- 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
- 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.
- 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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