My Salute to the Passing Generation of LCMS Leadership, by Martin R. Noland

In the “Brothers of John the Steadfast” article, “Nomination Numbers: What Does This Mean” (see April 12, 2010), I opined that the nomination results for the President of the Synod indicated the “passing of a generation of Lutheran pastors and their allied lay leaders.”  I promised in that article that, if I was right, I would stand at attention and salute them.  This little article is that salute.

The younger generation of pastors and lay leaders now coming into positions of leadership, and great responsibility, need to remember that those who are finishing office, or retiring, have held the synod together during some very difficult times, especially the 1960s and 1970s.  These were times as difficult as any the Missouri Synod has ever faced, and maybe the most difficult in certain ways.  And the fact is THE SYNOD HAS NOT DISSOLVED INTO NUMEROUS WARRING FACTIONS, due to their careful and considered leadership in the 1970s and following years.  We need to give them credit for that, now, and in the history books.

They have held the line on some very important issues that could have led to the destruction of our synod or its merger with the ELCA.  They have held the line on historical criticism, woman’s ordination, LWF membership, gay marriage and gay ordination, abortion-on-demand, Darwinism, and the whole social-justice-peace-ecology movement that dominates the Liberal Protestant denominations today.  The LCMS is the only old mainline denomination, outside of the Southern Baptists, that has held the line against these cultural trends.  The pastors and lay leaders now retiring or finishing office are the ones who helped us hold that line.

They have also, especially in the last two years, dealt responsibly with significant financial difficulties due to the worldwide recession and its impact on not-for-profit funding.  Here I want to especially salute Mr. Thomas Kuchta, retired partner of Price-Waterhouse, and now retired Treasurer of the Missouri Synod, for a brilliant performance in office and a well-deserved retirement!

May our Lord grant our new leaders His Spirit of wisdom and power, to lead as well and better, if that be His will!

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.


My Salute to the Passing Generation of LCMS Leadership, by Martin R. Noland — 57 Comments

  1. >>Is this indeed a sign of the passing of a generation, or merely the swinging of a pendulum?

    What is unique this year is that the “holdover” incumbents largely had their terms terminated early by the elimination of their boards. Under the old structure Rev. Harrison’s supporters probably would not have had a majority on the Boards for Missions, Communications, Congregational Services, etc. because of holdover incumbents. That was the undoing of Dr. Barry.

    But now all those boards have been replaced in one fell swoop by two mega boards, with all new members, 19 out of 20 of whom were on the United List and presumably will be in sync with Rev. Harrision.

    Why did the incumbent, Jesus First, and the BRTFSSG do it this way? I believe they thought they had such a lock on the convention–that the delegates would vote a straight Jesus First ticket, and they never dreamed of a sweep instead for the United List–that this was their opportunity for a clean sweep out of all those pesky confessionals. But it ended up working exactly the opposite. So the circumstances which have led to a swinging pendulum in the past may have been fundamentally altered.

    Also it is good to remember that there never really was a swing from Preus to Bohlman; rather, to the surprise of everyone, the pendulum itself changed. And if Barry had not been called to glory or Kuhn had run, the pendulum would never have swung to Kieschnick, and as it was it barely swung in his favor a couple of points, vs. a nine point margin for Harrision.

  2. While the following may not relate specifically to changes in leadership of the Synod, one might well keep an eye out for trends and changes in key areas of ecclesiastical life:

    1. The willingness of seminary faculty members to speak out and write thoughtfully and
    boldly — individually and corporately — on issues that continue to fester in the Synod and in our culture at large.

    2. An intentional restoration of Lutheran worship practice (Divine Service), along with equally intentional rejection of (1) “designer” worship services based on ever-shifting cultural trends related to generational or demographic preferences and (2) informal, entertainment-centered worship practices of (usually non-Sacramental) church bodies perceived to be more “successful.”

    3. A growing confidence in and increasing focus on thorough catechesis (confirmation instruction, Bible classes, Sunday school) as the foundation of a strong, healthy Christian fellowship. (There is no such thing as too much catechesis.)

    4. A renewed focus on and funding of residential seminary education as the preferred method, i.e., standard approach, for providing pastors with the solid Lutheran (Confessional and Scriptural) preparation needed to minister to a culture that demands far more than sincerity and commitment, important as these are.

    5. Dedication to all levels of Christian education: supporting elementary schools and high schools, assuring that they are supplied with Lutheran teachers, assisting parents who home school, providing greater financial support to students at our universities who are preparing to serve in our schools or in the Holy Ministry.

    All of the above are intrinsic to the heritage of Missouri.

  3. It is sad to see some of the comments contained it this post. It sounds just like comments made by our political leaders, blame the ones that were in office before and then not taking the responsibility for what will be happening. I firmly believe our synodcal leaders in the past were doing the best that they could as human beings and were listening to our God. On September 1st it will be a new set of leaders as human beings listening to our God in how we can reach people for Jesus with the Holy Spirit. As a church we have lost 600,000 members over the last 40 years. If this countinues it will not be long before our church will not exist. Satan loves when we fight internally because we then can not reach souls for Jesus. We fight about what size church is best: small, medium, large or mega? I firmly believe that Jesus would say what ever size reaches people for me is the right size. We as a white German church are dying and we need to reach and touch people where they are a stated in the Great Commission (I have seen two small congregations close their doors with thousands of souls that could just walk in if they were wanted). If church members are not inviting their family, friends, neighbors, fellow workers, neighborhood all churches will die. Can you imagine what would happen with our church IF every member would continue to invide people this next year until they had ONE person attend with them, what great opportunities as Christians we would give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to work. As a church we do not let the Holy Spirit work we continually get in his way. My prayer is that our new leaders will have the Holy Spirit’s power in great meassure so as a church we can truely follow the Great Commission of our Lord!

  4. Does any one know where online I can find a copy of that letter from the 40 leaders endorsing Kieschnick for re-election?


  5. @Rev. Joel A. Brondos #43

    @Johannes #45

    “Pastor Brondos–
    As one who no longer contibutes to ALPB (I got tired of getting “slammed” by one of the moderators), I understand your withdrawing from this BJS. I have always appreciated your forthrightness, (some may call it bluntness), and thoughtful and thought-provoking posts. I’m saddened to see you leave–I hope you’ll reconsider. At any rate, the above exchange between you and Martin Noland has been illuminating and encouraging. Both you and Dr. Noland are clear thinkers, straight-talkers, and faithful stewards of the mysteries (1 Cor 4:1). I look forward to future contributions from Dr. Noland, and I hope I see at least a few contributions from you in the future. At least keep “lurking” out there.

    I’ll second what Johannes said. I used to enjoy reading Pastor Brondos’ blog while he kept it and I have found his bold confession helpful here. I hope he will continue to write publicly (and that I will find out where) so that I can continue to learn from him.

  6. It will be interesting to see if the seminary presidents will now back off on their declaration that there was nothing theologically wrong with ablaze.

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