Eight Questions for Delegates to ask Concerning President Kieshcnick’s Claim that the BRTFSG is necessary for the Financial Well-being of Synod

Following the story of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Structure and Governance (BRTFSG) for the last year and speaking with folks around the synod we have been able to compile the following Q & A that every delegate needs to ask himself when considering the financial rationale proposed in support of their passage.

Question #1: Does President Kieschnick’s BRTFSSG list Synod finances as a reason for restructuring?

Answer: Yes. The Final BRTFSSG Report notes that “stewardship” is a reason for restructuring. It says, “The second is stewardship. It is imperative that the Synod find ways to amend its currently complex and inefficient system of structure and governance in a manner that achieves more efficient operating costs. The current global economic crisis and financial strains at every level of the church have escalated the need to evaluate just how much and what kind of structure is really needed to carry out the mission of the LCMS.”

Question #2: Was the global economic crisis originally a reason to restructure?

Answer: No. President Kieschnick called for the formation of the BRTFSSG about four years ago, long before the global economic crisis. In light of the economic challenges the world is facing, people tend to be receptive to hearing that a major change is needed due to finances.

Question #3: Does the Synod face a financial crisis?

Answer: Yes. The Synod faced a financial crisis before the global economic crisis hit. The Synod faces many financial challenges due to a variety of reasons, none of which are really addressed by the BRTFSSG. One of the main reasons the International Center faces financial difficulties is the deficit spending patterns of the Board For Mission Services (BFMS). Over the past several years, the BFMS has run a cumulative deficit of over $18 million. If the BFMS had spent only what they actually raised in donations during these years, the financial situation of the Synod would be much better today. Furthermore, the monies spent on consultants and fund raising for Fan into Flame and Ablaze campaigns have also greatly contributed to the Synod’s financial challenges. In effect, the failed mission strategies of the current system are being rewarded under the BRTFSSG. In fact, since the leadership and ideas are largely the same under the current system and under the proposals of the BRTFSSG, it is likely that the financial situation will worsen rather than improve.

Question #4: Won’t the BRTFSSG improve the Synod’s financial situation?

Answer: No. Tom Kuchta, Synod Treasurer, said in the June 2009 Reporter: “The current recommendations by the BRTFSSG will have an immaterial effect on the financial operations of the Synod.”

Question #5: How does President Kieschnick respond to Synod Treasurer Tom Kuchta’s statement that the BRTFSSG will have an immaterial effect on the financial operations of the Synod?

Answer: President Kieschnick and his team say, “That is Tom Kuchta’s opinion.” Q: Who is right? A: In fairness to all parties, no one knows for sure. No studies or financial models have been done that compare the current structure with the proposed changes found in the BRTFSSG.

Question #6: To make an honest and informed decision, what information should the convention delegates have?

Answer: A financial study needs to be conducted exploring the financial merits of the President Kieschnick’s BRTFSSG. How will the changes in the BRTFSSG affect fund development, spending, etc.? A budget under the current structure should be compared to a budget under the proposed BRTFSSG. Services currently provided by the corporate Synod should be compared to services provided under the proposed BRTFSSG. Delegates should be able to see which services would be discontinued under the BRTFSSG. The bottom line is that President Kieschnick’s BRTFSSG has not been cost-modeled. Convention delegates are being asked to adopt massive changes with a hope and a prayer that it will improve the Synod’s finances. The reality is that no one knows for certain, and the expert opinion of the Synod Treasurer is that the proposed BRTFSSG will not improve the finances of Synod.

Question #7: If the BRTFSSG is NOT about finances, what is it about?

Answer: The BRTFSSG is about consolidating power and control under the Office of Synod President. Currently, the Synod President directly manages around $1 million. Under the BRTFSSG, the Synod President would be in control of about $50 to $60 million of program budget. This is a monumental and unprecedented change.

Question #8: How can we find out if the BRTFSSG will improve Synod finances?

Answer: Ask President Kieschnick to provide proof or data that indicate there is a reasonable likelihood that the BRTFSSG would improve the Synod’s finances. Ask for costing models and budgets demonstrating how the BRTFSSG will actually improve the Synod’s finances over 1, 5, and 10 years, and what assumptions are used to reach these conclusions, etc. This analysis should be prepared by a disinterested third party.

