On Jan 2015 when ABC District entered CCAA protection the world as LCC’s membership knew it was turned upside down. In the time since then, the ABC District Task Force, the CEF Representative Action, and now the ASC have all painted the same picture in different ways – over the course of years District had misled church members that had entrusted them with their lifetime savings and that a significant chunk of the funds’ value had been squandered in an effort to cover up the fallout from a decision District didn’t have the authority to make in the first place.
In the time since then LCC has been beyond reticent on the theological and moral aspects of the events that led to District’s collapse. From opposing grass-roots efforts to find a way to help the depositors to refusing to discuss the matter at Synod’s 2017 convention to making outrageous claims that “the church didn’t do it- the corporation did” – the only consistent pattern of behavior I’ve seen from the church is deny, deny, deny.
Besides refusing to apologize and working to make amends, the church’s ongoing silence has become like a dagger in a wound being twisted on a regular basis. People that have the audacity to believe the church has an absolute obligation to conduct itself in a Christian manner are finding that the LCC of today has a lot in common with the religious leaders of Christ’s time on earth.
All told, “the church” has taken the story of the Good Samaritan and chosen the role of Priest or Levi over that of the Samaritan. In doing this the church is now standing in direct opposition to Christ and His command to love your neighbor.
And as bad as this direct action is, I’m seeing another dangerous, insidious malaise creeping into the wider church membership. “The church” has not policed itself, has not condemned behavior that has no place in any community of believers, and is giving the general impression this is “not a big deal.” Because the church is treating its members like illegitimate children and not discharging its duty to discipline and correct its members, people are getting the impression that the people that brought about this disaster, that misrepresented CEF and DIL’s financial position, that publicly told trusting souls their money was safe while privately considering bankruptcy, that abused member’s trust and put their faith at risk – or watched it all happen – are somehow still fit to serve in the church.
Think on that for a minute.
Practice follows belief.
Belief follows faith.
If practice is unrecognizable when compared to the words that bring faith, then what does that say about the people that practice thusly? And the people they lead astray by their actions or lack thereof?
Add it all up and the question staring us in the face is – how is this any different from the pharisees of Christ’s time? Is our contemporary leadership any less subject to the condemnation Christ aimed at the so-called leaders of His time?
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. Matthew 23:1-4
The similarity between the Pharisees of Christ’s time and the church-caused plight of CEF/DIL depositors of today – who could tell them apart?
Fortunately not everyone is fooled. Here’s a quote from a Lutherquest post (emphasis mine):
The following link is to a Canadian Press article entitled, “Lutheran Church accused of securities violations in failed housing investment.”
As the article indicates, on August 13, the Alberta Securities Commission will meet with parties to set a date for “a hearing regarding the allegations of security law violations” on the part of the Alberta-British Columbia (A-BC) District of Lutheran Church-Canada (LC-C) and LC-C.
If one reads the material in the ANO attachments, it is clear that from 2003 on, the Church Extension Fund (CEF) of the A-BC District knew it was in financial difficulty which over the next decade became progressively worse. This means that from 2003 on, its financial statements were misleading as were its affirmations of financial soundness and solvency. It was technically bankrupt well before being forced in receivership.
A while ago, my wife and I visited relatives in Canada. I asked whether anyone had ever officially personally apologized for misleading investors. I was asked, “What do you mean by ‘apologized’?” I responded, “You know. Say, I’m sorry. Say, I sinned. Please forgive me; mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” The response was, “If that’s what you mean, then the answer is: ‘No.’” And it was true. I looked at some official responses and the closest I got was a paraphrase of “mistakes were made.”
In looking at the list of people being sued, I was even more amazed to see the names of people who have been subsequently elected to District positions. It is as if Jesus’ saying, “He that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” has now been turned on its head to read, “He that is unjust in the least is just also in much.”
Repentance anyone? Anyone?
“He (John the Baptist) said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham (Luther) as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
And lest we forget our dear Brother James: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
If there’s one thing I take comfort in all of this is that God knows what’s going on, His justice is as certain as it is absolute, and what man fails to do He will accomplish.
The depositors lost a good chunk of their money, the trusting relationship they thought they had with the church, and have been put into a world of hurt not of their making. It is my hope and prayer that they will keep faith in the faithfulness of Christ.