Jon Coyne’s troubling history

As active as our commenting community here at BJS is, our posts produce even more activity that goes on behind the scenes. Like clockwork, every time I post on something, I get calls from folks in the International Center or elsewhere in the country.

Well, as soon as Letter #9 was released, I heard from many people who wanted to talk about one thing that troubled them in particular: the letter’s bylined author.

Now, JesusFirst as a group stands behind the accusations and bears full responsibility for publishing these accusations – now thoroughly discredited by accountants and other knowledgeable folks. But the “author” of the piece is one Rev. John Coyne. I do not know this man and I have never met him, but many of my sources were absolutely aghast that JesusFirst was using his byline to make unfounded, scurrilous accusations . . . again.

That’s right — AGAIN.

Jesus First and Jon Coyne did the same exact thing in 2007! They put out a newsletter with an article bylined by Coyne that was full of inaccuracies, misinformation and lies. The target at that time was Ray Hartwig, Secretary of Synod.

After the convention, and only after the convention, Coyne retracted his charges. You can read more about this saga here.

I wouldn’t be surprised if JesusFirst uses the same m.o. this year. They know they’re wrong — there’s no credible dispute about this.

And they know that if they simply apologize in a few weeks, most people will forget until the next election.

The bottom line, however, is that Jon Coyne has a history of lying and only repenting after the damage has been done.

It is truly sad to see that happening again this year. And while everyone — regardless of their candidate of choice — has every right to be angry, let us not forget to pray for him and his collaborators. This is serious stuff. I think of how the folks at World Relief and Human Care responded to Coyne’s lies — they had more right than anyone to be livid at the slanderous accusations. But they responded gently and lovingly, allowing truth to speak loudest. Their behavior should be modeled.

God will, in his mercy, provide for the Rev. Matthew Harrison and confessional Lutheran outreach to the poor and vulnerable. Let us all ask for the strength to behave in a God-pleasing manner as we prepare for this important convention that will tell us much about where Lutheranism in America is heading.

Coyne’s lies about Hartwig certainly had a negative affect on the last convention, but it’s worth noting that they didn’t serve to unseat Hartwig.


Jon Coyne’s troubling history — 24 Comments

  1. Great post Mollie!
    All I can say it Mark 4:22 & Matthew 10:16.
    Pastor Kieschnick, Pastor Harrison, those who hold & those who stand to hold, and all those who attend, keep their eyes on things Above, and remember always, LCMS is not ours, we own it not, and we do nothing to sustain. Christ, Lord, God & Savior does, bought, owned, claimed, sustains, grows or allows decline, as it is HIS, not any of ours.

    Again, great post Mollie.

  2. I myself was the target of a Jon Coyne hit piece in a Jesus First Delegate Letter, in which he falsely accused me of breaking the Fourth Commandment and (ironically) the Eighth Commandment. Of course, Coyne did not bother to contact me privately ahead of time, nor has he since. Oh well, he’s just another Angry Kieschnick Supporter, I suppose.

  3. Mollie,
    Might this be another example of a methods focus? If I believes I am called to be “faithful” I will follow the directions I have received win or loose, but if I feel called to be “effective” it’s all on me. Perhaps this is just another ripple from the same stone.
    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  4. Hey Mollie,

    I got my “Delicate Delegate” email today and Pr C Mueller Jr is asking for people to help him by writing delegate letters.

    He could probably use somebody with your contacts and reputation!

    Let me know if you need his email address.

  5. Dave L #5,
    On the LCMS website, under Directories, is a search for church workers.
    Pastor/Rev Coyne is there.
    C/N/H district.

  6. Have a care here. If anyone wants to look, let them know where to find him, but nothing more. No lighter fluid is needed, by us or them.
    Joe Friday says, the facts ma’am/sir just the facts.

  7. Let’s not go overboard here folks.
    He is who he is. Lets leave it at that.

  8. Eh, I’m thinking playing up the incompetence will work better with the undecideds than the accusations of malice, which just add grist to the they’re-angry-purge-hungry-rebels mill.

    That opinion and $1 will get you 10 dimes at Starbucks…

  9. I think there’s a parallel with today’s political world. A comment today from Instapundit regarding Andrew Sullivan’s anger over the JournoList exposure: “The thing to remember about the ‘have you no decency’ hypocrites is that the rules are whatever they say they are and they’re only what they say they are until they say they’re something else.”

  10. Jon Coyne is Pastor Bethany Menlo Park, CA. Knew him from vicarage. Gloria Edwards is a member of his congregation. Mrs. Edwards and her husband are a major source of funding for Jesus First. I think Mrs. Edwards is now a laymember of the Synodical Board of Directors, while Rev. Coyne is a member of the Board for District and Congregations Services.

    Rev. Coyne is a member of Synodical board. He is a leader in the Synod. Should not the President of Synod or the President of the CNH District admonish him for writing something that so blatantly aims to harm the reputation of a brother in Christ and denigrates the mercy work of the LCMS? Does this not wound and divide the very synod for which Rev. Coyne has the privelege of serving as a “leader”.

    I seem to recall certain members of Synod’s Board of Directors being publicaly thrashed for making statements, etc., that did not reflect well on the LCMS or President of Synod?

  11. >>Jon Coyne is Pastor Bethany Menlo Park, CA

    Interestingly, according to the official statistics on the Synod’s web site, average weekly attendance at Rev. Coyne’s congregation has dropped from 180 in 2001 to 110 last year — a 39% drop in just eight years [ ; click on the graph uprights and figures will appear].

