Author Topic: Perils of Church-Related Pensions  (Read 10249 times)

George Erdner

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2010, 10:05:22 PM »
That would depend on if the congregation's problems were the result of the national church's actions, or if they were the result of you not being a very effective pastor. If you were doing an outstanding job of evangelism and educating the congregation on stewardship, but the national church launched a new mission congregation only a few miles away that took a big chunk of your congregation's members, I'd say that HQ might have a moral obligation. But, if you preached antinomianism in your sermons, did minimal outreach, refused to engage in stewardship programs, and otherwise caused the problems, then HQ wouldn't have an obligation.

The major issue with that congregation was the declining population in the area. Our sons' grade school was one of four (if I remember right) that were closed due to declining population. Our neighbor -- a long-time employee at the high school -- stated that there population was the lowest she had seen in 20 years. Like with a number of issues today -- the problems were caused by a major decline in the economy. (That area often went through boom/bust cycles.)

So, are you saying that it wasn't your fault, but it wasn't the fault of Higgins Road either?

Do we consider the economic crash to be an act of God?

Roast lamb tastes best, I think, done to an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

G.Edward

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2010, 11:00:12 PM »
I think the real danger here is not that the ELCA will have to fund the pension, but rather, that the legal suit would win on the grounds that the AF doesn't have the right to exist without paying off it's legal obligations.  The assets of AF could be foreclosed and sold off piecemeal to pay back the pension fund by court order.  Forced bankruptcy and the last 200 employees would be out of work and the ELCA would be out of a publisher.

While that would be unfortunate for the remaining employees, it would be an ethical corrective for the ELCA leadership's disavowing fiduciary and pastoral responsibility, and it would be a theological win if AF had to divest some or all of it's publishing assets to pay a settlement since AF would no longer be able to publish so much that is theologically unsound at best.

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2010, 11:59:45 PM »
That would depend on if the congregation's problems were the result of the national church's actions, or if they were the result of you not being a very effective pastor. If you were doing an outstanding job of evangelism and educating the congregation on stewardship, but the national church launched a new mission congregation only a few miles away that took a big chunk of your congregation's members, I'd say that HQ might have a moral obligation. But, if you preached antinomianism in your sermons, did minimal outreach, refused to engage in stewardship programs, and otherwise caused the problems, then HQ wouldn't have an obligation.

The major issue with that congregation was the declining population in the area. Our sons' grade school was one of four (if I remember right) that were closed due to declining population. Our neighbor -- a long-time employee at the high school -- stated that there population was the lowest she had seen in 20 years. Like with a number of issues today -- the problems were caused by a major decline in the economy. (That area often went through boom/bust cycles.)

So, are you saying that it wasn't your fault, but it wasn't the fault of Higgins Road either?

Do we consider the economic crash to be an act of God?

Roast lamb tastes best, I think, done to an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

Thursday night I had a wonderful rack of lamb at the Ironwood Restaurant -- a very nice restaurant at the Quechan Casino Resort. Went there with my wife and my mother; then saw Merle Haggard in concert.
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Charles_Austin

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2010, 06:12:54 AM »
So do those who have been trashing Augsburg-Fortress all these years bear some responsibility for the loss of pensions for the retirees?

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2010, 08:34:08 AM »
That would depend on if the congregation's problems were the result of the national church's actions, or if they were the result of you not being a very effective pastor. If you were doing an outstanding job of evangelism and educating the congregation on stewardship, but the national church launched a new mission congregation only a few miles away that took a big chunk of your congregation's members, I'd say that HQ might have a moral obligation. But, if you preached antinomianism in your sermons, did minimal outreach, refused to engage in stewardship programs, and otherwise caused the problems, then HQ wouldn't have an obligation.

The major issue with that congregation was the declining population in the area. Our sons' grade school was one of four (if I remember right) that were closed due to declining population. Our neighbor -- a long-time employee at the high school -- stated that there population was the lowest she had seen in 20 years. Like with a number of issues today -- the problems were caused by a major decline in the economy. (That area often went through boom/bust cycles.)

So, are you saying that it wasn't your fault, but it wasn't the fault of Higgins Road either?

Do we consider the economic crash to be an act of God?

Roast lamb tastes best, I think, done to an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

Thursday night I had a wonderful rack of lamb at the Ironwood Restaurant -- a very nice restaurant at the Quechan Casino Resort. Went there with my wife and my mother; then saw Merle Haggard in concert.
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George Erdner

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2010, 09:51:47 AM »
So do those who have been trashing Augsburg-Fortress all these years bear some responsibility for the loss of pensions for the retirees?

No.

racin_jason

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2010, 10:54:12 AM »
So do those who have been trashing Augsburg-Fortress all these years bear some responsibility for the loss of pensions for the retirees?

You're right, Charles. If only the critics had been more loving, then perhaps this all could have been avoided.

The parallels between AFP and the ELCA are rampant: fiscal woes, the inablity of leadership to see significant shifts in the marketplace, the lack of providing what the constituencies are asking for, a progessive bias among the decision-makers while those in the pews are more pragmatic, if not orthodox.

If a person were a shill for the ELCA, i wonder how he'd reconcile the troubles of the publishing house with his "the-ELCA-isn't-as-bad-off-as-you-all-are-saying-it-is" stance.
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Charles_Austin

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #22 on: April 24, 2010, 11:16:14 AM »
RJ writes:
If a person were a shill for the ELCA, i wonder how he'd reconcile the troubles of the publishing house with his "the-ELCA-isn't-as-bad-off-as-you-all-are-saying-it-is" stance.

