Thursday, August 03, 2006

Julie Martinez is "welcomed to the BOD"

Here is some further insight to how some of the BOD members treat one another. Julie Martinez was newly elected in 2004 to the Board of Directors by the convention. Ms. Pophal and Mrs. Garton have been fervent supports of President Kieschnick since 2001. Julie Martinez writes:

The first official meeting of the BoD after the convention was in September of 2004. I have to say I was quite nervous going to St. Louis for the first time. I already knew many of the issues in the Synod, and knew that the BoD, with its confessional majority, had already been the target of many of the more liberal Jesus First writers. While I did not expect a “warm fuzzy” experience, I did expect that other BoD members, being fellow Christians, would at least be civil in their interactions with each other. It turned out that even that simple expectation was not met.

Prior to the meeting, we were hosted in a lovely dinner at the home of Tom and Ilona Kuchta. We then had one day of meetings, and went out for dinner as a board that evening. We all had a chance to meet and get acquainted. Later, I realized that I had met and conversed with everyone on the BoD, except Mrs. Garton.

So, the next morning, I made a point to introduce myself to her before that day’s meeting was to begin. I was standing in the hall outside the boardroom talking with a few other board members, when Mrs. Garton walked by. I approached her, smiled, held out my hand, and said, “Hi, we haven’t officially me yet! I’m Julie.” She looked at my hand as if it contained dog droppings, and, in an icy tone, replied, “And we are not going to meet or to talk. You have no business being here, and I have nothing to say to you!”

I stood there for a few seconds with my hand still held out, absolutely stunned that she would respond in such a personally spiteful way. I walked back to the group I had been talking with, who had witnessed the interchange. They said that I could not let that drop, and I needed to bring it up in the board meeting so it could be resolved.

Great. Here I was the new member, and my first contribution would be to say that somebody was being mean to me!

At the appropriate time, I shakily raised my hand, and stated what had happened, without mentioning names. I ended by asking how we could ever expect to work together if we could not even be civil in the hallways.

Mrs. Garton jumped right in, and admitted that she was the person of whom I spoke. Actually, the word “admitted” isn’t exactly the right one, for she actually was gloating about it. In open session, she made the following comment, “She doesn’t belong here. In fact, I sent welcome cards to the other new members, but I don’t think she deserves one, so I didn’t send her one. Isn’t that right Victor, isn’t that right, Walter, didn’t I send you nice cards?” Both of them sheepishly nodded yes, they had received cards of welcome from Jean. I, of course, had not.

It appeared that almost everyone in the room was so stunned by the inappropriate and unchristian nature her comments that nobody thought to rebuke her immediately, and the business of the board continued. At the end of the meeting, an attempt was made by another board member to redress the issue, stating that we could not work together as a board with attitudes like hers being allowed to continue. Mrs. Garton then stood up, started throwing her materials into her briefcase in a show of emotion bordering on hysteria, and stated, “I cannot discuss this now. It is just too emotional for me! If you insist on bringing this up again, I’m leaving right now.” So the meeting adjourned, and her behavior was never rebuked.

Character, it has been said, is what a person is when no one is looking. Our job would be easier if daily vitamins or childhood inoculations supplied character. Character forms in only one way: by doing the hard thing, the unpopular thing, the right thing. (Dr Jean Garton in Lutheran Women's Quarterly)

READ more about how Julie M. was treated during her time on the BOD.


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