News is what happens TO you

There’s a saying in PR circles: Public relations is what you say about yourself. News is what others say about you. There’s another way to look at the news: news is what happens TO you.

From the perspective of a member of the ABC District of Lutheran Church Canada big news broke last week. Depending on your perspective there’s been a lot, or little, information coming out about the story of CEF’s insolvency. This website is about providing a clearinghouse for information about the CEF crisis, as well as anything else that’s happening related, or unrelated to the issue.

The CBC has picked up on the story and is reporting about what we’ve already known about for the last week and a half. It’s not a small issue, and now, everyone is watching. And it seems to be a fair representation (what, a reportering being fair and balanced, say it ain’t so!).

So much for the news. What then, do we say about ourselves in this tempest which has broken out of its teapot? Pastor Michael Schutz from Concordia Lutheran Church and School in Penticton, BC was interviewed for the story. “As a pastor, I get to celebrate with them in times that are joyful, but I’m also invited in times of disappointment, anger and frustration, and I have to say this is certainly one of those times.” There’s no need to interpret the statement. It does reflect us as a church body of sinners who are hurt, confused, and trying to make sense of things. But we do it together.

Since setting up this site not even a week ago, I’ve received a few comments suggesting it’s not productive, and that I have suggested the notion that there is an air of intimidation between pastors as district. Turning back to the CBC article, “Some told CBC they didn’t want to be interviewed, fearing reprisal from the church for speaking out.” What does is say about us, as a church body? It says a reporter couldn’t get anyone to talk because, oh dear, there’s an air of intimidation between pastors an district.

The only error I could find in the CBC story is that the use of “church” is a bit sloppy. But then we, as Lutheran Christians, understand that the church is not the district office. The district office is an administrative office that serves congregations, churches, in their ministry. The story isn’t about theology (thank goodness), so it’s understandable that the constitution and how it is formed through scripture and the Book of Concord is a bit ethereal to grasp. For the world, that’s splitting hairs.

Yesterday, LCC issued a statement making those air-splitting structural issues clear.

So, here we are. Yesterday it was all cookies and giggles and today is the end of a very long inhale, hand-wringing, and breath-holding. There will be a collective exhale for CEF and we’ll find out how bad our breath is.

 

LINKS to Recent News Items
January 15, 2015 ABC District of LCC Faces Financial Crisis (CBC News)
January 15, 2015 Update on CEF Investor Meetings (ABC District Website)
January 14, 2015 Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the CEF Situation (LCC Website)

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.
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5 thoughts on “News is what happens TO you

  1. ANO

    “Yesterday, LCC issued a statement making those air-splitting structural issues clear.”

    I’d note that this link no longer works – the page it links to is gone.

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  2. Stephen

    What is clear from the financial statement on this site is that he CEF is in financial disarray and has been for some time. They are owed over $60 million from a single creditor and that creditor has defaulted on payment for several years. Further, the financial records of the fund are in poor enough condition the Auditor was unable to express an opinion. That may be acceptable for a Charity but not for an organization that is taking people’s money as an investment. Time will tell whether this is incompetence, corrupt (cover up) or criminal or some combination of the three. It is at least one of those and that alone is enough to merit replacement of those who manage the fund to be replaced by an independent trustee. The fact that there is no apparent movement in that direction is the most alarming news I’ve seen.

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    • You make really good points. If you read the blog I just wrote, there’s even more curious stuff being said.

      A very astute and now retired financial profession in our congregation made an interesting observation about the district financials. Not only were there qualifications to the auditor’s opinion, but the first thing he noticed was the the auditor was from Ontario. This means they hold no liability in Alberta. So the audit isn’t even by a firm in the province for which it’s being filed. It’s just another question mark to getting to the bottom of things.

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  3. Michael Schutz

    Thanks, Andreas, I was thankful the reporter included the last quote about the church from me too, trying to make it clear that none of us knows what the future of District is, but we do know the future of the Church, because the church is the people of God gathered around His Word and Sacraments (I chose not to use those specific words since they wouldn’t have been understood in this context…). That’s not going to change.

    I was disappointed to see that she brought up the “reprisal” issue, but if that’s the truth of what she heard from people, so be it. I can only speak for myself, but I haven’t experienced that culture. I didn’t speak to sling dirt, but I saw an opportunity to witness to the Gospel – to be open about the truth that people already know – to acknowledge that we are broken people. There have been so many church scandals where it’s been made worse because (whether true or not) the perception is of cover-up. After much counsel, I agreed to speak. I want to make it clear that I didn’t seek this out; I appreciate your word, Andreas, that news is what happens *to* you. It’s happened to us, folks.

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    • I just read a C.S. Lewis quote the other day. To paraphrase, Lewis says that the highest form of originality is to speak the truth. In any case, I thought the reporting was exceedingly fair, since it primarily reflected facts. Reporters are trained to think of news in the terms of “story.” It’s more literal than you’d think because they refer to people in stories as “characters.” That said, I think your character as a leader of a flock was really pastoral, and a much needed voice. Thanks for speaking for and about your flock, and being a voice of hope.

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