web space | website hosting | Business Hosting Services | Free Website Submission | shopping cart | php hosting

MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS

A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.

6421 W. Poinsettia Drive

Glendale, Arizona 85304-2419

602-334-8014; chemnitz@bigplanet.com

 

WELS MESSAGES ON GA

 

 

Dear Readers,

 

Reaction to the article on WELS initiation abuses has been mixed. About 9 or 10 pastors have responded positively, confirming the details I offered and adding many of their own. For instance, WELS seminary professor James Tiefel, who was pope for one GA, wrote as a parish pastor about his concern that GA was canceled one year.  Tiefel refused to comment on GA, as you will see toward the end of this long post.

 

Most positive responses are not copied, because of the extreme level of hostility toward those who question the merits of GA. I have deleted a few personal references that have little to do with the discussion.

 

I know reading trails off for long articles, so I want to emphasize here that I have many friends (even now) among the WELS clergy and laity. I think the synod is in better shape than the Missouri Synod, although faithful pastors serve everywhere. If WELS can escape the grip of secret and abusive initiation rites, the synod will be able to deal with its doctrinal problems openly and honestly. The Word of God is both a shield and a weapon against all of Satan’s wiles.

 

A few have accused me of publishing this in Christian News. This is called (by me) an ad hermanem argument. If it is in Herman Otten’s Christian News, it is bad. Obviously this false story got around fast and was believed as gospel truth. They did not check it out, yet they wrote to accuse me falsely and then call me a liar.

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Ryan Heiman <heimanr@wls.wels.net>
To: chemnitz@bigplanet.com <chemnitz@bigplanet.com>
Date: Tuesday, November 03, 1998 8:29 PM
Subject: in christian love

Hello,

I am not going to argue with someone that is saying lies and many
other false doctrines, but I would just like to point how the
correct way of doing things in christian love is not to go out and
print some crazy article in a magazine but go to them and talk with
them in privat first. Hopefully you will see your sins and repent
to God that he will in his mercy show you the gospel truth and work
the correct faith in your heart again.

Sincerly,

Ryan Heiman

 

END OF LETTER

 

My motivation for writing about GA: a former WELS member or two asked me to please describe the complete initiation rite in the Wisconsin Synod. I know that many good men have been driven away from the ministry because of the sadism at the schools. I have described some events in an earlier post.

 

One boy changed his plans to become a WELS pastor when he learned that his own pastor was an adulterer. The pastor was a district official and a friend of the district president. It was covered up. The pastor was “depressed” and had to take another job, at a WELS owned nursing home. The district president covered up for his adulterous friend, lying to the congregation, the man’s wife, and to the entire district. Someone forced the DP to confess his sin to all the conferences. Later, WELS pastors denied it ever happened.

 

Later, a WELS pastor was caught in the act with the council president’s wife. Same district. He was kept as a communing member of the congregation and given a post at a WELS nursing home. When this information was leaked to Christian News, without names, the adulterous pastor suddenly began a career as an AAL agent instead. Yes, I connect the cover ups with GA. The very men who cooed and sighed over GA were the ones who lied to save their friends’ necks, in case after case. But, if anyone dared to question the corruption…”God have mercy on you, because we won’t.”

 

I want to add a few details. Excuse me if I am repeating something from before. It is true that some have escaped GA. A few times it was canceled. Some pastors came in with their congregations or joined through colloquy, so they missed the experience of a lifetime.

 

Some asked how the Evangelical Lutheran Synod could suffer from GA. Of course, the article involved all WELS initiation rites and their abuses, and a number of ELS pastors attended WELS prep schools and Northwestern College. I am not sure if any of them went to Mequon. I imagine that some of them did.

 

One person, asking for confidentiality, argued that initiation was not the problem, but abuses were. He kept saying that initiation itself was not sinful. That is not the main issue. Schools have found that initiation rites have tended to go downhill and become abusive. I do not think that having something similar in the military or in state schools offers much of an argument. Why would future ministers in a small synod need a method to become friends? Quite the opposite is true. Sadistic acts have made some pastors life-long enemies who cannot abide each other, I have been told by the victims.

