Author Topic: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)  (Read 9415 times)

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2011, 10:16:04 AM »
WTG, Brian Bergs! You remind us that the simplest reading of a verse of scripture might not agree with everyone who reads it, but needs some interpretation, which might vary from person to person!  ;D ;) ;)

Bergs

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1328
  • Battle for truth, justice & the American way
    • View Profile
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2011, 01:17:32 PM »
WTG, Brian Bergs! You remind us that the simplest reading of a verse of scripture might not agree with everyone who reads it, but needs some interpretation, which might vary from person to person!  ;D ;) ;)

Rev. Austin we completely agree on the verse and my interpretation of the simplest reading is completely in agreement with yours.  In what way do we not agree?  I am simply pointing out that in this case the ELCA is contemplating income distribution which is based on membership and median family income. 

It means the geniuses on Higgins Road will need to define (it seems on very base economic and demographic data) a redistribution system.  I believe that is a useless thing to do.  Those in the more well off districts should be encouraged to read the Gospel of St. Luke and pray that the Holy Spirit moves them to respond thankfully.  Good preaching and teaching will do that.  What is being contemplated is that the Holy Spirit will move the church hierarchy to determine how individual districts should respond.  Maybe it will work.  Maybe my idea will work. 

Essentially we completely agree on the premise "to whom much is given, much will be expected."  We may disagree on what that premise looks like on the ground and even there we won't be that much different.  I don't think what the ELCA is trying to do is evil, just a silly exercise in futility that may badly backfire or not achieve the results, e.g. perhaps ELCA members earn significantly more income than their regional median income stats, they get a pass?

Your rejoicing above seems curious to me but I appreciate any pat on the back from an ELCA pastor these days.   Thank you for your reporting on the CWA, your perspective is genuinely appreciated by me.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
But let me tell Thee that now, today, people are more persuaded than ever that they have perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet. But that has been our doing.
The Grand Inquisitor

Rev. Kevin Scheuller

  • Guest
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2011, 08:46:41 PM »
I think Rich White is such an un-PC name it is actually kitschy. Those who voted for him should call themselves "Rich White Folks."
Indeed, I was imagining putting on my best imitation of Gilda Radner's classic SNL Update character, Emily Litella saying, "Why - hasn't the ELCA already elected enough rich, white men to lead their men in mission." Chevy would correct her misinterpretation and her customary reply - "Ohhhh!? - NEVER MIND."

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 43160
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2011, 11:30:47 PM »
A more substantial resolution proposed a constitutional amendment which would have synods “transmit to the treasurer of the ELCA a portion of that mission support as determined by the Church Council based upon the number of confirmed members of this synod and adjusted for the median family income in the territory of this synod . . .”  R&C recommends referral to Mission Advancement Movement. Motion to refer adopted, 635-251. I doubt many members quite got what this was about.


What I read in this proposal is a modification of the "dues" system that was part of the predecessor bodies. Congregations were expected/required to donate to the district/synod so much per confirmed member. This moves it up to the synod level with an adjustment.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

DCharlton

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 6831
    • View Profile
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2011, 11:50:53 PM »
A more substantial resolution proposed a constitutional amendment which would have synods “transmit to the treasurer of the ELCA a portion of that mission support as determined by the Church Council based upon the number of confirmed members of this synod and adjusted for the median family income in the territory of this synod . . .”  R&C recommends referral to Mission Advancement Movement. Motion to refer adopted, 635-251. I doubt many members quite got what this was about.


What I read in this proposal is a modification of the "dues" system that was part of the predecessor bodies. Congregations were expected/required to donate to the district/synod so much per confirmed member. This moves it up to the synod level with an adjustment.

Many if not most of the people in my congregation still refer to our benevolence as our dues.  A leader will say, for instance, "We received the bill for our dues from synod."
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 43160
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2011, 01:29:32 AM »
A more substantial resolution proposed a constitutional amendment which would have synods “transmit to the treasurer of the ELCA a portion of that mission support as determined by the Church Council based upon the number of confirmed members of this synod and adjusted for the median family income in the territory of this synod . . .”  R&C recommends referral to Mission Advancement Movement. Motion to refer adopted, 635-251. I doubt many members quite got what this was about.


What I read in this proposal is a modification of the "dues" system that was part of the predecessor bodies. Congregations were expected/required to donate to the district/synod so much per confirmed member. This moves it up to the synod level with an adjustment.

Many if not most of the people in my congregation still refer to our benevolence as our dues.  A leader will say, for instance, "We received the bill for our dues from synod."


I've had older members who talked about their offering to the church as "dues". Apparently in some congregations, dues were assessed from every member.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

J. Thomas Shelley

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4000
    • View Profile
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2011, 09:06:43 PM »
g to the church as "dues". Apparently in some congregations, dues were assessed from every member.

