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).