Wednesday, November 8, 2017

So How Is The Progress On The Retractions And Corrections?

In July of 2016 I learned, much to my surprise, that I had been removed as a pastor from the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod ("LCMS" for those fans of acronyms and lingo). The following August that action was reversed and expunged, and I wanted to thank the many friends, colleagues and associates, both within and outside of the "synod" for your help. Like the earlier events described here and at Blog.2Realms.com, you have made all the difference in standing up for "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report". Your help has been vital when both the church and the world considers these virtues to be dispensable and inconvenient, from the sale of the University Lutheran Chapel property in Minneapolis to the sale of the KFUO frequency licence in Saint Louis.

So God Bless you for all your help. The following letter may be of some interest, [d] and after more than a year of trying to have the public record of my removal corrected, it made sense to post it here. Other materials will be forthcoming.


Dear President Hardy,

Some fourteen months ago I asked you to retract and correct the notices, announcements and memos you published of my removal from membership in our synod. This has not yet happened, and given this length of time, I thought it best to publish this letter, our other correspondence, and related documentation on Blog.FriendsOfULC.org. That blog is a better way for me to explain (rather than in person, by phone, mail, email) how it came about that I have not been removed from our synod's clergy roster, yet the various public notices say otherwise, and have not been corrected. Pointing them to the correspondence and materials on the blog is much more efficient. You will also be able to read most, if not all, of the relevant documentation on the blog. I will put the links to the materials in the footnotes, which will point to .pdf files which can be viewed and downloaded.



Briefly put, after some correspondence in May and June of 2016 I wrote to you and your office on June 21st and 23rd of 2016 (by email and fedex) that I would shortly accept a call as a Chaplain to a new Recognized Service Organization (RSO), the Saint Timothy Society. After receiving the synod's letter accepting them as an RSO on July 5th of 2016, the Saint Timothy Society formally extended the call to me on July 8th of 2016, which I accepted a few days later. [i] [j] Shortly thereafter, you removed me from membership as a pastor in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod on July 18, [k] and then on August 23rd and 24th you reversed or expunged the removal, and transferred my membership to the Minnesota South District as a pastoral candidate accepting a call as Chaplain to the Saint Timothy Society. [l]

Our remaining disagreements appear to include the retraction, correction, and expunging of the various public notices and memos you placed on the synod's website, in the Reporter, and published to "President Matthew Harrison, All District Presidents and Administrative Assistants" of my being removed. [m] As I understand it, you believe that no retractions or corrections are necessary, because your decision at the time was the correct one (again, in so far as I understand what your office has communicated). Your reasoning seems to be that you believe that I was a "non-candidate" for the eight year period of 2008 to 2016:

In January of 2008, you were granted membership in the Synod as a Non­Candidate Member. Bylaw 2.11.2.3 (a) states that those individuals granted Candidate Status “may be continued on the roster for a period up to eight years by act of the president of the district through which the person holds membership.” The purpose of this letter is to inform you that your membership in the Synod, as a Non­Candidate Member, came to an end in January of 2016. [n]

The quote above is from an email from your office dated May 18 of 2016. You repeated the date of January of 2008 in your letter to me on July 18, 2016:
We have in our English District records that your non-candidate status expired January 31, 2016. Over the last several months, letters and emails were sent to you, inviting you to write a letter to the Council of Presidents requesting an extension. Since the English District did not hear back from you, on July 18, 2016, Bishop Jamison J. Hardy made the decision to remove you from the LCMS roster in accord with Bylaw 2:13.2.1 (b) and 2.13.4 for non-compliance. [o]


There are other factual problems with your letter which I will detail in other entries you will find on this blog, but in brief, not only did you hear plenty from me in May and June of 2016, you also knew by June 21st that I would soon be accepting a call extended by a Recognized Service Organization of the synod. Leaving those difficulties aside, however, it is also apparent that the English District records are wrong, and have been for some time. The dates are off by one year. [p] I was granted membership in the synod as a non-candidate in 2009, not 2008. My non-candidate status expired on January 1, 2017, and not in 2016. This is from District President Stechholz's letter to me dated 2008 January:

