Assemblies: Why We Should Keep Them"
By Rev. Jack R. Baumgarn
- Why is the "Voters' Assembly" being questioned?
- The Biblical truths related to the issue of the Voters' Assembly
- The LC-MS fathers, including Dr. C.F.W. Walther, on the issue of the Voters' Assembly
- Practical importance of the Voters' Assembly in the parish
Title: "The Divine Institution of the Local
By Rev. William Bischoff
In 1787 at the Constitutional Convention, an American republic was formed which
recognized the authority of the Word of God. Our founding fathers believed there was only
ONE rightful Ruler over men and nations. They also understood mans inherent sinful
nature and gave the government ONLY enough power to serve - and NO MORE. The creation of a
constitutional republic UNDER GOD permitted Walther to accomplish what Martin Luther was
unable to do in Germany - create a scriptural congregational church polity in which
Gods Word alone rules! When men consider ecclesiastical systems of government to be
adiaphora (a matter of indifference) the door is open to usurpation of power that belongs
only to God. Walther taught that Synod is only advisory, and strictly a human arrangement.
The Missouri Synod today has become a pretending church. It ignores the fact that THE
ONLY EXTERNAL COMMUNION INSTITUTED BY GOD IS THE LOCAL CONGREGAGTION. Congregational
government in the Missouri Synod no longer exists - except in name only. The human
institution of ordination has been abused to create pastors without a call from a local
congregation. The 1999 Lutheran Annual lists 23 categories on its clergy roster. Only 7 of
those categories refer to pastors of local congregations with a Word and Sacrament
ministry. In keeping with Synods abuse of power and desire to rule without God-given
authority, in 1965 the Synod declared itself "church" (a pretending church) when
its name was changed from "The Evangelical Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other
States" to "The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod."
We need to remember what Missouri once was! The doctrine of the royal priesthood of all
believers and the divine institution of the local congregation has become a mockery and a
sham. District officials need to return to congregations and serve as real pastors, not
pretend pastors. The Synod needs to return to its "servant" role!
Title: "Missouri: At the Crossroads of Bureaucracy
By Rev. Thomas W. Bye
Walther fled from a church oppressed by Prussian bureaucracy and ecclesiastical
hierarchy to establish a true Lutheran Confessional congregation as an island in a sea of
"American protestant folk religion". This congregation would grow into a synod
of independent congregations governed by God's Word through voters' assemblies.
What Happened?? Is the present day Missouri Synod imitating the worst of what the
immigrants left? Are we abandoning our Lutheran Island only to drown in a new sea of an
American protestant folk religion now called the "Church Growth Movement"; or
are we walking back into the hierarchy of the break-away Buffalo Synod?
Title: "Why Missouri Constitutions Say the
Voters Assemblies Are Supreme"
By Rev. Jack Cascione
What is the purpose of a Church Constitution? What is the structure unique to a
Missouri Synod Congregations Constitution? Why must all LCMS Congregations have
Constitutions in America? What are the changes taking place in LCMS Congregational
Constitutions that make them a "Church Growth Constitution" or an
"Episcopal Constitution" instead of Walthers "Congregational
Constitution"? How can lay people identify these new directions in their
Congregational Constitutions and what can they do to prevent these changes?
Title: "Walther: The Theologian For Lay People"
By Rev. Robin Fish
Walther is the Theologian for the Layman chiefly because he held to the absolute truth
of the Word of God without swerving to the right or to the left, and without
accommodations with the aim that things be more palatable for clergy or laity. He held to
the truth for the sake of salvation and joy and peace -- his and the members of his
congregation and of the Synod. He confidently trusted the power of the Word to change
men's hearts, and to guide the course of the church, and to persuade the child of God
without human contrivance or authority.
Title: "Excommunication: By the Pastor, Board of
Directors, or Voters' Assembly"
By Rev. Martin Kiesel
"...when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine
command..." (Small Catechism). The greatest responsibility that the Lord has given
his church is the power to forgive or retain sins (The Office of the Keys). C.F.W. Walther
unabashedly posited that this power is to be exercised by the congregation. He was led by
Scripture to regard this as such power that only a unanimous vote of a congregation could
accomplish Gods purpose. This view has been held by the LC-MS since its earliest
days. Now some would usurp this authority and delegate it to a select few or to one (the
pastor). God knows that our sinful human nature leads to "absolute power corrupting
absolutely", and it is for this very reason that one is only a pastor when called by
a congregation, and is only dealing rightly when it is done by His divine command!
Excommunication is not to be used to further an agenda or remove a few
"alligators" from a congregation. It is truly a matter of eternal life or
eternal death. We return to the admonitions of Holy Scriptures and the Confessions when we
follow Walthers "Church and Ministry". May our Synod be ever so faithful!
