Lutherans' president wins ruling in dispute over Yankee Stadium interfaith service

Posted: Friday, December 14, 2001

KIRKWOOD, Mo. (AP) -- The Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, new president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, has emerged the winner in an internal spat over another clergy member's participation in an interfaith prayer service.

Two pastors wanted Kieschnick's church membership revoked because he tolerated a third pastor joining with non-Christians at a Yankee Stadium interfaith service following the Sept. 11 attacks.

But a panel ruled in Kieschnick's favor Sunday, saying that only the next church convention could take any action.

''A few people are disagreeing with the decisions I've made,'' Kieschnick said. ''But guess what? Leaders are always disappointing somebody.''

Kieschnick also irked some in his 2.6 million-member denomination by praying with clergy of the less conservative Evangelical Lutheran Church in America after touring Manhattan's ''Ground Zero.''

The synod's 1847 constitution rejects mingling of Christian and non-Christian beliefs. Traditionally, Missouri Synod leaders have not joined worship with other religions and sometimes have declined to pray with other Lutherans. But Kieschnick says times change.

Kieschnick, 58, returned to work Monday after prostate surgery to remove a malignant tumor. Doctors said the cancer had not spread.

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