On January 1, 2001, you were granted membership in the Synod as a Candidate Member. Bylaw 2.11.2.2 (a) states that those individuals granted Candidate Status "may be continued on the roster for a period not to exceed four years by act of the president of the district through which the person holds membership." The purpose of this letter is to inform you that your membership in the Synod, as a Candidate Member, will come to an end on January 1, 2009. [q]


The application forms [r] sent with the letter were returned to the English District in February of 2008. I followed up with an email to the English District, and received a response that the application had been received. [s] I was granted membership in synod as a candidate from 2001 to 2009. That was followed by my membership in the synod as a non-candidate from 2009 to 2017. I could not have been granted membership status as a non-candidate in 2008. That happened in 2009, and the Council of Presidents would grant or decline my "non-candidate status" for another eight years beginning in January of 2017, and not in 2016.

And, of course, this is in addition to all the other reasons you already have to finish the corrections you began in August of 2016, and more reasons why the mistake in July of 2016 should not have happened at all. Another mistake compounding earlier mistakes made by your office does not constitute "compliance" or "non-compliance" on the part of others. For over a year now I have been asking you to finish correcting the original errors instead of using these errors to justify an action which should never have occurred.

So let this knowledge encourage you and speed you along in finishing the corrections you began in August of 2016 when you reversed the mistake of July. [t] Now you can rest assured that you no longer need to try to defend or excuse something that never should have happened in the first place by claiming some kind of "non-compliance" or insufficient "compliance", or faulty "compliance". [u] That burden is lifted, because you had the wrong years for my roster membership. Fix the dates at your next convention, fix the errors in the announcements and memos, and these correctable errors will be reversed in the same venues in which they were originally made. I have already described how this can be done, and the wording, in my letter to you in May of 2017. I will post them on this blog as well.

Sincerely,

Gordon Bynum

Footnotes:


[i] The last detail remaining in June was the district of the RSO membership of the Saint Timothy Society. I wanted to contact the District President for the RSO (The Saint Timothy Society) before I accepted their call as Chaplain. It made sense at the time for me to remain in the English District until the RSO had a home district. That upcoming call was the subject of my email to your office sent June 21, 2016, and a letter sent to you by Fedex on June 23, 2016. A .pdf version of the letter is at this URL: https://goo.gl/dAeMpv. A copy of the call letter of July 8, 2016 in .pdf format is at this URL: https://goo.gl/xEvjeK.


[j] The letter from the office of Recognized Service Organizations (RSO) of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod of July 5, 2016 in .pdf format is at this URL: https://goo.gl/UxQrJJ in a new window.


[k] A .pdf file of your letter removing me from the clergy roster is here: https://goo.gl/YXkgXh. Your memo to the synodical president, "All District Presidents and Administrative Assistants" is found on page 2 of this link: https://goo.gl/5d5k3h.


[l] Your letter of August 23, 2016 is at this link https://goo.gl/jDAX39 as a .pdf file, and your transfer form dated August 24, 2016 at the link https://goo.gl/1EK8bC.


[m] My requests for this began in July of 2016 by email and were followed by letter, on March 17, 2017 (at this link: https://goo.gl/BA3ewb), and on May 17, 2017 (at this link: https://goo.gl/i2wNEp). That last link contains is a corrected version; I made a mistake in the year of the announcement I am requesting you place in your next convention workbook.


[n] Quoted from the email your office sent to me on May 16, 2016 (available as a .pdf file at this link: https://goo.gl/CNqjor). The timing and content of the email struck me as odd, and I wanted to make sure I had not missed an earlier letter, so I asked about it in my reply email on that same day, May 16, 2016 (at this link: https://goo.gl/EWJXPc). In the past, the English District has sent the application forms a year prior to the end of the term of membership: see footnote [q] here in this post. The reply I received on May 17, 2016 makes sense for an application for a term beginning in 2017, not 2016 (.pdf file at this link: https://goo.gl/39fj1J).