Title: "Will the Real LCMS Pastor Please Stand
By Rev. Donald G. Matzat
"I believe this crisis over our Doctrines of Church and Ministry is understandable
and was even predictable. In the forties and fifties, with our experience of numerical
growth, we became complacent. We did not adequately teach the people. Now we are reaping
the results. A wake-up call is being sounded to the members of our congregations. They
need to ask themselves some questions. Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going?
How are we going to get there? This is not about pastors, theologians, and District
Presidents and Synodical officials. This is about the people in the pews. This is not
merely a discussion of abstract theological concepts. The issue is our future mission,
ministry, and growth as we move into the next millennium."
Title: "Church Discipline in the LCMS: If Walther
By Rev. William Otten
Otten will cover a list of issues that currently confront the Synod such as
justification, law and Gospel, inerrancy, evolution, Messianic prophecy, Bible
translation, Masonry, bureaucracy, communism, family and divorce, persecuted Christians,
youth, and the current direction of the Concordia University System. Otten will also seek
answers as to whom Walther would propose as leaders today; what should be salaries of
those holding offices in the Synod; and who should be honored in the Synod?
Biography: Rev. Jack R. Baumgarn
Rev. Jack R. Baumgarn was born and raised in southwestern Minnesota. After attending
Mankato State College, he attended Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield,
Illinois. His first call was to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Osceola, Iowa. While he was
there, a new church was built and a new mission started twenty miles south in Leon, Iowa.
He was then called to Faith Lutheran Church in Oakville, Missouri, and started a mission
church off that congregation - Pastor Baumgarn has been at Trinity Lutheran Church in St.
Francis for 21 years.
In District and Synod work, he was Dean of a district high school camp for eight years,
Chairman of Synod's Youth Board for ten years, and Vice-President of a district for six
years. He received the Servus Ecclesiae Christi Award from the Fort Wayne Seminary in 1981
and presently serves on the Board of Regents at Concordia Theological Seminary at Fort
Rev. Baumgarn has spoken at LLL and LWML gatherings and for other groups in the areas
of evangelism, youth work, Satanism, etc. He recently served on the Synods
"150th Anniversary Committee" and the "Church Growth Study Committee".
His family is made up of his wife, Carol, who teaches in Trinitys Christian
school, and their four boys, of which the oldest is married with two children and
attending the seminary at Ft. Wayne, the second is married with four children and is the
Associate Pastor at Trinity in St. Francis, the third son is the Art Director and layout
person for Good News magazine, and the fourth son works in Minneapolis directing group
Biography: Rev. William Bischoff
The Rev. William Bischoff, shapen in iniquity, was born into this world of sin on June
28, 1932. By the grace and mercy of God he was then reborn from above and entered the
Kingdom of God through the waters of Holy Baptism at Our Savior Lutheran Church, Long
Island, NY. He then began his dangerous journey through this life, following wherever God
In 1946 he enrolled in high school at Concordia, Bronxville, NY to study for the holy
ministry. Six years later he graduated from Concordia College and entered Concordia
Seminary in St. Louis. While at the seminary he met his life-long helpmeet, Louise Joyce
Ellerbrock. In l956 they were united in holy marriage. In 1956 he was called to be pastor
at Faith in Sebring, Florida. Two years later he accepted the call to Bethany, Elmhurst,
Queens, NY. In l962 he was bedridden with a seemingly terminal illness. He applied for
entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven and his application was validated through the
cleansing blood of Christ. However, the termination date was indefinitely postponed when
God miraculously intervened and transferred him to St. Louis for further service in His
Kingdom here on earth.
In July, 1964, he resigned from the Missouri Synod in protest against the false
doctrine taught at the seminary in St. Louis and elsewhere in synod. Shortly thereafter he
helped organize an independent Lutheran congregation in Bridgeton, Missouri, and was
called to serve as their pastor. That same year Trinity and her pastor joined a Federation
of former Missouri Synod congregations - The Lutheran Churches of the Reformation. In
1975, after the purging of false doctrine from the St. Louis seminary, at the urging of
Dr. Jack Preus, Pastor Bischoff rejoined the Missouri Synod. In l976 Trinity congregation
also joined the synod. After 33 years of service at Trinity, Pastor Bischoff retired in
1997. He is currently serving as interim preacher and Bible Class teacher at Hope, St.
Ann, until the recovery of their pastor, Neil Schmidt, who suffered a stroke in September.
As God supplies the grace, he plans to continue his journey through this earthly life,
following wherever God leads, until this dangerous earthly journey culminates with
entrance into the everlasting joys of heaven.
Biography: Rev. Thomas W. Bye
Thomas W. Bye, B.A., Bradley University, History; MDiv FTW 1981, Pastor at Good
Shepherd Lutheran Church - South Wis. Dist. for 17 years. Member, Board of Directors, SWD,
for 9 years; Secretary of the SWD Dept. Of Missions, Chairman, Campus Committee.
