ST. LOUIS — LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick told the Synod’s 62nd Regular Convention today (July 11) that if it disagrees with a 2001 convention resolution upon which he said he based approval for a district president’s decision to participate in the post-9/11 “A Prayer for America” in New York’s Yankee Stadium, it should change it.
Atlantic District President David Benke offered a prayer during that event, which led to charges against him for unscriptural worship with non-Christians, sin against the First and Second Commandments, public defense of false doctrine and violation of the Synod’s Constitution and Bylaws.
The Synod’s third vice president, Dr. Wallace Schulz, suspended Benke in response to the charges. But a dispute-resolution panel later lifted Benke’s suspension.
In what was actually the third part of his convention report, Kieschnick told the audience in the convention center today that if the 2004 convention does not agree with the 2001 convention resolution “or with my interpretation of it, then this convention has the responsibility to express the position of the Synod in a different way.”
Kieschnick noted that he said in January 2002 that he believes Benke’s prayer at the 2001 event “should have been a stronger articulation of the truth of Holy Scripture regarding the absolute necessity of faith in Jesus Christ as the only way to eternal life.”
After referring to an apology and request for forgiveness Benke wrote at that time, Kieschnick drew applause when he assured Benke again “of the forgiveness you have requested, by the grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Early in his report, Kieschnick referred to difficulties facing Saxon immigrants who formed the Synod in 1847. “The rest is a 157-year saga of challenges faced and difficulties overcome,” Kieschnick said.
“As we meet …, we too, are facing our own challenges and difficulties. Yet, our history has proven that we can, as a church under God’s grace, endure challenges and overcome difficulties,” Kieschnick said. He added that his report would focus “on the reality of such a past, the tenacity required for our present, and the vision of a future filled with hope and expectation.”
Kieschnick traced the history of controversy in the Synod as well as its strengths.
“While we certainly have had, and continue to have, an abundance of difficulties and disagreements,” Kieschnick said, “we are undeniably blessed with God-given unity and harmony in many, many ways.”
Part I of Kieschnick’s report appeared in the 2004 Convention Workbook. He gave Part II of the report when convention floor committees met in late May.
Posted July 11, 2004