[o] Quoted from your letter sent to me dated July 18, 2016 (.pdf version at this link: https://goo.gl/YXkgXh). One problem (among many) with your letter is that you knew I was taking a call as early as June 21, 2016 (.pdf version of email at this link: https://goo.gl/tfWoJs). I received the call on July 8, 2016.


[p] I pointed out the error to you as early as August 23, 2016 by email. The .pdf version of my email to you is at this URL: https://goo.gl/EWy1og.


[q] I have added the bold italics for emphasis. President Stechholz's letter dated 2008 January is at this URL: https://goo.gl/77wdzn.


[r] At least two forms (and possibly more; these are the two I have found so far), an application (.pdf at this link: https://goo.gl/Z8AKjy) and a report (.pdf at this link: https://goo.gl/sC7Xqt).


[s] The reference to 2009 is clear in President Stechholz's letter, and also mentioned in the email thread from March of 2008 (.pdf version is at this link: https://goo.gl/HM7oFR. My email from March 3, 2008 asks:
I don't think there's any hurry at the moment, but it would good to know when the Council of Presidents decide on CRM applications. If they decide that I should not continue past 2009 January, you can tell Bishop Ritt I said, "Put me in, coach!" He can suggest some things for me, and I could finish up what I'm doing for grants, endowments, finance, etc., before taking a call.




[t] Correcting the dates of my roster membership seems to be a much more direct and simple retraction. It avoids asking why you would remove someone from the clergy roster after you knew they had received, and would shortly accept, a call; why you would do this after the synod in convention on July 13 made all "candidates and non-candidates" candidates for a ten year period; and why you would remove someone for (ostensibly) failing to fill out an application for a roster category which no longer existed after July 13th of 2016.

Correcting the dates makes this simple: your office had the years wrong by one; you mistakenly removed me some five months before my term as a non-candidate would end, and a week after I had accepted a call to a Recognized Service Organization of the synod. I was a member of synod as a non-candidate from 2009 to 2017. In July of 2016 I accepted a call. The events after I accepted the call are interesting, but not really necessary. It did not matter if I became a candidate from July 13 of 2016 to July 13 of 2026. Non-candidates and candidates alike can, and do, accept calls and become active members.



[u] I'm still unclear as to what non-compliance in this situation would be. You can tell from the documents here in this blog post that I routinely fill out the forms from the districts and those for the Council of Presidents (see, for example, footnote [s] here). I'm happy to do that, but I had already accepted a call in the first weeks of July of 2016. How would accepting a call differ from being compliant? If it helps, I can still fill out the form you sent, but I would be applying for a clergy roster category that no longer existed after July 13 of 2016.


[d] For those who are not members of, or less familiar with, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, the following letter probably uses terminology that is unfamiliar. "Clergy Roster", "Member of Synod", "Candidate", refer to ordained clergy who hold membership in the "synod" (or LCMS, or Missouri Synod). "Non-Candidate Members" of the LCMS no longer exist; that category was eliminated after 15 years (or so) in 2016. If you find that confusing, you are not alone.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Saint Timothy Society is Now a Recognised Service Organisation (RSO) of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

Sometime back in 2007 the Evanglical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK) invited Rev. Tom Aadland to teach at their seminary in Matongo, Kenya following his last term as Presiding Pastor of the American Association of Lutheran Churches.  At the end of that year the Saint Timothy Society for Lutheran Seminary Scholarship was chartered and incorporated to support that work and become a 501c3 organisation in 2008 (for our readers outside the United States, that's one of those pesky codes for non-profits and charities that allow donors to deduct their contributions when paying their income tax; for our readers inside the United States, you have our empathy for having to deal with the current tax code).  We've chugged along for the past nine years doing a lot more than we thought we could largely due to Tom Aadland's excellent success in raising money.  This is often the way of Churches and Church societies; we fail to understand that we can't do what we intend to do, and due to that lack of understanding we manage to do those things anyway.

