Dr. Kuhn Sets the Record Straight on the BRTFSSG Final Report, by Scott Diekman

Very early in the day on January 18, Rev. Dr. Robert Kuhn, former President of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, stood up before those gathered for the Lutheran Concerns Association Conference to set the record straight. It was obvious from his demeanor that there was something important that he wanted to discuss. He pointed us to page nine of the Final Report of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance (BRTFSSG), which lists the members of the BRTFSSG.

At the bottom of the page, last on the list, Dr. Kuhn’s name is listed:

**Dr. Robert Kuhn, president emeritus of the LCMS, served on the task force until early 2008, when he found it necessary to devote his time to personal matters.

It was certainly to the Task Force’s advantage to leave Dr. Kuhn’s name on the list, even though he hadn’t participated in the Task Force for a year and a half, since his name added a confessional cache to the report. So why did Dr. Kuhn find it necessary to point this out? Because the reason given by the Task Force for his resignation was inaccurate. While it is true that Dr. Kuhn wouldn’t have been able to continue his work on the Task Force because of personal matters, he had already resigned from the Task Force prior to that, not because of personal matters, but because he disagreed with the direction the Task Force was headed. This untruth greatly disturbed Dr. Kuhn – he did not want his name associated with the BRTFSSG Final Report. It seems as though this untruth is yet another example where the words of the Final Report don’t really line up with the facts.

This post was written by Scott Diekmann and is available on his Stand Firm blog.

About Scott Diekmann

Scott is a lifelong LCMS layman. Some of his vocations include husband, dad, jet driver, runner, and collector of more books than he can read. Oh, and also chocolate lover. He’s been involved in apologetics for over a decade, is on the Board of Regents at Concordia Portland, and is a column writer for the sometimes operational Around the Word Journal. He’s also written for Higher Things Magazine, The Lutheran Clarion, and has been a guest on Issues Etc. as well as the KFUO program Concord Matters.


Dr. Kuhn Sets the Record Straight on the BRTFSSG Final Report, by Scott Diekman — 27 Comments

  1. This certainly is disturbing, not shocking, but disturbing. Scott, do you know if this untruth has been brought to the attention of the COP? I think some answers from the leadership of Synod is necessary.


  2. @Kiley Campbell #5
    Kiley, I don’t know if this “untruth” was brought to the attention of the COP, or anybody else for that matter. It should be brought up though. We now seem to be living in a synodical culture where truth is shoved aside, in favor of pragmatism.

  3. The COP should be informed about this lie in the report.

    However, I wouldn’t expect the lie to disturb the COP too much. The members of the COP encounter LCMS Inc.’s culture of spin and half-truths so much (some of them engage in it themselves), they are numb to it. Lies told to protect the institution are really lies, you know, they are “putting the best construction.”


  4. Carl Vehse; “I’m shocked!”

    I’m not and no one else should be either. It’s sad to say but our leadership has gone astray and such shenanigans really ought to come as no surprise. Sad, I am, but not surprised.

  5. It seems the BJS site’s software doesn’t like, and thus removed, my html “sarcasm” tags around my last sentence in #3. Next time I’ll leave the brackets off.

  6. Haven’t we just been reading and posting about mushy language, post-modern-speak, and all that kind of garbage here on BJS lately? Why should we be surprised? The very best construction on this could only be that it was an inadvertent mistake. It goes downhill from there.

    By the way, speaking of mushy language, the term “collective will of the synod” as found in the proposed revised constitution (article VII.B. I think) may simply be “Nafzger-speak.” I believe it harkens back to the halcyon days of the Yankee Stadium mushiness. You could look it up.

    I still can’t find the “Ministry of Truth” in the new structure proposals. Must be in there someplace. Orwell was right.

    Johannes, the Pre-modern

  7. President Kieschnick is scheduled to speak at Concordia University Irvine at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. I have no idea if he will take questions, but if he does, I might ask him that question, unless I think there is another question that is more important for me to ask. He’s coming to Orange County in advance of the regional gathering to held in Newport Beach on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

    There is another matter that concerns me as well. Our circuit counselor failed to have the circuit forum to elect delegates until October 18, 2009, eight days after the deadline because someone (from the Pacific Southwest District Office told him it was not too late to have an election of delegates). I have confirmed with Secretary Hartwig that October 10 was indeed the deadline. After that, I asked the Pacific Southwest District Office if our circuit had any delegates, and if so, who they were. I received a reply from an assistant to D.P. Larry Stotterau who gave me the names of the pastoral and lay delegate that had been “elected” at the circuit forum. The current circuit counselor should have known about the deadline, but I think it’s an honest mistake on his part. On the other hand, the man who was selected as the pastoral delegate had served as the circuit counselor for the previous six years (minus a couple of months at the beginning when my pastor was before he accepted a call to Indiana) and should have been familiar with the deadlines. Putting the best spin on this, I would say that perhaps he was so excited about the possibility of going to the synodical convention for the first time and what may very well be his last opportunity since he is nearing retirement that he didn’t care or wasn’t aware that the deadline had already passed.

