15 April 2008

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Reports on Demonstration

Here's how Tim Townsend, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reports on the demonstration at the LCMS International Center. Read the whole article here.
Kirkwood — About 75 protesters gathered Monday outside the world headquarters of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, many holding signs that asked simply, "Why?"

The question was directed at church leaders who, during Holy Week last month, pulled the plug on a popular radio program on the denomination's KFUO-AM station called "Issues, Etc."

The host, the Rev. Todd Wilken, and producer, Jeff Schwarz, were fired without warning, and all reference to the show was taken off KFUO's website. Fans were left confused and angry.

The following day, a statement went up on the church's website explaining that "Issues, Etc." had been canceled for "programmatic and business" reasons but offered no specifics.

"Issues, Etc." was "a beacon of light" for Bill Eggers, 72, a retired engineer from west St. Louis County who stood outside the denomination's glass offices in Kirkwood. "It gave my own faith a real boost."

The show, which aired locally from 3-6 p.m. weekdays, was syndicated to 11 Midwestern markets and available everywhere by podcast. Topics ranged from bioethics to the role of women in the church, to the theology of God's love.

Since the cancellation, supporters have collected more than 7,000 signatures and raised more than $30,000 in a fund to help the Wilken and Schwarz families.

The former host and producer could not be reached for comment.

On Sunday, 200 "Issues, Etc." supporters gathered at Emmaus Lutheran Church in St. Louis to pray and eat bratwurst.

The chief complaint at Monday's protest was that the present synod leadership has become caught up in marketing, focus groups and statistics in an effort to grow.

"They'd like to be more in the mainstream of American evangelicalism as opposed to distinctly Lutheran," said the Rev. Randy Asburry, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in St. Louis.

"Issues, Etc." battled against that trend in the church, and many of the protesters said they thought that was the real reason the program was canceled.
As for how Mr. Townsend quoted me, that's spot on. Thanks for being accurate, Tim.

I do note that the rest of the story contains David Strand's minimizing of this event. I suppose that's one way to deal with it. Strand is quoted as saying:
"We have tried every cost-cutting measure we can think of for a long time," Strand said. "And we've tried every fundraising measure we can think of. ... 'Issues' was the largest and most obvious cut at our disposal."
Yep, the ministry of the Gospel has now just been minimized to either a profit-making venture or a cost-cutting necessity! Never mind that Issues, Etc., its host, and its producer, had to raise plenty of their own moneys, unlike any other KFUO program. I guess Issues "was the largest and most obvious cut at [their] disposal precisely because it *was* raising some money and it *was* being listened to?

The article also says that Strand "pointed out that the 7,000 signatures make up one-third of 1 percent of the church body." Thanks for further minimizing us, Mr. Strand! I wonder what percentage of the "church body's" body really counts for being listened to? Should I try this reasoning in my own congregation? When one voice cries out in need, should I simply say that that lone voice is not worth my time?

Perhaps I shouldn't remind Mr. Strand that so many of those signers are actually *outside* of our denomination's little corner of Christendom. Then we petition signers would be an even smaller sub-sub-minority of our own church body, but at least we'd have friends in other places.

Perhaps I shouldn't remind Mr. Strand that the Gospel of proclaiming Christ crucified and risen for sinners is truly a labor of love for a lost and dying world, no matter how many ... or how few ... actually listen to it or are changed by it.

Remember, Mr. Strand, it took only one Person to suffer, die, and rise again for the life of the world, and it took only a motley band of 12 men to spread our Lord's forgiveness and teaching that changed the entire world. Numbers aren't everything, Mr. Strand! (Oops! Don't say that too loudly! Some of our "synodocrats" - synodical bureaucrats, number-crunchers, bean-counters - could be out of a job, if that's true.)


Anonymous said...

Thank you for being part of the turnout, and for boldly following the story and proclaiming the truth.
Unfortunately, they're not listening. They don't plan to listen. They don't need to listen.
They have their own sort of steadfastness, and, in their eyes and according to their plan, things are working out nicely.
But thank you anyways.
Susan in Tupelo

Randy Asburry said...

Susan, you are so right! They may not be listening now, but I sure hope they listen on Judgment Day when our Lord asks them: "Why were you trying to silence, and change, the very message I sent you to proclaim?"

Rev. James Leistico said...

good to meet you yesterday! As for what percentage of the "church body's" body really counts for being listened to, I am reminded of this quote:
"A circuit's a circuit, no matter how small." Rev. Dr. GK Seuss

Diana said...

I know there's been some kidding about the target on your back, but all kidding aside, I want to add my thanks for putting yourself out there and contending for truth! We need far more men like you in the pulpits (trenches?). And thanks for pointing out the only number that really counts.

The friend I told you about was talking with me during the event yesterday. She told me that her pastor has turned over the pulpit for the last two Sundays to persons who completely failed Pastor Todd's three-part diagnostic on sermons. The good news was that she and a friend spoke with their pastor about their concerns, and he seemed somewhat receptive.

Anonymous said...

To be sure, the Hebrew listener would not have been able to comprehend 1/3 of 1 percent. But 1 out of 99, 1 percent, rang quite clearly. It seems that Mr. Strand rightly agrees that no one in their right mind would waste any effort on the one lost sheep. But then again, that wasn't the point of parable...

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about Mr. Strand's hope that the Afternoon Show will have wider appeal. If that were realistic, wouldn't the Morning Show already have been contending with Issues (pun fully intended) for the lead in popularity?

So in addition to programmatic and busin...er stewardship reasons, we now have lack of popularity. I wonder how many people would show up at a protest if the new show were canceled.

Rev. Michael Kumm said...

Thank you, Brother for your most accurate and well-stated effect on numbers. Mr. Strand's claims that they have "tried everything" fails miserably in that they haven't. Any other business who has been failing that long would have fired managment a long time ago. You blame two people who produce the most popular show on the air for failure in management? I have been to the mountaintop of KFUO's finances. The buck stops with the manager. That's a number of 1 that equals 100% of the blame. First, for not accomplishing his mission, and second for allowing Strand to do what he did and not standing up for what was right.

Josh Schroeder said...

Todd and Jeff WERE trying something new, and I believe that if Mr. Strand hadn't pulled the plug on the show, the Issues, Etc. 300 would have met or exceeded its goal.

jim said...

As I mentioned on the Augsburg 1530 blog, The Book of Concord was signed by just over 8000 concerned churchmen.

Did they matter?

Anonymous said...

Jim: The Book of Concord was signed by just over 8000 concerned churchmen. Do they matter?

Not to the people that the synod bureaucracy is trying to impress or emulate.