    I would also note that Rev. Charles Mueller Jr.’s congregation, Trinity, Roselle, Illinois, has likewise dropped in average weekly attendance from 1,552 in 2001 to 1,309 in 2009 — a 16% drop. This congregation also reports the very disturbing figure of an average weekly attendance of only 1,309 for a reported membership of 5,587, which is only 23% of membership, much lower than the Synodical average of 37% [ ]; click on the graph uprights and figures will appear].

    Why is this relevant?

    — These pastors both criticize Rev. Harrison for supposed poor administration of his ministry. However, during the time frame that they cite, his department showed significant increases and progress in all areas of ministry, while at the same time the most significant indicator for his critics’ own ministries and congregations — average weekly attendance — plummeted.

    — Both of these pastors have been heavily involved in Jesus First since at least the 2001 convention. Is it just a coincidence that is also the very time average weekly attendance at their congregations — and other indicators too, if you look at the complete data tables — began to plunge? Over the years they have no doubt invested hundreds, if not thousands, of hours in promoting the incumbent’s agenda and his reelection, but is it their own members, ministries, and congregations that have suffered as a result?

    — It therefore seems very hypocritical for these pastors to criticize Rev. Harrison for supposed poor administration of his ministry, when their own record during the same time frame is so poor.

    — Rev. Mueller has commented repeatedly that he administers a large congregation. However, is that really pertinent if out of 5,587 members of his congregation only 1,309 are in worship each week?

    — That brings up another question: The proposals to weight franchise toward such supposedly “large” congregations would reward them with greater representation for such phantom members. The size of his congregation is obviously very important to Rev. Mueller, since he keeps mentioning it, but does not weighting franchise toward such supposedly “large” congregations encourage retention on their rolls by pastors and congregations of non-attending members? In general, congregations of a size closer to the LCMS median do a much better job of tracking their members and typically have a much higher average weekly attendance. Is it fair to discriminate against them for their faithfulness, by rewarding congregations with low weekly attendance, such as Rev. Mueller’s, with greater representation? Should we expect disproportionate representation and influence from such congregations and pastors with high numbers of non-attending members to lead to real growth in the LCMS — or just more phantom members?

  12. This whole situation of what is published prior to Convention calls to mind this from the Confessions:

    (T)o avoid this vice we should note that no one is allowed publicly to judge and reprove his neighbor, although he may see him sin, unless he have a command to judge and to reprove. For there is a great difference between these two things, judging sin and knowing sin. You may indeed know it, but you are not to judge it. I can indeed see and hear that my neighbor sins, but I have no command to report it to others. Now, if I rush in, judging and passing sentence, I fall into a sin which is greater than his. But if you know it, do nothing else than turn your ears into a grave and cover it, until you are appointed to be judge and to punish by virtue of your office.

    Those, then, are called slanderers who are not content with knowing a thing, but proceed to assume jurisdiction, and when they know a slight offense of another, carry it into every corner, and are delighted and tickled that they can stir up another’s displeasure, as swine roll themselves in the dirt and root in it with the snout. This is nothing else than meddling with the judgment and office of God, and pronouncing sentence and punishment with the most severe verdict. For no judge can punish to a higher degree nor go farther than to say: “He is a thief, a murderer, a traitor,” etc. Therefore, whoever presumes to say the same of his neighbor goes just as far as the emperor and all governments. For although you do not wield the sword, you employ your poisonous tongue to the shame and hurt of your neighbor.

    God therefore would have it prohibited, that any one speak evil of another even though he be guilty, and the latter know it right well; much less if he do not know it, and have it only from hearsay. But you say: Shall I not say it if it be the truth? Answer: Why do you not make accusation to regular judges? Ah, I cannot prove it publicly, and hence I might be silenced and incur the penalty of a false accusation. “Ah, indeed, do you smell the roast?” If you do not trust yourself to stand before the proper authorities and to make answer, then hold your tongue. But if you know it, know it for yourself and not for another. For if you tell it to others, although it be true, you will appear as a liar, because you cannot prove it, and you are, besides, acting like a knave. For we ought never to deprive any one of his honor or good name unless it be first taken away from him publicly.

    False witness, then, is everything which cannot be properly proved. Therefore, what is not manifest upon sufficient evidence no one shall make public or declare for truth; and, in short, whatever is secret should be allowed to remain secret, or, at any rate, should be secretly reproved, as we shall hear.

    (So why, then is it alright to publicly bring to light the slander of Delegate Letter #9?)

    Therefore, if you encounter an idle tongue which betrays and slanders some one, contradict such a one promptly to his face, that he may blush; thus many a one will hold his tongue who else would bring some poor man into bad repute, from which he would not easily extricate himself. For honor and a good name are easily taken away, but not easily restored.

    (Norm, if I didn’t do the bold/italics thing correctly, would you please make the necessary changes to call those items out?)

  13. @Kebas #20

    I appreciate what you have put forth to this list. I am in favor of giving more votes to those who congregations have larger numbers in the % in worship. Right now this year my two are at about 52% and 58% which since we are not huge in congregational totals, may not seem that large to those men with congregations that have thousands of members. And it not that I am their pastor that brings them to church. They come because they enjoy their worship, (LSB) they enjoy confessing and hearing absolution that pertains to their confession of sins, they receive fairly good law/gospel sermons each week which quote that latest thing from God’s Word and not the latest from a church growth type, or the latest fad book being read, or the latest of anything outside God’s Word. God moves these people to attend and I am reaping the benefits of those who are in the pews.

  14. PS: I might add that since we have had 7 funerals so far this year, I make no promises that we will maintain that good percentage. But we will, with the help of God!

  15. @Kebas #20
    I hope they haven’t brought TCN into their congregations or they will be out of a job soon. Live by the numbers, die by the numbers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.