Charges against LCMS President Dropped. (News)

The Christian Century, December 19, 2001 | Go to article overview

Charges against LCMS President Dropped. (News)


On his first day back on the job after a two-week leave for prostate cancer surgery, the leader of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod received great news: attempts by two of his own ministers to oust him from the denomination hit a roadblock. Gerald B. Kieschnick, the pastor who this year became president of the LCMS, won't even be disciplined.

The internal charges against Kieschnick, leader of the 2.6-million-member denomination, accused him of supporting LCMS leaders who chose to participate in interfaith prayer services for victims of the September 11 attacks. The ministers who filed charges with the president of the church's Missouri District had asked that Kieschnick's membership in the church body be revoked.

After a conference call, the five-man LCMS Commission on Constitutional Matters determined that the district president has no supervisory authority over the leader of the Missouri Synod. The LCMS president appoints all five men, though Kieschnick, who was just elected this summer, appointed none of the current members of the panel. Citing past church ruling, the commission agreed that the president could be held accountable only to the Synod convention, where the president stands for reelection. The convention is held every three years.

While a special convention technically could be called, Kieschnick says communication to the LCMS world headquarters in Kirkwood, Missouri, just outside St. Louis, is running at least 95 percent in support of the decisions he made. The internal conflict began after Kieschnick openly supported the LCMS Atlantic District president, David Benke, in his decision to participate in the music and prayer event at Yankee Stadium on September 23. Charges against Benke filed with Kieschnick's office are still pending.

Kieschnick added fuel to the conservatives' fire when he later visited Ground Zero and prayed with a bishop from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America at a meeting with Lutheran church volunteers. …

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