Reporter asked the five nominees for LCMS president to answer in writing a series of questions related to issues facing the Synod, including some that will come before next month’s Synod convention.
Here are their answers:
Question 1. Ablaze!, reflected in the theme of this year’s Synod convention, is LCMS World Mission’s initiative, in collaboration with mission partners worldwide, to reach 100 million unreached or uncommitted people with the Gospel by 2017. What is your opinion of Ablaze!, and what as Synod president would you do, if anything, to contribute to this effort?
Dr. William R. Diekelman, 57, is president of the Synod’s Oklahoma District and pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Owasso, Okla.
Diekelman (1): Ablaze! What a wonderful image! It will help to regain the evangelical priority of our Synod. With my prayers and financial offering, I support this modern-day Pentecost initiative. As a husband, father, grandfather, pastor and district president, I have established my life’s priorities around reaching the lost. Ablaze! is more than a fad or slogan; it will help us organize and mobilize the LCMS to witness to 100 million people worldwide about the love God has for the world in Jesus Christ. We cannot be distracted from this vital work. As Synod president, I would give my most passionate leadership to vigorously reaching the lost.
Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, 61, is president of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
Kieschnick (1): My first response to Ablaze! was curiosity about definitions and accountability. That curiosity was rapidly replaced with excitement about hundreds of thousands of Lutheran Christians being invited, encouraged and equipped to share their faith and hope in Jesus with non-Christian people.
Our Synod has a wonderful history in foreign missions! Yet the past three decades have been quite challenging. I believe Ablaze! is the spark that will bring renewed focus and passion for mission!
As President I will continue to support in every way this challenging endeavor to ignite global expansion of the kingdom of God — the One Mission to which Christ has called us!
Dr. Kurt E. Marquart, 69, is associate professor of systematic theology at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.
Marquart (1): At Pentecost the Apostles did not plan to win 3,000 converts. They simply proclaimed the Gospel and the Lord did the rest. Frankly, I am not impressed with the stress on quantity rather than quality. So now fast-growing congregations are to “mentor” others — without regard, apparently, to the doctrinal soundness of the growth process! True mission must be based unconditionally on the integrity of the Gospel message. Truth must come first (John 8:31, 32). Our president must see to it that the precious Gospel truth is published throughout the world without loss or compromise on our part.
Rev. Daniel Preus, 55, is first vice president of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
Preus (1): The Board for Mission Services’ Ablaze! initiative proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Savior apart from whom we have no hope. As we consider the most effective way to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus, I will continue supporting our Synod in every way possible in its confession of two essential truths:
- The message points to Jesus as the Son of God who took our place under the Law. He bore our guilt and sin. He suffered our punishment and death and rose to life that we might be forgiven completely. Through faith in Him we become God’s children and heirs of everlasting life.
- The mission is to bring this message to as many as possible. We will also need to work together to bring the people we reach into our congregations where they can be baptized, confirmed and fed with the Word of God on a regular basis.
Dr. Dean O. Wenthe, 59, is president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.
Wenthe (1): A primary calling of every Christian is to let the light of Christ shine forth in their words and actions. God has made us light by joining us to Christ’s death and resurrection in the gift of Holy Baptism. His light shines brightly as the Gospel is proclaimed, His name confessed, and His Holy Word followed.
In a culture where darkness reduces people to mere consumers of products or entertainment, Christ’s light frees humanity from the confining categories of materialism and consumerism that lead only to death. Laity and clergy should daily be renewed in their baptismal vocation and delight in sharing the name of the Lord and His wonderful gift of forgiveness and light. As Dr. Alvin Barry so succinctly put it: “Keep the message straight, Missouri; get the message out, Missouri.” I am confident that Dr. Robert Roegner and the leadership of Ablaze! will labor with creativity and dedication to make this mission effort a clear and faithful exposition of the saving Gospel of Christ for all the world.
Question 2. For well more than a decade, funding has declined from congregations through the districts for the national and international work of the Synod. The missionary corps, Synod staff and subsidies for our colleges, universities and seminaries are among budget items that have seen significant cuts as a result. As we enter this year’s convention, there is no single proposal for addressing the way we fund what we do together as a Synod. How would you address this funding issue?
Diekelman (2): We need to thank God for the faithful in the LCMS who, Sunday after Sunday, bring their offerings to the Lord for the work of His church. Their sacrificial dollars flow through the congregational budget, into the district and finally to the Synod for national and international work. While we still rely on the regular offerings of individuals within the LCMS as a primary funding source, new patterns of dir