Wednesday, August 09, 2006

4 BOD members explain why they are suing LCMS

To: Members of the Board of Directors of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

From: Rev. Edward Balfour, Elizabeth Fluegel, David Hawk and Christian Preus.

This letter assumes that all members of the Board of Directors of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are aware that we four Directors have sought to intervene in the litigation that is pending in St. Louis County, Missouri Circuit Court. The case, Anderson v. Kieschnick, has been pending for almost a year and involves claims by a group of members and pastors relating to the elections at the 2004 voting convention . secondarily, relating to the power of the Commission on Constitutional Matters. The purpose of this letter is to explain why we, as Directors, have taken the step of seeking to intervene in that litigation.

Over a period of years, we four, and many other thoughtful pastors and members of the Church have been troubled by efforts to relocate power within the corporate structure of LCMS. We have witnessed the expansion of the CCM's authority at the expense of the authority of the Board of Directors. The consolidation of power in the CCM has, in our opinion, worked a fundamental change in the governance of the LCMS. The change has, in fact, removed power from the hands of individual directors, who are directly responsible to the members, and put that power in the hands of appointees of executives who do not answer directly to the membership. This unhealthy development has made the management of the LCMS less responsive to the will of its members.
Unchecked, this wrong accretion of power in the executives, de-legitimizes the authority of LCMS in the eyes of the faithful.

In the past, despite our deepening concerns, we were content to work within the LCMS structure to correct what we knew was an imbalance. We believed .
and continue to believe . that persons of good will, particularly those who share our faith, ought to be able to resolve their differences without the aid of the courts and without appeal to civil authority. We did not join in the Anderson litigation for that reason, although we welcomed the attempt by the Anderson plaintiffs to garner clarification from the court on the scope of the Board's secular authority. Of course, that changed when we learned that the Anderson case was about to be resolved without a full airing of the issues raised in Count II of the Anderson petition . the issues bearing on the power of the Board versus CCM. Concerned that the termination of the Anderson Case could be viewed as a settlement of the question and an affirmation of the power of the CCM, we sought legal advice on our options.

We were advised, while the settlement of the Anderson Case might not foreclose consideration of the question by another court, safety lay in seeking intervention in the pending litigation and resolution of the question there.

In our view, concern and uncertainty over the power of the CCM had lingered too long. That serious issue, combined with the unknown effects of the termination of the Anderson Case, compelled us to initiate intervention to bring the question to a head and to obtain a resolution of the issue which, despite patient work, was obviously not going to come from within the LCMS.

he truth is: We did not want to take this action; it was thrust upon us by the termination of the Anderson Case without a clear and certain resolution of the CCM issue. Our action does not threaten the amicable settlement of the Anderson claims by Plaintiffs who wish to exit the litigation. Those who wish to drop their claims can do so, just as easily as they had planned to do, after our entry into the case. Our pursuit of clarification cannot affect the incentive for either side to compromise their differences. The parties have reached accord for practical reasons - the financial resources and time demanded by litigation probably being foremost. The fact, however,remains: Neither side settled perceiving that they had resolved an issue, which our intervention will rekindle. In a word, Plaintiffs and Defendants put the issue in play and then quit the field. We are finishing a contest that we did not start - but a contest of the greatest urgency to the Church.

We hope this explains our reasons for taking the action that we have. Some of you will not agree with the reasons we have cited, but, as Christians, we must respect our differences and continue to work side-by-side with civility as we attempt to heal the division that exists. If you have any questions about our actions, please feel free to contact any one of us.


At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Ed Giese said...

I found this site because our district office forwarded Dr. Kieschnick's letter concerning the BOD to our church's e-mail address. I don't generally get involved in synodical politics beyond the bare minimum, but something seemed just plain wrong about what's happening here. So, I went fishing with technorati and found your site.

I really appreciate your collecting all of this information and your thoughtful arrangement of it and comments. This site shows a lot of time and energy, and I appreciate both.

If it is true (especially the post about Ms. Martinez below) it is very, very disturbing. Yet, as much as my blood can start to boil at stories of slights and discourtesies, it seems that there are always stories like this on "both sides." Any group of like-minded Christians are going to have members who are edgy or sharp-tongued, or who give offense from time to time.

The one thing that disturbs me about your blog is your anonymity. Maybe you have a good reason to keep your name a secret; cowardice would not be a "good reason" for me, but there's something else. Whatever your reasons, you should explain why you are anonymous in your profile, and it should be a very good reason. Otherwise, why should I take you seriously?

The blogosphere is filled with people with strong points of view. Many of them are good writers and are worth reading, but only if there is transparency. That seems especially true here.

At 12:31 PM, Blogger Editor said...

Why am I anonymous? A couple of reasons. First is I do not want to be the center of attention. Too many "commentators" are doing it to draw attention to themselves. Second, there has been backlash in my particular commmunity against those who would dare to point out anything critical of the present administration, and I don't want to deal with the headaches.

Why should you take an anoymous source seriously? First of all based on the facticity of the information reported and where commentary is offered based on the proportionality of said opinion in reference to the information at hand and the corresponding logic in the line of argument.

For the most part, I believe the facts tell the story, though sometimes one has to comment on the sources that tend to overframe the matter at hand to suit their particular desired outcome.

At 5:37 PM, Anonymous J.S. Martindale said...

Sounds reasonable to me.

At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Four members of the LCMS Board of Directors (BOD) will ask the St. Louis County Circuit Court for permission to intervene in the class action lawsuit filed against the LCMS at a hearing scheduled for Friday, August 29, 2006.
The date for the hearing was changed from August 18, to August 29th.

The four members of the Board of Directors are Rev. Edward Balfour, Elizabeth Fluegel, David Hawk, and Christian Preus.

At 7:35 PM, Anonymous ed giese said...

After I fired off my first comment, I saw that in your first post, rather than on your profile, you did provide some explanation for the existence of the blog. I understand and respect your reasons, though I'm still not sure I agree with them. Still, I'll keep reading, and I've linked your site on our own church blog. More information is always better.

You may want to move some of the info from your first post to the profile. It might save some confusion from folks like me (and lots of other internet readers) who sometimes post "fire, aim, ready!"


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