Saturday, May 5, 2018

How Does What You Are Doing Differ From False Witness? We Should Make This A Formal Forensic Process

More than a few of you, dear readers, friends, correspondents, well wishers and others, inform me that after more than a year and a half of asking and waiting, my former district president has not yet corrected the public record and his public announcements that I have been removed from membership as a pastor in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. So it has been safe to assume, for some time now, that this is no longer a mistake, but a deliberate effort to avoid telling the truth. The letter below seeks to correct the public record in a more formal process.

So feel free to share the information below and any of the documents given in the sources section with anyone you think can help make this happen. And please do continue to contact me with whatever ideas you may have, and if you find any other memos, announcements, letters, etc., that might shed some light on why such a simple task remains undone. I would also be interested in other pastors and church workers in our synod who have received similar treatment. I must reluctantly conclude that the behavior described here will continue until enough of us demand that it not be tolerated. Let's see what we can do about that.

As always, I'm glad to hear from those of you who have an interest. Please use the comment section of this blog, or use the contact information on lcms.org under the "locator" section, for church workers.


Dear President Hardy,

You have used our synod, our district, our praesidium, and our publications and web sites to print, circulate, and publish things about me which are not true. You have had the documentation demonstrating that these things are not true since August of 2016. [01] After asking you repeatedly to retract, correct and expunge these things, you have left these untruths unretracted, unexpunged and uncorrected for over 18 months. These false assertions were easily correctable errors and avoidable mistakes which you could easily remedy. After asking and waiting for over a year and half for you to correct your demonstrably false statements about me, I must conclude that your failure to do so is intentional and malicious. You have used your position and your membership in our synod to sacrifice and damage someone else's reputation, ordination, vocation and ability to earn a living rather than tell the truth and correct what you have done.

The next step should start with dispute resolution. Every day that you fail to correct what you have put in print is another day that you circulate falsehoods about me. If you are willing to do that for this length of time in my case, I must wonder how many others in your district and in our synod have been affected by your malicious refusal to correct your errors. So let's get started on the process quickly.

I find this particular path you have chosen to be very strange, sad and regrettable. This began with an easily avoidable, and easily correctable, mistake by your office. You had the dates of my clergy roster membership wrong by one year. [02] You compounded this error by fabricating other, equally false reasons for removing me from our clergy roster in July of 2016. [03] These reasons and claims used to justify your actions have been proven to be fabrications. The truth is simple: I was a member of synod from January of 2009 until January of 2017. I received, and accepted, a call as Chaplain to a Recognized Service Organization in the second week of July 2016, six months before January of 2017. A week later, on July 17, 2016, you removed me from the clergy roster. You claimed my membership in synod had expired January 31, 2016. That assertion is demonstrably false. Correspondence from your own office documented that I was a member of synod from January of 2009 to 2017.

In your letter of July 18, 2016, you claimed that you had not heard from me when you invited me to apply to continue my non-candidate status as a member of synod. That is an astonishing claim for you to make, and it is a deceit that covers a multitude of deceits. What you and your office heard from me repeatedly, by email and fedex from May to July of 2016, was exactly what happened: I accepted a call as a chaplain to a Recognized Service Organization, the Saint Timothy Society; I could apply for non-candidate status, but I did not know how I would do that after accepting a call; and I suggested you might want to double check your chronology for the years of my membership on the clergy roster. [04] This was very simple: I remain in the English District, accept the call, and the RSO then goes to whatever district wishes to have it. But, instead, you managed to remove one of your pastors two weeks after he had accepted a call and six months before his membership in synod would expire.

From August of 2016 until recently I believed that you made a series of easily avoidable mistakes, which you compounded with easily correctable errors, all of which you would remedy and that you would correct the public record. After this length of time, you have made this charitable assumption impossible. You have been asked for over a year and a half to correct the untruths which you circulated and published, and you have not. Regrettably, I now have to document, once again, that you have chosen to fabricate in order to avoid telling the truth. The truth is that I have never been restricted or suspended as a pastor in our synod. You, however, wrote on July 18, 2016 that I was restricted (by quoting bylaw 2.13.2.1(b)) and suspended (by quoting bylaw 2.13.4). These are just two public claims on your part that are outrageous. [05] Neither you nor your office (nor any of your predecessors) ever mentioned either of these prior to that date. You, as my district president at the time, would have to have known this, because there is a process for both of these categories that creates documentation, a paper trail, and a formal procedure that involves a number of people. These have not happened and do not exist because none of these things has ever occurred in my case. As my district president at the time, it would be very important for you to determine the source of these lies, correct them, and also determine how long, to what extent, and by what method they had been spread, and remedy and correct them.

It is now also necessary for you to explain why you would fabricate these false claims which you had never mentioned before to justify your action in removing me from our clergy roster on July 18, 2016. Why do that if you truly believed that your stated reason (that after inviting me to apply for an extension over the last few months you "had not heard from me") was somehow valid? Both, of course, are fabrications, but if you believed the first set of fabrications, why would you need to publish the second set?

