Issues, etc. Taken Off the Air

Host Todd Wilken and producer Jeff Schwarz have had their employment terminated. The web presence of Issues, Etc. has disappeared in a matter of minutes. No explanation has been forthcoming. The old Lutheran question becomes pressing: What does this mean? Was ist das?

  • What are the reasons for the decision to eliminate an important  witness?
  • Why was the termination so abrupt?
  • Who made the ultimate decision?
  • What does the decision imply?
  • What is the proper response?
  • What does this mean for the future directions of the leadership of the LCMS?
  • Quo Vadis?

Posted by pomeranus.


12 comments on “Issues, etc. Taken Off the Air

  1. Rev. Shane R. Cota says:

    Whatever has happened, they should have given a reason right from the beginning. They should have at least thought of that instead of just ripping the thing completely out of existence.

    This is beyond disturbing. There is nothing else like Issues, Etc. on the internet. This show did real work in teaching and catechesis. More than any goofy ABLAZE! congregation that got a grant to de-christianize itself to become more appealing to unbelivers (or disgruntled, shallow “Christians”).

  2. pomeranus says:

    It is somehow ironic that sloganeering has official support of the synod. Substantive and faithful apologetics and outreach is terminated without explanation. With what we saw of the ABLAZE! event in Houston, I could think of many reasons to terminate ABLAZE! and the employment of many of those who organize, promote and implement it. Kyrie eleison.

  3. pomeranus says:

    A pastor in Texas relates some very suspicious activity on the part of Mr. Strand who fired Pr. Wilken and Jeff Schwarz. Check out the conversation at Wittenberg Trail.

  4. […] More from Necessary Roughness, Pr. Weedon, The Minnesota Lutheran, Outer Rim Territories, Lane’s Blog, Hoc Est Verum, Rapp Files, Putting Out the Fire, Northwoods Lutherans, […]

  5. pomeranus says:

    There are no explanations for the terminations, but Dr. Leonard Sweet is to speak to representatives from throughout the LCMS regarding the future of the church. Dr. Sweet tends more toward pantheism than orthodox Lutheran understanding of the Gospel. Are the terminations eliminations of any voices who might question the wisdom of abandoning the Gospel witnessed in Holy Scripture and confessed in the Book of Concord. We need answers.

  6. Aaron says:

    Here is all sorts of contact information to tell people what you think about this, let them know how important Issues, Etc. was to us, and ask why the show was cancelled:

    Rev. David L. Strand
    Executive Director
    Board for Communication
    (314) 996-1200
    (314) 822-0000

    Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
    1333 S. Kirkwood Road
    St. Louis, MO 63122-7295
    (888) 843-5267
    (314) 965-9000
    FAX: (314) 996-1016

    KFUO Radio Station
    (314) 725-0099
    (314) 725-3030‎
    (314) 721-2969

    Rev. Dr. Gerald Kieschnick
    Synod President
    (314) 996-1402
    (314) 842-7110

    LC-MS Board of Directors
    (314) 996-1350

    Financial help for the Schwarz and Wilken families can be sent to the following address. Just put in the memo line that it’s for the “Schwartz/Wilken Fund”. The Schwarzes especially need the help and Rev. Jack Schwarz’s wife Beth has been recently diagnosed with small fiber neuropathy and they need to go to Mayo Clinic to try figuring out what can be done.

    “Schwartz/Wilken Fund”
    Saint Paul Lutheran Church
    P.O. Box 247
    Hamel, IL 62046

    All help and all prayers are appreciated.

    Finally, for anyone who comes across this and has Facebook, the most discussion it seems is going on at the “Bring ack Issues ETC!!!” Facebook group.

  7. Charlotte Naven says:

    Issues etc. was the catalyst for causing me to leave a church that was supporting Same Sex Blessings and Seeker Sensitive programs (diluted Gospel and doctrine). We changed churches and found Lutheran Church Canada, the sister church of LCMS. Issues Etc. gave me the knowledge and courage to stand up and speak for “what the Bible says”. I learned what it means to be a confessional lutheran. I am angry and sad about what has happened. There can be no good excuse for cancelling such an excellent program.

  8. Danny Best says:

    I’m truly saddened by the decsion by the LCMS to shut down Issues Etc. I introduced to my son the many mp3 files of previous shows with all the varied topics that they dealt with. My son was much especially encourgred by the strong pro-life stance that he was hearing. I’m a member of a URCNA congregation and have recommened it my fellow members because of it’s teaching reagarding the creeds and other conservative evangelical teachings. I do hope that there is an outcry by confessing evangelical Lutherns to bring this radio programm back.

  9. Bonnie T. says:

    I heard on another website,from a person in Panama, that the show was shut down as a negative reaction to the March 9 show on ordaining women. Todd Wilkens and his guest quite rightly defended NOT ordaining them as being scriptual. The poster said the President (I presume the president of the LCMS) was being pressured by the “Jesus Only” and “Daystar” people and something called PLI, I think it is, to move the LCMS into a more liberal direction, like the ELCA, God forbid. I asked this guy where he got his info and will have to wait until he replies.