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

Eight Questions for Delegates to ask Concerning President Kieshcnick’s Claim that the BRTFSG is necessary for the Financial Well-being of Synod — 30 Comments

  1. Answer: President Kieschnick and his team say, “That is Tom Kuchta’s opinion.”

    Can we have a reference for that? The Synod Treasurer published his opinion and is putting his name and his position to that opinion, and the smackdown of an expert witness requires some proof that the opinion of the Synod Treasurer is wrong.

  2. The delegates who attended the gathering in Denver last week were given an estimate on cost savings if the changes are implemented. A delegate who attended showed me the breakdown they were given. Yearly savings amount to about $700,000.

    I don’t have the breakdown of how this figure is determined. Perhaps a delegate who has this information would be kind enough to post here.

  3. Question #4: Won’t the BRTFSSG improve the Synod’s financial situation?

    Answer: No. Tom Kuchta, Synod Treasurer, in the June 2009 Reporter, said, “The Current Recommendations By The BRTFSSG Will Have An Immaterial Effect On The Financial Operations Of The Synod.”

    Question #5: How does President Kieschnick respond to Synod Treasurer Tom Kuchta’s statement that the BRTFSSG will have an immaterial effect on the financial operations of the Synod?

    Answer: President Kieschnick and his team say, “That is Tom Kuchta’s opinion.” Q: Who is right? A: In fairness to all parties, no one knows for sure. No studies or financial models have been done that compare the current structure with the proposed changes found in the BRTFSSG.

    You don’t need the Synodical Treasurer to see that there will be no significant financial impact. The BRTFSSG has told us that it will have no significant financial impact. Where? Appendix 4 of their Final Report. There they list their predictions for the financial impact of the recommendations.

    Taking them at their word (and there are plenty of things I would challenge in the appendix – costs I don’t think are factored in – but for the sake of argument, we will take this appendix at face value) and doing a little math, you find that total savings per year for congregations is $513,033, or $83.42 on average per congregation. (Larger congregations would save more since assessments for Synodical conventions are based on communicant membership.) That is about 1/2 of one percent of what congregations send for District/Synodical missions. (Not total budget, .5% of Mission budget.)

    Savings to LCMS, Inc. (their term, not mine) is $988,515/year. Now to me, that sounds like a lot of money (it is, after all, more money than I have made in my entire 38 year lifespan). However, compared to Synod’s $84.5 million annual budget, that boils down to 1.2%.

    1.2% of total budget for Synod, Inc. .5% of mission budget for congregations. “Immaterial effect?” With all due respect to the Synodical President and the Task Force, I must say that I am of the same opinion as the Treasurer. This whole thing is a lot of work for almost no savings.

  4. The Missouri Synod had a similar crisis in early in the 20th century when it also went into serious debt. Then, in 1917 a group of laymen organized the Lutheran Laymen’s League and shortly later formed a financial plan (the “Ahlbrand Plan”) to get the Synod out of debt, which was successful.

    That history is discussed in Uncertain saints: the laity in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, 1900-1970 (Alan Graebner, Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn, 1975).

    Now, it is said that the Missouri Synod “for the past several years” has gotten into such financial crisis that a complete overhaul of the constitution and synodical polity is being proposed. By whom? The same leadership that’s been in charge for the last eight years.

  5. Oddly enough, one issue I don’t see addressed often is: the amount of tithes NOT being sent onto Synod. I know why those I know don’t (would be why BJS is here) but has anyone thought to ask that question? No, my guess is not. Not because there aren’t answers, it is because they answers do not want to be heard. Wonder what those #’s and reports would look like?

  6. Yesterday on the LCMS website were the minutes of the Nov. Synod BOD meeting. There was an interesting portion where the BOD met with the COP regarding “Macro Funding The LCMS.” There was a panel discussion of David Buegler, Fifth VP of the Synod, Bradford Hewitt, former CAO of the Synod & current Senior Exex. VP and COO for Thrivent, Merle Freitag, President of LCEF and Thomas Kuchta. That portion of the minutes was about 5 pages long and I printed them out to read as they related to the BRTFSSG. I just looked on the LCMS website and the link to the Nov. minutes is no longer there. I assume it will be back up soon, but I will enter the responses that relate to this disussionn below, altho the whole thing is worth reading. (They appear on Page 179 11/19-20/2009)

    Question: Do you believe that the recommendations of the BRTFSSG being prepared for the 2010 convention will help improve the Synod’s financial health, have no impact, or be harmful to it? Please give the rationale for your answer.

