Here is an actual district office response to a pastor’s request about alternate delegates attending the upcoming caucuses:
Thank you so much for faxing your Denver Gathering form in today. I noticed your question about alternates attending, and I wanted to let you know alternates are not expected, nor invited, to attend. In fact, only voting delegates and those advisory delegates invited to attend the gathering will be allowed to sit in on the sessions. You may wish to let ________ know that he will not need to attend the Denver Gathering.
Thank you so much for checking on this. Let me know if there are any other questions.
Here is the the follow-up e-mail:
Our Circuit Forum was under a different assumption, namely that alternates should attend this Gathering as they may certainly have to vote in case of a Delegate’s absence.
Why are alternates not invited or allowed to sit in on the sessions if this is such an important meeting?
I would assume that we want everybody to be prepared and also to be on the same page.
Curious in _________,
Here is the response:
I know this question was asked by another circuit and President _________ checked with the Office of the President in St. Louis. They responded that only voting delegates were to attend. I will pass this email along to President _____________ and ask him to clarify Synod’s response for you further.
Thanks for your interest in the Gathering. Let me know if there is anything else we can do for you.
For those who may not know, President Kieschnick has called for special caucuses where the delegates to next summer’s synod convention will be presented with the Blue Ribbon proposals and given President Kieschnick’s and the Task Force’s rationale for making these changes without giving a hearing to those who oppose them. The Task Force has done everything they can to squelch opposition to the proposals. They have taken a play right out of the playbook of Saul Alinsky, the original community organizer who teaches that you need to give the impression to people that you are listening to them but control the input and the feedback. By not allowing these caucuses to be free and open where anyone can attend and speak, the synod is, in a very paranoid fashion, controlling the message. (Click here for other stories on this.)
These e-mails make it clear that President Kieschnick does not want genuine input to the Blue Ribbon Task Force. These meetings are not about input but about control. Why would any LCMS congregation member or LCMS pastor not be allowed to attend these caucuses, particularly the alternate delegates? Here is a theory. I have kept an eye on a few circuit delegate votes this summer/fall and in numerous circuits where the delegates elected are supporters of President Kieschnick and his populist/culturally relevant agenda, the alternates on the other hand are often confessional Lutherans who are supporters of the historical/liturgical approach to church. (By the way, I have noticed a lot of enthusiasm in general for electing Matt Harrison and many votes have been surprises.) By keeping the alternate delegates out President Kieschnick is squelching voices and input.
The Blue Ribbon Task Force is President Kieschnick’s baby and he continues to strangle it. He called for it. He appointed its members. He has now called upon the synod to spend what may amount to a million dollars for special caucuses this winter where he will occupy the bully pulpit and have two days of face time with the delegates to the convention and where the average voice of the synod has been locked out.