An Open Letter to the Midland Community, (From the Midland Daily News, Saturday, May 23)

Dear Members of the Midland Community,

Last Sunday our congregation heard that our associate pastor was resigning. He told us that he had sinned, and without disclosing the details said it was no longer appropriate for him to serve. That was naturally devastating to those who had known and loved him for five years, but in the larger scheme of things not exactly noteworthy.

Beginning on Tuesday, the details of his sin broke public, and the contradiction between what he proclaimed in public forums and what he was involved in personally became a national story. What could we do but grieve at the legitimacy of the accusation, and grieve still more deeply at the way in which his failure was relentlessly and repeatedly brought home to him. We want to be clear that we bear no resentment to those who have reported or commented on this story. But we hope you understand that to us it has been more than a news story--it has been a very real grief.

We are, of course, still grieving, but want the community to know where we stand at a time like this.

-We still stand by the Holy Scripture, and the good news we find therein that those who turn to Christ in repentance are healed and forgiven. The Scripture does not teach that any sin should be singled out or shamed, but rather that God will not break a bruised reed or snuff a smoldering wick. We understand that our views do not speak for the community and respect those who believe differently, but this is where we stand.

-We stand by Matt as a fallen but repentant brother and by his family as they seek to recover from this. He may not, of course, stand in the pulpit any longer, but he is welcome at the altar. We do not believe that public shaming is helpful to anyone, and we pray for their healing

-We remain a part of this community, humbled but grateful, and looking forward to contributing in positive ways, working together in mutual respect with members of the community, whether or not they share our convictions.

Thank you for your time. We wish you good will in the name of our Lord Jesus.

Dan Kempin Senior Pastor, St. Johnís Lutheran