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[LCMSNews] Kieschnick sends new memo on Benke
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Wed, 4 Feb 2004 17:31:59 -0600
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February 4, 2004 .................... LCMSNews -- No. 7
Kieschnick sends new memo on Benke
LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick says that continuing questions
related to participation of Atlantic District President David Benke in
the post-Sept. 11, 2001, "A Prayer for America" at Yankee Stadium led
him to send a recent memo to all Missouri Synod congregations.
In the Jan. 22 memo, which runs more than six pages, Kieschnick
reviews issues surrounding the event and quotes from statements and
memos he has issued about it over the past two years.
"The memo isn't saying anything that hasn't already been said.
Based on questions and concerns I continue to receive, I decided it
would be helpful to once again bring this information to the attention
of the Synod," Kieschnick said. "I pray that doing so will be helpful to
restoring unity and harmony in the Synod."
Complaints following Benke's participation in the Yankee Stadium
event resulted in his suspension in June 2002. The suspension was lifted
last year by a three-member dispute resolution panel.
Kieschnick's latest memo makes two basic points:
* "First, I agree with the position of the LCMS ... that pastors
of our Synod should have the freedom, tempered with the accompanying
responsibility, of 'offering prayers, speaking and reading Scripture at
events sponsored by governments ...' if the organization in charge does
not restrict a Christian witness, and if this can be done without any
compromise of our Scriptural, Confessional and constitutional
commitments." His quote is from a document commended by the 2001 Synod
convention "for continued use and guidance."
* He said he has an "unwavering conviction regarding the
absolute necessity of being prepared to share our faith in all
circumstances, especially at public gatherings, in a way that leaves no
doubts or question about the nature of that faith." He added, "Dr.
Benke's prayer could and 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." He notes that he -- and
Benke himself -- said this two years ago.
Kieschnick quotes a Jan. 4, 2002, statement by Benke, who wrote:
"I made a pledge very early on to take seriously those who differed with
me. So in the area of specific wording, to whoever has had problems and
criticisms, I am sorry that I didn't get the words out more clearly or
accurately or completely. Although it was never intentional, I know that
my words have offended some in my denomination, and for that offense I
apologize, sincerely, and ask for forgiveness."
Kieschnick concluded his memo with encouragement for
congregations and individual members to pray for the Synod as it
prepares for its triennial convention this summer.
The full text of the memo is available on the Web at
www.lcms.org/?602 <http://www.lcms.org/?602> .
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