Review Task Force Report – Pages 1-6

If ABC District’s CEF fiasco were a person, it would be a bawling, uncomfortable, tantrum laden, two year old. The terrible twos. The devastation will linger and the confusion continues. Two years later I’m still being asked “what happened?” All we know for sure is that ABC District lost tens of millions of dollars, and it wasn’t for any good reason.

Just weeks after District entered CCAA bankruptcy protection, the District office commissioned an arm’s length task force to figure out what issues lead to the collapse of ABC District and its CEF. It was a good instinct: find out what happened and share it with the church. Unfortunately, District never formally acknowledged the task force report, discouraged a second follow-up report, and there is probably even some legal jeopardy in its findings.

The District’s own task force report will probably be used as evidence in court when the depositors take Synod, District, and boards to court. That explains why Synod and District haven’t acknowledged the report. No one wants to see bad news, especially when it exposes the myriad weakness in our institutions.

In the interest of the public good, SolaGratia has serialized the Review Task Force Report. We’ll be releasing three pages a day (or so) to make the entire report nice and digestible. The original report is available in all its PDF glory, we’re breaking it into text so it’s easy to read and print. We’re doing a simple copy/paste without editing (except formatting to stay true to the original form).

Here now are pages 1-6 of the Review Task Force Report.


ABC DISTRICT TASK FORCE
INTERIM REPORT
NOVEMBER 23, 2015

Without Prejudice

This independent arms-length report was produced at the request and with the permission of the Board of Directors of the Alberta-British Columbia District of Lutheran Church—Canada. The authors hold no responsibility for any consequences that might arise now or in the future from the information contained in this report. The authors take no responsibility for how the contents of this report might be used or misused at the current time or in the future.

The authors have made every effort to provide accurate information obtained from documents and interviews to date. The authors take no responsibility for any errors or for errors of omission contained herein.

The authors understand that there are pending legal matters involving the ABC District and its other corporate entities. The purpose of this report is not to be part of these matters in any way. Should any individuals or agents want to obtain information for court purposes or obtain information from the documents referred to, this can be achieved through legal subpoena of the documents from the ABC District and/or its previous and former officers and employees.

Deborah Belden  |  Marlis Krueger, R.Psych.  |  Rev. Michael Schutz


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………1
Abbreviations Used in This Report…………………………………………………………………………………………..2
Progress and Methodology……………………………………………………………………………………………………..3
A Pastoral Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..4
Sociological/Psychological Considerations……………………………………………………………………………….8
Included in This Report………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 10
Information Used to Prepare This Report…………………………………………………………………………….. 11
Description of the District Group…………………………………………………………………………………………. 12
BOD of ABC District…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 13
Executive Committee of the BOD………………………………………………………………………………………… 13
Executive Assistants……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 13
Departments………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 14
Accounting………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 14
GAAP…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 15
DIL………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 16
ECHS & EMSS………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 17
Multiple Positions in District Group……………………………………………………………………………………… 17
Summary of Information Obtained to Date from Documents & Interviews………………………….. 18
Prior to September 2000…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 19
September 2000 to May 2003 …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 25
September 2003 to May 2006 …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 29
June 2006 to May 2009 ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 39
June 2009 to August 2012 …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 51
September 2012 to August 2015…………………………………………………………………………………………. 65
Other Information & TF Interview Statements …………………………………………………………………….. 91
Concluding Thoughts…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 96
New Things………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 97
Into The Light………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 98
Looking Ahead…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 99

INTRODUCTION

In February of 2015, a Task Force was struck to examine what happened within the ABC District over the last many years to contribute to the current crisis. The District’s Board of Directors asked that  the Task Force look into not only the financial issues, but also the underlying culture of District in general and District leadership in particular. This involves looking at the explicit and implicit values, beliefs, attitudes, structures, habits, and procedures that contributed to decisions and actions. Such an undertaking is a difficult one, but it is of utmost importance to bring these things to light so that we can learn from our past and not be doomed to repeat it in the future.

The following is the confirmation of the Task Force’s mandate sent back to the ABC Board of Directors once the Task Force members were in place, confirming our understanding of the mandate. The full mandate, confirmation document, and other information about the Task Force can be found on our web site at abcreview.ca.

The ABC District Board of Directors has initiated a Task Force to identify factors contributing to the current crisis. The scope of the Task Force mandate is broad and complex. It includes analyzing not only financial and legal aspects of the current crisis, but also underlying cultural, structural, and procedural principles and practices that helped set the stage for the current crisis. Identifying, understanding, and addressing these is vital to help our church walk wisely into the future.

 

We are called to walk into this future not only with trust in our Lord, but also in relationship to one another. The breadth and latitude of the Task Force mandate will hopefully encourage God-pleasing relationships between laypeople, pastors, and the ABC District (whatever this might look like in the future). We are mindful of the impact of the current crisis on everyone involved. Implications and ramifications are widespread and multi-faceted: personal and systemic, emotional and legal, financial and religious, lonely and public.”

