Receiving Holy Communion in the WELS

Without warning, St. Peter Congregation terminated my fellowship with the WELS as a persistent errorist.  This means that St. Peter Congregation has marked me as someone all WELS congregations and members should avoid lest my influence corrupt their faith.  (Please see the post entitled “Terminated from WELS Fellowship“).

In my letter appealing this wrongful termination of fellowship, I asked District President Engelbrecht to give me a letter allowing me to commune at other WELS Churches pending my appeal.  (April 30, 2011 appeal letter).  In a letter dated May 6, 2011, District President Engelbrecht responded:

In regards to your question about communion, I am seeking the advice of my brothers on the Conference of Presidents.  My own opinion at this point in time is that since the termination of your membership was because you publicly stated that you are not in doctrinal agreement with your pastors, your congregation, the district, and other leaders in the WELS, another WELS pastor would have difficulty allowing you to partake of Holy Communion … at least not without him consulting with your former pastors to get their blessing.  I know that you said those words were taken out of context, but they were made public and were taken at face value and bear consequences that may not be to your liking.

May 6, 2011 letter
from District President Engelbrecht

It has now been over a month with no new word.  That May 6th letter was the last communication I received from District President Engelbrecht.

Thus, as part of my submission of written materials for the Appeal Board on May 24, 2011, I asked Pastor Wenzel, the chair of the Appeal Board, if he would be able to provide me with such a letter.  (May 24, 2011 appeal cover letter).  His only response to date has been that the Appeal Board hopes to arrive at a decision regarding my appeal within a few weeks.  So far, I have not been invited to speak with the Appeal Board.

Nonetheless, at the invitations of Pastor Martin and Pastor Suhr, at St. John Lutheran Church (WELS), during the Divine Service I received Holy Communion on May 29, June 5, and June 6, 2011 A.D.  I have also been invited to receive Holy Communion at other WELS churches by other WELS pastors.  These pastors are not intending to despise the fellowship practices of the WELS, rather they are confident that I am in doctrinal fellowship with the WELS notwithstanding the bogus declarations of St. Peter Congregation.

I do not wish to be a catalyst for strife, but duly called and ordained servants of the Lord have offered and are offering me this precious gift, and what the Lord gives, I want to receive.

These pastors are also fully aware of my circumstances, and I am grateful to them beyond measure.  They stand in the place of Christ not only to distribute His gifts, but they also stand in the place of Christ because they are willing to potentially sacrifice a great deal to distribute His gifts.  Unlike some, these servants are not greater than their Master who sacrificed everything (John 15:20), but through grace alone as servants of the Word they share in His glory that is hidden in the cross.  And on the last day, they will also share in His triumph.

May the Lord bless and protect His true servants.

10 thoughts on “Receiving Holy Communion in the WELS

  1. Rick,
    I am thankful these brave pastors have chosen to do the God-pleasing thing and offer you Holy Communion. I will continue to keep them as well as you in my prayers.

    Scott E. Jungen

  2. Hang in there, Mr. Techlin.

    The under-shepherd District President is demonstrably less generous and yielding with your employ of words, Mr. Techlin, than with his own musings. You see, he insists that your words need to be taken “at face value,” and that they bear “consequences” not readily shorn. Yet he says that the opinions of “your former pastors” should be consulted, before you are allowed to secure the consolation of the Cup of the new testament in the Lord’s blood, which is shed for you.

    What sort of innovation is this, to Lutheran practice? If his friends are indeed your “former pastors,” they have no say in guiding you with their crooks (or with their borrowed Power-points, as it is). Our Lord Himself observes that “No man can serve two masters.” Other under-shepherds have the pastoral obligation to examine, and serve as the gateway to the meal at which heaven meets earth. You former pastors do not, at the moment, as their meandering leading of their flock has accomplished. The word “former,” too, has “consequences.”

    It may be an excess of meticulousness to demand such precision in fluency, but we must grant this: even the titanic struggles of the Nicene fathers hinged greatly, over the matter of an iota. If we can’t get the communication down right, the mischief will continue, affecting others who sympathize with your struggles, until things are completely ripped apart.

    By the way: I think clerics should find the time to respond to the open mouths of the flock, in reasonable time, or seek other employ as ones being skilled in the marks of hirelings.