In colonial era congregations pew rents were assessed.  Those who could not or would not pay were welcome to sit in the gallery (balcony).
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015

Lon Kvanli

  • Guest
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #22 on: August 23, 2011, 04:44:22 PM »
Pew rental was common practice U.S. churches by the time of the Civil War. In the 1910s and 1920s pew rentals were gradually replaced by the use of weekly envelopes, pledges, annual appeals, and home visits to all households.

Lon
 

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 43160
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2011, 05:37:54 PM »
Pew rental was common practice U.S. churches by the time of the Civil War. In the 1910s and 1920s pew rentals were gradually replaced by the use of weekly envelopes, pledges, annual appeals, and home visits to all households.


Yes, the weekly collection of money to finance the congregation's budget is a quite recent development in church history.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

laywoman

  • Guest
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2011, 06:41:48 PM »
Pastor Charles Austin, Thank you for your replies to this thread.  As a lay person in the ELCA reading these forums makes me want to run far from the ELCA with their negativity.  Your words help me stay.   I don't know theology like most on here but if some of you were my pastor and your attitude in the pulpit was what I read here there wouldn't be too many in the pews - way too much sarcasm and just plain meanness.  Just remember there may be many more lay people like myself reading these forums to learn more about the ELCA and being horrified at the attitudes.

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #25 on: August 29, 2011, 10:54:10 PM »
laywoman writes:
Pastor Charles Austin, Thank you for your replies to this thread.  As a lay person in the ELCA reading these forums makes me want to run far from the ELCA with their negativity.  Your words help me stay.   

I comment:
Thank you. And people wonder why I stick around here.  ;) ;D

dkeener

  • Guest
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2011, 05:49:53 AM »
laywoman writes:
Pastor Charles Austin, Thank you for your replies to this thread.  As a lay person in the ELCA reading these forums makes me want to run far from the ELCA with their negativity.  Your words help me stay.   

I comment:
Thank you. And people wonder why I stick around here.  ;) ;D

Hey, I thought you didn't respond to anonymous posts.   :)

Riegel

  • Guest
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2011, 03:27:22 AM »
Quote
A more substantial resolution proposed a constitutional amendment which would have synods “transmit to the treasurer of the ELCA a portion of that mission support as determined by the Church Council based upon the number of confirmed members of this synod and adjusted for the median family income in the territory of this synod . . .”  R&C recommends referral to Mission Advancement Movement. Motion to refer adopted, 635-251. I doubt many members quite got what this was about. -- Richard O. Johnson

Quote
Finally as Rev. Johnson points out I don't think many people understand the constitutional amendment that was referred to the Mission Advancement Movement.  This is Lutheran income redistribution.   The geniuses on Higgins Road are carefully looking at membership in their regions and the median family income.   More will be expected from those rich regions.  -- Brian J. Bergs, Minneapolis, MN

The proposal was not brought by one of the "geniuses on Higgins Road." I introduced it. R&C recommended referral, and I spoke against referral because I wanted to see the main motion debated.

I too doubt that many members quite got what this was about, but, judging from the thread, I think that y'all are missing the point too.

I confined my speech on the floor to the narrow question of referral. Given the two-minute time limit and the nature of the pending question, it was not appropriate to address the merits of the main motion. Had the assembly rejected referral, it might have been possible to expound upon those merrits. As it was, one other member of the assembly spoke against referral, hinting at the gross inequities in mission support across the ELCA.

A few years ago, my synod ranked #1 in the ELCA for mission support per capita average Sunday attendance. For several years running, my synod was in the top five (if not the top three). The ratio between my synod and one of the synods (which I shall not name) near the bottom of the list was roughly 4:1. Now, I have no problem being generous and giving out of thankfulness for the blessings received, but it should be noted that that same synod had roughly twice the median family income my synod had. Adjusted, my synod was out-giving that synod roughly 9:1. I'm pretty sure that I remember these figures correctly. Even if I am off by a factor of 2, the inequity is still appalling.

More to the point, the proportional share mission support system frustrates attempts to expand (or even maintain) synodical ministry. If a synod wants to increase support for, let's say, it's church camp by $1000, how much additional mission support must it ask of its congregations? $1000? No, $2000, assuming a 50% proportional share with the churchwide expression. If LIFT is going to ask the congregations and synods to assume more of the ministry of the church, congregations and synods need to have the money to do so. Retaining proportional share doesn't help.

