North Wisconsin DP Apologizes for Promoting Women’s Ordination

Over on the original post on this story BJS member and columnist Scott Diekmann shared the apology he  received from North Wisconsin District President Hoelter for allowing a two page promotion of womens ordination to appear in his district monthly newsletter. Here is what Scott shared:

I contacted President Hoelter via email. Rather than try and parse his response I’m quoting it:

 

“The article in question in the October NORTHERN HERALD did indeed slip past me. I can lay the blame at the feet of our editor, but as President I bear the responsibility for what is printed and disseminated in the District. Neither the North Wisconsin District nor I approve of or condone the ordination of women to the pastoral Office. Our Synod has spoken clearly and forcefully on the issue and the North Wisconsin District supports the Synod’s position. Please accept my apology. I will be speaking with the pastors of the District at our Fall Conference that begins tomorrow.”

You can see the original post and Scott’s comment (# 14) here.

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

North Wisconsin DP Apologizes for Promoting Women’s Ordination — 43 Comments

  1. Will this editor be reprimanded? Someone in the District Office obviously reads (and thinks very highly of) the parish paper. What does this DP think of the parish paper and its circulating around his offices? Will a retraction be printed in the next month’s issue which will teach the biblical doctrine of male-only clergy? Or is an apology all we will get?

    Apologies are necessary, but more action has to be taken if the apology is sincere. The damage has been done and a simple “mea culpa” won’t fix the damage done. False Doctrine has been promoted and taught publicly so the true doctrine must be taught publicly.

  2. I would think that at the very least the materials ought to come down, the retraction/apology posted on the district website, and a special e-mail sent to mailing list of the district ASAP. I would also think an article addressing the prohibition of female pastors in the November issue or sooner should be sent from the DP. Why it wouldn’t be self-evident to any staff involved to omit that Parish Paper is beyond me, if it was not seen as an opportunity to let something slip. Hopefully parishes in North Wisconsin won’t reprint it.

  3. Joke of the day:
    What’s the difference between an ecclesiastical supervisor and a scarecrow?

    A scarecrow has a staff that does the obvious job.

    [follow the yellow brick road]

  4. It will be interesting to hear from the Northern Herald editor how this heretical article ended up in an LCMS district publication.

  5. I figured this was an oversight. But isn’t this kind of thing to be expected when LCMS districts subscribe to mainline liberal Protestant publications and run them uncritically in newsletters and distribute them online? Why is anybody surprised?

    After Katrina, our district sent out care packages for us to distribute – and in the care package was a devotional booklet. No, not Portals of Prayer, but rather the United Methodist Church’s version – complete with devotions by women clergy. And then they are shocked (shocked!) to find gambling in this establishment, I mean, shocked that some of the “blackshirts” took offense.

    What if I purchased a Bible study sight unseen from the United Methodist Church and started teaching it? Should I be shocked to find un-Lutheran doctrine in it? Is this really rocket science? Why have a doctrinal review process at all? Talk about straining the gnat to swallow the camel!

    I believe the Parish Paper is a Trojan horse, not for women’s ordination (or anything else so obviously openly wrong), but for the Ablaze!(tm) paradigm of “change.” The PP is always yammering on about how we need to abandon the traditional liturgy and cater to the felt needs of the congregation.

    It is our church’s version of the bumper sticker that says “question authority.”

    I treat the Parish Paper the same way as a Watchtower stuck to the doorknob – an uninvited attack on my faith, the faith of our parishioners, and *the* faith itself. This latest incident just brought that reality into focus.

    The districts who have been pushing this publication shouldn’t apologize for the bureaucratic slip-up (let’s not make the secretary the fall guy), rather they should be apologizing for the decision to subscribe all of us (like it or not) to a liberal mainline Protestant publication.

    The United Methodist Church (which is the church body of the main editor) is in full communion with the ELCA. Is anyone surprised that this publication unapologetically presumes women clergy is normal and acceptable? Is it reasonable to expect anything any different?

  6. Father Hollywood is correct. I shouldn’t be surprised. I am starting to see that I shouldn’t be surprised by anything being endorsed by synod officials.