  10. Bonnie T. says:

    Here is more information regarding Issues,etc. There are several letters in this e-mail that my husband received from cyberbrethren, on this Lutheran group. Some of it sounds encouraging.


    Easter 2008
    An open letter to the Praesidium of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
    Dear Brothers in Christ,
    There are times when one must step back and be willing to admit a mistake. This, I am convinced, is one of those times. It offers, however, also a window of opportunity. On Tuesday, March 18, a widely syndicated, web-cast radio program on KFUO-AM dedicated to Lutheran apologetics and getting out the Gospel message was effectively cancelled by terminating the employment of its host and producer, ostensibly for “programmatic” and “business” reasons. The lack of specific information, because employment issues are involved, has led to much speculation concerning other possible reasons for the action of a staff member of the Board for Communication Services.

    According to information supplied by a district president, the president of Synod has given his permission to acknowledge that “The KFUO decision transpired with my awareness but neither by my order nor at my direction.” And, we are compelled to add, neither was the action prevented. Thus, it is difficult to attach sole responsibility to any one person. It might well have been expected that the abrupt termination of two prominent staff personnel at KFUO during Holy Week, as well as subsequent actions, such as the initial removal of all traces of the Issues, etc. program from the web (with archives later restored) and the lack of explanation on the air regarding its absence, would cause great division within Synod and offense to many in our church body and beyond. That has clearly been the case. It has not been Synod’s finest hour,

    Although we cannot change what is past and done, we can focus our attention on what remains to be done. Even from the dismal perspective of this week, we see a window of opportunity. As you know, a petition circulating on the world wide web has garnered to this writing nearly 4000 signatures – pastors in the parish, Lutheran lay people, other Christians, and those who credit Issues, etc. with steering them or their acquaintances to the saving Gospel. I encourage you to go to the site and see for yourselves. The number has grown hourly.
    On the site, you will find a wealth of testimonials to the benefits of Issues, etc., from witnessing to the Gospel to defense of the faith. The program has clearly been spiritual and substantive theological sustenance for Lutherans and a powerful witness to the Gospel to Christians and non-Christians alike. Below is a random selection of signers and comments. None of the names is familiar to me. I trust that no privacy is violated, as all names and comments are publicly posted.


    As a Christian apologist who has spent many years defending the faith, I would ask that you please restore the Issues, Etc. program. I am not a Lutheran, nor have I always seen eye-to-eye with Todd. And yet I can only view this dismissal as a true loss for the entire Body of Christ, regardless of denomination affiliations. Todd Willken has consistently dealt with crucial issues affecting the church in general, paying careful attention to exposing error wherever error might be found in the cults, the occult, and world religions. He has been a faithful servant and a dedicated voice of truth in the ever-growing din of false teachings throughout our culture. Please reconsider your actions. In Christ, RICHARD ABANES


    I am very saddened about the abrupt removal of this program from KFUO. It has been a wonderful learning tool for my personal spiritual growth. Whether you are of the liberal or conservative persuasion we are all to be focused on Jesus Christ our Savior and not on ‘politics’ of the church. In this case the devil has won. Micki Horstmann, Concordia Lutheran Church Kirkwood, MO


    I am a Baptist General Conference pastor who has benefited greatly from the Issues, Etc program. I am very dismayed and disappointed that you have discontinued this fine program. Does the LCMS not care about truth, the gospel, and its own confessions? I have told my wife that if I keep listening to this show I might end up becoming a Lutheran! Your decision to remove a program that so clearly promotes the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ was a careless one. Even as a non-Lutheran I was greatly impacted by this program and its confessional approach. In my opinion, you have cut one of the best things you had going. What a shame. Rev. Scott Eaton, Calvary Community Church, Schaumburg, IL


    We have often used the discussion points and contents of Issues, Etc. as a jumping off point for our Topical Men’s Bible Study. We have found this program to be of great value. Please return this program to the public. Rev. Michael Wenzel, Trinity Lutheran Church, Olympia, WA


    I found Issues Etc. to be very insightful and unwavering in its analysis, especially of current events. It helped me by being a shining example of thoughtful and respectful analysis of issues from the Lutheran Christian perspective, while always preaching Christ and Him crucified. Olivier Calle, Messiah Lutheran Church, Marysville, WA

    [The following comment is included in view of the reason given for Tuesday’s action. To protect the privacy of the signer, the name has been deleted, although it is on the petition.]
    The $750,000 LCMS beneficiary of my policy is in [jeopardy] here. Council Bluffs, IA

    I converted to the Lutheran Church largely because of Issues, Etc. Adam J. Roe, Trinity Lutheran Church Worden, IL

    One observer has also noted the demographics of the petition signers. I have not personally verified them. Ages range from 7 to 84. All but one state has been represented. Ten vocations have been listed, including pastors, missionaries, chaplains, military personnel, professors, and students. Twenty denominations have been listed other than Lutheran, including Presbyterian, Baptist, and Roman Catholic. Most significant is that signers represent 21 countries. Issues, etc.,
    is truly an international program. In addition to the above are the hundreds (possibly thousands) of e-mail messages that representatives of Synod have received, individually and corporately.