I muse:
A "shill"? So that's what being a concerned, participatory, relatively loyal member of one's church body is? Nice. Good insight to the attitudes here. Speak ill of your church body, denounce its leaders and you are some kind of "traditionalist" hero. Speak well of it and you are a shill. I get it.
As for the publishing house, analyzing its business plan, marketing skills and general direction is beyond my competence. I'm sure that a few people here will let me know in excruciating details what went wrong.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2010, 11:32:50 AM by Charles_Austin »

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resolution in Texas-Gulf Synod
« Reply #23 on: April 24, 2010, 12:09:20 PM »
Can someone send me a copy of this resolution?  My Synod disassembly is coming up within a month.  Sounds like a good resolution for us to consider.

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Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #24 on: April 24, 2010, 01:02:36 PM »
So do those who have been trashing Augsburg-Fortress all these years bear some responsibility for the loss of pensions for the retirees?

Not sure how to respond to this Charles.  I've personally spent $300-400 annually with Augsburg Fortress -- a big part of that at Synod Assemblies (oops, they stopped going to Synod Assemblies) while at the same time being highly critical of the ELCA publishing ministry.  I could give you a laundry list of things, but I'll only raise up two matters:

      1) as pastor of a small congregation, AFP has rarely published congregational educational materials
          that I could use (for children or adults) -- and of the half-dozen items I found useful over the last  
          20 years, all went quickly out-of-print and disappeared from the catalog -- and

      2) its years of hyping as its star Bible Study writer a former ELCA pastor/seminary professor whose
          reappropriation of the "L" word (Lutheran, though I found her first book quite un-Lutheran) led to
          her abandoning her marriage for a lesbian relationship while she was teaching ELCA seminarians.

I've really wanted to support our publishing house, but many of its editorial and marketing decisions have gone out-of-their way to drive away the business of pastors like me and congregations like mine.

And yet, while the ELCA's leadership is declaring that it has no responsibility, fiduciary or otherwise, for the abandoned AFP employees and retirees, here I first suggested in January for a churchwide offering specifically to help them.

Responsibility?  You want to talk about responsibility?

Kyrie eleison, Steven+
« Last Edit: April 24, 2010, 03:28:00 PM by The Rev. Steven P. Tibbetts, STS »
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Charles_Austin

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #25 on: April 24, 2010, 01:07:22 PM »
Like you, Steven, I have been a long-time customer of the church publishing house. But they have never had everything I needed or wanted. Some of its authors didn't interest me.
Glad to see you were a supporter. Others weren't, and used certain Augsburg-Fortress books as weapons against the ELCA.

George Erdner

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #26 on: April 24, 2010, 01:33:19 PM »
Like you, Steven, I have been a long-time customer of the church publishing house. But they have never had everything I needed or wanted. Some of its authors didn't interest me.
Glad to see you were a supporter. Others weren't, and used certain Augsburg-Fortress books as weapons against the ELCA.

Austin, pointing out that some publications of Augsburg Fortress contained errant teachings is not using those book as weapons against the ELCA.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #27 on: April 24, 2010, 01:39:42 PM »
Whatever.

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #28 on: April 24, 2010, 02:30:57 PM »
It's interesting that last weekend two of us in the TX-LA Gulf Coast synod brough forht a resorlution (written elsewhere in the ELCA) to memorialzie the Church Council to take certain steps to help alleviate both the AF pension scandal and the BoP cut in benefits to retirees.  it included 4 resolves - to sell the Churchiwde office buiding and move to  more suitable digs, to close all LOGA fucntions and offices, to cut travel budtes and travel outside US except for those lving and owkring (in hindisht, I think that one could have been clearer to make a distinction between "working" and "sending representatives to Climat Conference in Copenhagen) - and all savings was to be given to AF and BoP to help, at least somewhat, the suffering.

Schwartling with the churchiwde rep at our assembly.  He outright attacked the selling of the buidling, saying the Chircago market makes it impossible to do so.  (Like any marekt is good; Gulf Coast did just that - well, not selling but moving to more modest accomodations to accompany their shrinking staff).  LOGA closing was also dramaticzlly attacked, most notably by our ELM 17 poster child in our syond.  Interestingly enough, the refernce and counsel committee had spent several weeks trying to convince us to withdraw our resolution, on variios points, including another resolution they knew was coming that was similar but didin't address ALL our concerns.  We said no, present it as is.  Well, they recommended defeat, of course, and it was.  As soon as it was defeated, they moved the last resolution up, which we were told was drafted by none other than Schwartling himself... I could be mistaken, but the langrage was VERY lawyerly.  It called for some such encouragement to the BoP to look to reinstate their funds, and to ask the Church Council to look at ways it might help.  (All talk.  The other, at least, had suggestions.  I'm not saying I thought it had a chance, but at least we got conversation on whats goin on onto the assembly floor).


Seems to be the Church Wide posiditon -- we're concerned, we'll encourage, but don't ask us to get involved, feel responsible, etc.  No wonder they were so hot and heavy to keep saying last week that AF is an entirely separate entity and we should in no way even SUGGEST how they should work their pension.  I think it was CYA all the way!

Swartling's thoughts could be found here: http://www.prettygoodlutherans.com/?p=9801#more-9801
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Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Perils of Church-Related Pensions
« Reply #29 on: April 24, 2010, 03:34:03 PM »
Like you, Steven, I have been a long-time customer of the church publishing house. But they have never had everything I needed or wanted.

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