You repeated this pattern on August 23, 2016 when you wrote to our synod's business manager that I was "removed from the roster of Ordained Ministers... in accord with Bylaw 2.11.2.3 (b) for non-compliance", and that this was a "misunderstanding" which would be corrected. [06] This introduces a third set of falsehoods. Neither you nor your office mentioned bylaw 2.11.2.3 (which involves non-candidates and annual reports) before this date. Again, why introduce yet another set of fictions if you believed that your earlier set were true? This is another fabrication, just like your fabrication of my being removed because my membership was restricted and suspended.

Your letter of August 23, 2016 attempts to correct in private an action you took in public while continuing and leaving the untruths you committed in public uncorrected. You need to correct the action you took and the fictions used to justify them in the same way they were committed: in public, and not in private. This letter attempts to evade that responsibility by fabricating yet another fiction as your reason.

You repeated this fiction yet again in March of 2017 with your corrected memo to "Rev. Matthew Harrison, President" and "All District Presidents & Administrative Assistants" which you back dated to July 20, 2016. In it you wrote that I was removed from "the Roster of Ordained Ministers of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod by action of the District President, effective July 18, 2016, in accord with Bylaw 2.11.2.3 (b) for non-compliance. Therefore, he is no longer eligible for call consideration." [07] You circulated this nine months after I had accepted a call to a Recognized Service Organization, eight months after I had been transferred from the English District to the Minnesota South District, and eight months after you had privately corrected your "misunderstanding" about my public removal in your letter of August 23, 2016. It was also after months of correspondence with you and your office detailing exactly what I have been doing and that I would soon accept a call, and years of correspondence with your office and your predecessors detailing my activities as an advisory member of synod.

Why would you not tell the truth about an action you reversed eight months prior? If your public action was indeed a "misunderstanding" which you would correct (as you described it in August of 2016), what is the point of claiming it as your excuse again eight months later? You cannot change your stated reasons after the fact.

The Large Catechism explains that observance of the Eighth Commandment is vital because failing to tell the truth by engaging in false witness is so corrosive. This corrodes our life together, our ability to live out our vocations, and even the simple and necessary act of communication. The frightening prospect here is that you may have corroded and destroyed your own credibility and ability to function as a member of our synod. This is a head spinning series of not just unproven assertions, but claims you have made that are impossible and demonstrated to be untrue. Your corrected memo of March of 2017 claims that you removed me in July of 2016 for none of the reasons you stated in the July of 2016 memos and letters, but rather for a reason that you did not mention at all until a month after the fact (in August of 2016, when you reversed my removal). Your corrected memo also claims that I am ineligible for a call eight months after I had accepted a call, and nine months after I had been transferred to the Minnesota South District. And it also entirely omits the facts you have known to be true for months prior to the distribution of your corrected memo.

I would like to begin the dispute resolution process with a factual basis, including the documentation I provided you in August of 2016, and much of which is also here on this web site (http://Blog.FriendsOfULC.org) in .pdf format. Much of it is from your own office. I expect you to do the same, and produce evidence, proof or documentation that what I have detailed above is incorrect. If you cannot do this, then it will be incumbent upon you to correct the public record following the text I have already suggested. [08]

You will have to explain your motives and rationale. But after waiting this much time for you to tell the truth about me I do have an insight you might consider. You apparently believe it is acceptable for you to sacrifice the reputation of your fellow pastors rather than admit, accept responsibility for, and correct your errors and mistakes. You also appear willing to use your position as an officer in our synod to ignore your fellow pastors when they provide you evidence that you have made a mistake. I would suggest you reconsider that approach. The problem and the concern I have is not just for myself, but also for the pastors and church workers you might have removed, might wish to remove in the future, or have otherwise damaged. If I could be removed for fabricated and fictitious reasons the public record of which has not been corrected for well over a year, how many of them were removed or otherwise adversely affect in the same way? Were they able to have their reputation and membership in our synod restored, and the public record corrected?

As a first step let's start with my request to you on August 23, 2016 and which I have repeated several times, that you completely and accurately correct the public record in the way I have already detailed for you in our previous correspondence. [09] The second step is that you discover, correct and remedy the source of the untruths and fabrications directed toward me and any other member of our synod you may have removed or otherwise negatively affected using falsehoods such as these for pretexts. If these are resolved successfully then we can try to resolve whatever else remains.

In the meantime, however, I have to insist that you stop making up reasons to justify something you should never have done in the first place. It would be very wrong for you to continue to delay, prolong or stonewall the dispute resolution process by fabricating spurious and untrue claims, as it has been wrong for you all this time to delay, prolong and stonewall the very simple process of correcting the untruths you have placed in the public record about me. Before this occurred in July of 2016, I had no problem with you or the English District; just the opposite. In fact I wrote to you and your office in June of 2016 that I would like to remain in the English District and have you change my status to active after I accepted the call in July. I also saw you at our conference in October of 2015 at the Cenacle Retreat Center in Chicago and asked you if you needed anything from me. If you did have a problem with me when you were my district president, you needed to say so at the time. I would have been happy to remain in your district and have that discussion with you, and we would have had plenty of opportunities to do that because I attend all the meetings I can.

