22 March 2008

From My District President - Pr. Herbert Mueller

Statement to the District on Issues Etc

My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus:

God’s peace is ours in Christ Jesus, won for us this day as our Lord Jesus died for us. He took our sin and death into Himself that He might give us His life and His righteousness. In the proclamation of His cross and His resurrection, we have life. I pray God’s blessing and peace for you and yours this Good Friday.

As many of you know, this past Tuesday the very popular Lutheran radio show, Issues Etc. was cancelled and the host, Rev. Todd Wilken (a member of the SID) and the show’s producer, Mr. Jeff Schwarz (a member of St. Paul, Hamel) have been dismissed from the employ of the Synod. By way of explanation, this is what David Strand, Director of the Board for Communication Services, sent to the District Presidents:

While this was a programmatic and business decision, it also touches on matters of employment and human resources. Because of this, there is very little that can appropriately be said by way of "explanation" or "reasons" for this decision.

I would respectfully suggest that you direct callers or e-mailers to the Synod's Church Information Center (1-888-THE LCMS, or infocenter@lcms.org), whose staff is equipped to handle such calls. There also is a brief statement on the KFUO-AM website at www.kfuo.org (from an email, received from David Strand March 19, 2008)

In addition, when I first heard of this, I asked President Gerald Kieschnick if he could tell me why the show was cancelled and why Rev. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz were dismissed. Following is his response:
Following is a statement from the Board for Communication Services office regarding this matter, which transpired with my awareness but neither by my order nor at my direction:
The “Issues, Etc.” radio program on KFUO-AM has been discontinued. Show host Rev. Todd Wilken and producer Mr. Jeff Schwarz are no longer with KFUO. We thank these men for their years of service of behalf of the station.
…To my knowledge there is no reason for disciplinary action regarding those affected (From an email, received from President Kieschnick March 18, 2008)
I have received no further information. We much always put the best construction on everything. Yet I do realize this leaves many questions completely unanswered. For instance, why? What are the “programmatic and business reasons” for the decision? No one, least of all Rev. Todd Wilken or Jeff Schwarz, has been given any reason. Please trust that I am diligently seeking more complete answers through personal contacts. I hope that at some time a further explanation can be offered by those responsible. There may be good, understandable reasons for this, but at the very least, I do believe those who appreciated Issues Etc ought be given a credible explanation why this was done.

In the meantime, I would humbly suggest that you let your thoughts be known by contacting the Board for Communication Services through David Strand (David.Strand@lcms.org), or by contacting the President’s Office or the numbers given above. They need to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Please know that I will be doing all I can from my office to help Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz. The most important thing you can do is to pray for them, pray for our Synod, pray for our leaders. Please also, in all your contacts, remember the 8th Commandment, remember that we are dealing with brothers in Christ. Be honest about your thoughts, but remember also our Lord’s Word – “Whatever, you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Colossians 3:17).

Yours in the One crucified for us this day,

+ Herb Mueller
Southern Illinois District President


Rev. Larry Beane said...

My congregation's bulletin includes persecuted Christians on the prayer list - especially our fellow Lutherans around the world (such as in Germany, Sweden, and Finland) who are persecuted for their confession. We have added Pr. Wilken and Mr. Swartz to that list.

While I appreciate your DPs remarks about the 8th Commandment, it also goes without saying that KFUO and LCMS executives can't simply hide behind a corporate cloak - since they don't work for IBM or Coca-Cola - rather they work for us. We are their bosses, not the other way around.

They owe us an explanation, and they too are bound by the 8th commandment as well, as to the reputations of these men who have been soiled by these events.

I hope the COP and Pres. Kieschnick understands that this is not a situation that will "blow over." If they are counting on that being the case, I believe they have miscalculated.

The more time passes, the angrier people are getting, the more names go on the petition, and the more calls, e-mails, and letters KFUO and David Strand will be getting.

They are starting to look like the bureaucrats who tried desperately to hold the iron curtain together even as people were tearing down the Berlin Wall with sledge hammers.

Anonymous said...

Duh, "Father Hollywood" what do you think Pres. Mueller just said? He is not satisfied with the "answer" and he is working to get more information.

Your post is a good illustration of what the DP is talking about.

In your zeal to take a shot at his letter, you basically didn't bother to read it.


SJB said...