At some point the Saint Timothy Society decided to apply for what is known as "RSO status", that is, to become a Recognised Service Organisation (RSO) within the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LC-MS).  This came to completion in July of 2016: RSO recognition was given by the LC-MS, the signatures on the agreement were completed by the beginning of August of 2016, and the Saint Timothy Society now appears on the LCMS.org website (and in the RSO directory).

Your humble writer (blogger? that's a word now, eh?) has gained even greater humility (and proud of it!) by being called as the Chaplain for the Saint Timothy Society, which I accepted on July 14, 2016.  So the sporadic postings here will become somewhat less sporadic and will include more information about the Saint Timothy Society, in addition to University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis.  And in the next week I hope to have comments and contact info working on this blog.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Saint Timothy Society Has Been Accepted as a Recogized Service Organization (RSO) of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS)

On July 5th the Saint Timothy Society was offered Recognized Service Organization Status by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Details to follow.

For those who are fond of acronyms, that means the Saint Timothy Society has been accepted as an RSO (Recognized Service Organization) of the LCMS (The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod). For the rest of us, it means that the Saint Tim Society will continue its efforts to help support Lutheran Seminary scholarship and education overseas, most notably as part of the work Tom Aadland does at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya's seminary in Matongo, Kenya. As of this date, we're still waiting to hear in which District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod the Saint Timothy Society will reside. This writer is a member of the clergy roster of the LCMS as a member of the English District, and we're waiting to hear back from them if they would like to be the home of the Saint Timothy Society.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Convention Materials on Google Docs; Readable in Browser or Download

We here at Friends of University Lutheran Chapel Minneapolis have devoted much of this blog to making available to the public the documentation related to University Lutheran Chapel and the chapel's effort to bring the sale of the campus ministry property to a vote by the Minnesota South District Convention.  Along the way, we discovered that Google Drive (formerly Docs) and Google Picassa Web can be very useful in displaying documents either "in-line" or in a new browser window.

So why not do the same for the 2013 Convention Materials for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod meeting this week in Saint Louis?  The "LCMS" (as it is abbreviated) already does an excellent job in making available its convention materials on its own website at http://www.lcms.org/convention/downloads and at http://www.lcms.org/convention.  Why not make some of these available as readable in the browser? The documents are already publicly available, so unless we're asked to remove them, we'll put the links in this post.

As usual, there are many, many caveats, disclaimers, and various other dire warnings, consequences and cautionary tales that go with the the use of the blog and whatever you find here.  See our Acceptable Use Notice (the link is displayed on the right) and read the "fine print" at the bottom of this post.

This may take a long time to load, depending on your bandwidth, connection speed, and the overall load on google apps servers, but feel free to try to view the
If that doesn't work, you can try to


The First Issue of Today's Business is a smaller file, and you might have more luck viewing
Or you can try to


And now the "fine print". The versions of these documents here may be incorrect, inaccurate, out of date and suffer from various other defects. Refer to the official website of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (URL's given above) or to the convention officers for complete and accurate versions and other documentation. The server host provider(s) for this blog also have limitations and restrictions, including limited bandwidth and availability depending on your location and connection speed.

Which means that at some point the downloads and views may (and probably will) exceed the quota for this account on Google Apps for Business, and the links will no longer work, the page may not load, etc. Until then, we hope this is of some use.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

No Secrecy or Non Disclosure Here - The Settlement Between ULC and the District

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) meets in convention on July 20th.  Here at Friends of ULC we have been trying to help those involved by sharing the relevant documents concerning University Lutheran Chapel and its struggle to have the Minnesota South District Convention vote on the sale of the campus ministry property in Minneapolis.  In our last post we dissected one erroneous reason why the LCMS should not vote on convention workbook memorial 1-15, and urged that this memorial go to the delegates for a vote.

