They said in a certified letter that they removed me as a persistent errorist because in those letters I publicly disagreed with Pastor Glende and the Northern Wisconsin District Presidium on three doctrinal issues:
I said that plagiarism was a sin, and that Pastor Glende was guilty of plagiarism.
I said that God does not need our service: in other words, the means of grace are sufficient.
I said that in the light of faith Christians cannot choose to believe God’s Word: in other words, from beginning to end, faith is 100% the gift of God.
Because I believed that these positions were not doctrinal error, I appealed. However, the Northern Wisconsin District Appeal Board denied my appeal without explanation. (Because the Appeal Board’s written decision contained no explanation, I believe their decision was based on politics, not principle). Now, I have three choices:
Sin against my conscience by renouncing the above true Christian doctrine, and then presumably rejoin St. Peter Congregation.
Refuse to publicly recant the true Christian doctrine, and remain excluded from the WELS forever. (The WELS Constitution §§ 8.30(c) and 8.50(e) would forbid my return).
Disregard the District Appeal Board’s ruling and the WELS Constitution (§§ 8.30(c) and 8.50(e)), and continue indefinitely in triangular fellowship with other WELS congregations who agree with me in doctrine. (Currently, this is where I am).
In summary, the leadership of St. Peter Congregation terminated my fellowship with the WELS because I questioned the methodology and doctrine of Pastors Glende and Skorzewski and the Northern Wisconsin District Presidium’s defense of their false doctrine and practice.
I did my best to resolve these issues in a brotherly way by spending years attempting to meet privately, and then after years of private effort, by ultimately bringing these concerns to the Church. In return, the leadership of St. Peter Congregation terminated my fellowship with the WELS as a persistent errorist.
On April 11, 2011 St. Peter congregation terminated my fellowship with the WELS as a persistent errorist, and also removed my brother from membership in the congregation. (Minutes from April 11, 2011 meeting. As part of this citation, I need to say that my dad gave me the minutes from this meeting. This needs to be said because other members of St. Peter have expressed concern that Pastor Glende will call them in to question them about where I got a copy of these minutes, and I want to spare them additional church discipline).
Since my fellowship with the WELS was terminated wrongfully, I appealed. On June 23, 2011, I received the following letter:
June 17, 2011
Dear Mr. Techlin,
We thank you for the material you provided to our Board of Appeals and for the time you spent with us. After prayerfully considering the evidence in the matter of your appeal, we, the members of the Northern Wisconsin District Board of Appeals have determined that St. Peter Lutheran congregation had Scriptural reasons for removing you from membership and, in doing so, acted in the spirit of Christian love. We are therefore, denying your appeal.
We commend you to the care of our gracious God, trusting that he will be at work in you “… to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
Pastor David Wenzel
NWD Board of Appeals
It is hard to accept this because the Board of Appeals offered no reasons to support their decision. Left unanswered are the following questions:
What are the “Scriptural reasons” for my termination of fellowship?
Of what false doctrine am I guilty?
Of what do I need to repent before I can commune?
In order to commune, am I supposed to say that God needs our service? Am I supposed to say that Christians can choose to believe God’s Word? Am I supposed to say that the deceit and false doctrine involved with plagiarizing false teachers is not a sin?
How can an ambush termination of fellowship be construed as acting “in the spirit of Christian love”? Where am I supposed to receive the Lord’s Supper? What denomination am I supposed to join? Am I supposed to become an unaffiliated lone Lutheran Christian who never communes? Or should I join a denomination that actually serves the Lord’s Supper more than twice a month, and just forget about agreeing with anyone on doctrine?
The Board of Appeals was supposed to determine “whether the process leading to the disciplinary action and the doctrinal basis of the disciplinary action were scriptural.” (WELS Constitution, Section 8.50; Appeals by Laypersons. Emphasis added). However, the Board of Appeals told me they were not going to consider the doctrine. They told me that the District Presidium was in charge of doctrine, not them. So whatever the District President said the doctrine was, the Board of Appeals was going to agree with him. Therefore, since my doctrinal disagreement was not only with Pastors Glende and Skorzewski, but also with District President Engelbrecht, by the rules of this appeal, I had no chance to win on the doctrine.
