Three years ago yesterday the Alberta British Columbia District of Lutheran Church Canada it had a “sufficient cash flow shortage.” The ABC District was bankrupt. District officials said they “erred on the side of the gospel.” It’s a repugnant idea that sprang from the mouth of a District staffer in the early days of the crisis in 2015. I only heard it uttered once myself, but the stage was set: no one was to blame.
ABC District’s CCAA (bankruptcy protection) is nearing its end. On January 5, 2015 ABC District declare itself in a “sufficient cash flow shortage.” That particular baffle-gab (re: bullshit) was the first volley in a series of misses and misdirections from Distrct and Synod leadership when the insolvency was announced. Of course it only took a couple of weeks for District and Synod to put a clamp on communications and rig for silent running.
There are no casual observers in the ABC District’s ongoing CEF/DIL debacle. In spite of what’s obviously been a rough three years for depositors, last year there was some hope when the value of the money ABC District lost was transferred into ownership of Prince of Peace Village near Calgary. Depositors became shareholders. I worked for SAGE for just a month or so, and during that time the most-often asked question was “how do I sell my shares?”
Had shares gone on sale at that point, it’s very likely shareholders would have taken a bath. The whole ABC District mayhem was complicated and messy enough without adding a wild west stampede of sellers – share values would have tanked and the only winners would be the buyers.
A year later, and SAGE Properties – the holding company owned by former depositors – has a new website which it says is cost-effective and user-friendly (in my books cost-effective IS user friendly, but I get what they’re saying).
The website is www.sagedatabase.ca
The official email from SAGE Board Chair Sandra Jory says the site will, “…provide a listing of shareholders who are interested in selling their shares. It will also provide a listing of those individuals who are interested in purchasing shares.”
If you want to use the service, you’ll have to set up an account.
SAGE seems to understand its shareholders: there’s a downloadable guide which takes you step-by-step through the process (which is brilliant). The guide is available at the SAGE Properties website.
Finally, they also know that a lot of depositors don’t have meaningful Internet access. Anyone who is offline for whatever reason can call SAGE Properties at 403-478-9661 and ask for Laura.
ABC District had the biggest news to share but it barely got a line and a link. In fact, ABC Connect, the District’s newsletter, doesn’t even mention specifically what the news is. But it’s huge and historical. Naturally we’re skipping over it as best we can.
On October 25, 2017, a federal court lifted the stay of proceedings in place since January 2015. The stay of proceedings is a legal instrument in bankruptcy protection so creditors can’t sue debtors until their finances are in place.
Now, it turns out, ABC District’s finances are in place.
So, this Reformation Day, we can be reminded that the courts had to intervene and manage the church’s financial affairs, which were a disaster. The administrative situation was equally grim. Grim enough to go from a staff of 14 to a staff of 3. This is church growth LCC style: make huge mistakes, don’t own up to them, and then definitely don’t act to correct the errors.
Yes, we have confirmation that church members can sue the church. Let the lawsuits begin. Happy Reformation Day, courtesy of LCC and ABC District.