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
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.