Raw Report from Denver

The following was left anonymously on another string and is our first raw data out of the Blue Ribbon regional gathering in Denver. If you attended we would love to read your comments below. (Pastor Rossow)

December 6th, 2009 at 01:22 | #24
The meeting in Denver

It was civil. It was well orchestrated by Synod Inc and predictably controlled. SP Kieschnick stayed mostly in background and kept a low profile throughout. It was not real productive but more productive than I thought it would be. Panel of 3 involved in the task force took written and oral questions on specific areas of the proposal. They rarely gave an inch, listened and gave an answer…not always to the point. Again, the proceeding was civil and no fist fights. I did learn a few things while there but nothing that would sway my opinion much, but it does give me a bit more to think about as I go over this again. The delegates were able to point out some items that the floor committee will have to take into consideration. There were two members of the floor committee present. Since these days they like to use business terms to describe things, I would say we did not get the bang for our buck. It was somewhat helpful, but for the cost, no way. Speaking of cost, it was brought up and Inc. gave a off the top guesstimate, but then quickly pointed out that Thrivent had contributed $500K to the process. Why would they do that? (Thrivent) If you go, it will be quickly paced and run right on time to the minute. They will split folks up having pre-assigned seating. They will give seemingly rehearsed and defensive answers, though they do go to offense at times. Nothing will be accomplished but you will have a better idea of what they were thinking, and will see what the opinions of others are. I believe I was able to identify two plants during the verbal questions. Of everything, it seemed that the name change proposal is going to be DOA at convention. The hot buttons are proposed changes to by-laws; number of, who is, and how delegates are made in future; how elections are handled-nomination and voting; adding regions on top of districts as well as more decision making at district; floor committees having power of what overtures make it for consideration. SP made a not so subtle threat of doom and disaster should this thing get shot down completely. So if you are going to one of these, put away your swords and bring your best verbal A-Game because this is going to get talked to death. The best thing, I made new friends and allies as I am fairly new to this. That’s how I saw it, hopefully you will get other views to give a bigger panaramic picture of this. Over and out.

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.


Raw Report from Denver — 26 Comments

  1. Hmmmm, so the best thing was that those who oppose this Machiavellian devised reorganization of the Synod got to “interface” with one another a bit more. That might be good for future plans of confessional Lutherans. (Did anybody wear a button saying “Talk to me if you’re interested in forming a new synod?) I doubt Synod Inc. will be pleased with this report (on BJS), but then again synod isn’t the church and this whole reorganization scheme really proves that “Synod Inc.” is not just a nasty mean spirited epitaph, but accurate and true.

  2. I would like to add to the list of hot button issues at the Denver gathering proposal #18 which deals with the chief mission officer and the national and international mission boards. It was in relation to this particular proposal that drew the doom and gloom comment previously referred to from Kieshnick. Regarding proposal #18, I would say that it is complicated in its presentation and how it was explained at the gathering and even how it would be implemented if passed. It is also the one that allegedly saves the most money for Synod. I would go so far as to say that this is the one the Task Force wants the most; but whether or not it is a good idea is a tougher nut to crack.
    4 year convention cycle and regional VP’s seemed popular. President selecting VP seemed unpopular; name change died a thousand deaths on the floor.
    As an aside, the panal seemed to be try to run out the clock on the question and answer session at times.

  3. I’ll be hitting the shindig in Detroit/Dearborn next Fri/Sat. It’ll be interesting to see how closely it tracks to this first report; I suspect it’ll be pretty close, as I’m anticipating that the script is pretty set, and not open to tweaking like the rollout during the district convention season.

  4. When you say “name change died a thousand deaths” what do you mean? Was it just comments from the delegates there, or was there some way to determine how the gathered delegates as a whole felt about each proposal?

  5. During a table talk session we were asked to discuss what proposals we felt were most important and which were least important. Then they took a microphone around table by table and asked a rep from each table to read off what that table discussed. Name change was mentioned as least important at all but 1 table. Other issues came and went, but name change was least important on everyone’s list.