    Buegler: The current recommendations cannot hurt the financial picture, nor can they have no impact, so they therefore have to be positive. But these are recommnendations that are not primarily intended to provide financial help. Their purpose is to strengthen congregations in mission, which, if implemented, will also improve the financial health of the Synod.

    Freitag: The inefficiencies of the current structure result in silos rather than in cooperation. The task force recommendations will, therefore, help–but only modestly. It is too easy just to punt the ball further ahead when there is, in fact, a need to put something in place that will have a more immediate impact.

    Hewitt: The task force recommendations can’t hurt and answer the need to start to do something, but they are not the answer to the Synod’s financial health. They address structural issues, and if they helps with mutual encouragement and mission, that is an important piece that will provide some help and have a positive impact.

    Kuchta: I have gone on record saying that the current task force proposals will have no significant financial impact. Projected numbers show savings of $3.2 million over twelve years by going to quadrennial conventions and $1 million per convention by proposed delegate reductions, in both cases savings to the congregations of the Synod but not to the national Synod. The cummulative effect of other changes more directly benefitting the Synod estimated to be $725,000. What could have a significant impact are long term recommendations having to do with district structuring, seminaries, colleges, and the task force on funding recommendations.

  7. Concerning #1: “Can we have a reference for that?” I quoted Tom Kuchta from BOD minutes that there would no significant savings at the Iowa West District conference. Rev. Robert Green, chair of the task force, said that it was nice that I read the BOD minutes and that for Rom Kuchta a savings of a million dollars or so would not be significant. But then I guess that isn’t really a ‘reference’…merely a verbal response and dismissal open to interpretation.

  8. “Yearly savings amount to $700,000.” Yeah, just like health care reform is going to save so many billions of dollars. All who believe that either will result in savings, I have a slightly used bridge to sell you at a bargin price. Since when did adding more beauracracy ever save money?

  9. The level of urgency given to these proposals seems disproportionate to their savings. I can’t recall the numbers but it seems that the money paid to consultants over the last few years is far more than the projected savings.

    “Buegler: The current recommendations cannot hurt the financial picture, nor can they have no impact, so they therefore have to be positive. But these are recommendations that are not primarily intended to provide financial help. Their purpose is to strengthen congregations in mission, which, if implemented, will also improve the financial health of the Synod.”

    The reasoning there seems to be that if we pack the pews then the Synod will get more money. While a growing congregation is certainly not a bad thing it seems that current efforts tend to follow the “mile wide and a foot deep” method of watering down correct doctrine and imitating the world. Some find this acceptable since if more people are attracted to a service then more people are exposed to the Word, and if offerings increase as well then that is nice too. I do not think the Divine Service is the place to water down teaching or make other changes for outreach purposes. I have talked about this before so I won’t go into it more here.

    If our synod had actual supervision of teaching and practice and made an effort to thoroughly teach members solid Lutheran doctrine each Sunday I am sure it will have an impact and such things certainly cannot hurt our synod so such actions would be positive. If the synod spent time doing what it is supposed to do, it wouldn’t have time to pass resolutions to allow it to do what it isn’t supposed to do.

  10. I would like to ask the BRTFSG how their proposals will bring unity to the LCMS. Most of the congregations I have observed send as little as possible to district or synod because they do not see themselves unified with the goals and priorities of those who control the purse strings. I have seen liberal congregations send money to non-Lutheran entities, and conservative congregations send money directly to Lutheran entities apart form district or synod.

    Under the current divisive conditions in the LCMS the only restructuring that makes sense is to downsize the district and synod offices and perhaps phase them out. When a larger number of us can agree on the doctrine and practice we will confess we will be able to come together once again. Then we can choose men we trust to be good stewards of God’s gifts and pool those gifts to be dispersed, perhaps under another district or synod type structure.

  11. Kuchta: “…What could have a significant impact are long term recommendations having to do with district structuring, seminaries, colleges, and the task force on funding recommendations.”