Let's get started very soon and not waste any more time. I will continue to post the relevant documentation here on Blog.FriendsOfULC.org to save the time and expense of mail, fedex, etc.

Sincerely,

Gordon Bynum

Chaplain

The Saint Timothy Society for Lutheran Seminary Scholarship

Endnotes:

[01] I pointed out a number of errors to you, including the years of my term of membership, as early as August 23, 2016 by email. See [013] below.

[02] Your office received my application for Inactive Status beginning in January of 2009 on February 25, 2008. It consisted of three items: A cover letter from President Stechholz dated January 2008 (see [001] below); My application for Inactive Status dated February 25, 2008; (see [002] below); and my email from March 3, 2008, verifying your office had received the application by fax and mail (see [003] below).

These establish I was a candidate for all of 2008 (starting in January of 2001 and ending in January of 2009). I could not have begun a term as a Non-Candidate before January of 2009. Also notice in the emails and in the forms that I explicitly ask "when the Council of Presidents decide[s] 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!'".

As I wrote to your office (David Stechholz was the District President then) on several occassions and again in February of 2008, I had completed my work for the seminary of the TAALC (The American Association of Lutheran Churches) as their Academic Dean, and in 2007 I was one of the original directors organizing the Saint Timothy Society (a 501c3 organization, and now a synodical RSO for which I have been the Chaplain since July of 2016).

[03] On July 18, 2016, you claimed that I had been suspended and restricted as a pastor (See [011] and [012] below). On August 23, 2016 and again on March 24, 2017, you claimed I had been removed for being "non-compliant" (See [014] and [017] below).

[04] Note the correspondence between your office and myself from May 17 to June 24, 2016 (See [019] below), especially that from June 23rd and June 24th. Two District Presidents wrote recommendations in support of the Saint Timothy Society's application to become a Recognized Service Organization, Dan May (Indiana District) and Lane Seitz (Minnesota South). Either of those districts, or the English, would have been fine for the district of membership for the Saint Timothy Society as an RSO.

[05] See [012] and [013] below.

[06] See [014] below.

[07] See See [017] below.

[08] My letter to you dated May 17, 2018, suggests specific text and steps you could follow. See See [018] below.

[09] See [013], [016] and [017] below, as well as the other entries on this blog, https://Blog.FriendsOfULC.org

Cited and Referenced Sources:

[Numbered links] return to beginning of Endnotes section.
https links opens document in another window.


[001] 2008 January, Letter, from District President David Stechholz: https://goo.gl/77wdzn.

[002] February 25, 2008, Application for Inactive Status: https://goo.gl/Z8AKjy

[003] March 3, 2008, Email, Gordon Bynum to President's Office, English District: https://goo.gl/HM7oFR

[004] May 16, 2016, Email, English District to Gordon Bynum: https://goo.gl/CNqjor

[005] May 16, 2016, Email, Gordon Bynum to English District: https://goo.gl/EWJXPc

[006] May 17, 2016, Email, English District to Gordon Bynum: https://goo.gl/39fj1J

[007] June 21, 2016, Email, Gordon Bynum to English District: https://goo.gl/tfWoJs

[008] June 23, 2016, Letter, (by Fedex) Gordon Bynum to Jamison Hardy: https://goo.gl/dAeMpv

[009] July 5, 2016, Letter, Dorothy Krans, Director of Recognized Service Organizaions, LC-MS: https://goo.gl/UxQrJJ

[010] July 8, 2016, Call Letter, Chaplain, Saint Timothy Society to Gordon Bynum: https://goo.gl/fSRTkr

[011] July 18, 2016, Letter, Jamison Hardy to Gordon Bynum: https://goo.gl/YXkgXh

[012] July 18, 2016, Memo, Jamison Hardy to President Matthew Harrison, All District Presidents and Administrative Assistants: https://goo.gl/5d5k3h

[013] August 23, 2016, Email, Gordon Bynum to Jamison Hardy: https://goo.gl/EWy1og

[014] August 23, 2016, Letter, Jamison Hardy to Eugene Weeke: https://goo.gl/jDAX39

[015] August 24, 2016, Tranfer Form for Gordon Bynum, Jamison Hardy, English District, to Minnesota South District: https://goo.gl/1EK8bC

[016] March 17, 2017, Letter, Gordon Bynum to Jamison Hardy, : https://goo.gl/BA3ewb

[017] March 24, 2017, Corrected Memo, (Dated July 20, 2017) Jamison Hardy to President Matthew Harrison, All District Presidents and Administrative Assistants: https://goo.gl/brBzeD

[018] May 17, 2017, Letter, Gordon Bynum to Jamison Hardy: https://goo.gl/i2wNEp

[019] May 17 - June 24, 2016, Correspondence between English District and Gordon Bynum: https://bit.ly/2IGTUQ8

[020] June 27-30, 2012, English District Convention Workbook, 2-26, "Change of Status - Ordained Ministers": https://bit.ly/2sjGXpj

[021] June 27-30, 2012, English District Convention Workbook, 2-7, "Jubilarians - Ordained": https://bit.ly/2J0ObFg

[022] June 27-30, 2012, English District Convention Workbook, Final Edition: https://bit.ly/2sh587W

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