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.

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