Author Topic: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?  (Read 72245 times)

Maryland Brian

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #150 on: August 12, 2007, 08:24:09 PM »
And how does the church's responsibility for the misdeeds of its pastors relate to the discussion about gay and lesbian clergy?

  What will be the legal fees to discover a possible link?  A CWA just requested that our bishops refrain from discipline.  What if there is an incident?  Robert just shared a real world story.  I was an "after pastor" 15 years after a pedophile had multiple contacts within the congregation I served in Orinda, CA.  Now, that's what lawyers and the legal system are all about - where would the liability land *if* there should be an incident *now*?  Could it be argued the CWA action has set a corporate culture tone that provides tacit permission for sexual activity currently prohibited in our church's documents?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  How much money do you want to spend to find the answer to that question? 

  I simply asked the question from a risk management perspective.  Once you start officially giving an organization permission for key leaders to refrain from enforcing the policies of said institution, the legal meters start running looking for someone to blame when there's a problem.   Come on Charles, surely even you can spot the potential.  Ask the folks in Newark, CA what happened to them when their LC/NA leader was discovered to also be a pedophile.  Where will that legal exposure go next time?  Maybe spread across the entire ELCA or just the local synod? 

The small one-story, red-roofed church on Cedar Boulevard had thrived under DePorte. Then, in 1997, police arrested the popular pastor and gay rights advocate and charged him with sexually assaulting a mildly mentally disabled teenage boy.

DePorte was convicted in 2000 and spent 18 months in prison. But the damage was done. The trial, conviction and sentencing of DePorte devastated the church financially and psychologically.


http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20050628/ai_n15834004

Hmm ... now this has me thinking.  I think I'll ask a lawyer in the congregation to do some research and give me an opinion.  Is my congregation's continuing financial support of the ELCA suggestive of tacit approval to this latest action and what would happen if there's an incident in our synod?  Hmmm ...

MD Brian

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #151 on: August 12, 2007, 08:32:28 PM »
The small one-story, red-roofed church on Cedar Boulevard had thrived under DePorte. Then, in 1997, police arrested the popular pastor and gay rights advocate and charged him with sexually assaulting a mildly mentally disabled teenage boy.

DePorte was convicted in 2000 and spent 18 months in prison. But the damage was done. The trial, conviction and sentencing of DePorte devastated the church financially and psychologically.


http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20050628/ai_n15834004

Hmm ... now this has me thinking.  I think I'll ask a lawyer in the congregation to do some research and give me an opinion.  Is my congregation's continuing financial support of the ELCA suggestive of tacit approval to this latest action and what would happen if there's an incident in our synod?  Hmmm ...
How is a pastor "sexually assaulting a mildly disabled teenage boy" related to homosexual clergy in "mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationships"? The resolution is quite clear about the specific case in which synods, bishops, and the presiding are urged and encouraged to refrain or demonstrate restraint in discipline.
"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]

Gladfelteri

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #152 on: August 12, 2007, 08:36:20 PM »
I think as long as we are considering the reality of the situation, we need to consider the reality of the ELCA.  Debates over sexuality are merely a symptom of the main problem, which is that as a synod we don't agree on how we view Scripture.  The fact of the matter is that there are two diametrically opposed views that continually clash.
Didn't + + Mark Hansen admit as much when he noted that there were two hermeneutics being used in the ELCA?  And can't it be argued that "Book of Faith:  Lutherans Read the Bible" is more or less intended to gradually remove one of those hermeneutics?
Is there a Lutheran way of reading the Bible that is different than the "fundamentalists" way? If so, shouldn't Lutherans concentrate on the Lutheran way?
Well then, is the liberal revisionist hermeneutic the only "Lutheran way" and are those who don't buy into the revisionist hermeneutic and view of the nature and authority of scripture "fundamentalists?"  I don't think those in Lutheran CORE or LCCC and others who oppose the hermeneutic which would permit the kind of diversity which would allow the ordained service of partnered GLBT and the blessing of same sex "unions" consider themselves to be fundamentalists, Lutheran or otherwise.  And I doubt that + + Hansen would not have referred to 2 hermeneutics being used in the ELCA were that not the case.

