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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: Steve Ames on June 20, 2010, 11:23:26 PM

Title: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steve Ames on June 20, 2010, 11:23:26 PM
FOR THE THREE MONTHS ENDING APRIL 30, 2010
The churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America had … for the three-month period ended April 30, 2010, an unfavorable variance of $0.5 million from April 30, 2009 and unfavorable to the period budget by $0.1 million. A timing variance in fraternal grant support of $1.0 million was the primary factor in the larger deficit for the first quarter.
Receipts totaled $15.7 million for the three-month period compared with $18.5 million the previous year, a decrease of $2.9 million or 15.6 percent. Expenses related to the current operating fund amounted to $17.8 million, a decrease of $2.4 million or 11.9 percent from April 30, 2009. Revenue in the period was unfavorable to the budget by $1.6 million or 9.3 percent. Expenses were below the authorized unit spending plans by $1.4 million or 7.5 percent.
Income from congregations through synods in the form of Mission Support income for the first quarter 2010 was $13.0 million, a decrease of $1.9 million or 12.5 percent. Mission Support income was unfavorable to the revised budget by $0.5 million or 3.5 percent. …
The first quarter 2010 decline in Mission Support income in 56 of the 65 synods compared to first quarter 2009 remittances merits careful attention. The annual Mission Support budget for 2010 was reduced by $4.6 million or 7.7% from the amount received in 2009. The decline of 12.5% in the first quarter 2010 compared to the same period in 2009 exceeds the rate anticipated in the budget proposal and is unfavorable to budget by 3.5%. In 35 synods, mission support at the end of April is unfavorable to the same period in 2009 by greater than ten percent.
An under-spending plan of 5% has been implemented as a short-term means to address the financial situation. Additional contingency planning is ongoing and continues to be critical for the churchwide organization.
http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Office-of-the-Treasurer/Financial-Reports/Current-Year-Financial-Reports.aspx

What does this mean?
For the first quarter of 2010 the ELCA show a $2.9 million decrease in Revenue -- $1.9 million in congregational support through the synods and $1.0 million in a delay in fraternal grant support.   Revenue was $1.6 million below the budget.

As a short-term means to address this, expenses were reduced by $2.4 million compared with 2009 spending and $1.4 million below spending authorization with the largest reductions compared with authorized spending being:
General Treasury – net income of $170,000 / expense reduction of $490,000
Includes insurance premiums for the churchwide organization, congregations, and affiliated organizations, such as fidelity bonding, property and liability, travel and accident, board and officer liability, and worker’s compensation and employer’s liability coverage, annualized funding for a central personal computer purchasing program, and expenses incurred during the time of disposition of real property donated to this church.

Global Mission – expense reduction of  $300,000
The Global Mission unit (GM) is responsible for the mission of the ELCA in more than 90 countries outside the United States, and includes ministries that enable this church to deepen and extend its global, ecumenical, and inter-religious relationships.

Vocation and Education – expense reduction of $210,000

Offices of Presiding Bishop, Treasurer and Secretary – expense reduction of $175,000


The General Treasury net income perhaps is from the sale of assets or refund of insurance premiums.

Income from synods was reduced by 56 of 65 synods with 35 reducing remittances by more than 10%.  The Synod Mission Support link includes a chart on its final page which appear to show a decline from August 2009 annualized support of just under $64 million to April 2010 annualized support of just under $58 million or 10 percent.  If this trend holds in 2010 with Mission Support decreasing by 10 percent then annualized Revenue would fall by an additional $5 million.


The Treasurer's comment about additional contingency planning may mean budget cuts for the remainder of 2010 and a significant reduction in the 2011 fiscal year budget.  Also one would not expect General Treasury to continue showing income rather than expense.  Subsequent quarters in 2010 may prove more difficult in generating similar under-spending as was in the first quarter.


Should one attribute all of this to continuing fallout of the new ELCA sexuality position?  Or are there other causes which should serve as a warning to other church bodies as they look at their respective budgets? – such as budget issues at the congregational and synod levels as the cause for a decrease in the pass-thru to the church-wide organization.  If congregations gave directly to the church-wide organization rather than the pass-thru going through the synods, would this budget issue be resolved?

Thank you in advance for your comments.

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Timotheus Verinus on June 21, 2010, 12:03:08 AM
As I noted on the Synod financial thread LCMS/RMD showed a 2.5% decrease in revenue for the same period. If we allow this as a "due to the economy" number, I see no other message except, 15.6%-2.5% = 13.1% directly attributable to 2009 CWA actions. Further, I know at least one congregation that said they had not decreased benevolences yet by April, that is in process now of likely leaving. Add to this that the member hemorage seems to continue unabated, ( we picked up 2 folks that just walked in the door last month) and the fallout of "< 66% leave >33% stay" votes (congregational implosions) have not all reacted in financial ways yet. Any congregation that loses more than 20% of their giving units is not likely to be able to give even if they wished to.

In summary 13% downturn is likely the best case scenario and over 15-20% would not be unexpected, directly attributable to CWA. I wish I could say that an actual snowballing implosion was not possible or at least not likely. I'm not sure that's true. The Synod assemblies are winding up, and that discernment period is just starting (I know of one congregation in SC that just joined OLSC and pulled benevolences effective after April.)

At some point the financial condition of the LCMC/NALC or LCMS/TAALC/AFLC etc. may appear more stable than the ELCA to those at the individual ministry , congregational levels? (Mission planters, missionaries, chaplains etc.)

TV
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steve Ames on June 21, 2010, 11:21:51 PM
Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer Tom Kuchta provided a report of the Synod’s finances as it approaches the end of the fiscal year. He noted improvement in the Synod’s deficit situation in the April financial report, with such improvements expected to result in a year-end positive variance of $1 million. After responding to questions regarding the internal borrowing that the Synod does to avoid costly outside borrowing, …
MINUTES --  BOARD OF DIRECTORS -- May 20-21, 2010
http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/Board_Of_Directors/1005%20Board%20Minutes.pdf

Internal borrowing from restricted funds as the LCMS is now doing possibly suggests a severe financial problem which cannot be addressed by under-spending as the ELCA is doing.  Such internal borrowing created a financial mess for the WELS which led to some organizational changes, folks questioning the proper use of their gifts and perhaps contributed to the election of the current synod president.

Of course, things could be worse as was the case with the AALC closing its seminary and church-wide offices in Minnesota and relocating a skeleton staff to Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne where the AALC has no local congregations.  Here in Texas the AALC congregations either dissolved or were absorbed into the LCMS.

TVerinus: At some point the financial condition of the LCMC/NALC or LCMS/TAALC/AFLC etc. may appear more stable than the ELCA to those at the individual ministry , congregational levels?
Is your proper title now Pastor Awtrey?  Possibly, you may have a point here yet there is also enough to question this.  However, this was not the point for which I started this thread.  The LCMS has over the last few years reduced its financial disclosures on its website and your AALC in the last months has discontinued any financial disclosure in its ‘Evangel.”  So for my financial comparison purposes the ELCA appears to be the one left.

TVerinus: LCMS/RMD showed a 2.5% decrease in revenue for the same period. If we allow this as a "due to the economy" number, I see no other message except, 15.6%-2.5% = 13.1% directly attributable to 2009 CWA actions.
Perhaps if you were speaking of the LCMS as a whole you possibly could have a useful starting point but a single district is not all that helpful.

Certainly the ELCA is being impacted by both the national economy and congregations leaving the ELCA.  It would be interesting to know when the ELCA begins to see any improvement in financial support as a result of the economic recovery the Obama administration proudly claims credit.

The ELCA church-wide organization is facing a financial crisis.  Sure, ELCA congregations leaving contribute to this.  Can one say the same level of financial challenges generally face the individual ELCA synods or are they just simple shifting any reduction in contributions to the church-wide organization?  From some of the comments on this forum the ELCA synods have also been reducing their spending.

I would appreciate anyone sharing their thoughts on whether any of the reduction in financial support to the ELCA church-wide organization is the result of people voting with their wallets against some of the church-wide organization efforts other than those directly related to the new sexuality position?  If so, which efforts?  Or are people perhaps looking for a smaller church-wide organization and a greater emphasis on congregational programs?  If so, which congregational programs are receiving greater emphasis?

Pastor Awtrey, thank you for starting the conversation and I welcome any corrections you may have on my reaction to your post.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Timotheus Verinus on June 22, 2010, 12:20:38 AM
I agree with much of what you say Steve. Still anyway I read the LCMS reports, pulling out KFUO etc. I do not see a decrease worse than 2.5%. This includes the fact, that at least RMD, has seen some generous mission giving, that exceeded the goals. To the AALC thoughts I have had side observations with LCMC types as they seek to form and grow, and relayed the history of trying to keep three balls (opinions) in the air, and its ultimate destination. The recent restructuring has been quite positive IMO. ALTS has quite effective programs, and we have men at CTS. I'll report coming out of convention, this week. The lessons for LCMC and NALC I think is that it is quite difficult to gather together three(or more) theologies and loosely connect them, however minor those differences may seem.

I think I am going to stick with a net decrease of 2.5% from "the economy," until we see something more tangible.

TV
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steve Ames on June 23, 2010, 10:06:14 PM
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
June 21, 2010

ELCA Leaders to Revise 2010 Churchwide Budget, to Create Restructuring Plan
10-170-JB

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will prepare a revised 2010 budget and spending plan for consideration in August, and they will create a plan to restructure the churchwide organization in 2011 in response to continuing declines in income, said the Rev. M. Wyvetta Bullock, ELCA executive for administration, in a June 21 e-mail to churchwide staff.
     Bullock wrote that the churchwide organization's Administrative Team, the Cabinet of Executives, ELCA Church Council, the ELCA Conference of Bishops and other partners will work with the presiding bishop and staff on the restructuring plan.
     In her message to staff, Bullock wrote that she wanted "to inform you of challenges we are facing related to the work of the churchwide organization as we move forward in mission with decreased financial resources.  I also want to let you know how we plan to respond to those changes."
        "As of the end of May, mission support income continues to decline," Bullock wrote. "You may recall that mission support represents approximately 80 percent of our churchwide organization's general operating budget." Mission support is income sent by congregations through synods to the churchwide organization.
     "We anticipate preparing a revised 2010 budget and spending plan for action by the ELCA Church Council at its August meeting.  The reduced budget plan will incorporate the underspending plan already implemented earlier this year," she wrote.  The council will meet by conference call Aug. 4, she said.
     "As we plan for 2011, given the depth of the changes necessary, we will be creating a plan to restructure the churchwide organization to align our work with anticipated income," Bullock wrote.
      "Over the past 12-18 months we have faced significant changes in the churchwide organization.  We are also mindful that challenges are being faced by synods, congregations, institutions, agencies and ecumenical partners.  I continue to be thankful for your partnership and commitment to serve this church.  Our prayers for one another and this church are needed as we walk together in the days ahead," she added.
     She explained that the reasons for the income declines include a 30-year trend in declining revenues, the struggling U.S. economy and declines in congregational income due to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly's decisions on human sexuality.
     Christina Jackson-Skelton, ELCA treasurer, said in an April 30 report that declines in mission support income in 56 of the ELCA's 65 synods, compared to the first quarter of 2009, "merits careful attention."
     "The annual mission support budget for 2010 was reduced by $4.6 million or 7.7 percent from the amount received in 2009," Jackson-Skelton's report said. "The decline of 12.5 percent in the first quarter 2010 compared to the same period in 2009 exceeds the rate anticipated in the budget proposal and is unfavorable to budget by 3.5 percent."
     Jackson-Skelton added that in 35 synods, mission support at the end of April was down by more than 10 percent compared to the same period in 2009.
     The churchwide organization began its 2010 fiscal year with a current fund spending authorization of $69.3 million, including $55.1 million in mission support funds.
http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4556

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dadoo on June 24, 2010, 08:05:18 AM
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
June 21, 2010

ELCA Leaders to Revise 2010 Churchwide Budget, to Create Restructuring Plan
10-170-JB

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will prepare a revised 2010 budget and spending plan for consideration in August, and they will create a plan to restructure the churchwide organization in 2011 in response to continuing declines in income, said the Rev. M. Wyvetta Bullock, ELCA executive for administration, in a June 21 e-mail to churchwide staff.
     Bullock wrote that the churchwide organization's Administrative Team, the Cabinet of Executives, ELCA Church Council, the ELCA Conference of Bishops and other partners will work with the presiding bishop and staff on the restructuring plan.
     In her message to staff, Bullock wrote that she wanted "to inform you of challenges we are facing related to the work of the churchwide organization as we move forward in mission with decreased financial resources.  I also want to let you know how we plan to respond to those changes."
        "As of the end of May, mission support income continues to decline," Bullock wrote. "You may recall that mission support represents approximately 80 percent of our churchwide organization's general operating budget." Mission support is income sent by congregations through synods to the churchwide organization.
     "We anticipate preparing a revised 2010 budget and spending plan for action by the ELCA Church Council at its August meeting.  The reduced budget plan will incorporate the underspending plan already implemented earlier this year," she wrote.  The council will meet by conference call Aug. 4, she said.
     "As we plan for 2011, given the depth of the changes necessary, we will be creating a plan to restructure the churchwide organization to align our work with anticipated income," Bullock wrote.
      "Over the past 12-18 months we have faced significant changes in the churchwide organization.  We are also mindful that challenges are being faced by synods, congregations, institutions, agencies and ecumenical partners.  I continue to be thankful for your partnership and commitment to serve this church.  Our prayers for one another and this church are needed as we walk together in the days ahead," she added.
     She explained that the reasons for the income declines include a 30-year trend in declining revenues, the struggling U.S. economy and declines in congregational income due to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly's decisions on human sexuality.
     Christina Jackson-Skelton, ELCA treasurer, said in an April 30 report that declines in mission support income in 56 of the ELCA's 65 synods, compared to the first quarter of 2009, "merits careful attention."
     "The annual mission support budget for 2010 was reduced by $4.6 million or 7.7 percent from the amount received in 2009," Jackson-Skelton's report said. "The decline of 12.5 percent in the first quarter 2010 compared to the same period in 2009 exceeds the rate anticipated in the budget proposal and is unfavorable to budget by 3.5 percent."
     Jackson-Skelton added that in 35 synods, mission support at the end of April was down by more than 10 percent compared to the same period in 2009.
     The churchwide organization began its 2010 fiscal year with a current fund spending authorization of $69.3 million, including $55.1 million in mission support funds.
http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4556

The fact that might need to be looked at was voiced by our synod treasurer last month: The ELCA's funding structure was based on some assumptions. Those were that all congregations would contribute 10- 15% of their income to the synod and the synods would contribute 50% of their income to national. That system has really never worked. It also relied on math that assumed that national in all its expressions would get its sustenance from the synod checkbooks. But almost immediately, direct solicitation from national offices, organizations, institutions, and causes developed. Also, and most importantly, the local contribution rate is on average 5-8% (if it is different in Arizona, fine, I don't care Brian). 

The current disturbance in the system is laying open a fundamental problem in how ELCA hoped to fund church. Interim solutions will be proposed by people who have made the flawed system run somehow. The real solution is radical restructuring. That would require creative thinking which in turn requires that all schemes and plans and private ambitions that the various men and women in power hold in their hearts be given up.

It could happen . . .
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Marshall_Hahn on June 24, 2010, 11:01:05 AM
This should be no surprise to anyone - notice there is a dawning recognition that this is a "continuing decline."  They are starting to realize in the churchwide offices (or starting to admit) that they have not seen the worst yet.  Notice that 56 of 65 synods have seen declining mission support.  Wasn't it just a short time ago, when Secretary Swartling was touting the fact that what? some 30 or so synods had not had any congregations leave?  Now all but 9 are seeing declining mission support, and most of those showing significant decline of over 10% - about 35% in our synod so far.  Swartling has been quoted as saying that fewer congregations have left than he had anticipated, but that the income has dropped more than expected.  I expect that the loss of congregations will soon catch up with the loss of income.  It is rather difficult to leave the ELCA, and it is a long, involved process - which is as it should be.  But it is relatively simple to cut back on mission support - redirecting congregational funds to specific ministries, or, if your congregation will not do this, redirecting one's own individual offerings.  And that is what has been happening, all across the ELCA, except in a few synods.  (I wonder where they might be?)  There is also a magnified effect at the churchwide offices.  As mission support declines at the synod level, synods are faced with a choice - cut back on staff and programming at the synod level, or maintain local staffing and underfund the percentage sent to the churchwide expression.  Many synods are choosing the latter.  This means that while the drop in mission support to the synod may be 10%, the drop in the amount sent to the churchwide expression may be twice that.  As BTO would tell you, you j-j-j-just ain't seen n-n-n-n-nothin' yet.

Marshall Hahn
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: SmithL on June 24, 2010, 11:18:58 AM
This should be no surprise to anyone - notice there is a dawning recognition that this is a "continuing decline."  They are starting to realize in the churchwide offices (or starting to admit) that they have not seen the worst yet.   ...   Swartling has been quoted as saying that fewer congregations have left than he had anticipated, but that the income has dropped more than expected.  I expect that the loss of congregations will soon catch up with the loss of income.
Marshall Hahn
I suspect a lot of congregations are waiting for the North American Lutheran Church to become operational before they begin the process of leaving the ELCA.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on June 24, 2010, 12:42:58 PM
This should be no surprise to anyone - notice there is a dawning recognition that this is a "continuing decline."  They are starting to realize in the churchwide offices (or starting to admit) that they have not seen the worst yet.   ...   Swartling has been quoted as saying that fewer congregations have left than he had anticipated, but that the income has dropped more than expected.  I expect that the loss of congregations will soon catch up with the loss of income.
Marshall Hahn
I suspect a lot of congregations are waiting for the North American Lutheran Church to become operational before they begin the process of leaving the ELCA.

I suspect that you suspect correctly.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Revbert on June 27, 2010, 09:53:53 PM
Related to the ELCA presser on restructuring...


Has anyone kept a scorecard of the number of reorganizations of the ELCA, especially the Chicago office, since +Mark was installed as the presiding bishop?

Seriously, I have lost count.  At least 4, isn't it?

Are these reorganizations, or rearranging the deck chairs?

The worst part is the human cost. I know many good folks who have lost jobs because of the restructuring activities over the past decade.  :(
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on June 28, 2010, 01:10:20 AM

Has anyone kept a scorecard of the number of reorganizations of the ELCA, especially the Chicago office, since +Mark was installed as the presiding bishop?


I think we're in the midst of ++Hanson's third attempt to re-structure the whole churchwide expression.  The first went over like a lead balloon because he and Miller (?) neglected to consult with anyone first. 

He appeared sufficiently chastened at the 2005 CWA over that, by which time consultation had been happening and essentially the same plan was approved with some minor adjustments.  That's when "Division," "Department," and "Commission" nomenclature became "unit," the Commission for Women disappeared, and everything within the churcwide expression that the Presiding Bishop was personally interested in became part of the Office of the Presiding Bishop. 

Then there's the one he started talking about last year at the Church Council meeting between the Panic of 2008 and Council's viewing of the proposed Social Statement on Human Sexuality.

Of course, there's all the "little" shuffling around that keeps happening in the wake of income declines...

spt+
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: LutherMan on June 28, 2010, 01:25:56 AM
Pewsitters are savvier in this century.  Hanson, Kieschnick, Schroeder and all leaders had better pay attention. 
Some of us pewsitters are supporting favorite missions instead of being loyal givers to our respective Lutheran church bodies/synods/districts.
Door offerings are diminishing.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Eileen Smith on June 28, 2010, 07:13:19 AM
I agree - pew sitters are savvy and we have much information at our fingertips.  It's too hard to say, "What happens in Minneapolis stays in Minneapolis" as some pastors out here (NY/NJ) have chosen to do.  We can hit the internet and read of the celebration to take place in two weeks as part of LCNA's assembly - but once you bring in ELCA staff to preach, well - it does become a bit more of an official ELCA event.  Just browsing the internet allows the many pride celebrations in Lutheran churches this weekend.  Both NY and NJ saw yet more resolutions on sexuality - to "enhance" (for lack of better word) the August decisions. 

For some of us who were very disappointed in the August decisions yet have chosen to remain quiet in the congregation so that ministry can come first, who have chosen not to withhold offerings so that ministry can come first - it seems a bit like salt in the wound.  As well, many of us - pew sitters and clergy alike - are really growing weary of what, at times, appears to be a one-agenda church. 
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dave Benke on June 28, 2010, 07:42:00 AM
Several comments -
first the ELCA budget crisis is more than just the economy and includes significat dissatisfaction
second the economic downturn in my opinion is exacerbated by a growing and substantial number in all denominations including Lutheran of parishes that were already at subsistence level financially and are now pretty much completely unable to attempt anything fiscal other than survive.  Among Lutherans I'd say that's at least a quarter of the parishes.  Utilities and personnel costs are 125% of their budgets.  Meaning they can't pay those. 
Today's Times includes an item indicating that this is not a recession but a long-term depression such as the one in the late 1800s.  If so, any number of parishes are going to go out of business not only for financial reasons but because their ability to attract any new members or even harbor their own is pretty much over. 
Yes, people can read, and can vote with their pocketbooks.  But structurally, there are significant problems in thousands of parishes that are most likely not solvable, and that will affect the health and strength of middle and national judicatories. 
For all the beat-down on it in the MIssouri Synod, the Transforming Congregations Network attempts to get at the problem of institutional decline from a spiritual perspective, and should be taken seriously, even if it must be "amended" to offload non-Lutheran overlay.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Maryland Brian on June 28, 2010, 08:54:39 AM

Yes, people can read, and can vote with their pocketbooks.  But structurally, there are significant problems in thousands of parishes that are most likely not solvable, and that will affect the health and strength of middle and national judicatories.  

Dave Benke

Agree completely.  And the maddening thing was watching it roll out this way despite all sorts of warnings transformational pastors were raising during the last couple of decades.   For many of our congregations it's probably too late.  They haven't the resources to retool, especially after they've missed at least two generations and are now into their third.  Finally, at least in the ELCA, as the large, prevailing congregations continue their march to the doors, the expertise needed to be effective in these times goes with them.

So yes - you've pretty much nailed it.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on June 28, 2010, 09:50:21 AM
This should be no surprise to anyone - notice there is a dawning recognition that this is a "continuing decline."  They are starting to realize in the churchwide offices (or starting to admit) that they have not seen the worst yet.  Notice that 56 of 65 synods have seen declining mission support.  Wasn't it just a short time ago, when Secretary Swartling was touting the fact that what? some 30 or so synods had not had any congregations leave?  Now all but 9 are seeing declining mission support, and most of those showing significant decline of over 10% - about 35% in our synod so far.  Swartling has been quoted as saying that fewer congregations have left than he had anticipated, but that the income has dropped more than expected.  I expect that the loss of congregations will soon catch up with the loss of income.  It is rather difficult to leave the ELCA, and it is a long, involved process - which is as it should be.  But it is relatively simple to cut back on mission support - redirecting congregational funds to specific ministries, or, if your congregation will not do this, redirecting one's own individual offerings.  And that is what has been happening, all across the ELCA, except in a few synods.  (I wonder where they might be?)  There is also a magnified effect at the churchwide offices.  As mission support declines at the synod level, synods are faced with a choice - cut back on staff and programming at the synod level, or maintain local staffing and underfund the percentage sent to the churchwide expression.  Many synods are choosing the latter.  This means that while the drop in mission support to the synod may be 10%, the drop in the amount sent to the churchwide expression may be twice that.  As BTO would tell you, you j-j-j-just ain't seen n-n-n-n-nothin' yet.

Marshall Hahn

Did Capt. Smith finally realize that his ship (the SS Titanic) was sinking when the bow disapeared below the water?

If this is a "dawning realization" for anyone at Higgins Rd., they ought to be fired for outright incompetence or derilection of duty.  The ELCA has been operating in the "red" for most of it's 20 years and has been shrinking throughout it's life as well.  We have seen... what, four or five?... restructurings of the CW organization, the last one taking place in the past three years.  People don't know what to call divisions/task forces/units anymore, which only furthers the alienation.

This seems to me to resemble the end of my marriage.  Place the blame anywhere...everywhere except yourself.  Blame the aging baby-boomers.  Blame the low birth rate.  Blame the economy.  Blame the conservatives.  Never look at the real problems; how younger people are sick and tired of fake or cosmetic labels (like "Lutheran" when nobody pays any heed to the Confessions or "Christian" when nobody pays any attention to the Christian Scriptures or Tradition when they make decisions), how birth control and abortion have killed a whole generation who would be filling our pews, how we have abandoned a Gospel of hope in favor of a self-hep/therapeutic model not to mention a Marxist hermeneutic that promotes classism in a time of anxiety, and how we have driven off exactly the people who valued the authority of the Church and actually paid attention to our Bishops...

I remain convinced that my marriage can somehow be saved, even though I know darn well that it can't.  I remain convinced that somehow the ELCA can be saved, though I know darn well it won't.  The common thread is that I remain optimistic even though the "other" party remains stubbornly in denial that they have any responsibility in the situation.

And yet, I pray.
And pray.
And pray.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Pilgrim on June 28, 2010, 11:57:36 AM
Related to the ELCA presser on restructuring...

Has anyone kept a scorecard of the number of reorganizations of the ELCA, especially the Chicago office, since +Mark was installed as the presiding bishop?

Tim adds: Just an addendum, but within our synod over the course of many years, it seemed out here in the trenches that the only "ministry" that got done at a synodical level was a periodic "re-structuring". I don't know if that was the case in other synods as well, but it seems to have been the systemic corporate "solution" to whatever problems arose. More's the pity within a church called to proclaim the gospel when the golden calf becomes the organization.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on June 28, 2010, 12:37:42 PM
Related to the ELCA presser on restructuring...

Has anyone kept a scorecard of the number of reorganizations of the ELCA, especially the Chicago office, since +Mark was installed as the presiding bishop?

Tim adds: Just an addendum, but within our synod over the course of many years, it seemed out here in the trenches that the only "ministry" that got done at a synodical level was a periodic "re-structuring". I don't know if that was the case in other synods as well, but it seems to have been the systemic corporate "solution" to whatever problems arose. More's the pity within a church called to proclaim the gospel when the golden calf becomes the organization.

It was explained to me by someone who liked to correct anything I said that the three expressions of church that are the ELCA are each tasked with a portion of the total business of the church. The national church has as its main responsibility the coordinating the social action ministry programs of the ELCA. At the synod level, the main responsibility is maintaining good order. It is only at the congregational level where evangelism and proclamation of the Gospel is intended to take place. If that division of labor and responsibility is correct (and I do not claim that it necessarily is), then there shouldn't be any problem with each division of the church sticking to the tasks it is intended to concentrate on.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on June 28, 2010, 05:06:42 PM
I don't know if that was the case in other synods as well, but it seems to have been the systemic corporate "solution" to whatever problems arose. More's the pity within a church called to proclaim the gospel when the golden calf becomes the organization.


Could be worse.  I'm thinking of a Synod where, during the election to replace a retiring Bishop, even his assistant (seeking to succeed him) acknowledged that the synod structure was broken.  The newly-elected Bishop (not that assistant) quickly established a Task Force to come up with something workable, making one of his new assistants the facilitator.  Yours truly, a Conference Dean, was part of that Task Force.  We got started, but a third meeting of the Task Force never was scheduled.  Several months later, the Deans, serving as ad hoc nominating committee to fill positions for committees that no longer functioned, were told there were other priorities in the Synod Office. 

A few years later, the Synod Council formed a new task force to restructure the even more broken -- but still essentially-unchanged since 1988 -- committees, taking a couple of years to to a thorough study and to present recommendations for the 2009 Synod Assembly.  Good input to and from the Conferences over the next year-and-a-half, even a presentation of a general picture of what would be a firm proposal in time for that Synod Assembly. 

Last month was the second consecutive Synod Assembly where the packet mailed to registered voting members included agenda time for the Synod restructuring, only for us to be told at the beginning of the Assembly that the Synod Council is not ready to make recommendations.  Incidentally, this year they pulled another ad hoc Nominating Committee, getting the SAMs (surface-to-air missiles, er, synodically authorized ministers) to serve -- they nominated mostly each other to the various lay postions on committees that still don't meet often enough to accomplish.  8 years, still nothing.

Of course, next year's Assembly will likely be presented a Budget that zeros the expenses of everything except (perhaps) the Candidacy Committee and the posturing of those anticipating an announcement that the Bishop will retire at the end of this term in 2012.

Christe eleison, Steven+
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on June 28, 2010, 06:15:19 PM
I don't know if that was the case in other synods as well, but it seems to have been the systemic corporate "solution" to whatever problems arose. More's the pity within a church called to proclaim the gospel when the golden calf becomes the organization.


Could be worse.  I'm thinking of a Synod where, during the election to replace a retiring Bishop, even his assistant (seeking to succeed him) acknowledged that the synod structure was broken.  The newly-elected Bishop (not that assistant) quickly established a Task Force to come up with something workable, making one of his new assistants the facilitator.  Yours truly, a Conference Dean, was part of that Task Force.  We got started, but a third meeting of the Task Force never was scheduled.  Several months later, the Deans, serving as ad hoc nominating committee to fill positions for committees that no longer functioned, were told there were other priorities in the Synod Office. 

A few years later, the Synod Council formed a new task force to restructure the even more broken -- but still essentially-unchanged since 1988 -- committees, taking a couple of years to to a thorough study and to present recommendations for the 2009 Synod Assembly.  Good input to and from the Conferences over the next year-and-a-half, even a presentation of a general picture of what would be a firm proposal in time for that Synod Assembly. 

Last month was the second consecutive Synod Assembly where the packet mailed to registered voting members included agenda time for the Synod restructuring, only for us to be told at the beginning of the Assembly that the Synod Council is not ready to make recommendations.  Incidentally, this year they pulled another ad hoc Nominating Committee, getting the SAMs (surface-to-air missiles, er, synodically authorized ministers) to serve -- they nominated mostly each other to the various lay postions on committees that still don't meet often enough to accomplish.  8 years, still nothing.

Of course, next year's Assembly will likely be presented a Budget that zeros the expenses of everything except (perhaps) the Candidacy Committee and the posturing of those anticipating an announcement that the Bishop will retire at the end of this term in 2012.

Christe eleison, Steven+

Why not just adopt the ELCA's "Model Constitution for Synods"? There is a "Model Constitution for Synods", isn't there?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on June 29, 2010, 02:41:32 AM

Why not just adopt the ELCA's "Model Constitution for Synods"? There is a "Model Constitution for Synods", isn't there?

Other that describing the Bishop and the Synod Council, the Model doesn't deal with how a Synod organizes itself.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on June 29, 2010, 02:47:00 AM

Why not just adopt the ELCA's "Model Constitution for Synods"? There is a "Model Constitution for Synods", isn't there?

Other that describing the Bishop and the Synod Council, the Model doesn't deal with how a Synod organizes itself.

Correct. The model constitutions do not include bylaws, which are the rules which an organization adopts for its own self-governing, e.g., how many people on the council, their terms, their job descriptions, how they are elected, etc.

One way of viewing the three legal documents are:

The Articles of Incorporation define a congregation's/synod's relationship with the State.

The Constitution (of congregations & synods) define their relationship to the ELCA.

The Bylaws define a congregation's or synod's relationship with itself.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on June 29, 2010, 07:52:34 AM

Why not just adopt the ELCA's "Model Constitution for Synods"? There is a "Model Constitution for Synods", isn't there?

Other that describing the Bishop and the Synod Council, the Model doesn't deal with how a Synod organizes itself.

Then isn't that a deficiency that the ELCA should correct? Perhaps it seemed like a good idea to have each Synod stumble along making its own rules up as it goes along, but at some point shouldn't the shortcomings of that policy result in steps taken to correct them? Wouldn't a common, standard, uniform set of regulations promote good order and minimize chaos, and at the same time free up synods' resources for doing more than perpetually re-inventing themselves?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dadoo on June 29, 2010, 08:48:56 AM

Why not just adopt the ELCA's "Model Constitution for Synods"? There is a "Model Constitution for Synods", isn't there?

Other that describing the Bishop and the Synod Council, the Model doesn't deal with how a Synod organizes itself.

Then isn't that a deficiency that the ELCA should correct? Perhaps it seemed like a good idea to have each Synod stumble along making its own rules up as it goes along, but at some point shouldn't the shortcomings of that policy result in steps taken to correct them? Wouldn't a common, standard, uniform set of regulations promote good order and minimize chaos, and at the same time free up synods' resources for doing more than perpetually re-inventing themselves?

George,

A constitution should have over arcing frameworks in it, not specific individualized policy. I do not think that most folks would support putting a 55 MPH speed limit into the US constitution. It just has no place there. Likewise, it might not be all that interesting to have a provision for ministry oversight for francophone congregations in the synod constitution in Iowa but it might be a good idea in Maine. Yes, both synods need to have a synod assembly with enumerated duties, responsibilities, and powers, a bishop and a synod council who have described duties and authority, a territory mapped out that does not interfere with other synods, etc. But the local implementation of mission should be left to synods. I would vote that they need to have more clout and independence from national or that national needs to intentionally, fade back a bit.

I might also add that the issues that you have noted upset you the most, are not connected to synod constitutions but national constitution and  policy. In some cases it is connected to peculiar enforcement of national policy.