  6. Just keep us informed and we will be sure to pass this along….it is better than the phone.


  7. I have been out all evening at the staff Christmas party for the most wonderful church and day school staff in the synod and am just getting caught up on the comments. (If you ever want to get me talking just ask me about how wonderful it is to serve in a congregation where the pastors, cantor, principal, teachers and support staff live in harmony and to a person enjoy each other’s company. I fear that my karioke version of “Crocodile Rock” may make it on to Youtube?!?!?)

    The “sit around the tables” routine is a typical ploy to create much ado about nothing. I have been to so many “listening events” like this that result in nothing but the committee cherry-picking the comments they want to. It is very unproductive and also takes the mic away from the strong voices unless they are picked to be the table leader.

    Sounds like it was as we expected. The Task Force presenting its rationale without presenting cons for each proposal.

    The upside of this “table fellowship” is that if we can keep arming clear thinking delegates with simple cogent arguments, they can make a lot of hay during the discussion.

    Please keep the comments coming so we can all get a fair understanding of the process.


  8. The mic was not taken nor were the ‘strong voices’ prevented. When open mic time came (twice) anyone who had comments was allowed to get in line. The open mic sessions were just 30 minutes each, to my recollect. Problem one as Rev. Schmidt correctly pointed out, the panel did often go into long winded and digressive monologs which cut down the number. On the other side to be fair, some of the questioners (?) had quite a problem getting to the point and asking a question. So, Detroit, you know this going in and if any planning can be done, advise you to act accordingly. They stick to the time limits like a commandment. We were running ahead of schedule and they capped it at 30 minutes. They did allow one delegate to be first the next day when his turn was coming when they cut it.
    They also had delegates write down questions on 3×5’s and put in the box. During dinner they went through them and as Pastor Rossow points out, obviously cherry picked to get the info out in the form of an answer in thier own time, manner and order.
    Back to name change; Inc. really did not press it too much as well. I do not think the name issue really is a battle ground for them. I do not know if ignoring will make it go away, but I would not focus on that. The other hot buttons are of more interest, and yes, especially 18, and it is a confusing and complicated issue.

  9. One question I would have liked to ask, if these proposals are so vitally important to the future of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, would the Synod President step aside and not run in 2010 in trade for the passage of the proposals as written?

  10. Let me offer a first attempt at making #18 clearer.

    1. It is fine to reduce staff at the International Center. This makes Synod Inc. smaller which is good.

    2. Creating two new departments whose heads report to the synod president is a very bad idea that is not necessary to accomplish the first purpose, i.e. making Synod Inc. smaller. The synod was never intended to be a corporation. Having the two major areas of the synod (missions and ministry) report to the SP turns that office into a CEO position which it was never intended to be. The chief duty of the SP is to supervise doctrine and practice in the synod (see the handbook). His job is not to run an organization. We must steer clear of this temptation to turn the church into a business. The church is not a business; it is a family.

    More to come on this matter…


  11. LCMS ENEWS, #62
    09/15/07 03:45:43-0500

    “Citing the need for sufficient time, clear communication, proper feedback, and clear consensus, in the Synod, President Gerald B. Kieschnick has announced that he will not call a special convention in 2009 to consider reccomendations of a task force on structure and governance.”

    Things that make ya go hmmm….

    If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck…..
    it’s a bloomin’ duck.
    This is a “special convention” the bait & hook? PK didn’t call for it. Well, not on paper he didn’t. PK is at these: he knew, he “encouraged”, and he attends. Looks like a special convention to me, but hey, it’s just a view from a pew.

    PK & the Task Farce (farce=foolish show, mockery, ridiculous sham) must be lacking in their short term memory. Or… they are out & on the defensive. Me thinks it be both.

  12. @Dutch #12
    No short term memory loss
    No defense–offense all the way
    Anyone who was at 2007 Convention can discern the pattern: The ultimate horn-swoggling parliamentary maneuver.
    Perhaps things did not come together as they had planned, but the goal was clear, and the course was plotted: “Full speed ahead!”

    I don’t wish to offend you, Dutch. I’m just not as sanguine as you.

  13. Being a participant in Denver, one thing I noticed was that while we were given the “form” for filling out our responses to the 21 proposals on the first day so we could follow along with a run-down of the proposals, we were not given proper time to fill them out at the conclusion of the gathering. If you are planning on leaving for a flight/to get started with a long drive, you will want to fill your form out overnight. Yes, we were allowed to keep them almost the whole time we were there (including overnight), but I did not copy all the information down. If anyone has a scanner at the next one they could do this (or photocopy). Each “form” was individually numbered to tabulate responses from strongly agree to strongly disagree with a separate sheet for comments but they didn’t have any extras to hand out.