In this post we dissect yet another erroneous reason why the LCMS in convention cannot  - or should not - vote on memorial 1-15, "To Commend and Support Campus Ministry at University of Minnesota".  That would be that the legal settlement between University Lutheran Chapel and the Minnesota South District involves some sort of secrecy or non-disclosure.  We don't know if that reason has been suggested to the floor committee or others at the upcoming convention.  We hope not, but we have heard and seen this speculation elsewhere, and it would not be surprising if this were offered as an excuse to decline to consider the memorial.

In the same way that some have made demonstrably false oaths, affidavits, and sworn statements exposed elsewhere on this blog, this line of argument could prove ultimately very embarrassing to the arguer.  The first question to them should be, can you produce the text of the settlement and show us where it supports what you say?  Even if the text of the settlement were not available, it would be a shame to make this case to any deliberative body or convention.  They would want the delegates to decline to consider a memorial based on a settlement whose terms we cannot know, whose text we cannot see, and hidden from us by a non-disclosure or secrecy clause we cannot examine.

But the text of the settlement is available, just like almost every other document from the legal action.  It was part of the order dismissing the eviction and litigation.  And there is nothing in the settlement to prevent the synod, or any district, from acting on this memorial, or, for that matter, just about anything else they would like to address regarding the Minnesota South District or University Lutheran Chapel.  The only limitation the settlement mentions is that University Lutheran Chapel and the Minnesota South District will no longer litigate against each other on the specific grounds of the legal actions dismissed by the settlement.  The synod in convention can do a vast number of things (especially so in convention) just like the Minnesota South District Convention was correct in wanting to vote on the sale, but was prevented from doing so by their former district president.

But don't take my word for it. Read the text of the settlement agreement
or
.

If you find the legalese too dense, get a lawyer to explain it to you (as I've said earlier, unlike many other pastors, I know I'm not a lawyer). Some individual names and the signature and exhibit pages (giving the legal description of the property) are redacted in this digital copy (including the last 10 pages of the 23 page document), but anyone interested can ask the Minnesota South District for a full copy. If for some reason they wont give it to you (it should already be available to all their pastors and congregations as members of their corporation), ask if University Lutheran Chapel will give you a copy. Or get a copy from the 4th district court records office (that's my favorite method; it's a charming trip to the downtown Minneapolis courthouse, and the records office is part of the scenic underground parking ramp!).

Why not just let the delegates vote on the original workbook memorial 1-15? Conventions and floor committees have a lot of work to do. Spurious reasons for not allowing the delegates to vote on memorials are a distraction, and waste everyone's time. Conventions and floor committees have more than enough to do without having to sift through speculative theories which are not established by the documentary evidence.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Another Convention, Another Chance to Vote on ULC? Let's Make that Happen.

Visitors to our humble little blog are probably aware that we've been doing what we can for some years to help University Lutheran Chapel (ULC) and get the word out about the sale of the campus ministry property by the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.  We don't claim any credit for any of the good things that have happened so far, but we're glad to play some small part.

It appears as if we have another chance to do some good, or, more accurately, all of you have a chance to do some good before and during (and after, if you like!) the upcoming convention of the The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod July 20 - 25 in Saint Louis.  The good news is that there is an excellent memorial in the Convention Workbook on page 139 "To Commend and Support Campus Ministry at University of Minnesota":




So the convention will get to vote on this, right?

Well, maybe, maybe not.  This gets a little arcane, but the process goes something like this.  Memorials to a synodical convention are sent to one of several floor committees.  In this case, that is floor committee #1 (also called "Witness"; I won't try to explain this beyond saying the names are apparently an attempt to designate the general topic area of the committee).  So floor committee #1 should do their thing, and decide what to do with the memorial.