Local policy and constitution cannot be in conflict with synod or national, by the way. That is why there is such a thing as constitutional review. So, no, they are not making it up as they go along. Instead, synods can and should, but don't always, have a mission plan in place, voted into existence by the assembly, and then fund and staff it as the assembly votes to be fit. Bishops and councils might need to decide in what manner the assistants to the bishop are used. Will they have programatic duties or geographic responsibilities as their prime assignments? That decision might just be best made at synod level so the people of the synod can organize things to their best advantage.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steve Ames on July 01, 2010, 12:02:14 AM
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
June 30, 2010
ELCA's Dana College to Close, Board of Regents Announces
10-181-JB

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Dana College Board of Regents announced June 30 that it will commence the closing of the college and it will not reopen for the 2010-11 academic year. The regents made the decision after the college was notified that the board for the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) denied the college's request for a change of control, according to a Dana news release.
     Dana College, Blair, Neb., is one of 27 colleges and universities of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). 
     In March the college announced it was in the process of being acquired by Dana Education Corporation (DEC), a for-profit organization based in Nebraska.  The agreement with DEC was expected to resolve the college's long-standing financial resource issues.  Completion of the sale was expected this summer.
     The Lincoln Journal Star reported the HLC board denied the college's request because it didn't believe the transfer would maintain sufficient continuity of the college's mission and programs; that the college's institutional and educational integrity would be protected; that the purchase would insure sufficient financial support; that the school could recruit enough students; and that the buyer had previous experience in higher education.
     "HLC’s decision was inaccurate, unfair and based on speculation and information not included in the required change of control request," the news release said.
     Dennis Gethmann, Dana College board chair, Maple Plain, Minn., reported that the college's board of regents met June 30 to consider the future of Dana College in light of the HLC decision.
     "We are devastated that despite meeting all requests and assiduously working to meet all requirements, the HLC decision does not allow for Dana’s continuing operation. Nebraska political and public figures were supportive of the proposed change. We are committed to providing assistance to our students, faculty and staff in the coming days," Gethmann said.
     Because Dana College won't be recognized as an accredited institution in the future, the contemplated transaction between Dana College and Dana Education Corporation will not move forward, the college's release said.
     Raj Kaji, president of Dana Education Corporation said "we are deeply saddened by the impact this will have on the Dana community, the faculty and staff, the community of Blair, the state of Nebraska and most importantly the hundreds of students who will be displaced by this decision." 
     Through agreements with the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Grandview University, Des Moines, Iowa, students will be able to continue their studies, the release said. The president of Midland Lutheran College, Fremont, Neb., also has a contingency plan to bring in Dana students as well as some faculty and staff, the Journal Star reported.  Grandview and Midland are ELCA higher education institutions.
     Dana College said it will post information on its website as it is available.
     Dana College was founded more than 125 years ago by Danish pioneers and has been affiliated with Lutheran church bodies since its beginning.http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4567


Perhaps this is not directly related to the ELCA church-wide finances and potential reorganization, however, how are ELCA institutions' financial situation being impacted? 

Then there is the ELCA participation in the cooperative ministries with the LCMS; the LCMS having to pick up a larger share of the financial support for this church work?   


Pastor Dave Benke:   second the economic downturn in my opinion is exacerbated by a growing and substantial number in all denominations including Lutheran of parishes that were already at subsistence level financially and are now pretty much completely unable to attempt anything fiscal other than survive.  Among Lutherans I'd say that's at least a quarter of the parishes.  Utilities and personnel costs are 125% of their budgets.  Meaning they can't pay those.   

An excellent addition to this thread!   Pastor Benke, how many of your quarter of Lutheran parishes with financial issues are in this situation because of capital/ building projects debt?  Or does inclusion of these congregations increase the number of financial distressed congregations?

Pastor Dave Benke:   Today's Times includes an item indicating that this is not a recession but a long-term depression such as the one in the late 1800s.
This is most discouraging since the talk of recovery with a corresponding hope of a six-month lag in recovery of church financial support would then be unrealistic if the Great Recession is really a depression – a long period with cycles of economic downturn followed by a brief recovery only to return to economic downturn.  A depression would mean a much longer time before we see a return to more normal economic times.   People can only postpone some of the economic pain by using savings then more difficult adjustments will have to be made to deal with economic realities.

Pastor Dave Benke:   But structurally, there are significant problems in thousands of parishes that are most likely not solvable, and that will affect the health and strength of middle and national judicatories.  

The situation within the ELCA maybe more severe yet with the general economic circumstances impacting all church-bodies the ELCA financial crisis is a warning to everyone.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on July 01, 2010, 12:17:55 AM

Why not just adopt the ELCA's "Model Constitution for Synods"? There is a "Model Constitution for Synods", isn't there?

Other that describing the Bishop and the Synod Council, the Model doesn't deal with how a Synod organizes itself.

Then isn't that a deficiency that the ELCA should correct? Perhaps it seemed like a good idea to have each Synod stumble along making its own rules up as it goes along, but at some point shouldn't the shortcomings of that policy result in steps taken to correct them? Wouldn't a common, standard, uniform set of regulations promote good order and minimize chaos, and at the same time free up synods' resources for doing more than perpetually re-inventing themselves?

George,

A constitution should have over arcing frameworks in it, not specific individualized policy. I do not think that most folks would support putting a 55 MPH speed limit into the US constitution. It just has no place there. Likewise, it might not be all that interesting to have a provision for ministry oversight for francophone congregations in the synod constitution in Iowa but it might be a good idea in Maine. Yes, both synods need to have a synod assembly with enumerated duties, responsibilities, and powers, a bishop and a synod council who have described duties and authority, a territory mapped out that does not interfere with other synods, etc. But the local implementation of mission should be left to synods. I would vote that they need to have more clout and independence from national or that national needs to intentionally, fade back a bit.

I might also add that the issues that you have noted upset you the most, are not connected to synod constitutions but national constitution and  policy. In some cases it is connected to peculiar enforcement of national policy.

Local policy and constitution cannot be in conflict with synod or national, by the way. That is why there is such a thing as constitutional review. So, no, they are not making it up as they go along. Instead, synods can and should, but don't always, have a mission plan in place, voted into existence by the assembly, and then fund and staff it as the assembly votes to be fit. Bishops and councils might need to decide in what manner the assistants to the bishop are used. Will they have programatic duties or geographic responsibilities as their prime assignments? That decision might just be best made at synod level so the people of the synod can organize things to their best advantage.

First, I don't much care if the standardization of organization is spelled out in a document called "constitution", "bylaws", or "operations manual". For the sake of good order, the structural framework of each synod's organization could be uniform, without inhibiting any synod's ability to decide what needs to be done and then to do it. This sub-thread discussion isn't about synods deciding what they need to do, it's about them spending their time and other resources attempting to structure their organizations.

Frankly, any half-way decent organizational structure will work just fine so long as the right people are in the slots in the org chart. And, no matter how good an organizational structure might be on paper, if the wrong people are in place, the organization will fail.

For example, organizational structure means that there's a bishop, and reporting to him are bishop's assistants. What the bishop's assistants are assigned to do is a different issue from how they are organized. There should be no need for anyone to waste any time worrying about how to set up the organizational chart, which is what "restructuring" is all about.

This is from the post that started this sub-thread, with emphasis added: "I'm thinking of a Synod where, during the election to replace a retiring Bishop, even his assistant (seeking to succeed him) acknowledged that the synod structure was broken.  The newly-elected Bishop (not that assistant) quickly established a Task Force to come up with something workable, making one of his new assistants the facilitator.  Yours truly, a Conference Dean, was part of that Task Force.  We got started, but a third meeting of the Task Force never was scheduled.  Several months later, the Deans, serving as ad hoc nominating committee to fill positions for committees that no longer functioned, were told there were other priorities in the Synod Office."

If there was a single, well-thought out, basic structure assigned to all the synods, then there would be no problems of synod structure being broken. The only issue would be finding the right people to fill the slots. That still gives the synods the flexibility to decide that committee X needs four people while committee Y needs three people, based on the workloads of those committees in that synod.

The main thing is that the tasks assigned to people in an organization are not the same as the structure of the organization.
  
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on July 01, 2010, 11:08:17 PM

If there was a single, well-thought out, basic structure assigned to all the synods, then there would be no problems of synod structure being broken.


Well, George, there isn't.

spt+
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on July 02, 2010, 01:00:08 AM
Actually, the model constitution for synods and congregations, and the practice of having all critical constitutional changes approved, is that single structure.

And let us remember that in the discussion of "church," the process of "being" and "doing" church is not modalized - ELCA, synod, congregation - but that all three are fully and equally and interdependently "church." When the ELCA in Assembly meets, it is "church" and it is acting with and for synods and congregations. When a Synod meets, it is "church" and it is acting with and for the ELCA and congregations. When a congregation functions, it is "church" and it is acting with and for the Synod and the ELCA.
None functions on its own and each is equally interdependent up on the other two. This applies, again interdependently and equally, to all aspects of being "church," celebration, proclamation, evangelism, pastoral care, service to the world, etc.
That is how we agreed we would be when the ELCA was formed and though we could change this, we have not.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Pilgrim on July 02, 2010, 09:55:13 AM
Actually, the model constitution for synods and congregations, and the practice of having all critical constitutional changes approved, is that single structure.

And let us remember that in the discussion of "church," the process of "being" and "doing" church is not modalized - ELCA, synod, congregation - but that all three are fully and equally and interdependently "church." When the ELCA in Assembly meets, it is "church" and it is acting with and for synods and congregations. When a Synod meets, it is "church" and it is acting with and for the ELCA and congregations. When a congregation functions, it is "church" and it is acting with and for the Synod and the ELCA.
None functions on its own and each is equally interdependent up on the other two. This applies, again interdependently and equally, to all aspects of being "church," celebration, proclamation, evangelism, pastoral care, service to the world, etc.
That is how we agreed we would be when the ELCA was formed and though we could change this, we have not.

Tim Christ: What you have written is accurate - on paper. Will you entertain the fact that, in reality (and/or perception), this is not the way that it is currently working out (except perahp[s in the minds of those who either don't, won't or can't see). That's not to suggest that it is right or wrong, but what looks good on the front end often has results in the unanticipated real world that were unintended and the "fix" is not always clear.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on July 02, 2010, 10:27:39 AM

If there was a single, well-thought out, basic structure assigned to all the synods, then there would be no problems of synod structure being broken.


Well, George, there isn't.

spt+

That is correct. I am suggesting a remedy to repair a problem. I thought that was clear. How is it helpful to comment about a suggested remedy to fix a problem that the remedy hasn't been used? Of course there isn't a single, well-thought out, basic structure assigned to all the synods. Why is there any need to repeat that fact in response to a suggestion that a change should be made to create a single, well-thought out, basic structure for all synods?

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on July 02, 2010, 02:15:29 PM

If there was a single, well-thought out, basic structure assigned to all the synods, then there would be no problems of synod structure being broken.


Well, George, there isn't.

spt+

That is correct. I am suggesting a remedy to repair a problem. I thought that was clear. How is it helpful to comment about a suggested remedy to fix a problem that the remedy hasn't been used? Of course there isn't a single, well-thought out, basic structure assigned to all the synods. Why is there any need to repeat that fact in response to a suggestion that a change should be made to create a single, well-thought out, basic structure for all synods?

I'm pretty sure that the Commission on a New Lutheran Church looked at all kinds of options for our structure. I suspect that what they gave us was the best that they found (or least bad). Where you see "a problem," others see wide-open possibilities. What you suggest as a fix, is also seen as fraught with other problems.

Our synods are quite different from each other. The most obvious way is geographical. The Rocky Mountain Synod that covered Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and El Paso, TX, couldn't afford to have monthly meetings of committees -- if members were selected geographically. It was 350 miles for me to go to a synod meeting. The state of Wyoming was one conference -- we didn't even have monthly meetings. The conference I'm in now has weekly pericope studies, but I'm 180+ from most of the other congregations, I don't attend.

A structure that would work for the Minneapolis Area Synod or even the LaCrosse Area Synod, may not work in Rocky Mountain or Grand Canyon Synods.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: revklak on July 03, 2010, 08:25:57 AM

If there was a single, well-thought out, basic structure assigned to all the synods, then there would be no problems of synod structure being broken.


Well, George, there isn't.

spt+

That is correct. I am suggesting a remedy to repair a problem. I thought that was clear. How is it helpful to comment about a suggested remedy to fix a problem that the remedy hasn't been used? Of course there isn't a single, well-thought out, basic structure assigned to all the synods. Why is there any need to repeat that fact in response to a suggestion that a change should be made to create a single, well-thought out, basic structure for all synods?

I'm pretty sure that the Commission on a New Lutheran Church looked at all kinds of options for our structure. I suspect that what they gave us was the best that they found (or least bad). Where you see "a problem," others see wide-open possibilities. What you suggest as a fix, is also seen as fraught with other problems.

Our synods are quite different from each other. The most obvious way is geographical. The Rocky Mountain Synod that covered Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and El Paso, TX, couldn't afford to have monthly meetings of committees -- if members were selected geographically. It was 350 miles for me to go to a synod meeting. The state of Wyoming was one conference -- we didn't even have monthly meetings. The conference I'm in now has weekly pericope studies, but I'm 180+ from most of the other congregations, I don't attend.

A structure that would work for the Minneapolis Area Synod or even the LaCrosse Area Synod, may not work in Rocky Mountain or Grand Canyon Synods.


On the other hand, the question must be begged: since whn should distance matter when it comes to collegiality and a sense of ministeriual support and reducing the 'lone-wolf' effect,,,
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on July 03, 2010, 08:47:30 AM
I'm pretty sure that the Commission on a New Lutheran Church looked at all kinds of options for our structure. I suspect that what they gave us was the best that they found (or least bad). Where you see "a problem," others see wide-open possibilities. What you suggest as a fix, is also seen as fraught with other problems.

Our synods are quite different from each other. The most obvious way is geographical. The Rocky Mountain Synod that covered Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and El Paso, TX, couldn't afford to have monthly meetings of committees -- if members were selected geographically. It was 350 miles for me to go to a synod meeting. The state of Wyoming was one conference -- we didn't even have monthly meetings. The conference I'm in now has weekly pericope studies, but I'm 180+ from most of the other congregations, I don't attend.

A structure that would work for the Minneapolis Area Synod or even the LaCrosse Area Synod, may not work in Rocky Mountain or Grand Canyon Synods.


On the other hand, the question must be begged: since whn should distance matter when it comes to collegiality and a sense of ministeriual support and reducing the 'lone-wolf' effect,,,

Granted, technology wasn't the same in 1988, though more was in place than some people realize. Today, there is little limit to what can be done through "virtual" meeting using conference calls and/or internet based technologies. At my last secular job, all of us state technical managers met weekly through a conference call. With e-mail, voice-mail, most phone companies now offering unlimited long distance calling, and other options for remote conferencing and communications, claiming that geographically spread out synods cannot function with the same sort of organizational structure as a foundation as more compact synods seems to be grasping at straws for a knee-jerk defense of the status quo.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on July 03, 2010, 09:53:58 AM
I'm pretty sure that the Commission on a New Lutheran Church looked at all kinds of options for our structure. I suspect that what they gave us was the best that they found (or least bad). Where you see "a problem," others see wide-open possibilities. What you suggest as a fix, is also seen as fraught with other problems.

Our synods are quite different from each other. The most obvious way is geographical. The Rocky Mountain Synod that covered Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and El Paso, TX, couldn't afford to have monthly meetings of committees -- if members were selected geographically. It was 350 miles for me to go to a synod meeting. The state of Wyoming was one conference -- we didn't even have monthly meetings. The conference I'm in now has weekly pericope studies, but I'm 180+ from most of the other congregations, I don't attend.

A structure that would work for the Minneapolis Area Synod or even the LaCrosse Area Synod, may not work in Rocky Mountain or Grand Canyon Synods.


On the other hand, the question must be begged: since whn should distance matter when it comes to collegiality and a sense of ministeriual support and reducing the 'lone-wolf' effect,,,

Granted, technology wasn't the same in 1988, though more was in place than some people realize. Today, there is little limit to what can be done through "virtual" meeting using conference calls and/or internet based technologies. At my last secular job, all of us state technical managers met weekly through a conference call. With e-mail, voice-mail, most phone companies now offering unlimited long distance calling, and other options for remote conferencing and communications, claiming that geographically spread out synods cannot function with the same sort of organizational structure as a foundation as more compact synods seems to be grasping at straws for a knee-jerk defense of the status quo.

The Presbyterian Church USA tried connected all their congregations electronically. They provided them with Presbynet subscription (part of ecunet) and the software to use it. It didn't work. Too many congregations didn't have and didn't want internet connection. This is the first congregation I've been at that has internet for the office computers. There are pastors and secretaries who like being computer illiterate. My uncle, a pastor, could see no reason why he would need a computer. He saw no way that it would help his ministry. Even at my congregation where we use computers, their software is a version behind what the secretary and I use at home -- and they don't have the funds to upgrade. So, for most of my work, I bring my laptop to the office.

The "church world" is not the same as the "business world." My nephew worked for Intel -- and he could do his work at home in his bathrobe. Whether he was in his cubicle at work or in his den at home, he was on a computer writing code or talking with folks around the world. I see very little of that happening in the "church world". Ecunet was an attempt back in the 90's, but it's in financial trouble and looking for a new platform -- possibly Google Groups.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on July 03, 2010, 10:31:06 AM
I'm pretty sure that the Commission on a New Lutheran Church looked at all kinds of options for our structure. I suspect that what they gave us was the best that they found (or least bad). Where you see "a problem," others see wide-open possibilities. What you suggest as a fix, is also seen as fraught with other problems.

Our synods are quite different from each other. The most obvious way is geographical. The Rocky Mountain Synod that covered Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and El Paso, TX, couldn't afford to have monthly meetings of committees -- if members were selected geographically. It was 350 miles for me to go to a synod meeting. The state of Wyoming was one conference -- we didn't even have monthly meetings. The conference I'm in now has weekly pericope studies, but I'm 180+ from most of the other congregations, I don't attend.

A structure that would work for the Minneapolis Area Synod or even the LaCrosse Area Synod, may not work in Rocky Mountain or Grand Canyon Synods.


On the other hand, the question must be begged: since whn should distance matter when it comes to collegiality and a sense of ministeriual support and reducing the 'lone-wolf' effect,,,

Granted, technology wasn't the same in 1988, though more was in place than some people realize. Today, there is little limit to what can be done through "virtual" meeting using conference calls and/or internet based technologies. At my last secular job, all of us state technical managers met weekly through a conference call. With e-mail, voice-mail, most phone companies now offering unlimited long distance calling, and other options for remote conferencing and communications, claiming that geographically spread out synods cannot function with the same sort of organizational structure as a foundation as more compact synods seems to be grasping at straws for a knee-jerk defense of the status quo.

The Presbyterian Church USA tried connected all their congregations electronically. They provided them with Presbynet subscription (part of ecunet) and the software to use it. It didn't work. Too many congregations didn't have and didn't want internet connection. This is the first congregation I've been at that has internet for the office computers. There are pastors and secretaries who like being computer illiterate. My uncle, a pastor, could see no reason why he would need a computer. He saw no way that it would help his ministry. Even at my congregation where we use computers, their software is a version behind what the secretary and I use at home -- and they don't have the funds to upgrade. So, for most of my work, I bring my laptop to the office.

The "church world" is not the same as the "business world." My nephew worked for Intel -- and he could do his work at home in his bathrobe. Whether he was in his cubicle at work or in his den at home, he was on a computer writing code or talking with folks around the world. I see very little of that happening in the "church world". Ecunet was an attempt back in the 90's, but it's in financial trouble and looking for a new platform -- possibly Google Groups.

I suggest you go and check out the Episcopal Church (TEC) and tell me how all those auto-cephalous dioceses have worked out, Brian.  It has led whole dioceses to secede from the denomination, it has led to the complete fragmentation of the denomination (with some dioceses doing "this" and other dioceses doing "that"), and leading the denomination to the brink of bankruptcy.

A German general in World War I once remarked that Germany was "shackeled to a corpse" by their treaties to the disintegrating Austro-Hungarian Empire.  I suggest that the course of action that you propose (ie. giving "synods" more freedom and diversity is remarkably similar to the German situation in the First World War.  By shackling ourselves to the corpse of TEC, and trying to emulate their failed structure, we will only end up where they are.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Revbert on July 06, 2010, 12:17:55 PM
Technology alone is not what unites the church. After all, there are not a large number of computers in the homes and rectories throughout Africa, yet the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and, yes, Lutherans are working pretty well there.

Community will exist where there is a priority placed on being community. Unfortunately, secular humanism devalues community over the "I" and "ME" that came into the forefront in the 80s and 90s.

Until we begin to recover the need--and it is a need--for community in our lives, the rest is pretty useless.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on July 06, 2010, 01:13:18 PM
Technology alone is not what unites the church. After all, there are not a large number of computers in the homes and rectories throughout Africa, yet the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and, yes, Lutherans are working pretty well there.

Community will exist where there is a priority placed on being community. Unfortunately, secular humanism devalues community over the "I" and "ME" that came into the forefront in the 80s and 90s.

Until we begin to recover the need--and it is a need--for community in our lives, the rest is pretty useless.

That is very true. And, it is beside the point. If we accept the need for community in our lives as workers in the church, toiling together in common mission, the next question are, "How do we organize and coordinate our efforts?", "How do we act as good stewards of our time and talents?", and other such issues. And that is where technology enters the picture in regards to being used as a tool for communication to enable good order. That's why Paul and the other Apostles wrote letters, as it was a technology that enabled them to communicate God's Word over long distances.

So, while technology might not unite us as a church, it can be a very useful tool for communications among and between those who are united in Christ.   
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on July 06, 2010, 01:33:58 PM
Art Hebbeler writes:
Until we begin to recover the need--and it is a need--for community in our lives, the rest is pretty useless.

I muse:
But "community" is a word that needs to be filled out a bit, especially with regard to the church. Community in the church is not just with people like me; community in the Church is not just with people who agree with me; community in the Church is not just people who I am comfortable with.
Often the communities we seek are those groups where we can feel cozy, where we are not challenged, where we can bask in our comfortable "community-ness", speaking our code words, telling our "in"-jokes, and reminiscing about our good old days.
All kinds of organizations can do that.
But that is not the Church. The Church is that place that spans race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and - dare I say it? - even conventional notions about lifestyle and morality. (Peter's thing with unclean food, Paul's inclusiveness toward Gentiles, slave-free, men-women, Greeks, etc. etc. )
I suspect that this is not the community we "seek," but it is indeed the community into which we are called.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: ptmccain on July 06, 2010, 01:35:30 PM
And in some churches, apparently, dare I say it?

...even Biblical notions about lifestyle and morality.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Chuck Sampson on July 06, 2010, 03:50:53 PM
Art Hebbeler writes:
Until we begin to recover the need--and it is a need--for community in our lives, the rest is pretty useless.

I muse:
But "community" is a word that needs to be filled out a bit, especially with regard to the church. Community in the church is not just with people like me; community in the Church is not just with people who agree with me; community in the Church is not just people who I am comfortable with.
Often the communities we seek are those groups where we can feel cozy, where we are not challenged, where we can bask in our comfortable "community-ness", speaking our code words, telling our "in"-jokes, and reminiscing about our good old days.
All kinds of organizations can do that.
But that is not the Church. The Church is that place that spans race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and - dare I say it? - even conventional notions about lifestyle and morality. (Peter's thing with unclean food, Paul's inclusiveness toward Gentiles, slave-free, men-women, Greeks, etc. etc. )
I suspect that this is not the community we "seek," but it is indeed the community into which we are called.

Charles' post-ban posts have taken on the nature of self-parody--something like the final stages of the career of Howard Cosell. 8)
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on July 06, 2010, 04:53:51 PM
Ah, the dreaded ad hominem. So it now appears that Sampson and McCain are vowing for the title of snarkmeister. McCain currently leading.
And if you don't see the seriousness in my comments about community, I really wonder about...
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Revbert on July 06, 2010, 05:07:54 PM
George:

I don't get you at all on this one.  I never suggested that technology was not of use in building community. I just said it wasn't the only thing.

Charles:

I think you are reading too much into this one. I'm speaking of the very basic use of community--not community as religious community, family, or neighborhood.  I think we have lost the very basic idea of life together. Putting one's self first and not giving a damn (thank you, Rhett) about anything else. From my POV, the "needs of the one outweigh the needs of the few, or the many."

In short, I fear we've lost that idea of community (and not in the "it takes a village" sense) at its most basic meaning.  Church community is a whole different animal.

Art
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Mike Bennett on July 06, 2010, 05:48:06 PM

I use my real name, which means something since I am the only person in America named George Erdner. If I had the same name as 992 other people, then using my real name is nothing really to brag about, is it?
  

I don't get it.  A simple web search turns up more than one person in America named George Erdner. 

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Maryland Brian on July 06, 2010, 06:22:15 PM

But that is not the Church. The Church is that place that spans race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and - dare I say it? - even conventional notions about lifestyle and morality.

 ... except for all those pesky things Paul said about immorality - such as "Cut it out!"  That's the simpler, easier to  understand version.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on July 06, 2010, 07:00:35 PM

I use my real name, which means something since I am the only person in America named George Erdner. If I had the same name as 992 other people, then using my real name is nothing really to brag about, is it?
  

I don't get it.  A simple web search turns up more than one person in America named George Erdner. 

Mike Bennett

According to the How Many of Me (http://howmanyofme.com/) website, I am the only George Erdner currently alive in the US.

Google turned up a few other George Erdner, including my late father, George S. Erdner, my late grand-father, George Henry Erdner, and other dead George Erdners. It also turned up Edward George Erdner, but that having George as a middle name doesn't really count. Yahoo shows no other living George Erdners. Neither does Bing. If you did find any other living George Erdners in America, please let me know. I'd be interested in contacting them.

On the other hand, the participant in here who brags about always using his real name shares the same name with 992 people, according to that same website.

I discovered this after that individual stalked me on Facebook to continue to "correct" me despite his banishment. In attempting to find his account, I got over 500 hits on his name. At least 200 of them were the exact same first and last names.

Now, there is nothing wrong with having a common name. But, if one is going to brag about not using a pseudonym, one should probably make it a practice of at least including one's middle initial. Better yet, don't brag!




Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on July 06, 2010, 07:26:22 PM
According to the How Many of Me (http://howmanyofme.com/) website, I am the only George Erdner currently alive in the US.
Hmmm, when I used that site, it says that there are three Brian Stoffregens. When I check on whitepages.com, my name comes up three times with three different locations: the last church I served, my mother's address, and my address. So, does that mean there is only one of me or are there three?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on July 06, 2010, 07:50:55 PM
According to the How Many of Me (http://howmanyofme.com/) website, I am the only George Erdner currently alive in the US.
Hmmm, when I used that site, it says that there are three Brian Stoffregens. When I check on whitepages.com, my name comes up three times with three different locations: the last church I served, my mother's address, and my address. So, does that mean there is only one of me or are there three?

It's all in how you interpret it.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Tom Senge on July 06, 2010, 10:16:23 PM
OK, I'll join the drift....I have a fairly unusual last name.  The site says there is only one Thomas Senge, when I know for a fact that there are at least 2 (the other one is ion jail for armed robbery in Wisconsin...he's a second cousin and I always use my middle initial.)  My wife and most of my family doesn't even exist.

I get the feeling that this site is simply based on statistical probabilities based on the commonality of names, and no more.  For example, the census data they use is not Thomas Senge, but Thomas as one variable, and Senge as the other.  Applying statistical probabilities they come up with a number.

I could be wrong on this, but a quick scan of the site did not say how the data was really used, so it's my best guess.

BTW, how did we get here ??? ???

Thomas Edward Senge
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on July 06, 2010, 10:29:48 PM
So, does that mean there is only one of me or are there three?

Don't you mean, "is there only 1 of me or are there 11?" 
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: TravisW on July 06, 2010, 11:53:03 PM
OK, I'll join the drift....I have a fairly unusual last name.  The site says there is only one Thomas Senge, when I know for a fact that there are at least 2 (the other one is ion jail for armed robbery in Wisconsin...he's a second cousin and I always use my middle initial.)  My wife and most of my family doesn't even exist.

I get the feeling that this site is simply based on statistical probabilities based on the commonality of names, and no more.  For example, the census data they use is not Thomas Senge, but Thomas as one variable, and Senge as the other.  Applying statistical probabilities they come up with a number.

I could be wrong on this, but a quick scan of the site did not say how the data was really used, so it's my best guess.

BTW, how did we get here ??? ???

Thomas Edward Senge

According to that webpage, there are "one or fewer" of me.  So, there is the potential that I don't exist.  It's really all in the interpretation.   ;)

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on July 07, 2010, 12:02:42 AM
First, does one believe the census, or the ways that someone (who?) has aggregated the information?

Then....    "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on July 07, 2010, 12:14:30 AM
So, does that mean there is only one of me or are there three?

Don't you mean, "is there only 1 of me or are there 11?"  

Would anyone want 11 (decimal or binary) of me? :)
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Erma S. Wolf on July 07, 2010, 12:50:34 AM
First, does one believe the census, or the ways that someone (who?) has aggregated the information?

Then....    "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)



Perhaps some prefer what Juliet said prior to this:  "Oh, be some other name!"
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on July 07, 2010, 09:42:10 AM
OK, I'll join the drift....I have a fairly unusual last name.  The site says there is only one Thomas Senge, when I know for a fact that there are at least 2 (the other one is ion jail for armed robbery in Wisconsin...he's a second cousin and I always use my middle initial.)  My wife and most of my family doesn't even exist.

I get the feeling that this site is simply based on statistical probabilities based on the commonality of names, and no more.  For example, the census data they use is not Thomas Senge, but Thomas as one variable, and Senge as the other.  Applying statistical probabilities they come up with a number.

I could be wrong on this, but a quick scan of the site did not say how the data was really used, so it's my best guess.

BTW, how did we get here ??? ???

Thomas Edward Senge

I wouldn't trust such a website with any high degree of accuracy. However, if it says that the number of people with one name are in single digits, it's probable that the name is somewhat unique. If it says that there are almost a thousand with the same name, then it's probable that the name is somewhat common.

I suppose it goes to the issue of whether one uses a pseudonym to prevent others from finding one. When I say something in public with my name attached, I am very easy to find. When someone who shares a name with almost a thousand other people uses his real name, he still has a significant level of anonymity, as he can hide amongst the others with the same name.

As I said, there's nothing at all wrong with having a rather common name, shared with many others. It just seems a little pretentious to brag about always using that name instead of a pseudonym.

First, does one believe the census, or the ways that someone (who?) has aggregated the information?

Then....    "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)



Perhaps some prefer what Juliet said prior to this:  "Oh, be some other name!"

If someone believes that one's name doesn't matter, why would that person brag about only using his real name? I can't reconcile the two things. I can accept not thinking that what name one uses matters. I can accept bragging about only using one's real name. But, if one does the latter, how does one also advocate the former? If one embraces the former, why do the latter? I fear it demonstrates an inconsistent or a divided mind.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Rsaler on July 07, 2010, 11:14:33 AM
OK, I'll join the drift....I have a fairly unusual last name.  The site says there is only one Thomas Senge, when I know for a fact that there are at least 2 (the other one is ion jail for armed robbery in Wisconsin...he's a second cousin and I always use my middle initial.)  My wife and most of my family doesn't even exist.

I get the feeling that this site is simply based on statistical probabilities based on the commonality of names, and no more.  For example, the census data they use is not Thomas Senge, but Thomas as one variable, and Senge as the other.  Applying statistical probabilities they come up with a number.

I could be wrong on this, but a quick scan of the site did not say how the data was really used, so it's my best guess.

BTW, how did we get here ??? ???

Thomas Edward Senge

I wouldn't trust such a website with any high degree of accuracy. However, if it says that the number of people with one name are in single digits, it's probable that the name is somewhat unique. If it says that there are almost a thousand with the same name, then it's probable that the name is somewhat common.

I suppose it goes to the issue of whether one uses a pseudonym to prevent others from finding one. When I say something in public with my name attached, I am very easy to find. When someone who shares a name with almost a thousand other people uses his real name, he still has a significant level of anonymity, as he can hide amongst the others with the same name.

As I said, there's nothing at all wrong with having a rather common name, shared with many others. It just seems a little pretentious to brag about always using that name instead of a pseudonym.

First, does one believe the census, or the ways that someone (who?) has aggregated the information?

Then....    "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)



Perhaps some prefer what Juliet said prior to this:  "Oh, be some other name!"

If someone believes that one's name doesn't matter, why would that person brag about only using his real name? I can't reconcile the two things. I can accept not thinking that what name one uses matters. I can accept bragging about only using one's real name. But, if one does the latter, how does one also advocate the former? If one embraces the former, why do the latter? I fear it demonstrates an inconsistent or a divided mind.

This has been, I think, the single strangest thread drift that I have yet witnessed on these boards.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on July 07, 2010, 11:41:05 AM
This has been, I think, the single strangest thread drift that I have yet witnessed on these boards.

