Author Topic: Mission Support Request for Refund  (Read 19793 times)

Pilgrim

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #30 on: August 23, 2012, 07:00:29 AM »
It's not quite so black and white.


The agreement seems pretty black and white. A congregation that receives money from the ELCA's Mission Investment Funds and leaves the ELCA is obligated to pay it back. What is unclear about that?

Tim notes: Who, besides you, has mentioned MIF? Read carefully, stay on point, do not speak of that which you do not have information or facts.... Oops, I forgot, you are Brian.  :o
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Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #31 on: August 23, 2012, 07:06:40 AM »
Hey Pilgrim, others have suggested that you contact the sender of the letter asking for your benevolence/mission support back.  I think that is a good idea.  And I'd be very specific in that letter. 

"Dear Sir or Madam (Bishop or Bishopess), We at XYZ Church will be happy to re-gift to you the $58000 and are prepared to write a check as soon as our benevolence money is returned to us.  By our accounting, that amount is $59000.  Can you tell us when we can expect that check?  Cordially, Pilgrim"  (The extra $1000 is for postage, time, effort, and emotional distress.)

In more serious terms, I'm sorry you received that letter.  Churches have gotten too tangled up with non-church matters.  95% of the people who come to the door asking for help say "I'll pay you back."  My response to them is, "You came to a church, not a bank.  We're not in the loaning business.  The church seems to have a hard time with the concept of gifts.

And when it comes to national church organizations, I think Walther said something to the effect that we (the national church) cannot even demand $0.01 from them (the local congregation).  We have to beg for their gift.  In the LCMS the amount of begging done by District and Synod is pretty heavy.  And the support seems to be pretty decent.  I am aware of some of  the giving that goes on but there is much that I am not aware of. 

It strikes me that some priorities are out of whack when national churches are asking for refunds from local congregations. 

Take care of yourself Pilgrim.

Jeremy
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Charles_Austin

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #32 on: August 23, 2012, 07:21:05 AM »
Jeremy Loesch writes:
In more serious terms, I'm sorry you received that letter.  Churches have gotten too tangled up with non-church matters.  95% of the people who come to the door asking for help say "I'll pay you back."  My response to them is, "You came to a church, not a bank.  We're not in the loaning business.  The church seems to have a hard time with the concept of gifts.
I comment:
Am I not making myself clear?
Since when is money a non-church matter? Ever try to run your congregation without money?
The money in question was not a gift. The congregation was not a poor person asking for food to survive. The congregation was seeking help in being a part of the ELCA and its mission. And in those cases, the church's national structure is, in one way, a bank.

Jeremy Loesch writes:
And when it comes to national church organizations, I think Walther said something to the effect that we (the national church) cannot even demand $0.01 from them (the local congregation).  We have to beg for their gift.
I comment:
Walther was wrong, at least partly. Maybe the church cannot "demand." But it can certainly expect congregations to support it

Jeremy Loesch writes:
It strikes me that some priorities are out of whack when national churches are asking for refunds from local congregations.
I comment:
Who has said it is  "priority"? Matter of fact, it is probably a very small, routine matter. And the church is not indiscriminately "asking for refunds," it is reminding congregations that took loans that they are supposed to pay them back. No interest. 

A Catholic Lutheran

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #33 on: August 23, 2012, 08:08:08 AM »
I would say that congregations that have recieved monies from the ELCA should pay those monies back, if nothing else, to "shake the dust" from their sandals.

Really.  It strikes me as petty of the ELCA to chose to fight this particular battle after a congregation has departed, but it strikes me as even more petty to respond by saying "We will pay you back after you refund "our" mission support..." or chosing to drag it out. 


One of my favorite proverbs is "If a bad person wrongs you, forgive that person, lest there be two bad people rather than one."  Yes, the ELCA may be petty, but please don't stoop to their level...or below it.

If this is what it takes to "cut the strings," it is a small price to pay for final severence.
Take the high road.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS


peter_speckhard

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #34 on: August 23, 2012, 08:46:23 AM »
Peter writes:
If we're talking about moral and not legal obligations, then any church that took mission dollars in the 1990's is obligated to use those dollars to support the mission as it was understood when the money was given, which the congregations that have left the ELCA over CWA09 are doing. To say otherwise is to bind consciences to a name of an non-profit organization rather than to an actual mission.
I comment:
The "binding" of consciences is not in question here, nor is the definition of "mission" under discussion. The issue is between two legal entities, the congregation and the ELCA. Congregations that leave may be supporting a "mission," but they certainly are not supporting the specific mission of the ELCA, which is the issue here.
I am honestly shocked at the suggestion that people should be allowed to walk away from legally incurred debts.

