gets us.

    Harrison for President. That’s your list.

  6. This “secrecy” argument has been around for four decades, and, as far as I know, hasn’t affected the elections one bit. The libs have had their published “preferred list” as well, and just as secret. Geez Us First/Death Star will undoubedly have one in 2010. And nobody will know who compiled that, either. Are the choices bad just because he compilers are unknown? I think not. It’s a false argument.
    Don’t let this argument outweigh the merits of the choices themselves. Even Herman apparently agrees on all but one!
    As far as I know, the United List is a collaborative effort by representatives from any number of confessional groups around the Synod. Could it be that their collective opinion is just as good, or quite possibly better, than the opinion of one single individual.
    Ed Weise

  7. TW#6
    Agreed on Harrison. However…
    1. Delegates read numbers. And the nomination numbers are published in the Convention Workbook or subsequent publications. “Gee, Rev Schmidt got 5000 nominations, he must really be good.” If we think that they’re not influenced by numbers, particularly the “novice” delegates, we belong in a different galaxy.
    2. A solid Praesidum would have, one hopes, backed Wallace S. wholheartedly in his censure of Benke. That might have changed a few things in the 2004 election and subsequent.
    3. Yes, it could lead to internecene warfare. (But that already exists in this silly “secrecy” argument.) It’s a risk that the United List people, and even Herman Otten, must take. Is it worth it? See #1 above.

  8. Mr. Weise,

    Three questions:

    First, how has the United List fared at the Conventions in 2001, 2004 and 2007?

    Second,If the conservatives have not done well in this decade, does a continuation of the same old way of doing business make sense to you?

    Third, can you say whether or not you are personally involved in the UL?

    Just curious.

  9. Let me see if I got this straight. When the centurion came in and asked for Sparticus, all the slaves had this dumb look and said “Never heard of the dude. We need to maintain our independence and not be associated with any anti-incumbency movements. But if you ask the guy with the dimple on his chin, he might be able to help you.”

  10. Here we go again!
    The UL has put out a list and some will not vote for it because they don’t know who’s talking behind the mask.
    Otten has evidently put out a list again. Otten must know that some people have lost because he campaigned for them.

    What kind of an ego does it take not to know when to sit down and be quiet!? I am NOT just talking about Otten here.

    As a number of us [women, mostly] said [futilely] last time, “Get behind the front runner among the confessional nominees and vote for him!” Don’t think for a moment that you will have a second or third ballot to sort out the “favorite sons.” They don’t even believe that at Republican and Democratic conventions any more.

    It would only have taken 2 or 3% at any of the last three conventions and you wasted it every time!
    If you won’t get it together this time, we shall most certainly get kicked out, separately!


  11. AUS #9
    I’ll try to be brief, but it ain’t easy!
    Firstly: I don’t have the complete statisics on all of the elections for ’01 thru ’07.
    But, what happened in ’04 and ’07 depends directly on ’01. Obviously, things did not go, have not gone, as well as conservative/confessionals hoped!
    We (I say “we” because I was actively involved, as President of Balance, Inc./Affirm, at the time) were caught with our guard(s) down by the untimely death of Al Barry in ’01. His re-election would, I think, have been a no-brainer. So, we were left without a candidate at a very late date in the process.
    Bob Kuhn would have been, I think, a slam dunk. Advantage of incumbency, however short; drawing on Barry’s popularity; and his work as Barry’s teammate. But he declined to run even though he was earnestly and persistently entreated to do so.
    The choice of Dean Wenthe was effectively sabotaged by scurrilous articles in an independent newspaper (which I will not name here but which everyone knows!) that called his integrity and confessionalism into question.
    Those factors, coupled with the first really serious and extensive liberal efforts, by JF and DS, resulted in a “near thing” for confessionals. The margin of Kieschnick’s victory wasn’t that great. Absent the “internecene warfare” typical of the conservative/confessional community!) things might have been vastly different. But, as they say, “The rest is history.”
    Secondly: To paraphrase an old Bill Mauldin WWII cartoon, “If youse knows a better ‘ole, go to it.”
    What mechanism, other than a published list, exists to get the names of candidates we prefer before the nominating electorate/delegates? Word of mouth? Private, individual, letters to delegates? BJS websites and other blogs? JF and DS must have thought it a pretty good idea, ’cause they’ve copied every year it since ’98. Just because it doesn’t work ALL the time doesn’t mean it’s not a viable means.
    Thirdly: No. Neither directly nor indirectly. I’ve been “away from the fray” as an active participant for several years.
    Sorry to have taken up so much space. I hope this answers your questions and helps you, and others, somewhat.
    Ed Weise

  12. Re:Helen #11.
    Anybody around here STILL think that women don’t have words of wisdom to impart to men?
    YOU GO, GIRL!!!

