The Removal of Pastor Jerry:
Pastor Jerome Cascione was removed from his position as the pastor of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Milton, Washington on Ascension Day, May 9, 2002. The Voters' of Beautiful Savior, voted 29 to 10 to remove him from office after Rev. William Pottoff, recently retired after 38 years of service to the congregation, called the question.
When members of the congregation complained there was not enough time for such as serious matter to be decided in only three hours, a motion was made by the Chairman of the Education Committee and seconded to continue to the meeting another day. Pastor Potthof tried to call the question while the first motion was being made. He was over ruled and then the motion failed. Pastor Potthof again called the question, ending any more discussion. There was a lot of support among members of the congregation who were present at the meeting. Unfortunately, they were not voters.
Pastor Jerry, age 26, received his call to the Beautiful Savior as an associate pastor while at Fort Wayne in May of 200. He was ordained at Beautiful Savior on August 26, 2002. Pastor Douglas Good, the senior pastor, accepted the call to Our Savior in 2000.
Pastor Pottoff was stone faced at the ordination and was the only pastor out of a dozen who did not quote a Bible passage during the ordination ceremony. He placed his hands on Pastor Jerry and said, "Love the people."
After his first sermon, Pastor Pottoff announced to whomever would listen in the narthex that Pastor Jerry could not preach or teach. At that time Pastor Jerry had not yet taught a Bible class. Within a few weeks of his ordination Pastor Pottoff announced to members of the congregation that Pastor Jerry's ordination was invalid.
On Good Friday March 21, 2002, the Chairman of the Elders sent a copy of a nine-point action plan to remove pastor Jerry written by Pastor Good to all the elders by email. All of the Elders agreed with the plan. The Head Elder made the mistake of also sending a copy of their secret plan to remove him, to Pastor Jerry.
After praising his preaching and teaching, Pastor Good wrote the following nine points as the reasons for discussing problems with Pastor Jerry leading services and if necessary, Pastor Jerry's eventual removal from office. Pastor Good also wrote that the Elders should not tell Pastor Jerry what he had written. A summary of the nine points is as follows:
After receiving the nine-point action plan by mistake, Pastor Jerry mailed it to the Voters' Assembly along with his rebuttal. The Elders' met with the two retired Pastors and the two church secretaries and immediately suspended Pastor Jerry from all duties on April 12, 2002. Two retired Pastors in the Congregation, Rev. Pottoff and Rev. Gieck told the elders they were in favor of Pastor Jerry's removal. Pastor Gieck, another retired pastor in the congregation, stated that Pastor Jerry's use of Law and Gospel in his preaching was deficient and he should be using "Goal, Malady, Means."
When Pastor Jerry complained that only the voters could remove him from preaching and teaching, Pastor Good announced that the Synod's Attorney in St. Louis told him that in case of an emergency the Board of Elders of an LCMS congregation could suspend a pastor from his duties.
In a private meeting with the Circuit Counselor Rev. Ted Werfelmann, North West District President Warren Schumacher, and a North West District Executive, Pastor Jerry was informed how unfair all of this was and that that he should resign. When Pastor Jerry stated that he wanted to leave the decision to the Voters' Assembly, Schumacher told him that he was appealing to Caesar, the same mistake made by the Apostle Paul. Schumacher believes that the District and the Board of Elders are "Church" but that the congregational Voters' Assembly is "State" and thus an appeal to Caesar.
An hour later the four men above met with the Elders and Pastor Good. During the meeting Schumacher told the Board of Elders that their nine-point action plan was valid grounds to remove Pastor Jerry. He also told them that Pastor Jerry was holding the congregation hostage by requesting a vote. Schumacher said Pastor Jerry was guilty of "scaring sheep" according to Ezekiel 34: 1-8.
The President of the Congregation took the District President's advice, and on May 9, 2002 he used "scaring sheep" as one of the charges to remove Pastor Jerry. The District President told the Elders that Pastor Jerry was appealing to Caesar by asking for a vote. During this meeting Pastor Jerry learned there was a large file of secret accusations, which he was never allowed to see, and a log written by the church secretaries. They kept a daily log of reasons why they felt he should be removed from the time he arrived.
At the Voters' Meeting on May 9, 2002, Pastor Jerry brought his lawyer to take notes and write a report about what happened in the meeting. In addition to the original nine point action plan the Elders presented the congregational President with a new secret list of charges that the President refused to distribute to the Voters or Pastor Jerry. However, some of the charges were read out loud including the following:
Pastor Jerry's lawyer is not a Lutheran. In his report he does not evaluate the validly of the doctrinal issues. For example; removing a pastor from office for neglecting to place a veil over the elements after a Communion may be a valid charge in the LCMS.
However, his lawyer was appalled that pastor Jerry was not given opportunity to view the charges against him before the Voters' Meeting; nor was he given a copy of the charges after the meeting; nor was he allowed to ask for evidence; nor was he allowed to ask questions or refute false statements, nor was he allowed to question anyone who spoke against him, nor was he given opportunity to speak against each of the issues as they were presented.
During the three-hour meeting he was only allowed one brief statement. He also passed out a written statement to the Voters. None of the voters or some 75 visitors from the congregation were permitted to question Pastor Good, Pastor Potthof, or the Elders.
When the Chairman of the Trustees tried to address the secretaries undermining Pastor Jerry, he was yelled down by one of the secretaries, and the President of the Congregation over ruled the Trustee.
Pastor Jerry was voted out of office 29 to 10. He was given ten days to vacate the parsonage, in other words, be out by Pentecost. Washington State law requires 30 days for evictions. He was given $1000.00 for moving expenses but it cost the congregation $2,700.00 to move him to Washington. He was also given $2,200.00 as one month's severance pay.
The Circuit Counselor was present at the Voters' Meeting and agreed that the entire proceedings in the removal of Pastor Jerry were correct.
The Voters were the one's who actually removed Pastor Jerry but the District President, Circuit Counselor, Senior Pastor, and two retired pastors in the congregation, a third pastor without a call, encouraged the Voters' to remove Pastor Jerry. Rare is the removal of a pastor by a Voters' Assembly that has not been encouraged by other LCMS pastors and the District President.
The District President asked to meet with Pastor Jerry the next day, Friday, May 10, 2002. District President Schumacher told Pastor Jerry that he would encourage the congregation to keep him in the parsonage another three months. This never took place.
The District President also told Pastor Jerry that the District would continue to pick up his medical coverage for another three months. This also did not take place.
The District President had pastor Jerry sign papers that were supposed to give him CRM status for three years. Pastor Jerry has since been in formed that there is now no such thing as CRM status in the LCMS. At this time Pastor Jerry has no idea what his real status is in the LCMS nor is he aware of what the District President actually had him sign.
All of the documents referenced in this article, including the lawyer's report and pastor's Jerry's rebuttals and written statement to the Voters' may be viewed on: www.concordtx.org or just click on http://concordtx.org/msnews/jero.htm
Pastor Jerry is the guest preacher at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in North Zulch, Texas, 80 miles north of Houston on June 2, 2002.
He can be contacted through Pastor Al Loeschmann in North Zulch at 936-399-4001.
Pastor Jerry can also be reached at has email address: Jerome52172@cs.com
Pastor Loeschmann has heard pastor Jerry preach and is impressed with his abilities. Pastor Jerry also received an excellent rating on his vicarage report from his supervisor in Greenwich Connecticut, who has had 25 vicars.
May 31, 2002