A member of a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregation has filed suit here in an effort to gain personal access to the denomination's financial records.
Fred Rutz, a member of Zion Lutheran Church in Painsville, Ohio, has long been a fiscal gadfly within the Missouri Synod. He has written articles in such conservative periodicals as Affirm and Christian News charging the denomination's administrators with fiscal mismanagement.
In his lawsuit Rutz is requesting a court order to permit him and his Fred C. Rutz Foundation, as well as member congregations of the synod, to examine the church's financial records.
He specifically wants access to salary and expense funds, records of mining investments in Brazil, and records of the sale of the former synodical headquarters building in St. Louis.
At the synod's 1977 convention, Rutz was given time to present his charges on the floor and before the convention's committee on program implementation. Dr. Paul A. Zimmerman, president of Concordia Teachers College, River Forest, Ill., who chaired the convention committee, said, "The committee wuestioned synodical administrators regarding Rutz's charges, and we were satisfied with the answers provided by them."
Synodical administrator John Schuelke told a St. Louis newspaper that the denomination is audited each year by the firm of Ernest and Ernest and has received a "clean opinion" each year.