Rule number one on endorsements

I was talking with a delegate who received campaign material yesterday in support of the Rev. Gerald B. Kieschnick.

No, not the discredited JesusFirst piece with embarrassing accounting errors, but a nice little letter signed by a bunch of people who say that they think the Synod can endure a few more years of the same leadership.

The letter was fine, if a bit bland. And it was bland even while it was working overtime to give credit to President Kieschnick for things he probably doesn’t even try to claim credit for himself. Talking about how well the LCMS World Relief and Human Care handled disaster relief — is that something that you would say to praise Kieschnick? It’s a better talking point for the guy who was, you know, running World Relief and Human Care — Matt Harrison. But hey, they don’t have that much to work with and they don’t get confused about basic accounting or slander anyone, so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Anyway, the thing about the second page of the letter was that it listed endorsements from people. This can be an effective way to demonstrate support. It helps to show a broad base of support from people of varying backgrounds.

And that’s the thing. It’s possible that every single person who signed this letter has been eligible for social security payments for years. Literally. Almost everyone also has a title of “past” this or “retired” that. There is not a single person on the list who is a known confessional. There is not anyone on the list who is known as a conservative. Many on the list are known for not just being on the left, but the far left of the church. It looks like a list of people who share a very similar background.

Anyway, I don’t think the letter is available online, but if it becomes available, I’ll link to it. Here’s a scanned copy of the letter.

I don’t know if those who say “It’s Time” for the Rev. Matt Harrison have sent out an endorsement letter, but here’s one site with endorsements for him. You really should check it out — the difference is staggering.


Rule number one on endorsements — 14 Comments

  1. Hey Mollie–

    I’m, like, over 70-ish, and I’m a Harrison supporter. There’s a lot of us who actually remember our grandfather’s church, and we support Harrison. So, like, I mean, like, what is your point? Is this age discrimination? I’ll bet a lot of the contributors to BJS are, like, old, kind of, y’know? So, like, are 70-ers supposed to be liberals?

    On a serious note, I went to the link you provided, and you are right–it’s pretty staggering. But I have to tell you that Rev. Arp and Uwe are contemporaries of mine–not exactly the jet-set. The delegate letters are very good, and it appears they went out to all the delegates. Very professional, and no whining, either. Altho I remain anonymous on BJS, I’d be willing to sign a letter in support of Matt Harrison. You know how to contact me.

    Johannes (just watching the paint dry out here at the home–NOT!!!!)

  2. Johannes,

    Oh no! I need to rewrite this, I think — I don’t want people thinking I have anything against folks in their 70s!

    I just meant that there was very little diversity in the backgrounds of the Kieschnick endorsers — they all seemed like retired synodical bureaucrats. It’s just a different picture entirely with the Harrison endorsement I linked to.

  3. Yes, I too received this letter. You are correct, the signers are mostly a list of “who use to be.” A long list of ‘former’ DP’s as well. The question I have is who was really behind this? There was no group affiliation and the return address is an apartment in… St. Louis or theres about. That’s a tidy sum of dineros in paper, printing and postage to inform me that a small group of folks like a particular SP candidate. Maybe the signers chipped in and paid these costs. I just found the whole episode a bit odd.

  4. Interesting is that among the list of retired people who support Kieschnick were 3 current Synodical VP’s (Maier, Buegler and Nadassdy) and Blue Ribbon Task Force Chair Bob Greene. Now while I assume that they have their own opinions and preferencse about who should be Synod President, one would also hopefully assume that their current positions would prohibit them from making those positions known in such a blatantly public manner.

  5. They lost me on the third sentence of the second paragraph. Romans 16:17-19:

    I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.


  6. I don’t know if those who say “It’s Time” for the Rev. Matt Harrison have sent out an endorsement letter

    Why not?? I would contribute more $$ than I can afford, right now.

  7. @Rev. Michael Schmidt #6

    one would also hopefully assume that their current positions would prohibit them from making those positions known in such a blatantly public manner

    On the other hand this is a lot more reputable than not putting their names on their statements, or only scheming in private. Also, there’s the thing of kind of having to support your friends in public. I think we can get over this one.

    To Rev. Jack Gilbert: that’s a totally different thing than posting quips to an open Internet site such as this one. I can explain – you have my name, phone, mail address and email.