I don't know, there have been some real doozies. This one went from the fiscal crisis, to synod structural organization and how that related to financial matters, to implementing a common, standard structure to save money on frequent reorganizations, to the problems of communications in geographically spread out synods and the use of technology to cure that problem, to asides about the true meaning of community, to a discourse on the uniqueness or lack thereof for peoples' identities.

Seems fairly typical for ALPB to me.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Evangel on July 07, 2010, 12:25:08 PM
Seems we had a surreal discussion of the blessing of a composter in a seminary chapel not too long ago ...  :P
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: ptmccain on July 07, 2010, 01:22:32 PM
But has anyone played the "Nazi" card yet?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on July 07, 2010, 01:28:51 PM
But has anyone played the "Nazi" card yet?

Hmmm, does your post count?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dadoo on July 07, 2010, 01:37:10 PM
But has anyone played the "Nazi" card yet?

No. But somewhere on this server is a discussion that compares Children's' Sermons to licking snail mucus . . . does that count?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on July 07, 2010, 03:44:21 PM
Hiding among a thousand people with the same name? A ridiculous concept. If there is another Charles Austin who is a retired ELCA pastor, I'll gladly start using my middle initial. There is no "bragging" about using one's real name, only honesty. And I still maintain... on a discussion board among people who are supposedly Lutherans sharing their concerns for the various parts of the body of Christ, I do not understand - except in some very rare instances - why anyone would not use their real name. And if one tosses grenades at others while hiding behind a phony name, that is despicable.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Maryland Brian on July 07, 2010, 03:54:47 PM

among people who are supposedly Lutherans ...


Well, it didn't take long for the name calling to start up again ...  ::)
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: ptmccain on July 07, 2010, 03:57:07 PM
I think making a point of letting people know you use your real name in online conversations is pretentious, but....other than that.

I agree with Charles here.

I was probably one of those people who thought anonymous posting/blogging, etc. was ok, years ago, but I've come to recognize it is not the way to go. Here is what I had to say about it on my blog:

http://cyberbrethren.com/2010/04/22/why-pastors-should-not-blog-anonymously/

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on July 07, 2010, 04:33:29 PM
Pastor Hughes wrote (apparently in response to my bland term "supposedly Lutheran"):
Well, it didn't take long for the name calling to start up again ...

I comment:
Good grief. How thin is that skin? Better keep your wet suit on. Even while riding your motorcycle, smoking a cigar, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and telling everyone how save family life and evangelize. 
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on July 07, 2010, 05:07:01 PM
I think making a point of letting people know you use your real name in online conversations is pretentious, but....other than that.


You got that right. Doing something that is right is one thing. Bragging about it in your tagline so it's seen in every post you make is another.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: BrotherBoris on July 07, 2010, 05:20:01 PM
To Pastor Charles Austin:

What's life like in Geneva? What is it like living there? I'm interested.

Boris
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Maryland Brian on July 07, 2010, 05:32:20 PM

... how save family life and evangelize. 


  Did you mean how TO save?  I would have expected better from someone supposedly a writer...   :P
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Michael_Rothaar on July 08, 2010, 01:36:25 PM
First Lutheran Church in Fargo, a congregation of more than 5,000 members, has renewed its giving to the national offices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/284115/group/Life/ (http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/284115/group/Life/)
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: ptmccain on July 08, 2010, 01:56:01 PM
From the article:

"But the church, which has budgeted about $75,000 in benevolence, or 5 percent of its budget, to the ELCA for 2010, is also providing congregants the option to restrict their donations from going to the denomination’s national offices."
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Maryland Brian on July 08, 2010, 01:57:14 PM
From the article:

"But the church, which has budgeted about $75,000 in benevolence, or 5 percent of its budget, to the ELCA for 2010, is also providing congregants the option to restrict their donations from going to the denomination’s national offices."

  As a means of maintaining peace and continuing conversation in our congregation, we have restricted our benevolence to the local synod.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: pr dtp on July 08, 2010, 03:30:54 PM
First Lutheran Church in Fargo, a congregation of more than 5,000 members, has renewed its giving to the national offices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/284115/group/Life/ (http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/284115/group/Life/)

Didn't their senior pastor recently resign?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steve Ames on July 10, 2010, 11:07:34 AM
The following report is from the LCMS “Convention Workbook”  http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/2010%20Convention/convention_wb.pdf about the LCMS corporate Synod  a close equivalent to the ELCA church-wide organization.  Some care should be taken not to assume that the financial crisis the ELCA is facing is just due to congregations leaving over the new ELCA sexuality position.  Consider:

Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer
The Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod serves as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in administrating the financial affairs of the Synod. …

When reading this report, it is important to understand the distinction between Synod and corporate Synod. Bylaw 1.2.1 (t) of the Handbook indicates that the term Synod “[r]efers collectively to the association of self-governing Lutheran congregations and all its agencies on the national and district levels.” This means that, in addition to congregations, Synod includes corporate Synod, 35 districts, 10 colleges and universities, 2 seminaries, Worker Benefit Plans, and 5 synodwide corporate entities. …

Corporate Synod, on the other hand, is defined in Bylaw 1.2.1 (d) of the Handbook as “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the Missouri nonprofit corporation, including the departments operating under the supervision of the Board of Directors of the Synod and the program boards and commissions of the Synod.” … it is estimated that total annual congregational receipts approximate $1.34 billion, of which $120 million are used for the work of the church at large.

The permanent endowments of the seminaries, colleges and universities are $208 million. These endowments continue to grow.

While the financial condition of the Synod is strong, some districts, a college, two universities, and the two seminaries are experiencing current operating losses. Corrective plans have been implemented that hopefully will result in the elimination of the losses. It should be noted that one of the universities has experienced operating losses in ten of the past eleven years.

The financial position of corporate Synod is not as sound as the rest of Synod. Corporate Synod continues to experience decreases in unrestricted revenues (primarily receipts from districts). In 2001, corporate Synod received $28 million of unrestricted revenue.  In the 2010 budget, unrestricted revenues are estimated to be $20.1 million. In this budget, district pledges are $638,437 lower than the previous year. Also, LCEF has eliminated distributions to corporate Synod, and CPH has reduced its annual distribution. Restricted gifts now comprise 75 percent of the annual budget of approximately $81 million.

The trend of continuous decreases in unrestricted revenues is a significant problem to the Synod. Currently, approximately $9.0 million of unrestricted revenues are budgeted for non-discretionary functions of the Synod. This leaves $11 million available for allocation to program boards and commissions.

The decrease in unrestricted revenues has negatively affected the mission and ministry functions of corporate Synod. Initiatives have been undertaken to mitigate the continuing reduced revenues. Since 2002, staff levels have been reduced by 25 percent. Operational reviews were performed, and reengineering is occurring in the technology and human resource functions. Outsourcing opportunities are being considered. There were no salary increases or bonuses in the current fiscal year. A hiring freeze was established on July 1, 2009. An early retirement program adopted in the current fiscal year will annually reduce compensation by $750,000.

The audited financial statements of corporate Synod as of June 30, 2009 reflect an unrestricted net assets deficit of ($5.56) million if land and fixed assets are excluded. As corporate Synod has no long-term debt, nor has it borrowed on its line of credit with LCEF during the current triennium, the deficit has depleted previous years’ accumulated profits.

As the next triennium begins, it is likely that corporate Synod will continue to experience decreasing unrestricted revenues. Further, there are insignificant opportunities for general and administrative efficiency gains. Therefore, it is clear that fewer dollars will be available to the ministries. …

As the Synod faces continuing financial challenges, it is important that all assets be reviewed to determine that they are used appropriately and effectively in carrying out its ministry. Also, the report of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission should be revisited. The report includes various suggestions for increasing unrestricted revenues.

This triennium has included many fiscal challenges to corporate Synod. Corporate Synod has been able to meet these challenges without incurring debt. However, we have depleted corporate Synod’s cash and investment reserves. Corporate Synod continues to have substantial net worth but minimal cash and cash equivalents. Therefore, if the challenges of operating with reduced revenues continue, it will be necessary to reduce national ministry activities, incur debt, and/or sell assets in order to achieve a balanced budget. …

[One LCMS District’s answer to the corporate Synod’s financial situation:]

Because the Texas District has been blessed by God in so many different ways, we are committed to be a blessing for others and the Synod. The district has increased its percentage in support of Synod each year over the past three years. This did not always result in an increased dollar amount because of the adverse economic impact even in Texas,


Observations:  An LCMS District increases its percentage of support for corporate Synod but the dollars decrease.  “some districts, a college, two universities, and the two seminaries are experiencing current operating losses.”  “Since 2002, staff levels have been reduced by 25 percent.”  “The audited financial statements of corporate Synod as of June 30, 2009 reflect an unrestricted net assets deficit of ($5.56) million if land and fixed assets are excluded.”   How well would this discuss the financial situation of the ELCA church-wide organization?

The unrestricted net assets deficit of ($5.56) million means that unrestricted assets, corporate Synod’s cash and investment reserves, are less than unrestricted liabilities.  These liabilities could be unfunded pension liabilities and/or internal borrowing from restricted net assets.  Unfunded pension liabilities could mean future retirees’ pensions are in some danger.  I believe elsewhere I read that the LCMS was borrowing from its restricted funds.  Borrowing from restricted assets means that the wishes of those giving the restricted gifts are having their direction for the use of those funds postponed until a later date until corporate Synod pays this back with unrestricted revenues.  One end result of this is that people could start reducing their restricted gifts to corporate Synod.  It will be interesting to see if the LCMS synod convention this coming week will approve the reorganization in its Blue Ribbon panel report with its promise of increasing unrestricted revenues to corporate Synod.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Mel Harris on July 25, 2010, 05:27:53 PM
ELCA Secretary David Swartling was the ELCA representative to the 2010 Oregon Synod Assembly.  The Oregon Synod supplement in the August 2010 issue of The LUTHERAN has a full page article entitled "Ministry at the intersection of hope and fear" about what Secretary Swartling said to the assembly on Friday, May 28.  The following paragraph is from that article.

Quote

   Swartling spoke candidly to the assembly. Our capacity to do ministry interdependently has been diminished by congregations leaving and withholding mission support. Eighty percent of financial resources come from mission support. The economy and some responses to the decisions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly on issues of sexuality have been significant factors. 2009 income is the lowest in the 22-year history of the ELCA. We are now working with about 50 percent of the 1988 budget. If cuts continue in 2010, everything in the ELCA will be affected.

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: ptmccain on July 25, 2010, 05:30:31 PM
I'll go on record here predicting that ten years from now, the various liberal mainline protestant churches that have declared "full communion" in the past ten years, will either be out of existence, or will have merged all their administrative functions and entities into a new organization, akin to the generic protestant Church in Canada.

It may be called something like "The Christian Church in America" or some such.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Maryland Brian on July 25, 2010, 05:45:15 PM
 Swartling spoke candidly to the assembly. Our capacity to do ministry interdependently has been diminished by congregations leaving and withholding mission support.

  Foolishness.  Many warned this would be the outcome, yet it's clear no scenario planning occurred to anticipate the negative responses now in evidence.  If they want a church defined by gay sexuality, fine - they won.  Then do the math and build the level of institution you can now actually afford.

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: VinceG on July 25, 2010, 06:10:04 PM
I'll go on record here predicting that ten years from now, the various liberal mainline protestant churches that have declared "full communion" in the past ten years, will either be out of existence, or will have merged all their administrative functions and entities into a new organization, akin to the generic protestant Church in Canada.

It may be called something like "The Christian Church in America" or some such.

One of my professors, a Moravian Presbyter, left the Seminary to take a call with the United Church of Canada.  When I asked him what that was, he pretty much said what you said.  It wouldn't surprise me in the least if what you predict comes true here.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Richard Johnson on July 25, 2010, 07:17:32 PM
I'll go on record here predicting that ten years from now, the various liberal mainline protestant churches that have declared "full communion" in the past ten years, will either be out of existence, or will have merged all their administrative functions and entities into a new organization, akin to the generic protestant Church in Canada.

It may be called something like "The Christian Church in America" or some such.

Too late, I already predicted that.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: LutherMan on July 26, 2010, 06:29:19 PM
I'll go on record here predicting that ten years from now, the various liberal mainline protestant churches that have declared "full communion" in the past ten years, will either be out of existence, or will have merged all their administrative functions and entities into a new organization, akin to the generic protestant Church in Canada.

It may be called something like "The Christian Church in America" or some such.

Too late, I already predicted that.
Yup.  Over here.
http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=2921.45
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Mel Harris on August 04, 2010, 06:17:49 PM
According to The Lutheran and the ELCA News Service the ELCA Church Council approved further reductions to the churchwide 2010 current fund spending authorization during their conference call meeting today.

The breaking news story on The Lutheran's web site is at:

http://www.thelutheran.org/blog/index.cfm?page_id=Breaking%20News&blog_id=1465

and the news release from the ELCA News Service is at:

http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4599

Mel Harris
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steve Ames on August 04, 2010, 11:01:33 PM
Mel Harris: According to The Lutheran and the ELCA News Service  …
Thank you for the links.

Below are my Observations and Questions when comparing the ELCA News items of August 4, 2010 to the First Quarter Fiscal Year 2010 [February 1, 2010 thru January 31, 2011] financial reports on the ELCA website:

August 4, 2010:  Through June 30, mission support income declined about $3.7 million or about 15 percent from the same period in 2009. … the council was told that mission support income by the end of the 2010 fiscal year is expected to be about $51 million. In 2009 actual mission support to the churchwide organization was $59.7 million.

Aptil 30, 2010:  Mission Support income for the first quarter 2010 was $13.0 million, a decrease of $1.9 million or 12.5 percent.

Observation:  The rate of decline in Mission Support is getting more severe.  For the period of February 1 to June 30 – five months – this income source fall by $3.7 million or an annual decline of $8.8 million so the $51 million estimate is reasonable.  The 2010 budget called for $58.8 million of Mission Support so the new estimate means $7.8 million less income to support the 2010 planned spending.  Excluding World Hunger, the 2010 planned spending authorization of $69.3 million matched the planned income of $69.3 million.


August 4, 2010:  The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) revised the 2010 current fund spending authorization for the ELCA churchwide organization to $65.1 million, a mid-year reduction of $4.2 million or 6.1 percent from the previously authorized $69.3 million for 2010.

Aptil 30, 2010:  [For the first three months of the 2010 fiscal year] Expenses related to the current operating fund amounted to $17.8 million, a decrease of $2.4 million or 11.9 percent from April 30, 2009. … Expenses were below the authorized unit spending plans by $1.4 million or 7.5 percent.

Observation: The mid-year reduction of $4.2 million falls short of the first quarter spending below authorization of $1.4 million equivalent of a $5.6 million annual reduction.  Also consider the 2010 budget calls for spending the same amount as income; an income reduction from Mission Support of $7.8 million either suggests that other income sources will make this up or the approved budget reduction of $4.2 million leaves a budget gap of $3.6 million.  Please someone point out an error in my math otherwise the ELCA church-wide organization may have to face additional budget cuts this fiscal year.


August 4, 2010:  Spread across a variety of churchwide units, the $4.2 million cut affects some more deeply than others: Vocation and Education, down $592,000 (6.28 percent); Global Mission, down $448,000 (3.34 percent); Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission, down $400,000 (2.23 percent); Development Services, down $331,050 (22.06 percent); Church in Society, down $131,000 (4.72 percent); and Multicultural Ministries, down $94,870 (7.73 percent).

Aptil 30, 2010:   First quarter reductions: Vocation and Education – $210,000, Global Mission –$300,000 and Offices of Presiding Bishop, Treasurer and Secretary –$175,000.


August 4, 2010:  In 2009 the ELCA Board of Pensions informed some 12,500 plan members receiving benefits from the Participating Annuity and Bridge Fund that it would reduce monthly annuity payments by 9 percent annually over a three-year period.  The fund suffered significant losses due to the financial downturn in late 2008 and early 2009, necessitating the reductions.
     In response to resolutions from nine synods, the council asked the ad hoc committee to consult with the Board of Pensions to learn more about the decisions it made regarding the annuity and bridge fund.  It also asked the committee to explore ways to restore fund losses and increase payments to annuitants and explore ways to mitigate the adverse effects of fund losses.  The council asked for a report and possible recommendations at its November meeting.

Question:  How are these fund losses going to be restored and funding found to increase payments to annuitants?  The church-wide organization may not have the financial resources to act.


August 4, 2010:  Related to the churchwide organization's financial situation is an organizational redesign process announced by Bullock in a June 21 e-mail to staff.  At that time Bullock wrote that the organization will create a plan to restructure the churchwide organization to align its work with anticipated income.

Question:  This organizational redesign process intended to reduce costs by eliminating programs or reducing headcount?


August 4, 2010:  Decreases in mission support income have been caused by the economic instability that continues to affect all parts of the church, compounded by "some unfavorable responses to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly actions on sexuality," the background materials stated.  … ELCA Secretary David D. Swartling told the council that, as of Aug. 3, his office had been advised that 504 of 10,239 congregations have taken first votes to terminate their relationships with the ELCA.  Of those, 348 passed and 156 failed.  Synods have also reported that 212 congregations took second votes to leave the ELCA, of which 199 passed and 13 failed, he said.

Observation: The approval rate for first votes is 69% and for second votes 94%.  If I am following this correctly then an additional 136 congregation have moved on to the second vote process and if the trend holds then 128 additional congregations will leave the ELCA. 

Question:  Is it correct to assume that the “actions on sexuality” and the expected formation of the NALC will lead additional ELCA congregations into the first vote process to leave the ELCA?  If so, then the decline in Mission Support has a fair probability of growing more severe.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on August 04, 2010, 11:58:13 PM
Whatever the decline in mission support is, for those of you who are leaving (or not sending in your fair share to begin with), it doesn't matter much.
     You can say that your hands are clean, because you have refused to support the awful thing called the ELCA and stepped away from its countless errors.
     You can weep crocodile tears about having to make changes in your personal or congregational life. (This always creates a nice feeling of self-righteousness.)
     You can even be glad because with reduced funds and staffing, the ELCA will be unable to do all the terrible things you accuse it of doing. (And spare us the "concern" for friends and family still in the ELCA. Your actions are adding to their pain and - given the views of some - they are lost to perdition if they do not leave with you anyway.)
     Those of us who are staying, and there are millions of us, will increase our pledges, rearrange our program planning, pray harder, work harder, and seek support - personal, spiritual, cooperative, and sometimes financial - from our many ecumenical partners who have pledged to share our efforts to proclaim the Gospel, expand Christian fellowship and serve people in the name of Jesus.
     And for those of you who have already left - sometimes years ago - or were never with us, or who have condemned us for decades, I simply wish you would quit fanning the fires in our struggles. Hang big signs in front of your churches proclaiming "We are NOT THE ECLA". Put the phrase on your letterheads and websites.
   Then have the decency to leave us alone. We have pains to bear and we will bear them with God's help and certainly without yours.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on August 05, 2010, 12:14:58 AM
I'd be curious to hear comments about those congregations and individuals who are continuing to support various missions and ministries of the ELCA by sending their offerings directly to the missions and ministries and simply bypassing Higgins Road.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on August 05, 2010, 12:21:03 AM
Mr. Erdner writes:
I'd be curious to hear comments about those congregations and individuals who are continuing to support various missions and ministries of the ELCA by sending their offerings directly to the missions and ministries and simply bypassing Higgins Road.

I comment:
To do such a thing would be, if folks are consistent, an abomination.
What if some of those missions and ministries were run by people who supported the August decisions?
What if someone in the program was a partnered gay or lesbian?
Those programs are usually under the administration of a synod, and what if that synod has a revisionist bishop or (oh horrors!) a gay bishop?
Can't have it that way folks. If the ELCA is rotten, it is rotten, right down to its social ministries, camps, soup kitchens and meals-on-wheels drivers. There is always the chance that some of your pure offering will end up in the "wrong" hands and you will thereby lose your place in heaven.
Good grief.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on August 05, 2010, 12:22:50 AM
Mr. Erdner writes:
I'd be curious to hear comments about those congregations and individuals who are continuing to support various missions and ministries of the ELCA by sending their offerings directly to the missions and ministries and simply bypassing Higgins Road.

I comment:
To do such a thing would be, if folks are consistent, an abomination.
What if some of those missions and ministries were run by people who supported the August decisions?
What if someone in the program was a partnered gay or lesbian?
Those programs are usually under the administration of a synod, and what if that synod has a revisionist bishop or (oh horrors!) a gay bishop?
Can't have it that way folks. If the ELCA is rotten, it is rotten, right down to its social ministries, camps, soup kitchens and meals-on-wheels drivers. There is always the chance that some of your pure offering will end up in the "wrong" hands and you will thereby lose your place in heaven.
Good grief.

You're right, I'm wrong. You've convinced me.

No one should send the ELCA so much as a dime.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Marshall_Hahn on August 05, 2010, 12:01:51 PM

Below are my Observations and Questions when comparing the ELCA News items of August 4, 2010 to the First Quarter Fiscal Year 2010 [February 1, 2010 thru January 31, 2011] financial reports on the ELCA website:

August 4, 2010:  Through June 30, mission support income declined about $3.7 million or about 15 percent from the same period in 2009. … the council was told that mission support income by the end of the 2010 fiscal year is expected to be about $51 million. In 2009 actual mission support to the churchwide organization was $59.7 million.

Aptil 30, 2010:  Mission Support income for the first quarter 2010 was $13.0 million, a decrease of $1.9 million or 12.5 percent.

Observation:  The rate of decline in Mission Support is getting more severe.  For the period of February 1 to June 30 – five months – this income source fall by $3.7 million or an annual decline of $8.8 million so the $51 million estimate is reasonable.  The 2010 budget called for $58.8 million of Mission Support so the new estimate means $7.8 million less income to support the 2010 planned spending.  Excluding World Hunger, the 2010 planned spending authorization of $69.3 million matched the planned income of $69.3 million.

Comparing the April and June reports produces some interesting results.  Through April the decline was $1.9 million.  By June the decline was $3.7 million.  That means that for the two months of May and June, the decline was $1.8 million, almost as much as the previous 3 months.  The rate of decline is increasing rather dramatically. 

In fact, doing a little work with the numbers shows that the total for the 5 months in 2009 was $24.7 million.  In February - April 2009, the total was $14.9 million.   So the total for May - June 2009 was $9.8 milllion.  So the decline of $1.8 million for those two months was 18.4% - a 50% increase in the rate of decline over the first three months of 12.5%.  By all indications, these are just the first in a series of spending cuts which will need to be made for 2010.

Marshall Hahn
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: ptmccain on August 05, 2010, 12:11:51 PM
One must seriously wonder if the bishop at Higgins Road did not "count the cost" of the August 2009 decisions that he championed and led? I honestly think that he and much of the ELCA leadership was, and is, so totally out of touch with much of grass-roots Lutheranism across the midwest that they actually are surprised by the consequences of what they did last August.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on August 05, 2010, 12:19:21 PM
One must seriously wonder if the bishop at Higgins Road did not "count the cost" of the August 2009 decisions that he championed and led? I honestly think that he and much of the ELCA leadership was, and is, so totally out of touch with much of grass-roots Lutheranism across the midwest that they actually are surprised by the consequences of what they did last August.


I have a strong sense of opposition to most of what was done by the ELCA on Hanson's watch, particularly those things which appear to be "innovations" made during his administration. However, that opposition is based on not being able to reconcile his pet projects and priorities with Scripture. The fact that he was "out of touch with much of grass-roots Lutheranism across the midwest" is irrelevant. What matters is that he was so totally out of touch with the Word of God contained in Scripture and the understanding of the Word of God summarized in the Lutheran Confessions. If Hanson was in sync with the Word of God, and the grass-roots Lutheranism across the Midwest was wrong about the will of God, then I would have to applaud Hanson standing up to those who were wrong, even if they were a numerical majority.

If there is a major disconnect between the ELCA Lutherans of the coasts and the ELCA Lutherans of the Midwest, then it's not a question of which side outnumbers the other. It's a question of which side is right and which side is wrong.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: ptmccain on August 05, 2010, 12:45:05 PM
Well, if you are really going to go and drag "right" and "wrong" into this issue....
 :)
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on August 05, 2010, 12:50:33 PM
Well, if you are really going to go and drag "right" and "wrong" into this issue....
 :)


I realize that is a major flaw in my character.  ::)
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on August 05, 2010, 01:12:33 PM
Presiding Bishop Hanson was re-elected with a landslide majority of votes.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on August 05, 2010, 01:15:47 PM
Presiding Bishop Hanson was re-elected with a landslide majority of votes.

And he'll be re-elected again the same way, since most of those who realize he's doing a piss-poor job of leading the ELCA will have left the ELCA by the time he's up for re-election again. And, those who do realize what a bad job he's been doing have two chances of getting selected as voting members for the next CWA -- slim and none.

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Rev. Spaceman on August 05, 2010, 01:20:44 PM
I'll go on record here predicting that ten years from now, the various liberal mainline protestant churches that have declared "full communion" in the past ten years, will either be out of existence, or will have merged all their administrative functions and entities into a new organization, akin to the generic protestant Church in Canada.

It may be called something like "The Christian Church in America" or some such.

One of my professors, a Moravian Presbyter, left the Seminary to take a call with the United Church of Canada.  When I asked him what that was, he pretty much said what you said.  It wouldn't surprise me in the least if what you predict comes true here.

I do think that it is likely that such a merger will take place eventually, but it will take longer than ten years.  These various denominations will continue to decline, the ELCA and TEC will merge first, followed by the Presbyterians to join later.  The Methodists may be a different story, as the UMC is a worldwide church body.  The RCA, I don't know as much about their situation, but my impression is that they are a little more conservative, making joining such a group more difficult.



Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: pterandon on August 05, 2010, 06:11:20 PM
    Those of us who are staying, and there are millions of us, will increase our pledges, rearrange our program planning, pray harder, work harder, and seek support - personal, spiritual, cooperative, and sometimes financial - from our many ecumenical partners who have pledged to share our efforts to proclaim the Gospel, expand Christian fellowship and serve people in the name of Jesus.
...
   Then have the decency to leave us alone. We have pains to bear and we will bear them with God's help and certainly without yours.


A few years ago, the Democrats in the House of Representatives had to choose between two candidates for House Majority Leader:
i) man who was  pro-choice and adamant supporter of Bush's warmongering;
ii) man who was pro-life and Iraq War critic.
Now suppose you're really opposed to one or both of the above flavors of the Dem party.  You can still be in and of the Democratic Party, even as you oppose "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee"  PAC which is about giving financial support to Whomever-is-a-Democrat.  That's my view of how many people may view the ELCA.  Why, the liberals were already engaged in benevolence redirection, if Lutherans Concerned had a budget of anything at all!  Every dollar to lcna is a dollar where people "refused to support" the ELCA.  

As for me, it's not so much that gay bishops will taint everything, but that there are folks in the churchwide office I don't want to support:

i) The Journeying Faithfully Together study document touted how "Jungian spirituality" reminded us that gays have spiritual superpowers over the rest of us.
ii) The Grace Matters podcast saying that the healing stories of Jesus show "an anti-disability bias" and "were probably put in there by someone with an agenda to prove the divinity of Jesus."
iii) Being the publisher of Walter Wink.

Irregardless of the results of CWA, there's a bunch of stuff at Higgins Road that I want no part of.




Title: ELCA seeing decrease in income since decision on homosexuals
Post by: LutherMan on August 17, 2010, 06:33:15 PM
http://www.news-gazette.com/news/religion/2010-08-15/elca-seeing-decrease-income-decision-homosexuals.html

ELCA seeing decrease in income since decision on homosexuals
Other Related Content

    * A year after denomination accepted gay clergy, some local Lutheran churches appear to be leaving

Sun, 08/15/2010 - 8:00am | Lynda Zimmer

Individual Lutherans may be informally "voting" against their current denomination with their checkbooks.

Last November, the national Evangelical Lutheran Church in America church council, or board of directors, had to cut spending by nearly $7.7 million and eliminate the equivalent of 40 full-time jobs.

That was just three months after the controversial vote to allow homosexuals in committed relationships in the pulpit.
<snip>
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steve Ames on August 31, 2010, 11:44:28 PM
Now six months into fiscal year 2010:

… Receipts totaled $32.3 million for the six-month period compared with $37.9 million the previous year, a decrease of $5.6 million or 14.8 percent. Expenses related to the current operating fund amounted to $32.8 million, a decrease of $6.4 million or 16.4 percent from July 31, 2009. …

Income from congregations through synods in the form of Mission Support income after the second quarter of 2010 was $25.1 million, a decrease of $4.4 million or 14.9 percent from the same period in 2009. Mission Support income was unfavorable to the revised budget by $1.4 million or 5.3 percent. …

Other temporarily restricted and unrestricted funds available for the budgeted operations of the church amounted to $7.1 million compared with $8.3 million in the first six months of 2009. …Bequests/trusts, $0.9 million, and Missionary Sponsorship, $1.3 million, were behind budget and the same period in 2009. …

Total contributions to ELCA World Hunger for the six months were $5.5 million. This is unfavorable to the same six-month period in fiscal 2009 by $1.3 million....

The two-quarter 2010 decline in Mission Support income in 62 of the 65 synods compared to 2009 remittances was the primary influencing factor in the Church Council taking action in August 2010 to reduce the 2010 spending authorization. The spending authorization was reduced by $4.2 million or 6.1%. The August revised Mission Support budget now projects a reduction from 2009 receipts of $8.7 million or 14.6%.  The changes in budget and approved spending authorization are not incorporated in these July 2010 financial statements.

Additional contingency planning for both current fund operations and World Hunger programs is ongoing and continues to be critical for the churchwide organization.
ELCA CHURCHWIDE ORGANIZATION
2010 OPERATING RESULTS SUMMARY
FOR THE SIX MONTHS ENDING JULY 31, 2010


The chart on page 5 of the the schedule “Synod Mission Support”  shows the annualized giving at the beginning of the fiscal year 2010 just under $60 million has continued its downward slope over the last six month to an annualized giving of just over $55 million. 
http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Office-of-the-Treasurer/Financial-Reports/Current-Year-Financial-Reports.aspx


For the 12 months of fiscal year 2009 the ELCA  had revenue of $76.5 million and spending of $72.6 million while 2008 saw revenue of $83.4 million and spending of $80.2 million.  Could 2010 see revenue of $64.6 million and spending of $65.8 million?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on September 01, 2010, 02:10:43 AM
We all know about the decline in mission support. Some of us are increasing our pledges and encouraging others to do so. All of us are working on doing more with less. It is a fact of life.
And you have heard me say this before. When people from outside the ELCA, particularly on this forum, make posts like the ones above, some of us see the message:
"Oh, goody! Look what they have done to themselves! What fools!"
All of us have known for years that there would be some costs if the sexuality study proceeded. And many say you must do what you think is the right thing to do even if it costs, at least short-term.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Revbert on September 01, 2010, 07:27:53 AM
We all know about the decline in mission support. Some of us are increasing our pledges and encouraging others to do so. All of us are working on doing more with less. It is a fact of life.
And you have heard me say this before. When people from outside the ELCA, particularly on this forum, make posts like the ones above, some of us see the message:
"Oh, goody! Look what they have done to themselves! What fools!"
All of us have known for years that there would be some costs if the sexuality study proceeded. And many say you must do what you think is the right thing to do even if it costs, at least short-term.

Charles,

I feel your pain.

I also think it is wrong to keep saying "We need to do more with less."  When I was on active duty, I had a wise colonel for a boss who, after several devastating raids on my program budget by higher HQ, told me, "Art, you have to do less with less. It's impossible at this level to do more with less."

There comes a time when the "fat" has been trimmed and we have to admit that maybe we need a smaller portion, too.

Art
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: ptmccain on September 01, 2010, 07:35:57 AM
It strikes me a odd that the higher-ups in the ELCA actually did not think, apparently, that the decisions made in August 2009 would have such an ongoing negative impact on ELCA finances. What did they think would happen?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: dkeener on September 01, 2010, 07:58:11 AM
We all know about the decline in mission support. Some of us are increasing our pledges and encouraging others to do so. All of us are working on doing more with less. It is a fact of life.
And you have heard me say this before. When people from outside the ELCA, particularly on this forum, make posts like the ones above, some of us see the message:
"Oh, goody! Look what they have done to themselves! What fools!"
All of us have known for years that there would be some costs if the sexuality study proceeded. And many say you must do what you think is the right thing to do even if it costs, at least short-term.

To quote Sgt. Joe Friday - "Just the facts."  If you don't like the facts - well there is not much anyone can do about that. I was pleased to see that you admit that the current financial crisis in the ELCA was the result of people who felt they were "doing the right thing" fully realizing the consequences". In this I believe those who pushed for the decisions of the CWA and those who support CORE and the formation of the NALC have much in common.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dadoo on September 01, 2010, 08:04:39 AM
It strikes me a odd that the higher-ups in the ELCA actually did not think, apparently, that the decisions made in August 2009 would have such an ongoing negative impact on ELCA finances. What did they think would happen?

