Author Topic: Mission Support Request for Refund  (Read 19784 times)

Pilgrim

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Mission Support Request for Refund
« on: August 22, 2012, 04:08:47 PM »
Received an interesting email today from a representative of Congregational and Synodical Mission for the ELCA, indicating a letter had been sent to our Congregational Chairperson (actual a former Chairperson, but the ELCA would not be in a position to know that a new Chair is currently in place), essentially asking for reimbursement of  partnership support provided between the years of 1988-1995 to the tune of some $58,000+ dollars.

This paragraph was of particularly interest: "It is the long-term practice of this church, including its predecessor bodies, for a clear fiduciary responsibility to return this financial support if the congregation ceases to be affiliated with the ELCA, so that the work of our church can continue as it was originally planned."

I am aware that some parishes currently on mission support have been told they must repay, but this is the first instance of which I am aware that a parish, whose mission support is well in the past, and whose accumulated benevolence to synod and ELCA over the years is many times the amount indicated, having been asked to return funds. Has anyone else in these environs received such a letter?
Pr. Tim Christ, STS

Team Hesse

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2012, 04:44:52 PM »
Received an interesting email today from a representative of Congregational and Synodical Mission for the ELCA, indicating a letter had been sent to our Congregational Chairperson (actual a former Chairperson, but the ELCA would not be in a position to know that a new Chair is currently in place), essentially asking for reimbursement of  partnership support provided between the years of 1988-1995 to the tune of some $58,000+ dollars.

This paragraph was of particularly interest: "It is the long-term practice of this church, including its predecessor bodies, for a clear fiduciary responsibility to return this financial support if the congregation ceases to be affiliated with the ELCA, so that the work of our church can continue as it was originally planned."

I am aware that some parishes currently on mission support have been told they must repay, but this is the first instance of which I am aware that a parish, whose mission support is well in the past, and whose accumulated benevolence to synod and ELCA over the years is many times the amount indicated, having been asked to return funds. Has anyone else in these environs received such a letter?

Very interesting.....

Lou

cnehring

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2012, 04:51:21 PM »
Received an interesting email today from a representative of Congregational and Synodical Mission for the ELCA, indicating a letter had been sent to our Congregational Chairperson (actual a former Chairperson, but the ELCA would not be in a position to know that a new Chair is currently in place), essentially asking for reimbursement of  partnership support provided between the years of 1988-1995 to the tune of some $58,000+ dollars.

This paragraph was of particularly interest: "It is the long-term practice of this church, including its predecessor bodies, for a clear fiduciary responsibility to return this financial support if the congregation ceases to be affiliated with the ELCA, so that the work of our church can continue as it was originally planned."

I am aware that some parishes currently on mission support have been told they must repay, but this is the first instance of which I am aware that a parish, whose mission support is well in the past, and whose accumulated benevolence to synod and ELCA over the years is many times the amount indicated, having been asked to return funds. Has anyone else in these environs received such a letter?

Tim, contact Steve King with Sola Publishing. His church in MN had to do a similar thing when they left the ELCA a couple of years ago. Don't know all the details behind it and you might be a different case from them. But he would be a good resource on having to deal with the ELCA in this matter

Evangel

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2012, 04:51:59 PM »
Hi Tim,

This is not new.  Our congregation in CT was hit with this request as we were in the process of disbanding (to put a road block up so we could not make decisions on how disburse our assets to other churches).  I have also heard of other LCMC congregations (including two I'm familiar with in SC that are dealing with this now) that have gotten these kind of letters.  I'd be happy to get you in touch with the pastors involved.

A couple of years ago I heard of some congregations that have told the ELCA "that as soon as the ELCA returns all the benevolence we've given since our founding we'll return the start-up monies" ... to the best of my knowledge that has been the last that those congregations have heard from the ELCA on this matter.

At that time I did post the text of one of the forms that I was in possession of dated from the early 90's.  It is called a Conditional Note for Partnership Support.  It is posted on the LCMCfriends.info forum at http://www.lcmcfriends.info/index.php?topic=130.0

Apparently, the ELCA continues to send the requests out to congregations seemingly as a fishing expedition.

It seems to me that LCMC and NALC ought to come up with a unified strategy for congregations dealing with this.
Mark Schimmel, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church, LCMC
Priddy, TX
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ACXXIII, "Your majesty will graciously take into account the fact that, in these last times of which the Scriptures prophesy, the world is growing worse and men are becoming weaker and more infirm."

