LCC: Cramming for Finals

Everyone enjoys their birthday. I enjoyed my birthday, but not when I was in university. During my college years, my birthday invariably landed in the middle of mid-terms. I never had a birthday party because everyone had to study for finals and meet deadlines for mid-term papers. Oh woe is me. So hard done by, I know. What I remember of my birthday every year in university: cramming for exams.

LCC is cramming too. Synod has said over and over that the restructuring process is difficult, fraught, and we have a very short time-line. Yeah. We noticed that timeline thing. Delegates in Synod were given less than a month to gather all the information – theological and legal – about changing how Synod looks and works – and then change it all. Jeepers.

It’s an impossibly short amount of time to understand all the issues, unless you’re a willfully ignorant and horrifyingly glib delegate, in which case just go ahead and vote how ever your pastor delegate tells you to vote. It’s what’s always been done in LCC after all.

Synod is offering two webinars to get delegates up to speed on the issues. The problem is, a 105 minute long webinar is about enough to scratch the surface – you know, read the index, get a feel for what’s inside a document.

I can’t shake the feeling that LCC is facing a GOP moment. Currently, the Republican party in the united states is trying to modify/repeal/whatever The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). That has nothing to do with Lutheran Church Canada. What does relate to our church is that Republican leaders are supporting legislation they haven’t read, don’t understand, and don’t know the consequences of. They want to pass the legislation quickly because if they publish analysis and impact projections, they’ll get pummeled by their constituencies. In LCC it’s the same kind of problem: there’s a rush on to restructure LCC, but there isn’t adequate time to deal with all the issues and understand them, let alone deal with them.

LCC is moving to “repeal and replace” LCC’s current structure, but even the 187 page notice of changes to LCC for convention delegates is a hackneyed mashup of ideas. CCMS didn’t write the new structure document: it was a hand-picked group from CCMS and the Board of Directors. Except the Board of Directors has nothing to do with the process. CCMS answers to convention. Apparently the Synod Board of Directors believes it’s appropriate to usurp convention’s authority.

Welcome to the morass of LCC.

Delegates represent circuits, but will they represent the views of all the congregations, or just the view of the circuit’s pastoral delegate (re: the usual)? Right now, delegates are diligently studying all the restructuring documentation, preparing presentations and getting feedback from other congregations. I know, silly right? But that’s what happens in mature, functional organizations. In LCC we schedule a couple of webinars and declare it “close enough for jazz.”

With less than a month before convention, Synod is going to tell people what to think.

Sidebar: for those who don’t work in the communications business, webinars are a nice way to present information you want people to have without critique or too much feedback – because feedback channels are moderated by the presenter, so you only hear/see what they want you to see/hear. Webinars are a sales tool, They alwasy have been. They always will be. I should know: I produce webinar content for clients. It’s ALWAYS a sales job. So, be warned delegates. It’s not a discussion, it’s indoctrination.

While this has a bit rantier than I’ve been lately, I want to leave you with this insight about Synod’s planned webinar: Synod has choosen the worst possible vector to get a message to its people. Only 40% of LCC members have access to email AND the internet. This might seem low, but it’s right on track with our church’s demographics. This is the kind of rank amateurism that is crippling our church. The answer is NOT always “the intertubeweb.” First you assess who your audience is, how they can be reached, an and then you do the thing that reaches them, not the sexy thing that reaches everyone EXCEPT your audience.

A day without another set of weird decisions and a double-down-rush to the finish line, regardless of value or logic by LCC, is like a day without sunshine.

The future is so bright, we have to wear shades.

Andreas Schwabe

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.

4 thoughts on “LCC: Cramming for Finals

  1. ANO

    ..the fact remains that the CCMS chose to go along with the BoD’s suggestion.

    Well, there’s “going along” because you agree it’s a good idea and there’s “going along” because the counterparty is coercing you into making that decision.

