Saturday, June 2, 2012

Everybody Makes Mistakes, Part 1

Everybody makes mistakes.  Each and every one of us "falls short of the goal", as Saint Paul tells us in his letter to Romans (and elsewhere).  What differentiates us is how we proceed after we make a mistake.  Do we admit our mistakes and ask others to forgive and help us?  Or do we deny them, or try to cover them up, or try to plaster over them with excuses?  These are the only two trajectories, two directions, that are possible.

For Christians, we recognize this dilemma, and know that "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins, God Who is faithful and just will forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness".  To deny the mistake, and the sin, has disastrous consequences for the soul, which then has eliminated its return to God in Christ, and so must turn toward that damning trajectory, which seeks self-justification apart from God in Christ.  There are only two religions, regardless of what you may call your particular beliefs: the religion of works, and the religion of faith.  Only the second can return us to Our Savior, and that cannot happen if we deny and cover up our mistakes, our sin.

The analogy to this in our civil society, in the Kingdom of this World, is the saying, "It's not the deed; It's the cover up."  Relatively minor mistakes that could be corrected become the source of greater and greater misdeeds, and even criminality, in an effort to hide and justify the original mistake.  We regularly see this played out on the part of those with power and authority.  This type of political theatre is loved by the press, and they either love to cover it (or cover it up) in exquisite detail (depending on how much they like or dislike the political persuasion of those in power).  Sometimes they get away with it, sometimes they do not.  But the calculus is the same: the original misdeed is dwarfed by the cover up which grows from it.  And it could all be avoided by admitting the original mistake, and dealing with it openly, honestly, and directly.

We have remarked in other posts on this blog about the efforts of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota South District of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod to sell the campus ministries in Mankato and Minneapolis, and how their action followed several efforts to amend the Articles of Incorporation in ways that violated those same Articles.  What began as a series of oversights and simple mistakes over decades could have been easily corrected if the officers and directors of that corporation had gone to the voting members in the person of the District President and said, "We have a problem.  Our Articles of Incorporation have not been validly amended or filed since our last valid set in 1966.  We made a mistake in not going to you earlier with this, we're sorry, and we're asking you to openly and honestly to fix this, because you, the voting members, are the only body who can do this."

That did not happen.  The convention meeting in 2006 was not told about these problems, and this cover up was repeated in 2009.  Instead, in 2007, the District President tried to fix these mistakes with yet another cover up by filing for record with the Minnesota Secretary of State "Restated and Amended" Articles of Incorporation, some of which had not been stated or amended (see  That same District President has now maintained in a sworn affidavit in the litigation with University Lutheran Chapel that his filing of articles in 2007 and 2009 are indeed valid.

But cover ups always lead to other problems, and they get worse.  Consider this article which the District President "restated" in 2007 with the Department of State:

To repeat: "The regular meetings of this corporation, called District Convention, shall be held in the year in which the general convention of THE LUTHERAN CHURCH–MISSOURI SYNOD is held"

This is Article III, Section 2 ("Meetings") a, which the president of the corporation claims he had the authority to file on his own ("on behalf of the corporation"), and which he has sworn are valid articles for the corporation.

Several difficulties arise from the language of this article, in addition to the claim that is "restated" or "amended":

1. It is not now, nor has it been, true, at least not for the last several decades, and possibly the last century.  No regular meetings ("District Conventions") are held in the same year as the general convention of the LCMS.  They are now held the year before the general convention of the LCMS ("THE LUTHERAN CHURCH–MISSOURI SYNOD").

2. This would mean that the president of the corporation has once again in a sworn affidavit claimed something to be true which is demonstrably false, and this time he has done so before the Fourth District Court of the State of Minnesota.  He now has sworn affidavits with the Department of State and the District Court which contain facts and material that are demonstrably false (at the least).

3. Because the president of the corporation claims that these articles filed in 2007 are "Amended and Restated", there is another problem.  He must now find the convention proceedings where this language was presented with 30 days notice and passed by 2/3's.  Good luck with that.  Even the most brain dead and comatose convention (or floor committee) would have caught this.

4. Since he has sworn (twice now) that these are valid articles, he must also admit that his own district convention in 2009 was not a regular meeting, nor was it a validly called special session or meeting.  The "general convention of THE LUTHERAN CHURCH-MISSOURI SYNOD" was held in 2010, and the next one is 2013.

5. This would also mean that in addition to the 2009 convention, the next district convention, scheduled for June 14, 2012, is also invalid, and should not meet.  It raises all sorts of questions about the current officers of the corporation, especially the directors.  Is their election at an invalid meeting in 2009 valid?  Are the actions they have taken valid?  Did they not only authorize the sale of something they could not (the campus ministries in Mankato and Minneapolis), but are they even a valid board of directors that can take any action?

6. It also calls into further question the one responsibility that the presiding officer of the convention does have in the process to amend articles of incorporation, that they must be "certified by the presiding officer".  If the district officer is making that claim for these 2007 articles (and he appears to be), then he has certified language that likely was never approved by the voting members (or even presented).  Combine this with the deletion of the crucial article reserving the right to sell University Lutheran Chapel to the voting members (see and other posts here), and we have in this 2007 document fictitious language inserted which the voting members never saw, and valid language removed from the real and true set of articles filed in 1966.

Everybody makes mistakes.  It's time for the officers of the Minnesota South District of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod to admit theirs, and stop trying to fix what only the voting members can remedy.  Mistakes such as these could have been so easily avoided, if only the earlier mistakes had been taken openly and honestly to the voting members.   It's time to stop the cover up, and it's time to reverse the decision to sell the campus ministries in Minneapolis and Mankato.

It would be far, far better to stop this now before the ongoing litigation between University Lutheran Chapel and the Minnesota South District results in more sworn affidavits by the officers of the corporation before more jurisdictions that will also be shown to contain false material and statements.

Mistakes can be expensive.  We have all made mistakes that cost us money, sometimes a great deal of money.  But the cost of saving money by refusing to admit and correct a mistake is tragically incalculable beyond a dollar figure.  That cost is the cost of souls alienated from God, cut off from the Redemption that Christ has given us.  And God is calling us all to repent:

"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the desert"

The voters at the next convention will probably be asked to make yet another mistake, and participate in yet another cover up, and the excuse they will be given will be the legal and financial exposure that the officers and directors have incurred by their earlier mistakes, and their earlier cover ups.  They should refuse, reverse what the directors have done, and begin the task that we as a church should be about: reconciliation to each other, and reconciliation to the truth.  We dare not place any soul in jeopardy by voting to join them in their sin and rebellion from God and from the truth.  This has already had disastrous consequences for other churches - and especially for our fellow Lutherans in the ELCA.

Everybody makes mistakes.  Mistakes can be costly, but we can fix this, and in the right way, the God pleasing way.

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