False Unity

“The hope. . . was that we would be able to be inter-Lutheran on that day. . .”

Hold a Conversation

In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.

Clarifying Questions
  • What does being inter-Lutheran mean to the speaker?
  • How does the speaker interpret the actions of President Kieschnick?
  • How does she see the state of gender equality in the Lutheran church as a whole?
Interpretive Questions
  • The speaker says it’s “the differences of gifts that really allows us to be one body.” How does the story of what happened with President Kieschnick’s visit confirm or complicate her belief?
  • Do you think the speaker’s desire for the LCMS to change and embrace difference is strengthened by the incident? or does she seem downtrodden?
  • Place yourself in the role of the other officiating, male pastors. How would you react to President Kieschnick’s insistence that Pastor Grega not participate?
  • Can you imagine how this situation might have gone differently? How dialogue could have played a more productive role?
  • President Kieschnick said that “it would go against his religious convictions” to have the female Pastor Grega read the prayers at the service. Does the issue of gender relations complicate that of religious freedom? Does it have to?
Implication Question
  • What might be valuable about being inter-Lutheran?
  • What might be valuable about keeping boundaries between church bodies and religious traditions?
  • What would you want to say to this speaker and her church community about this incident?

Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.

Transcript for False Unity

What intrigued me about Valpo against the other Lutheran schools that I applied to was that it was inter-Lutheran—that it wasn’t affiliated with either church — so, I thought that there might be a good source of dialogue that would occur about faith.

President Kieschnick came and visited at the Chapel, and he was preaching at the worship service. It was falling under what would be assigned an LCMS Sunday, and so there was one of the university pastors that’s LCMS presiding, President Kieschnick was preaching…but there was the desire from the staff to incorporate all three University pastors in the service. And so since Pastor Wetzstein and Pastor Cunningham could distribute bread around the communion table, along with President Kieschnick, it was found that Pastor Grega could be involved within the service through the reading of the prayers. And the hope with that was that we would be able to be inter-Lutheran on that day, but it was expressed by President Kieschnick that it would go against his religious convictions to have a female pastor participate in the leadership of a worship service. And so the morning of the service, she was asked to not read the prayers during the chapel service. When I found out that President Kieschnick had asked…ah…Pastor Grega not to read the prayers, I was really frustrated, because earlier that year was when we had installed and welcomed Pastor Grega onto the chapel staff, and it was one of those moments during the year where I really felt that Valpo was truly becoming inter-Lutheran — we weren’t only having LCMS male pastors on the chapel staff, but that now we had the opportunity to present pastoral counseling and leadership and guidance from both church bodies, truly being inter-Lutheran and really opening the door for inter-faith dialogue.

To see that situation unfold felt like we had taken a step back: that we were back to square one, that…um…any of the forward progress we had made hadn’t counted.

The role of difference in a healthy community needs to be very intentional; it is our differences, whether that is cultural differences, family differences, the differences of gifts that really allows us to be one body. The classic text is that ‘if we all were the ear, well then how could we see?’ And that’s very true in that if we all were from broken families, who could help us heal that together? Or if we all were from a family that was a solid, supportive foundation for us, who can remind us that there is suffering in this world? And so differences are very important in reminding us of people who are unlike ourselves, but who Christ calls part of us, part of all one body in light of those differences—not despite those differences — but in light of them.