I predict that Tuesday, March 18, 2008, will go down in the history of my church body--the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod--as one of two things: either a wake-up call and rallying cry for the confessional wing of the church, leading to a more organized and concerted effort to take back their church; or the day the co-opting powers-that-be kicked off their final battle in the war for this denomination.
For those of my readers who know not of what I speak, here's the short version: yesterday, the incredibly popular and long-standing Lutheran call-in talk radio program Issues, Etc. was pulled off the air with no opportunity to say good-bye to their listeners and no notice or reason given, and the show's host and producer (Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz, respectively) summarily fired. (If you are not familiar with Issues, Etc. and would like to read more about the program, see their listing in my sidebar under "Labels.") I first heard of this travesty early yesterday afternoon. As I repeatedly tried to access the Issues, Etc. website, I felt like I was looking at Alice's Cheshire Cat. First the link to the KFUO station which broadcasts the program quit working. In short order the archives disappeared. Then the pictures on the site were gone. Then finally, there was only a white screen with a short but devastating message: "Issues, Etc. is no longer available."
Questions come to mind. What kind of synod do we belong to, that would treat its own in this way, firing two faithful workers with families during Holy Week, no less? Where's the consideration for the myriad listeners of the program, for whom it is a regular part of their day or week? What does this action say to them regarding how they are esteemed (or not) by their church body? And what does it say about the value our synod places on spreading the pure Gospel to the churched and unchurched alike? Because if ever a program did that, surely this one did. Within my own congregation there are several members for whom Issues, Etc. played an integral role in bringing them to faith in Christ and specifically to my church.
This narrative--a tragedy of epic proportions--has only just begun. I believe the implications and repercussions will echo throughout my church body for months and years to come. If you are so inclined, please pray for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod--that God would protect it from those who would sacrifice it to their own purposes--and please pray for the Wilken and Schwarz families, that they would be sustained not only by their Lord but by their friends and supporters through this blackest of times.
Finally, if you want to help, gifts of support may sent to St. Paul Lutheran Church, Box 247, Hamel, IL 62046. Be sure to mark your contribution for the Wilken/Schwarz Fund. And for information on where you can register your disapproval of this act, watch the short video below.