Blessings,
Irl

Charles_Austin

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #153 on: August 12, 2007, 08:36:51 PM »
Maryland Brian writes:
I think I'll ask a lawyer in the congregation to do some research and give me an opinion.  Is my congregation's continuing financial support of the ELCA suggestive of tacit approval to this latest action and what would happen if there's an incident in our synod?  Hmmm ..

I ponder:
Seems to me that even you (to borrow a phrase) ought to be able to see the h-u-g-e leaps involved in this posting.
From gay and lesbian clergy to child abuse.
From not enforcing one policy under discussion to not enforcing all policies, including those on which there is total agreement.
From Roman Catholic polity and legal construction to Lutheran polity and construction.

Unless one concludes that the presence of gays and lesbians always leads to sexual abuse of children or that our church intends to tolerate such abuse or tolerate other types of sexual misconduct about which there is no disagreement; then you are leaping way too far out into space.

Maryland Brian

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #154 on: August 12, 2007, 09:00:56 PM »
Unless one concludes that the presence of gays and lesbians always leads to sexual abuse of children or that our church intends to tolerate such abuse or tolerate other types of sexual misconduct about which there is no disagreement; then you are leaping way too far out into space.

  You've entirely missed my point, but I've come to expect that.  It doesn't matter what you or I believe is intended by anything.  It's what an attorney believes was potentially intended and how that will be argued.  In a lawsuit you'd be free to argue what you just did.  At this point I would think a sharp lawyer would say "the culture of the church set a tone for ignoring policies and procedures because a CWA asked their bishops to do precisely that.  A church with permission to ignore its own policies is a church that cannot protect it's children, etc., etc.. "  The jury might then look at you and, remembering what happened in the RC church, decide the Lutherans can't be trusted to protect their children either.  What will it cost for something like that to go away?  Are you willing to take that chance to find out?

 As I said, I intend to seek legal counsel about this - and someone other than my wife.  She rolls her eyes when I talk about this and I won't type her legal opinion as to our potential exposure.

  I also noted that the congregation in Newark, CA was made nearly bankrupt by their experience and that was before any of these newer innovations came about. The Synod was protected because Howard had a regular call and, from their perspective, was living within the boundaries of V&E.  What happens next time?

MD Brian


Maryland Brian

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #155 on: August 12, 2007, 09:06:20 PM »

  BTW - this latest exchange with Charles and California Brian's response again reminds me of something I should have said, "If any of you are concerned with any risk management issues in your church, contact a real lawyer and get an opinion."  Our internal beliefs and understandings don't mean poop when it comes to a lawsuit.  And if you really want to spend an evening in a cold sweat, look up "attractive nuisance" and then apply it to your property...

MD Brian

And now back to our regularly scheduled discussion concerning the needs of Adam and Steve...

krs1984

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #156 on: August 12, 2007, 09:36:30 PM »
Since I brought this back up Charles I will chime in again....

MD Brian is correct. You don't know how it can 'happen' until you have been an 'after pastor'. Although my personal experience was not over 'sex' but over a 'senior pastor' self destructing I was as Assistant Pastor in constant communication with another Assistant Pastor (a neighbor) going through the 'sex' half. Both of us were dealing with synod and with synod lawyers. I eventually had to aquire 'payoff' money to end my situation. He had to 'pay out' as well but much more from the congregations vast resources. People were angry and decided not to give 'one dime' to that 'person' hence the congregation had to borrow to pay off what was their share of the settlements. The Bishop stated that he spent 'days' with lawyers over situations like this. All this nearly destroyed the ministry of these congregations.

We are exposed. To not discipline opens the door for a good lawyer. That is how it relates to the ELCA action. They are telling Bishops not to discipline. If I was a Bishop I would go to my synod council with my synod lawyer and tell them the truth about the liability issues. If I find any such possiblilities with lay leadership I discipline even if all that means is to ask them to temporarily walk away until you get your personal life together (this inculdes divorce situation). It is a real finanical risk to any congregation. As a corporate officer you are Liable! My family was at risk in the senor pastorate stuff, (he listed me in his lawsuit) even though sex was not there. I was 'interviewed' at a prominent MD congreagation the day they lost a civil suit for 'finding out about a pastoral affair and disciplining both parties of their staff' that suit cost if I remember correctly half a million. I had another collegue who at synod direction as an interim pastor 'removed' a troubled staff person who in turn sued the 'pastor and synod' for sexual herassment and won! (it was a he said she said but the jury believe her for millions of his personal fortune)