    It was very smooth there and run like a business meeting trying to be on time for everything. Mostly I noticed pastors getting up to the mics for comments and questions during Q & A. One layman from King of Kings in Omaha gave a glowing review of the whole set of proposals. Also, one comment was made from the stage quoting someone else or a response from a previous gathering, that it would be better if we didn’t have pastors at conventions! The BRTFSSG Panel was good at stroking the questioner with praise and then coming right back at them to tell them they were not getting the panel’s point. Very subtle by the panel. At the very beginning, we were told that corporations need to take off their blinders and get to work if they are going to survive eg. General Motors (like we are a corporation now and not a church any more).

    When Jon Braunersreuther came out, he first started his presentation with “It is about congregations, congregations are the key, congregations walking together in Mission”. That’s the “congregational bias” that they are trying to feed us during the District Conventions even though they are taking powers away from congregations and giving them to the Leaders at the top.

    One thing that you future “gathering” people might work on is Recommendation #3 “Restore Circuits to their Primary Purpose”. If this is passed, what does this mean for our congregations and circuits and circuit counselors?

    Also, they changed the proposal concerning election of circuit counselors so that nominations can be made from the floor of the District Convention. And as far as SP & 1VP, they are thinking about having the SP election basically over before convention and then giving SP reign to nominate 5 out of the 20 VP nominees to be elected as 1VP. The reason for this was so that they could have “compitable vision and goals”. What would our government be like if Obama had McCain as VP was the analogy I heard. Like we married people who were like us forgetting that opposites sometimes attract.

    All in all, I don’t think I learned anything new. I met new people who were also concerned with these proposals. I gave my feedback and had time to ask questions. Is it worth it? If you have questions about the proposals, then go and ask them. Will you get an answer? Yes, but probably not the one you wanted. If you have something better to do than attend, then do it. If the weather is questionable, then be safe.

    A Denver Attendee

  14. I just got back from the Committee for Convention Nominating meeting. Pres K greeted us Thursday afternoon as he was rushing to catch a plane to Denver. VP1 D stopped in Sunday morning after church to say hi. He was in a good mood (isn’t he always). He did say things went well and were peaceful.

    We had Ron Schultz, CAO of Synod, and if I remember correctly a member of the BRTF… in to discuss our added work of looking forward to some or all of the BRTF… proposals being passed and thus the need to have a new nominations slate nearly finished.

    Does anybody know who the chairman and vice chairman of the Floor Committee to handle this will be? I’ll tell you, because Ron told us. Rev Dr Larry Stoterau, President PSW; and Rev Dr David Buegler, VP5. Yes, that is correct, both members of the Task Force. Somebody suggested later in the day, that is very troubling – can the floor committee be objective? Let me put it this way – is it a good idea for the fox to be watching the hen house? This is a question that needs to be asked in the coming sessions.

  15. Johannes,
    No you didn’t offend me, not at all! That, under normal circumstances is rather a nice thing to be. I normally am sanguine, but not in this. Being cheerfully noble & optimistic, are not what is warranted here. Not in this.
    When deceit, abuse of power, and the twisting of Scripture are normal operating procedures, for those who are in charge of a church, I think sarcasm & realism are rather more warranted. Actions promptly taken and proof of those deceits & power abuse ceased & those held accountable for the doing, that is what needs to happen, post haste.

    This, in my mind, is a frightening example of the Church of Laedocia. Diversity & tolerance are the new “unity”, the Faith being forced to be wrongly inclusive, and when you do that, you make a stand for nothing, stand for nothing and embrace & tolerate everything. Neither hot nor cold, tepid water is useless! It’s why I call the BRTFSSG the “barf brigade”. Phonetically, it makes that sound (BRT FS SG) & that is what Christ will do to the Church at Laedocia. (Rev. 3:14-22). Or one that operates like it. I’d rather the LCMS were more like the Church of Philadelphia. But…we are not, not now, and haven’t been for decades. These men are not going to give up their power & gains easily. Look what happened in 2007 w/the votes. Seminex part deux.