  13. The Wilken List:

    Synodical President: Rev. Matthew Harrison
    1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th Vice-Presidenta: Anyone, as long as they aren’t part of the Bohlmann-era-synod political machine.

    New Blood, Old Theology.


  14. The Wilken List:

    Synodical President: Rev. Matthew Harrison

    1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th Vice-Presidenta: Anyone, as long as they aren’t part of the Bohlmann-era-synod political machine.

    Terry Tieman, Steve Benke, Ben Gonzales, ?


  15. Pr. Frahm,
    “Just get the nominations in.”
    For whom, ferevvins sake?
    Do you have suggestions? Specifics? Or should congregations just throw darts at Synod’s roster?
    That’s insanity.
    How many of our congregations even know men outside of their own little Circuit circle (maybe not even then?)
    I could agree heartily with Pr. Wilken IF congregations know/knew who ISN’T part of the Bohlmann-era machine. (Pr Stefanski’s comment applies.) My guess is that MOST of ’em don’t. And many, perhaps most, welcome some assistance. (If only to know who NOT to nominate/vote for!)
    Does anyone really think that JF/DS isn’t aleady circulating their list. In secret now, maybe, probably, but publicly later?
    We can play the pious “above it all” game forever. And lose forever. This is a world of real political essence. Always has been, like it or not. The nature of conventions and elections. Until we get to that gloriously elusive point of drawing lots…..

  16. The “United List” is very good at the top of the ticket – two strong confessional candidates around whom a consensus has grown. They have everyone’s support as far as I know.

    The balance, while generally strong (especially, in my opinion, Rev. Wohlrabe and Rev. Preus), is not much more than a carbon copy of a failed “ticket” from the past. Well, who knows. Maybe the failure of the past will become the success of tomorrow.

    My observation is that confessional leadership has become mired in its routines. I had hoped to see a revitalization after 2007 but instead I see little that brings me any hope of a better 2010.

    I wish them well. But I have also decided that I can no longer invest anything more of myself in a system that trusts “churcly” politics more than the power of the confession of truth. Come up with your lists. Talk about the good old days. Blame everyone else. Have fun. I am through with it and I feel much better for it.

  17. It’s time to learn something from the liberals: small, incremental steps wins the day. That’s why I endorse the “Wilken list”, reclaim the top and take the next ten years reclaiming the rest. We might even be fortunate enough to get a couple of VP spots, but let those chips fall where they may. Then work on those for the next convention. The liberals didn’t get where there at overnight.


  18. First, how has the United List fared at the Conventions in 2001, 2004 and 2007?

    In 2007, when the vast majority of its candidates had a scarlet ‘L’ placed on them at the convention for supporting one or another of the (stupid) lawsuits, only one of their candidates was elected.

    In 1998, 2001, and 2004, over 65% of their candidates were elected. When you consider the Board of Directors that kept the Kieschnick Agenda from going forward for six years, or the boards of regents that had colleges and seminaries going the right way for awhile, these were due to the United List choosing board nominees (often nominated from the floor, i.e., in opposition to the candidates pre-selected by liberal Synodical Nominations Committees) who were both confessional and appealing to a wide swath of Missouri. Eddie Balfour, Elizabeth Fluegel, Christian Preus, David Hawk, Leslie Sramek, Myrna Larsen, Gary Hoover, Steve Briel…the list goes on and on, the last two, for instance, being elected from ‘heartland’ states to serve on the BoRs of Portlnd and Bronxville…Beth Fluegel being elected not only as an excellent board member in her own right, but as a ‘block’ to Don Muchow being elected to the BOR in 2001.

    The United List has done very well, in spite of LCMS ‘conservatives’ doing their best to keep it from doing so. Its membership has, from the beginning, consisted of representatives of the major (and some minor) LCMS confessional groups, so that while the individual members are unrevealed, if anyone has a complaint he can simply direct it to those groups.

