Kirkwood — About 75 protesters gathered Monday outside the world headquarters of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, many holding signs that asked simply, "Why?"As for how Mr. Townsend quoted me, that's spot on. Thanks for being accurate, Tim.
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.
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.)