“Way back when” was a cartoon called “Mr Peabody and Sherman.” In this cartoon a genius dog “Peabody” adopts an orphan human “Sherman”, then builds a Way Back Machine so they can witness historical events as they happened.
While I do not have a Way-Back machine, I do have historical records of what’s happened over the past few years, and with the onset of the last conventions for the old LCC Districts I think it’s time for a trip down “memory lane” to revisit the unfinished business of the ABC District Task Force from it’s formation to its disbanding.
January 2015: ABC District enters CCAA protection
February 2015: The ABC BOD creates a Task Force with a mandate to “conduct a review into the ABC District Church Extension Fund cash flow shortage and other related matters.”
May 20, 2015: The ABC BOD confirmed the mandate and BOD chair Jim Kentel signed the acknowledgement.
The schedule called for the final Task Force report to be released at the end of 2015. To
ensure sufficient time for remaining interviews, to allow for other people to contact us with information based on this interim report, and to ensure time for thorough and thoughtful analysis of the information collected, we anticipate that our final report will instead be available in the spring of 2016. We believe that this delay is warranted given the potential significance of the conclusions and recommendations that will be part of this report, both for ABC congregations and District leadership, and potentially for our sister Districts and Synod restructuring.
After the first report was issued time passed, the anticipated Spring 2016 report failed to materialize, and on September 30, 2016 the Task Force issued an update:
Unfortunately we are not able to provide any specific information regarding a timeline for preparing and issuing a second report. As indicated in our first report, we had planned to issue one in late spring of 2016. However, a number of factors outside of our control have prevented that from happening. We continue to be in dialogue with the ABC Board of Directors and will provide further updates when we are able. If you have further questions please contact the ABC Board of Directors directly.
February 24, 2017: The ABC District Board of Directors and District President Schaeffer disbanded the Task Force due to “ongoing representative action.” (1) The Task Force’s second report was never issued.
The Task Force was also supposed to provide input into the LCC restructuring effort – after the first report was issued this invitation was rescinded. From the Task Force web page:
The Task Force has had no formal input into the LCC restructuring process. It does not appear at this time that we will have formal input into the process. We invite interested parties to contact the CCMS for more information.
As any good Lutheran would ask – “What does this mean?”
What it means is that ABC District started to do the right thing with in forming the Task Force, then a new BOD took over and shut it down. What remains to be resolved is whether the stated reason is the full extent of the story or if the Task Force was shut down to protect certain interests and keep more unpleasant facts from coming to light.
What it also means is that when Synod 2.0 is fully implemented it will assume full responsibility for all aspects of the business of the church including ecclesiastical supervision. The ABC District BOD and President will no longer have the authority to act in a conflict of interest and stop an investigation into what it – or its members – did or failed to do.
As such, when Jan 1, 2019 arrives and Synod 2.0 parts ways with the Districts, Synod 2.0’s first official order of business should be to discharge it’s ecclesiastical supervision responsibilities, restore the Task Force, instruct them to finish their investigation, combine their report with information gathered by other sources, and impose such discipline as would be appropriate.
The upcoming District conventions provides an ideal opportunity for the rank and file to issue one last motion through the Districts and publicly ask Synod to finish what the 2012 ABC District BOD started. Perhaps Synod will give such requests as much regard as they did the collective 2015 conventions request to restructure.
Only then can LCC have any claim to be “together in mission and ministry.”
Following is the 2012 ABC BOD’s May 20, 2015 mandate to the Task Force:
The ABC District Board of Directors has initiated a Task Force to identify factors contributing to the current crisis. The scope of the Task Force mandate is broad and complex. It includes analyzing not only financial and legal aspects of the current crisis, but also underlying cultural, structural, and procedural principles and practices that helped set the stage for the current crisis. Identifying, understanding, and addressing these is vital to help our church walk wisely into the future.
We are called to walk into this future not only with trust in our Lord, but also in relationship to one another. The breadth and latitude of the Task Force mandate will hopefully encourage God-pleasing relationships between laypeople, pastors, and the ABC District (whatever this might look like in the future). We are mindful of the impact of the current crisis on everyone involved. Implications and ramifications are widespread and multi-faceted: personal and systemic, emotional and legal, financial and religious, lonely and public.
As a Task Force, we will strive, with the help of God, to be fair, discerning, loving, honest, and inclusive while we volunteer our gifts and talents to pursue the mandate of the Task Force. In the interests of ensuring transparency and encouraging credibility and trust between congregations and the ABC District amidst the current crisis, we respectfully request confirmation of the following:
We are amending the name of the Task Force from “CEF REVIEW TASK FORCE” to “ABC DISTRICT REVIEW TASK FORCE”. This is a more accurate name given the scope of the mandate.
We intend to produce a final report speaking to the mandate with conclusions and suggestions. Though confidentiality of the personal information obtained is our intent, there are legal aspects to the current crisis that could preclude confidentiality. Should any information be requested by subpoena from the Task Force members, we will be required by law to release it.
This Task Force is independent of the ABC District and operating at ‘arms length’. Though the Task Force was initiated by the District and two initial members were identified by the District, further members will be approved by the Task Force itself. Please know that we will strive, with the help of God, to do our work with fairness and love for our church, our laypeople, our pastors, our former and current leaders, and our Lord. Should any of us as individuals have a conflict of interest that impairs our ability to be fair and just, we will remove ourselves from that aspect of the Task Force work.
The final report of the Task Force will be released upon completion to the congregations, pastors, and laypeople of the ABC District, as well as the LCC Synod. The Task Force will share ABC District confirmation of the Task Force mandate with congregations/people through our website. We hope that this encourages trust as we continue to work on our mandate.
(1) The link is to the Sugden McFee & Roos Representative Action web page as I was unable to find this document on the ABC District website.