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.
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.
You’re in bed in that dreamy space between wakefulness and sleep. And then you hear something. You start…but stay motionless. Then, after not hearing the sound again, you drift off to sleep. Waiting for the other shoe to drop is uncomfortable when it doesn’t happen.
The first shoe: it’s been nearly three years since the collapse of ABC District and its Church Extension Fund and its DIL investment fund – January 5, 2015. Thousands of people lost millions of dollars to a debacle of mismanagement and misinformation. No one, not even the people who were in charge say they know what happened. If they do know, they’re heeding legal advice and staying mum. And the church really is all about staying silent isn’t it?
Last week the Canadian Lutheran published an essay by President Robert Bugbee entitled, “I support restructuring.” He says Synod has tried and failed to restructure many times. While that may be true, they must have been half-hearted attempts. There’s no mention of restructuring in the Canadian Lutheran Prior to 2015 (including paper copies), when three District conventions told synod to fix itself. I’ve followed conventions closely since the early 90’s. At best, there was only ever talk.
Synod has always been reticent to accept that the 2015 District motions to restructure were an order to “heal thyself.” Reticence aside, it’s the honest version of the issue. Delegates and members of all Districts were appalled by the collapse of CEF in ABC district, and wanted to avoid the problem from happening elsewhere. Heck, LCEF in Missouri went through a review process to make sure it wasn’t subject to the same governance and management issues in LCC. If that’s not a wake-up call…