    Looking at the current list, it is obvious that the UL group got together and suggested for nomination those who are being suggested by a number of those on the ‘right’ of the LCMS–some of whom are simply uninformed (consider the mention, above, of a sem prof who supports SMP, or the inclusion of a district president who allows a pastor and congregation to go undisciplined while they continue to harbor a man who was a major proponent of abortion in the Senate for many years and who wrote an article, upon his retirement, in which he specifically disowned the doctrine of the LCMS)–but there are no great shockers here, none who violate Pr. Wilken’s desire for those not of the Bohlmann era political machine, none who wouldn’t be better than what is in office now.

    Of course, those of us who look forward to a realignment within American Lutheranism have joy almost equal to that of (the blasphemously named political action committee) Jesus First at the reactions on this thread. As you splinter, JF consolidates; maybe it will all coalesce to lead you all to confess with clarity, instead of thinking that everyone should see how confessional you are while you remain in fellowship with the very men you howl about and campaign against…year, after year, after year, after year.


  19. “Politics First” (Their “JF” moniker notwithstanding) is well-organized, well-funded, has many friends in hi places, and as Pr. Stefanski has related (#21, “scarlet L”), is quite ruthless. It appears that those who oppose Politics First are none of these. Whether we like it or not, the LCMS is “governed” by politicians, who may be a numerical minority, but who have the power, and are quite willing to wield it, and ruthlessly, if necessary. That’s what we’re up against.

  20. I’m not on the United List, I don’t know who’s on the United List, and, frankly, I don’t care whether it’s a “secret group” or not. What matters is whether the names suggested are good ones. And I think they are. In fact, even before I saw this list, I was thinking about names for congregational nominations, and my own list matches up pretty well:

    SP: Matt Harrison
    1VP: Herb Mueller
    2VP: John Wohlrabe
    3VP: Daniel Preus
    Then for 4VP and 5VP, perhaps Scott Murray and Wallace Schulz. But I would be happy with David Adams and Carl Fickenscher.

    (I think CN suggested Terry Forke for 2-5VP, and Forke, by all accounts, is a good man. However, you do NOT want to nominate a sitting DP as 2-5VP, since it would be a wasted nomination: A man cannot hold two elective offices at the same time; being a DP is more important than being a 2-5VP; and thus that DP would of course decline the nomination. SP or 1VP–yes, it’s OK to nominate a DP, since those are full-time positions, and a DP might resign as DP to take one of those, but he would not do so to become a 2-5VP.)

    Also, keep in mind, there will be five names on the SP ballot, five names on the 1VP ballot, and a pool of 20 names for the 2-5VP ballot. Congregations may nominate two names for SP, two names for 1VP, and four names for the other VPs. For example, a congregation might nominate and fill out their forms like this:

    SP: Matt Harrison, Herb Mueller
    1VP: Herb Mueller, Matt Harrison
    Other VPs: John Wohlrabe, Daniel Preus, Scott Murray, Wallace Schulz

    (The order in which you list the names on the form is irrelevant. It’s the total number of nominations that gets them on the ballot or not.)

    You may nominate the same name in each of those categories. The official nominating forms will be mailed out probably in late October, and the deadline for congregations to submit their forms is March 10. The names receiving sufficient nominations will then be made known later in the spring. WHEN THE NAMES QUALIFYING FOR THE BALLOT are announced, sometime in the spring of 2010, and we see how the number of nominations goes, then we can strategize more intelligently about how to vote in Houston in July.

    But BEFORE THEN, the #1 item of business is still, in most cases, the CIRCUIT FORUM. I would guess that 90% of the circuit forums will be taking place over the next 30 days (by the October 10 deadline). These forums will elect the delegates to the Houston convention. Do you know WHAT IS HAPPENING IN YOUR CIRCUIT? Are you working together with the like-minded folks in your circuit to plan ahead to elect good delegates? The circuit forums over the next 30 days will be where next summer’s convention will be won or lost.

    One other item for now: Recommendations for nomination for all the boards, commissions, etc. The deadline for that is October 10, and you can find the form at the convention page.