We are exposed especially now since we are not to 'discipline'.
I am with Brian maybe I will inform my council that I will still discipline to protect us. It is only common sense.
People don't even need proof to ruin the congregation or my ministry they only need to 'accuse'

krs1984

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #157 on: August 12, 2007, 09:47:45 PM »
Seems to me that even you (to borrow a phrase) ought to be able to see the h-u-g-e leaps involved in this posting.
From gay and lesbian clergy to child abuse.
From not enforcing one policy under discussion to not enforcing all policies, including those on which there is total agreement.
From Roman Catholic polity and legal construction to Lutheran polity and construction.

Unless one concludes that the presence of gays and lesbians always leads to sexual abuse of children or that our church intends to tolerate such abuse or tolerate other types of sexual misconduct about which there is no disagreement; then you are leaping way too far out into space.

Charles you don't get it.

It doesn't have to happen. It just has to be alleged! the door is open instead of shut. The risk is to give away in bad stewardship what we have been called to be good stewards with.
Ask the Roman friends you have what the 'accusations' and 'proofs' have done to their already bad giving. How many dioceses had filed for bankruptcy. Lawyers see us the same as Rome with 'deep pockets to give from' One suit could break most of our synods when millions go out. Tjhey can't close my congregation or yours unless we were the source but they could take all assest of a synod office or officers. Do you sit on Synod Council? New Jersey is especially exposed. My classmate has seen to that with her open actions at ELCA Assemblies etc. Somebody just has to 'claim it' trying to get money from her and synod.

revklak

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #158 on: August 12, 2007, 09:49:53 PM »
The ELCA press releases - and most of the secular media, except for Fox News - got it right.

Just curious -- I read the Fox News release -- where did they get it wrong?

Charles_Austin

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #159 on: August 12, 2007, 10:21:03 PM »
Someone asks:
ust curious -- I read the Fox News release -- where did they get it wrong?

I comment:
It wasn't the online version. I caught an on-the-air version that overstated the situation to make it appear as if the ELCA had whole-heartedly approved ordination for gays and lesbians.

Charles_Austin

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #160 on: August 12, 2007, 10:27:50 PM »
So the reality is, ELCA congregations are exposed no matter what, because people can find reasons for suits over mis-management, money, heterosexual affairs between consenting adults or improper procedures in firing a secretary. How does this relate to the current decision?

Maryland Brian

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #161 on: August 12, 2007, 11:43:16 PM »
So the reality is, ELCA congregations are exposed no matter what, because people can find reasons for suits over mis-management, money, heterosexual affairs between consenting adults or improper procedures in firing a secretary. How does this relate to the current decision?

 Contact an attorney and ask that question.

MD Brian

Richard Johnson

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #162 on: August 12, 2007, 11:59:08 PM »

It wasn't the online version. I caught an on-the-air version that overstated the situation to make it appear as if the ELCA had whole-heartedly approved ordination for gays and lesbians.

And how would you describe it? Half-heartedly doing so?  ::)
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #163 on: August 13, 2007, 12:30:23 AM »
We are exposed. To not discipline opens the door for a good lawyer. That is how it relates to the ELCA action. They are telling Bishops not to discipline.
Were any of the situations where pay outs were made anywhere similar to a congregation having a homosexual clergy in a committed relationship?

In the nearly 20 years of the ELCA that bishops have been refraining and demonstrating restraint in disciplining congregations with homosexual clergy in committed relationships and against homosexual clergy in committed relationships, has there been any lawsuit filed against those congregations? bishops? synods?
"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: 2007 CWA & Sexuality - What do you tell your congregation?
« Reply #164 on: August 13, 2007, 12:34:52 AM »
It doesn't have to happen. It just has to be alleged! the door is open instead of shut.
The penalties for making false accusations are pretty steep. The processes I've seen written up in synods, seek to protect clergy from false allegations. Some people could see that as an easy way to make some big bucks, but they could find themselves in deep trouble.

At the same time, clergy need to act in ways that protect themselves from allegations, or misinterpreted actions.
"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]