The Task Force is made up of people connected with congregations of the ABC District, but who have held no leadership positions with the District structure.

  • Deborah Belden holds a Diploma in Administration from Athabasca University, is president of a bookkeeping company, and has been involved in financial management positions for more than 30 years. She is a lifelong member of the Lutheran Church, LCMS and LCC. Born in Edmonton and raised in Winnipeg, she was the president of her youth group in the Red River Circuit and  represented the circuit as a youth delegate. She moved back to Edmonton in 1984, working for Together In Ministry as the administrative assistant for the three fundraisers. She met her husband and they moved to Penticton, where they joined Concordia Lutheran Church. She was one of the founders of Concordia Lutheran School. They later moved to Summerland and she is
    currently the treasurer of her local congregation, Redeemer, West Kelowna.
  • Marlis Krueger is a clinical psychologist of 25 years and an experienced researcher. She owns a psychological firm with 20 staff, has lectured and taught at the post-graduate level, and has consulted extensively to numerous organizations throughout Alberta. She is a lifelong member of LCMS and LCC churches, raised in Winnipeg and later living in Minnesota, California, Edmonton, and now Calgary for 20 years. She met her husband while attending Concordia University St Paul and they have two adult children. She has deep roots in the Lutheran church, with parents who are active members, a father-inlaw who was VP in Minnesota South, and two brothers-in-law as LCMS pastors. Marlis and her husband have both held numerous church Board positions over the years and most recently were heavily involved in a Calgary church plant.
  • Rev. Michael Schutz is a lifelong member of LCC. Born and raised in Regina, SK and a graduate of Concordia University of Edmonton, he has served in LCC/LCMS since 2000 (Deacon-DPS, 2000-2013; Pastor, 2013-present). His primary vocations are husband, father of four, and pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church & School in Penticton, BC. He has led two congregations through governance projects, presented at a variety of events within LCC, and currently serves on LCC’s Communications and Technology Committee and on the board of CREW Ministries.
  • Two other members were initially appointed by the District Board’s Executive Committee but are not currently serving on the task force.

The Task Force is made up of volunteers who are not being compensated for our work in any way other than to have expenses paid, and these expenses have been kept to a bare minimum, totaling less than $1000 so far.

We wish to emphasize that though this Task Force was initially struck by the Board of Directors, no part of the work has been directed or influenced in any way by current or past members of the Board or District Staff. We have no vested interest in maintaining the status quo or defending previous decisions. We have been persistent in asking difficult and critical questions in our efforts to get answers for the sake of our church. Though we have tried to be compassionate in our interviews with District leadership as fellow Christians, we have taken our responsibilities to ask questions, challenge answers, and obtain information on behalf of the church seriously.

ABBREVIATIONS USED IN THIS REPORT

ABC Alberta-British Columbia

BOD Board of Directors

CEF Church Extension Fund

CFO Chief Financial Officer

DIL ABC District Investments Ltd.

DP District President

DSFM Department of Stewardship and Financial Ministries (Prior to September 2003, this was the Department of Financial Ministries; Stewardship functions were then transferred over from Department of Parish Services)

EA Executive Assistants (Missions, Parish & School Services, Financial)

EC Executive Committee

ECHS EnCharis Community Housing Services (see EnCharis below)

EMSS EnCharis Management and Support Services (see EnCharis below)

EnCharis The organization initiated in 2004 and formally incorporated in 2005 to manage the Prince of Peace Development; incorporated as two separate EnCharis entities (ECHS owns the land/buildings, EMSS operates services).

GAAP Generally Accepted Accounting Principles

K Thousand

LCC Lutheran Church Canada

M Million

Monitor The Monitor is an officer of the Court acting as the eyes and ears of the Court during CCAA proceedings. The Monitor is monitoring the actions of the District Group and reporting to the Court on these.

MS Motioned/Seconded

MSC Motioned/Seconded/Carried

POP The Prince of Peace Development, which is now incorporated as two separate

EnCharis entities (ECHS owns the land/buildings, EMSS operates services).

SP Synod President

SVM Shepherd’s Village Ministries, Inc.

TF ABC District Review Task Force

VP Vice President

Andreas Schwabe is editor and publisher of SolaGratia.ca, and an Edmonton-based multimedia & communication strategist and producer. His focus for SolaGratia is on administration, governance, and issues of faith. For clients, he writes or produces just about anything.

2 thoughts on “Review Task Force Report – Pages 1-6

  1. It’s important to have all the information available for people to make informed decisions. The most interesting parts come in the interviews.

  2. larry

    Yes, it is more “digestible” this way. But what the report says is very “nauseating.”

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