Dear Henry,

I cannot speak for Father Hollywood, but please understand that some of us are ex-evangelicals who believe we can see the handwriting on the wall. Our experience with this type of behavior and these types of mindsets (plus LCMS history) tells us the 8th command doesn't apply here. We are ready to call a spade a spade and desire a wise application of Law/Gospel distinctions from our leadership. Yet we realize this will take time and that certain things must be pursued first.

Please understand that those of us who are ex-evangelicals are skeptical of placating words, easy promises, and smooth spiel. We are pained by the way words and actions don't match. We are deeply offended by lies, deceptions, and subterfuges. Please be patient with us. It is hard for us to be patient while we wait for people to wake up and smell the roses.

Please consider an ex-evangiical's viewpoint. Did it ever occur to you that pulling Issues, Etc from KFUO looks like it was done in a fit of unrestrained temper? There was no warning, no replacement programming ready, a tardy explanation, and the webpage and archives were abruptly removed without seeming foresight of the repercussions. How can this be a business and program issue? Don't their actions refute their explanation?

I would plead with you to bear with us and for all of us to bear with one another. Thank you.

SJB said...

I would like to add an FYI for anyone interested. Chris Rosebrough has written the most astute comments on the current situation that I have read recently and I believe that he is spot on. He can be found on the Wittenberg Trail blog and if you find his member page, then it will probably be easier to find and read his comments. He also has a website called extremetheology.com

Past Elder said...

You got it, Susan!

Some of us are ex-RCs too, and thought by a different route come to the same place. Having found in the LCMS a church body where the Gospel is rightly preached and the sacraments rightly administered, often at some considerable personal expense, we do not take lightly seeing that right preaching and administration stomped on by those to whom one would look to uphold it. A brother in Christ does not stomp on these things. It's time to listen to the passages about false teachers.

Unknown said...

I agree with Father Hollywood. The Synodocrats (I don't think Pastor Mueller is one.) are also bound to the 8th commandment, and by not stating the reasons for the termination of Pastor Wilken or Mr. Shwarz have caused their reputations to be damaged. It appears that in the Synodocrats zeal they have forgotten this and will not even give a DP an answer as to why Issues,etc was canceled!! It is only the deeds of darkness that need to be covered up!!

Jim Huffman said...

A blessed Easter to you all!

I'm a bit sensitive to using the term persecuted -- primarily because there were so many millions of our brothers and sisters killed in the last century by so many evil men.

Is what happened to Wilkens and Swartz persecution? I don't know. From what I understand, the only facts we can say right now is that the show was canceled, and they lost their jobs. And losing one's job sucks, but it's not persecution. Let's save the word until we know more about what happened. From what I understand, they didn't even have "calls" in Missouri Synod parlance.

I am not one to defend Synod officials. Far, far from it. But we are commanded to put the best construction on actions. If others don't obey that command, that's their sad choice. Let's make sure as we defend these 2 men that we don't sink to the level of others who may have behaved very badly.

SJB said...

Dear Jim,

Please forgive me for not expressing my views on the 8th command well. I believe that there is a real danger of misapplication of the 8th command in this current situation. It can be used to muzzle people, stifle thinking, and hinder appropriate actions. In short, it can be used to aid and abet suppressing the truth. I do not believe that the 8th command excludes the use of wisdom when one is assessing a bad situation. I think Chris Rosebrough's comment on this subject is quite astute:"The greatest strength of the people on this board is their insistence on 'putting the best construction' on everything." In my experience, there is nothing more effective to squelching opposition and pushing an agenda through than to keep people in the dark and to keep people from talking to one another until it is completed.

Please see Chris Rosebrough's comments on the Wittenberg Trail Blog in the discussion titled, "Issues Etc. Canceled by the LCMS - What will be our response?" (pages 46-49). http://wittenbergtrail.ning.com/forum/topic/listForCategory?categoryId=1453099%3ACategory%3A54192

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I do not think that we should simply attribute the worst of motives and intentions to people - that is not proper. However, when one takes a public action - that action is up to scrutiny. And it will need to be defended.

And when doesn't give a full answer - one can expect to hear the same questions over and over again - until they are answered, and reasons are shown.

Or, in other words - instead of accusing or insinuating, you keep asking over and over until either wrong-doing is admitted, or legit miscommunication is cleared up, whichever the case may be.