    From what I can tell, these two illegally selected delegates are ill-informed and in awe of the Blue Ribbon Task Force and will probably vote for all of their recommendations.

    I do not believe that circuits that fail to follow the bylaws in selecting delegates should have their delegates be permitted to vote at the synodical convention.

    If anyone has any suggestions as to what to do about this (even if it’s to do nothing), I’d like to hear them. Pr. Henrickson is supposed to be in Orange County late next week and I’ll plan to talk to him then.

  8. With all the evading and lies and all that goes with these fiascos it is a long….. wait but I’m waiting for a white cloud to pass over the convention in July ….Lord Have Mercy!

  9. @Stan Slonkosky #11

    I would just let it go. While the election missed the deadline, it did not (at least as far as your description depicts) violate the spirit of the bylaw, which is that the delegates are elected by the Forum sufficiently prior to the Convention that they receive all of the information to make informed decisions. The deadline is also set so far out so as to allow accommodations for delegates to be made. 8 days late doesn’t hamper that process. You may not like who was selected, but that is now your challenge to convince them of the deficiencies of the BRTFSSG report.

    The Padre

  10. @PPPadre

    Thanks for your comment.

    Synodical governance is left hand kingdom. I don’t believe that “spirit of the law” applies to this.

    To quote Secretary Hartwig:

    [begin quote]

    You asked the following: “From reading the bylaws, my understanding is that circuit forums to select pastoral and lay delegates to the 2010 LCMS Synodical Convention had to take place by October 10, 2009. Is this correct?” My response: You are correct. All delegates were to have been elected by October 10, 2009.

    You also asked: “What if a circuit counselor … didn’t know about that deadline and didn’t conduct the circuit forum until after that date and claimed that someone had told him that was okay? Wouldn’t the results of that forum be invalid?” My response: The bylaw providing the deadline allows for no exceptions.

    [end quote]

    I probably should not have mentioned that I thought these guys would vote for all of the BRTSFG recommendations because I would be against these people being delegates even if I thought they would vote the way I think they should. I went to the meeting not to participate but to observe what happened.

    I did speak to the circuit counselor before the voting began in the hearing of everyone present pointing out that President Kieschnick is a stickler for bylaws. The circuit counselor said something to the effect of “I hope he is.” If we are to have bylaws, we ought to abide by them. If we don’t like them, they should be changed.

    This forum was hastily called only a few days in advance and only 3 congregations (out of 7 in the circuit) were able to send anyone. Perhaps the results would have been the same if the election had taken place before the deadline, but they also might have been different. There is no way of knowing. To allow a circuit to get away with voting late because of negligence is not fair to all the other circuits in the synod that followed the bylaws.

    There is also the possibility that this vote would not have taken place at all if I had not repeatedly asked my pastor when it was going to happen and suggesting someone from our congregation be nominated as a possible lay delegate. As far as I know, three years ago, our congregation didn’t even find out about the circuit forum until after it had already taken place. I didn’t want that to happen again.

  11. Great article Scott, ck Stand Firm daily!

    I do have a question though….
    if Pastor Kuhn, stepped down, from the BRTFFSG, in early 2008…why publically state reasons now? If the reasons given, by others were untrue, why wait to speak the truth? Why wait until now? 2008 vs 2010? I’m not trying to be flip, I am honestly asking.

    Many here & elsewhere, have stood up, when the truth of the situation, became apparent. We all know, when you do so, it comes at a high cost, standing for truth always has. If this occurred in 2008, & Pastor Kuhm was so alarmed, why not speak out, then? I am most sure, he has great brothers in the Office, many supporters, and could have had many more, should he have chosen to do this, publically (directly or indirectly, mind you).

    When details began to come out, many a congregation began implimenting them, sight unseen, if Pastor Kuhn, had stated publically, his reasons for going and the falsehoods he saw, would this not have given others pause? I cannot help questioning the timing, as many, who are not critical of the BRTFFSG will, but the lay of the land, may have changed, a bit, for some.

    Why did he wait, until now, to state the truth of his reasons, and the truth many already knew about this report?

  12. @Dutch #17
    We don’t know that Dr. Kuhn has not already spoken to this situation. It may be that we have just heard about it, but that he has spoken about it in the past.


