Pope John the Malefactor was born John Moldstad, Jr. When the Evangelical Lutheran Synod threatened to slip away from the consecrated and consecrating hands of WELS, the insiders voted out the First VP, who would have replaced Pope George the Malleable. Moldstad was voted in. Kincaid Smith boasted about this accomplishment, which made its way into Christian News. Moldstad's previous boast was becoming a Bethany Seminary professor without graduating from college.
Pope John has been kicking men and congregations out of the ELS, albeit with great sadness expressed. Observers doubt the melancholy nature of the act since John does this so often and with such alacrity. In each case the congregation could have stayed while issues were worked out. His Grace, Bishop John Shep, kicked out of Thoughts of Faith and the Ukraine, told me a few years ago, "John is a walk-the-plank type of guy. Just wait."
The most famous case involves River Heights, Minnesota, where Rolf Preus (son of Robert Preus) was the pastor. Rolf criticized the ELS attempts under Orvick to adopt the Wisconsin Synod's false doctrine about the ministry. When Pope John the Malefactor replaced Orvick, he went to the River Heights congregation and issued an ultimatum. The congregation must leave the ELS, suspend Preus, or fire him. Threatened as they were, the congregation suspended Preus. Moldstad maneuvered until Preus was fired after that. The Antichrist in Rome has that kind of power, but no congregation should hand their power to call over to an official.
Several other pastors were forced out by Moldstad, according to ELS Bad Boy:
- Immanuel, Audubon, Minnesota. Pastor forced out.
- Cottage Grove, Wisconsin. Pastor forced out.
- Fertile, Minnesota - congregation left the ELS. Served by Rolf Preus.
- Crookston, Minnestoa - congregation left the ELS. Served by Rolf Preus.
- Faith in Litchfield left the ELS with its pastor.
- Brockdorf was suspended, then left the ELS with his congregation.
- Lanier was suspended. He left the ELS with his congregation.
- Lawson Jr. was suspended. He left the ELS with his congregation.
- Williamsburg, Iowa, was kicked out with its pastor, for opposing Moldstad.
- Pastor Lehenbauer resigned from the ELS roster because of his opposition to false doctrine in the ELS.
Add to this list a few closings for various reasons. The ELS is tiny, so the ejection of so many pastors and congregations must be alarming to the survivors. Another pastor is in the Moldstad crosshairs, so that would probably mean another congregation. ELS Bad Boy says that Moldstad would look like a chicken and smell like a roof if he showed up at some congregations.
One reader asked, "When will they vote Moldstad out?"
Another one wondered, "Why didn't Moldstad make any noise when Roman Archbishop Weakland was an honored speaker at Wisconsin Lutheran College?" Answer - Professional courtesy.
The good news is that the congregations freed from the embrace of WELS/ELS/Fuller will have a chance to proclaim the Gospel through the Means of Grace.