FrPeters

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2012, 05:12:38 PM »
Could easily be ended by the congregations leaving sending a request for their benevolence money back... same logic...
Fr Larry Peters
Grace LCMS, Clarksville, TN
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Charles_Austin

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2012, 05:39:42 PM »
The document cited upstream reads (emphasis added):
"Be it resolved that the above named congregation confirms the receipt of partnership support from the Division for Outreach of the ELCA in the amount of $XX,XXX during the 12 month period ending XX/XX/XX, and does hereby agree and promise that this amount, along with the partnership support received in prior years (from the ELCA beginning in 1988 or from the Lutheran Church in America prior to 1988), shall be due and payable without interest to the Division for Outreach out of the residues of the assets of the congregation, if and when said congregation disbands, sells its principal real estate assets, and/or ceases to be a congregation affiliated with the ELCA.
Be it further resolved that the above named congregation consents to the right of the ELCA to file in the public records a lien upon the real estate assets of the above named congregation evidencing this congregations undertaking as set forth in the preceding resolution."

What is unclear about that? Asking for return of "benevolence" (now called "mission support") might seem "logical" and is certainly rhetorical and argumentative, but does not have what appears to be the force of law stated in the document which Evangel supplied.
And if the congregation did enter into this agreement, why would it not want to fulfill its legal obligations agreed to in this agreement? Being mad at the person who gave you a loan does not mean that you are not obligated to pay it back.

Evangel

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2012, 05:50:30 PM »
It's also my understanding that these "Conditional Notes" are a little sketchy (as some legal minds have added there is no such thing as a conditional promissory note).

Perhaps more importantly, these documents were sometimes executed by the mission development pastor without council or congregational approval ... i.e., they were just a required paper the pastor had to fill out to get paid in the early days of the mission plant.  I have physically held and read one of those documents in the last couple months.
Mark Schimmel, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church, LCMC
Priddy, TX
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ACXXIII, "Your majesty will graciously take into account the fact that, in these last times of which the Scriptures prophesy, the world is growing worse and men are becoming weaker and more infirm."

Pilgrim

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2012, 05:54:18 PM »
Tim, noting that Charles would certainly arrive to the defense of the ELCA: The monies provided during that period were not a "loan". They were an "investment" in mission and the resultant success of same provided benevolence dollars many times over during the ensuing years.

It does raise the obvious question though: is this any way for a church, claiming to be the Body of Christ, to act in His name?
Pr. Tim Christ, STS

Charles_Austin

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2012, 06:06:58 PM »
Whatever you  call 'em, Pastor Christ, if the note says you have to pay the money back if you leave the ELCA, why do you think you should not have to pay it back?

Pastor Christ writes:
It does raise the obvious question though: is this any way for a church, claiming to be the Body of Christ, to act in His name?
I comment:
Running and trying to hide behind warm-fuzzy "churchy" language won't cut it here. We have been down this road before. The officials of the church have a fiduciary responsibility to the larger membership. They could be in default of this legal responsibility if they were to say: "Oh, well, just forget about it" when a legal document requires them to seek recovery of funds under their control distributed with these conditions..
BTW, I'm not "defending" anything here, for I do not see anything under "attack." I only note that the clear reading of the agreement says: If you leave the ELCA, you owe us this money.


Pilgrim

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2012, 06:26:09 PM »
Whatever you  call 'em, Pastor Christ, if the note says you have to pay the money back if you leave the ELCA, why do you think you should not have to pay it back?

Pastor Christ writes:
It does raise the obvious question though: is this any way for a church, claiming to be the Body of Christ, to act in His name?
I comment:
Running and trying to hide behind warm-fuzzy "churchy" language won't cut it here. We have been down this road before. The officials of the church have a fiduciary responsibility to the larger membership. They could be in default of this legal responsibility if they were to say: "Oh, well, just forget about it" when a legal document requires them to seek recovery of funds under their control distributed with these conditions..
BTW, I'm not "defending" anything here, for I do not see anything under "attack." I only note that the clear reading of the agreement says: If you leave the ELCA, you owe us this money.

Tim simply notes: Charles, you "assume" facts not in evidence ... and running and hiding behind warm-fuzzy church language, as you are calling it, does have a precedent, running throughout Sacred Scripture. Apparently that indicates to some of us that warm-fuzzy "churchy" language might indeed be appropriate especially for those (presumably) trained to think beyond the confines of this passing world, realizing that more is often at stake.
Pr. Tim Christ, STS

Charles_Austin

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2012, 06:59:47 PM »
Nice words, Pastor Christ, but it doesn't answer the question.
Why do you think a dissident congregation, leaving the ELCA, often in anger, should be given a "pass" on its obligations?
Congregations planning to leave should have known of the consequences, the way pastors should have known of the impact their departure would have on pension and health benefits.
Tell me what the ELCA would gain by turning money - and we don't know how many tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars - over to schismatic congregations.