  21. Well said Johannes. And Stefanski is spot on in his summary of past elections AND in his point that the JF crowd gleefully welomes the divisions in the conservative/confessional community. We are most often our own worst enemy! I’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt! (And the scars.) It shows, to a certain extent, but not fatally so, in some of these responses.
    I think it was Kurt Marquart who once wrote that conservatives, believing in everything, can agree on nothing while liberals, believing in nothing, can agree on anything. That is, indeed, what we’re up against, in addition to the ruthlessness.
    Let’s be realistic. Conventions, by definition, are necessarily “political.” Have been since time immemorial. We ELECT our leaders. It’s an inescapable fact, short of drawing lots, whether we like it or not. We can choose to opt out, put ourselves above it all. And therein lies more tragedy.

  22. Unworthy Servant wrote: “I can no longer invest anything more of myself in a system that trusts “churchly” politics more than the power of the confession of truth.”

    The Word alone has power in the Church, true. So, let’s
    elect someone who actually believes that –Harrison.


  23. After reading several of the above comments I think the United List is a good thing. Confessional Lutherans need Rev. Harrison and a core group of secondary candidates who we can rally around before the upcoming convention. Hopefully we can come together and become a shrewd group as we go about changing the leadership of the LCMS. Think of how sweet it will be when we leave Houston with our new president.

  24. As I understand the United List announcement they are suggesting names for NOMINATION. People are looking for suggestions on who to nominate. I think they are good suggestions. I hope after the nominations are in we all will take a step back and look at the situation and then decide who we will VOTE for. None of us should, Herman Otten, United List or anyone else should be setting their feet in concrete at this point. We all need to keep the ultimate goal in mind, turning the LCMS back towards its biblical confession. Lets get rid of the egos.

  25. I guess anybody who wants to can circulate a list. But “Press release from the United List” is laughably presumptuous. I give this about as much creedance as the CN list. As a hopeful delegate, these lists will have about zero influence on what I do.

    What I know is that I have listened to several hours of Pr. Harrison by way of Issues, Etc. And I am convinced that he is a pastor first and last, and not a politician. I think Pr. Harrison will challenge both liberals and conservatives while standing firmly on scripture. At this point, there is no one else I would prefer as LCMS President.

  26. As for the other offices, I have no firsthand knowledge of these guys, so I will have to depend on the opinions of Lutherans that I respect and trust. Anonymous lists have less than no value. In fact, I think they can be counterproductive.

  27. Anonymous lists have less than no value.

    Lists published by representatives of the confessional groups in the LCMS without revealing who, specifically, was on the committee have no value. How do we know? Because a completely anonymous person, representing no group at all, told us so on a website.

    Sometimes, I just sit and stare at the monitor in complete amazement.

    Oh, well. Again,

    those of us who look forward to a realignment within American Lutheranism have joy almost equal to that of (the blasphemously named political action committee) Jesus First at the reactions on this thread. As you splinter, JF consolidates; maybe it will all coalesce to lead you all to confess with clarity, instead of thinking that everyone should see how confessional you are while you remain in fellowship with the very men you howl about and campaign against…year, after year, after year, after year.


  28. If the listmakers want to call themselves “united” maybe they should try inviting Herman Otten to their meeting, for a change?

    If they are separated from CN by only one name, and that Wallace Schulz, there’s no question who has more ‘name recognition’.

    Sometimes I think people would prefer to “hang separately! Let me tell you, unless you are Tod Wilken or a very few others, it’s a lonely business. Even your long time confessional “friends” very rapidly don’t know you. The reason I know about women elders and officers, Dutch, is Altenburg, MO, 2004.

  29. Helen,
    I just checked this, & I NEVER DOUBTED YOUR KNOWLEDGE FOR A SECOND!!! I TOTALLY & WHOLE HEARTEDLY AGREE that we, “fragile gendered”, SHOULD NEVER HOLD A POSITION OVER MEN, ie sticky wicket. I have been “encouraged” to hold the head of evangelism committees twice,& many a committee more, & served in just about any other teaching capacity. HOW I DO KNOW THIS IS NOT ECHT, backsplash, the backsplash. God knew what He was doing, when He said what He did!
    All the people I know, had NO CLUE WHATSOEVER, THAT THIS WAS EVER PAST, & you are right, if you aren’t Pastor Wilken, or the like, you will quickly learn what the left foot of fellowship is, I know we sure did.

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