 

Some tried to argue that initiation rites, including GA, are supervised. I was told (and I also witnessed) that Bonecruncher and GA were student-run. Others tried to say that the school leaders did not condone GA. Not so. Two seminary students went to the dean of men, John Brenner, grandson of the late synod president, and expressed their concerns about GA. Brenner said the good outweighed the bad. Neither student finished at Mequon. I cannot say exactly why, but objecting to GA was not a good start.

 

I saw a seminary professor watching the GA proceedings and smiling broadly. That was the Black pope asking for his bowling ball to be found in the pond. One writer got upset about my description of the scene. I was saying that the pope was acting gay as part of his comedy routine. By that I mean acting effeminate and goofing off, throwing his arms around in a silly way, wearing a funny costume, and talking in a peculiar fashion. I do not think that is a sin or even wrong, but it was extremely odd to see the entire class strip naked outside the dorms, then hearing that the kitchen ladies always watched this episode. (This happened because the class always came back from the pond soaked and dirty, so they were told to take off all their clothes outside before going to their rooms.)

 

Bonecruncher was attended by the faculty but not supervised by them. Some parts of initiation are fun and harmless, such as the talent show and the phony basketball game (where the college kids lose points for sinking baskets and the seminarians get extra points without making baskets at all).

 

No one has identified a single factual error in my account. Some things can be interpreted in various ways. I struggle to be as precise as possible and to give an accurate view of things. I am sure that some initiations have taken place without abuses. But the whole atmosphere invites abuse.

 

This is a verbatim copy of a song used at Mequon by seminarians now serving as pastors in the Wisconsin Synod. It was copied from a box left by a graduate of Mequon, now living with his girlfriend instead of his wife and children.

 

BEGINNING OF SONG


SUPER DONUM ADDITUM (sung to "Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious")

When Martin Luther as a boy first trotted off to school
His theological beliefs were formed by Catholic rules.
He clung to their false practices just like a stupid twit
He was too young to realize the Pope was full of ----.

But when he came to Wittenberg he had a change of heart
And after reading Romans 1 he was just torn apart.
And just when he felt that he couldn't take it anymore,
He took his scroll of Latin words and nailed it to the door.

Super donum additum and transsubstantiation
Papal bull, infallible and supererrogation
All of these big Catholic words filled Luther with suspicion
That's why we have "quia" and not "quatenus" subscription.

Hum diddle diddle diddle hum diddle aye.
Hum diddle diddle diddle hum diddle aye.

When Luther went to Leipzig once to argue Dr. Eck
It didn't take him long to learn he was a bishop "prick"
And then when ol' fat Leo Ten (X) put Luther under ban
The friars, nuns and cardinals - they all began to jam.

Super donum additum and transsubstantiation
And now let's make Mother Mary active in redemption
All of these big Catholic words filled Luther with suspicion
And that's why we must deny Immaculate Conception.

Hum diddle... (2 x's)

Today we know that us and them still don't see eye to eye
But Pope John Paul is changing that - claims he's the nicest guy.
So by his ecumenic push we should not be surprised
But we know we won't join them until Luther's canonized!

Super donum additum and transsubstantiation
Celibate and solitude - because of their tradition
We're so glad that Martin Luther saw through such deception
For now all our preachers freely practice procreation.

 

END OF SONG

 

I have included some messages below. They help substantiate what I said earlier. GA has a profoundly bad effect on WELS pastors, and many cannot see it. Some pastors are once again openly objecting to GA and all abusive initiation rites.
  

-----Original Message-----
From: DANIEL M WAGENKNECHT <dwagen@juno.com
 
Date: Wednesday, November 04, 1998 7:50 AM
Subject: [winkel] Re: Initiation Abuse

Greg Jackson paints with a broad brush. It is amazing to see him blame
GA for WELS problems, then, point out the "same" problems in ELS that has
no GA.

When I attended WELS prep school, freshman initiation was fairly abusive.
"Running" for Seniors and Juniors was considered part of being a
freshman, not just initiation week, but the entire year. It was a pain,
but not intolerable. By the time I was a Senior, initiation was being
toned down, and that trend continued after I graduated. Same thing at
NWC. I am sure that at MLC there is less of that than at NWC. As far as
I know, Bonecruncher and GA have been toned down a lot, too, mostly
because of the merger of colleges. I also think that at all levels of
our Worker training system, these problems with initiation are being
addressed. Contrary to the Reverend Jackson, we are not all in denial
about initiation abuse and GA abuses.