Earlier on this very thread you wrote, "But the information at hand suggest a moral obligation to return the money, even if the legal binding is in question." I was responding to your distinction between legally binding things and moral obligations. And the definition of "mission" definitely is under discussion wherever the misuse of mission dollars is under discussion. The ELCA is under no legal obligation (nor are they legally entitled to the money back, in all likelihood) but they are under a moral obligation to quit mailing these letters and let the various congregations depart in peace.

Terry W Culler

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #35 on: August 23, 2012, 09:10:08 AM »
As an outsider I find it interesting that the ELCA defenders don't want to hold to the plain words of Scripture but they do want to hold to the plain? words of a human contract.  I'm sure if I thought about it I could bring in 1 Cor. 6 too.
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Mike Gehlhausen

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #36 on: August 23, 2012, 09:18:59 AM »
As an outsider I find it interesting that the ELCA defenders don't want to hold to the plain words of Scripture but they do want to hold to the plain? words of a human contract.  I'm sure if I thought about it I could bring in 1 Cor. 6 too.

It seems to me that 1 Corinthians 6 does apply.

I believe that the wording in question is a very common phrase in mission start agreements and in church constitutions.  I know that it has been an issue with congregations which have sought to leave the LCMS.  I believe that in many cases districts and DPs in the LCMS seek to honor the spirit of 1 Corinthians 6 and let congregations which seek to continue their ministry just outside the LCMS go freely.

But I also know that following the AELC battles and the problems with some ELCA congregations and predecessor congregations losing their property altogether if they left because it was legally considered to belong with the church body, some LCMS congregations have modified this phrase in their constitutions to have the assets revert to the district if and only if the congregation dissolves altogether.

Long story short though, I find it tragic that the ELCA should so starkly defy 1 Corinthians 6 in this way.  Is Mammon their God?
 
Mike

Team Hesse

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #37 on: August 23, 2012, 09:22:54 AM »
Is Mammon their God?
 
Mike

We all have a God of some sort. Either the true one or something else..... ;)

Lou

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2012, 09:29:00 AM »
Jeremy Loesch writes:
In more serious terms, I'm sorry you received that letter.  Churches have gotten too tangled up with non-church matters.  95% of the people who come to the door asking for help say "I'll pay you back."  My response to them is, "You came to a church, not a bank.  We're not in the loaning business.  The church seems to have a hard time with the concept of gifts.
I comment:
Am I not making myself clear?
Since when is money a non-church matter? Ever try to run your congregation without money?
The money in question was not a gift. The congregation was not a poor person asking for food to survive. The congregation was seeking help in being a part of the ELCA and its mission. And in those cases, the church's national structure is, in one way, a bank.

Jeremy Loesch writes:
And when it comes to national church organizations, I think Walther said something to the effect that we (the national church) cannot even demand $0.01 from them (the local congregation).  We have to beg for their gift.
I comment:
Walther was wrong, at least partly. Maybe the church cannot "demand." But it can certainly expect congregations to support it

Jeremy Loesch writes:
It strikes me that some priorities are out of whack when national churches are asking for refunds from local congregations.
I comment:
Who has said it is  "priority"? Matter of fact, it is probably a very small, routine matter. And the church is not indiscriminately "asking for refunds," it is reminding congregations that took loans that they are supposed to pay them back. No interest.

Charles, I may very well be wrong, but I don't think there was any mention of a loan in Pilgrim's original post.  If XYZ Church on Main St. takes out a loan, whether it is from PNC Bank, Citizens Bank or Bank of America or even Lutheran Church Extension Fund, then yes, there is an obligation to abide by the terms of the loan agreement. 

But I do not think that mission support is considered a "loan", or at least not in terms of me going to the bank and seeking a car loan.  And if mission support is considered a loan, then something is wrong. 