  16. I’ll be heading to Detroit. Is there some sort of point-by-point analysis that has been done of the BRTFSSG from our viewpoint? Especially #18? Maybe some sort of “talking points” for us laity? I would love to come with some front-loaded questions that cover a few areas to force them to to use their fillibuster time actually answering more questions than they anticipated. The claim that #18 will save the synod $ is a pipe-dream and has been seconded by Kuchta…somehow we need to reinforce this point. I would like for them to show their data on how they decided upon this hypothesis.

  17. Bohlman, is before my time, but….I trust that if this drivel was present then or prior, I can see how the door was opened for the “nasty foot” to stuck it’s gangrenous necrotic toe in.
    There is nothing new under the sun, and the Church has been fighting this fight since It’s beginnings. Battle weary as we all may be, we cannot afford the luxury of a “time out” now. Who is it we fight for & defend?!

    I believe Luther addressed the majority of all this, in his commentary on Galatians?(don’t quote or hold me to that) If ya want to get more basic than that, which I think it is high time we all did, we can use Scripture, ya know, what the B.B.’s report & reccomendations, misdiscern at best, or are rather devoid of?! One can argue or interpret or requate (twist)Walther & Luther, they are not God Breathed, but Scripture MOST CERTAINLY IS. If ya don’t get what’s in red, read what’s in black.

    That really is what this is about. Red & black. But who’s I wonder…. man’s red & black, $$$$ & ####’s, or Christ’s, the Author of our Faith, Who’s balck & red bear no resemblance to man’s. Man as author & founder, or Christ as Author & Founder. I think I see who Kirkwood & elsewhere sees as authors, but they have far undershot the mark. On something that doesn’t, never did & never will belong to them & can’t be effected or affected by them. It was owned long before they ever drew a breath.
    It was bought, & belongs & is bound to Christ Alone. It is His & always will be.
    Which is a point they fail to understand, over, over & over again….& always will I fear.

  18. Completely off topic…

    Rossow, how do you have staff Christmas parties during the season of Advent?


  19. Ball,

    It was planned by the teachers. What can I say. Hey, we get along famously but they are still teachers. 🙂

    You know me. I’m Mr. Delegate, Mr. Niceguy. Not an ounce of control in me. I just let them have their way. 🙂 (I’m out of smiley faces now.)


  20. FYI… Thrivant gives a block grant to the synod each year, this year $500,000. The synod decides how to spend it… you can decide if this was a wise use of the money!

  21. As Pastor Letcher wrote, “At the very beginning, we were told that corporations need to take off their blinders and get to work if they are going to survive eg. General Motors (like we are a corporation now and not a church any more). ”

    Ugh. The Church is not a corporation but the living Body of Christ. If it were a corporation and we were responsible for its failure or success, it would be dead a long time ago. Yet the Church continues 2,000 years later.

    Whether the LCMS continues as a church body is open question I suppose. (Altho I bet we’ve been in existance longer than many US corporations.) I’m sure one way to hasten/cause its demise is to treat it like a corporation. We are all hearing too much of that lately, just look at TCN.

    I pray our leaders will focus on the Word of God and trust in Him.

    I read something today by Loretta Ross-Gotta. She writes, “Jesus observed, “Without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5). Yet we act, for the most part, as though without us God can do nothing.”

    It’s Time.

  22. Know that our Thrivent money went to good use Issues Etc. Think GK thinks that was put to GOOD use?

  23. Rev. Clint Poppe :FYI… Thrivent gives a block grant to the synod each year, this year $500,000. The synod decides how to spend it… you can decide if this was a wise use of the money!

    Well, it was my impression…at the “gathering” that the Thrivent money was given for this purpose. I could have gotten it wrong.

  24. @Dennis Voss #15
    “Does anybody know who the chairman and vice chairman of the Floor Committee to handle this will be? I’ll tell you, because Ron told us. Rev Dr Larry Stoterau, President PSW; and Rev Dr David Buegler, VP5. Yes, that is correct, both members of the Task Force. Somebody suggested later in the day, that is very troubling – can the floor committee be objective? Let me put it this way – is it a good idea for the fox to be watching the hen house? This is a question that needs to be asked in the coming sessions.”

    That makes me ill.

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