I must say, it doesn't bother me to have Jackson spill the beans about
GA. I think that he overestimates its importance. GA was fun, and
indeed there were some brainwashing types of results. But I don't think
that those who avoided GA were persecuted. And I don't think that it
made WELS pastors into synodical puppets who believe our leaders can do
no wrong. It wouldn't bother me if GA were abolished. (But it would
probably continue underground anyway, with more opportunity for abuses.)
If someone perceives it as a problem, it is not so easily solved.

Jackson has a point with regard to the homosexual jokes. They ought not
to be. Homosexuality is a serious problem for some. It is even possible
that at an all male school the problem can be triggered in some. "Avoid
even a hint of sexual immorality."

If GA has one great unifying factor, it is probably this: In order to
become a WELS pastor it is important to have a sense of humor. Those
that don't will have a difficult time with GA, an unpleasant time at Sem,
and perhaps a gloomy ministry.

I know of two "GA injuries" from my sem days. One was a sprained ankle
from running between buildings. The victim played it up as he visited
NWC students. The other was a large bruise in the crotch, incurred by
falling off a chair and onto a bottle. Sleep deprivation and mystery
were big part of GA. I would go through it again, myself. But we need
to be understanding of those who don't like it.

Dan Wagenknecht

 <PASTOR2@Prodigy.Net
 
Date: Wednesday, November 04, 1998 7:50 AM
Subject: [winkel] Re: Initiation Abuse In The WELS Part II of II

Hi all,

I am the lawyer the poor victum talked about. If you would like to know what
I said in my two thirty second speeches call me on a secure line. you all
know it is a secret.

Bob the lawyer turned pastor survivor of GA

----------

 Having read Jackson's expose on WELS Initiation rites (this is a
 Latanism, isn't it?), I am shocked to read of the abuse suffered by our
 beloved Sprinter. Statue rape? I am appalled. Do such things actually
 happen? Let Synod appoint a special prosecutor to conduct a thorough
 investigation of this brutal deed, and if the perps be caught, I say,
 condemn them to be ministers of independent Lutheran congregations.
Nathan R. Pope

 PS. And no, I didn't rat to Jackson. I haven't told my wife much about
 GA. My dad won't even tell me what happened to him in 1941, except I
 discovered some really great photos of him, dressed up as the Pope, the
 mere mention of which gets him to smile. I guess August Pieper got a
 real charge out of it.
 

-----Original Message-----
From: David E Koehler <koehlerd@juno.com
To: chemnitz@bigplanet.com <chemnitz@bigplanet.com
Date: Wednesday, November 04, 1998 9:12 AM
Subject: c/o Greg Jackson

Dear Mr. Jackson,
I recently received your piece on the WELS and initiation for the CN. I
was just a bit curious as to your motivation for writing this excellent
work. I can only assume that it was done purely out of Christian love. I
am sure that a man of your exceptional moral fortitude would never
blatantly break the 8th commandment. I am also assuming that you talked
to the people involved personally before you turned the story over to a
tabloid. I would definitely love to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Although I would never accuse you of being a blatant liar or slanderer, I
would definitely say you write with half-truths and exaggerations. It
gives credence to "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." You
obviously possess a little knowledge on this subject. I was moved by
your article in two ways. The first way was laughter. You knew so
little about the actual events that I laughed out loud. It almost
seemed that you were trying to blow the cover off of it, but in reality I
think you enhanced the mystery. Way to go. The second way I was moved
was to sadness. I was sad that you would blatantly attack the reputation
of faithful called workers in God's kingdom. It was shameless. Like I
said before, I am sure your motivation was strictly out of Christian love
to help these men and they were not ad hominem attacks to settle personal
vendettas. Believe me I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt.
I don't think it necessary for me to sit here and defend the practices of
our synodical institutions. That would just give credit to your article
of lies and exaggerations…

 Well, I tire of you, but I have one last comment. Check your Bible for
the commandments and see if the eighth has been removed from yours.

Vicar David Koehler
MLS Class of '92
MLC Class of '96
WLS Class of 2000
 
chemnitz@bigplanet.com

-----Original Message-----
From: David E Koehler <koehlerd@juno.com
To: chemnitz@bigplanet.com <chemnitz@bigplanet.com
Date: Wednesday, November 04, 1998 11:41 AM
Subject: Re: c/o Greg Jackson


[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson-Tell me about this tabloid. What tabloid was my article in? I sent it  out on my doctrinal bulletin. The only people who received it from me are on
the bulletin list. Do you check the facts before you send out hateful  email?]

