Joint Statement to the Council of Presidents
Committee of Five + Committee of Four + The President of the Synod
September 4, 2008
“Baptized Christians must take seriously their petition to be forgiven as they forgive. If God finds in us no sign at all of forgiving love, if our lives are made dark by self-righteous anger and obstinate lovelessness, then we have thrown away the forgiveness that God has provided for us in Christ; then we are lost.” Peter Brunner.
Colossians 3: 13-14
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Background of the Joint Statement to the Council of Presidents
- 1) Concern over the number of circuit exceptions granted by President Kieschnick for the 2007 convention of Synod appeared to Dr. Frederic W. Baue to be a violation of the settlement agreement to the Anderson Lawsuit. This led Dr. Baue to analyze the data and compose a report titled “Update on Circuit Exceptions for the 2007 LCMS Convention” [henceforth “The Baue Report”]. This report was also subscribed by the Reverends Steven C. Briel, Thomas J. Queck, and Dean M. Bell, who with Dr. Baue had helped negotiate the Lawsuit Agreement.
2) The assignment given by the Council of Presidents to the “Committee of Five” (Rev. Herbert C. Mueller, Jr., Dr. Lane R. Seitz, Rev. Donald J. Fondow, Dr. David H. Benke, and Rev. Dale L. Sattgast) was twofold: to understand better the concerns of the “Committee of Four” (Dr. Baue, Rev. Briel, Rev. Queck, and Rev. Bell) among others; and to address the offense taken by the Council of Presidents to two statements in the Baue Report. Following an initial report of the Committee of Five to the Council of Presidents in February of 2008, the Council acknowledged with thanks the work of the Committee of Five and the Committee of Four and directed the Committee of Five to work toward further reconciliation between the Committee of Four and the President of the Synod.
3) Meetings were held with members of the Committee of Five and the Committee of Four on May 18, 2007, in St. Louis, Missouri, and on July 2, 2007, in Burnsville, Minnesota. Another meeting was held on April 29, 2008, at the International Center in St. Louis with Rev. Mueller, Dr. Baue, and President Kieschnick present. And a final meeting was held in Burnsville, Minnesota on September 4, 2008, with all the members of both committees and President Kieschnick present. All meetings were cordial and evangelical, and included frank discussions and exchanges of views. All who were present participated in good faith. As a result of these meetings and additional communications, the following joint statement is presented to the Council of Presidents.
Statement to the Council of Presidents – Section A
- 1) As a result of our discussions, Dr. Baue recognized that the statement in his report, “To date districts have done little to address this problem” [of what he and others believed were excessive circuit exceptions] is inaccurate and has caused offense. Dr. Baue did not know at the time he was developing his report that a number of districts had worked to address and correct this problem. Dr. Baue admits that the conclusions he drew were based upon inaccurate and insufficient information and regrets the offense he has caused. In separate meetings with the Committee of Five and with President Kieschnick, Dr. Baue has stated he is sorry for this. Both the Committee of Five and President Kieschnick have accepted Dr. Baue’s apology and have expressed to him our Lord’s forgiveness.
2) In addition, Dr. Baue recognizes that the question in his report, “Has there been ongoing collaboration between the President of the Synod and certain districts to gain political advantage by means of extra voting delegates through circuit exceptions?”, as stated, is prejudicial and has caused offense. In separate meetings with the Committee of Five and with President Kieschnick, Dr. Baue has apologized for questioning the intentions of the President of the Synod and certain districts. Both the Committee of Five and President Kieschnick have accepted Dr. Baue’s apology and have expressed to him our Lord’s forgiveness.
3) In the cover letter for Dr. Baue’s report, signed by Rev. Bell and dated 18 March 2007, Rev. Bell, Rev. Briel, and Rev. Queck stated their agreement with Dr. Baue’s report, particularly regarding the increased number of exceptional delegates, which appeared to be improper in the eyes of some. President Kieschnick affirms the concern of the Committee of Four that in this process the integrity of the Synod and its convention be maintained. He regrets and sincerely desires to avoid any appearance to the contrary.
With Dr. Baue, Rev. Bell, Rev. Briel, and Rev. Queck acknowledge that the two statements in Dr. Baue’s report were “inaccurate,” “prejudicial,” and “caused offense.” Further, they acknowledge that by endorsing Pastor Baue’s “Update” document, they also have endorsed those statements. In a meeting with the Committee of Five and President Kieschnick, Rev. Bell, Rev, Briel, and Rev. Queck apologized to President Kieschnick in person and to certain district presidents and district boards of directors in this Joint Statement for their endorsement of the two statements in Dr. Baue’s report that were “inaccurate,” “prejudicial,” and “caused offense.” They have also apologized for calling into question in their letter President Kieschnick’s integrity and the conduct of his office regarding this matter. Both the Committee of Five and President Kieschnick have accepted their apology and have expressed to them our Lord’s forgiveness
Statement to the Council of Presidents – Section B
- 1) The Committee of Five, the Committee of Four, and the President of the Synod affirm in its entirety the Report of the Convention Delegate Review Committee, which is included in its entirety as an appendix to this Joint Statement.
2) The Committee of Five, the Committee of Four, and the President of the Synod recognize that because the number of circuit exceptions both requested and granted has increased over the years, some have begun to question the propriety and wisdom of the general practice of granting circuit exceptions. The President of the Synod acknowledges that had this probl