David Benke is a Lutheran pastor and the current president of the Atlantic District of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.
Education and Career
Benke was born on May 5, 1946 in Milwaukee, WI
as the first child of Raymond and Dorothy Benke. He attended Lutheran schools in Milwaukee and earned an Associate of Arts
degree from Concordia College
in 1966. He earned a Bachelor of Arts
degree with honors from Concordia Senior College
in Fort Wayne, Indiana
. On August 17, 1968, he married Judith Platt, a teacher who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison
. Benke earned his Masters of Divinity
degree from Concordia Seminary
and was ordained
a pastor at his boyhood church in Milwaukee on June 15, 1972. His career as an ordained pastor included time as an assistant pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in St. Louis and a religion teacher at Martin Luther High School (Maspeth, NY)
in New York City
. He became pastor of St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Brooklyn
, and he served as pastor there from 1975-1991 and from 1998-present. While at St. Peter's, Benke earned his Doctor of Ministry
degree from the New York Theological Seminary
in May 1983.
Benke was elected president of the Atlantic District of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod in 1991 and has been re-elected four times, most recently in 2003.
Events Following September 11 Attacks
Following the attacks of September 11
, 2001, he participated in an interfaith worship service for the victims that took place at Yankee Stadium
and included high-profile speakers of many different religious denominations. His participation in this event was met with extreme opposition by many Lutherans, who claimed that his participation constituted syncretism
. One such individual was Dr. Wallace Schultz, who was at that time the host of The Lutheran Hour
and Second Vice President of the Synod. For several months following the Yankee Stadium event, Schultz tried to negotiate with Benke for a public apology. Schultz conducted an investigation into the allegations and found that Benke had violated synodical teachings in several areas. As Benke offered no apology publicly or privately, on July 6
Shultz suspended him. However on April 10
the President of the Synod, Gerald B. Kieschnick
, reinstated Benke. The charges against Benke were eventually withdrawn because an investigation determined he had received permission to attend the Yankee Stadium event from Kieschnick, his eccelsiastical supervisor. These actions caused a major controversy among Missouri Synod Lutherans across the country.
- http://home.gwu.edu/~brianjac/writing/LCMS.htm (Academic paper detailing the Yankee Stadium incident)
- http://www.ad-lcms.org/anniversary/presidents.htm (Official Atlantic District biography)