The process might involve taking a memorial, then fashioning it into an overture, which then may or may not become a resolution (more details later will be added to this very rough description).  Floor Committee #1, however, has decided to ask the convention to decline to consider this memorial in the First Issue of Today's Business:





The reason given for their action is "Issue has already been resolved by Minnesota South Distr", which apparently means the Minnesota South District.  But this is precisely what did not happen.  From 2008 to the present, the district president, directors and officers of the Minnesota South District refused to let their district "resolve" in any way the question of the sale of the campus ministry property in Minneapolis, or Mankato.  In fact, the district president refused to let his own convention vote on the matter by ruling a motion to do exactly that out of order.  And to make matters worse, the officers and directors of the Minnesota South District continue to refuse to discuss the sale, or to respond to the process in the LCMS Handbook which specifies how to "resolve" disputed issues (dispute resolution).

More posts will follow, but please consider contacting Floor Committee #1 to have them send the original memorial 1-15 to the convention delegates to have them vote on it.  If you do, make sure you are courteous, polite, respectful and follow the words of Scripture, "Speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). From what I can tell, the floor committee is open to more information, and is willing to correct whatever incorrect data it has been given to date. If it helps, you can
I sent to Floor Committee #1 on 2013 June 17 or
it as a .pdf file. If you are interested in the supporting documentation, you can see the other entries on this blog, or you can see the dispute resolution letter from
or
the .pdf File. The dispute resolution letter from
is online here, and is also available for

Monday, May 13, 2013

Same Sex Marriage as "No Tolerance Policy" to Charities (Religious or Otherwise)

Previous posts have outlined the very bad effects of the same sex marriage legislation being considered by the Minnesota Senate today.  Those posts have already pointed out that the "fig leaves" lightly pasted on the legislation - the religious exemption and the use of the term "civil marriage" - will not fix the basic problems with same sex marriage.  Yet another proof of this is the history of same sex marriage in other states.  A striking example is Catholic Charities of Boston, an organization which no one would describe as "conservative", and which for 100 years or more included placing children for adoption as part of its charitable work.

So how did same sex marriage affect this charity, which has never performed marriages?  The effect was simple and devastating: it shut them down as an adoption agency.  In 2005 the Roman Catholic Church insisted that Catholic Charities of Boston cease placing children for adoption with same sex couples (which it had done for 15 years) and follow the church's moral and religious teachings.  Catholic Charities of Boston (itself a rather liberal social service agency) was caught between its church and its state.   They asked the State of Massachusetts for permission to continue their work from the state in a way that did not violate their beliefs.  The answer was "no".  So Catholic Charities of Boston ceased the "pre-adoption" work of their agency.

This example is instructive because it shows the effect of same sex marriage legislation on a religious organization which no one would consider conservative.  In fact, the (now former) director of Catholic Charities of Boston resigned for the stated reason that the Vatican's directive contradicted their single adoption criteria, the "best interest of the children".  The former director, Mr. Meade, is of course entitled to his opinion, but one obvious point would be that Christianity, Western Civilization, and the vast majority of religions around the world do not and have not considered homosexuality and same sex marriage in the "best interest of the children".  This is one reason why, today, liberals, leftists and radicals are consistently mocked when they claim that their program should be carried out "for the children".

So how would a religious exemption clause from performing same sex marriage in the Minnesota legislation protect similar charities in that state which do not perform marriages?  The answer would be that it cannot, which would leave the more liberal agencies (many of whose names have a Christian denomination in front of "Social Services") caught between their church and their state.  But for those charities and social service organizations that take the teaching of their church seriously (or are forced to do so by their sponsoring religious group), the consequences would be much more dire.  Same sex marriage law combined with other laws  (like fair housing accommodation) would allow those who are intolerant of traditional morality to persecute them and put them out of business.  This would include the litigious, the intolerant, and those who sympathize with them in various state, county and local agencies.

The experience with same sex marriage in other states shows us that it will not be just churches and their affiliates in the crosshairs.  And charities which are not affiliated with any church or religion may fare much worse.  The attacks on the Boy Scouts have already shown us what happens to those groups that are not religious and insist on a simple traditional moral code that includes a belief in God and the rejection of homosexuality.

If this legislation becomes law, expect the same here.