Oh, I am assuming that they did expect fallout from this, the figure batted around here and elsewhere 18 month ago was 20% with an eventual recovery.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on September 01, 2010, 08:13:44 AM
ptmccain writes:
It strikes me a odd that the higher-ups in the ELCA actually did not think, apparently, that the decisions made in August 2009 would have such an ongoing negative impact on ELCA finances.
I respond:
Be struck odd if you wish. You have no way of knowing what the "higher-ups" in the ELCA thought. I do, and they knew the August decisions would impact mission support giving.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Marshall_Hahn on September 01, 2010, 10:32:22 AM
Just move along.  Nothing to see here.

Marshall Hahn
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on September 01, 2010, 11:18:25 AM
Plenty to see here. A church struggling. Mission continuing. Gospel proclamation and sacrament celebration taking place all over.
What you do not see here is - as ptmccain likes to believe - a heretical, warped, demented excuse for a part of the body of Christ, led by people who are stupid, liars, and non-Christian.
"It strikes me a(s) odd," he wrote, "that the higher-ups in the ELCA actually did not think, apparently, that the decisions made in August 2009 would have such an ongoing negative impact on ELCA finances."
I simply explained that the odd-struck ptmccain didn't know what he was talking about.
 
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Erma S. Wolf on September 01, 2010, 11:31:10 AM
ptmccain writes:
It strikes me a odd that the higher-ups in the ELCA actually did not think, apparently, that the decisions made in August 2009 would have such an ongoing negative impact on ELCA finances.
I respond:
Be struck odd if you wish. You have no way of knowing what the "higher-ups" in the ELCA thought. I do, and they knew the August decisions would impact mission support giving.

Yes, Charles, I agree with you that the leadership of the ELCA knew that the August decisions would impact mission support giving.

But did they expect that one year after the 2009 CWA decisions, the fiscal trajectory would continue to point down, down, down, with no bottom or leveling off in sight? 

(And there is no "oh, goody!" in my question.  For all that I reject the CWA decisions, I view the potential financial meltdown of a church body with sorrow.)
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Erma S. Wolf on September 01, 2010, 11:40:38 AM
    Go to this site:

http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Office-of-the-Treasurer/Financial-Reports/Current-Year-Financial-Reports.aspx

Go to the box labeled "Quarter 2" and click on Synod Mission Support.  Be sure to scroll down to page 5, the graph.  "Sobering" doesn't begin to describe it.  
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Maryland Brian on September 01, 2010, 11:49:01 AM
   Go to this site:

http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Office-of-the-Treasurer/Financial-Reports/Current-Year-Financial-Reports.aspx

Go to the box labeled "Quarter 2" and click on Synod Mission Support.  Be sure to scroll down to page 5, the graph.  "Sobering" doesn't begin to describe it.  

  Ouch.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Christopher Miller on September 01, 2010, 11:53:10 AM
You could knock me over with a feather, I'm so surprised.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Bergs on September 01, 2010, 12:08:01 PM
   Go to this site:

http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Office-of-the-Treasurer/Financial-Reports/Current-Year-Financial-Reports.aspx

Go to the box labeled "Quarter 2" and click on Synod Mission Support.  Be sure to scroll down to page 5, the graph.  "Sobering" doesn't begin to describe it.  

That table can only be described as a "freefall."  The ELCA is facing a major restructuring.  Look at the growth through 2002.  Plot a trend line and this is nothing short of tragic.  There is no joy in my heart as this former passionate ELCA supporter views such a graph.  None.  It sure puts into perspective the recent communication by Rev. Chilstrom, this kind of pain was worth the recent gain in his point of view.

Brian J. Bergs

Minneapolis, MN
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: hillwilliam on September 01, 2010, 12:20:35 PM
   Go to this site:

http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Office-of-the-Treasurer/Financial-Reports/Current-Year-Financial-Reports.aspx

Go to the box labeled "Quarter 2" and click on Synod Mission Support.  Be sure to scroll down to page 5, the graph.  "Sobering" doesn't begin to describe it.  

Sobering maybe but not really surprising. My former ELCA Pastor always claimed that if "the issue" was passed that we would loss five couples at most. I know of at least 12 couples who left. The average worship attendance went from around 75 to less than 40. They are taking in around $2,000 less per month than they are spending with a budget of $120,000. The council has already voted to convert the Memorial Fund, which was to be held in trust, to a fund that can be used to pay utilities, insurance, pastor's salary and benefits, etc.

All this could have been avoided if more concern was shown to the political conservatives in the congregation. But no, the council sent their most liberal members to the SPS Assembly to support our very liberal pastor. They elected Mark Holmerud as Bishop who presided at the outrageous "Rite of Reception" featuring the "Goddess Prayer". Obviously there was no thought of the consequences when they charted their course.

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Maryland Brian on September 01, 2010, 12:30:24 PM

All this could have been avoided if more concern was shown to the political conservatives in the congregation. But no, the council sent their most liberal members to the SPS Assembly to support our very liberal pastor. They elected Mark Holmerud as Bishop who presided at the outrageous "Rite of Reception" featuring the "Goddess Prayer". Obviously there was no thought of the consequences when they charted their course.

   There was no desire to avoid this outcome: welcome and affirm us in leadership or justice demands we burn this church to the ground.  They now have both.  Congrats.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: racin_jason on September 01, 2010, 01:08:15 PM
Further evidence of the communication gaps in the ELCA. Those who were not heard in other arenas are certainly weighing in here. The political process may be challenging for traditionalists to navigate, but they can control who they make their checks out to.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on September 01, 2010, 01:10:29 PM
   Go to this site:

http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Office-of-the-Treasurer/Financial-Reports/Current-Year-Financial-Reports.aspx

Go to the box labeled "Quarter 2" and click on Synod Mission Support.  Be sure to scroll down to page 5, the graph.  "Sobering" doesn't begin to describe it.  

Sobering maybe but not really surprising. My former ELCA Pastor always claimed that if "the issue" was passed that we would loss five couples at most. I know of at least 12 couples who left. The average worship attendance went from around 75 to less than 40. They are taking in around $2,000 less per month than they are spending with a budget of $120,000. The council has already voted to convert the Memorial Fund, which was to be held in trust, to a fund that can be used to pay utilities, insurance, pastor's salary and benefits, etc.

All this could have been avoided if more concern was shown to the political conservatives in the congregation. But no, the council sent their most liberal members to the SPS Assembly to support our very liberal pastor. They elected Mark Holmerud as Bishop who presided at the outrageous "Rite of Reception" featuring the "Goddess Prayer". Obviously there was no thought of the consequences when they charted their course.



Indeed! But even after things happened as they did, had the leadership of the ELCA over the past 12 months made a diligent and honest effort to reach out to the traditionalists, and offered something real instead of platitudes and rhetoric, this still could have been minimized. Last January, Hanson could have issued a statement pledging that all synodical bishops would honor and respect the wishes of all congregations who joined CORE and pledged to continue to use the old V&E as their standard for who they would consider for call. That, or some other, similar gesture, could have been a step towards healing. But Hanson did nothing of the sort.

The ELCA has no one to blame for this situation other than its leadership.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: LutherMan on September 05, 2010, 07:55:44 AM
I noticed that Grace Matters is no longer broadcast on my local radio affiliate following The Lutheran Hour, so I googled and discovered it was canceled. 

Quote
http://www.thelutheran.org/article/article_buy.cfm?article_id=7889

'Grace Matters' canceled
Part of $1.5 million churchwide cuts

In early February, ELCA Communication Services canceled Grace Matters, the ELCA radio ministry that has existed since 1947. Host Peter W. Marty called it "a sad day for hundreds of thousands of listeners."

The last program will air on Easter Sunday, April 12, on roughly 185 stations.

Kristi Bangert, CO executive director, said the cut was part of a process shared by every ELCA unit in exploring churchwide priorities. Asked if the decision was a reaction to a current budget concern or a contingency plan for further economic troubles, she said, "Yes and yes."

"All executive directors were asked to look at every major budget line item and identify mission critical work. ... Every executive was told we've got to look at this and make changes strategically," Bangert said. "We can't do everything. We've been riding a high tide for a long time and just can't keep doing it all."

The decision is part of nearly $1.5 million in reductions from the 2009 churchwide budget. That includes "reducing program budgets in most units and eliminating a total of 11 full-time staff equivalent positions-of which 2.5 were vacant," said Wyvetta Bullock, executive for administration. In an e-mail to churchwide staff, Bullock called these "difficult decisions" and cited "the current economic volatility." She warned that further 2009 budget adjustments may be necessary.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on September 05, 2010, 10:02:06 AM
But surely you weren't listening to Grace Matters, Lutherman, for this was an ELCA pastor speaking. And surely you ought to be glad that an ELCA voice is no longer on the air to pollute your city.
Good grief!
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Glenn Ryder on September 05, 2010, 10:53:09 AM
After looking at the statistics for Mission Support I am reminded of Proverbs 11:29. "He who troubles his own house shall inherit the wind..."


Glenn
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: LutherMan on September 05, 2010, 01:54:28 PM
But surely you weren't listening to Grace Matters, Lutherman, for this was an ELCA pastor speaking. And surely you ought to be glad that an ELCA voice is no longer on the air to pollute your city.
Good grief!
I have actually recommended this ELCA parish's telecast to some unchurched shut-ins I know.  
http://www.kmlchurch.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=72&Itemid=130
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Timotheus Verinus on September 05, 2010, 04:58:47 PM
Sadly the report is still hiding the worse of it. SC Synod was the only Synod that showed major positive growth in giving. Now keep in mind it was also one of the only synods to pass counter CWA resolutions. OLSC continues to keep the congregations on board while they deliberate what a faithful response might be.

That is a ticking time bomb. So if you want to count that $50-75,000 revenue offset.... do so at your risk, that floor may drop suddenly without warning, and if the synod resolutions are any guide the dip will be greater there than any other synod's negative numbers.

Even the good news is bad. Is anyone watching the tea leaves?

TV
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: TravisW on September 06, 2010, 01:01:08 AM
    Go to this site:

http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Office-of-the-Treasurer/Financial-Reports/Current-Year-Financial-Reports.aspx

Go to the box labeled "Quarter 2" and click on Synod Mission Support.  Be sure to scroll down to page 5, the graph.  "Sobering" doesn't begin to describe it. 

Sobering maybe but not really surprising. My former ELCA Pastor always claimed that if "the issue" was passed that we would loss five couples at most. I know of at least 12 couples who left. The average worship attendance went from around 75 to less than 40. They are taking in around $2,000 less per month than they are spending with a budget of $120,000. The council has already voted to convert the Memorial Fund, which was to be held in trust, to a fund that can be used to pay utilities, insurance, pastor's salary and benefits, etc.

All this could have been avoided if more concern was shown to the political conservatives in the congregation. But no, the council sent their most liberal members to the SPS Assembly to support our very liberal pastor. They elected Mark Holmerud as Bishop who presided at the outrageous "Rite of Reception" featuring the "Goddess Prayer". Obviously there was no thought of the consequences when they charted their course.



Indeed! But even after things happened as they did, had the leadership of the ELCA over the past 12 months made a diligent and honest effort to reach out to the traditionalists, and offered something real instead of platitudes and rhetoric, this still could have been minimized. Last January, Hanson could have issued a statement pledging that all synodical bishops would honor and respect the wishes of all congregations who joined CORE and pledged to continue to use the old V&E as their standard for who they would consider for call. That, or some other, similar gesture, could have been a step towards healing. But Hanson did nothing of the sort.

The ELCA has no one to blame for this situation other than its leadership.


Well, it's one of those situations where you get what you vote for.  One of the failures of CWA 09 is voting things into effect without knowing what those things are.  I don't mean the homosexually issue, but the question of how Bound Conscience was to be implemented.  The problem is, it was voted in with absolutely no indication of what it was supposed to mean in actual real-world terms.  What does Bound Conscience mean when a traditionalist pastor has a homosexual bishop (or vice versa?). What does Bound Conscience mean on candidacy committees?  None of this stuff was sorted out beforehand.  Essentially, a rhetorical device was voted in without any real thought as to what the functional result would be.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steve Ames on October 05, 2010, 10:23:37 PM
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 5, 2010

ELCA Treasurer Provides Mid-Year Financial Report to ELCA Leaders
10-262-JB

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- …    Jackson-Skelton reported Oct. 2 to the ELCA Conference of Bishops, ELCA synod vice presidents and seminary presidents meeting here.  …
     For the period from Feb. 1 to Aug. 31, the churchwide organization took in $36.7 million in revenue and held expenses at $37.4 million.  Jackson-Skelton said it was normal for the churchwide organization to have a net operating expense over budget at this point in the year.  She said this period's $738,000 expense over budget was favorable to a $3.5 million variance for the same seven-month period in 2009.
     She reported that overall current operating revenue is down about $6 million this year compared to 2009, most of it due to the drop in mission support income from congregations to the churchwide organization and shared by the church's 65 synods.  Total mission support income through Aug. 31 was $28.7 million, a 14.8 percent decrease from the same period in 2009, she said.  For 2010 Jackson-Skelton said the churchwide organization projects approximately $51 million in mission support income. The high point for 12 consecutive months of mission support income to the churchwide organization was $71 million in early 2002, she said.
     Commenting on the decline in mission support income, Jackson-Skelton said she could not predict when or at what level the drop in mission support will subside.  "We do expect it to level off at some point," she said.  "I will certainly be looking to you (the bishops) to try to get better information as we get close to the end of the year."
     Some churchwide grants to ELCA partners and institutions for 2010 are being held until late January, Jackson-Skelton said.  Partners and institutions have been informed, she said, adding that her staff will monitor churchwide income into late January before grants are released on a priority basis.
     The 2011 forecast for churchwide mission support income is projected between $45 million and $48 million, said the ELCA treasurer.
     ELCA World Hunger income through Aug. 31 is $6.6 million, an 18.5 percent decrease from 2009, Jackson-Skelton reported.  "That's been very disappointing to us," she reported.  She also asked bishops for help in encouraging congregations to give to ELCA World Hunger.
http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4649


ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 5, 2010

ELCA Presiding Bishop Tells ELCA Leaders it's Time to Move Forward
10-261-JB

  CHICAGO (ELCA) -- In a report to leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, said it is time for the church to move forward and get over being "timid" about mission and ministry …
Hanson said he gives thanks for the service of the Rev. Gerald B. Kieshnick, former president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), and welcomes the Rev. Matthew Harrison, Kieschnick's successor.
     Leaders of the ELCA and LCMS will meet as the Committee on Lutheran Cooperation in December, Hanson said.  "It is my prayer that now as Lutheran Christians in the world, we not yield to the temptation to make this an occasion to use confessional theology and doctrine as grounds for dividing us," he said.  The ELCA presiding bishop said he hopes the two churches can find a deeper unity in their understanding of the faith "that becomes the basis of a shared but differentiated proclamation in the world and in our shared service."
     Hanson concluded his report by asking leaders not to lose confidence "in the gifts of the Spirit and what it means to live out the faith."
     "I think we are in a time of 'turning and being turned' as this church.  The next 11 months … could be the most significant in the 22-year history of the ELCA.  They could be, and I'm confident they will be," Hanson said. 
     Hanson's 11-month reference was to the next ELCA Churchwide Assembly, to be held in August 2011 in Orlando, Fla.
http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4648


My Observation:
With “approximately $51 million in 2010- 2011 mission support income” and “overall current operating revenue is down about $6 million this year compared to 2009, most of it due to the drop in mission support income” then “the 2011 forecast for churchwide mission support income is projected between $45 million and $48 million”  makes the latter estimate of $48 million appear optimistic.  The original 2010 – 2011 projection of mission support was $62 million meaning a projection of $48 million for 2011 – 2012 is a $14 million decrease in income.  The original budget for 2010 – 2011 called for $77 million in spending so a $14 million decrease in mission support would probably lead to a 2011 – 2012 budget of no more than $63 million or a decrease of over 18%, 

“Some churchwide grants to ELCA partners and institutions for 2010 are being held” and “staff will monitor churchwide income into late January before grants are released on a priority basis”  means some ELCA partners and institutions may not receive a grant in the 2010 – 2011 fiscal year nor in subsequent years.  The extent to which  these ELCA partners and institutions depend on these grants may decide whether some of these institutions maybe able to continue to operate.

Presiding Bishop Hanson’s comment:  “The next 11 months … could be the most significant in the 22-year history of the ELCA” pretty well summarizes the ELCA financial situation.  His call for other Lutherans to move away from the current position of  “use confessional theology and doctrine as grounds for dividing us” strikes me as condescending of us Lutherans profoundly troubled by theological trends within the ELCA.  In Bishop Hanson’s world apparently the LCMS has no basis to re-examine its “cooperation in externals’ with the ELCA.  No doubt because the future very probably demands that the LCMS take on a significantly larger share of the financial support for these ELCA/ LCMS “externals”.

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dadoo on October 06, 2010, 06:30:48 AM
<snip>
Presiding Bishop Hanson’s comment:  “The next 11 months … could be the most significant in the 22-year history of the ELCA” pretty well summarizes the ELCA financial situation.  His call for other Lutherans to move away from the current position of  “use confessional theology and doctrine as grounds for dividing us” strikes me as condescending of us Lutherans profoundly troubled by theological trends within the ELCA.  In Bishop Hanson’s world apparently the LCMS has no basis to re-examine its “cooperation in externals’ with the ELCA.  No doubt because the future very probably demands that the LCMS take on a significantly larger share of the financial support for these ELCA/ LCMS “externals”.

Pr. Ames,

I don't believe Hanson meant to be condescending with that line but I am used to that type of talk from our PB. I seem to remember that his approach to ecumenism is that we are all united and should just inter- commune, he even told the Pope we should just begin doing so to advance Lutheran Catholic dialog. He does seem to believe, very simply, that we ARE all united but that we merely ACT separated for mere human reasons. That is an ecclesiological stance one might take, though, perhaps not one that LCMS and many ELCA ers on this board subscribe to.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: LutherMan on October 06, 2010, 08:21:55 AM

Pr. Ames,

It is Mr. Ames.  He is a WELSian layman.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dadoo on October 06, 2010, 10:36:28 AM
I hope he is not offended . . .  :D
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: jmiller on October 06, 2010, 12:17:34 PM
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 5, 2010

ELCA Treasurer Provides Mid-Year Financial Report to ELCA Leaders
10-262-JB

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- …    Jackson-Skelton reported Oct. 2 to the ELCA Conference of Bishops, ELCA synod vice presidents and seminary presidents meeting here.  …
     For the period from Feb. 1 to Aug. 31, the churchwide organization took in $36.7 million in revenue and held expenses at $37.4 million.  Jackson-Skelton said it was normal for the churchwide organization to have a net operating expense over budget at this point in the year.  She said this period's $738,000 expense over budget was favorable to a $3.5 million variance for the same seven-month period in 2009.
     She reported that overall current operating revenue is down about $6 million this year compared to 2009, most of it due to the drop in mission support income from congregations to the churchwide organization and shared by the church's 65 synods.  Total mission support income through Aug. 31 was $28.7 million, a 14.8 percent decrease from the same period in 2009, she said.  For 2010 Jackson-Skelton said the churchwide organization projects approximately $51 million in mission support income. The high point for 12 consecutive months of mission support income to the churchwide organization was $71 million in early 2002, she said.
     Commenting on the decline in mission support income, Jackson-Skelton said she could not predict when or at what level the drop in mission support will subside.  "We do expect it to level off at some point," she said.  "I will certainly be looking to you (the bishops) to try to get better information as we get close to the end of the year."
     Some churchwide grants to ELCA partners and institutions for 2010 are being held until late January, Jackson-Skelton said.  Partners and institutions have been informed, she said, adding that her staff will monitor churchwide income into late January before grants are released on a priority basis.
     The 2011 forecast for churchwide mission support income is projected between $45 million and $48 million, said the ELCA treasurer.
     ELCA World Hunger income through Aug. 31 is $6.6 million, an 18.5 percent decrease from 2009, Jackson-Skelton reported.  "That's been very disappointing to us," she reported.  She also asked bishops for help in encouraging congregations to give to ELCA World Hunger.
http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4649


ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 5, 2010

ELCA Presiding Bishop Tells ELCA Leaders it's Time to Move Forward
10-261-JB

  CHICAGO (ELCA) -- In a report to leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, said it is time for the church to move forward and get over being "timid" about mission and ministry …
Hanson said he gives thanks for the service of the Rev. Gerald B. Kieshnick, former president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), and welcomes the Rev. Matthew Harrison, Kieschnick's successor.
     Leaders of the ELCA and LCMS will meet as the Committee on Lutheran Cooperation in December, Hanson said.  "It is my prayer that now as Lutheran Christians in the world, we not yield to the temptation to make this an occasion to use confessional theology and doctrine as grounds for dividing us," he said.  The ELCA presiding bishop said he hopes the two churches can find a deeper unity in their understanding of the faith "that becomes the basis of a shared but differentiated proclamation in the world and in our shared service."
     Hanson concluded his report by asking leaders not to lose confidence "in the gifts of the Spirit and what it means to live out the faith."
     "I think we are in a time of 'turning and being turned' as this church.  The next 11 months … could be the most significant in the 22-year history of the ELCA.  They could be, and I'm confident they will be," Hanson said. 
     Hanson's 11-month reference was to the next ELCA Churchwide Assembly, to be held in August 2011 in Orlando, Fla.
http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4648


My Observation:
With “approximately $51 million in 2010- 2011 mission support income” and “overall current operating revenue is down about $6 million this year compared to 2009, most of it due to the drop in mission support income” then “the 2011 forecast for churchwide mission support income is projected between $45 million and $48 million”  makes the latter estimate of $48 million appear optimistic.  The original 2010 – 2011 projection of mission support was $62 million meaning a projection of $48 million for 2011 – 2012 is a $14 million decrease in income.  The original budget for 2010 – 2011 called for $77 million in spending so a $14 million decrease in mission support would probably lead to a 2011 – 2012 budget of no more than $63 million or a decrease of over 18%, 

“Some churchwide grants to ELCA partners and institutions for 2010 are being held” and “staff will monitor churchwide income into late January before grants are released on a priority basis”  means some ELCA partners and institutions may not receive a grant in the 2010 – 2011 fiscal year nor in subsequent years.  The extent to which  these ELCA partners and institutions depend on these grants may decide whether some of these institutions maybe able to continue to operate.

Presiding Bishop Hanson’s comment:  “The next 11 months … could be the most significant in the 22-year history of the ELCA” pretty well summarizes the ELCA financial situation.  His call for other Lutherans to move away from the current position of  “use confessional theology and doctrine as grounds for dividing us” strikes me as condescending of us Lutherans profoundly troubled by theological trends within the ELCA.  In Bishop Hanson’s world apparently the LCMS has no basis to re-examine its “cooperation in externals’ with the ELCA.  No doubt because the future very probably demands that the LCMS take on a significantly larger share of the financial support for these ELCA/ LCMS “externals”.



When I read the "move forward" release, I was stunned our PB's apparent indifference to the negative effects of CWA decisions on our denomination.  As a parish pastor, if I presided over such a disaster to our congregation's membership and finances, I would ask myself, "Where did I go wrong?" I would be weighed down by my failure to sustain the congregation entrusted to me to me, built and sustained by generations of faithful Christians.  My current congregation is 273 years old.  I have a responsibility to each and every one who has come before me.  Seemingly, our presiding bishop suffers from no such worries or regrets.  That freedom must be very liberating.  Or maybe it is just another case of, as Janis said, "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." 
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: SKPeterson on October 06, 2010, 12:34:00 PM

  Or maybe it is just another case of, as Janis said, "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." 


Janis sang it, but good ol' Lutheran boy Kris Kristofferson said (wrote) it.  Apropos, eh? ;)
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: jmiller on October 06, 2010, 12:48:12 PM
How about that!

Kristofferson....  that doesn't look German.  ;)
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on October 06, 2010, 02:38:32 PM
How about that!

Kristofferson....  that doesn't look German.  ;)


But it does look very Swedish.  ::)
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: hillwilliam on October 06, 2010, 03:48:22 PM

... “Some churchwide grants to ELCA partners and institutions for 2010 are being held” and “staff will monitor churchwide income into late January before grants are released on a priority basis”  means some ELCA partners and institutions may not receive a grant in the 2010 – 2011 fiscal year nor in subsequent years.  The extent to which  these ELCA partners and institutions depend on these grants may decide whether some of these institutions maybe able to continue to operate.

Presiding Bishop Hanson’s comment:  “The next 11 months … could be the most significant in the 22-year history of the ELCA” pretty well summarizes the ELCA financial situation.  His call for other Lutherans to move away from the current position of  “use confessional theology and doctrine as grounds for dividing us” strikes me as condescending of us Lutherans profoundly troubled by theological trends within the ELCA.  In Bishop Hanson’s world apparently the LCMS has no basis to re-examine its “cooperation in externals’ with the ELCA.  No doubt because the future very probably demands that the LCMS take on a significantly larger share of the financial support for these ELCA/ LCMS “externals”.


Lutheran CORE and NALC are attempting to get it's members to directly support many worthy programs and institutions through a list posted on their websites. It is possible that many of the ELCA partners that do not receive a grant will be added to that list. This could soften the blow especially since the LCMS may be in a position to help also.

This could be a way for “cooperation in externals" without a direct relationship between the LCMS and the ELCA. My small part in facilitating that possibility is to give my mission support dollars to the local LCMS congregation and my World Hunger/Disaster Relief dollars to the LCMS World Relief and Human Care fund. If there are more ELCA folks like me, maybe the LCMS will have the dollars needed to address this problem directly.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: LutherMan on October 06, 2010, 03:59:14 PM
This could be a way for “cooperation in externals" without a direct relationship between the LCMS and the ELCA. My small part in facilitating that possibility is to give my mission support dollars to the local LCMS congregation and my World Hunger/Disaster Relief dollars to the LCMS World Relief and Human Care fund. If there are more ELCA folks like me, maybe the LCMS will have the dollars needed to address this problem directly.
What a wonderful and simple solution.  Yes, if we all step up giving to the LCMS World Relief and Human Care fund, just maybe, the LCMS can pick up balls ELCA will most likely continue to drop as they did with the Lutheran Malaria Initiative.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on October 06, 2010, 04:34:10 PM
This could be a way for “cooperation in externals" without a direct relationship between the LCMS and the ELCA. My small part in facilitating that possibility is to give my mission support dollars to the local LCMS congregation and my World Hunger/Disaster Relief dollars to the LCMS World Relief and Human Care fund. If there are more ELCA folks like me, maybe the LCMS will have the dollars needed to address this problem directly.
What a wonderful and simple solution.  Yes, if we all step up giving to the LCMS World Relief and Human Care fund, just maybe, the LCMS can pick up balls ELCA will most likely continue to drop as they did with the Lutheran Malaria Initiative.

Let's be fair here. The only money that either the LC-MS or ELCA has to work with comes from individual contributions dropped into offering plates by individual Lutheran Christians. If individual Lutheran Christians who used to drop money in an ELCA offering plate instead send that money to the LC-MS World Relief and Human Care fund, it's the same dollars that otherwise would have been funneled through the ELCA. As long as the money flows out of the pockets of Lutheran pewsitters into the hands of any of the many organizations and agencies who serve as middlemen for collecting and redistributing offerings and then gets to where it needs to get to, does it matter all that much which middleman organization gets the credit? It's still offerings from some of God's people channeled through other groups of God's people to get to those of God's people who need the money, right?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: kls on October 06, 2010, 04:55:14 PM
Let's be fair here. The only money that either the LC-MS or ELCA has to work with comes from individual contributions dropped into offering plates by individual Lutheran Christians. If individual Lutheran Christians who used to drop money in an ELCA offering plate instead send that money to the LC-MS World Relief and Human Care fund, it's the same dollars that otherwise would have been funneled through the ELCA. As long as the money flows out of the pockets of Lutheran pewsitters into the hands of any of the many organizations and agencies who serve as middlemen for collecting and redistributing offerings and then gets to where it needs to get to, does it matter all that much which middleman organization gets the credit? It's still offerings from some of God's people channeled through other groups of God's people to get to those of God's people who need the money, right?

I tend to think that by and large the pewsitters give faithfully to their churches on Sundays, then donate above and beyond to organizations that they trust will use their donation most effectively (to include the method in which the support is provided).  The same can be said for support of a seminary, Lutheran university, etc.  So to an extent, organizations in "the middle" that do well should get some credit for building trust and support among their donor base.  I personally feel you can't go wrong by supporting LCMS World Relief and Human Care.   :D
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: hillwilliam on October 06, 2010, 06:10:57 PM

... If individual Lutheran Christians who used to drop money in an ELCA offering plate instead send that money to the LC-MS World Relief and Human Care fund, it's the same dollars that otherwise would have been funneled through the ELCA. ...

Isn't that fairly obvious? The point is not that the money shouldn't flow but that we not make “cooperation in externals" the reason for the target programs and institutions being unfunded.

There is also the matter of who you trust with your benevolence dollars. With all the emphasis that the ELCA has put on left wing political goals I trust LC-MS World Relief and Human Care more than I do ELCA's World Hunger and Relief. I just want to feed people and help them rebuild without any political agenda piggy backing on that effort.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on October 06, 2010, 08:08:12 PM

... If individual Lutheran Christians who used to drop money in an ELCA offering plate instead send that money to the LC-MS World Relief and Human Care fund, it's the same dollars that otherwise would have been funneled through the ELCA. ...

Isn't that fairly obvious? The point is not that the money shouldn't flow but that we not make “cooperation in externals" the reason for the target programs and institutions being unfunded.

There is also the matter of who you trust with your benevolence dollars. With all the emphasis that the ELCA has put on left wing political goals I trust LC-MS World Relief and Human Care more than I do ELCA's World Hunger and Relief. I just want to feed people and help them rebuild without any political agenda piggy backing on that effort.


You don't need to remind me about how Higgins Road throws money away on supporting the Democrat Party's political agenda. I'm already on the same page of the hymnal with you on that issue.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steve Ames on October 06, 2010, 10:43:51 PM
Jmiller: When I read the "move forward" release, I was stunned our PB's apparent indifference to the negative effects of CWA decisions on our denomination.

Here is another side of the story:

Parishes leaving ELCA find an unexpected price to pay
 
G. JEFFREY MacDONALD Associated Press
Published: October 4, 2010

(RNS) South Dakota pastor Julius Badigo has long known that Christian discipleship is costly. For him, that cost is increasingly measured in dollars  to the tune of thousands per month.
Badigo lost his $2,200 monthly salary earlier this year when his church cut ties with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), in protest of new denominational policies to allow non-celibate gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.
Badigo's seminary coursework ended abruptly, too, when the ELCA stopped funding his tuition. Married with two children, he still leads Falls Community Church in Sioux Falls, but his only income is $70 per week from a part-time job as a security guard.
"I'm hoping to get my Master of Divinity degree, but I don't know how I'm going to pay for it now," Badigo said. "In the church, I'm the only pastor, but nobody's paying me, and we have a lot of bills ... That's why I'm just praying for God's help." …
Even so, some Lutheran parishes are debating whether the price of separation from the ELCA is worthwhile. And for fledgling congregations  including the ELCA's 105 mission churches that serve African immigrants in the United States  financial issues play an important role as well.
Most of the ELCA's African mission churches in the U.S. don't own buildings and depend on ELCA financial support to pay pastors and fund outreach programs. Yet all 105 strongly oppose the ELCA's new policies, according to Jordan Long, a pastor in Rochester, N.Y., who directs African ministries for Lutheran CORE, the group orchestrating the NALC launch.
"I know a lot of congregations that are stuck," Long said. "It's not because they support the resolution (on gay clergy and same-sex blessings), but because they are afraid of the consequences" if they leave the ELCA.
Potential consequences include repaying tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to the ELCA. 
"In the event the new or mission congregation leaves the (ELCA), it is supposed to return all funds it has received to the ELCA," ELCA spokesman John Brooks said in an e-mail. Debt repayment obligations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, Brooks said.
Long's congregation, Niles Lutheran Mission, left the ELCA in August, triggering a requirement to repay more than $150,000 the congregation received since 2007. The ELCA made an exception and forgave Niles' debt in a Sept. 16 letter, Brooks said.
To date, almost all African mission congregations have remained in the ELCA. …
http://www.newsok.com/parishes-leaving-elca-find-an-unexpected-price-to-pay/article/feed/197831


Gary Hinton:  Lutheran CORE and NALC are attempting to get it's members to directly support many worthy programs and institutions through a list posted on their websites. It is possible that many of the ELCA partners that do not receive a grant will be added to that list. This could soften the blow especially since the LCMS may be in a position to help also

As the ELCA financial situation may worsen; one should not be surprised if the ELCA stops forgiving debts but rather insist on congregations returning “all funds it has received to the ELCA.”  The LCMS may not be prepared to help in the circumstances laid out in the above quoted article.   Are ELCA/ LCMS  “cooperation in externals" more important than a man finishing his seminary studies or an African immigrant congregation freeing itself from the ELCA?  Clearly ELCA folks face more choices than just shifting their support for “externals” by funneling funds through the LCMS.


Peter Kruse:   I don't believe Hanson meant to be condescending with that line but I am used to that type of talk from our PB.  …  He does seem to believe, very simply, that we ARE all united but that we merely ACT separated for mere human reasons.