    Does anyone else find it alarming that “what could have a significant impact” on the finances include our seminaries and colleges? If there’s something we should be spending money on, it’s the education of our future pastors, teachers, deaconesses and other professional church workers. Cutting corners in that area will lead to more problems that have to do with people’s eternal salvation–something I can’t imagine they would want to be responsible for.

  12. @Dutch #5
    Dutch,
    The question has been asked and answers given. Some of the answers: “we will send to specific projects, but not to the district or synod in general.” Why–because they don’t trust that their money will go to what they desire otherwise. I am thinking this is the biggest loss of money for Synod Inc. Take another example: some congregations who are just barely able to pay their pastor and workers, find it less than a Christian attitude that the higher up people receive so much money. My own congregation [one of them] voted to send some, but not the amount the use to send when one of the laymen found out how much the synodical president was making–!!! And I have never been sold on the idea that because he is in such a position that he should be given the salary such as a business executive! Come one, 150% of the highest paid pastors in synod, plus something from the business side! [Tim correct me where this math is wrong].

    Congregations have just decided they know better how to spend their dollars and no one in the Districts or the Synod has found a way to cut the huge salaries to where they should be. 175,000 I believe is the salary of the President.

    In my district it was decided that our DP would be paid the regular district salary guidelines rate–which was a cut in pay from the previous DP who just retired but more in line with all the other pastors in the district. I have for over 30 years believed that the SP should be paid according to the salary guidelines of the district in which the synodical offices are found, that would be Missouri.

    The waste that we continue to have: COP meetings in lavious locations [maybe not all of the time]; overpriced synodical conventions etc. Maybe when the dollars get to be so few, and the BOD decides to cut salaries of everyone, not just some of the headquarter’s staff–maybe then the people will have a different point of view.

  13. At the 2004 Synod convention the financial crisis was discussed and the convention approved Res. 4-07 for the formation of a Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission with it’s report due in July 2006. As befits a “crisis” situation, the BRTFFM report was completed on time, and a copy sent to each congregation and published in the 2007 Convention Workbook (pgs 19-28). The BRTFFM report is also attached to the BRTFSSG final report. The BRTFFM seemed to indicate that a significant portion of the funding solution
    would be found in solving “a complicated, inefficient and outdated structure”.
    Floor Committee 4 at the 2007 Convention adressed some of the TF recommendations in Res’s 4-01;02;03;11;12;& 14 but it appears they put off the more important items till after the BRTFSSG recommendations are resolved. Do not be suprised to see many of the BRTFFM recommendations come before the 2010 convention.

  14. Rev. Roger Sterle :
    Congregations have just decided they know better how to spend their dollars and no one in the Districts or the Synod has found a way to cut the huge salaries to where they should be. 175,000 I believe is the salary of the President.
    P>

    $175,000??? Are you kidding? That is unreal! I like your Districts idea, put him in line with the salary guide lines, give him an extra $5000 for the aggravation. and a term LIMIT. If we are going to pay salaries of business execs, then how about HIRING one and dump the president. At least we would get a businessman then.

  15. Since all of the SP’s kids are grown and through college, perhaps he’s using all that extra income to adopt a few needy seminarians? Just trying to practice the 8th commandment.

  16. $175,000 is probably correct. Below is from 9/07. I really like the idea of following District Salary guidelines. 150% of the average of the highest paid pastors just doesn’t seem right when LCMS teachers in the field are making half of what their counterparts in the public schools are making.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Official Notice: LCMS salary information

    THE LUTHERAN CHURCH–MISSOURI SYNOD

    Salary information

    The Synod’s policy of full financial disclosure provides for making available to members of the Synod (congregations, pastors, teachers and others on the roster), on written request, the salary grid scales of all synodical and district officials, staff and faculty members of CUS, and International Center staff.

    The reported salaries are as of the date of publication. Officers and staff are responsible for providing their own housing from their salaries. In addition to salaries, the Synod pays 100% of the Concordia Plan Services for the employee, 75% of the contribution for dependents and provides a housing differential equal to 5 percent of salary for lay employees in class SM-9. In the case of the President of Synod, he is provided the use of a car.

    The maximum of the salary range for the four elected officers of the Synod, the Chief Administrative Officer and the chief executives at Lutheran Church Extension Fund, The Lutheran Church(Missouri Synod Foundation, Concordia Historical Institute, and Concordia Publishing House equals 153% of the average salaries of the 150 highest paid parish pastors and 150 highest paid executives of agencies and institutions of the Synod participating in the Concordia Retirement Plan.