George Erdner

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2012, 07:48:02 PM »
Whatever you  call 'em, Pastor Christ, if the note says you have to pay the money back if you leave the ELCA, why do you think you should not have to pay it back?

Pastor Christ writes:
It does raise the obvious question though: is this any way for a church, claiming to be the Body of Christ, to act in His name?
I comment:
Running and trying to hide behind warm-fuzzy "churchy" language won't cut it here. We have been down this road before. The officials of the church have a fiduciary responsibility to the larger membership. They could be in default of this legal responsibility if they were to say: "Oh, well, just forget about it" when a legal document requires them to seek recovery of funds under their control distributed with these conditions..
BTW, I'm not "defending" anything here, for I do not see anything under "attack." I only note that the clear reading of the agreement says: If you leave the ELCA, you owe us this money.

Tim simply notes: Charles, you "assume" facts not in evidence ... and running and hiding behind warm-fuzzy church language, as you are calling it, does have a precedent, running throughout Sacred Scripture. Apparently that indicates to some of us that warm-fuzzy "churchy" language might indeed be appropriate especially for those (presumably) trained to think beyond the confines of this passing world, realizing that more is often at stake.

It strikes me as a classic case of "situational ethics". When the situation favors a concise adherence to the literal letter of the law (or note), then the ELCA (and its head cheerleaders) also favor a concise adherence to the literal letter of the law. When the situation favors a more relaxed, "churchy" interpretation of the rules, then the ELCA (and its head cheerleaders) will be the first to jump on the bandwagon to bang the drum of "bearing each others' burdens". I believe that the common term for that is "hypocrisy".

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2012, 08:14:45 PM »
Tim, noting that Charles would certainly arrive to the defense of the ELCA: The monies provided during that period were not a "loan". They were an "investment" in mission and the resultant success of same provided benevolence dollars many times over during the ensuing years.

It does raise the obvious question though: is this any way for a church, claiming to be the Body of Christ, to act in His name?


They were an investment in an ELCA mission. It's no longer fulfilling that mission. It's the same argument that's made about the synod taking the property of a congregation that was dedicated as a Lutheran church when it ceases to be a congregation affiliated with a Lutheran body.

The question can also be asked if it is anyway for a congregation to act to withdraw from the "mother" who gave it birth and invested in its life?
« Last Edit: August 22, 2012, 08:17:39 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2012, 08:21:10 PM »
It's also my understanding that these "Conditional Notes" are a little sketchy (as some legal minds have added there is no such thing as a conditional promissory note).

Perhaps more importantly, these documents were sometimes executed by the mission development pastor without council or congregational approval ... i.e., they were just a required paper the pastor had to fill out to get paid in the early days of the mission plant.  I have physically held and read one of those documents in the last couple months.


And if a pastor signed such a note, seeking funds as an ELCA pastor leading an ELCA congregation; but was really planning to withdraw and join another body, it is fraud.
"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]

Evangel

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Re: Mission Support Request for Refund
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2012, 09:28:39 PM »
It's also my understanding that these "Conditional Notes" are a little sketchy (as some legal minds have added there is no such thing as a conditional promissory note).

Perhaps more importantly, these documents were sometimes executed by the mission development pastor without council or congregational approval ... i.e., they were just a required paper the pastor had to fill out to get paid in the early days of the mission plant.  I have physically held and read one of those documents in the last couple months.


And if a pastor signed such a note, seeking funds as an ELCA pastor leading an ELCA congregation; but was really planning to withdraw and join another body, it is fraud.

When these papers were signed ... some 25 years ago ... there was no inkling of withdrawing, or even having anyplace TO go if one wanted to leave ... LCMC has only been around since 2001.

Google "Conditional Promissory Note" - the term that most frequently is associated with that phrase is "invalid".  Google is certainly not a lawyer, but I'd guess a real one familiar with the term can cite the chapter and verse  of the law that backs it up.  I'm guessing that's why when congregations have responded to the request letter that they'd rather not comply, the ELCA disappears. 

Fishing expedition.
Mark Schimmel, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church, LCMC
Priddy, TX
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ACXXIII, "Your majesty will graciously take into account the fact that, in these last times of which the Scriptures prophesy, the world is growing worse and men are becoming weaker and more infirm."