    When I look under the publications bar on North Wisconsin District’s site the link to Parish Papers is located right under TCN – Revitalization or Transforming Churches Network. And of course when I click on Parish Papers the lead article endorses women’s ordination.

    My favorite line from this article is:
    “A wise female church elder said, ‘We tolerate measles, we accept people. I don’t want to be tolerated, I want to be accepted.’ That preference is true with pastors of both genders.”

  7. I would also like to know how much of Grandma Schmidt’s offerings are being used by LCMS districts to subscribe to Parish Papers and allow it to be copied by local congregations.

  8. How about these as well:

    1. Purpose Driven Church
    2. Evangelism Explosion
    3. CCLI
    4. Willow Creek Association
    5. PLI
    6. George Barna programs
    7. Four Spiritual Laws
    8. Hymns You Like to Sing
    9. The Other Song Book
    10. non-Lutheran speakers at LCMS youth gatherings
    11. decision theology promoted by Gideons
    12. other heterodox tract and missionary societies
  9. How many LCMS parishes have promoted Billy Graham rallies over the years? How many have promoted the books of Chuck Colson, Billy Graham, Joyce Meyer, Bill Hybels, George Barna, Chuck Swindoll, Rick Warren, et al.?

    Why don’t Lutherans know the old chorales and liturgies?

    How many pastors require the memorization of the catechism anymore?

  10. Women’s ordination is a fine topic, but can at some point can the topic of the switch to allowing women voters in the voters’ assembly? Or is that too much of a hot topic still?

    What is the purpose of a voters’ assembly? To try to maintain a doctrinal church, or to make everyone feel included? Has the switch to women voters helped or hindered the goals of having a voters’ assembly? Could it have anything at all to do with the creep toward liberalism and cultural accommodation?

    These are basic, objective questions that can be asked and evaluated with years of having women voters.

  11. I’m glad that the DP is taking responsibility…

    But take a closer look at this passage: “Neither the North Wisconsin District nor I approve of or condone the ordination of women to the pastoral Office. Our Synod has spoken clearly and forcefully on the issue and the North Wisconsin District supports the Synod’s position.”

    Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but he didn’t quote Scripture of the Confessions – he quoted the Synod.

  12. Are we just a “denomination” or are we the Church which teaches the catholic faith from Scripture? Are we saying, “Thus says the LCMS” or “thus says the LORD”?

    Denominations can tinker – evangelical catholics are stewards and confessors.

  13. “A wise female church elder said, ‘We tolerate measles, we accept people. I don’t want to be tolerated, I want to be accepted.’ That preference is true with pastors of both genders.”

    The church should accept everyone since we are all sinners, but false doctrine should not even be tolerated since, as this example shows, after it is tolerated people will want it to be accepted. Silence on false doctrine indicates acceptance in the eyes of many.

    I am glad the DP accepted responsibility, apologized and will be speaking with the pastors at their District Convention. I assume the publication will eventually be removed from their website but understand it may take some time to contact the webmaster and for them take the time to remove it.

    Rev. Beane’s comment was right on. When churches and districts repeatedly draw from non-Lutheran resources it should be no surprise that their theology comes along for the ride. Given all the writings of Early Church Fathers, theologians from the Reformation and even the LCMS church fathers I would think it would be easy to find material applicable to any situation that would be in agreement with Scripture and the Confessions. We have our own rich heritage of resources to draw from, we don’t need doctrinally impure resources. Rev. Wollenburg also had a great comment on the previous post on this topic about rationalizing the use of doctrinally impure resources when they contain some helpful information.

  14. But isn’t this kind of thing to be expected when LCMS districts subscribe to mainline liberal Protestant publications and run them uncritically in newsletters and distribute them online? Why is anybody surprised?

    IOW, when you lie down with dogs, yer gonna get fleas.

    The only ‘surprise’ (and it’s not, really) is that it took the fleas showing up to get LCMSfolk to complain about the dogs with whom they’ve been lying…and, then, as Bauer’s list proves, only some of the dogs.

    Of course, the real question is: Is it that these DPs and Church Growthers are lying down with dogs, or that y’all are? After all, the howl may go up now for a little bit, but when push comes to shove, you’ll still be lying down with the same DPs, et al., that you always have, and your districts will continue to do the same things that they have been doing.