Regardless of intent, PB Hanson’s comment is condescending – to characterize others' acceptance of the teachings of Holy Scripture as mere human reasons.   I cannot agree to any suggestion that PB Hanson is so ignorant that he fails to realize that Lutherans are divided by confessional theology and doctrine nor is this division a recent historical development.  But then,  the PB’s Pentecostalism “gifts of the Spirit “ as if the Holy Spirit works outside the means of grace – Word and Sacrament --  to give each generation a quite different understanding of God’s Will perhaps calls for some acceptance that BP Hanson maybe somewhat  ignorant of confessional Lutheranism.  So terribly sad for the ELCA!

BTW perhaps I should be a little offended since most pastors are not as astute on finances as folks in my profession – Accounting.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: G.Edward on October 07, 2010, 01:54:36 AM

  Or maybe it is just another case of, as Janis said, "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." 


Janis sang it, but good ol' Lutheran boy Kris Kristofferson said (wrote) it.  Apropos, eh? ;)

Now hold that thought up against Luther at the Diet of Worms...
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on October 07, 2010, 04:06:38 AM
Just as there are consequences - many of them financial - for those who support the decisions of last August; there are consequences - many of them financial - for those who cannot support the decisions of last August.
Those of us in the ELCA have to come up with ways to cope with our financial loss. And there are difficult stories of jobs and salaries in peril.
Those who leave the ELCA have to come up with ways to cope with their financial loss and there are difficult stories of jobs and salaries in peril.
You don't have to be an accountant to understand that.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: dkeener on October 07, 2010, 07:55:51 AM
I believe that Jesus had something to say about counting the costs before taking action.  So you count the cost or you don't. If you are in one group you are foolish and pay the price for your foolishness.  If you are in the other group - well you knew what would happen. In either case stop the whining about all those mean people who refuse to support your foolish and costly decisions.

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on October 07, 2010, 08:16:11 AM
But I never whine about "all those mean people who refuse to support your foolish and costly decisions." The whining in this forum seems to be about all those "mean people" (or heretics or fools or dupes or Satanists) who made certain decisions.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: GoCubsGo on October 07, 2010, 08:52:02 AM
But I never whine about "all those mean people who refuse to support your foolish and costly decisions." The whining in this forum seems to be about all those "mean people" (or heretics or fools or dupes or Satanists) who made certain decisions.

Yes, decisions where they failed to calculate the costs and seemed to delude themselves into thinking that terms like "bound conscience" would keep everyone together.  (They are not "heretics or dupes or Satanists but they were clearly foolish.)  It seems strange to me to complain about the financial difficulties of the ELCA when everyone said that the changes proposed at CWA09 would cause a split.  Would you like some cheese with your "whine"?   ;D
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: DCharlton on October 07, 2010, 09:44:58 AM
Just as there are consequences - many of them financial - for those who support the decisions of last August; there are consequences - many of them financial - for those who cannot support the decisions of last August.
Those of us in the ELCA have to come up with ways to cope with our financial loss. And there are difficult stories of jobs and salaries in peril.
Those who leave the ELCA have to come up with ways to cope with their financial loss and there are difficult stories of jobs and salaries in peril.
You don't have to be an accountant to understand that.


Agreed.  Those choosing to leave the ELCA cannot (and probably don't) expect the ELCA to continue to support their ministries.  When one knows the consequence before choosing the action, it doesn't make sense to complain when the consequence comes.  (I'm not sure that what the pastor in SD was doing.)  For the same reason, it doesn't make sense for some in the ELCA to complain about the "damage" caused by CORE, LCMC and NALC, or about the drop in giving.  They were all logical and predictable consequences of the bold new path chosen for the ELCA.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Timotheus Verinus on October 07, 2010, 10:42:32 AM
Just as there are consequences - many of them financial - for those who support the decisions of last August; there are consequences - many of them financial - for those who cannot support the decisions of last August.
Those of us in the ELCA have to come up with ways to cope with our financial loss. And there are difficult stories of jobs and salaries in peril.
Those who leave the ELCA have to come up with ways to cope with their financial loss and there are difficult stories of jobs and salaries in peril.
You don't have to be an accountant to understand that.


Actually, perhaps this belongs on the thread what are you doing some where, but let me speak plainly, those staying in ELCA in CORE, those leaving to LCMC, NALC in block, those going to other bodies, and the Lutheran bodies outside, are reacting to financial realities. Internally for the most part that means dealing wisely with increases in revenue. (for NALC starting at zero, self evidently means an increase, but others too) As ELCA pro forces pull back, or just drop out of ministries it means, stepping up and keeping them going. I would say LCMS especially will have to deal with that in leadership, (ex: LMI)

Let's be clear. The cascading drop of 18-20% and falling, is in the ELCA, and the consequences the rest of us are wrestling with is filling the void vacating by a sucking sound and whirlpools. And these were not of our own making, nor anything we wished for.  No this is not a philosophical, everyone has problems. The cause is well known, and everyone is looking at the elephant imploding with grief, because the challenge is great.

And we expect no help from the ELCA, no matter how big its budget, "used to be." This is a mess.

TV
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on October 07, 2010, 11:13:10 AM
Again, for the gazillionth time, has anyone heard me "whining" or "complaining" about the financial state of our church body? I accept it for what it is and began a thread of discussion here to talk about that.
What you will hear me criticize is people in the ELCA who refuse to support its ministries as we have agreed to do, people who engage in name-calling and mean-spirited bashing, and people who are willfully ignorant about being responsible partners in the ELCA's Gospel mission.
Beloved Spouse signed us up as members of the ACLU. I like much of what the ACLU does, though I am very critical of their views on religion and have told them so. So our membership continues, and I am happy to support most of what they stand for even though I really really don't like some of their positions.
And to tell the truth, it annoys me to have those outside the ELCA leading the whine and Jesus party about how "bad" things are in the ELCA. But I've said that before, too.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: LutherMan on October 07, 2010, 11:31:52 AM
And to tell the truth, it annoys me to have those outside the ELCA leading the whine and Jesus party about how "bad" things are in the ELCA. But I've said that before, too.
Most of "those outside the ELCA" have family, friends and loved ones still in the ELCA.  We are concerned about their salvation given current unbiblical teachings going on in your church body.  It is our Christian obligation to speak against the willful sin ELCA has endorsed.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: jmiller on October 07, 2010, 11:38:24 AM

  Or maybe it is just another case of, as Janis said, "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." 


Janis sang it, but good ol' Lutheran boy Kris Kristofferson said (wrote) it.  Apropos, eh? ;)

Now hold that thought up against Luther at the Diet of Worms...

I am trying.
Luther's followers volunteered to be part of the movement and he and they understood the possible consequences.
I never signed up for this revolution.
Nor did my congregation.
So who is our PB to fritter it all away for the sake of modernity?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: DCharlton on October 07, 2010, 09:40:46 PM
Again, for the gazillionth time, has anyone heard me "whining" or "complaining" about the financial state of our church body? I accept it for what it is and began a thread of discussion here to talk about that.
What you will hear me criticize is people in the ELCA who refuse to support its ministries as we have agreed to do, people who engage in name-calling and mean-spirited bashing, and people who are willfully ignorant about being responsible partners in the ELCA's Gospel mission.
Beloved Spouse signed us up as members of the ACLU. I like much of what the ACLU does, though I am very critical of their views on religion and have told them so. So our membership continues, and I am happy to support most of what they stand for even though I really really don't like some of their positions.
And to tell the truth, it annoys me to have those outside the ELCA leading the whine and Jesus party about how "bad" things are in the ELCA. But I've said that before, too.

I agree with the general thrust of your post, but there are two phrases that need to be clarified.  

1.  When you say "support its ministries as we have agreed to do," the question would be, "How have we agreed to support the ELCA?"  Have we agreed to support the ELCA even when we believe its actions contradict its own confession of faith?  Or would support mean refusing to enable and applaud self destructive behavior?  In the same way, we could ask whether being a patriot means defending the constitution or supporting the president no matter what.

2.  A similar question arises over the phrase "being responsilbe partners in the ELCA's Gospel mission."  When you say the ELCA's Gospel Mission, do you mean whatever the ELCA undertakes, or that part of the ELCA's activities that actually have to do with preaching the Gospel of redemption in Jesus Christ?  I know of few people who don't want to support the ELCA's Gospel Mission, it is its non-Gospel mission that folks are reluctant to support and fund.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on October 07, 2010, 10:27:09 PM
dcharlton asks:
1.  When you say "support its ministries as we have agreed to do," the question would be, "How have we agreed to support the ELCA?"  Have we agreed to support the ELCA even when we believe its actions contradict its own confession of faith?  Or would support mean refusing to enable and applaud self destructive behavior?  In the same way, we could ask whether being a patriot means defending the constitution or supporting the president no matter what.

I respond:
We have agreed, whether by ordination or installation into our calls, to be supportive of the ELCA as "public ministers" of that church body. This has been explained many times and is in our constitutions.
It is certainly not agreed among us that ELCA "actions contradict its own confession of faith" and until that is adjudicated, it is not "legally" true. It is only your opinion.
(This parallels those who say that certain things in the U.S. are "unconstitutional" or "contradict what our nation is supposed to be." We have agreed-upon ways of determining whether those allegations are actually true. And those who thought social security was unconstitutional lost that argument.)
We do not support "the president no matter what," but we are bound by the laws of our nation, no matter what. I strongly object to the amount of my tax money that goes to militarism. But I am not allowed to withhold my taxes because of that, or be free of penalty if I do.

dcharlton asks:
2.  A similar question arises over the phrase "being responsilbe partners in the ELCA's Gospel mission."  When you say the ELCA's Gospel Mission, do you mean whatever the ELCA undertakes, or that part of the ELCA's activities that actually have to do with preaching the Gospel of redemption in Jesus Christ?  I know of few people who don't want to support the ELCA's Gospel Mission, it is its non-Gospel mission that folks are reluctant to support and fund.
I comment:
You posit a distinction that is hard to make or define. Is a pension fund for church workers "Gospel Mission"? Is furniture for church offices "Gospel Mission"? How about costs of assemblies or membership in ecumenical organizations? Perhaps it would be better if I said we are to be "responsible partners in the ELCA," for I contend that this means sending - through our synod and the ELCA - the fair share of mission support from our congregation.
I am not allowed to say: "Oh, that program of the ELCA is o.k., because it is really Gospel, and that one isn't." And yes, this may mean that some of that goes for things we might not like - just like my taxes.
In your congregation, is fixing the furnace, paying the insurance premium or the contract for the copier "Gospel Mission"? Maybe not directly, but could your congregation function if it did not do those things? And what about the crabby old coot who doesn't want to spend $300 to send kids to the national youth gathering? Should he withhold his offering because he doesn't like that budget item?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: John Theiss on October 07, 2010, 11:20:39 PM
Pastor Austin, I believe that your first response example of constitutionality is flawed in that God does not speak to the Constitution of the US or any other country (at least not directly or by name) whereas Christians do believe that God does speak directly to a number of moral issues.  When a church body chooses a direction in policy which many of its members believe to be against what God has said on those moral issues, those members may believe that their responsibility is to obey God rather than "man".  Specifically, pastors may believe that faithfulness to their God and their ordination vows require them to oppose what their "bound conscience" can only view as a sinful policy decision.  Unless of course you are of the opinion that your church body always speaks for God and therefore all decisions it makes will always be equal to God's will.

Also, by your logic there should never have been any opposition to the previous stance of the ELCA, as to do so was to not be supportive of the ELCA as public ministers. 
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on October 08, 2010, 06:48:13 AM
Pastor Theiss writes:
Unless of course you are of the opinion that your church body always speaks for God and therefore all decisions it makes will always be equal to God's will.

I respond:
No, I do not believe that. But I believe that it is quite possible that God speaks through our church bodies (and our preaching.) And - in this flawed world - I have no way of "being" Church except by belonging to a fellowship of believers, being a part of the Body of Christ and exercising my call within that part of the Body of Christ. If that part of the body goes so far astray that I cannot in conscience continue to do this, then I must leave. I don't like some things the ELCA does. But for me, none of them rise to this level.

Pastor Theiss writes:
Also, by your logic there should never have been any opposition to the previous stance of the ELCA, as to do so was to not be supportive of the ELCA as public ministers.  

I comment:
No. Most of those who opposed the previous policies of the ELCA did what our fellowship in the ELCA allows us to do: they studied, prayed, worked with other ELCA members, held conferences, witnessed, proposed memorials and resolutions, and most of them did not say our bishops were "false leaders". They did this until they were able to convince the church to change its policies and approach to their issue.
Preemptive strike: I have always said that those "irregular ordinations" were wrong and that those taking part should have been disciplined. Many were. And those taking part were willing to risk disapproval, discipline or even loss of their salary for the sake of their convictions.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: DCharlton on October 08, 2010, 09:24:39 AM
dcharlton asks:
1.  When you say "support its ministries as we have agreed to do," the question would be, "How have we agreed to support the ELCA?"  Have we agreed to support the ELCA even when we believe its actions contradict its own confession of faith?  Or would support mean refusing to enable and applaud self destructive behavior?  In the same way, we could ask whether being a patriot means defending the constitution or supporting the president no matter what.

I respond:
We have agreed, whether by ordination or installation into our calls, to be supportive of the ELCA as "public ministers" of that church body. This has been explained many times and is in our constitutions.
It is certainly not agreed among us that ELCA "actions contradict its own confession of faith" and until that is adjudicated, it is not "legally" true. It is only your opinion.
(This parallels those who say that certain things in the U.S. are "unconstitutional" or "contradict what our nation is supposed to be." We have agreed-upon ways of determining whether those allegations are actually true. And those who thought social security was unconstitutional lost that argument.)
We do not support "the president no matter what," but we are bound by the laws of our nation, no matter what. I strongly object to the amount of my tax money that goes to militarism. But I am not allowed to withhold my taxes because of that, or be free of penalty if I do.

dcharlton asks:
2.  A similar question arises over the phrase "being responsilbe partners in the ELCA's Gospel mission."  When you say the ELCA's Gospel Mission, do you mean whatever the ELCA undertakes, or that part of the ELCA's activities that actually have to do with preaching the Gospel of redemption in Jesus Christ?  I know of few people who don't want to support the ELCA's Gospel Mission, it is its non-Gospel mission that folks are reluctant to support and fund.
I comment:
You posit a distinction that is hard to make or define. Is a pension fund for church workers "Gospel Mission"? Is furniture for church offices "Gospel Mission"? How about costs of assemblies or membership in ecumenical organizations? Perhaps it would be better if I said we are to be "responsible partners in the ELCA," for I contend that this means sending - through our synod and the ELCA - the fair share of mission support from our congregation.
I am not allowed to say: "Oh, that program of the ELCA is o.k., because it is really Gospel, and that one isn't." And yes, this may mean that some of that goes for things we might not like - just like my taxes.
In your congregation, is fixing the furnace, paying the insurance premium or the contract for the copier "Gospel Mission"? Maybe not directly, but could your congregation function if it did not do those things? And what about the crabby old coot who doesn't want to spend $300 to send kids to the national youth gathering? Should he withhold his offering because he doesn't like that budget item?


Wow Charles.  I just assumed that you didn't mean what you seemed to mean.  But it appears that you did.  I just cannot accept your authoritarian interpretation of my ordination and installation vows.  Of course I should abide by the policies of the ELCA or be prepared to face discipline.  And of course I am expected to urge my congregation to financially support the ministries of the ELCA.  However, as an ordained ministers and a part of body of Christ, the most important part kind of support I can give the ELCA is to urge it to abide by its confesson of faith and do my best to see that it does. 

Now to the question about pension funds, boilers, and youth gatherings, the answer is NO.  They are not what I would call Gospel Mission.  A person who opposes one of them or declines to contribute to them is not an enemy of the Gospel.  They are not undermining the proclamation of the Gospel.  They are not apostates.  Many would like to make that connection.  Many unscrupulous pastors have made that insinuation whenever their congregants have not supported a pet project.  Still it is false. 

Refusing to abide by the policies of the ELCA and withholding benevolence is the kind of passive agreesive approach that I don't want to take.  Instead, I have been and hope to continue the kind of engagement with the ELCA that forces me to speak plainly when I think it has violated its own policies and its confession of faith.  In the same manner, when I choose not to participate in a particular program, I will say why and make no bones about it.  However, I will not adopt the party line when I think it is false.  And I will not drown myself in an attempt to save the ELCA.* 

*When I was a life guard, the first thing they taught us was that you cannot rescue a person if you let yourself get drowned in the process.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Richard Johnson on October 08, 2010, 10:54:10 AM

It is certainly not agreed among us that ELCA "actions contradict its own confession of faith" and until that is adjudicated, it is not "legally" true.

One of the structural problems of the ELCA is that there IS no way to adjudicate it, other than a ruling from David Swartling.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on October 08, 2010, 10:56:28 AM
Yes, there is a way.
Memorial: Resolved, that in its actions at the ELCA Church-wide Assembly in 2009, the assembly acted contrary to the confession of faith of this church.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on October 08, 2010, 11:11:12 AM
dcharlton writes:
I just cannot accept your authoritarian interpretation of my ordination and installation vows.  Of course I should abide by the policies of the ELCA or be prepared to face discipline.

I comment:
Good. We agree on that.
The model constitution for ELCA congregations says (see emphasis added):
*C9.03. Consistent with the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
    a. Every ordained minister shall:
        1)preach the Word;
        2) administer the sacraments;
        3)conduct public worship;
        4) provide pastoral care; and
        5) speak publicly to the world in solidarity with the poor and oppressed, calling for justice and proclaiming God’s love for the world.
    c. Every pastor shall:
        1)strive to extend the Kingdom of God in the community, in the nation, and abroad;
        2)seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel;
        3)impart knowledge of this church and its wider ministry through distribution of its periodicals and other publications; and
        4)endeavor to increase the support given by the congregation to the work of the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and of the (insert name of synod) Synod of the ELCA.


If someone cannot do that without violating their conscience, then I think they have a decision to make. People can disagree with ELCA policies and work to change them while at the same time being faithful in supporting the broader mission of the ELCA.
Our public ministries do not belong to us as individuals, they are given to us by a particular segment of the church, and are exercised within a particular segment of the church. If ordained in the ELCA, I decide that the ELCA is a heretical, apostate institution, and that its leaders are promoting worship of another god, and that its processes are so corrupt as to be unconscionable, then the ELCA has the right to say to be: "You are no longer a pastor in the ELCA."
I think this business about our ordinations being to the "Church" or some heavenly ideal of Church and not to a place where we are subject to oversight and discipline is thoroughly un-Lutheran.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Scott6 on October 08, 2010, 11:12:24 AM
Yes, there is a way.
Memorial: Resolved, that in its actions at the ELCA Church-wide Assembly in 2009, the assembly acted contrary to the confession of faith of this church.

That would not be to adjudicate the constitution but to continue to exercise the legislative will of the assembly, effectively acting as if there were no constitutional confession of faith.  It would be like having a congressional vote to declare a previous congressional vote constitutional or unconstitutional; what's needed is the equivalent of a Supreme Court.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on October 08, 2010, 11:17:31 AM
Scott asks:
 It would be like having a congressional vote to declare a previous congressional vote constitutional or unconstitutional; what's needed is the equivalent of a Supreme Court.

I comment:
But we don't have that. Do you?
So we have to deal with what we have. An Assembly could declare actions of a previous assembly in violation of the church's confession of faith. I eagerly await serious attempts to do that, and would happily second the motion, if that were needed to get it on the floor of my synodical assembly.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: LutherMan on October 08, 2010, 11:23:02 AM
Scott asks:
 It would be like having a congressional vote to declare a previous congressional vote constitutional or unconstitutional; what's needed is the equivalent of a Supreme Court.

I comment:
But we don't have that. Do you?

Unfortunately, yes.

It's called the CCM.  ::)

Mike
http://www.lcms.org/pages/default.asp?NavID=78

Constitutional Matters

CCM Home Graphics         

Recent Actions

The Commission added the 2007 Handbook.

The Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) published the minutes from its
September 7, 2010 meeting.
What We Do
The primary responsibility of the CCM is to interpret the Synod's Constitution, Bylaws, and resolutions upon written request of a member congregation, church worker, official, agency or other authorized entity of the Synod and to render opinions.  The Commission also examines all reports, overtures and resolutions to the Synod that ask for amendments to the Constitution or Bylaws. The major documents of the CCM are the Handbook of the Synod, which it revises after each convention to bring it into harmony with convention actions. It also has developed "Guidelines for the Constitution and Bylaws of a Lutheran Congregation" to assist congregations in developing or revising their constitutions.

Did you miss a meeting? Catch up with reading minutes from previous meetings.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Scott6 on October 08, 2010, 11:23:40 AM
Scott asks:
 It would be like having a congressional vote to declare a previous congressional vote constitutional or unconstitutional; what's needed is the equivalent of a Supreme Court.

I comment:
But we don't have that. Do you?
So we have to deal with what we have. An Assembly could declare actions of a previous assembly in violation of the church's confession of faith. I eagerly await serious attempts to do that, and would happily second the motion, if that were needed to get it on the floor of my synodical assembly.

Right -- it doesn't exist outside of a ruling from Swartling, which is Richard's point of course.

Barring that, you're right that you'd need another assembly action.  The problem remains, however, that this means that what matters is not the constitution as a check on legislative actions by the assembly but simply the assembly's vote in and of itself; the constitution is effectively an irrelevant document in that case.

As for the LCMS, the Commission on Constitutional Matters adjudicates such issues.  Call it the "Supreme Court" of the LCMS if you like (and its decisions are frequently as controversial as that of the real Supreme Court). [[I see other folks beat me to the response...  :-\]]
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: efretheim on October 08, 2010, 11:27:39 AM
The model constitution for ELCA congregations says (see emphasis added):
*C9.03. Consistent with the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
     c. Every pastor shall:
        1)strive to extend the Kingdom of God in the community, in the nation, and abroad;
        2)seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel;
        3)impart knowledge of this church and its wider ministry through distribution of its periodicals and other publications; and
        4)endeavor to increase the support given by the congregation to the work of the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and of the (insert name of synod) Synod of the ELCA.

"imparting knowledge of this church ..." would also mean talking about the CWA and explaining how it is contrary to the scriptures.  If one doesn't do this, then one is in violation of the church constitution.
"increasing suppport .. to the work of the churchwide organization ... and of the (insert name of synod) ..." could mean giving directly to those missions which carry out that work.  In fact we know this to be a fact in the Northwest Washington Synod where the pastor serving as bishop specifically requested, during the 2009 Synod assembly, that local congregations do so since more of their contributions to the Synod were going to be used to increase the salaries of the bishop and staff during this recession.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on October 08, 2010, 11:31:35 AM
Pastor Austin, I believe that your first response example of constitutionality is flawed in that God does not speak to the Constitution of the US or any other country (at least not directly or by name) whereas Christians do believe that God does speak directly to a number of moral issues. 

Yes, God offers forgiveness to the immoral through Jesus. If this isn't what we are proclaiming, then we aren't proclaiming the Christian gospel. All the other religious and even atheists proclaim morality -- some even better than Christians.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: James Gustafson on October 08, 2010, 11:35:53 AM
I think this business about our ordinations being to the "Church" or some heavenly ideal of Church and not to a place where we are subject to oversight and discipline is thoroughly un-Lutheran.

LOL

I wonder what Martin Luther would say about that.  [We must be] subject to [the] oversight and discipline [of our church hierarchies]... Imagines Luther reading that premise while hiding out in Wartburg Castle at Eisenach.  :P  ;D
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on October 08, 2010, 11:38:46 AM
I think this business about our ordinations being to the "Church" or some heavenly ideal of Church and not to a place where we are subject to oversight and discipline is thoroughly un-Lutheran.

LOL

I wonder what Martin Luther would say about that.  [We must be] subject to [the] oversight and discipline of our church hierarchies... Imagines Luther reading that premise while hiding out in Wartburg Castle at Eisenach.  :P  ;D

The alternative is to let each individual decide for him-/herself what is true. I raised the argument that the individualistic interpretation of the Bible and tradition that we have today began with Luther.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: James Gustafson on October 08, 2010, 11:40:54 AM
I think this business about our ordinations being to the "Church" or some heavenly ideal of Church and not to a place where we are subject to oversight and discipline is thoroughly un-Lutheran.

LOL

I wonder what Martin Luther would say about that.  [We must be] subject to [the] oversight and discipline of our church hierarchies... Imagines Luther reading that premise while hiding out in Wartburg Castle at Eisenach.  :P  ;D

The alternative is to let each individual decide for him-/herself what is true. I raised the argument that the individualistic interpretation of the Bible and tradition that we have today began with Luther.

Isn't that what the CWA 09 decided we should do?  Let each individual decide for themselves what is true?  Why yes, yes it is what they decided, that we can all decide for ourselves what is true, says it straight up.  BTW: you were mistaken about Luther too, he wanted to return to scripture and historical practices, not decide something new and non-scriptural.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on October 08, 2010, 11:48:22 AM
I think this business about our ordinations being to the "Church" or some heavenly ideal of Church and not to a place where we are subject to oversight and discipline is thoroughly un-Lutheran.

LOL

I wonder what Martin Luther would say about that.  [We must be] subject to [the] oversight and discipline of our church hierarchies... Imagines Luther reading that premise while hiding out in Wartburg Castle at Eisenach.  :P  ;D

The alternative is to let each individual decide for him-/herself what is true. I raised the argument that the individualistic interpretation of the Bible and tradition that we have today began with Luther.

Isn't that what the CWA 09 decided we should do?  Let each individual decide for themselves what is true?  Why yes, yes it is what they decided, that we can all decide for ourselves what is true, says it straight up.  BTW: you were mistaken about Luther too, he wanted to return to scripture and historical practices, not decide something new and non-scriptural.

Yes, CWA09 left it up to individual consciences to decide what is true about this particular issue -- although that approach may also work on some other issues, too; but certainly not with every issue, e.g., the doctrines in our Confession of Faith.

Luther's "return" to scripture and historical practices was based on his (and his Augustinian background's) understanding of scripture and tradition, which put him in opposition to the Church's hierarchy's understanding of scripture and tradition. It's been stated before -- usually against me -- that every heresy sees itself being based on scriptures and often can find something in history to support the belief. I would venture to say that church discussions, arguments, and schisms, are always about differing interpretations of scripture and tradition.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: James Gustafson on October 08, 2010, 11:57:42 AM
Yes, CWA09 left it up to individual consciences to decide what is true about this particular issue -- although that approach may also work on some other issues, too; but certainly not with every issue, e.g., the doctrines in our Confession of Faith.

Luther's "return" to scripture and historical practices was based on his (and his Augustinian background's) understanding of scripture and tradition, which put him in opposition to the Church's hierarchy's understanding of scripture and tradition. It's been stated before -- usually against me -- that every heresy sees itself being based on scriptures and often can find something in history to support the belief. I would venture to say that church discussions, arguments, and schisms, are always about differing interpretations of scripture and tradition.

Not every heresy sees itself being based on scriptures and tradition, some say that scripture and tradition had it wrong.   Some ELCA approved positions hold that scripture and tradition was wrong and we understand better now than they did then... I would say THAT kind of reasoning is, well, to use Pr. Austin's terminology, un-Lutheran.  Seems to me that Luther believed Scripture and the Church Fathers means he trusted the sources, and inserting plain reason to determine what those sources likely would have thought of the question at hand.  Not do what the CWA 09 attempted to authorize, that we can think ourselves wiser than then our two sources, Scripture and Tradition.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: James_Gale on October 08, 2010, 12:01:08 PM
I would venture to say that church discussions, arguments, and schisms, are always about differing interpretations of scripture and tradition.

That was manifestly not the case with respect to the actions taken regarding sexuality at the 2009 CWA.  Leading proponents of those actions expressly rejected the notion that the ELCA was bound by Scripture.  And the CWA expressly admitted that it was acted against tradition.

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on October 08, 2010, 12:20:00 PM
I would venture to say that church discussions, arguments, and schisms, are always about differing interpretations of scripture and tradition.

That was manifestly not the case with respect to the actions taken regarding sexuality at the 2009 CWA.  Leading proponents of those actions expressly rejected the notion that the ELCA was bound by Scripture.

Examples? Journey Together Faithfully -- part 3 was a study of Galatians called: "Free in Christ to Serve the Neighbor: Lutherans Talk about Human Sexuality." There were background essays on biblical texts that were part of the resources available for folks discussing the issue.

I would agree that the ELCA is not bound by some traditional interpretations of scriptures. That's been part of our history since Luther's time. The marriage of priests, retaining clergy who had been married a second time, the ordination of women, the elimination (in some places) of weekly communion, open communion (officially in the ELCA, but also practiced by some LCMSers) are some of the ways that Lutherans went against traditional interpretations of scriptures.

Quote
And the CWA expressly admitted that it was acted against tradition.

Yes, we stated that for those who include same-gender committed relationships under the term "marriage" "differs from the historic Christian tradition
and the Lutheran Confessions" of that term. It doesn't say that we were "going against" that tradition. At the same time, we also recognize that the term "marriage" is being used by a few states for the publicly accountable and legal relationship that same-gender couples may enter -- and their use of the term differs from the traditional way societies have used "marriage".
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: James Gustafson on October 08, 2010, 12:51:04 PM
...

I would agree that the ELCA is not bound by some traditional interpretations of scriptures. That's been part of our history since Luther's time. The marriage of priests,

Why do you keep using this false example?  Do you honestly not realize that this was a return to tradition, a reversal of a revision, that took place? Or, Heaven forbid, you simply keep using this example because you know that the common reader will not know that it is a return to Tradition and thus you hope that they might be convinced by your false example into thinking the Lutheran fathers would agree with the rest of what you are saying?

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dadoo on October 08, 2010, 12:53:11 PM
I would venture to say that church discussions, arguments, and schisms, are always about differing interpretations of scripture and tradition.

That was manifestly not the case with respect to the actions taken regarding sexuality at the 2009 CWA.  Leading proponents of those actions expressly rejected the notion that the ELCA was bound by Scripture.

Examples? Journey Together Faithfully -- part 3 was a study of Galatians called: "Free in Christ to Serve the Neighbor: Lutherans Talk about Human Sexuality." There were background essays on biblical texts that were part of the resources available for folks discussing the issue.

I would agree that the ELCA is not bound by some traditional interpretations of scriptures. That's been part of our history since Luther's time. The marriage of priests, retaining clergy who had been married a second time, the ordination of women, the elimination (in some places) of weekly communion, open communion (officially in the ELCA, but also practiced by some LCMSers) are some of the ways that Lutherans went against traditional interpretations of scriptures.


The marriage of priests is not a Lutheran innovation or a matter if Lutherans going against the traditional interpretation of scripture. It is the restoration of the original practice (St. Peter was married . . . ).

Leadership of women was not a Lutheran idea either. It goes back to the New Testament where women in leadership position are commended by St. Paul.

The elimination of weekly communion was not a Lutheran innovation but a Lutheran heresy when it was defended on supposed biblical or confessional grounds.

The ELCA does not practice "open communion." We practice "Eucharistic hospitality." That is to say that we have limits to who we will commune.

Luther and Lutherans are not "innovation engines" and were never meant to be such, divorce and remarriage being a difficult subject to parse either way and therefore not proof of inovation or other.

Quote
Quote
And the CWA expressly admitted that it was acted against tradition.

Yes, we stated that for those who include same-gender committed relationships under the term "marriage" "differs from the historic Christian tradition
and the Lutheran Confessions" of that term. It doesn't say that we were "going against" that tradition. At the same time, we also recognize that the term "marriage" is being used by a few states for the publicly accountable and legal relationship that same-gender couples may enter -- and their use of the term differs from the traditional way societies have used "marriage".


It might not say "we are going against" tradition, but it does say that we realize that we are departing from 2000 years of continued use of the term marriage among Christians. Same difference.

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dadoo on October 08, 2010, 12:55:36 PM
Lutherman has started a thread about the latest press release from ELCA concerning the Secretatries report on restructuring. I note, with distress, that there seems to be little streamlining or cost saving going on in the proposal as presented.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Scott6 on October 08, 2010, 12:59:12 PM
Leadership of women was not a Lutheran idea either. It goes back to the New Testament where women in leadership position are commended by St. Paul.

"Leadership of women" is a bit of a murky term, methinks.  The idea of the ordination or otherwise recognizing them as occupying the office of presbyter / episkopes is certainly an innovation.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: James_Gale on October 08, 2010, 01:25:01 PM
I would venture to say that church discussions, arguments, and schisms, are always about differing interpretations of scripture and tradition.

That was manifestly not the case with respect to the actions taken regarding sexuality at the 2009 CWA.  Leading proponents of those actions expressly rejected the notion that the ELCA was bound by Scripture.
Examples?

We've been over this many, many times.  Bishop Chilstrom and Bishop Erdahl are two prominent leaders who rejected the notion that the ELCA is bound by Scripture.  Also, speakers at the CWA expressly argued that we ought not be bound by what "some guy wrote 2000 years ago."

I'm not sure why you keep taking us through this conversation.  Again.  And again.  And again.  Repeating wrong facts does not transform them into truths.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: jpetty on October 08, 2010, 01:28:12 PM
...