Obviously, sarcasm escapes you.

[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson -Your brother clergy, who wish to remain anonymous, verified everything  I described and said that lots more has happened. I witnessed  Bonecruncher and GA. You do not seem to read with comprehension.]

Are you questioning my intelligence? Do we resort to anonymous sources
like this is a spy game? Was this GA and Bonecruncher at the same
institution that I experienced them at? There seem to be very few
similarities.

[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson - You just contradicted what you wrote above.]

I am not sure what you meant by that, but at the same time you avoided
the question. What was your motivation? Christian love or settling
personal vendettas?…

So what you are saying is as long as there is no sodomy of statues, then
everyhting is OK?

[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson - I am very familiar with the 8th commandment, since it is cited by every WELS pastor or future pastor who wants to cover up the truth. I suggest you study, not simply glance at, the 8th commandment in the Large  Catechism. It is your confession. ]

Once again I see you are attacking my intelligence.
 
[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson - There you will see we are not required to speak  with
false teachers first when they have published their false doctrine
(examples: Paul Kelm, David Valleskey, Larry Olson). ]

What could this possibly have to do with the issue?


[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson - Secondly, Luther commends public discussion of scandalous behavior, because it acts as  a deterrent.]

Do we place Luther over Matthew 18 now, good Doctor?


[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson -  Luther does commend the way you and a few others have  responded to the truth. It wouldn't matter if I were an axe murderer. WELS has  serious abuses built into initiation. The effect is quite obvious. One of your brothers thought sodomizing the statue was a big joke. Another one mentioned injuries during GA.]

Maybe I do have comprehension problems, because this really hard to
track. So if the abuses were taken away, it would be good. Because I
never saw a statue being sodomized and I never saw anyone get hurt at GA.
So things must be fixed and there is no need for your ranting against
the WELS anymore. Like you said, I have problems with comprehension, so
could explain that for me? By the by, you are not an axe murderer, are
you? Just a joke.

[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson - The cover up attitude is the most disturbing. Believe me, I know that  other denominations cover up scandal. The CLC is a good example. But your
concern should be whether it does anyone any good. Tabor murdered his wife. Al
Just murdered his wife. DP Ed Werner and Vicar Scott Zerbe are in the state
pen, both for abusing minor girls. There are many other matters that would
be resolved if people knew the truth.]

What is the problem then, initiation or the cover up of "scandal?" Or
are you saying that initiation is the scandal? OH. I see. I guess my
sense of comprehension is coming back. And thus, you are saying that
initiation is direstly responsible for wife-murdering and sexual abuse.
Interesting correlation. Also what possibly could be resolved if people knew the "truth." And who are these "people?" And what is the truth? Once again, I am led to ask
you what your motivation is for writing this?

[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson - I find it odd to receive such hate-filled letters from a few of you.]

Odd, hate-filled?

[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson - Many in WELS agree with me completely, but they are hampered from doing anything about it by the hysterical reaction to any criticism of WELS.]

Many? How many? Completely?

[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson - That too  is odd, since WELS so free criticizes every other denomination, including  and especially the ELS.]

That is a pretty broadsweeping statement. Be careful.

[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson - Letters such as yours actually prove my case better than anything I  could write. I was not initiated at Bonecruncher or GA. I witnessed the
events, but I did go through them or participate in them. Read your own
letter. You have accused me of lying, but you have not identified a single false
statement. Yet you began by commending me. Were you being insincere?]

Once again sarcasm seems to escape you. But I suppose there is no room
for that, is there? If I have accused you of lying, i am sorry, I would
rather ike to accuse you of telling half-truths and exagerrations of
events. Obviously you believe everyhting that fits your agenda and
discount anything that doesn't. Especially shameless was your bringing
up the ELS son who fired the gun. Have you considered the individual
here? I know the guy. Do you? Do you actually know that it is better
for him and the world to know every detail of his life or are you just
merely speculating? What is the greater good you are searching for here?
 What is your motivation?…
 
[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson - I hope that you and the others face up to your responsibilities as seminarians and as future pastors.]

What is my responsibility? Lash out venomously against fellow Christians
without taking the time to confront them personally? Is my
responsibility to disregard Matthew 18?

