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ELCA seminarian chosen to serve as music director for
Pre-Synodical Convention Pentecost 2000 + & "Ablaze" events
On July 9-10, 2004, immediately preceding the opening of the Synodical Convention an event called "One People--Many Faces" will take place at the America's Center in St. Louis.
The Synodical Convention will begin later the same day. According to the website for the Center for Asian Missions and Evangelism this event is a "special celebration extravaganza" designed to kick off the Synodical Convention and launch President Kieschnick's "Ablaze" effort.
"The P2K+ Celebration Steering Committee members include Rev. John Nunes of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Dallas, TX., Rev. Dr. Robert Scudieri of LCMS World Mission, Jane Schmotzer of Lutheran Hour Ministries and Jotham Johann Jhang, who serves as the committee’s Chairman. Rev. Eric Henstenberg (music), Phil Hohle (video), Rev. Al Buckman (learnings research), and Rev. Glenn Lucas (stage direction) are assisting."
          [NOTE:  Since the original posting of the above, the line "Rev. Eric Henstenberg (music)" has been removed without explanation.]
It is noteworthy that Mr. Eric Henstenberg (he is not actually ordained, though perhaps this was just an innocent clerical mistake) is an ELCA seminary student attending the Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest (LSPS) in Austin, TX, which is a program of Wartburg Theological Seminary and Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He is seeking to complete his Master of Divinity degree.
A newsletter of the LSPS notes that Mr. Henstenberg is a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Arlington and is a transfer student from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.
Source: (p.3)
According to the ELCA website, however, there is no ELCA congregation by that name in Arlington, Dallas, or Fort Worth (27 total ELCA congregations).
There are no LCMS churches in Arlington by the name of St. Paul, but there is one in Fort Worth and one in Dallas, where Rev. John Nunes, a member of the CTCR, is pastor. Pastor Nunes is also listed as a member on the Steering Committee for the same event.

Even though the LSPS program lists him as a member of St. Paul's in Arlington, according to the LCMS Director of Public Affairs, Mr. David Strand, Henstenberg is a member of Christ Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Albany, NY.

Less than two years ago, Mr. Henstenberg was placed by Concordia Seminary in St. Louis as a vicar at Grace Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Arlington, TX (Spring, 2002) Apparently he began studies at an ELCA seminary sometime during/after his vicarage year.
Immediately following the upcoming LCMS Convention, Mr. Henstenberg is slated to be a speaker at a continuing education event sponsored by the Northern Texas - Northern Louisiana Synod of the ELCA.
It is significant that leaders of our Synod invited an ELCA seminary student to be a member of an official LCMS steering committee formed for the purpose of promoting the Pentecost 2000 + and Ablaze efforts, not to mention the "launching" of an LCMS Convention.

As a tragic footnote to this story, in early February, Mr. Henstenberg was arrested on the charges of arson and homicide in the death of a member of Grace Lutheran Church in Arlington. The greatest tragedy, of course, is the loss of life of this LCMS laywoman, for which great sensitivity is required. While I did not originally post this information, for the sake of completeness, here are several links to these news media reports:

It is important to realize that the tragic murder of a laywoman and the allegations made towards this ELCA seminary student are not among the issues facing us in the LCMS. The main issue, as far as we are concerned, is what took place long before the tragedy of recent days unfolded. The root of the issue is why a seminarian who left the LCMS during his vicarage year and transferred to an ELCA seminary, was nonetheless chosen by those planning these Pre-Convention events to play a key role in St. Louis in the first place.

According to Mr. Strand: "President Kieschnick does not know Mr. Henstenberg; President Kieschnick has never met Mr. Henstenberg; and President Kieschnick had nothing whatsoever to do with asking, appointing or approving Mr. Henstenberg to help with the "P2K+" celebration."

Rather, Mr. Henstenberg was asked to participate directly by the P2K+ committee. According to Mr. Strand: "Rev. Robert Scudieri, a member of the "P2K+" celebration's steering committee, became aware of Mr. Henstenberg and his talents while guest preaching at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Dallas. Mr. Henstenberg was serving as St. Paul's music director at the time. When Rev. Scudieri asked St. Paul's pastor, Rev. John Nunes, to consider serving on the "P2K+" steering committee, Rev. Nunes suggested that Mr. Henstenberg be considered as an accompanist or participant in some fashion at the "P2K+" celebration. Rev. Scudieri agreed."

All of the above raises countless questions:
*  Why do we need an ELCA seminarian helping us put on an officially sanctioned LCMS event?
*  Regardless of the reasons that Mr. Henstenberg left the St. Louis seminary to go to an ELCA seminary program, do we not have resources available to us within the LCMS, and especially in St. Louis, to provide musical direction for an LCMS event?
*  One of the reasons that our synodical conventions are held in St. Louis is precisely because of the wealth of resources immediately available, not to mention the need to cut down on expenses. Could a music director for such an event not be found among those involved with our LCMS Commission on Worship and the St. Louis seminary community, not to mention the numerous churches within the greater St. Louis metro area?
*  It bears repeating. Why do those involved in coordinating and planning the launching of President Kieschnick's "Ablaze" program immediately before the beginning of the Synodical Convention, need the help of anyone who is an ELCA seminary student?


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