    The big questions I want the BOD / CCMS needs to answer are:
    * Why did they lock Stahlke out of the WG?
    * Where was the BOD up to that point in time when the WG was formed?
    * If the Synod lawyer had objections to the document – what were they and were these purported issues raised with the CCMS before the WG was formed?
    * Why does the BOD think a WG can replace 20 months of work and consultations in 2 months with no consultations?
    * How does the BOD / WG expect the membership to parse and understand what they’re voting on with such a short time frame?
    * Why did the revised document give the SP / VP effective immunity to any form accountability?
    * Why not discuss the proposal at convention, table it, work through any identified issues after convention, and then call a special convention to pass the new structure?

    Personally – whenever I see an attempt to do a substitution right before a big decision and not give the people considering the question sufficient time to think about it, it’s because someone’s trying to use strong-arm tactics to hijack the program and implement their own agenda.

    Is that what’s going on here? It’s hard to tell – the delegates aren’t being given the requisite information needed to make a proper determination one way or another, and if Stahlke doesn’t attend the Convention, the delegates may never know. That alone is reason to decline the proposals, instruct the CCMS to continue work, and call a special convention on just this when the proposed structural document is ready.

    • There’s also the dominant LCC “going along:” inattention and indifference.

      There’s also “going along” because, “*yawn* this is a lot of big words and I didn’t really read all this stuff. Hey pastor, you keep up on all this…how are you voting?”

      I’ve seen a lot of both at conventions.

  2. Nathan

    CCMS answers to convention, yes. But unless I’m missing something, the BoD did not usurp the CCMS’s authority, despite the many assertions I’ve seen to the contrary in the past week or two: the BoD’s report to the convention, as it appears in the workbook supplement, “The Board proposed that a Working Group of individuals from the Board and the CCMS along with Synod legal counsel be tasked with developing a consolidated restructuring proposal to be brought to the Convention. This approach was subsequently unanimously adopted by the CCMS, the working group struck, and the requisite initiatives undertaken” (G.3).

    It may be a he-said, she-said thing, but the fact remains that the CCMS chose to go along with the BoD’s suggestion. It didn’t have to, it wasn’t ordered to. There are plenty of legitimate concerns about the process , but the accusation of usurped authority is neither true nor helpful. The letter from Pastor Stahlke you posted last week makes it pretty clear that the establishment of the working group was pretty murky no matter how many best constructions you want to throw on it.

    We’re clearly dealing with an organization that doesn’t care much for outside scrutiny, which makes pretty much every move it makes seem dubious. But we should at least try to let the BoD and Working Group defend themselves through the few rationales we’ve been given (convention supplement, G.11-G.12).

    But the rationales we should really be concentrating on are those given in regards to the new proposed plan; the Working Group provides some, such as they are, in its summary of divergences from the substance of the CCMS-Stahlke plan (G.12-G.13). More worrying are those they didn’t see fit to mention and therefore provided no rationale for, probably because they were too rushed — Pastor Stahlke has thankfully put together a comparison between the CCMS-Stahlke plan and the Working Group plan which is very helpful. I’m especially hedgy about the differing method of assembling regions. (page 4 of Stahlke’s comparison: https://lookaside.fbsbx.com/file/Comparison%20of%20Act%20and%20Bylaws%20and%20Handbook.pdf?token=AWyorwskNg61rsuw4UteRhJeEAL89S6hHeXlISYzGtZHRdrzoijT_4zYi2apj2p1R79EPt7UJDIC4vOm0foT4xWqBopJ7ykke1g4XtaC65hr8mFOksGCnGlNgP4u7xFlBbQMF4t-YrIycUxOlinBgWWB9SV8fccQ_MREIOwiem8sdA). I can imagine plausible rationales for so doing, but I would much prefer not having to make them up.

    TL; DR: There’s plenty to criticize without accusations of usurped authority. Either unintentionally or through a misplaced sense of obligation to quietly solve all their differences on a personal level between pious Christians (and thereby depriving the institution of transparency), the powers that be have become adept at backroom manoeuvring. They would never be so crass as to purposely usurp authority.

    • First, if opacity is any measurement, then the entire process is so opaque that it should be halted.

      Secondly, the board proposed something not provisioned in the constitution and CCMS approved it. That means CCMS undermined convention by taking action on a guidance decision that only should have come from convention.

      This is all a natural result of unacknowledged power struggles in Synod. If it looks like a duck…or if it looks all screwed up…

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