National Lutheran News

Kieschnick will lead Missouri Synod

The Rev. Gerald Kieschnick

The Rev. Gerald Kieschnick

Moderate defeated conservative by slim majority

The president of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod’s Texas district has defeated four other candidates to become the 13th president of the 2.6 million member LCMS.

The Rev. Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, 58, was elected by the slimmest of majorities on the fourth ballot. He defeated the Rev. Dr. Dean O. Wenthe, the conservative president of Concordia Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Observers had been watching to see whether the LCMS would continue in the path it has followed in recent years, choosing leaders supporting a conservative, even hard-line, interpretation of doctrine and church governance. Kieschnick, the favorite of a moderate movement within the denomination, breaks that pattern.

It took four ballots to settle the contest, with five previously endorsed candidates considered by voting delegates when balloting began.

When the fourth and decisive ballot was cast on Sunday, July 15, Kieschnick received 600 votes to Wenthe’s 582, giving the winner 50.8% to 49.2% for the runner-up.

Other candidates considered by voters included the Rev. Dr. Raymond Hartwig, St. Louis; the Rev. Dr. Donald Muchow, Austin, Texas; and the Rev. Daniel Preus, St. Louis.

Preus, considered a conservative, was subsequently elected first vice-president of the LCMS, on a vote mirroring Kieschnick’s. He defeated the Rev. William L. Diekelman of Owasso, Oklahoma, 601-577, a narrow 51%-49% victory.

Kieschnick has served as president of the Synod’s Texas District since 1991. He is a graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary (then located in Springfield, Illinois, now in Fort Wayne, Indiana).

In recent years members of the LCMS have disagreed over whether to further limit their relationships with other Lutheran groups, especially the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American (ELCA). It is not known whether Kieschnick will try to slow or reverse that trend.

(Based on material provided by LCMS News, and also drawn from other sources.)