Monday, April 09, 2007

Teacher Removal Response

My last entry here was my letter of resignation as an elder of my congregation as a result of unresolved theological concerns I hold. A few days after I posted that letter here with my name present as well as the name of my church and pastor, I was removed from my position as a Bible Study and Sunday School teacher. That hurt.

Below is a letter from my in-laws, in response to my removal as teacher.

Elders of <X> Lutheran Church <addressed>
Subject: Removal of <me> as a teacher at <X> Lutheran Church


This letter was written to express our concerns about the recent action to remove <me> as a teacher at <X>. This has nothing to do with the fact that <me> is related to us, but it does have to do with his being our Bible class teacher and a trained, respected theologian.

We have read in the Sunday bulletin that he resigned because of “theological issues”. We have also heard that it was stated “that it was not appropriate for him to continue teaching because of theological concerns and that they were made public”. If this is true, would one of you please tell us the meaning of “not appropriate” and “theological issues or theological concerns”?

Out of consideration for your time we will tell you what we know (and don’t know) about the situation to obviate the need to rehash what is already common knowledge.

1. We have a copy of the letter dated February 21, 2007 in which <me> delivered his resignation as Elder to the committee of Elders.

2. We have a copy of the constitution and by-laws of <X> which describe the duties of an Elder.

3. We have a copy of the publication titled: “THIS WE BELIEVE A Statement of Belief of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod” Revised January 1999.

4. We have searched for a reply or rebuttal to <me's> letter and have found none.

In the absence of a reply or rebuttal, we must conclude that <me’s> concerns stand as true and represent a warning to the members of <X> which must be taken seriously. This then brings us back to the purpose of this letter. Why was <me> banned from teaching? In our opinion, by this action, he has been made out to be a heretic or worse and his reputation has been tarnished.

Arguably the best teacher at <X> has been removed from the Lord’s work, which he has been trained to do, without adequate explanation. We were his students and as a result of this action we feel deprived of his knowledge (in a public Bible class environment) as well as the fellowship and interaction with other <X> members who attended the class.

We don’t know (or care) who is responsible for the decision to ban <me> from teaching, but we do know who can fix the injustice that has occurred. We pray that you as the Elders of <X>, will reconsider this matter and take correcting action with regard to his reputation.

We look forward to someone’s written response to this inquiry in due course.

Respectfully and in His name,
<my in-laws>

1 comment:

Dean Gunn said...

Kevin, I learned of your resignation as elder at Ascension and also that you had posted your letter on a blog. No one told me what your blog address was, but you know how it is: you can find just about anything on the Internet and I was able to find it fairly quickly. Upon reading your letter and that of your in-laws, it's clear that you have serious concerns about the WELS in general and about Ascension in particular. In view of that (and this is only my thought), it doesn't seem all so unsual that you would be asked to step down from teaching for a time until your concerns are addressed. You have, after all, cast a vote of "no confidence" in the congregation's leadership. My impression, however, is that you don't believe the issues have or will be resolved (your resignation implies as much, as does posting it on a public open forum), in which case you have essentially declared that you are out of doctrinal fellowship with Ascension and the WELS and, to be consistent, would no longer want to be associated with any form of ministry there. I am puzzled, then, by the tone of the letter of support written by your in-laws. I'm assuming you haven't made it clear to them that you have severed fellowship with Ascension - hence their confusion over the action taken by the congregation's leadership. You expressed that the congregation's action hurt you; I would venture to say that yours has hurt them, too. I pray for a God-pleasing resolution rooted squarely in the gospel.