That’s a Fine How Do You Do

The text of this very terse blog is a life support system for this link –> A November 1, 2016 Letter from the East District Board of Directors to CCMS (Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure) on the question of restructuring our church institutions.

Until I can read and unpack the entire document (days) and write more about it, I’ll just leave you with a quote which isn’t even from the brief conclusion. This is an excerpt from the East District’s Board of Director’s first response to Synod’s restructuring recommendations:

1. It is unclear as to how the proposed restructuring will solve the problems being faced by LCC and its districts.
o.O

9 thoughts on “That’s a Fine How Do You Do

  1. Michael Schutz

    Even before that part you quote at the end of your post, Andreas, the first response to the first recommendation is this:

    “While all the districts requested a review of structure, it was the decision of the CCMS to undertake a “major” restructuring, based on the interpretation of the survey results.”

    That is not true.

    Central’s resolveds (which East adopted verbatim, and which was introduced by the East Board to their convention):

    “RESOLVED that the Central District request the Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure to begin immediately the work of developing and presenting a new structure with applicable bylaw and handbook changes for the Districts and Synod of Lutheran Church Canada which addresses the current financial and organizational concerns first addressed by the Task Force on the Nature and Structure of Synod (93.3.09) and remain
    to the present day; and be it finally

    RESOLVED that the Central District request the Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure present that specific structure to the 2017 Synodical Convention for approval and
    subsequent implementation
    .”
    (emphases are mine)

    and ABC’s resolveds:

    “RESOLVED that District Convention petition Synod’s Board of Directors and Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure for an immediate review and recommendation of a new synodical structure that is better suited to our context as LCC; and be it finally

    RESOLVED that the ABC District request the Commission on Constitutional Matters and
    Structure present that specific structure to the 2017 Synodical Convention for approval and subsequent implementation.”
    (again, emphasis mine)

    I still have to go through it in detail too, but on first reading, there are some cogent points. There also seem to be points like the above that aren’t based in fact.

    • ANO

      “While all the districts requested a review of structure, it was the decision of the CCMS to undertake a “major” restructuring, based on the interpretation of the survey results.”

      That is not true.

      Pr Schutz – some clarification.

      The District conventions resolutions mandated a result (a proposed structure) and a deadline (the 2017 Synodical Convention). They did not mandate the method used to accomplish those ends, that was left to the committee to decide.

      It was the CCMS that decided to use a survey to see what “people wanted.” It was the CCMS that came up with the survey questions, and it was the CCMS that interpreted the results, and it was the CCMS that developed their proposed structure based on the results of that survey.

      As has been noted by earlier posts to this site, the survey itself was fraught with problems, and using a survey of people who are not fully informed about the implications of what they’re being queried on is a path fraught with dangers. With the East Dist BOD response, we can clearly see substantiation for those concerns.

      • Michael Schutz

        “The District conventions resolutions mandated a result (a proposed structure) and a deadline (the 2017 Synodical Convention). They did not mandate the method used to accomplish those ends, that was left to the committee to decide.”

        Sure, but that’s not what the Board document says. It says that the conventions mandated a review, full stop. The implication is that the CCMS went beyond its mandate in proposing a major restructuring, and that that wasn’t want the conventions were asking for. The Board document seems not to be disappointed in the method, but the very fact that the CCMS proposed such a “major” change in the first place. I contend that the CCMS did in fact do what the District conventions wanted, and the survey results leave little to “interpretation” in terms of how much restructuring there should be. The clear answer was “a significant amount”.

        Again, we can evaluate, debate, and improve the merits of the proposals (which is what we’ve been doing the last couple of months). But to it strikes me as…well, honestly I’m not sure, a number of things, really…to read that the Board believes the CCMS didn’t actually do what the District conventions asked for.

        I see striking parallels to the kerfuffle in parliament in the recent days over the electoral reform committee report. The government says, “we want this report”, the committee gives the report with its recommendations, and the government, seemingly unhappy with the results, says, “we didn’t actually ask you to report that“. The whole thing felt eerily similar.

  2. ANO

    If you want to skip all the details, then just read this section:

    C. Some Additional Comments

    1) The planning has been backwards.
    A structure has been devised before understanding what it is that districts do. Only now are we being asked how to fit the work of the districts into a new predetermined structure.

    • Michael Schutz

      Just to follow up with the line of thinking that’s in my other responses tonight… 🙂

      “A structure has been devised before understanding what it is that districts do. ”

      This is an assertion masquerading as a fact, which colours the response significantly.

      “Only now are we being asked how to fit the work of the districts into a new predetermined structure.”

      There’s an assumption in this statement that there must be work that is done by Districts. Our Synod handbook is very clear that Districts are simply Synod in a specific geographical location. While I agree that certain aspects of this planning are backwards (eg. changing the admin structure when the core purposes of Synod should be the first things to review, and structure should flow from that – but at this point I’m willing to say that the steps we’re taking now are better than not taking any steps at all), the thing that’s backwards here is Districts presuming to tell Synod what the Districts’ business should be. This mindset isn’t limited to this document nor to East, and is actually, in my view, one truly compelling argument for the District structure to be revised. It is Synod – the whole group of congregations and workers of LCC – that should mandate to the Districts/Regions what should happen more regionally and locally, not the other way around.

  3. ANO

    Not to mention this:

    3) Since there has been no financial analysis done, it is unclear what the savings
    will be. Statement 7 under this section – “Administrative costs will decrease in
    proportion to the cost of mission and ministry (the delivery of services to members)”
    is concerning as it seems to suggest that there is a desire to achieve savings by
    decreasing mission and ministry.

    Its kind of hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are.

    • Michael Schutz

      We were told at our circuit’s feedback session last weekend that the financial analysis has been done. It may not have been at the time of that document, but it was coming at the time.

      There’s much room for improvement from what’s been recommended, in my opinion, but no one ever said everything was finalized.

      • ANO

        I agree that the CCMS could come up with an alternate proposal. To accomplish that goal they’d have to do a lot of background work in order to come up with a viable plan, and I for one can’t see it happening.

        • Michael Schutz

          If the CCMS believes that what it’s proposed is best (with refinements yet to come), presumably having already considered alternatives, then they shouldn’t have to come up with an alternate. I would say it’s incumbent upon those dissatisfied with the proposal to then propose an alternate.

          In this case it seems like the bottom-line response is, “sure, we could think about restructuring in general, but let’s not change the District part of the structure”. I have first-hand knowledge of a similar response by at least one entity in ABC, which, like the East Board, has inherent self-interest in the current structure. Again, to reference the survey answers, there was a clear preference for removing the District structure.

          There are assumptions and assertions in these responses that what the Districts do currently is best done at the District level, without backing up the assertions (in effect doing the same thing that they are accusing the CCM of doing). The East Board document also makes assumptions about how things might work in the future according to the CCMS proposals when no such arrangements have actually been proposed (eg. page 2, that all the District Mission Execs. will be replaced by one person in Winnipeg. – that’s not been proposed at all; and the comments on each section under B. on pages 4-5 ).

          If someone or some group is going to say, “we don’t like X about the proposals”, then it’s now up to them to also say, “and here’s what would be better”. We did that in regards to one part of the proposal at our recent circuit forum. We didn’t just say, “we don’t like this”; we said specifically, “here’s why, and here’s specifically what we think would work better”.

          Again, I’m not saying the document is devoid of this. There are some cogent and specific responses. But it’s particularly the responses regarding the District structure that I view as problematic.

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