LCMS Ignores Request To Follow Congregational Constitutions

By: Rev. Jack Cascione

Redeemer Lutheran Church of St. Clair Shores, Michigan, declared its independence from the LCMS on September 13, 2004 in letters addressed to the District and Synodical Presidents.

Redeemer also wrote that it would seek readmission to the LCMS if the Synod agrees to acknowledge and to follow "proper channels" in LCMS congregational constitutions.

On May 20-24/2004, the LCMS Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) exempt the Council of District Presidents (COP) from following
congregational constitutions when the CCM wrote:

"The Bylaws do not define the term 'proper channels' and thus the procedure
to be used in the investigation is chosen by the District President or his
representative and does not necessarily require the initial contact or
meeting to be with any particular person or group."

Redeemer requested that the COP reject the CCM opinion and asked that the Synodical President and the COP agree that:

". . . all LCMS congregations' constitutions, elected officers, elected
boards, voters' assemblies, and pastors are the only proper channels through
which the Synod, District, and Circuit Counselor will communicate to, or
confer with member congregations, or exercise the Synod's authority as
stated in the 2001 Handbook."

Supposedly, Article VII of the LCMS Constitution guarantees:

"In its relations to its members the Synod is not an ecclesiastical
government exercising legislative or coercive powers, and with respect to
the individual congregation's right of self-government it is but an advisory

In a certified letter received on November 1, 2004, President William
Hoesman, Michigan District President and Chairman of the COP wrote to
Redeemer as follows:

October 26, 2004

Redeemer Lutheran Church
c/o Mr. Robert Linsdeau, President
30003 Jefferson Avenue
St. Clair Shores, MI 48082

Dear Members of Redeemer:

Greeting in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter of September 13, 2004 with the
information of your decision to resign as a member congregation of the
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. In accord with your notification, Redeemer Lutheran Church has been removed from the roster of congregations of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Please know that, should you desire to apply for readmission to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod at a future date, a representative of the Michigan District of the LCMS would be available to meet with you.  Synodical bylaws 2.01 and 2.03 of the 2001 LCMS Handbook reference this process.

May God grant you His peace in your lives of faith.

Sincerely in Christ,

Rev. C. William Hoesman, President
The Michigan District, LC-MS

In its reply to Redeemer, the Chairman of the COP refuses to acknowledge the existence of CCM ruling 267 04-2387.  He refuses to respond to Redeemer's concerns that:

"This ruling [May 20-24, 2004, CCM 267 04-2387] jeopardizes a congregation's ownership of church property; voids LCMS congregational constitutions; disenfranchises a congregation's proper channels, due process, offices, and officers; places the congregation under the authority of the Synod; and exposes the congregation to the whims of a cavalier synodical

Hundreds of conservatives who met in Chicago on October 21-23 did not even consider the fact that as they raised theological concerns about the 2004 LCMS Convention, the CCM has made is possible for District Presidents to ignore congregational constitutions.

The only point Hoseman made in his letter to Redeemer is that congregations
should follow the bylaws.  He would not even reference any point in
Redeemer's letter about Districts following congregational constitutions.

The conservatives in Chicago did the COP the favor of identifying who they
are.  These so-called conservatives talk theology while the COP talks about
bylaws and now has carte blanche from the CCM to do as they please.

By not informing their congregations of synodical issues and trying to
eliminate voters supremacy in their own congregations many "conservatives"
have not left themselves any means of retreat.

Without the practice of Walther's "Church and Ministry," these conservative
pastors must now deal with a Synod without the protection of their
congregational constitutions.

They have made themselves an easier target for Kieschnick and the COP than shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel.



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