[Pastor Gregory L. Jackson - I do not think there is any excuse
for physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.]

Are you saying that a direct result of initiation is physical, mental,
and sexual abuse or just insinuating it to get a reaction?

Vicar David Koehler
MLS Class of '92
MLC Class of '96
WLS Class of 2000
 

 

 

From: David E Koehler <koehlerd@juno.com
To: chemnitz@bigplanet.com <chemnitz@bigplanet.com
Date: Wednesday, November 04, 1998 1:42 PM
Subject: Re: GA

Sorry, I was wrong on that point (Christian News.) I apologize
sincerely. Thanks for your time. I am sorry to have bothered you. I am
sure you have a multitude of other more important things to do. I do and
I know you are not interested in listening to the other side anyway.
Lord's Blessings to you and your family.
PS When was the last time you smiled?

From: James Tiefel <tiefelj@wls.wels.net
To: chemnitz@bigplanet.com <chemnitz@bigplanet.com
Date: Wednesday, November 04, 1998 12:38 PM
Subject: WELS Joint Hymnal Committee

Dear Dr. Jackson,

I have no comment on your expose re: initiation practices in the
WELS, but permit some clarification for the sake of your
understanding of the history of the WELS Joint Hymnal Committee.

The WELS hymnal project, from the enabling resolution at the 1983
WELS convention to the presentation of the book to President Carl
Mischke at the Synod convention of 1993, was always just that, the
WELS hymnal project. After our committee had met several times,
members of the ELS Commission on Worship were invited to our meetings
as observers. I suppose they came to our meetings sensing there
might be some interest on our part to include their traditional
"Bugenhagen" liturgy and/or some of their Norwegian hymns. We did
include several of their favorite hymns, but did not include their
traditional order of service. When they understand that this service
would not be included and realized that to retain their service they
would have to embark on a hymnal project of their own, they stopped
attending our meetings. There was never a spirit of acrimony between
our committee and their men. They realized from the beginning that
the project was ours.

The word "joint" in the title Joint Hymnal Committee implies neither
a dependancy on marijuana nor a joint WELS/ELS project. When the
work began, it was carried out by a committee of men appointed by the
WELS Conference of Presidents. The plan was that the Hymnal
Committee would report to the Commission on Worship and that the
Commission on Worship would report to the Conference of Presidents.

Some of the men appointed to the Hymnal Committee were members of the
WELS Commission on Worship. Some members of the Commission on
Worship were not appointed to the Hymnal Committee. After a year of
work, we decided it would save an administrative step if the entire
Commission on Worship were joined to the Hymnal Committee. The Joint
Hymnal Committee was the combination of the original COP-appointed
Hymnal Committee and the existing Commission on Worship.

Jim Tiefel
   

-----Original Message-----
  <trinitylc@tznet.com
To: chemnitz@bigplanet.com <chemnitz@bigplanet.com
Date: Wednesday, November 04, 1998 11:55 AM
Subject: [winkel] Re: Initiation

Much has already been said about the various initiations. I attended MLS
[67-71], NWC [71-75] and Sem [75-79]. In each place I underwent an
initiation. At MLS it was "required" that frosh clean the upperclass rooms.
Was this terrible? Sure, but I got to know many of them. At the initiation
I had to ride a tricycle in front of everyone, how embarrassing and it has
affected me to this day. At NWC i had to wear that beannie and to pick it
up with my teeth and I recall standing outside the old dorm and protecting
our heritage. I recall singing my MLS song. How sad. At the Sem I had to
run the gauntlet and have people shout at me. Did it help? Maybe and maybe
not. What I do know is that I did get to know my fellow school mates during
most of those activities. I found during the initation there were profs who
watched to ensure security and safety. But it was in 1978 that GA was not
held because several juniors complained and were worried. They missed out
on the opportunity to understand GA and meet others. I have to admit, I
didn't spend much time getting to know that class! I don't condemn them or
accuse them of anything. I had wished that they would understand the
purpose of any initiation - get to know one another during and after. I am
not certain about all the other benefits. It helps some and not others. We
can all discuss this over a good shwein [but I seldom drink alcohol then
and now]. The fellowship is so important that we can enjoy each other and
laugh about our GA's.

Jon Guenther, WELS in Marshfield, WI
trinitylc@tznet.com