    EJG

  15. Are we just a “denomination” or are we the Church which teaches the catholic faith from Scripture? Are we saying, “Thus says the LCMS” or “thus says the LORD”?

    Such a question is meaningless without a precise referent for the ‘we’.

    EJG

  16. The following notice is on the Northern Wisconsin District website:

    TO THE MEMBERS OF THE NORTH WISCONSIN DISTRICT LC—MS:
    An article was reprinted in the October Northern Herald as part of the “Tool Kit—Resource for Congregations.” Written by Cynthia Woolever, the article addresses the issue of women pastors. I did not see the article before it was printed in our paper and I wish to apologize for any confusion it may have caused.

    The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has taken a strong stand in opposition to the ordination of women into the Pastoral Office. The North Wisconsin District supports that stand, and as President of the District I support that stand. It is my responsibility to ensure that our teachings in the District are in accord with Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. The article should not have been included in the Northern Herald and has been removed from our District website.

    Yours in Christ,
    President Joel A. Hoelter

  17. “It is my responsibility to ensure that our teachings in the District are in accord with Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.”

    That’s better.

  18. The article may have been removed form the District website, but the link to the article is still on their website. Click on Publications and then click on the October Parish Papers PDF and there it is.

  19. This is the extent of Northern Wisconsin District President Hoelter’s apology:

    “I wish to apologize for any confusion it may have caused.”

  20. Notice, he does not say “Scripture teaches..”, but “Synod has spoken…”. It may seem like I am nitpicking, but liberals often use this language amongst themselves to leave an out when the position of the Synod changes at a later date. How do you find out which is the case? Ask for a public clarification as to whether Scripture forbids this, and not just past statements of the LCMS Synodical Assembly.

  21. Rev. Bauer–you left out a few, inadvertently, I’m sure. There’s so many weeds in the LCMS garden, that it’s hard to keep up. Here’s a few more for y’all’s list:

    Tranforming Churches (Baptist roots)
    Natural Church Development (Warmed-over Pasadena complete with adjective-driven work to do)
    Renewal in Missouri (Dormant, but not dead)
    The Church Doctor (Whenever you hear about church “Health”, make a dash for the nearest door. Herman Otten has this one right.)
    Promise Keepers (the law is your friend)
    Church Membership Initiative (Yes, the Klasses are still around)
    Anything by John Maxwell

    I could list a few more, but it would be better if they were left alone. As far as weeds are concerned, didn’t Jesus have something to say about them? Re: The Klasses–does anyone know what they’re up to these days?

    I’ve begun to realize that the job of a DP these days is not an easy one. Who’s watching the henhouse (or the garden)? I hope some laymen are.

    Johannes (layman)

  22. Carl Vehse,

    Coming to the defense of my District President, he admitted his error, it is now time to stop “beating him up.”

    The discussion can and should move to the appropriateness of the Parish Paper within a district’s newsletter. I have signed the petition.

    President Hoelter is a good DP. His apology is sincere and sound. “It is my responsibility to ensure that our teachings in the District are in accord with Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. The article should not have been included in the Northern Herald and has been removed from our District website.”

    I believe that there are some who are constantly looking for a fight even after an error has been corrected.

  23. There’s been no “beating him up” over President Hoelter’s “sincere and sound” apology on his district’s website “for any confusion it [the article] may have caused”.

    Any other comments on this thread appear to deal with what President Hoelter didn’t apologize for… like, say, letting the dog of a Parish Paper regularly squat in the Northern Herald instead of apologizing for any confusion caused by dogcrap deposited on one issue.

  24. Rev. Uttenreither,

    I am sure your DP is a good president and is honest in his apology. I just can’t understand why I can still read this article on women pastors by clicking on the North Wisconsin Districts website’s Publications page and then the October Parish Paper. Can somebody please explain this to me? Am I missing something here? Is it difficult or impossible to remove this link from the website? Am I out of place in my concern that your district is still linking to this article? Thank you in advance for your response.

  25. Pastor Frahm — that is NOT the case .. the paper still resides on the site. It HAS been removed from the newsletter, but the bottom entry on the “Publications” page is the October Parish Paper. I have emailed the district president using the form provided on the site stating this.