    Policy provides for the salary of a newly elected president and other elected officials to begin at a level commensurate with past experience and equitable with other executive positions. Annual merit increases are granted at a percent that is representative of the salary increase trends experienced nationally, locally and within the Synod. Salaries for International Center staff were adjusted an average of 4 percent effective July of 2007.

    The Boards of Directors of Synod and Concordia Publishing House and the Boards of the Lutheran Church Extension Fund and The Lutheran Church(Missouri Synod Foundation maintain salary administration policies that assure equitable and uniform treatment for all comparable positions at their respective office locations. Salary ranges approved for the various categories of positions afford opportunity for the recognition of quality of work and level of performance and take into account the wage and salary practices of the local public and private employment, as well as, those of the congregations, districts and related agencies of the Synod and volunteer and professional organizations. The policies that provide for annual performance evaluations were developed with assistance from personnel consultants and are similar to those used by many public and private organizations.

    The objectives of the salary administration policies for non-elective positions are to attract competent employees; retain qualified and seasoned employees; provide suitable incentive for performance and personal development; and, at the same time, practice the highest type of stewardship with the synodical dollar and with the human resources available for the work.

    A total of 292 full-time employees serve the LCMS. These employees represent program boards, commissions, synodical officers and general administrative staff that provide shared services to LCEF, Concordia Plan Services, and the Foundation, i.e., accounting, human resources, building services, information technology. Of the 300 employees, 51 are ordained clergy.

    In addition, the Board for Mission Services has 69 missionaries serving throughout the world. There are 27 ordained clergymen serving as missionaries.

    Concordia Plan Services employs a total of 85 employees in administering the Concordia Health Plan, the Concordia Disability and Survivor Plan, the Concordia Retirement Plan, and the Pension Plan for Pastors and Teachers. 1 commissioned minister of religion and no ordained clergy are employed by the CPS.

    The LCMS Foundation, which is responsible for investment management services for legacies, bequests, devises, endowments, annuity gifts and other trust funds of the Synod and its agencies, as well as the development efforts for the various agencies of the Synod, employs 76 full-time employees. There are 3 ordained clergymen and 4 commissioned ministers of religion serving as full-time Foundation employees.

    The Lutheran Church Extension Fund, which provides financial resources and related services for ministry, witness, and outreach of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, employs 123 employees, of which 1 is ordained and 1 is commissioned.

    The synodical Board of Directors are currently overseeing efforts to limit the requirement for ordained clergy in positions at the International Center in order that more pastors are available for service in parish ministry.

    09/07

    Cash Salaries at Point of Publication

    Actual or Average:

    President: $165,225
    First Vice President: $139,697
    Secretary: $153,059
    Vice President/Treasurer: $153,059
    Chief Administrative Officer: $139,697

    Executive officers of major legal entities (Corporate Synod, CPH, CHI, Church Extension Fund, Foundation) — Actual Low: $86,893; Actual High: $166,321; Actual or Average: $121,925

    Executive Directors of Corporate Synod, CPS, other boards, commissions and departments (including LCEF and LCMS Foundation) and CPH VP and other officers — Actual Low: $86,046; Actual High: $148,359; Actual or Average: $122,276

    Other managerial, technical and supervisory staff of Corporate Synod, CPS, other boards, commissions, and departments (including LCEF and LCMS Foundation — Actual Low: $32,000; Actual High: $122,266; Actual or Average: $64,691

    More detailed information including salary grid scales of all Synodical and district officials, staff and faculty members is available to congregations, pastors and rostered teachers by written request to Barbara Ryan, Executive Director of Human Resources, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, 1333 South Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295.

    09/07

    Posted Sept. 27, 2007

  17. If I see, or hear, or read one more “mammon” reference, I think I shall need my pepcid, & expect the GI Blues, to ensue & give room a plenty, to my loo!!!!

    I speak now, to all the Holders of the Divine Office, Delegates & Alternates, & the Elders of Congregations who read this site: ya want to “shepherd & instruct” me & my mine?

