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.
Three years and a day later Synod is moving ahead with a great restructuring. Church leaders and the synod itself is embroiled in lawsuits and financial wrangling, but you don’t hear about it. In fact, it’s like the restructuring has been rammed through the way it has to satisfy some legal or insurance requirements. If not, then it’s simply a mystery why anyone is trying to restructure. Synod’s problems can’t be blamed on a structure that’s working successfully in the United States, Australia and elsewhere.
I’m still processing Synod convention, and one other incident since then.
Convention was just a stonewall. The church still prefers to keep the shame of CEF obscured. No apologies. No discussion. Nothing. Zero. Not one delegate other than the one for the motion to simply talk about ABC’s crisis made a sound. It was astonishingly callous on the part of every delegate: we do not speak of such things. In an institution that only has things to speak, the truth should be one of them.
Convention was…uchgh. Recently I’ve been the subject of a couple of incidents that are so disappointing they’ve really given me pause. Synod isn’t as bad as I thought. Honestly, truly: it’s worse. One issue has been deal with scripturally, so I’m being as open as possible. What I will say is, folks, the knives are out for me and men with collars are holding them. That’s more than a little disappointing. It’s repulsive.
Lutheran Church Canada spent 2017 declaring the 500th anniversary and glory of our grand theological tradition of dissent, speaking truth for the sake of truth, and a clear understanding of law and gospel and how both are good and necessary. LCC has ignored law and claimed only the gospel for itself. It’s an emblem of why the institutional church is shrinking across the board: church leaders have forgotten that words and actions need to match up. Right now they don’t. Why is ANYONE surprised what’s happening to the church?
Here we are. Three years and two days from January 5, 2015. It isn’t a day anyone should be reminded of in 2018. Sadly, it’s still necessary in LCC. Happy Anniversary.
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.