Furthermore, I have no idea how the Board of Appeals ruled against me on procedure. I had no notice that St. Peter congregation was going to terminate my fellowship with the WELS. I had no opportunity to speak on my own behalf and defend myself. I had no opportunity to face my accusers and answer their charges directly. They still have not told me of what false doctrine I am supposed to be guilty. Procedurally, I was treated worse than our secular society treats accused criminals.
As part of the appeal, I was still not allowed to face my accusers, and no pastors were allowed to help me or speak on my behalf, even though I had numerous WELS pastors who were willing to help.
All the accusations made against me were made behind my back, and I was given no chance to understand the charges or to directly confront my accusers face to face. This is not how a church should operate.
This fact remains: I caught Pastor Glende red-handed in the sin of plagiarism: he was plagiarizing false teachers. I documented the evidence, and followed every procedure that was required of me. As a result, Pastor Glende received no discipline, and I had my fellowship in the WELS terminated as a persistent errorist (without an allegation of a specific error). Again I ask: what is my doctrinal error?
For now, I belong to no earthly congregation. Still, I am grateful to the WELS pastors who have told me that they will continue to commune me until District President Engelbrecht satisfactorily explains to them why I am guilty of false doctrine and why I should be excluded from their fellowship.
Shepherds are supposed to defend the sheep, not kill them. (John 10:1-19).
The Intrepid Lutherans have publicly rebuked WELS Pastors Skorzewski and Jeske in a post entitled: “Dear Pastors Jeske and Ski: You are clearly in the wrong.” This rebuke is based on Skorzewski’s and Jeske’s planned participation in an upcoming seminar entitled “Change or die.” The Intrepid Lutherans publicly declared Pastors Skorzewski and Jeske to be wrong for two reasons.
First, the “change or die” theology is false:
The stated premise of the “Change or Die” conference is that, if a congregation properly “changes” its methodologies and image, then it will “live” in the sense of having enough members and financial resources to continue to function and grow. If a congregation fails to “change” its methodologies and image, then it will “die” in the sense of the congregation being forced to close its doors for lack of members and money.
This teaching does not come from the Lord Jesus… It is Christ alone who builds His Church, not by man’s changes, but through the power of his Gospel alone, by means of the Keys given to His Church…
“Change or die” stems from what Luther calls a “theology of glory.” The concept comes, not from the Scriptures, but from deceivers – false teachers and Church Growth promoters like Baptist minister Rick Warren …
Since the premise of the “Change or Die” conference is false and promotes a false theology, [Pastors Jeske and Skorzewski] you are wrong to be participating in it. By doing so, you are leading the Church astray into a theology of glory, and we fear that many souls will be misled.
Second, it is wrong for Pastors “Ski” and Jeske to join together with two ELCA pastors to teach “‘Lutheran’ ministry methods.” Both of the ELCA presenters, including the Rev. Wheeler and his congregation, openly support homosexuality.
What exactly shall we learn from Rev. Wheeler? How should we in the WELS “change” to be more like this apostate ELCA congregation? What trendy Lutheran ministry techniques or theology shall we glean from these apostates? How do you dare participate in a conference on Lutheran ministry side by side with those who hate Jesus? God has only one message for these men: … “Repent or perish eternally in your sins!” …
But instead of this clear witness to God’s Law, you are selling yourselves as fellow “change agents” together with them. You have gone too far… You are pursuing methods to keep the Church alive together with those who have forsaken Him who is the Life. You are wrong to be doing this. And you are leading souls astray …
You, Pastors Jeske and Ski, are clearly in the wrong. Your involvement in promoting “Lutheran” ministry with apostates who hate Jesus is wrong. And your involvement in promoting the “change or die” deception in the Church is wrong.
Pastor Skorzewski is one of the pastors with my congregation, but I still express thanks to the Intrepid Lutherans. I agree with them. Their entire letter is worth reading. They are following the instructions Paul gave to Timothy:
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. [2 Timothy 4:2-3].
Recently St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church and The CORE in Appleton, WI had a unified sermon series entitled “Don’t Just Go to Church: Be the Church.” (The CORE is St. Peter’s daughter congregation). Regarding this sermon series, St. Peter’s October newsletter states that
“Pastor Ski [Skorzewski], Pastor Sievert, and Pastor Tim [Glende] preached on being devoted to God’s Word, People, and Mission. The series has encouraged members to unite as one congregation in two locations.”