I would agree that the ELCA is not bound by some traditional interpretations of scriptures. That's been part of our history since Luther's time. The marriage of priests,

Why do you keep using this false example?  Do you honestly not realize that this was a return to tradition, a reversal of a revision, that took place? Or, Heaven forbid, you simply keep using this example because you know that the common reader will not know that it is a return to Tradition and thus you hope that they might be convinced by your false example into thinking the Lutheran fathers would agree with the rest of what you are saying?

I don't think trying to paint Luther as a great traditionist will work.  He directly defied papal authority, which, at that time, had been "tradition" for seven or eight hundred years.  He threw a good bit of tradition overboard, and he did it on the basis of his own freedom of inquiry.


Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: DCharlton on October 08, 2010, 01:34:32 PM
dcharlton writes:
I just cannot accept your authoritarian interpretation of my ordination and installation vows.  Of course I should abide by the policies of the ELCA or be prepared to face discipline.

I comment:
Good. We agree on that.
The model constitution for ELCA congregations says (see emphasis added):
*C9.03. Consistent with the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
    a. Every ordained minister shall:
        1)preach the Word;
        2) administer the sacraments;
        3)conduct public worship;
        4) provide pastoral care; and
        5) speak publicly to the world in solidarity with the poor and oppressed, calling for justice and proclaiming God’s love for the world.
    c. Every pastor shall:
        1)strive to extend the Kingdom of God in the community, in the nation, and abroad;
        2)seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel;
        3)impart knowledge of this church and its wider ministry through distribution of its periodicals and other publications; and
        4)endeavor to increase the support given by the congregation to the work of the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and of the (insert name of synod) Synod of the ELCA.


If someone cannot do that without violating their conscience, then I think they have a decision to make. People can disagree with ELCA policies and work to change them while at the same time being faithful in supporting the broader mission of the ELCA.
Our public ministries do not belong to us as individuals, they are given to us by a particular segment of the church, and are exercised within a particular segment of the church. If ordained in the ELCA, I decide that the ELCA is a heretical, apostate institution, and that its leaders are promoting worship of another god, and that its processes are so corrupt as to be unconscionable, then the ELCA has the right to say to be: "You are no longer a pastor in the ELCA."
I think this business about our ordinations being to the "Church" or some heavenly ideal of Church and not to a place where we are subject to oversight and discipline is thoroughly un-Lutheran.

As long as you allow some middle ground between being a sycophant and undermining the ELCA (either openly or passive-agressively), then we agree.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dadoo on October 08, 2010, 01:40:20 PM
Leadership of women was not a Lutheran idea either. It goes back to the New Testament where women in leadership position are commended by St. Paul.

"Leadership of women" is a bit of a murky term, methinks.  The idea of the ordination or otherwise recognizing them as occupying the office of presbyter / episkopes is certainly an innovation.

We can go that route if you like. I note here that the innovation was neither Luther's innovation or a Lutheran innovation. For one thing, not all of Lutherandom embraced it. For another, women's ordination had been introduced by reformed, not Lutheran, offshoots of the 16th century  over 100  years earlier by the time the left side of Lutherans embraced it. In time, the innovation is less than 200 years old. As some like to say: In another 500 years we will look back and say, "What were they thinking."
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dadoo on October 08, 2010, 01:42:12 PM
...

I would agree that the ELCA is not bound by some traditional interpretations of scriptures. That's been part of our history since Luther's time. The marriage of priests,

Why do you keep using this false example?  Do you honestly not realize that this was a return to tradition, a reversal of a revision, that took place? Or, Heaven forbid, you simply keep using this example because you know that the common reader will not know that it is a return to Tradition and thus you hope that they might be convinced by your false example into thinking the Lutheran fathers would agree with the rest of what you are saying?

I don't think trying to paint Luther as a great traditionist will work.  He directly defied papal authority, which, at that time, had been "tradition" for seven or eight hundred years.  He threw a good bit of tradition overboard, and he did it on the basis of his own freedom of inquiry.




Like . . . what exactly?

And, "Freedom of inquiry?" Where is Luther using that category?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: James Gustafson on October 08, 2010, 01:59:51 PM
...

I would agree that the ELCA is not bound by some traditional interpretations of scriptures. That's been part of our history since Luther's time. The marriage of priests,

Why do you keep using this false example?  Do you honestly not realize that this was a return to tradition, a reversal of a revision, that took place? Or, Heaven forbid, you simply keep using this example because you know that the common reader will not know that it is a return to Tradition and thus you hope that they might be convinced by your false example into thinking the Lutheran fathers would agree with the rest of what you are saying?

I don't think trying to paint Luther as a great traditionist will work.  He directly defied papal authority, which, at that time, had been "tradition" for seven or eight hundred years.  He threw a good bit of tradition overboard, and he did it on the basis of his own freedom of inquiry.

The Apostolic and Church Fathers are the authoritative sum and norm of Traditionalism, recent tradition is not Traditionalism.   Small “t” capital “T”, like church and Church.  The church tradition is not, Church Tradition.  Tradition can not be changed, it is now after the fact.  In as much as the Apostolic and Church fathers point to Christ, and the Book of Concord points to Christ, and I point at Christ and to them for explanation, we either accept them as authoritative or we do not.  In our church traditions we may not even be in compliance of Church Tradition, two different things.

The sum and norm of Tradition and Traditionalist is a completed event, the Traditionalists are dead now but alive in Christ, and alive in their writings, their co-author still our active inspiration, anyone that agrees with them is a Traditionalist too.  But anyone who disagrees with them ceases to be a Traditionalist, they may still be a traditionalist in their own sect but they have become revisionists.  It is impossible for Traditionalism to be revised or for us to modify it.  The influence of Scripture and the Church Fathers on our understanding may ebb and flow in its popularity, and it may even disappear and then reappear five hundred years later when the writings of the Apostolic and Church Fathers is viewed as authoritative and the Holy Spirit speaks through it to someone who rediscovers it, as was the case with Luther.  

It is a misunderstanding of Traditionalism to think it applies to our near history or only to our denominations etc.  And that misunderstanding is a fatal a flaw of revisionism, they are confused when they believe that we are allowed to revise Scripture and Tradition, Christ and Christ's words are eternal.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Richard Johnson on October 08, 2010, 02:07:25 PM


Yes, CWA09 left it up to individual consciences to decide what is true about this particular issue -- although that approach may also work on some other issues, too; but certainly not with every issue, e.g., the doctrines in our Confession of Faith.

Unless you're herchurch, for example.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Scott6 on October 08, 2010, 02:26:45 PM
Leadership of women was not a Lutheran idea either. It goes back to the New Testament where women in leadership position are commended by St. Paul.

"Leadership of women" is a bit of a murky term, methinks.  The idea of the ordination or otherwise recognizing them as occupying the office of presbyter / episkopes is certainly an innovation.

We can go that route if you like. I note here that the innovation was neither Luther's innovation or a Lutheran innovation. For one thing, not all of Lutherandom embraced it. For another, women's ordination had been introduced by reformed, not Lutheran, offshoots of the 16th century  over 100  years earlier by the time the left side of Lutherans embraced it. In time, the innovation is less than 200 years old. As some like to say: In another 500 years we will look back and say, "What were they thinking."

Right -- I agree that women's ordination is an innovation with a very short pedigree and cannot be attributed to Luther or Lutheranism whose tendencies were against innovation.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on October 08, 2010, 02:28:39 PM
...

I would agree that the ELCA is not bound by some traditional interpretations of scriptures. That's been part of our history since Luther's time. The marriage of priests,

Why do you keep using this false example?  Do you honestly not realize that this was a return to tradition, a reversal of a revision, that took place? Or, Heaven forbid, you simply keep using this example because you know that the common reader will not know that it is a return to Tradition and thus you hope that they might be convinced by your false example into thinking the Lutheran fathers would agree with the rest of what you are saying?

Which tradition? Is the oldest practice always the "traditional" one? At some point in Christian history, the powers that be, determined among other things, that Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 7 that marriage meant that one had to devote some time and energy to the spouse -- and not totally to the Lord; meant that those taking vows to the Church meant that they had to be fully devoted to the Lord and his Church -- and could not be married. (I've heard some Roman Catholic priests talk about being "married" to the church. The Church in Luther's day had its interpretation of scripture and tradition. Luther had another interpretation.

Would you not agree that celebrating communion at least weekly (if not daily) is an older and longer lasting tradition than once a month communion? Would you not agree that celebrating first communion at one's baptism, regardless of age, as the Orthodox do, is an older tradition than waiting until confirmation or completing a class in 5th grade (or younger)? Yet, even though we can show that there are older traditions than what many are used to today, it certainly isn't easy to return to those traditions. The folks today are often convinced by their interpretation of scriptures and their own tradition (two or three generations) that what they are doing is the right way.

Just ask the folks in the pew to cross themselves at the appropriate times in the liturgy -- and point out that Luther himself told us to cross ourselves in the Small Catechism.

Staring that Luther was seeking to return to an older tradition doesn't make it any easier to fight the deeply held convictions and interpretations and practices of the folks of his day any more than it is for us to return to early church practices in our congregations. It is a battle of interpretations of scriptures and traditions. Celibacy for those taking vows to the church was the tradition in Luther's day based on an interpretation of scriptures.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: James Gustafson on October 08, 2010, 02:58:22 PM
Pr. Stoffregen asks:
Would you not agree that celebrating communion at least weekly (if not daily) is an older and longer lasting tradition than once a month communion?
Yes.

Would you not agree that celebrating first communion at one's baptism, regardless of age, as the Orthodox do, is an older tradition than waiting until confirmation or completing a class in 5th grade (or younger)?
Yes

Yet, even though we can show that there are older traditions than what many are used to today, it certainly isn't easy to return to those traditions. The folks today are often convinced by their interpretation of scriptures and their own tradition (two or three generations) that what they are doing is the right way.
And they're wrong.

Just ask the folks in the pew to cross themselves at the appropriate times in the liturgy -- and point out that Luther himself told us to cross ourselves in the Small Catechism.
Then teach them to do it. 

Staring that Luther was seeking to return to an older tradition doesn't make it any easier to fight the deeply held convictions and interpretations and practices of the folks of his day any more than it is for us to return to early church practices in our congregations.
Easy is irrelevant.

It is a battle of interpretations of scriptures and traditions. Celibacy for those taking vows to the church was the tradition in Luther's day based on an interpretation of scriptures. [/]
No, one is Tradition, the other is tradition.  It's revision to change what the Apostolic and Church Fathers taught, what they established is Tradition, everything else is revision.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on October 08, 2010, 08:06:53 PM


Yes, CWA09 left it up to individual consciences to decide what is true about this particular issue -- although that approach may also work on some other issues, too; but certainly not with every issue, e.g., the doctrines in our Confession of Faith.

Unless you're herchurch, for example.

Very, very few of us are.

(On the other hand, I've never been to a worship service at Ebenezer Lutheran in San Francisco. I have not read their constitutional confession of faith. I can't really judge what occurs there. However, I have been to worship services at Peace Lutheran in Grass Valley. I can judge what goes on there.  :))
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: LutherMan on October 08, 2010, 08:10:59 PM


Yes, CWA09 left it up to individual consciences to decide what is true about this particular issue -- although that approach may also work on some other issues, too; but certainly not with every issue, e.g., the doctrines in our Confession of Faith.

Unless you're herchurch, for example.

Very, very few of us are.

(On the other hand, I've never been to a worship service at Ebenezer Lutheran in San Francisco. I have not read their constitutional confession of faith. I can't really judge what occurs there. However, I have been to worship services at Peace Lutheran in Grass Valley. I can judge what goes on there.  :))
One only needs to peruse or browse their website to find all sorts of heresies and apostasies going on.
They are a filthy and unLutheran group.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: James_Gale on October 08, 2010, 08:20:28 PM


Yes, CWA09 left it up to individual consciences to decide what is true about this particular issue -- although that approach may also work on some other issues, too; but certainly not with every issue, e.g., the doctrines in our Confession of Faith.

Unless you're herchurch, for example.



Very, very few of us are.

(On the other hand, I've never been to a worship service at Ebenezer Lutheran in San Francisco. I have not read their constitutional confession of faith. I can't really judge what occurs there. However, I have been to worship services at Peace Lutheran in Grass Valley. I can judge what goes on there.  :))
One only needs to peruse or browse their website to find all sorts of heresies and apostasies going on.
They are a filthy and unLutheran group.

For example, herchurch.org (http://www.herchurch.org/id8.html) tells us that "attention [should] be given to what does and does not liberate women and men from the effects of patriarchy.  If a biblical text, church teaching, or an interpretation of either does not liberate, then it either must not be true or has been misinterpreted."

Instead of understanding the Christian life through the lens of Scripture, Scripture is contorted to comport with an imposed socio-political perspective.

The web site includes many other gems.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: jpetty on October 08, 2010, 09:33:13 PM
...

I would agree that the ELCA is not bound by some traditional interpretations of scriptures. That's been part of our history since Luther's time. The marriage of priests,

Why do you keep using this false example?  Do you honestly not realize that this was a return to tradition, a reversal of a revision, that took place? Or, Heaven forbid, you simply keep using this example because you know that the common reader will not know that it is a return to Tradition and thus you hope that they might be convinced by your false example into thinking the Lutheran fathers would agree with the rest of what you are saying?

I don't think trying to paint Luther as a great traditionist will work.  He directly defied papal authority, which, at that time, had been "tradition" for seven or eight hundred years.  He threw a good bit of tradition overboard, and he did it on the basis of his own freedom of inquiry.

The Apostolic and Church Fathers are the authoritative sum and norm of Traditionalism, recent tradition is not Traditionalism.   Small “t” capital “T”, like church and Church.  The church tradition is not, Church Tradition.  Tradition can not be changed, it is now after the fact.  In as much as the Apostolic and Church fathers point to Christ, and the Book of Concord points to Christ, and I point at Christ and to them for explanation, we either accept them as authoritative or we do not.  In our church traditions we may not even be in compliance of Church Tradition, two different things.

The sum and norm of Tradition and Traditionalist is a completed event, the Traditionalists are dead now but alive in Christ, and alive in their writings, their co-author still our active inspiration, anyone that agrees with them is a Traditionalist too.  But anyone who disagrees with them ceases to be a Traditionalist, they may still be a traditionalist in their own sect but they have become revisionists.  It is impossible for Traditionalism to be revised or for us to modify it.  The influence of Scripture and the Church Fathers on our understanding may ebb and flow in its popularity, and it may even disappear and then reappear five hundred years later when the writings of the Apostolic and Church Fathers is viewed as authoritative and the Holy Spirit speaks through it to someone who rediscovers it, as was the case with Luther.  

It is a misunderstanding of Traditionalism to think it applies to our near history or only to our denominations etc.  And that misunderstanding is a fatal a flaw of revisionism, they are confused when they believe that we are allowed to revise Scripture and Tradition, Christ and Christ's words are eternal.


I can imagine the Pope saying that, but not Luther.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Mike Bennett on October 08, 2010, 10:12:03 PM

It is a misunderstanding of Traditionalism to think it applies to our near history or only to our denominations etc.  And that misunderstanding is a fatal a flaw of revisionism, they are confused when they believe that we are allowed to revise Scripture and Tradition, Christ and Christ's words are eternal.


I can imagine the Pope saying that, but not Luther.

If I believed jpetty's version of Luther I'd swim the Tiber tomorrow.

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Erma S. Wolf on October 09, 2010, 12:24:17 AM
Yes, there is a way.
Memorial: Resolved, that in its actions at the ELCA Church-wide Assembly in 2009, the assembly acted contrary to the confession of faith of this church.


Hard to do this, Charles, when these memorials are ruled out of order on the floor of the synod assemblies on the basis of Sec. Swartling's statements regarding the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly actions being in accord with the constitution of the ELCA.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Erma S. Wolf on October 09, 2010, 01:00:51 AM
  I received this email from my South Dakota Synod office earlier today. 

"Prayers for our Sisters and Brothers in Christ in the ELCA Churchwide Office

Bishop Jon Anderson, Southwestern Minnesota Synod, has sent us a letter calling us to join together in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ in the ELCA Churchwide Office.  Please join us in prayer for all who are going to be affected by the coming changes. 

The letter reads:

I would like to invite you to pray in support of our staff at the churchwide offices and others who will be impacted by the coming redesign of our churchwide structure.

I have been to the churchwide building twice in the past month.  The sadness and anxiety in the building has been palpable.   We are working to right-size our churchwide expression and focus our ministry and mission on our highest priorities.  It is important and hard work.

On Friday (Oct. 8) I invite your prayers for the ELCA Church Council as they receive recommendations and make decisions that we hope will move forward the life of our church body.

Monday people inside the building will be notified if their positions will continue, be reshaped or if their positions will be lost in the redesign and refocusing of our shared work at a national level. 

I know that most people have not been to our churchwide offices nor know any of the people who will be impacted in this decision.  I personally know many.  Pastors, gifted leaders, faithful and dedicated support staff.  I am thinking of their faces and giving thanks for their faithful service in Christ’s name.

I do not know how the decisions will come out in the coming days but I do know that people have served faithfully for years will be impacted.  I know that over 70 positions have been brought to an end in the past year. I know that the decisions in the coming days will impact more of our sisters and brothers in Christ.
 
I found myself thinking of the folks in our churchwide expression this morning as I prayed this prayer.

O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
Thanks.                                               

Bishop Jon

For a list of the Churchwide Organization's Units and Offices, please visit the ELCA website."
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Richard Johnson on October 09, 2010, 02:18:19 AM
 We are working to right-size our churchwide expression and focus our ministry and mission on our highest priorities.  It is important and hard work.


I shall certainly pray for them. But I will observe that apparently "right-size" is the new descriptor for what is happening in the ELCA.

FWiW, churchwide staff aren't the only ones suffering. Couple of weeks ago a letter went out from bishop of SW Washington Synod. Their financial situation is so dire that they are:
(1) Reducing mission support to ELCA and some partner organizations by $100,000
(2) Cutting bishop's salary by 10%
(3) Cutting two assistants to bishop to 80%
(4) Closing synod office one day per week.
(5) Freezing spending of synodical program boards except for mandatory items
(6) Taking a variety of other actions to reduce synod budget by $200,000.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: dschoelles on October 09, 2010, 02:47:52 AM
When I look at the precipitous drop in giving (thanks Erma for the heads up:  
                       http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Office-of-the-Treasurer/Financial-Reports/Current-Year-Financial-Reports.aspx)
When i hear about Lutheran radio ministries being cut,
When I hear of lay offs and downsizing of synod staffs,
When I hear about congregations losing members and financial support,
  I am struck at how this destructive the forced sexual agenda could not have occurred at a worse time for the ELCA.

We will witness a continuous decline in the Christian community in this country. The next 20 years will see Christianity become a minority religion in this country.
Since we can't pass our faith on to our kids very effectively, they will walk away to fully embrace secularism.

But while this social agenda has wreaked havoc in the ELCA, it serves as accelerant for the impact that the demographic bomb will have in the ELCA over the next ten years.
Significant numbers of faithful Lutherans who are supporting their ELCA congregations will go onto the church triumphant, but their numbers and their support will not replaced.

While this is sad for congregations, even more heartbreaking is the decreasing witness that a lost and lonely nation will need. Fewer Lutherans in the next decade when the mission need will be increasing.
Our only hope is that the LORD is pulling up in order to plant a new way of being a missional people of God.  
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Maryland Brian on October 09, 2010, 06:39:27 AM

Since we can't pass our faith on to our kids very effectively, they will walk away to fully embrace secularism.


For the secular organizations which funded this change, the collapse of the Church is of no matter.  Indeed, if the church can be removed as a player in moral formation, especially if it is viewed as a hinderance to their understanding of full  inclusion, then so it goes.  This has been on the table for at least the last ten years and is why so many of the outwardly focused, mission oriented congregations are leaving. Such a turn of events will only accelerate the decline as the people who know how to reach across the secular divide are going out the doors. Note: reaching across that divide is different than what the ELCA has done - sat down at the table of moral equivalence and pretended they were now relevant. So your insight is most certainly true.  Restructure doesn't begin to describe what's coming.

The ELCA leadership has played, in management language, the "useful idiot." to the whims and agendas of those outside the faith.  So yes, it's tragic when a support staff person has their life disrupted because someone in leadership was blind to where this was all heading.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dadoo on October 09, 2010, 08:30:54 AM
...

I would agree that the ELCA is not bound by some traditional interpretations of scriptures. That's been part of our history since Luther's time. The marriage of priests,

Why do you keep using this false example?  Do you honestly not realize that this was a return to tradition, a reversal of a revision, that took place? Or, Heaven forbid, you simply keep using this example because you know that the common reader will not know that it is a return to Tradition and thus you hope that they might be convinced by your false example into thinking the Lutheran fathers would agree with the rest of what you are saying?

Which tradition? Is the oldest practice always the "traditional" one? At some point in Christian history, the powers that be, determined among other things, that Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 7 that marriage meant that one had to devote some time and energy to the spouse -- and not totally to the Lord; meant that those taking vows to the Church meant that they had to be fully devoted to the Lord and his Church -- and could not be married. (I've heard some Roman Catholic priests talk about being "married" to the church. The Church in Luther's day had its interpretation of scripture and tradition. Luther had another interpretation.

Would you not agree that celebrating communion at least weekly (if not daily) is an older and longer lasting tradition than once a month communion? Would you not agree that celebrating first communion at one's baptism, regardless of age, as the Orthodox do, is an older tradition than waiting until confirmation or completing a class in 5th grade (or younger)? Yet, even though we can show that there are older traditions than what many are used to today, it certainly isn't easy to return to those traditions. The folks today are often convinced by their interpretation of scriptures and their own tradition (two or three generations) that what they are doing is the right way.

Just ask the folks in the pew to cross themselves at the appropriate times in the liturgy -- and point out that Luther himself told us to cross ourselves in the Small Catechism.

Staring that Luther was seeking to return to an older tradition doesn't make it any easier to fight the deeply held convictions and interpretations and practices of the folks of his day any more than it is for us to return to early church practices in our congregations. It is a battle of interpretations of scriptures and traditions. Celibacy for those taking vows to the church was the tradition in Luther's day based on an interpretation of scriptures.


Brian,

I am intrigued by your posts lately. What book on Luther and Luther's legacy are you reading right now? Maybe you could start a thread on the book and have a meeting of minds over it.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on October 09, 2010, 08:50:10 AM

It is a misunderstanding of Traditionalism to think it applies to our near history or only to our denominations etc.  And that misunderstanding is a fatal a flaw of revisionism, they are confused when they believe that we are allowed to revise Scripture and Tradition, Christ and Christ's words are eternal.


I can imagine the Pope saying that, but not Luther.

If I believed jpetty's version of Luther I'd swim the Tiber tomorrow.

Mike Bennett

I'm with you, Mike...

Over and over and over again, I find myself picking up my BoC and LW trying to figure out how the heck Brian, John, and I are reading the same guy...  And, though all three of us are WTS grads, I still can't quite fathom where they get this idea of "Luther as anti-moralistic revolutionary" from.

A while back I began a conversation with a RC Priest as a prelude to "swimming the Tiber."  The priest kept asking me questions of "What Lutherans believed..." about this and that.  I kept answering "Well, our 'official theology' says this, but..." Which led me to a real crisis of faith that has not yet been resolved.

The point of this, in regards to the thread topic, is that so long as the ELCA does not faithfully represent Luther and Lutherans, I think many are going to keep witholding their giving.  After all, how can you inspire people to give of themselves fully when you have to keep hedging your own bets.  Lutherans "officially" confess (as Brian will no doubt remind us, referring even to Article II of the ELCA's own constitution) that "Scripture alone is the norma normans of our corporate life," but we then officially (self-admittedly) adopt policies and beliefs that run counter to that norma normans, thereby nullifying the first clause.  Then, we trot out some cock-a-mamie explanation that tries to argue that it's all really quite subjective, that even though we admit that we have adopted something that runs counter to the norma normans that we still hold that Scripture is the "norming norm"...

What is not at all subjective is the budget crisis.  I might have to answer "Lutherans 'officially' believe this, but..." right now, but there is no denying what is happening on a Synod and Churchwide level.  

No, "if's, and's, or but's" about it.

You're not crazy, Mike, and niether am I.  The world has gone crazy around us.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
 
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on October 09, 2010, 09:27:27 AM
...

I would agree that the ELCA is not bound by some traditional interpretations of scriptures. That's been part of our history since Luther's time. The marriage of priests,

Why do you keep using this false example?  Do you honestly not realize that this was a return to tradition, a reversal of a revision, that took place? Or, Heaven forbid, you simply keep using this example because you know that the common reader will not know that it is a return to Tradition and thus you hope that they might be convinced by your false example into thinking the Lutheran fathers would agree with the rest of what you are saying?

Which tradition? Is the oldest practice always the "traditional" one? At some point in Christian history, the powers that be, determined among other things, that Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 7 that marriage meant that one had to devote some time and energy to the spouse -- and not totally to the Lord; meant that those taking vows to the Church meant that they had to be fully devoted to the Lord and his Church -- and could not be married. (I've heard some Roman Catholic priests talk about being "married" to the church. The Church in Luther's day had its interpretation of scripture and tradition. Luther had another interpretation.

Would you not agree that celebrating communion at least weekly (if not daily) is an older and longer lasting tradition than once a month communion? Would you not agree that celebrating first communion at one's baptism, regardless of age, as the Orthodox do, is an older tradition than waiting until confirmation or completing a class in 5th grade (or younger)? Yet, even though we can show that there are older traditions than what many are used to today, it certainly isn't easy to return to those traditions. The folks today are often convinced by their interpretation of scriptures and their own tradition (two or three generations) that what they are doing is the right way.

Just ask the folks in the pew to cross themselves at the appropriate times in the liturgy -- and point out that Luther himself told us to cross ourselves in the Small Catechism.

Staring that Luther was seeking to return to an older tradition doesn't make it any easier to fight the deeply held convictions and interpretations and practices of the folks of his day any more than it is for us to return to early church practices in our congregations. It is a battle of interpretations of scriptures and traditions. Celibacy for those taking vows to the church was the tradition in Luther's day based on an interpretation of scriptures.


Brian,

I am intrigued by your posts lately. What book on Luther and Luther's legacy are you reading right now? Maybe you could start a thread on the book and have a meeting of minds over it.

Such a topic has been launched over on the thread "Celebrity Deathmatch: Luther vs. Luther in the "Your Turn" folder.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on October 09, 2010, 10:53:18 AM
Over and over and over again, I find myself picking up my BoC and LW trying to figure out how the heck Brian, John, and I are reading the same guy...  And, though all three of us are WTS grads, I still can't quite fathom where they get this idea of "Luther as anti-moralistic revolutionary" from.

When I was at Wartburg it was clearly stated by our theology profs that they wanted us to develop our own theology within the Lutheran framework. They intentionally did not try to create uniform, cookie cutter shaped theologies among their students. There was clearly different theological nuances among the faculty and among the students. For example, we had a faculty member state that he didn't believe that there were personal demons and another one who had participated in exorcisms while a missionary in Africa.

At no point has anyone said that Luther was "anti-moralistic revolutionary." What Luther did is to give us the proper uses of the Law, with the clear admonition that obeying the law (or living morally) does not save us. Such obedience does not make us righteous before God. This does not mean that we then refuse to obey the law or begin living immorally. It means that our reasons for obedience and living morally have to be something other than for winning brownie points with God or for climbing up a ladder to heaven. For me, personal morality falls under the first use of the Law (others may put it under a third use). We are commanded to live moral lives for the sake of our neighbors. That, as I recall from reading, The Ethics of Martin Luther, summarizes his approach to ethics -- it's for the sake of the neighbor; not for winning God's good pleasure. First of all, none of our moral deeds are good enough. They are tainted by sin. Secondly, as Paul states, quoting Habakkuk, "the righteous (those who do right) shall live by faith." It is faith that makes us righteous before God, not moral actions. (Moral actions can make us righteous before others. )
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: jpetty on October 09, 2010, 11:00:58 AM

It is a misunderstanding of Traditionalism to think it applies to our near history or only to our denominations etc.  And that misunderstanding is a fatal a flaw of revisionism, they are confused when they believe that we are allowed to revise Scripture and Tradition, Christ and Christ's words are eternal.


I can imagine the Pope saying that, but not Luther.

If I believed jpetty's version of Luther I'd swim the Tiber tomorrow.

Mike Bennett

But since you believe Luther was a Roman Catholic Traditionalist, this enables you to be "more Catholic than the Pope" by staying in the Lutheran church.

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Paul L. Knudson on October 09, 2010, 01:41:36 PM
I do not remember where the video on freshman orientation is linked on this online forum.  Because one of our members was so upset by it, I finally watched one of the two.  It is so pathetic to think a so called church college could allow such a production.  There is no semblance of attachment or remembrance of anything remotely shaped by faith or the Scriptures in this presentation.  Great laughter is in the background.  We know the world is shaped by this nonsense, but this was beyond the pale.

You want to know why the ELCA is facing a fiscal crisis.  This is one big long on the fire, beyond sad.

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Maryland Brian on October 09, 2010, 02:02:01 PM
I do not remember where the video on freshman orientation is linked on this online forum.  Because one of our members was so upset by it, I finally watched one of the two.  It is so pathetic to think a so called church college could allow such a production.  There is no semblance of attachment or remembrance of anything remotely shaped by faith or the Scriptures in this presentation.  Great laughter is in the background.  We know the world is shaped by this nonsense, but this was beyond the pale.

You want to know why the ELCA is facing a fiscal crisis.  This is one big long on the fire, beyond sad.



It seems to be going viral on Facebook as I see it everywhere.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: John Theiss on October 09, 2010, 06:20:16 PM
Brian, could you please list once more your understanding of 1st and 2nd use of the Law?  Granted that there may be some variations "taught" across Lutheranism, the "format" I learned was:
1st - Curb, to stop to some extent the course outbreak of sin (part of the Romans thing about Gentiles doing by nature what the law commands without ever having had the law).
2nd - Mirror, to reflect back to us our inability to keep the law (especially in light of the sermon on the mount with all the "you have heard but I say to you" explanation) and thus to show us our need for salvation / a savior outside of us.
3rd - Rule, to show us how to live (which for those "in Christ" is done as pure response to God's love [in a theoretic sense, as none of us is able to be pure] as a way of living out our thanks).

Which are the two you combine (or which ones if not included above, and what would you subtract) and why combine them?

Thank you.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on October 10, 2010, 12:03:14 AM
Brian, could you please list once more your understanding of 1st and 2nd use of the Law?  Granted that there may be some variations "taught" across Lutheranism, the "format" I learned was:
1st - Curb, to stop to some extent the course outbreak of sin (part of the Romans thing about Gentiles doing by nature what the law commands without ever having had the law).
2nd - Mirror, to reflect back to us our inability to keep the law (especially in light of the sermon on the mount with all the "you have heard but I say to you" explanation) and thus to show us our need for salvation / a savior outside of us.
3rd - Rule, to show us how to live (which for those "in Christ" is done as pure response to God's love [in a theoretic sense, as none of us is able to be pure] as a way of living out our thanks).

Which are the two you combine (or which ones if not included above, and what would you subtract) and why combine them?

1st Use -- promotes civil righteousness (thus its title: "Civil Use") by curbing bad/evil behaviors and encouraging good/loving deeds for the sake of neighbor and the good of society.

2nd Use -- the hammer of God or "the club" to pound us to our knees in repentance before Christ.

3rd Use -- Christians remain under the first two uses in opposition to those who claimed to be free from the law. We need the law for order in our lives and in society and for the good of our neighbors. We need the law to continue to expose and confront us with our sins and our sinfulness. One can say that this is the way we are to live: avoiding evil, doing good; and living repentantly.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steve Ames on October 11, 2010, 09:26:51 PM
On October 5th Reply #118, I concluded: “The original budget for 2010 – 2011 called for $77 million in spending so a $14 million decrease in mission support would probably lead to a 2011 – 2012 budget of no more than $63 million or a decrease of over 18%,.”  Since then, the ELCA has taken steps to address the financial crisis while looking ahead to the Fiscal Year 2011 – 2012 budget. 


ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 11, 2010

ELCA Presiding Bishop Announces New Churchwide Organization Design for 2011
10-267-JB
http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4654

… Implementation of the new design will mean the 358-member churchwide staff -- including 270 here at the churchwide office -- will decrease by approximately 65 employees or 60 full-time equivalents, Hanson said.  In addition because nearly half of ELCA Global Mission's mission support budget covers costs for mission personnel, unit reductions will affect up to five mission personnel currently in service, said the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director.
     Staff directly affected by the new design are being notified Oct. 11 about their positions. …

My observation: Eliminating 65 positions out of 358 positions is 18% of the churchwide positions.  The size of the cost savings depends on the mix of level of the positions being eliminated.  If the personnel cuts excluded executive positions then the cost savings will probably be less than 18%.  One issue not addressed in the article is how the newly vacant office space will be utilized?  Some of the salary savings could end up being used to maintain unused office facilities.


... In particular Hanson said the action was precipitated by a significant drop in mission support income -- funds from ELCA congregations to the churchwide organization and shared by the church's 65 synods.
     "In 2008 after adjusting for inflation, the value of mission support income had declined by half since the founding of this church in 1988," Hanson wrote to the council. "From 2008 to 2011, estimated churchwide mission support dropped from $65.3 million to $48 million."  The work of the design team is based on an estimated range of $45 million to $48 million in annual mission support income for the next three years, Hanson said. ...