Allow me to resort to an argument via anecdote: My father began his pastoral career as a Missionary At Large in the Southeastern District.  He started two churches, one in North Carolina in 1968 and then one in Virginia in 1973.  Both of those congregations received quite a bit of money from the District.  One of those congregations did not survive.  That church did not have to "pay back" the money they received because it was not a loan.  It was mission support.  Some churches survive; some do not.  My present congregation supports a missionary and his family in another continent.  We consider this as part of our mission support.  We do not expect to get our money back.  We support a seminarian through Adopt-A-Family.  We do not expect to see that money back because we consider that to be part of our mission support.

Mission support should not be equated with a loan, because then it works against "support".  The receiver now has a hammer over their head rather than a beam of support underneath them.  And it works against "mission".  What is the mission of the loaner?  To find the best rate of return? 

Loans are fine.  Mission support is fine.  The two are not the same.

Jeremy

PS- Feel free to call me Jeremy.  You do not have to include my last name if you desire.   
A Lutheran pastor growing into all sorts of things.

cnehring

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #39 on: August 23, 2012, 10:25:03 AM »
Mission start up and support dollars a loan, huh? Interesting way one describes the "boots on the ground" work of the Church.

BTW-where did the elca get those dollars to "invest" in mission start-ups? Perhaps any monies re-collected should be sent back to all-past and present-the congregations who sent in their benevolence/mission support dollars to Higgens Road? (since, you know, the "church" in the elca is in 3 "equal" expressions).

Coach-Rev

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #40 on: August 23, 2012, 10:57:39 AM »
look at it this way:  We loaned much money and time to evangelize the Ethiopians.  Now, thanks in large part to the ELCA and its policies, they have broken with this largest of American Lutheran denominations (wonder if EECMY will receive a similar letter?).  Now they are laying the groundwork and strategy to come back to America to evangelize us.  They are getting paid back for their efforts.  And thank God they are.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2012, 11:32:52 AM by Coach-Rev »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #41 on: August 23, 2012, 11:22:27 AM »
As an outsider I find it interesting that the ELCA defenders don't want to hold to the plain words of Scripture but they do want to hold to the plain? words of a human contract.  I'm sure if I thought about it I could bring in 1 Cor. 6 too.

It seems to me that 1 Corinthians 6 does apply.

I believe that the wording in question is a very common phrase in mission start agreements and in church constitutions.  I know that it has been an issue with congregations which have sought to leave the LCMS.  I believe that in many cases districts and DPs in the LCMS seek to honor the spirit of 1 Corinthians 6 and let congregations which seek to continue their ministry just outside the LCMS go freely.

But I also know that following the AELC battles and the problems with some ELCA congregations and predecessor congregations losing their property altogether if they left because it was legally considered to belong with the church body, some LCMS congregations have modified this phrase in their constitutions to have the assets revert to the district if and only if the congregation dissolves altogether.

Long story short though, I find it tragic that the ELCA should so starkly defy 1 Corinthians 6 in this way.  Is Mammon their God?


It was also true (in the past, but not now) that when an LCMS pastor left the LCMS for another clergy roster, he lost his pension. That happened to a pastor I know. He had served the LCMS congregation in Green River, WY (the neighboring town where I was in WY,) but when I met him, he was serving the ELCA congregation in Evergreen, CO. He told me that making the change meant that he lost his pension; but that was a price he was willing to pay.


When congregations vote to leave the ELCA, they should be fully aware about what it might cost them. (However, there are also reports of bishops not really knowing the truths about what it might cost a congregation/pastor who have assumed costs, e.g., the loss of the pension, that just don't exist.)
"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]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #42 on: August 23, 2012, 11:26:32 AM »
This is not the Mission Investment Fund.  MIF dollars are secured by a mortgage on the property.  This is the ELCA asking for their start-up money back that they gave away through the division for outreach.


Thank you for the correction. I've deleted some posts and modified another.
"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]

Matt Hummel

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #43 on: August 23, 2012, 11:27:23 AM »
Tell you  what- the folks leaving the ELCA can pay up. That will give them the money the Lutherans owe us RCs from your angry breakaway. 
?

So that you can pay off Constantinople?
A very palpable hit!  ;D. But hey- you do know, they left us...
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #44 on: August 23, 2012, 11:30:10 AM »
Really.  It strikes me as petty of the ELCA to chose to fight this particular battle after a congregation has departed,


There is no fight if the congregation stays in the ELCA. That is clear in the contract the congregation received long before they voted to withdraw.
"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]