    You want to give a BIBILICALLY BASED, LUTHER REFERENCED, sermon on tithing
    (ug… the “stewardship drivel)? The shortest sermon in Lutheran history….
    -use Malachi 3:8-11. Volley the ball back into the court in which it belongs! BACK INTO MINE & THOSE LIKE ME, WHO FILL YOUR PEWS & TO MY/OUR LION OF JUDAH. Should you choose not to, should or will it not be said, you did not instruct me/us in the commands of the Lord. Is these verses, not rather important, to teach ALL commands of STEWARDSHIP & TITHIING? This is SIMPLE TO UNDERSTAND, BUT A DIFFICULT CHOICE, AS TO THE WORLD FOR A PASTOR TO PREACH, BUT IS IT NOT RIGHT & TRUE TO DO SO? Convict, admonish, & rebuke in love. If you really love your flock, why would you not teach them this????!!!!

    (ya won’t hear THAT from Synod or the B.B. Reports & Reccomends, let alone what you can view in the Jesus is worth it clip) http://www.jesusisworthit.com

    That wouldn’t be PC, that would make “seekers” uncomfortable, & CONVICT the sheep already found in His Pasture! This will not be nor be acceptable to those who have a false agenda(false teaching) His Promises, of what to expect when you belong to Him are not…appetizing, LOVING TO THE LAST, BUT NOT APPETIZING.

    Synod has forgotten these/HIS WORDS OF THE LORD OF HOSTS, I/WE OWE, nothing to them (Synod or congregation mind you), OUR TITHE is… OWNED BY GOD, THE LORD OF HOSTS, not the “collective will of who may be so elected to Synod”. SHOULD I BE ASKED, ENCOURAGED, LET ALONE MISTAUGHT…….TO STEAL FROM MY LORD?!!!!
    It Is Owned, by & to HIM, not them, nor me. No small wonder Synod tithes have dropped. We don’t fund a dying nag, to a new cart. You won’t see that in the B.B. report. We give as we are lead, and that, considering the times, is PRAYED FOR & OVER AND WELL THOUGHT OUT, SOLA’S SPEAKING.

    You all, want to tell Synod, to practice what they preach? When those of you, who walk up to that mike, READ MALACHI 3:8-11…then ask how the financials IN THIS REPORT FOLLOW SOLA SCRIPTURA!!!

    Did I & those who fill your/their pews, serve Synod OR DO WE SERVE, SUBMIT & OBEY OUR GOD? It is not accountable to me, should I choose to tithe KNOWING THE ERROR IN THE DOING, TO THIS SYNOD, it isn’t about WHAT we do sometimes, IT IS ABOUT WHAT WE ARE NOT WILLING TO DO. Who is accountable? Those who hold office or those who depend upon it? Those who KNEW are folks….what is it we choose to stand or fall for? We will hang together, or we will surely hang separately. I must answer to THE HOLY & ALMIGHTY and I know what, fear, love & trust mean, DOES SYNOD OR THE B.B.?

    If I have knowledge of poor stewardship or misdealings or greed (see Matthew 6: 23-25). We have the right, and are so instructed, to seek gift our tithe elsewhere, should those we entrust, be poor stewards, NOT TO US, but to their Lord & God. Best way to see future behavior? What is your practice & mindset prior. Enough said. I am commanded to tithe, my harvest, what I bring into my barn, (was taught NET) if I believe or have suspicisions of false dealing or poor stewardship, can I plead ignorance? NO I CANNOT. So, I research, after prayer, who would best be served by my “tithe”. Did Synod send free of charge, THOUSANDS OF THE NEW LUTHERAN STUDY BIBLE, TO IT’S BROTHERS & SISTERS, IN IT’S MISSIONS & THOSE FAR AFIELD, LEFT ABANDONED? No, it costs, not gains. They don’t “cause measurable growth”. The world’s red & black VS His Red & Black.

    But Who bought, founded, owns, maintains, grows, or closes a denom? Not people like me or those new delegates & alternates, no. It is He, The Son, the Three in One, who decides, we are not base nor ignorant to think we should be privy! Lest we boast!!!!
    No, we based on things we will NOT HEAR, in this special convention. The things the WORLD & IT’S PRINCE HAVE GIVEN VALUE TO.
    Give a penny to a gluton, no, I choose to give it to a lost & needy pauper, who knows not whom I have been bought by & serve. And THAT, is something, PK nor anyone who shows up for work at Kirkwood, let alone in “those” districts will put to paper.