    And, I got a response within 30 minutes from the DP stating that he didn’t notice it and, while he is away at a Pastors Conference, he will email the person in charge of the website and have it removed this morning.

  26. Inded the link to the article was still there. Hoelter did mention “Scriptures”:

    [It is my responsibility to ensure that our teachings in the District are in accord with Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. The article should not have been included in the Northern Herald and has been removed from our District website.
    Yours in Christ,
    President Joel A. Hoelter]

  27. I think we need to give thanks that this DP has acted so swiftly and so decisively to rectify the situation. The addition should never have been there in the first place, but this is the exact move that I wished from a good DP.

  28. I agree Quinn. Now I pray he will reconsider TCN Revitalization and that other district presidents will follow his lead.

  29. The October Parish Paper (PP) droppings appear to have been (finally!) scooped up from the North Wisconsin District website. Furthermore, in what was not admitted in the North Wisconsin District President’s posted apology, it now appears that other previous heterodox PP droppings have been removed from the North Wisconsin District website… well, not completely.

    For example there is the North Wisconsin District’s PP hawking of blended and contemporary (missional) worship services here and here.

    North Wisconsin District members (or any webbrowers in the world) can find what their District posts on its North Wisconsin District’s August Parish Paper web page as an example of a change a congregation needs to be shepherded through:

    New senior pastor— “I know she is a good preacher, but I think ministers should be men!”

    There the North Wisconsin website reader can also find the following advise given to the “wise pastor” for the “five-percent group” who will refuse to accept such a change:

    He or she may want to orally share (do NOT print it!) this “five-percent principle” with church leaders and staff, so they also can mentally and spiritually prepare to offer grace to people in this almost inevitable group.

    I am becoming less impressed with the North Wisconsin District’s behavior and its proffered apology.

  30. The Parish Paper stench not only comes from the North Wisconsin District website. The Minnesota South District Parish Paper Archive (District President Lane Seitz) and the Mid-South District FTP site (District President Kenneth Lampe) has various \i{Parish Paper} issue droppings, such as:

    March, 2009: A cartoon showing the success of a female pastor in getting new worshippers via her church’s internet website.

    April, 2009: Another cartoon promoting a female pastor along with an article of “What Do People Want in Their Pastors?” including:

    Members want the pastor to set (and publish) regular office hours so they know when they can talk with him or her.

    If the last pastor was a woman, the search committee may want a male pastor. Some committees see this as “taking turns”—“we had a female pastor last time.”

    The nuclear family preference [pastor with wife] discriminates against single pastors (now one-third of seminary students), females (even if they’re married), a male minister whose wife pastors another church, and co-pastors. Search committees sometimes use code language—“we want a biblical preacher”— to convey their unspoken preference for pastors that match the congregation’s theological and religious views.

    July, 2009: Yet another cartoon of a female pastor at the pulpit along with promoting lay financial giving testimonials:

    Monthly lay testimonials during worship that stress “the need of the giver to give for his or her spiritual benefit” increase financial giving far more than monthly reports that say, “We need money to pay the church’s bills.” or “Please help balance the budget.”

    A couple of questions: Do pastors and church workers in these Districts get this stuff sent to them? If they read this junk, do they not notice what it says?

    One other question: What other Missouri Synod districts subscribe to and send out this Parish Paper nonsense?

  31. One other question: What other Missouri Synod districts subscribe to and send out this Parish Paper nonsense?

    Iowa District West.

    I had the privilege of attending a visioning meeting shortly after I accepted a “call” to an IDW congregation. The meeting was facilitated by a District exec whose packet of handouts included a copy of this rag. It featured a cartoon of a worshiper bundled up and shivering, saying, “We don’t need air conditioning. We have the liturgy.” In my randomly-selected small-group breakout session — which unbeknownst to me happened to include one of the praise team leaders and the wife of the president of the congregation, a big-time contemporary worship supporter — I made the comment that I was offended by the cartoon. This prompted the usual objections of style-as-adiaphoron and eventually became a major factor in the congregation voting to eliminate my position less than two years later.

    Tom W.

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