Happy Triskaidekaphobia Monday

There are Mondays, and then there are Mondays. And tomorrow is the 13th. It’s a trifecta of bad.

This is just a reminder that Monday, August 13 is the day Lutheran Church Canada will get a sense if its actions as a religious corporation were legal or not. If things have gone this far, probably not.

Alberta Securities Commission Hearing

Two pastors, three laymen, the ABC District, and Synod itself – Lutheran Church Canada – are facing an Alberta Securities Hearing tomorrow.

Why is this happening? Because there is concern that regulations and laws were broken when tens of millions of dollars were emptied from the Church Extension Fund to a real estate investment called Prince of Peace Village.

We’re likely to hear there were unchecked conflicts of interest and  breaches of fiduciary duty.  There could eventually be a referral to the crown for criminal charges. Church leadership is treading water in a deep legal cesspool – they’d rather not switch on the lights, for obvious reasons.

What does it mean if the entire church body is complicit in fraud? Well, it’s within the realm of possibility that charitable status for the church body could be in jeopardy. You can bet no one is saying any of it out loud. It’s a discussion you should be having where you live. My own sense is that LCC will be treated like any other corporation. Then again, the church doesn’t garner the respect it once did…for obvious reasons…

Here are some reminders of what the church leadership is facing tomorrow”

Take notice that orders or settlements made by the Commission may form the basis for parallel orders in other jurisdictions in Canada. The securities laws of some other Canadian jurisdictions may allow orders made in this matter to take effect in those other jurisdictions  automatically, without further notice to you.

Docket: ENF-010583 – Page 1 – Reciprocation

This means securities commissions across Canada may be able to adopt the Alberta Securities Commissions findings and levy similar sanctions in their jurisdictions. Synod will need to follow up in all the provinces to clarify its legal status once the dust settles. Whether it will or not is an open question. I’m guessing after this experience, Synod may be more attentive to “compliance issues.” It’s always been a big deal Synod is involved. This was never about just what was happening in Alberta and BC. Remember, Synod’s own documents say there is but ONE body. What happens in ABC District doesn’t necessarily just stay in ABC District…

Staff of the Commission allege that the Respondents breached Alberta securities laws in connection with a long-term, large-scale investment program. …However, while representing the investments to be safe, diversified, and “guaranteed”, the Respondents placed the overwhelming
majority of the invested funds into a high-risk, loan-defaulting, speculative land development project without appropriate disclosure to investors. 

Docket: ENF-010583 – Page 2 – Paragraph 1 – Overview

Ouch can be spelled two ways. ouch, and Ouch. That’s an Ouch. Why so Ouchy? Because it’s a pile-on. Let’s tabulate the highlights so we can see how the words stack up in the mind, rather than the page:

LONG TERM
LARGE SCALE
HIGH-RISK
LOAN-DEFAULTING
SPECULATIVE LAND DEVELOPMENT
WITH NO APPROPRIATE DISCLOSURE

Actually, looking at that again, that’s what honest advertising would have looked like when ABC district was selling CEF. Yeesh.

Here’s the crazy thing: this is all from JUST the Notice of Hearing. These are general headings. When we see the list of charges, it’ll be significantly uglier and more detailed.

Sleep tight Lutheran Church Canada. Tomorrow is a big day.

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.

Unwanted Attention

So, yes, it’s another church scandal. The roman Catholics kicked things off with the endless horrors and abuses at Mount Cashel Orphanage. The Anglicans dragged out their scandal over decades of Residential Schools. To round out the trifecta of scandal, LCC dropped tens of millions of church members money into a black hole.  Not a real black hole. Real black holes require physics. LCC can’t manage a balance sheet let alone physics.

One thing LCC can do: get media attention.

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.

The Clerical Fat Problem

On a completely unrelated note, pastors are fat.

It’s not an epithet or insult; it’s an observation. Of the nine pastors serving congregations I’ve been a member of in my life, nine were overweight. Of the seven, five easily met the definition of obese. Two would be morbidly obese. One struggled with is weight so much he had multiple sets of clothes. It was hard to watch because anyone can recognize emotional pain when they see it. The American Psychological Association calls obesity an epidemic, and makes the link between mental illness and obesity.

We have a sick church. Unhealthy pastors are part of it. It’s as plain as the belly under their cassocks. Since I was a kid people joked how pastors gain all weight eating coffee and kuchen during visits with Grandma Schmitt. It’s not funny anymore; not when most of the pastors my age are on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, heart, cholesterol, or blood pressure medication.

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.

Do’s and Don’ts

Compliance is a flexible word. In mountain biking, a “compliant” bike is one that sucks up some of the rough trail and still lets you feel in control. Of course mountain biking you don’t steer as much as guide and bounce to a new location. Compliance is a way to think about being in agreement: as a Synod, we expect all congregations to subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions – they are compliant.

Compliance is doing what you’re supposed to be doing; following all the rules, laws, and regulations of that particular industry.

One of the most heavily regulated sectors in Canada is the financial sector. Canada avoided the economic ditch after the 2008 downturn, largely because Canada’s regulatory system has built-in checks to make sure everything is in the green. There are always loopholes, but generally Canada has managed to avoid falling victim to circumstances seen in the USA and elsewhere.

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.