Magazine article The Christian Century

LCMS Leaders Feel Heat over Prayers. (News)

Magazine article The Christian Century

LCMS Leaders Feel Heat over Prayers. (News)

Article excerpt

One of the more notable prayer-filled services after September 11 was the broadly interfaith, celebrity-studded event at Yankee Stadium on the second Sunday after the terrorist attacks. Could any minister suffer adverse reaction for taking part? Just ask David Benke, the Atlantic District Division president in the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.

Within the conservative LCMS, at least seven district pastors conferences, three dozen pastors from another, and a district board of directors, among others, had adopted resolutions by early November to praise, question or criticize Benke's participation in the nationally televised event. A South Dakota pastors conference said Benke's prayer at the stadium "gave an appearance of unionism and syncretism."

Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and a variety of Christian speakers joined co-hosts Oprah Winfrey and James Earl Jones in "A Prayer for America" on September 23 in the ballpark.

The reactions pro and con prompted LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick to say: "While some have registered disagreement with an LCMS pastor in that event, the overwhelming majority of responses have been supportive of such participation and have expressed appreciation for [district leader] Benke's involvement. …

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