My observation:  The underlying assumption appears to be that the current decline in mission support will bottom out at the $45 million  to $48 million range in 2011. 


... Additional action regarding the new design will be considered by the Church Council at its November 12-14 meeting and by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in August 2011.
     Hanson said the design team focused on two churchwide organization priorities: accompanying congregations as growing center of evangelical mission; and building the ELCA's capacity for evangelical witness and service in the world to alleviate poverty, and to work for justice and peace.  ...…

Question:  Could the next step in this ELCA new organization design implementation process tackle the question of how many synod organizations are needed -- could the number of synods be reduced from the current 65?


ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 11, 2010

ELCA Deeply Committed to Revitalizing Congregations
10-268-MRC
http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4655

… The ELCA has authorized more than $2.48 million to help congregations with their plans and to support ethnic-specific ministry strategies and specialized areas such as prison ministry, ministry among people living with disabilities and ministry with the poor. The ELCA review table that considered proposals from congregations and others seeking to strategically revitalize their ministries was comprised of synod bishops, seminary presidents and other church leaders. …

My observation:  The timing of this article leads me to wonder if the $2.48 million for revitalizing congregations is new funds beyond the current ELCA new organization design financial plan. 


ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 7, 2010

ELCA Secretary Reports Draft Governance Proposals, ELCA Statistics
10-264-JB
http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4651

… The draft proposals were reported to the ELCA leaders for response. The proposals will be considered by the Church Council at its Nov. 12-14 meeting, Swartling explained.  He presented three draft proposals related to the Churchwide Assembly:
+ Provide for a three-year assembly cycle, coupled with "strategies for missional, theological, regional, synodical and/or other events in the intervening years." 
Reduce the number of advisory and non-voting members to the assembly whose expenses are paid by the churchwide organization. …

My observation:  There should be some cost savings from reducing those attending rhe CWA and possibly some additional savings by going to a three year cycle for the CWA.   Yet this proposal and possibly some other cost savings contained in this October 7th announcement was not going to be enough but rather suggested additional changes were forthcoming such as those announced today.

IMHO, there remains too much uncertainty  about the trend in mission support funds to know whether the ELCA has been able with these steps to adequately address the current financial crisis.  The only thing certain is that 65 individuals will be seeking their next employment in one of the worst employment markets in years.  My hope is that the ELCA is providing more than just prayers to assist these individuals.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: LTSwede on October 11, 2010, 10:21:22 PM
Question:  Could the next step in this ELCA new organization design implementation process tackle the question of how many synod organizations are needed -- could the number of synods be reduced from the current 65?

Already happening in Michigan.  NW lower MI. has been approached by SE MI (both in serious financial difficulties with SE also without a Bishop atm) to explore the 2 becoming one.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on October 12, 2010, 03:35:46 AM
I believe it has been clear to many that since the organization of the ELCA, the decision to have 65 synods was not a good idea. During the final days before approving the merger, there was in some circles a great "fear" of synods that were too large to be "pastoral" or synod headquarters too far from too many congregations.
I have thought for a long time that a realignment of synods, especially in those states having four or five synods, would be coming.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on October 12, 2010, 07:49:40 AM
sorry to make someone work for me, in this request, but thanks...

how many employees of ELCA national were left go in the layoffs during the last two years, before and now just this week?
how much of a budget hit are the finances 2010-11 and for 2011-2012  (I understand the later is guessed at -18% in a recent post)?

Harvey Mozolak
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: DCharlton on October 12, 2010, 12:58:19 PM
I believe it has been clear to many that since the organization of the ELCA, the decision to have 65 synods was not a good idea. During the final days before approving the merger, there was in some circles a great "fear" of synods that were too large to be "pastoral" or synod headquarters too far from too many congregations.
I have thought for a long time that a realignment of synods, especially in those states having four or five synods, would be coming.


If what is reported about SWLMI and SEMI is true, it demonstrates the difficulty.  The size needed to maintain sufficient resources (financial and human) and the size needed to be truly pastoral are seldom the same thing.  In the Florida-Bahamas Synod this has been a continuing problem.  We have churches in Key West and Panama City and everywhere in between.  For many congregations, a trip to the synod office either requires a flight or a stay in a hotel.  An additional problem is the cultural difference between Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville and the Panhandle.  It's difficult for the bishop and his/her assistants to keep in touch with the needs and challenges of all the congregations.  (Not that they don't try!)
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: David M. Frye, OblSB on October 12, 2010, 03:11:09 PM
Was it an assumption, spoken or silent, that synods in the ELCA had to have some rough equivalency in size, measured in headcount of the baptized, or numbers of parishes, in order to satisfy some principle of representation?

The CNLC did most of its work while I had my head down in seminary, so those old debates are a little foggy for me. I do know that my home synod, Central Pa. (LCA) was cut into three (?) pieces. I recall that the old synod seemed to work administratively and was about ten percent of the LCA. This gave it economies of scale, some political influence, but also meant that its bishop would take about ten years to visit every congregation, assuming one congregation per Sunday.

The principle of rough equivalency for representation may explain the vast geographic expanses of the current Rocky Mountain Synod.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Kurt Strause on October 12, 2010, 04:04:07 PM
Was it an assumption, spoken or silent, that synods in the ELCA had to have some rough equivalency in size, measured in headcount of the baptized, or numbers of parishes, in order to satisfy some principle of representation?

The CNLC did most of its work while I had my head down in seminary, so those old debates are a little foggy for me. I do know that my home synod, Central Pa. (LCA) was cut into three (?) pieces. I recall that the old synod seemed to work administratively and was about ten percent of the LCA. This gave it economies of scale, some political influence, but also meant that its bishop would take about ten years to visit every congregation, assuming one congregation per Sunday.

The principle of rough equivalency for representation may explain the vast geographic expanses of the current Rocky Mountain Synod.

Don't know about trying to keep them the same size, but there was certainly a belief that certain synods, including the one you mentioned, were too big and too influential.

I grew up in Central Penn and I don't recall that visitation to parishes was a high expectation of the synod president. I'll ask former bishop Howard McCarney next time I see him. He's still quite active.

Kurt Strause
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Richard Johnson on October 12, 2010, 04:15:16 PM
The principle of rough equivalency for representation may explain the vast geographic expanses of the current Rocky Mountain Synod.

Don't know about trying to keep them the same size, but there was certainly a belief that certain synods, including the one you mentioned, were too big and too influential.

From the ever-quoted Anatomy of a Merger by Trexler: "Criteria for synod and regional boundaries included state lines, history, transportation and commerce centers, topography, resource capabilities, regional concerns, and jurisdictions of other religious bodies." Nothing there about size for representational equality. If that was a criterion, they blew it big time, since at the merger synods ranged from 27 congregations to 312 congregations; from 8,714 baptized members to 212,378 baptized members.

That viability criterion was one I remember. Sierra Pacific Synod ended up with 217 congregations (or so). There was talk about splitting it in two; but there was no logical way to do it geographically that would also allow each of the two synods to be financially viable, since larger congregations were clustered in particular areas.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dadoo on October 14, 2010, 01:55:00 PM
I think this fits into this thread. The Bp. made a presentation to church wide staff about the new design for the ELCA. It can be viewed here:

http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/All-Staff-Convocation.aspx

minutes 1-5 are about the missing CW Staff member, the rest is about the new church.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: pterandon on October 15, 2010, 07:57:20 AM
I think this fits into this thread. The Bp. made a presentation to church wide staff about the new design for the ELCA. It can be viewed here:

http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/All-Staff-Convocation.aspx

minutes 1-5 are about the missing CW Staff member, the rest is about the new church.

If I may say so, the very wording of the URL itself speaks of an organization into disingenuous and unconvincing propaganda. 


It is a misunderstanding of Traditionalism to think it applies to our near history or only to our denominations etc.  And that misunderstanding is a fatal a flaw of revisionism, they are confused when they believe that we are allowed to revise Scripture and Tradition, Christ and Christ's words are eternal.

I can imagine the Pope saying that, but not Luther.

If I believed jpetty's version of Luther I'd swim the Tiber tomorrow.

Mike Bennett

But since you believe Luther was a Roman Catholic Traditionalist, this enables you to be "more Catholic than the Pope" by staying in the Lutheran church.

Luther did in fact throw a brick through the window of Patriarchal institutions, the papacy of the Catholic Church being one of them.  But you wholly misread Luther. He was a radical against temporal authority but not against the bible in the way that the ELCA has.   Luther rubbed the pope's nose in the plain and simple meaning of the bible.  "Bad Catholicism," if not all Catholicism, allows for what you are advocating: that the temporal authorities in the RC hierarchy to revise Scripture and tradition, to change the teaching.

I just this morning heard a lecture where a Catholic man said in 1950's US, they believed in "no salvation outside the Catholic church." Then the bishop who taught this was excommunicated.  He asked his mother, "Don't we believe in 'no salvation outside the Catholic church?' "  His mother replied, "We don't anymore."   This isn't Luther's view. 

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dadoo on October 17, 2010, 06:47:50 PM
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that nationwide charitable organizations are seeing an 11% drop in contributions. (ref: http://philanthropy.com/blogs/prospecting/donations-increased-slightly-in-summer-months-survey-finds/27563)

So, it stand to reason that any decrease in giving to the ELCA beyond 11% might just be because of CWA 09. How far down are we exactly?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Michael Slusser on October 17, 2010, 07:08:26 PM
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that nationwide charitable organizations are seeing an 11% drop in contributions. (ref: http://philanthropy.com/blogs/prospecting/donations-increased-slightly-in-summer-months-survey-finds/27563)

So, it stand to reason that any decrease in giving to the ELCA beyond 11% might just be because of CWA 09. How far down are we exactly?

I checked the link you supplied, but didn't find such a decrease. E.g.,

Small charities with revenues under $1-million did the best. They reported an 11.2-percent increase in donations for the three months ending in August, compared with those months last year.

In fact, small charities did much better than medium-size groups with revenue of $1-million to $10-million; those groups reported a 1.9-percent decline in giving. Large charities with revenue over $10-million reported a 0.2 percent drop.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Michael Slusser on October 17, 2010, 08:31:32 PM
It's worth keeping in mind that this year the estate tax is "off," so people who are very wealthy won't be leaving money to their churches to keep it out of the hands of the tax man. If that tax is restored next year, as it is scheduled to be, it may help with large bequests.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Revbert on October 18, 2010, 12:42:52 PM
It's worth keeping in mind that this year the estate tax is "off," so people who are very wealthy won't be leaving money to their churches to keep it out of the hands of the tax man. If that tax is restored next year, as it is scheduled to be, it may help with large bequests.

Peace,
Michael

A better solution is to keep the tax dead and do a better job at teaching stewardship....those assets have already been taxed once (twice, if from capital gains or dividends).

just talking...
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Michael Slusser on October 18, 2010, 12:50:55 PM
It's worth keeping in mind that this year the estate tax is "off," so people who are very wealthy won't be leaving money to their churches to keep it out of the hands of the tax man. If that tax is restored next year, as it is scheduled to be, it may help with large bequests.

Peace,
Michael

A better solution is to keep the tax dead and do a better job at teaching stewardship....those assets have already been taxed once (twice, if from capital gains or dividends).

just talking...

The tax already wouldn't apply to sub-multimillion-dollar estates, which means it doesn't apply to anyone I know personally or professionally. As you urge, we work on those the old-fashioned way.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Revbert on October 18, 2010, 02:01:21 PM
It's worth keeping in mind that this year the estate tax is "off," so people who are very wealthy won't be leaving money to their churches to keep it out of the hands of the tax man. If that tax is restored next year, as it is scheduled to be, it may help with large bequests.

Peace,
Michael

A better solution is to keep the tax dead and do a better job at teaching stewardship....those assets have already been taxed once (twice, if from capital gains or dividends).

just talking...

The tax already wouldn't apply to sub-multimillion-dollar estates, which means it doesn't apply to anyone I know personally or professionally. As you urge, we work on those the old-fashioned way.

Peace,
Michael

Actually, the estate tax threshold for the 55% "death tax" is between 600K and 1.2M, IIRC, before the current reductions. Even with the crashing real estate market, it doesn't take much for that threshold to be crossed.

Hmmm....the ELCA expects 55% of every dollar to synods to be sent to Chicago.  Washington would like 55% of every dollar from a dead person to be sent there. Coincidence?  ;D
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: jrubyaz on October 20, 2010, 06:59:40 PM
Reality says one will never know how much the Great Recession and how much CWA 2009  ( seen as separate and  different events) have contributed to the decline.


I have come to the  position that anyone who points to the decline gleefully and indicates that in some way this was "deserved" needs to examine their own heart. I confess that for the better part of nine months I was very angry with the ELCA , but have moved beyond that.

To use the analogy of divorce, one can be bitter, difficult, and hateful with an ex-spouse (from my experience as a pastor, not personally, going on 20 years with my bride)......or one can understand that one cannot live together, but continue to be kind , supportive, and
speak well of each other.

Jeff Ruby    

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on October 20, 2010, 07:04:24 PM
Good words, Pastor Ruby. There is far too many comments that seem to celebrate how "bad" things are for the ELCA. And too much eagerness to paint everything the "ex-spouse" does in the worst light.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on October 21, 2010, 11:17:27 AM
To use the analogy of divorce, one can be bitter, difficult, and hateful with an ex-spouse (from my experience as a pastor, not personally, going on 20 years with my bride)......or one can understand that one cannot live together, but continue to be kind , supportive, and
speak well of each other.


The problem is that the analogy of divorce is not a very accurate comparison. The relationships of a person to a congregation or a congregation to a denomination are very, very different from marriage. Attempting to define the best way to describe an individuals reactions towards a former congregation or to a former denomination by the use of an inaccurate analogy simply reinforces inaccurate understanding of that relationship.

Why not use the analogy that a denomination is an apartment building one chooses to live in. If one of the apartments catches fire, one can continue to pay one's attention to the portions that aren't burning down and ignore the fire, or one can yell "Fire!" to warn everyone else, leave the burning building and seek new shelter, and continue to attempt to convince others in the burning building that they should leave before the fire spreads to their rooms, or at least extinguish the fire. You'll also need to convince those in the apartments that aren't yet burned to ignore those who insist on talking about the apartments and other amenities that aren't on fire while the burning portion of the building keeps spreading.

Or, one could use the analogy that a denomination is like a barrel of apples. When one starts to rot, it gives off a gas that prompts the other apples to rot. One can ignore the portion of the barrel where the rot is spreading, but that's only a short-term denial of reality. Once a barrel of apples starts rotting, the rot spreads. One needs to find a new apple barrel.

Others might contend that the relationship between a congregation and the denomination it is affiliated with is like that of a patient and their doctor. If one discovers that one's doctor is making errors that threaten the health of his patients, then one not only leaves that doctor and finds a new one, one must also warn all the doctor's other patients to leave for the sake of their health and safety. One has an obligation to raise awareness of the doctor's malpractice in order to protect others. Keeping silent about it is not an act of Christian kindness, it is an abdication of Christian responsibility.

Neither of those analogies are perfect, which only proves that "proof via analogy" doesn't really prove anything.

The fact is that the relationship between individuals and/or congregations and the larger church body that they are affiliated with is a unique relationship. A marriage is a peer-to-peer relationship, a merger of a man and a woman (and only a man and a woman) into a couple pair-bonded for life. The relationship between a person and a congregation or a congregation and a church body is not a peer-to-peer relationship. Marriage relationships don't include provisions for one spouse merging with other spouses. Marriage relationships don't include provisions for one spouse unilaterally changing the rules of the relationship. Marriage relationships aren't based on legalistic sets of rules that give one spouse the power to make profound changes in the relationship with the other spouse have no recourse but to accept it. It is also not a commitment for life. It is closer to a contract relationship that exists only so long as both parties keep their parts of the bargain, but even that is not an exact comparison.

It might be similar to other relationships, but it is not identical. Any advice or recommendations on how to deal with that unique relationship when the church body changes into something quite different from what it originally was needs to address that specific, unique relationship -- not relationships that are so dissimilar that they really cannot be compared.

And a good starting point would be to come to an agreement about just what a denomination is, and what the relationship is between congregations and denominations. During your absence, there were some attempts made to define what a denomination is in this thread (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3275.0). Very few of the people who squawk the loudest about how people and congregations are supposed to treat a denomination even bothered to post anything in that thread. The one thing that appears to a conclusion from that thread is that there is nothing in Scripture or the Confessions that really addresses what a denomination or "church body" is and what the relationship is between a congregation and denomination is. Some claim that a denomination is "the Church", and argue that leaving one's denomination is tantamount to leaving "the Church", and at the same time will argue that one can hear the Gospel rightly preached and receive the sacraments properly administered at any Christian congregation regardless of denomination or even faith tradition. Go figure!

So, I ask you, how is it that the relationship between a congregation (and the congregation's members) and a church denomination is so similar to the marriage relationship that analogies about marriage are proof of the proper actions regarding a former denomination?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: dkeener on October 21, 2010, 12:08:33 PM
To use the analogy of divorce, one can be bitter, difficult, and hateful with an ex-spouse (from my experience as a pastor, not personally, going on 20 years with my bride)......or one can understand that one cannot live together, but continue to be kind , supportive, and
speak well of each other.


The problem is that the analogy of divorce is not a very accurate comparison. The relationships of a person to a congregation or a congregation to a denomination are very, very different from marriage. Attempting to define the best way to describe an individuals reactions towards a former congregation or to a former denomination by the use of an inaccurate analogy simply reinforces inaccurate understanding of that relationship.

Why not use the analogy that a denomination is an apartment building one chooses to live in. If one of the apartments catches fire, one can continue to pay one's attention to the portions that aren't burning down and ignore the fire, or one can yell "Fire!" to warn everyone else, leave the burning building and seek new shelter, and continue to attempt to convince others in the burning building that they should leave before the fire spreads to their rooms, or at least extinguish the fire. You'll also need to convince those in the apartments that aren't yet burned to ignore those who insist on talking about the apartments and other amenities that aren't on fire while the burning portion of the building keeps spreading.

Or, one could use the analogy that a denomination is like a barrel of apples. When one starts to rot, it gives off a gas that prompts the other apples to rot. One can ignore the portion of the barrel where the rot is spreading, but that's only a short-term denial of reality. Once a barrel of apples starts rotting, the rot spreads. One needs to find a new apple barrel.

Others might contend that the relationship between a congregation and the denomination it is affiliated with is like that of a patient and their doctor. If one discovers that one's doctor is making errors that threaten the health of his patients, then one not only leaves that doctor and finds a new one, one must also warn all the doctor's other patients to leave for the sake of their health and safety. One has an obligation to raise awareness of the doctor's malpractice in order to protect others. Keeping silent about it is not an act of Christian kindness, it is an abdication of Christian responsibility.

Neither of those analogies are perfect, which only proves that "proof via analogy" doesn't really prove anything.

The fact is that the relationship between individuals and/or congregations and the larger church body that they are affiliated with is a unique relationship. A marriage is a peer-to-peer relationship, a merger of a man and a woman (and only a man and a woman) into a couple pair-bonded for life. The relationship between a person and a congregation or a congregation and a church body is not a peer-to-peer relationship. Marriage relationships don't include provisions for one spouse merging with other spouses. Marriage relationships don't include provisions for one spouse unilaterally changing the rules of the relationship. Marriage relationships aren't based on legalistic sets of rules that give one spouse the power to make profound changes in the relationship with the other spouse have no recourse but to accept it. It is also not a commitment for life. It is closer to a contract relationship that exists only so long as both parties keep their parts of the bargain, but even that is not an exact comparison.

It might be similar to other relationships, but it is not identical. Any advice or recommendations on how to deal with that unique relationship when the church body changes into something quite different from what it originally was needs to address that specific, unique relationship -- not relationships that are so dissimilar that they really cannot be compared.

And a good starting point would be to come to an agreement about just what a denomination is, and what the relationship is between congregations and denominations. During your absence, there were some attempts made to define what a denomination is in this thread (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3275.0). Very few of the people who squawk the loudest about how people and congregations are supposed to treat a denomination even bothered to post anything in that thread. The one thing that appears to a conclusion from that thread is that there is nothing in Scripture or the Confessions that really addresses what a denomination or "church body" is and what the relationship is between a congregation and denomination is. Some claim that a denomination is "the Church", and argue that leaving one's denomination is tantamount to leaving "the Church", and at the same time will argue that one can hear the Gospel rightly preached and receive the sacraments properly administered at any Christian congregation regardless of denomination or even faith tradition. Go figure!

So, I ask you, how is it that the relationship between a congregation (and the congregation's members) and a church denomination is so similar to the marriage relationship that analogies about marriage are proof of the proper actions regarding a former denomination?

I really think you totally missed the point. The marriage analogy is probably one of the best ones to discribe the relationship between a pastor and the church (congregation or denomination). This is not just a job or a contract, it is a relationship built on trust and bonded in love. When that trust is broken the relationship is damaged (sometimes irreparably) but that bond of love is much more tenacious. Divorce is so painful exactly because of this.  No matter how mad you may be or how justified the divorce, there is still a longing for reconciliation and healing. Pastor Ruby is simply acknowledging that in separation or divorce we do have a choice. We can hold on to the anger and try to convince ourselves that the love never existed in the first place, or we can acknowledge the good, refuse to let anger control us, and get on with our lives.  In his relationship with the ELCA pastor Ruby has chosen to take the high road and move on. Personally, I think he should be commended (and not critiqued) for that.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on October 21, 2010, 12:24:17 PM
I really think you totally missed the point. The marriage analogy is probably one of the best ones to discribe the relationship between a pastor and the church (congregation or denomination). This is not just a job or a contract, it is a relationship built on trust and bonded in love. When that trust is broken the relationship is damaged (sometimes irreparably) but that bond of love is much more tenacious. Divorce is so painful exactly because of this.  No matter how mad you may be or how justified the divorce, there is still a longing for reconciliation and healing. Pastor Ruby is simply acknowledging that in separation or divorce we do have a choice. We can hold on to the anger and try to convince ourselves that the love never existed in the first place, or we can acknowledge the good, refuse to let anger control us, and get on with our lives.  In his relationship with the ELCA pastor Ruby has chosen to take the high road and move on. Personally, I think he should be commended (and not critiqued) for that.

I'm sorry, but just because you have declared that the relationship between a pastor and a congregation or denomination is closest to a marriage doesn't make it so. I will contend that the relationship between a pastor and a denomination is not only different from a marriage, it is different than the relationship between a pastor and his congregation.

If you want to cast around for analogies, an equally good case can be made the the relationships of a pastor are like those of a medical doctor. A doctor has one relationship with his own patients (similar to a pastor and his congregation) and he has a relationship with the hospital he is affiliated with (similar to a pastor and his denomination). If a doctor discovers that the hospital he is affiliated with is causing patients to die because they aren't fighting contamination that cause infections, the doctor has an obligation to lead his patients to a new hospital and to raise the hue and cry to all the other doctors and patients about the danger that has arisen in the hospital. To silently watch the patients of other doctors enter a hospital teeming with germs that could lead to a fatal infection is a gross dereliction of his duty and his Hippocratic oath.

I also note that your name is conspicuous by its absence in the thread (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3275.30) that attempts to determine or at least discuss what a denomination actually is. If you won't share your understanding of what you think a denomination is or isn't, how can we understand why you think the relationship between a pastor and denomination is the same as the relationship between a pastor and his congregation or a marriage?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: jrubyaz on October 21, 2010, 12:29:09 PM
George,

 You can use all the modern analogies you want to. Certainly, there are many that could be used. I don't have the time to go into multiple fantasy league options.

I prefer to use marriage because as Pastor Keener states the way in which one reacts to marriage and divorce is important, not only for those involved, but also for the way in which we approach life daily. We can be angry, bitter, and hateful, or seek forgiveness and to move on, while still caring for those  in which we have a broken relationship.

But on a deeper level,  you are  one who has has expressed concern about the scriptural moorings churches and denominations adhere to, or fail to adhere to in the current crisis. Thus, the image of marriage is also biblical, just in case you forgot... ;)

 In the New Testament, Christ, the bridegroom, has chosen  the church to be His bride , which is in Ephesians 5 if I am not mistaken.  I am not a scholar, but it is my understanding that there was a betrothal period  in ancient times during which the bride and groom were kept apart until the  actual wedding. The application is then that the bride of Christ is  separate from her bridegroom during the church age. Her responsibility and duty  during the betrothal period is faithfuness and obedience , which I think is in Second Corinthians.  If that obedience is to God and not men, then perhaps that means a "divorce" from the earthly church, which is imperfect., in order to remain faithful to the bridegroom.

At the Second Coming , the  WHOLE church will be united with the Bridegroom, the official "wedding ceremony" will take place and, with it, the eternal union of Christ and His bride will become real, as noted in Revelation.  I still see the ELCA as part of the "whole" church, although I believe it made a grievous error. The judging of that is God's alone, not mine, but I have to react as I can in faithfulness. In addition to being faithful, being gracious and not bearing false witness or reveling in the troubles of the  "ex-spouse" also seems to me to be biblical.   

Jeff Ruby


 
To use the analogy of divorce, one can be bitter, difficult, and hateful with an ex-spouse (from my experience as a pastor, not personally, going on 20 years with my bride)......or one can understand that one cannot live together, but continue to be kind , supportive, and
speak well of each other.


The problem is that the analogy of divorce is not a very accurate comparison. The relationships of a person to a congregation or a congregation to a denomination are very, very different from marriage. Attempting to define the best way to describe an individuals reactions towards a former congregation or to a former denomination by the use of an inaccurate analogy simply reinforces inaccurate understanding of that relationship.

Why not use the analogy that a denomination is an apartment building one chooses to live in. If one of the apartments catches fire, one can continue to pay one's attention to the portions that aren't burning down and ignore the fire, or one can yell "Fire!" to warn everyone else, leave the burning building and seek new shelter, and continue to attempt to convince others in the burning building that they should leave before the fire spreads to their rooms, or at least extinguish the fire. You'll also need to convince those in the apartments that aren't yet burned to ignore those who insist on talking about the apartments and other amenities that aren't on fire while the burning portion of the building keeps spreading.

Or, one could use the analogy that a denomination is like a barrel of apples. When one starts to rot, it gives off a gas that prompts the other apples to rot. One can ignore the portion of the barrel where the rot is spreading, but that's only a short-term denial of reality. Once a barrel of apples starts rotting, the rot spreads. One needs to find a new apple barrel.

Others might contend that the relationship between a congregation and the denomination it is affiliated with is like that of a patient and their doctor. If one discovers that one's doctor is making errors that threaten the health of his patients, then one not only leaves that doctor and finds a new one, one must also warn all the doctor's other patients to leave for the sake of their health and safety. One has an obligation to raise awareness of the doctor's malpractice in order to protect others. Keeping silent about it is not an act of Christian kindness, it is an abdication of Christian responsibility.

Neither of those analogies are perfect, which only proves that "proof via analogy" doesn't really prove anything.

The fact is that the relationship between individuals and/or congregations and the larger church body that they are affiliated with is a unique relationship. A marriage is a peer-to-peer relationship, a merger of a man and a woman (and only a man and a woman) into a couple pair-bonded for life. The relationship between a person and a congregation or a congregation and a church body is not a peer-to-peer relationship. Marriage relationships don't include provisions for one spouse merging with other spouses. Marriage relationships don't include provisions for one spouse unilaterally changing the rules of the relationship. Marriage relationships aren't based on legalistic sets of rules that give one spouse the power to make profound changes in the relationship with the other spouse have no recourse but to accept it. It is also not a commitment for life. It is closer to a contract relationship that exists only so long as both parties keep their parts of the bargain, but even that is not an exact comparison.

It might be similar to other relationships, but it is not identical. Any advice or recommendations on how to deal with that unique relationship when the church body changes into something quite different from what it originally was needs to address that specific, unique relationship -- not relationships that are so dissimilar that they really cannot be compared.

And a good starting point would be to come to an agreement about just what a denomination is, and what the relationship is between congregations and denominations. During your absence, there were some attempts made to define what a denomination is in this thread (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3275.0). Very few of the people who squawk the loudest about how people and congregations are supposed to treat a denomination even bothered to post anything in that thread. The one thing that appears to a conclusion from that thread is that there is nothing in Scripture or the Confessions that really addresses what a denomination or "church body" is and what the relationship is between a congregation and denomination is. Some claim that a denomination is "the Church", and argue that leaving one's denomination is tantamount to leaving "the Church", and at the same time will argue that one can hear the Gospel rightly preached and receive the sacraments properly administered at any Christian congregation regardless of denomination or even faith tradition. Go figure!

So, I ask you, how is it that the relationship between a congregation (and the congregation's members) and a church denomination is so similar to the marriage relationship that analogies about marriage are proof of the proper actions regarding a former denomination?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on October 21, 2010, 01:14:47 PM
George,

 You can use all the modern analogies you want to. Certainly, there are many that could be used. I don't have the time to go into multiple fantasy league options.

I prefer to use marriage because as Pastor Keener states the way in which one reacts to marriage and divorce is important, not only for those involved, but also for the way in which we approach life daily. We can be angry, bitter, and hateful, or seek forgiveness and to move on, while still caring for those  in which we have a broken relationship.

Are you still pastor at the first congregation that called you, fresh out of seminary? If not, what happened to "'til death do us part"?

But on a deeper level,  you are  one who has has expressed concern about the scriptural moorings churches and denominations adhere to, or fail to adhere to in the current crisis. Thus, the image of marriage is also biblical, just in case you forgot... ;)

 In the New Testament, Christ, the bridegroom, has chosen  the church to be His bride , which is in Ephesians 5 if I am not mistaken.  I am not a scholar, but it is my understanding that there was a betrothal period  in ancient times during which the bride and groom were kept apart until the  actual wedding. The application is then that the bride of Christ is  separate from her bridegroom during the church age. Her responsibility and duty  during the betrothal period is faithfuness and obedience , which I think is in Second Corinthians.  If that obedience is to God and not men, then perhaps that means a "divorce" from the earthly church, which is imperfect., in order to remain faithful to the bridegroom.

Where in Scripture does it state that denominations within a larger faith tradition within the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church are "the Church" in its entirety? Where in Scripture or the Confessions are denominations, which are recent creations of men, are elevated to equal status with the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church? How is a transfer from one denomination to another denomination, both of which are part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church amount to leaving the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?

Remember, you're about the only person in this entire forum who is leading his congregation into a "no man's land" of no denominational affiliation at all, and yet you and your congregation are remaining part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. If you can remain part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic church with no denominational affiliation at all, then how can membership in a particular denomination be elevated to the status of "the Church" spoken of in the Epistles? 

At the Second Coming , the  WHOLE church will be united with the Bridegroom, the official "wedding ceremony" will take place and, with it, the eternal union of Christ and His bride will become real, as noted in Revelation.  I still see the ELCA as part of the "whole" church, although I believe it made a grievous error. The judging of that is God's alone, not mine, but I have to react as I can in faithfulness. In addition to being faithful, being gracious and not bearing false witness or reveling in the troubles of the  "ex-spouse" also seems to me to be biblical.   


In the meantime, have you no obligation, no duty, no responsibility to the entire Body of Christ to raise a warning cry that the ELCA "made a grievous error" and advise others for the sake of their relationship with God to avoid false and/or errant teachings?

Plus, you're still working on that whole "spouse" thing regarding a denomination with no compelling reasons why that makes sense, other than one reference to the entire One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church using that metaphor. How is a single denomination the same as the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church? And, if a denomination is the same as the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, how does "'Til death do us part" fit in?

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: jrubyaz on October 21, 2010, 01:41:04 PM

George,

Your posts reminded me why I left this forum for a period of time. You take a simple debate and turn into personal attacks, questioning a person's faith, obedience, and lifetime of service to the church. After 22 years, it is certainly not easy for me to leave, and I don't have to defend myself to you.

I guess you just know better than all of us who have graduate and post-graduate degrees. Enjoy yourself, I have run into many people like you across the years in parish ministry who want to drain your time and life away. I have better things to do.

Jeff Ruby   

George,

 You can use all the modern analogies you want to. Certainly, there are many that could be used. I don't have the time to go into multiple fantasy league options.

I prefer to use marriage because as Pastor Keener states the way in which one reacts to marriage and divorce is important, not only for those involved, but also for the way in which we approach life daily. We can be angry, bitter, and hateful, or seek forgiveness and to move on, while still caring for those  in which we have a broken relationship.

Are you still pastor at the first congregation that called you, fresh out of seminary? If not, what happened to "'til death do us part"?

But on a deeper level,  you are  one who has has expressed concern about the scriptural moorings churches and denominations adhere to, or fail to adhere to in the current crisis. Thus, the image of marriage is also biblical, just in case you forgot... ;)

 In the New Testament, Christ, the bridegroom, has chosen  the church to be His bride , which is in Ephesians 5 if I am not mistaken.  I am not a scholar, but it is my understanding that there was a betrothal period  in ancient times during which the bride and groom were kept apart until the  actual wedding. The application is then that the bride of Christ is  separate from her bridegroom during the church age. Her responsibility and duty  during the betrothal period is faithfuness and obedience , which I think is in Second Corinthians.  If that obedience is to God and not men, then perhaps that means a "divorce" from the earthly church, which is imperfect., in order to remain faithful to the bridegroom.

