31 March 2008

Pres. Kieschnick responds to M.Z. Hemingway

March 31, 2008

Wall Street Journal
wsj.ltrs@wsj.com

Letter to the Editor:

As President of The Lutheran Church—MissouriSynod, I express my extreme disappointment over the column “Radio Silence” published March 28 under “Houses of Worship.” Its author presents a distorted account of the reason for the discontinuation of the “Issues, Etc.” program on the Synod’s KFUO-AM Radio station. What is even more disturbing is the false and misleading picture she presents of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) as a deeply divided church regarding its mission and ministry.

First, let me say our church is happy to own and operate KFUO-AM, the oldest continuously operating religious radio station in the country, if not the world. We are proud of the ministry it has provided listeners for some 84 years, and we endeavor to continue this ministry. I must also note that all ministries of the church, of which KFUO-AM is but one, require financial support from their constituencies.

Here are the facts surrounding the termination of “Issues, Etc.” This program was cancelled by the Synod’s director of communications after years of attempts to keep the program financially solvent. In fiscal year 2007-08, KFUO-AM’s operating deficit was $620,000. Since 2001, the accumulated deficits ofthe station have been in excess of $3.5 million. While airing for only 18 percent of KFUO-AM’s programming week, “Issues, Etc.” in the last fiscal year accounted for more than 40 percent ($250,000) of the station’s total deficit. These figures are based on the audited financial statements of the LCMS. As of February 29, two thirds into the current fiscal year, KFUO-AM was on pace to suffer heavy loses again.

Listeners of “Issues, Etc.” have had nine years and countless invitations and opportunities to support the program financially, and some have, but not nearly enough to offset the show’s deep, ongoing losses.

More importantly, I wish to address the unfortunate comments in the column that The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is deeply divided and that it is pushing “church marketing” over the historic confessions of the evangelical Lutheran Church.

In truth, last summer the LCMS had its most positive and unified convention in years. Our church remains faithful to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions, an integral part of our identity as a church body. As stated in a resolution adopted last summer by the national Synod convention: “From the founding of our Synod 160 years ago, wehave been blessed by unity in our common confession and the articles of our shared faith, such as the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, original sin, baptismal regeneration, the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Sacrament, the inerrancy of Scripture and many others.”

In accordance with our unity in what we believe,teach, and confess, the Synod adopted the mission and vision of —a focused and concentrated effort to “share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who do notyet know him.” One goal of calls for the Synod to start 2,000 new congregations by the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in the year 2017. This outreach emphasis is not“marketing” as suggested by last Friday’s column; rather, it is one of many ministry endeavors developed to foster the mission of our Synod “... vigorously to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities, and the world.” (LCMS Mission Statement)

In summary, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is more committed than ever to proclaiming the one message of Jesus Christ and his love for all (1 John 4:9-11).

On behalf of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, I invite readers to visit our website at for more information on God’s grace and salvation in Christ. www.lcms.org

The Rev. Dr. Gerald B.Kieschnick, President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

9 comments:

Rev. Jonathan C. Watt said...

It is quite obvious that there is no movement on the 'Issues' issue from the Synod side. I think we can discern there will be none.

Kevin in Indiana said...

Ms. Hemingway seemed much more believable than Pres. Kieschnick. Imagine, he is disappointed in someone else's account of what happened to Pastor Todd and Jeff!

Of all the nerve!

Anonymous said...

I see President Kieschnick is still repeating the recently published statistics that already have been picked apart and discredited. I hope at some point he realizes that no one is buying what he is selling. His constant admonitions that this is not "your grandfather's church" (as if historical continuity were a bad thing) undermine any claims now that he supports Reformational theology in general and confessional Lutheranism in particular. Anyone with any allegiance to the creeds of Christendom and the confessions of the Lutheran expression of the Refromation would be aware just how important the ministry of Issues, Etc. is for the larger church.

Albert McIlhenny said...

I see President Kieschnick is still repeating the recently published statistics that already have been picked apart and discredited. I hope at some point he realizes that no one is buying what he is selling. His constant admonitions that this is not "your grandfather's church" (as if historical continuity were a bad thing) undermine any claims now that he supports Reformational theology in general and confessional Lutheranism in particular. Anyone with any allegiance to the creeds of Christendom and the confessions of the Lutheran expression of the Refromation would be aware just how important the ministry of Issues, Etc. is for the larger church.

Jim Roemke said...

This attitude and ignorane is what I am finding absolutely maddening about synodical issues. On the one hand you have confessional, conservative, Lutheran pastors and laity who are saying, "Hey, we have some real problems with what is going on and is what they are and why we believe they don't jibe with Scripture and the confessions." On the other hand you have letters like this from our president that say emphatically, "We have no problems! In fact, we all hold hands and skip through the poppy fields while rainbows shoot out of our ears little bunny wabbits strew daisies in front of us and the wittle birdies sing 'A Mighty Fortress' and 'Shine, Jesus, Shine'." Why can't he just accept that there are some real serious issues and the "Issues" issue is just the tip of the ice berg. Nothing will ever happen if we don't admit there is a problem.

Christina said...

"We are proud of the ministry it has provided listeners for some 84 years, and we endeavor to continue this ministry."
if they're so proud and want to "endeavor to continue the ministry," why did they shut down Issues, Etc., which is probably the best ministry they had on that station??

Randy Asburry said...

Good points and good questions one and all!

L P Cruz said...

I am not an LC-MS but I am an IssuesEtc supporter. It seems to me though from an organizational view, it is hard to argue against a decision based on an audited financial statement. This means that people who disagree are also saying that the auditor/accountant used was in cahoots with the LC-MS leadership in rigging the income/expense statement.

On the other hand, I have listened regularly via the internet, I do not recall though a heavy emphasis at Issues saying to the listeners that they will not be on the air for much long if they did not send monetary help. The appeals were quite mute if not mild.


LPC

George Naylor said...

lpc,

I don't think anybody is questioning the actual figures in the matter. I think what is questioned is the half picture of the figures. Putting out the financial figures on Issues Etc certainly makes the program look bad, like a money loser. Until one puts the figures in context with the other expenditures & programs of the synod. Then Issues Etc looks almost thrifty compared to the other deficits being run by the synod.

I agree with you that there never seemed to be any desperation in Issues fundraising. Indeed, it seemed like they had a plan for providing for the support of the show, namely Issues Etc 300.