Pastor Clifford and bike4bibles.ca

Somewhere on the shores of Lake Huron, Pastor Clifford is pounding the pedals to raise some money for Bibles with a fundraising event called bike4bibles.ca

You should visit Pastor Clifford’s sponsorship page and make a donation. Because it’s a good thing to do. And because cycling is awesome.

Pastor Clifford is 80% of the way to his $1000 fund-raising goal. Methinks that should be closer to at least $1500 for those of you who are going to chip in. More is more after all.

Keep the rubber side down and the helmet side up Pastor Clifford!

 

The Wartburg Letter

Twenty-five years ago the Rev. Paul DeBlock, and his banker brother Joel, wrote a paper questioning the financial and theological approach LCC was taking toward missions. Why do Synod and Districts spend so much money on a growing administration when membership is in steady and predictable decline? Why is spending up while membership dropped, putting increasing financial pressures on congregations.

The DeBlock brothers’ paper was censured and buried by Synod officials as damaging.

Of course, the District President and Synod president at the time were right: the contents of the paper painted a picture of a church that demanded ever more from a shrinking donation base. That didn’t even address the “why are we doing this because administration isn’t a mission.” I was a full-time journalist in those days. I read the paper did some research to confirm the findings. My follow-up research was revealing. I couldn’t have access to public documents like budgets, and no official at the time would speak on the record.

Let’s be generous and say it was clear enough in 1993 that ABC District was taking financial actions that were ill-advised. District’s behaviors were bad enough that I decided to write a little newsletter to let people know that ABC District and Synod were breaking down and heading in a direction that was a serious risk for financial and spiritual catastrophe. That was in 1993.

Fast-forward 25 years, and one of my co-writers sent me the front page of the two editions of “The Wartburg Letter.” I’m sure there is one person out there who has just said, “I knew it!” The Wartburg Letter was a tempest in a teapot. It was a minor controversy at the time.

Looking back, I’m genuinely shocked how right I got it 25 years ago. Then again, I was really echoing the essay, research, intellect, and insights of the formidable DeBlock brothers.

Glancing over the front page of the Wartburg Letter, I remember the excitement of researching and writing the articles, having editorial meetings to focus on the angle of stories, and verifying the information we were publishing was correct. I recall the disappointment of having questions rebuffed by District staff. Granted it was a long time ago, but the attitudes and behaviors that lead to the collapse of CEF/DIL were firmly in operation in 1993. You can’t get to 2015’s collapse without all the decisions and actions District took in the 1990’s. The church’s problems have been decades in the making.

The March 1 cover is a personal favourite. In 1991 Synod issued a questionnaire about how much people trusted Synod and District financial management. The results of the survey were never published. If the results were that people trusted Synod, that would be exposed as a mistake. If the results were that people didn’t trust Synod, then it makes sense they buried the report. Either way, the perspective of history really doesn’t improve the picture for ABC District or Lutheran Church Canada.

If nothing else, it’s an interesting insight into just how early problems in Synod and District were identified, published, and ignored a quarter century ago.

Frankly, I’m a little shocked how well they hold up. Neither cover seems out of date.


The Class Divide

On January 5, 2015 thousands of Lutherans were cast into financial ruin. Synod caused their ruin. Sure it was ABC District, but the constitution says District is an agent of Synod. Synod is primary and has supervisory responsibility over District, including District Presidents. Of course, LCC has been adept at ignoring its own constitution and replaced it with three mini-synods within a bigger one.  We’re all bound as the body of Christ until there’s a problem. Then fraternal bonds are just, you know, nice, until you need a lawyer.

There is still a lot of hurt and a lot of anger. Naturally, Synod being a frightened child, has never directly condemned the losses and actions that lead to them. We can surmise that Synod and District thinks it’s okay for thousands of people (and congregations) to lose their reserves, building funds, retirement funds, dream homes, and pensions.

The Great Cash Call of 2018

True Story: Mrs. SolaGratia reports “sewer drains sound beautiful.” If you’d been deaf and heard a sewer for the first time in 30 years, you’d think so too. Speaking of sewers…

At it’s peak, the ABC District Church Extension Fund weighed in at a hefty $113,000,000.00  By sustained acts of concerted arrogance and hubris, the fund was lost to bankruptcy. Normally you’d think, “yeah, lesson learned.” Aww, that’s sweet. Really it is, but this is LCC, where ignorance is the catalyst for planned inaction. It only ever seems to get worse. Next up: congregations get to pay for what looks like a mangled pension fund for pastors.

YOU: “Are you serious? LCC has another financial crisis brewing?”

ME: (looks down to avoid eye contact…sweeps the floor with his foot)

YOU: No seriously. There’s ANOTHER financial crisis in LCC?

ME: (looks at the ceiling and whistles a gentle “Chief of Sinners Though I Be”)

YOU: (binge eats five pints of Ben and Jerry’s “Chocolate Fudge Brownie” Ice Cream)