WELS Appeal Denied

As background to this post, please see the previous posts: “Terminated from WELS Fellowship” and “Receiving Holy Communion in the WELS.”

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).

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).

14 thoughts on “WELS Appeal Denied

  1. Rick,
    As tempting as it is to say what I want, I won’t. The Lord’s blessing to you.

    Scott E. Jungen

  2. There is no justice in this, not even basic fairness. I’ve actually spent most of my career as a historian studying justice and law (often its abuses). Even the 1740 South Carolina Slave Code stated the following: “Natural justice forbids that any person of what condition soever be condemned unheard.” Yet this congregation and this district appeals board have done so, violating a principle that even slave owners felt compelled to write into law. I am ashamed of my synod and most especially the wolves in sheep’s clothing who have perpetrated this travesty.

    Lord’s blessings to your and your family in these difficult times. I wish I had the power to do more than just offer encouragement.

    Dr. Aaron Palmer

  3. Dear Rick…May the Lord go with you as well. You are in our prayers. This is all so troublesome. Your situation will need to be dealt with. The dispute can not go on between you, the pastors who are communing you and the leadership of the district in which you reside. In Christ, Joe

  4. Dear Rick,
    Those holding positions in our circuit, the Northern Wisconsin District and the synod level have abdicated their responsibility to preserve doctrinal purity. They have lost their credibility among some they are to serve. As enablers, those who allow the issues surrounding your situation to continue unresolved should be held accountable.
    Tony Kubek Jr

  5. ‘As enablers, those who allow the issues surrounding your situation to continue unresolved should be held accountable.’

    Doesn’t that go straight to the top of the synod? To whom shall the case be appealed? A word or two directly from Pres. Schroeder is in order. To me alot is riding on this situation and that of the Krohn family in Texas. These being the two most prominent cases since you both graciously keep the rest of us informed via your blogs. How many other similar cases are out there now flying under the radar that we are not aware of, I wonder? To me, there is alot riding on the on the outcome that eventually must be addressed in some sort of a higher appeal. I think the synod leaders know the division and split that will be brought about should a definitive answer and so-called resolution be brought about. Although I’m not hopeful for anything to be resolved by the Synod in convention at the end of the month, these and matters like these should be top priority in my humble opinion. I’m just a one girl, but one girl whose entire family are life-long WELS members who have supported this synod in countless ways. Sad to say it but I am on the brink of removing my membership from the WELS. Not that I want to leave, but sadly ~ it has left me.

  6. I received an interesting phone call this morning from a member of Trinity Lutheran in Neenah (Pastor Englebrecht’s congregation) who I will not identify. He was none too happy about my comments in support of Mr. Techlin and seems to think that I am a “piece of work” to use his exact words. Thanks for the pleasant conversation Mr. X. No morning is complete without a good berating through my cell phone!

    Dr. Aaron Palmer

  7. With God all things are possible and it is my prayer that WELS will take a hard look at the bad doctrines that are leading the synod away from the Confessions, but more importantly the Scriptures. In reality I am not at all confident in our situation based on what has happened to Rick. Our issue is much deeper seeded with an unrelenting, long and sordid past surrounding it. It is my honor to go with those who have gone down before me standing on the truth of the Word.

    Joe Krohn

  8. Dr. Palmer,
    When they squeal, you know you’re on the right path! From what I’ve read from you, you are a “piece of work,” a good one! Rick, hang in there!

    Scott E. Jungen

  9. I pray that those of you commenting please contact the other individuals as well in keeping with the 8th Commandment.

    thank you.

  10. Mr. Vik,

    I will allow Luther to respond to this talking point about the eighth commandment. I say talking point because I have heard almost the exact statement you have made over and over again regarding this and other similar issues:

    “All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.” (Luther’s Large Catechism, 8th Commandment, Paragraph 284, http://www.bookofconcord.org / Concordia Triglotta).

    I do not think any of us are commenting here or elsewhere out of an evil desire to be vicious or spiteful, but stern words are sometimes needed. Do not mistake indignation for malice.

    Dr. Aaron Palmer

  11. Matthew,

    I hope that you are not using the 8th commandment as a veil for indefensible doctrine and practice. I also pray that you think the best of your brethren (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:7) and assume that we already have contacted the individuals accused of these heinous crimes.

  12. This is not to say that I think you are doing this, Mr. (Pr.?) Vik; I am just tired of hearing “8th Commandment” thrown out by certain individuals as if it counteracts these sorts of sin and debauchery.

  13. Rick,

    I am sorry to hear this. I had hoped for better. Whatever your path from here, I pray the Lord be with you and guide you. What an awful, awful outcome.

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