On October 1, 2010, I e-mailed Pastor Glende (and carbon copied Pastor Sievert) this question:
“What is the current status of The CORE with respect to St. Peter? Back when the voters approved The CORE, we were assured that The CORE would be a separate congregation, but lately I’ve heard a number of statements that The CORE is our “downtown campus.” I haven’t attended all the voters meetings in the last two years: Did the voters approve a change in status between The CORE and St. Peter?”
Three days later, Pastor Glende responded that he would not answer my question via e-mail, and that if I wished to discuss this matter, then we needed to meet face-to-face. We tried to schedule a meeting, but there have been too many scheduling conflicts.
Regarding the “Don’t Just Go to Church: Be the Church” sermon series, St. Peter’s October newsletter also reports that during this series
“we learned that the church is about more than just the building. Christians belong to Christ and to each other. The CORE’s building has never officially “belonged” to them. It was during this series, that Pastor Ski announced another church has put in an offer on the Big Picture [the movie theater where The CORE currently meets] … and that offer has been accepted… In the next few weeks Pastor Ski will be announcing where The CORE’s new home will be. Please understand that this does not mean that the ministry is ending, it only means that the building and location from which the ministry operates from will be changing.”
The Big Picture movie theater is an impressive building.
At St. Peter’s December 14, 2009 call meeting, our Church Council President announced that the council had amended Pastor Glende’s job description to read “lead pastor,” and that we would be calling an “associate pastor.”
I moved to table the call because I believed that our congregation did not have enough information to ratify Pastor Glende as lead pastor, and call an associate. I believed that the council needed to better communicate with Pastor Christenson to better understand why he left after only seven months. Also, without going into any specifics, I cited a long letter that I had sent to the council and my pastors back at the beginning of November which raised important issues. I did not mention any of the specifics of my letter because I believed that that would be beyond the bounds of a call meeting.
Another layman asked whether there were additional actions or steps that needed to be taken before we issued a new call, and Pastor Glende replied, “If we had to do things, if there was anything that needed to take place before we could call again, then District President Engelbrecht wouldn’t allow us to issue a call.” District President Engelbrecht did provide our congregation with a call list of five candidates that he believed were suitable to be an associate pastor.
The argument against the motion was that neither Pastor Glende, nor our church council, nor District President Engelbrecht believed that any additional steps needed to be taken. District President Engelbrecht did attend and participate in our call meeting. When he was not speaking, he sat in the back, and chatted with Pastor Skorzewski.
The motion to table the call failed. However, it did receive a smattering of timid “ayes.” After the meeting, another layman estimated that the motion to table received about a third of the votes present. (I thought it probably received less than that, but there was no official count). St. Peter congregation did call Pastor Wayne Shevey to be our associate pastor with a unanimous vote. This is a divine call, and it is our prayer that God will bless St. Peter through this call.
On Thursday, December 17, 2009, I met with Pastor Glende, and he provided me with the church council’s official response to my letter. The council’s response was a letter that summarily and unanimously rejected every one of the concerns I had raised as being either false or without merit.
May the Lord be with his Church, his Bride, his Chosen People “to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Revelation 22:21).
St. Peter church in Appleton/Freedom, WI has scheduled a meeting for December 14, 2009 to discuss calling a new pastor. However, our congregation still has not been informed as to why Pastor Christenson left after only seven months.
On December 1, 2009, I met with Pastor Christenson for over two hours. According to Pastor Christenson, not one member of our church council approached him to inquire as to why he was leaving. Pastor Christenson had approached our church president, Mr. Denny, to discuss the problems with our ministry and practices here at St. Peter. However, according to Pastor Christenson, President Denny acted as though he did not care.
Pastor Christenson had a divine call, and he took that call seriously. So should we. He had to ask for another call as a result of extremely serious problems with the ministry and practice here at St. Peter. Pastor Christenson should not be blamed for leaving, he needed to leave for his own spiritual health and the spiritual safety of his family.
However, Pastor Christenson does have a duty to speak and to tell the truth and the whole truth no matter the cost. Here are some suggested questions for our church council to ask Pastor Christenson:
Why did you leave St. Peter after only seven months?
What did your wife do after first hearing Pastor Glende preach on Maundy Thursday?
How do you evaluate the preaching of justification at St. Peter?