Switching to a per capita basis is consistent with the constitution's claim that all members are members of all three expressions (and that the ELCA is not a confederation of synods). A switch would also assist synods interested in expanding their ministries by allowing new revenues to actually go to those ministries rather than having half of those revenues directed to something other than the ministries for which the revenues were requested. BTW, I get a little frustrated saying to congregations (and parishioners), "The synod needs another $4000 in mission support so that the synod can increasse it's support of the seminary, but only half that amount will ever get to the seminary because the other half goes somewhere else under proportional share."
« Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 03:31:29 AM by Riegel »

Bergs

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1328
  • Battle for truth, justice & the American way
    • View Profile
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2011, 07:46:23 AM »
Thank you for your explanation.  I stand corrected, the geniuses on Higgins Road had nothing to do with it.  If they are able to take your idea and make a sensible program of it, fantastic. 

Though you find the statistics appalling, there maybe other reasons out there.  The median family income number can be skewed any which way.  Were the median family income numbers based only on ELCA households?  If one compared the Minneapolis Area Synod to say the Southeast Synod that comparison might not hold a lot of validity because of the geographic area and demographics.  Lutherans in the Minneapolis Synod definitely reflect the area's median family income given their concentration here.  While in the southeast ELCA members are spread out in small pockets and urban areas.

My suggestion would be to take your #1 status in amount of giving per attendance and find out why it is so much higher.  Your synod must be doing something very well.  Then tell that story encouraging other synods to replicate your fine work. 

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
But let me tell Thee that now, today, people are more persuaded than ever that they have perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet. But that has been our doing.
The Grand Inquisitor

Riegel

  • Guest
Re: Friday morning plenary: odds (really) and ends (finally)
« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2011, 11:19:02 AM »
In the original draft of the motion, there was no adjustment for median family income. You are quite right in identifying that there is no guarantee that the US Census median family income reflects the Lutheran median family income. The adjustment was added because some critics of the draft argued that it wasn't fair to expect synods in poorer regions of the ELCA to support at the same rate as those in wealthier regions. Ironically, my synod is in one of the poorer regions, and my hunch is that the membership, while perhaps above the median family income in this region, is most likely not in the third standard deviation. I would doubt its even half-way across the second standard deviation. So, I would have been fine without the adjustment.

Yes, I think that we have done something well in this synod. More than ten years ago, Synod Council made a point of visiting congregations and talking about what happens with mission support (i.e., where does the money go). We also set a goal of 15% proportional share from the congregations. Prior to that point, median mission support of congregations was around 8% with a huge standard deviation. A lot of hard work went into making these changes, and the fruit evidenced itself. At the high water mark, support went over 13% and the standard deviation narrowed.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Mission Support (I don't think that was the exact name, but close enough for ecclesiastical work), however, failed to inspire change across the ELCA. Differences in ecclesiastical ethos militate against sweeping change. For 20 years, the ELCA has talked about stewardship, but I haven't seen the evidence that that talk has accomplished anything. Instead, we have sections of the ELCA in which congregations bring in much greater giving from parishioners than is the case in my synod, yet a much smaller percentage makes its way to the synod (and thence to the Churchwide). Alienation and ecclesiastical ethos are part of that equation. I no longer expect those militating factors to be overcome. Rather asking yet again for everyone to raise their standards--something which has not worked--I am ready to adopt a uniformly lower standard (as my synod would deem it) and go for per capita.

Fundamentally, I would consider per capita more equitable. Repeatedly, in regional and synodical consultations with the churchwide, we have been not to be critical of those synods in the lower ranks of per capita mission support because it is common among them that congregations directly support ministries rather than supporting through the synod budget. While that sounds good at first hearing, deeper analysis reveals that the proportional share system relatively penalizes grant recipient ministries in synods where mission support is the primary conduit. Furthermore, synods in which mission support is the primary conduit end up supporting ministries across the whole church while synods in which direct support is more common end up supporting only regional ministries.

So, my proposal was not intended to work some redistribution of wealth. Rather, it was self-abandonment to localism. Localism is a feature of a good chunk of the church. I don't see that changing. In my synod, because of the dominant ecclesiastical ethos of the region, we need permission to function in the same fashion. Lacking that permission, we will continue to support a broken model for mission support and, as a consequence, cripple our synodical ministries as a matter of loyal support and obedience to the churchwide model of mission support which some synods follow and others don't.

If I were to describe the ELCA as a ship (a venerable image), I would say that it is a Viking long boat (in deference to my Northmen colleagues). The problem with mission support in the ELCA (at the synodical-churchwide interface) is that only half the Vikings are rowing. Requests and pleas that all row haven't done any good. I'm ready to stop rowing. Either we all meet the same standard as articulated in the design of the denom or we change the design to meet the standard which people are willing to meet. What it would mean for my synod is the ability to fund more vigorously mission and ministry.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 11:35:27 AM by Riegel »