The Commission on Appeals, elected at the 2006 convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, met several times during the year past to consider the appeal of the Rev. Rolf Preus.  The decision is herewith printed for your information 


In a letter to the clergy of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod dated January 26, 2006 The Rev. President John Moldstad declared, “Pastor Rolf D. Preus will on the date of February 1, 2006, be suspended from the clergy roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.”  The reason given for this action is as follows: 

“Sowing seeds of discord among the brethren. (Proverbs 6:19) vs. 16:  There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him…19) a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissention among brothers.” NIV 

The evidence for the Charges was the Rev. Rolf Preus’ “Clarifying the Issues in the ELS Ministry Debate,” a document published on December 6, 2006 and widely distributed in which the appellant wrote:

        ·          I cannot accept the PCM [PMW] Document.
·          I will not permit it to be a standard for my teaching….
·          I do not acknowledge it as having any authority over me whatsoever.
·          When it talks about being in the office of divine institution to this or that extent it is not presenting the biblical and confessional doctrine, but the representative ministry notion for which there isn’t any support in the Scripture or the Lutheran Confessions.
·          It falsely claims that a synod president by virtue of being a synod president is an incumbent of the pastoral office. 


        ·          The President falsely accused me.
·          He applied a double standard.
·          I have not charged the synod with false doctrine.
·          The president and not Rolf Preus, has sown seeds of discord among brethren
·          The president has disobeyed the synodical bylaws.
·          The president has acted contrary to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions.
·          The president violated the divine call of Rolf Preus.
·          The president led brothers into sin. 

Appeal Appendix, July 24, 2006

Rolf Preus calls into question the propriety of the Appeals Commission. 


The Commission on Appeals reviewed the synodical handbook, the record of the process leading to suspension, the appeal, the appendix of the appeal, and other written testimony.  The commission determined that the pertinent issues before it were: 

        1.        Were the charges brought against Pastor Rolf Preus justified?
2.        Was the due process followed consistent with the Constitution and By-Laws of the Evangelical  Lutheran Synod? 

The Commission committed itself to the issues before it and not issues outside its responsibility.  The Commission consulted with experts.  The Commission heard testimony from President Moldstad and the Rev. Rolf Preus. 

In all, the commissioners reviewed 81 documents (194 pages).  The documents were provided by President John Moldstad, synodical Secretary Craig Ferkenstad, the Rev. Rolf Preus and various synodical clergy and lay leaders.

These materials were varied and included synodical reports and memorials, official correspondence, emails, reports, letters, conference materials and the like.  Because of gaps in the data or where further explanation was deemed to be warranted, the commission requested and received further documentation from several individuals. 

After much prayer and diligent study, the Commission believes it has done all necessary to reach a fair and impartial decision in the appeal before it. 


1.     Were the charges brought against Pastor Rolf Preus justified?     

      The Synodical President is responsible for supervising the teaching in the E.L.S.  The statements of the Appellant printed above make it clear that the Appellant is not willing to accept and teach certain doctrines of the E.L.S.  These statements were published. 

        Although the Appellant claims that he did not intend to accuse the Statement of the E.L.S. on doctrine of the Public Ministry of containing false doctrine, his words, “flawed, falsely claims, unscriptural” lead to the conclusion that he is accusing the document of false doctrine. 

        The Appellant continues to publicly attack the E.L.S. statement on the Public Ministry. 

2.     Was the due process followed consistent with the Constitution and By-laws of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod? 

        The Commission concluded, after consulting with experts, its belief that the Constitution and By-laws of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod Guidelines for Synodical Discipline and Appeals Article I:  General Cases, did not apply to this situation since this is a public offence with a pastor suspended from permanent membership in the Synod and not his divine call to River Heights Lutheran. 

        Even though the Guidelines are inadequate for this situation the Synodical President’s handling of the situation was orderly and Biblical and consistent with his responsibility as president of the synod.  The “Clarifying the Issues” statement was inflammatory.  Immediate action needed to be taken.  The Synod might consider supplementing these guidelines. 

This is the Decision of the Commission on Appeals. 

Regarding the Memorials referred to the Commission on Appeals 

Since the Evangelical Lutheran Synod at its 2006 annual convention referred several Memorials to the commission, the commission reviewed the Memorials and determined that its final decision concerning the appeal of the Rev. Rolf Preus would be the commission’s response to the Memorials. 

       Yours in Christ, 

        Mr. Ronald Younge
Mr. Robert Smith
The Rev. Charles Keeler (Chairman)
The Rev. William Kessel
The Rev. J. Kincaid Smith (Secretary) 

       Cc. President John Moldstad
Secretary Craig Ferkenstad

  Back to ELS Ministry Debate              Back to Christ for Us Home Page