  8. Having read through the list, one would certainly be interested to know who among those that have signed were part and parcel of the crowd that left the St. Louis seminary! I know of one who in a public speech advocated women for pastors but later retracted when it began to take dollars from their main cause in life. Perhaps there are also some on the list who were sympathetic with the Seminx crowd but because of job position or desired job position were unable to voice that publically. It is just plain a very interesting list of personages. There is also a lot of poor theologically history in the list.

  9. The frequent occurrence of the word “past” in all the endorsees titles should give the thinking delegate pause. Only three or so presently serving persons signed this thing. That’s more than a little weird, don’t you think?

    And it does not speak well for the incumbent.

    I’m thinking the overwhelmingly greater number of “endorsements” Matthew Harrison earned during the nomination process, compared to the paltry and embarrassingly low number of nominations that Kieschnick received is the strongest possible vote of “no confidence” that a sitting LCMS President has ever received.

  10. I think this list can be viewed in a less controversial way than pointing at the left-leaning nature of the group.

    Many of these names are people that delegates will recognize. Regardless of whether a person views each individual as a person to be respected or a person to be despised, the names are there because they are well-recognized names to the majority of delegates.

    Its important to remember that the LCMS is a graying church. We aren’t replacing the ‘greatest generation’ folks with the same numbers of younger Gen-Xers or Millennials. The majority of the pastors and delegates at the convention will be of the age where many of these names are very familiar if not personally known. They held positions of leadership and authority, so attaching their names to the letter infers leadership and authority. The letter isn’t targeting young people or confessionals in the pews, it’s targeting delegates – many of whom hare or have been influenced by the theological and political views of the people on this list. Others will see names of people they recognize, even though they may not understand or appreciate how each leader’s theological and political views differ from their own.

    The hope is that enough of that latter group will be impressed just enough to vote JK, because all it takes is 51% of the vote. Whatever it takes to capture that last 1% justifies this kind of a letter, or the Delegate Letters #8 or #9, or the ongoing defense of such pieces.

  11. John Clark,

    Good points.

    But the problem with the demographics comes up in a different way . . .

    I don’t know how representative my friends are, but a lot of the delegates I know — particularly the ones who are more in the Kieschnick camp — care a LOT about whether any younger generations are remaining Lutheran.

    One of the things that they’ve noticed is that younger people — and I’m including in that camp people who are even older than I am — are enthusiastic about a Harrison presidency in a way that they’ve not seen in a while.

    I think that people who are getting older worry even more than the rest of us about the future of the church. They want vitality and growth.

  12. Mollie,

    I think we’re in greater agreement than a casual observer might understand from reading our comments.

    Let me state my remarks in a different way. This generation, too, shall pass away. A great deal of time, effort and money is being expended to target a specific generation just to influence the next three years.

    The silliness in all of this is the fact that some forget that this generation, too, shall pass away. The next generation, the up-and-coming folks who [b] aren’t [/b] widely recognized names (yet) but who are represented by folks like Rev. Wilkin and you, [u][i]will[/u][/i] one day BE the majority and have time to serve as delegates. So, not only is it time, it’s coming one way or another. The younger folks around here WANT substance, they WANT solid rock on which to anchor their lives, and they WANT an unchanging truth that will withstand the blowing winds of culture. They’re growing tired of walking into a church that was different this week than it was last week, where the pastoral leaders aren’t confident enough in God’s Word and our confessional identity as a church to dig in and fire back at the world.

    Perhaps that is one of the fears that is driving the restructuring proposals – gain near absolute control, make the changes that haven’t been possible under the existing structure FAST, and transform the church into something THIS generation wants it to be, before the NEXT generation can get in with your angry and condemning spirits (insert smiley face here). After all, this generation is the Woodstock, flower-power, “Peace, man, peace.” generation. Sounds like desperation to me.

    Yes, I agree that older folks worry more about the future of the church. What I’ve noticed is that there is a demographic age when that worry ignites a desire to take action. But beyond a certain advanced age, folks stop worrying and bemoan the loss of what has comforted them in their darkest hours. They give up hope that positive change will ever happen.

    One of the problems I have with a desire for vitality and growth is that we can never really see if God-pleasing vitality and growth is happening. For all we know, vitality and growth is just leading more people down the path to eternal destruction because the pain of the cross and the joy of the empty tomb is being subjugated to I-feel-good theology. For that reason I cringe whenever an LCMS pastor uses the words ‘missional’ or ‘Gospel centered’. ***Blech*** They’re undefined meaningless terms.

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