According to Pastor Christenson, his definition of contemporary worship is not the same as Pastor Skorzewski’s and Pastor Glende’s definition of contemporary worship. Pastor Christenson is a believer in contemporary forms of worship, and would often play the guitar. However, he also believes that it is important to have good practices, and to preach Christ crucified and the true Law and Gospel.
The preaching of Christ crucified through the true Law and Gospel has been sorely lacking here at St. Peter.
The CORE is the daughter congregation of St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church in Freedom, WI; and is located in the former Big Picture movie theater in downtown Appleton. The CORE holds its services on Sunday nights at 5:30 pm.
After their services, The CORE asks attendees what they learned from the service, and then posts a video of select responses on the internet. For example, here are responses to the question, “Why do you come to The CORE?”
(EnCORE episode 9):
This church just is totally alive, and you can feel that it’s blessed by God. And like the sign up here says … “To reach people no one else is reaching, we must do things no one else is doing.” And how Pastor Ski … will do anything short of sin to reach people.
Here are some responses to the question, “What does being a Dangerous Church mean to you?”
(EnCORE episode 10):
The idea of getting real and talking about the issues that really matter. There are so many people that are struggling, and they don’t know where to go; and God is there, he wants to help us, he is just waiting for us to cry out to him.
Here are some responses to The CORE dressing up like an airport.
(EnCORE episode 11):
It was so awesome when I walked in, and I heard the airport sound effects going. The whole atrium was set up to look like an airport, and we got to pick up our tickets. It was just so much fun.
The whole concept of “Baggage,” and being able to deliver that to Jesus is just fantastic.
The CORE by the Numbers:
The CORE held its grand opening on April 19, 2009.
200 average weekly attendance since the grand opening
The information for the above attendance numbers was gathered at St. Peter’s open forum on June 16, 2009 A.D., and the above numbers are current as of that date.
As of this week, the week of July 15, 2009, The CORE has yet to serve the Lord’s Supper, and is waiting until special hand made communion-ware is manufactured. According to Pastor Glende, most new congregations do not serve the Lord’s Supper for several months. Once The CORE begins to serve communion, then they will have a better idea of how many of its attendees are members of other area WELS congregations.
My first visit to The CORE was on Friday, April 17, 2009 for the Wildwood Film Festival. I saw both film sessions at The CORE, and my favorite movie was Maine Story. The movie was shot in Maine, but the main actress was from Wisconsin, and she was talented and natural.
Some characters in Maine Story did take the Lord’s name in vain, but I was also straining to hear the dialog. I’m not sure whether The CORE or the Festival was in charge of projecting the films, but I thought the picture and sound quality were sub-par, especially during the first session. During the second session, one of the film makers yelled, “Volume!” and the volume was turned up making the second session easier to hear.
The biggest disappointment for me was Autumn. I thought this might be my favorite movie, and was looking forward to maybe fifteen minutes of sharp beautiful autumn photography. Unfortunately, Autumn seemed like it was less than 60 seconds of blurry footage. I was disappointed.
The final movie at the CORE was The Hungry Bull. The Hungry Bull is a feature length movie that was superbly acted, well directed, and was also accompanied by excellent local music. However, it was also very vulgar. Based on the previews, I was expecting the “F” word and some vulgar images, but I think The Hungry Bull set an all time “F” word world record, among other words. There was also nudity along with sexual activity on camera.
The Festival organizers said that all the films were about a PG-13 rating, but I disagreed. There was one nude scene in particular that in my opinion could have earned The Hungry Bull an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, if the movie had been rated. That scene was supposed to be funny, but there are some things I’d rather not see. Overall, I did not like The Hungry Bull because there was too much moral darkness.
A good chunk of the discussion period after the second session was about the amount of vulgarity in The Hungry Bull. The first questioner was a gentleman who indicated that he hears that sort of language at work every day, and felt that while some vulgarity in a movie can help to make a point, he thought that The Hungry Bull over did it. He also noted that The CORE was a church, and should be a place of hope, not despair. The movie makers explained their decisions to portray the characters in the way that they did, and one of the Festival organizers also noted that everything was discussed and cleared with Pastor Skorzewski in advance.
During the time period I was writing this post, Pastor Skorzewski was unavailable to comment, but Pastor Glende said that Pastor Skorzewski
did not clear everything as was claimed. One of the organizers even apologized for that movie which was so vulgar … pastor Ski didn’t approve the movie and the promises made regarding the content was not the way it played out.