  13. @Dutch #17

    I would mirror what Johannes said. Also, he’s speaking up now because now is when the report came out. Up until the final report came out, he had no way of knowing that his name would be misused as it was, or what the final recommendations would be. He did speak out at that time to the Task Force. If actions speak louder than words, then he was yelling at the top of his lungs, since he quit the Task Force. You can hardly make a stronger statement than that. Would you cast the first stone? Which of us has done everything that we should have done, yesterday, or today, or tomorrow? Kyrie eleison.

  14. Scott & Johannes,
    I was just asking!!!!! Many have access to things, papers, & news, some here don’t. Guys, you know people, go to seminars & symposiums & Synodical events, I don’t. How could I know if I don’t read it or see it? I filled a pew, taught little kids & sang in choir, that would be it. Before now, I mean.
    It was not meant to be a slight or call into question Dr Kuhn. Quite the contrary, it is wonderful & joyful to see someone connected with that farcical document, stand up on the side of truth.

    But, you guys have to try remember, there are people, who stumble, onto BJS from other links. People who are trying to figure out why their congregation went off the rails, why the report, or Ablaze!, or certain things are being pushed. Knowing & seeing the untruth in them. Just looking for a place to see if anyone else sees what they do!
    Just plain old members, who are worried, concerned or hurt, as to what is happenning. If you look at this, as one of they would, knowing both sides & at the same time knowing next to nothing, it “looks” like a certain thing. It isn’t, but, it looks like a certain thing. Timing is everything some say, & this article & the timing is well, weird. But that is just if you nothing about it prior!!!!

    No Scott, we don’t all do everything we shoulda, coulda, or woulda. I know I’m rather a professional on that. I have it down to an artform! But, when it comes to a position, that will lead the futures of many, how we react or do, & what we don’t, becomes an issue when it appears to be “after the fact”. So many things in life are like that, not just in Church dealings.
    When dates are listed, no other dates of concern are listed (was mentioned prior to….), it skews the view. The higher the seat & more weight it carries, the higher above the board we have to be. Our actions are seen, not just the ones we do, but when we do not act.

    Dr Kuhn, did the right thing, a man who had honor, intergity, knowledge & accepted a maybe costly duty. I thank him for standing up for & on the side of truth.

  15. Stan, the Dp would have would have appointed delegates anyway. That’s what happens, for example, when there are not enough candidate to elect as alternates.


  16. Stan,
    The DP can NOT appoint the delegates. The bylaws say that the DP can only appoint delegates if the elected delegate AND the alternate are unable to attend. If a delegate and alternate are not elected in a given category, (Lay or pastoral) then the the DP can not appoint a delegate in that category.
    For example : If a circuit elects a pastoral delegate and an alternate, but only a lay delegate (no alternate), and if it subsequently happens that both the pastoral and alternate pastoral delegate are unable to attend, the DP may appoint a replacement. But if the lay delegate can not attend, then the DP can NOT appoint a replacement, because there was no alternate delegate who could not attend. The bylaws are quite clear on this. It was explicitly explained to my circuit by the DP that this was the case.
    Also, the granting of exceptions only applies to circuits that do not meet minimum standards for number of congregations/communicants. There is no bylaw provision for exception when circuits do not follow proper election procedures.
    Finally, if a nominee for lay delegate is not nominated by a congregation according to the bylaws of that congregation, and the name is not submitted to the circuit visitor by midnight of the night before the circuit forum, then they are not eligible to be elected. So if the circuit visitor has only received one lay delegate nomination by the start of the circuit forum, other names can NOT be added so that an alternate delegate may be elected. Let me repeat that :
    Nominations for lay delegates can NOT be made at the circuit forum.
    If any of the rules are violated in the election of delegates, you should contact (in order) your circuit visitor, District President, and the secretary of synod. If nothing else, the secretary of synod will investigate to make certain that the delegates are lawfully elected. He will then turn any pertinent information over to the credentials committee.

  17. Different subject: Does anyone remember how much we (the Synod) paid the consultants for their work on the BR task force? Were there two or three firms? Hartford Institute for Religion Research, and Bredholt & Co. and Epley Research & Consulting (are the last two one company or two)? (Trying to write a report for our circuit on the meeting in Mpls.)

  18. Lil,

    If you go to the synod website and download the final report, in the introductory pages it lists two firms. I think there may have been a third form for the Blue Ribbon study on the LCMS budget.

    Total cost was close to $500,000. The Task Force always likes to point out that most of it was paid for by Thrivent. I always like to point out that those Thrivent funds could have gone for more useful things, like seminary funding, etc.


  19. Thrivent might even have paid small investors a better dividend… or matched more of their gifts (which program is being phased out, I understand, for most of us.)

  20. When AAL “transformed” itself into Thrivent, we all lost. Besides, what kind of a name is that, anyway.



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