    Our blessing is, that He who has our name written on His palm, know all. I wonder, do they know the accountability that will be held to account, for NOT knowing this?

  18. Rev. Rossow,

    I just want to say thank you for laying this very complicated issue out so clearly. And thank you for this website which is such a blessing to so many of us who are outside the inner-circle of power.

  19. I keep hearing there are 69 LCMS missionaries throughout the world.

    So, I printed out the “Missionary & Personnel Web Page Directory” and counted 42 missionaries (some with spouses – are they counted?). But there are also things like “LCMS World Mission in Panama” and “VYM Japan” and “Agricultural Mission Project”. Any idea what those are? Some missionaries are listed as “GEO’s”. What does that mean?

    There is also a map and list on the mission site which is titled “LCMS World Mission has active work OR ACTIVE HISTORICAL MISSION RELATIONSHIPS in the following countries:”, and lists 85 countries. What on earth is an historical mission relationship?

  20. Hey, hey, hey–

    Just got back from Dearborn, and I can confidently tell y’all that the more things change, the more they’re the same. Those delegates and guests (like myself) who attended the soiree out in Denver had it right.

    I’ll have the full report later, in verse, of course, but here’s the Reader’s Digest summary.

    There’s no questions the BRTF has not heard.
    There’s no answers they haven’t already dreamed up.
    There’s almost absolute control over the proceedings. Extremely selective.
    The BRTF reps are very well prepared, and no doubt, they know their stuff.
    President Kieschnick is a MMM: master meeting-meister, and really knows how to play the crowd.
    He’s a very able president, regardless of your opinion of him–we would do well to respect his abilities, and give due respect to the office. I had an opportunity to speak with him privately, and he’s a very sharp cookie–I mean that in the best sense of the term. If he were “one of us” he’d be a very worthy and able ally.
    I did ask him about the book cover, and he said (and I quote), “Those BJS folks ain’t even close!” When I pressed him for details, he just smiled, and said (and I quote), “Wait and see…” He said he’d be happy to send each one of the BJS bloggers an autographed copy, except for two or three, whose names I will send to Norm. He will be contacting you for the names addresses, social security numbers, of the other bloggers.

    Here’s a couple of highlights. In the Q & A on Friday, one of the delegates asked why the word “Renounce” had been changed to “non-participation” in reference to unionism and syncretism. The answer was (and I quote), “Because ‘non-participation’ is a much stronger term.” On Saturday morning, we renewed our baptismal vows, using the words, “Yes, I renounce the devil, and all his works and ways.” One very clever delegate got the ear of VP Diekelman in a private moment and asked him if from now on we were going to say, “I non-participate with the Devil and all his works and ways.”

    After Friday evening’s session, each of the four districts met privately with members of the BRTF team for some more Q and A. VP Buegler hosted the Indiana district delegation and apparently got an earful. He seemed less than enchanted with them, saying (and I quote), “That Indiana District–whew!”

    I met a delegate from Valparaiso Indiana, and we had a great conversation, but I mislaid his name. If he will contact me privately (web-meister, please note), I’d like to stay in touch with him. Another delegate at our table (assigned seating) from Michigan kept a complete tally of the “gatherings” favorite and un-favorite recommendations on a table-by-table basis. He said he’d send it to me, and I’ll post it when I get it.

    The single malt and dark beer were very good, and very pricey. The snacks in the pub were below average, and the smoke was terrible. Accommodations were quite good–the lady who made all the arrangements and negotiated with the Hyatt Regency is a synod treasure. She is very professional, pleasant, takes a lot of guff with a smile, has a prodigious memory, and I’ll bet you is a formidable negotiator. Whatever we’re paying her, it’s worth it.

    On the wholel, I’d rather have been in Philadelphia….

  21. Isn’t 700K roughly the equivalent of the SP and VP’s cumulative salaries? WE could save that money real quick… 😉

  22. Oh, and another thing: The terms “Mission”, “Missional”, “God’s Mission”, “Jesus’ Mission”, and others ran thru every ounce of the proceedings in Dearborn. It’s clear that “Missio Dei” undergirds all of the BRTF’s work. When you look at post #19 or 20, it makes for a disconnect, doesn’t it?

    “Missio Dei” is where it’s at these days. What ever happened to Justification?

