Interfaith Flap: Missouri Synod Panel Voids Charges

Criticisms of unionism and syncretism against Kieschnick pushed aside in ruling
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A Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod commission has voided charges against President Gerald Kieschnick related to a post-September 11 interfaith event.

The 2.6 million-member denomination's Commission on Constitutional Matters ruled on December 9 that only the synod convention, not a synod district president, has supervisory authority over the lcms president. This ruling means the charges cannot resurface before the 2004 lcms convention.

David Oberdieck, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lebanon, Missouri, had asked Missouri District President James Kalthoff for an investigation in November.

Oberdieck faulted Kieschnick for affirming the prayers of David Benke, Atlantic District president, during a September 23 service. Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim clergy led the service. Another pastor criticized Kieschnick for praying with more liberal Lutheran clergy at the World Trade Center disaster site.

The LCMS convention issued a statement last summer that allows pastors to pray, speak, and read Scripture at civic events as long as they remain true to their faith and pray in the name of Jesus.

Kieschnick is recovering from prostate-cancer surgery. "We have the opportunity in a pluralistic society to stand up for the truth," he said.


Related Elsewhere



Recent media coverage of the controversy includes:

Lutheran leader in interfaith spatChicago Tribune (Dec. 14, 2001)
Five charge Benke with syncretism — LCMSNews (Dec. 13, 2001)
Ruling voids charges against Kieschnick — LCMSNews (Dec. 11, 2001)
The limits of religious unityThe Washington Post (Nov. 24, 2001)

On November 30, Kieschnick released a statement in which he explained the position of the LCMS in regards to unionism and syncretism.

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