    Michael L. Anderson MD, PHD

  3. Mr. Techlin,

    Either you and the Pastors and congregations who commune you are wrong, or President Englebrecht and the Pastors and congregation of St. Peter are wrong. It has to be one of the other. There is no “half-way” in this case.

    I believe the case is clear. Thus, I support you thoroughly and completely.

    God bless you and keep you!

    Pastor Spencer

  4. Hi Rick, I am very happy to hear that you are receiving Holy Communion. The pastors that have invited you to their congregations are a blessing from God. I pray that all our pastors show some spine when discussing church growth and other apostasies that plague our synod. Sometimes it takes a rocky path to get to the truth. During worship service, I always include you and Joe Krohn in the silent prayer segment. This years WELS convention should be interesting. Let’s just say that unionism goes hand-in-hand with church growth.

    In Christ,

  5. “They were taken at face value.” Here you have a sentence with no actor–a passive voice sentence. We tell students to avoid these things in my discipline for exactly this reason. Such a sentence does not identify the actor, just the thing acted upon, which is vague at best. So my question would be who took these words at face value? Who specifically? How many people?

    No, the “sin” here is not that Mr. Techlin’s words were misunderstood by some unidentified people. The “sin” is that the words were made public to begin with, and we all know that nothing of importance can be discussed in WELS outside of official and closed meetings.

    I’m glad that there are at least some pastors up there who are not afraid. Thank God for them.

    Dr. Aaron Palmer

  6. Rick,

    Your treatment by your former parish and your DP is outrageous. I left the WELS for Eastern Orthodoxy for doctrinal reasons, but rest assured — I never witnessed anything remotely like this.

    How, exactly, are the former “pastors” who, let us remember, “commend[ed] you to your own spiritual care,” in any position to give their “blessing” to anything? They kicked you out! And they did so in such a manner as to exhibit raw, naked exercise of power over and against the Gospel of Christ. If you are commended to your own spiritual care, what say do these so-called “shepherds” have in whether or not another communes you? And why should the DP take sides in their favor and against you when the issues you have raised have not even been dealt with?

    Your faithfulness to your own principles and the Lutheran Confessions is to be commended. May the Lord be with you as you bear His cross. I am pleased there are good pastors in your area willing to act in accordance with their Office instead of their ambitions.

    Kyrie eleison.

  7. Well, I do not understand this Excommunication business. I know that Excommunication was widely practiced in the earlier years of the church. I have read about Savanarola in some detail. One of my aunts told me that she had actually been to the spot in Venice where Savanarola was burned. I am not familiar with the doctrine and practice of Excommunication in more modern times.

    I have heard that one of the reasons to deny women the vote in the congregation is because of the possibility of Excommunication. How, the reasoning seems to be, can we allow women the vote if someday we might have to excommunicate someone? How, indeed.

    I suppose that all of us at some time or another might be heretics deserving of excommunication. How can one not be of an inquisitive nature and not find something which we do not understand? How can we be thinking persons and not find something that seems strange to us? How can we be certain that, apart from the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, we are told things that make sense?

    Well, I do not know the circumstances of your situation and do not wish to intrude where I have no understanding. I do wish you well in your life, and as one who might be as guilty as you are, I stand in the door and wait for the knock from the church police to take me away. There is an open area near my home where a bonfire could be made.

    Norman Teigen
    Hopkins MN

  8. I hesitantly read all of the things that were written and am sad to see that my childhood church has done and is currently doing things like this. I also see my church of adolescent years in St. John in Center, step up and offer you Communion.

    I stand with my brothers at St. John in the town of center. I pray that your appeal is heard and that your words are not taken out of context and that you will be reinstated as one in fellowship with WELS.

  9. I think Mr. Palmer’s point is brilliant. Using the passive voice is an act of cowardice. If those who made this decision were proud of their actions, they would state with the active voice, “I, Pastor Glende/We, the church council … have decided/have voted to … ”

    Instead they intentionally use passive verbage in order to distance themselves from the decision they made, as if this decision came into being on its own, without a creator, through the Big Bang. Using the passive voice in explaining one’s actions betrays a reluctance to take responsibility for them.

    This reminds me of a situation where I witnessed an adult questioning a guilty child over a broken dish. The adult asked, “What happened?” The child responded, “It broke.”

    Indeed. No one broke it. It just broke.

    No one kicked my brother out of the church. He was just kicked out.

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