  23. Johannes, I do hope you packed your pepcid. I can’t say I’m surprised, but hey, I’m rather sanquine. Ha, I remembered, but I wasn’t really. Do so hope you were wearing your armor, I’m sure it was needed. Kudos!
    All I can say, all I can muster at this point is…
    OH MY GIDDY AUNT.
    The mad hatter, march hare, & potty doormouse, are in charge & they run the show. Now, if I could only remember… where DID I put that looking glass? I do believe it’s time to leave the story. Oh, if we only all could, but that wouldn’t do, would it?

  24. Justification? Oh, didn’t you get the memo, that is so..like..yesterday. Didn’t you know we are in the midst of a new & improved reformation? The last one just didn’t cover it, it didn’t include mission/missional/money/power/authority/fame/fortune/relevance/diversity. Luther, is just so not “do-able”. This is so like, so more relevant, and for today’s people, life & world! We need to take this to the next level, ya know, like the big picture, like the wide road everyone else is on. The narrow road……oh, that is so yesterday.

  25. From Johannes in post #21

    In the Q & A on Friday, one of the delegates asked why the word “Renounce” had been changed to “non-participation” in reference to unionism and syncretism. The answer was (and I quote), “Because ‘non-participation’ is a much stronger term.”

    What a bunch of hogwash! I don’t participate in lots of things, most often because of time or money. I have no problem with them in principle, just choose not to participate. The things I renounce are a whole different category. For them it’s not about time or money. You couldn’t pay me to be involved with them. It’s a matter of principle.

    Defend using “non-participation” if you feel it says best what you mean, but as Judge Judy says, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”

  26. @John #26
    Thank you for choosing not to “non-participate” on this string. Your comments, renouncing the use of “non-participation” are spot-on. I wonder if perhaps we might rather use your term “hogwash” when referring to unionism and syncretism, and avoid controversy. Let’s see,
    “Hog-washify unionism and syncretism of all kinds….”
    I think that ought to cover it. Thank you for giving the BRT a nice compromise. It would appear I struck a responsive nerve with my report. Your reaction was exactly what I had hoped for. Thanks again for participating.

    This over-attention to minute detail and this kind of word-smithing that the BRT has done seem to me to be opening the door to all kinds of challenges, giving the CTCR and CCM just loads of fun work. It also ought to give our readers and contributors a mountain of grapeshot for their satirical cannons, and I do mean cannons, and I do mean grapeshot. The possibilities are practically endless, and take my breath away. Well, you-all can fill in the blanks, warm up your word-processors and go to it.

    Re: John’s last sentence, by the way, it did not rain during the “gathering” but there was plenty of snow in the auditorium.

  27. Johannes writes much truth about what happened in the room at the Dearborn Hyatt. It was fascinating, yet frustrating. I’m still sorting through my notes so that I can write up my thoughts & such, both to benefit non-delegates, but also to help hone the approach that delegates will take into the remaining seven gatherings.

    Delegates attending the Madison, WI gathering, TAKE NOTE: they’re going to videotape y’all’s shindig, and promise to make it available on the web by the end of February. Be ready & dress to be on camera! ;^)

    The IN-D caucus *was* interesting, and I can confirm what Johannes heard – VP Buegler did not seem to enjoy, or be overly pleased by his exchange with us.

    Finally, as to the subject of this thread: It looks to me that the TF has all but completely dropped the fiscal justifications from their repertoire. By this I mean simply that they are not emphasizing *immediate* budgetary savings as the primary reason for doing all this; rather, they are taking a “stewardship” tack, mixed with a longer-term efficiency and fiscal savings plan.

    IOW, “This will keep us from losing more money now, but most importantly, it will allow us to be better stewards, operate more efficiently/effectively, and we will realize budget savings down the line…” (Note: they didn’t speak this specifically about the fiscal issues – I’m paraphrasing.)

    The problem, from my perspective, was/is that there was no explanation about *why* they made this change in tactics from earlier in the year (i.e., how they presented things at the District Conventions). That would’ve been nice.

  28. @Glen Piper #28

    The problem, from my perspective, was/is that there was no explanation about *why* they made this change in tactics from earlier in the year (i.e., how they presented things at the District Conventions). That would’ve been nice. –Piper

    The Emperor not only had no clothes but also embarrassing tan lines?

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