by Rev. Jerry Kieschnick
The July 13 election of a man who will serve as the 13th president in the 163-year history of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod will bring, in his own words, “tumultuous change” in the LCMS. I pray that as a result of such change many more people will be brought to Christ through our witness to God’s love, grace, mercy, peace, and forgiveness. By means of God’s Word and sacraments, may many more receive the promise of eternal life on account of what Christ has done for our salvation.
I also pray fervently that all who were elected to positions of leadership will be led, guided, and directed by God’s Spirit in the fulfillment of the duties and responsibilities entrusted to their care. And I trust that those who read these words will work together with all who will soon take office to accomplish that vital endeavor, which has eternal consequences.
The LCMS is widely respected for what we believe, teach, and confess while also often suspected of being somewhat schizophrenic in the way we demonstrate our ecclesiastical identity. Sometimes we struggle in determining what direction we really want to go as a national church body.
The Task Force on Synod Harmony describes the LCMS as “A Politicized Culture” in these words: “National and some district conventions have become more politically charged than ever. Political lists have become the norm. The LCMS is becoming a denomination of parties, each seeking to elect its own candidates as leaders. In recent decades, the parties in power are perceived to proceed with a ‘scorched earth’ policy, totally disenfranchising the losing party. Rather than valuing all the voices in the LCMS, the ‘losing’ voices are silenced until they can amass enough votes to gain power and do the same to the other party.”
It is my own sense that the propensity for political propaganda that seems imbedded in our denominational DNA all too often divides our well-trained clergy, dispirits our godly laymen and laywomen, weakens our witness to the world, and leaves us feeling torn and empty.
How I long to hear those who watch us say, “See how they love one another!” How longingly I dream for the LCMS to realize its full potential for national, and even global, biblical, confessional, conservative, evangelical, Christian leadership. I pray that this dream will become reality in the years ahead and that God’s blessing will be upon our Synod’s new leaders toward the accomplishment of that objective.
The past nine years of my life and service to my Lord and to His Church have been years of opportunity and challenge, difficulty and blessing, victory and defeat, sorrow and joy. But suffice it to say that it has been a humbling privilege and awesome responsibility to represent The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod throughout this country and around the world. And it has been a genuine blessing to work with the Synod’s employees at the International Center these past nine years.
Many have expressed love, care, and concern for Terry and for me, asking what lies ahead. At this point we plan to remain in St. Louis, at least for now, while determining the answers to many practical questions regarding our future life and ministry, including what, where, and when.
While disappointed at not being able to continue the work in which I have invested almost every fiber of my being for nearly a decade, I see the closing of one door as opportunity to find what other doors the Lord might be opening. Although I’m old enough to retire, doing so is the farthest thing from my mind.
There is much yet to be accomplished. So I reflect every day on the words of Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”