The director of Happy Boy said that he had made a decision to avoid vulgar language, specifically the “F” word, because he did not want to limit his audience. Happy Boy was an amusing comedy and my second favorite picture of the Festival.
• The CORE Grand Opening
On Sunday, April 19, 2009, I returned to The CORE for the grand opening. Immediately upon entering the doors, I was hit by the smell of fresh popcorn. There was more popcorn for the grand opening of The CORE as a church than there was for the film festival, however, there were also a lot more people on hand than were there for the festival.
There was standing room only at The CORE as a large number of WELS members came to see this different style of worship. Even Pastor Ski commented on the large number of pastors in attendance.
The service began with a crystal clear projection of The CORE’s new logo on their extra-large movie screen surrounded by lightning and electricity sound effects. Immediately, it was clear that The CORE’s video was going to far surpass the quality of the video at the film festival. “Pastor Ski” (Skorzewski) then joked that The CORE doesn’t have a bell, so they use lightning and electricity sound effects instead.
The jokes and statement of mission were followed by a period of introduction and prayer. The praise band then took over with the first praise song: “God of Wonders” by Chris Tomlin.
The following player plays a low quality recording of some sample music from the grand opening: “At the Name of Jesus.”
Then there was a confession of sins called “Forgive Us, Renew Us, Lead Us,” a reading from the Book of Jonah, a collection of gifts followed by applause for the praise band, and then the sermon entitled: “Urban Legends: There are Many Ways to God.”
As part of the sermon message we watched a five minute video of Pastor Skorzewski asking people, “How do you get to heaven?” The answers were all basically the same: Be a good person. Pastor Skorzewski’s sermon did deliver law and gospel.
Here is a link to a pdf of The CORE’s grand opening bulletin along with a sermon outline:
After the sermon, Pastor Skorzewski asked the audience for prayer requests. Then after some specific prayers and the Lord’s prayer, the praise band concluded with “The Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns. Here is the refrain and bridge from that song:
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.
After this song, Pastor Skorzewski gave the Benediction, and then concluded with a number of closing comments, including giving away prizes to the winners of a number of naming contests: The winning name for the video blog was “EnCORE,” and the winning name for the newsletter was “COREspondence.”
Finally, there was a period of fellowship and food in The CORE’s lobby.
On Friday, April 17, 2009, the CORE will be hosting the first day of the Wisconsin Wildwood Film Festival. This festival promotes local Wisconsin movie making talent. Tickets are $10 general admission for each session, and can be purchased at the door.
The CORE occupies the former Big Picture theater, and has been working hard to utilize its large IMAX size screen. Recently, the CORE hosted a “March Madness” basketball party featuring free pizza and high definition television.
Here are some descriptions and previews of coming attractions: (Some previews contain coarse language and imagery. Please use discretion). “The Hungry Bull” is described as an “offbeat, whiskey-soaked comedy that chronicles the misadventures of a lovable pair of misfits searching in vain for love and the perfect fish fry.”
The CORE’s official launch as a “worship outreach” ministry will be on April 19th, the Sunday after Easter. (There will be no Easter services at the CORE). In preparation for their official launch, the CORE has been working to erect outdoor signs, constructing a “performance platform,” and getting a band together. (The CORE April 2009 Update).
The video above is of the bulletin from James Skorzewski’s installation as pastor of the CORE on November 16, 2008. The accompanying hymn on the video is “I Come, O Savior, to Thy Table” (TLH, 315) played by me on a classical guitar.
St. Paul’s Bulletin
St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church is the large WELS congregation one block from the CORE. Recently, their church bulletin contained an insert with some information about the CORE. Click here to download a pdf copy of that insert.
2009 Workshop for Congregations
On March 7, the Northern Wisconsin District held its 2009 Workshop for Congregations at Fox Valley Lutheran High School. Pastor Skorzewski presented at this workshop, and here is the description of his presentation from the workshop’s brochure:
20. Be Relevant — Pastor “Ski” James Skorzewski
This session will explore how relevant worship can be used to reach young people ages 19-35 who, statistically, are missing from churches today. Examples will be given from Pastor Ski’s experience with such worship at St. Marcus Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, WI. Pastor Ski will also discuss how he plans to use this approach at his new church, The CORE in Appleton. [2009 Workshop for Congregations Northern Wisconsin District; March 7, 2009].