Where in Scripture does it state that denominations within a larger faith tradition within the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church are "the Church" in its entirety? Where in Scripture or the Confessions are denominations, which are recent creations of men, are elevated to equal status with the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church? How is a transfer from one denomination to another denomination, both of which are part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church amount to leaving the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?

Remember, you're about the only person in this entire forum who is leading his congregation into a "no man's land" of no denominational affiliation at all, and yet you and your congregation are remaining part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. If you can remain part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic church with no denominational affiliation at all, then how can membership in a particular denomination be elevated to the status of "the Church" spoken of in the Epistles? 

At the Second Coming , the  WHOLE church will be united with the Bridegroom, the official "wedding ceremony" will take place and, with it, the eternal union of Christ and His bride will become real, as noted in Revelation.  I still see the ELCA as part of the "whole" church, although I believe it made a grievous error. The judging of that is God's alone, not mine, but I have to react as I can in faithfulness. In addition to being faithful, being gracious and not bearing false witness or reveling in the troubles of the  "ex-spouse" also seems to me to be biblical.   


In the meantime, have you no obligation, no duty, no responsibility to the entire Body of Christ to raise a warning cry that the ELCA "made a grievous error" and advise others for the sake of their relationship with God to avoid false and/or errant teachings?

Plus, you're still working on that whole "spouse" thing regarding a denomination with no compelling reasons why that makes sense, other than one reference to the entire One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church using that metaphor. How is a single denomination the same as the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church? And, if a denomination is the same as the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, how does "'Til death do us part" fit in?


Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on October 21, 2010, 02:05:41 PM

George,

Your posts reminded me why I left this forum for a period of time. You take a simple debate and turn into personal attacks, questioning a person's faith, obedience, and lifetime of service to the church. After 22 years, it is certainly not easy for me to leave, and I don't have to defend myself to you.



I am not challenging your personal activities or choices. I am challenging the unfounded assertion that transferring to a different denomination (or to no denomination at all) is equivalent to divorce, which it is not. I am also challenging the assertion that we must maintain silence about the cancer that it eating away at the ELCA. I do not raise "personal" issue to make it appear that you did anything wrong, nor to challenge you to do differently. I raise them only to illustrate the discrepancy with the assertion that one should remain silent about a former denomination because "it is like being divorced".

I do not say that what you are doing is wrong, I'm only saying that it is inconsistent with your insistence that the relationship between a pastor and a denomination is the same as a marriage, or that it is the same as the relationship between a denomination and the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I believe that your actions are correct, other than calling on everyone to keep silent. But I believe that what you say about those relationships is wrong, and that your own actions prove the description of the relationship to be wrong.

And I only make an issue of this because I am convinced that too many good and faithful people are making the wrong choices regarding their reactions to the cancer growing in the ELCA because they have a wrong perception of what a denomination is. I've said before that if someone can present a compelling case for a man-made entity like a denomination being the equivalent of a God-created entity like the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, I'm open to having my mind changed. So far, the only articulate arguments made have been that denominations are not the equivalent of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The only people who bothered to attempt to present arguments about what a denomination really is have basically said it's no more than a voluntary association of congregations who choose to work together to better carry out the Lord's work.


Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: jrubyaz on October 21, 2010, 03:59:57 PM

Simply correcting some errors, not engaging in the fantasy league debate.

I did not lead the congregation out of the ELCA. Our laity did, by appointing a task force that took six months to formulate their response and recommend a vote to leave. While some pastors have chosen this route, my colleagues and I did not.

Secondly, we have made it clear we will join a denomination or association in the future, just not at this time .


Jeff Ruby   

George,

Your posts reminded me why I left this forum for a period of time. You take a simple debate and turn into personal attacks, questioning a person's faith, obedience, and lifetime of service to the church. After 22 years, it is certainly not easy for me to leave, and I don't have to defend myself to you.



I am not challenging your personal activities or choices. I am challenging the unfounded assertion that transferring to a different denomination (or to no denomination at all) is equivalent to divorce, which it is not. I am also challenging the assertion that we must maintain silence about the cancer that it eating away at the ELCA. I do not raise "personal" issue to make it appear that you did anything wrong, nor to challenge you to do differently. I raise them only to illustrate the discrepancy with the assertion that one should remain silent about a former denomination because "it is like being divorced".

I do not say that what you are doing is wrong, I'm only saying that it is inconsistent with your insistence that the relationship between a pastor and a denomination is the same as a marriage, or that it is the same as the relationship between a denomination and the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I believe that your actions are correct, other than calling on everyone to keep silent. But I believe that what you say about those relationships is wrong, and that your own actions prove the description of the relationship to be wrong.

And I only make an issue of this because I am convinced that too many good and faithful people are making the wrong choices regarding their reactions to the cancer growing in the ELCA because they have a wrong perception of what a denomination is. I've said before that if someone can present a compelling case for a man-made entity like a denomination being the equivalent of a God-created entity like the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, I'm open to having my mind changed. So far, the only articulate arguments made have been that denominations are not the equivalent of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The only people who bothered to attempt to present arguments about what a denomination really is have basically said it's no more than a voluntary association of congregations who choose to work together to better carry out the Lord's work.



Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on October 21, 2010, 04:55:23 PM
Hang around, Pastor Ruby, despite the innuendos and persistent pecking by Mr. Erdner. Maybe we can ignore him to death or he will cross some boundary and get bounced. He said upstream that he really doesn't care if he does.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: LutherMan on October 21, 2010, 05:24:09 PM
Hang around, Pastor Ruby, despite the innuendos and persistent pecking by Mr. Erdner. Maybe we can ignore him to death or he will cross some boundary and get bounced. He said upstream that he really doesn't care if he does.
Wow, Pr. Austin.  I am really impressed to see you encouraging Pr. Ruby to hang around, this time around. :o :o
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: dkeener on October 21, 2010, 06:52:57 PM

I also note that your name is conspicuous by its absence in the thread (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3275.30) that attempts to determine or at least discuss what a denomination actually is.


You are correct in noting that I don't have an opinion on everything - nor should anyone else. (But that's just my opinion)
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on October 21, 2010, 08:52:32 PM

I also note that your name is conspicuous by its absence in the thread (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3275.30) that attempts to determine or at least discuss what a denomination actually is.


You are correct in noting that I don't have an opinion on everything - nor should anyone else. (But that's just my opinion)

I won't dispute that you don't have an opinion on everything, but since you expressed your opinion in this thread about the relationship between a pastor and the denomination that he is affiliated with, then that is an indication that you do have an opinion on what a denomination is or isn't. But that's not so much an opinion as an extrapolation from evidence.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Maryland Brian on October 21, 2010, 09:40:29 PM

I won't dispute that you don't have an opinion on everything, but since you expressed your opinion in this thread about the relationship between a pastor and the denomination that he is affiliated with, then that is an indication that you do have an opinion on what a denomination is or isn't. But that's not so much an opinion as an extrapolation from evidence.

Meanwhile, Timmy has fallen down the well.  Tune in next week - can Lassie remember her way home?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Maryland Brian on October 21, 2010, 09:46:21 PM

I also note that your name is conspicuous by its absence in the thread (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3275.30) that attempts to determine or at least discuss what a denomination actually is.


You are correct in noting that I don't have an opinion on everything - nor should anyone else. (But that's just my opinion)

  So what's your opinion on toy poodles?  Ridiculous kennel filler and creator of backyard poop bombs or friend of seasoned citizens with bad eyesight and worse breath?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Paul L. Knudson on October 21, 2010, 11:25:33 PM
Not that I hold any particular wisdom around here, but my advice is for all of us to quit responding to George completely for a time.  I don't know what drives him to have these endless longer than long posts, but I am getting weary of even scrolling by them. 

You're probably a great guy, George, but give it a break.  Go silent for awhile.  It will be good for your soul.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: dkeener on October 22, 2010, 12:11:13 AM

I also note that your name is conspicuous by its absence in the thread (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3275.30) that attempts to determine or at least discuss what a denomination actually is.


You are correct in noting that I don't have an opinion on everything - nor should anyone else. (But that's just my opinion)


  So what's your opinion on toy poodles?  Ridiculous kennel filler and creator of backyard poop bombs or friend of seasoned citizens with bad eyesight and worse breath?


Personally I'd take neurotic German Short Haired Pointer to a toy poodle any day. But then I own a Maltese who thinks he's a guard dog and a Great Dane who thinks she's a lap dog - so what do I know. Anyway it's nice to have you back Brian.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dave Benke on October 29, 2010, 09:39:13 PM
We just got a memo that 12 positions at LCMS HQ have been eliminated as part of the restructuring process as the new adminstrative team grapples with the resource changes and who's left to do what with whom.  I was with someone from the ELCA yesterday, and it sounds to me as though the end result of the ELCA restructuring and position-dropping is that there will be a national and an international board, very much like the plan undertaken under the auspices of past President Kieschnick and affirmed at the Missouri convention. 

This was a very brief memo, and I'm sure there will be a more comprehensive explanation of what's cooking over the next week or so.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: jrubyaz on October 30, 2010, 09:03:00 PM

Interesting. How many overall will lose jobs in the restructuring?

Jeff Ruby

We just got a memo that 12 positions at LCMS HQ have been eliminated as part of the restructuring process as the new adminstrative team grapples with the resource changes and who's left to do what with whom.  I was with someone from the ELCA yesterday, and it sounds to me as though the end result of the ELCA restructuring and position-dropping is that there will be a national and an international board, very much like the plan undertaken under the auspices of past President Kieschnick and affirmed at the Missouri convention. 

This was a very brief memo, and I'm sure there will be a more comprehensive explanation of what's cooking over the next week or so.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Scott6 on October 30, 2010, 09:17:46 PM

Interesting. How many overall will lose jobs in the restructuring?

Jeff Ruby

We just got a memo that 12 positions at LCMS HQ have been eliminated as part of the restructuring process as the new adminstrative team grapples with the resource changes and who's left to do what with whom.  I was with someone from the ELCA yesterday, and it sounds to me as though the end result of the ELCA restructuring and position-dropping is that there will be a national and an international board, very much like the plan undertaken under the auspices of past President Kieschnick and affirmed at the Missouri convention. 

This was a very brief memo, and I'm sure there will be a more comprehensive explanation of what's cooking over the next week or so.

Dave Benke

If memory serves, the number given at the convention was 45 full-time equivalent positions.  I'd look it up on the convention thread, but alas -- I'm too lazy.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: LutherMan on October 31, 2010, 12:59:27 AM
but alas -- I'm too lazy.
;D
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Russ Saltzman on November 02, 2010, 09:56:28 AM
The November 2010 issue of The Reporter (the declared "official newspaper of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod," thereby distinguishing itself from the other "unofficial" newspaper) reports a small decline in synod membership (25,000 is small?) and a "slight reversal" of the 2008 decline in financial giving.

In short, despite the economy, LCMS giving increased. These are 2009 figures.

This suggests - to me at any rate - the ELCA financial decline that fast-tracked beginning post-August 2009 is related less to the economy and more to the theological dispute resulting from the ELCA actions taken related to sexuality.

Meanwhile, the editor of the ELCA's official magazine (The Lutheran, if you need reminding, November issue) is conceding a 300-congregation loss (from 10,300) by end of year, 2010. I do not think that will be the final figure nor the final year of losses from the congregational roster.

I am not gloating over ELCA losses. Many spent energy and treasure bringing the ELCA into existence and I can only look on all this with sorrow.

But it is a judgment, I think.

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 02, 2010, 01:27:24 PM
And it will be easy to determine at least part of the financial impact. Just take the mission support figures (BTW, we haven't called it "benevolence" for 20 years) from the congregations that withdraw and add 'em up.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: dkeener on November 02, 2010, 01:46:56 PM
And it will be easy to determine at least part of the financial impact. Just take the mission support figures (BTW, we haven't called it "benevolence" for 20 years) from the congregations that withdraw and add 'em up.

Sorry Charles that will tell you almost nothing. My bet is that most of the decline is to be found in congregations staying in the ELCA. It may take a 2/3 majority at two congregational meetings to leave the ELCA but it only takes a simply majority at one meeting to change the budget. Simply, counting those leaving also does not take into account the number of people who have left congregations because of the CWA decisions. Also, it does not take into account the congregations that split because they could not achieve the 2/3rds. Many of those people started LCMC or NALC mission congregations leaving the churches they left with greatly reduced budgets. And yes I realize that you said "at least part of the financial impact". My point is simply that figuring out this part is just not of much use. 
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 02, 2010, 02:01:35 PM
It seems to me that to truly judge the full financial impact of CWA '09 one would have to be God or at least omniscient to sort through all the factors.  One could add up the lost payments from the congregations that left, that would tell part of the story.  One could also look at congregations that have sharply reduced giving and investigate why (division in the congregation, diversion of funds in protest, major industry leaving town, knock down drag out fight between two matriarchs in the Women's Guild, etc.).  Now you are asking for a lot of work.  God would know but His accounting department does not release figures.

Has there been an effect?  That seems very, very likely.  What is the extent - hard to determine.  Importance - of greater importance is whether the decision was in line with what God has told us in His word, and in line with God's will for His church.  There is a whole other debate.  Ultimately, if it was God's will that it be decided the way it was, the financial cost is secondary - part of the cost of doing God's business which is at times high - ask the original disciples.  If it was not God's will, even if there would have been a financial benefit, it should not have been done.

What is God's will in the matter?  Now there is a topic for discussion.

Dan
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Pilgrim on November 02, 2010, 02:54:07 PM
Tim adds: The article concerning the LIFT endeavor and survey reported on in The Lutheran, which arrived yesterday shed some additional insight into the distress being experienced at the parish and the ELCA levels by at least acknowledging that the decisions of last summer are an important part of the mix, particularly among the laity.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Richard Johnson on November 02, 2010, 03:00:26 PM
And it will be easy to determine at least part of the financial impact. Just take the mission support figures (BTW, we haven't called it "benevolence" for 20 years) from the congregations that withdraw and add 'em up.

From the ELCA website, which, I acknowledge, isn't "official"  ;D  :

Why use “worshipping size” as the benchmark?
There is no perfect method of measuring the size of a congregation. Baptized members, confirmed members, total budget, total benevolence, percentage of baptized members worshipping, per capita giving, per capita benevolence giving, and growth or loss in any of these categories all help to give a picture of a congregation’s vitality, regardless of size. “Worshipping size”, however, has come to be accepted as the most accurate (though certainly inadequate in many ways) method of measuring congregation size. It is what most demographers and statisticians use.


From a letter from ELCA VP Pena: If you are considering redirecting benevolence, I would urge reconsideration.

 Again from the website:

18 most effective practices used by congregations strong in stewardship:
 . . . They practice first fruits and proportionate giving for mission support (benevolence) for the whole church.


Apparently we all haven't gotten your memo.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 02, 2010, 04:37:40 PM
Nope. The fact is that we have officially called it "mission support" for decades. I can't be accountable for every word from the ELCA vice president. And I note that in the quote from the ELCA website "benevolence" is in parentheses, an aid to people who haven't caught on.  ;D
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: jrubyaz on November 02, 2010, 04:58:37 PM

Pastor Keener wins the ALPB crackerjack prize of the day. By far, the greatest impact in our synod comes from those remaining in the ELCA but doing one of two things:

1)having congregational meetings or annual meetings were mission support is redirected in part or full

2) Leaving individual members to "choose" between giving locally to the parish and local mission or to the larger church .

One guess who wins...

 

And it will be easy to determine at least part of the financial impact. Just take the mission support figures (BTW, we haven't called it "benevolence" for 20 years) from the congregations that withdraw and add 'em up.

Sorry Charles that will tell you almost nothing. My bet is that most of the decline is to be found in congregations staying in the ELCA. It may take a 2/3 majority at two congregational meetings to leave the ELCA but it only takes a simply majority at one meeting to change the budget. Simply, counting those leaving also does not take into account the number of people who have left congregations because of the CWA decisions. Also, it does not take into account the congregations that split because they could not achieve the 2/3rds. Many of those people started LCMC or NALC mission congregations leaving the churches they left with greatly reduced budgets. And yes I realize that you said "at least part of the financial impact". My point is simply that figuring out this part is just not of much use. 
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 02, 2010, 05:15:19 PM
Pastor Ruby writes (re members' giving):
2) Leaving individual members to "choose" between giving locally to the parish and local mission or to the larger church .

I comment:
Why not be consistent and take it the full route?
I'll contribute to the Sunday School, but not to the choir. I want my offering to go to the electric bill and the insurance, but I'm not supporting that rascal of a pastor. My tithe should go 100 percent to the mortgage, not a penny towards that out-of-control youth group.
Either we give to the "Church" as we see the whole Church or we are not being responsible.
Would you support this kind of giving in your parish?
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: dkeener on November 02, 2010, 05:36:21 PM
Pastor Ruby writes (re members' giving):
2) Leaving individual members to "choose" between giving locally to the parish and local mission or to the larger church .

I comment:
Why not be consistent and take it the full route?
I'll contribute to the Sunday School, but not to the choir. I want my offering to go to the electric bill and the insurance, but I'm not supporting that rascal of a pastor. My tithe should go 100 percent to the mortgage, not a penny towards that out-of-control youth group.
Either we give to the "Church" as we see the whole Church or we are not being responsible.
Would you support this kind of giving in your parish?

Actually it has little impact on the parish. Designating offerings to a particular line item only has a negative impact on the budget when the giving to that line item exceeds the line item - and this rarely happens. To illustrate - if the pastor's salary is $5000 per month then $5000 is spent from the general fund for that expense. If someone said they only wanted their offerings of $500 per month to go for the pastors salary then the general fund would only have to pay $4500 each month for that expense and the money saved would be spent elsewhere. It would only become a problem if the designated giving for pastoral expense exceeded $5000 per month.

What pastor Ruby discribed would be more akin to someone saying,  "I no longer trust my local congregation to spend my money wisely so I'm going to send my offering directly to the food pantry down the street.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 02, 2010, 07:00:51 PM
Pastor Ruby writes (re members' giving):
2) Leaving individual members to "choose" between giving locally to the parish and local mission or to the larger church .

I comment:
Why not be consistent and take it the full route?
I'll contribute to the Sunday School, but not to the choir. I want my offering to go to the electric bill and the insurance, but I'm not supporting that rascal of a pastor. My tithe should go 100 percent to the mortgage, not a penny towards that out-of-control youth group.
Either we give to the "Church" as we see the whole Church or we are not being responsible.
Would you support this kind of giving in your parish?

Actually it has little impact on the parish. Designating offerings to a particular line item only has a negative impact on the budget when the giving to that line item exceeds the line item - and this rarely happens.

It can have great impact if there is not enough undesignated money for necessary expenses like the pastor's salary/housing and pension contributions. I've known clergy who received less than full paychecks because there wasn't enough money. I had council members tell me about passing the hat at a council meeting so that they could pay the pastor. I was at a church where we let people "adopt-a-bill," and these bills were all paid. However, there wasn't always enough money to make the mortgage payment. Three times during my 11 years, we had to take action because we were being threatened with foreclosure.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: ptmccain on November 02, 2010, 07:18:07 PM
So, based on the conversation here, I gather that a "bound conscience" will be respected as long as it does not involve a closed wallet?

 ;)
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: dkeener on November 02, 2010, 08:25:41 PM
Pastor Ruby writes (re members' giving):
2) Leaving individual members to "choose" between giving locally to the parish and local mission or to the larger church .

I comment:
Why not be consistent and take it the full route?
I'll contribute to the Sunday School, but not to the choir. I want my offering to go to the electric bill and the insurance, but I'm not supporting that rascal of a pastor. My tithe should go 100 percent to the mortgage, not a penny towards that out-of-control youth group.
Either we give to the "Church" as we see the whole Church or we are not being responsible.
Would you support this kind of giving in your parish?

Actually it has little impact on the parish. Designating offerings to a particular line item only has a negative impact on the budget when the giving to that line item exceeds the line item - and this rarely happens.

It can have great impact if there is not enough undesignated money for necessary expenses like the pastor's salary/housing and pension contributions. I've known clergy who received less than full paychecks because there wasn't enough money. I had council members tell me about passing the hat at a council meeting so that they could pay the pastor. I was at a church where we let people "adopt-a-bill," and these bills were all paid. However, there wasn't always enough money to make the mortgage payment. Three times during my 11 years, we had to take action because we were being threatened with foreclosure.

Sorry Brian but I stand by my comments. My first degree was in accounting and I have the history of being called to two congregations that were virtually bankrupt when I arrived and both became very healthy financially under my leadership. Designated giving is, in the long term, good for the financial health of a congregation. The problems in the ELCA have nothing to do with designated giving but rather with a loss of trust in the churches leadership. On a side note - I believe that the pastor's pay should reflect the community in which he or she lives. If the community is suffering a major economic setback (massive layoffs' etc) then the pastor should expect to suffer along with them.  If on the other hand, the people are doing fairly well, the pastor is driving the oldest car in the parking lot and the problem is a lack of giving rather than a lack of income by parishoners - then I think that threating the pastor's paycheck (and family) is not only irresponsible but immoral.  I'm sorry but if I had a council that offered to "pass the hat" for me I would say no thanks - pass it on Sunday after you explain to the congregation why you thought paying the light bill and buying bulletins was more important than the pastor feeding his family.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 02, 2010, 08:42:16 PM
Pastor Ruby writes (re members' giving):
2) Leaving individual members to "choose" between giving locally to the parish and local mission or to the larger church .

I comment:
Why not be consistent and take it the full route?
I'll contribute to the Sunday School, but not to the choir. I want my offering to go to the electric bill and the insurance, but I'm not supporting that rascal of a pastor. My tithe should go 100 percent to the mortgage, not a penny towards that out-of-control youth group.
Either we give to the "Church" as we see the whole Church or we are not being responsible.
Would you support this kind of giving in your parish?

Actually it has little impact on the parish. Designating offerings to a particular line item only has a negative impact on the budget when the giving to that line item exceeds the line item - and this rarely happens.

It can have great impact if there is not enough undesignated money for necessary expenses like the pastor's salary/housing and pension contributions. I've known clergy who received less than full paychecks because there wasn't enough money. I had council members tell me about passing the hat at a council meeting so that they could pay the pastor. I was at a church where we let people "adopt-a-bill," and these bills were all paid. However, there wasn't always enough money to make the mortgage payment. Three times during my 11 years, we had to take action because we were being threatened with foreclosure.

Sorry Brian but I stand by my comments. My first degree was in accounting and I have the history of being called to two congregations that were virtually bankrupt when I arrived and both became very healthy financially under my leadership. Designated giving is, in the long term, good for the financial health of a congregation.

I don't disagree. The most financially secure congregation I served had 22 different accounts people could donate to. (No one knew there were that many until I compiled them -- and insisted that every account needed to have a report in the Annual Meeting.)

The problem is not designated giving, per se; but people's attitude about church and their giving. When a parishioner tells the treasurer, I'm designated all my offerings for utilities because I don't want to pay for the pastor; that is an attitude that is not healthy for the congregation.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Richard Johnson on November 02, 2010, 09:42:15 PM
Nope. The fact is that we have officially called it "mission support" for decades. I can't be accountable for every word from the ELCA vice president. And I note that in the quote from the ELCA website "benevolence" is in parentheses, an aid to people who haven't caught on.  ;D

Nope. Go to the elca web site and do a search for "benevolence." You will find DOZENS of uses of the term. The first one on the list will actually be an official ELCA form of some kind which asks you to fill in a figure for "ELCA benevolence."

And I would say that IF there has been a conscious effort for "decades" (technically true; two decades) to change the language, it obviously hasn't worked and was probably misguided in the first place.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on November 02, 2010, 09:48:40 PM
Nope. The fact is that we have officially called it "mission support" for decades. I can't be accountable for every word from the ELCA vice president. And I note that in the quote from the ELCA website "benevolence" is in parentheses, an aid to people who haven't caught on.  ;D

Nope. Go to the elca web site and do a search for "benevolence." You will find DOZENS of uses of the term. The first one on the list will actually be an official ELCA form of some kind which asks you to fill in a figure for "ELCA benevolence."

And I would say that IF there has been a conscious effort for "decades" (technically true; two decades) to change the language, it obviously hasn't worked and was probably misguided in the first place.

Richard and Charles, quit your bickering. The rest of us don't want to hear it! Must you two always go at each other?  ::)

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Charles_Austin on November 02, 2010, 09:52:26 PM

On the "benevolence" issue: I resign the field. Call it what you will. I really don't care.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Richard Johnson on November 02, 2010, 09:53:02 PM
Nope. The fact is that we have officially called it "mission support" for decades. I can't be accountable for every word from the ELCA vice president. And I note that in the quote from the ELCA website "benevolence" is in parentheses, an aid to people who haven't caught on.  ;D

Nope. Go to the elca web site and do a search for "benevolence." You will find DOZENS of uses of the term. The first one on the list will actually be an official ELCA form of some kind which asks you to fill in a figure for "ELCA benevolence."

And I would say that IF there has been a conscious effort for "decades" (technically true; two decades) to change the language, it obviously hasn't worked and was probably misguided in the first place.

Richard and Charles, quit your bickering. The rest of us don't want to hear it! Must you two always go at each other?  ::)



Only when he's wrong . . .
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: George Erdner on November 02, 2010, 09:54:23 PM
Nope. The fact is that we have officially called it "mission support" for decades. I can't be accountable for every word from the ELCA vice president. And I note that in the quote from the ELCA website "benevolence" is in parentheses, an aid to people who haven't caught on.  ;D

Nope. Go to the elca web site and do a search for "benevolence." You will find DOZENS of uses of the term. The first one on the list will actually be an official ELCA form of some kind which asks you to fill in a figure for "ELCA benevolence."

And I would say that IF there has been a conscious effort for "decades" (technically true; two decades) to change the language, it obviously hasn't worked and was probably misguided in the first place.

Richard and Charles, quit your bickering. The rest of us don't want to hear it! Must you two always go at each other?  ::)



Only when he's wrong . . .

I'll store that information for future use.
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Steve Ames on December 03, 2010, 07:57:01 PM
Office of the Treasurer --- Current Year Financial Report   http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Office-of-the-Treasurer/Financial-Reports/Current-Year-Financial-Reports.aspx

ELCA CHURCHWIDE ORGANIZATION
2010 OPERATING RESULTS SUMMARY FOR THE NINE MONTHS ENDING OCTOBER 31, 2010
…Receipts totaled $46.8 million for the nine-month period compared with $54.4 million the previous year, a decrease of $7.6 million or 14.0 percent. Expenses related to the current operating fund amounted to $46.8 million, a decrease of $9.1 million or 16.3 percent from October 2009. …
Income from congregations through synods in the form of Mission Support income after the nine-month period was in line with the revised projection at $36.6 million, although a decrease of $6.2 million or 14.4 percent from the same period in 2009.
Other temporarily restricted and unrestricted funds available for the budgeted operations of the church amounted to $10.2 million compared with $11.6 million in the first nine months of 2009. … Bequests and trust income, $1.2 million, and Missionary Sponsorship support, $2.0 million, were behind budget and the same period in 2009. …
Total contributions to ELCA World Hunger for the nine months were $8.7 million. This is unfavorable to the same nine-month period in fiscal 2009 by $2.1 million or 19.2 percent. …
Contingency plans for both current fund operations and World Hunger programs are in place. Income will be monitored closely between now and year-end to determine when and whether any funding on hold as part of the contingency plan can be released to partners.


Comments:
Receipts decreased by $7.6 million or 14.0 percent with the biggest impact being from decreases of the $6.2 million from Mission Support income or 14.4 percent and  $1.5 million from Bequests and Trusts or 55.3 percent. 

Note the scale has been changed on the chart "Mission Support Received In Preceding 12 Months of the Synod Mission Support" but perhaps the rate of decline is slowing. The SYNODICAL REMITTANCES  report shows 18 synods with declines of more than 20 percent with West Iowa at (52.6%) being the largest decline.

Expenses decreased by $9.1 million or 16.3 percent.  Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission, Global Mission, alonq with Vocation and Education maybe taking the biggest hits.


Other related ELCA news:

ELCA NEWS SERVICE -- November 23, 2010
ELCA Council Acts on Structure, Governance Proposals, Other Topics 10-294-JB

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) recommended constitutional amendments to the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly regarding a 3-year cycle for churchwide assemblies, council membership, eliminating program committees and strengthening interrelationships. …
The council approved churchwide spending authorizations for the 2011 fiscal year, beginning Feb. 1, including an initial current fund spending authorization of $62.6 million and a $17 million ELCA World Hunger spending authorization.
     Christina Jackson-Skelton, ELCA treasurer, said the projection for 2011 current fund income is a decrease of nearly $2.5 million from revised estimates for 2010.  In particular, the 2011 budget is based on $48 million in anticipated mission support income, reduced from the $51 million in anticipated mission support for 2010, she said. The estimate for ELCA World Hunger income for 2011 is $1.7 million less than for 2010.
http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4682


ELCA NEWS SERVICE -- November 22, 2010
ELCA Presiding Bishop Responds to Members in Third 'Town Hall' of 2010  10-292-JB

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- In his third online "Town Hall Forum" with members this year, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) addressed a variety of ELCA topics and concerns, …
Hanson said that the ELCA would be "diminished radically" without vibrant outdoor and campus ministries. He said members should not assume that budget reductions mean the church has abdicated its commitment to these ministries. 
     "The question before us is, 'How do we sustain the vibrant ministries so core to this church?'" he said. Hanson suggested that support for such ministries might come from the congregations of the ELCA.
     "I think some new life can come with perhaps less structure on the top and more of the spirit that comes locally," he said, adding that members should challenge themselves to consider how to support outdoor and campus ministries in times of diminished funding.
      The presiding bishop answered questions on several other topics during the forum:
+ ELCA World Hunger Appeal funding -- Hanson said the ELCA has made commitments to domestic and international partners to raise $20 million in ELCA World Hunger funds this year. Giving is down about 20 percent, he said. "My challenge is (that) we make up that difference between now and the end of the year," Hanson said. …
http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4680

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010 & 2011
Post by: Mel Harris on December 10, 2010, 08:27:20 PM
I received a letter today from the Oregon Synod Office about adjustments that have been made to the 2011 budget to bring it more into line with current income.  The adjustments include reducing the bishop and assistant to the bishop positions to 90% of full time (with corresponding 10% reductions in their salaries) and the elimination of one of the synod staff positions.  The letter also stated that the advocacy position in this synod will no longer be funded by ELCA ChurchWide and other sources of funding for this position are being sought.

These adjustments to the budget are being made by a synod that has not lost many congregations and has not had many congregations split.  I assume that some other synods are having to make more drastic reductions in their spending plans.

Mel Harris
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Mel Harris on December 30, 2010, 04:25:36 AM
The Religion Newswriters Association has released the results of their poll on the top religion news stories of the year.  Numbers 6 and 7 on their list are:

Quote

6. Sexuality continues as a hot topic among mainline congregations. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA votes for the fourth time to lift the ban on noncelibate gay clergy; the presbyteries are again voting on it. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America suffers scores of defections after its 2009 vote on the issue. The Episcopal Church is asked by the archbishop of Canterbury to take a lesser role in the Anglican Communion after a lesbian assistant bishop is ordained.

7. The prolonged economic slump spells trouble for additional churches and ministries. In the highest profile case, the Crystal Cathedral declares bankruptcy after downsizing efforts fall short. The Lutheran publishing house, Augsburg Fortress, drops its pension plan; Focus on the Family cuts 110 employees; the Seventh-day Adventist publishing arm removes top executives.


The release is posted here:

http://www.rna.org/news/54861/2010-Religion-Stories-of-the-Year.htm

Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Marshall_Hahn on March 09, 2011, 11:18:04 PM
The Office of the Treasurer of the ELCA has just posted the 4th quarter reports.  They can be found at http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Office-of-the-Treasurer/Financial-Reports/Current-Year-Financial-Reports.aspx (Sorry, I haven't learned how to do one of those neat little refer-to-a-site-with-just-a-word thingy.)

As expected, the financial slide continues.  The final income figures for fiscal 2010 are $66.8 million, down $9.8 million or 12.8% from 2009.  Mission Support for the year was at $52.6 million, down $7.1 or 11.8% from 2009. 
The one bright note is that January 2011 Mission Support was $0.1 million above January 2010 Mission Support, "breaking an 18-month trend of mission support decreases in same- month prior-year comparisons."  It remains to be seen whether this is the turning point for the precipitous decline in income or just a momentary hiccup in the continuing downward spiral.  With the number of congregations continuing to leave, I suspect it will be necessary to begin a new thread - "ELCA Fiscal Crisis contiunes into 2011."

Marshall Hahn
Title: Re: ELCA Fiscal Crisis continues into 2010
Post by: Dave Benke on March 10, 2011, 03:36:18 PM
Thanks for the figures.  The Missouri Synod's national "slide" was about a million after five fiscal months and some pretty serious cuts, but without really any parish defections.  Very few if any judicatories or denominations are in rosy condition. 

Dave Benke