Biography: Rev. J. M. Cascione
Rev. J. M. Cascione, born 1947, is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, 30003
Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores, Michigan. A native of New York City, Cascione graduated
from Martin Luther High School in 1965, Concordia Bronxville, in 1967, Concordia
Teachers College, Seward, Nebraska in 1969, earned Master of Fine Arts in 1973 from
Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, and a Master of Divinity from Concordia
Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Rev. Cascione taught at Lutheran High Schools
in St. Louis and Detroit for five years. He was an Assistant Professor at Southern Indiana
State for three years, worked in advertising, served as Director of Seminary Relations at
Fort Wayne for three years under President Robert Preus, and has served in the parish
ministry of the LCMS for the past 18 years. He is the author of "In Search of the
Biblical Order", "Reclaiming the Gospel in the LCMS" and numerous articles.
He and his wife Virginia, married in 1969, have four children.
Biography: Dr. Anne Driessnack
Dr. Driessnack was born on the Walther League birthday in May, 1929.
She received her ED.D from Columbia University, New York. She has taught at Bronxville
Prep School and Junior College, as well as Concordia University in River Forest. At River
Forest she developed a Masters Program in reading. At River Forest, Dr. Anne taught
"Teaching the Faith", which included lessons on Dr. Walther.
Biography: Rev. Robin Fish
Rev. Robin Fish is a 1980 graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne. His
life's passion is proclaiming the Gospel in his parish, but his hobbies include studying
Walther, writing Systematic theology in terms laymen can use and understand, and serving
as the pagemaster for the Confessional Lutheran Web Page. He has served parishes in
Nebraska and Minnesota before coming to Peace Lutheran Church in Greenview, Missouri just
this past August. He has published several articles on Creationism and Pro-Life issues,
and served for a time on the staff and on the Board of Directors of the Bible Science
Association. He was a speaker at the 10th Annual Lutheran Free Conference in St. Cloud,
MN, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Confessional
Lutherans. Pastor Fish and his wife Cheryl have two sons. His older son, Robin Jr., is
completing his final year at the Seminary in Ft. Wayne, and his younger son, Ryan, is a
telecommunications professional living with his wife in Minnesota.
Biography: Rev. Martin Kiesel
Rev. Martin Kiesel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1950. His formative years
were spent in the area of his birth, attending St. Matthews Lutheran Church in
Philadelphia. He was blessed for his entire youth to have the Rev. Martin A. Berner (a
1917 St. Louis graduate) as his pastor. Rev. Berner instilled a love for the Lord in
Martin as well as a burning desire to stand firmly on the truth of Gods Holy Word.
Rev. Kiesel graduated Concordia College at Bronxville in 1971 and Concordia Senior
College in 1973. He completed his primary Seminary training and received his M.Div. from
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1979. From 1979 until 1990 he served as pastor of Zion
Lutheran Church in Hillsboro, MO. Since 1990 he has served as the pastor of St.
Johns Lutheran Church in Waterbury, CT.
Rev. Kiesel has held a number of positions in Synod and District. He was a regional
coordinator for His Love - Our Response, as well as Alive in Christ. He served two terms
as Circuit Counselor. He has been active as a member of the Board of Directors for a local
Birthright, and very supportive of Lutherans For Life. He currently serves on his district
Finance Committee, Conference Committee, and is the Lutheran Laymans League district
advisor. He is also on the Board of Directors for the National Evangelical Lutheran
Biography: Donald G. Matzat
Graduated St. Louis, 1965 (M.Div.). Served congregations in Southern Indiana, Michigan,
New York and St. Louis. Hosted "Issues, Etc." on KFUO from 1993-1998. Received
honorary D.D. from Fort Wayne in May of 1998. Essayist at Synodical convention in July of
1998. Moved to Pittsburgh in December of 1998 to host three-hour daily program on WORD FM,
a station of the Salem Network. I continue to host the "Issues, Etc." Sunday
night national program heard on 90 stations.
Biography: Rev. Herman Otten
Rev. Herman Otten was born 3/3/33 in Bronx, New York. He attended public grade schools.
He went to Concordia Bronxville Prep School and Junior College, and graduated with an AA
in 1952. He graduated from the St. Louis Seminary in 1957 with an M.Div. and received a
Masters in History from Washington U. that same week. He earned an STM from the St. Louis
Seminary 1958. He was not able to complete his Th.d. He did graduate work at Columbia
University and the University of Rochester. He played for the Triple A farm team of the
St. Louis Cardinals, the Rochester Red Wings, in 1955. He is the only man age 65 or older
to finish the "Great Floridian Iron Man" where he has taken three firsts and one
second in his age group. He has served as the Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church for 42
years and the editor of "Christian News" for 37 years. He is the editor of
"An American Translation" of the Bible, the author of "Baal or God",
and various other publications. He has lectured and debated widely. He is the only man
banned from speaking at all LCMS Colleges and Seminaries. He married the former Grace
Anderson, a graduate from Valparaiso with an earned degree as a Deaconess. They have seven