    No survey conducted at great expense to Synod could have provided any more valuable information on the importance of KFUO radio and its related web ministry – truly a providential byproduct of Tuesday’s action. It is most unfortunate that it took such action to reveal the esteem in which the program, Issues, etc., is held and how effective LCMS radio ministry has been and can be. What a unique opportunity we have, with God’s help, to convert a sow’s ear into a silk purse!

    Are we ready to retrace our steps, brothers? Is it possible, in a spirit of Christian humility and regret, to admit the error and to take steps to redress it? Let me be the first to confess any sin of commission or omission that may have led to the action. As an elected member of the Board for Communication Services, I have pledged to conduct church business in an open and honest manner. In two weeks, I will be meeting as a member of a joint BOD/BCS committee. We are to deal with two charges or “scenarios.” Below is the relevant excerpt from the February 2008 Board of Directors meeting minutes:
    Resolved, That the LCMS Board of Directors establish a committee of three members of the Board of Directors (appointed by the chairman of the Board of Directors) and three members of the Board for Communication Services (appointed by the chairman of the Board for Communication Services), plus the Synod’s Vice-President–Finance–Treasurer as a non-voting resource person, to present two scenarios for consideration at the May (or August) 2008 Board of Directors’ meeting:
    Scenario 1: A comprehensive operations, programmatic, and financial plan for engagement of KFUO AM and FM in support of the mission of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod “vigorously to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities, and the world.”
    Scenario 2: A comprehensive communications, programmatic, and financial plan for allocation of net assets realized from the sale, realignment, joint venturing, or other type of divestiture or reallocation of KFUO AM and FM assets in support of the Synod’s mission.
    My first thought following the announcement of Tuesday’s action was that the timing could not have been worse. But our God is a God of paradox, even a God of surprises. Within days of our first meeting, He has provided an unexpected gift: living, breathing evidence of the value of radio and web ministry for The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. He has demonstrated that we need more, not fewer, programs like Issues, etc. to support the mission of the LCMS. And so, in working on Scenario 1, we do well to examine carefully the responses found in the petition to help us understand the value of Lutheran radio and web ministry as a source of spiritual nourishment for our members and an effective means of outreach to the world at large. We have been given an unexpected gift. Let us accept it, learn from it, and build on it. In recent years, access on the world wide web, both to live call-in radio programs and to program archives, has
    increased exponentially the ability of the LCMS to “get the Word out.” That availability needs to be maintained and expanded.
    Now that we have concrete evidence of the protean values of such programming, as well as evidence of its international reach, we also have opportunity to re-direct resources to this ministry. We can, for example, consider such sources as Fan into Flame funding. Is there any more appropriate use for these funds than Gospel-centered, Spirit-powered Lutheran outreach on radio and on the world wide web?
    Our work initially, however, must be to repair the breach of trust in those who have seen that trust broken. Readiness publicly to admit the error is the first step. It will go a long way in re-establishing that trust. Since personnel issues are involved, I can make no concrete proposal for initial action, but I have no doubt that means to initiate it are within the purview of your respective offices. It may be that no overture will be able to bridge the deep divide caused by the termination, but every effort must be made to re-instate the program, Issues, etc. Changes in personnel or format will be viewed with great suspicion. If the injury to the two men was too great to expect a return to business as usual, then we will have to learn from our mistake. I pray, however, that with God’s help and the sincere good will of all involved, the error can be re-dressed. Let the world see how the church can really work.

    Brothers, it is time to move forward with all urgency in positive directions in LCMS radio and world wide web ministry.
    May our Risen Lord forgive us our errors, help us to labor together in love, and continue to support us in our efforts to carry His Word by all means to the ends of the earth.
    In Him,
    David O. Berger


    A postscript of concern: It would be a sad irony indeed if the cancellation of one of the most widely listened-to programs on KFUO-AM – a program supported locally in other metropolitan areas and broadcast nationally, and a program with a long record of donor funding – were to lead to a financial crisis at the station, forcing the committee to consider Scenario 2 immediately. We pray fervently that that will not happen, but rather that generous donors will look past the unhappy circumstances of the past few days and see the value in radio and related world wide web ministry and continue to support it. Once a license is given up, it will not be regained.
    [This open letter is a personal communication from the keyboard of the above-signed. While I have noted my membership on the BCS, I speak neither for the Board for Communication Services nor as a faculty member at Concordia Seminary.]

  11. Monk says:

    Does anyone have any information on what has happened about Issues lately? How about another blog posting to see what has happened – as far as I can tell the Synod just shrugged it all off and ignored everything.

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