Monday, April 25, 2011

"Decent and Good Order"

praedictabitur in tectis.  "Proclaim it from the rooftops."  What is whispered needs to be proclaimed from the roof tops (Luke 12:3).
Easter 2011 at ULC
Here's the whisper:  The MN-S District owns the chapel on the campus of the University of Minnesota.  It's probably worth a few bucks - make that a MILLION bucks!  The District is short on money and has been trying to put ULC on the block for some time.

I, of course, being concerned emailed the District President.  Here are the responses that I got.  Notice the refrain:  everything should be handled in "decent and good order."  Hey, that's 1 Corinthians 14:40!  It sure sounds pious and biblical!

But, let's take a look at what constitutes decency and good order in the MN-S District....
  1. A task force was formed to discuss these matters in September 2010.  The Board of Directors of MN-S apparently forgot to tell ULC that a task force had been formed to discuss the selling of their property.  Good thing that someone from ULC happened to read the BOD minutes in late March to learn about the existence of the Task Force!  Then, ULC didn't find about the content of the meeting until April 15, 2011!   It's divinely lucky that ULC even got to go to the meeting where the plans to sell their buildings were being proposed to the Mission and Finance Committees!  You know, so that all can be done... "in decent and good order."  Check the timeline here.  
  2. As you notice from the emails that from the district officials, we are being told not to reply to their emails.  The District is being transparent and open about discussing these things while NOT allowing discussion on them!  Hmmm... is that troubling to you?  This, of course, is done, "in decent and good order."
  3. "The Campus Ministry Task Force completed its assignment, developing a comprehensive plan for expansion of campus ministry to the colleges and universities located within the District, while exercising responsible stewardship of limited resources." (here).  What do they decide?  They are going to "expand" the campus ministries by SELLING the church property of a vibrant congregation!  I've worshiped at ULC - even taught and preached there.  At the top of this post is picture - look at all the people!  That congregation is alive! Is this your definition of "in decent and good order?"  
  4. The District President's email says that the Task Force's proposal hasn't been heard by the MN-S BOD.  The problem here is that three of the members of the Task Force are members of the BoD! So, when the BOD considers this "proposal," they are considering something written by three members of the BOD!  Another three of BOD members are on the Mission Committee that the Task Force presented the proposal to at the April Meeting!  And remember that Finance Committee that the proposal was presented to?  Yeah, there are members of the Task Force on that committee too!  I've included a chart of how diverse the people involved in this are!  If you email me, I can send you the list with snail mail addresses so you can drop a letter to them (Praedicabitur in Tectis!!)  By my count (and I got my degree in Classical Latin, so you might check me), seven of the twenty members of the MN-S BoD have already approved this plan in some way, shape, or form.  In Louisiana, we'd call what's going on "dirty" politics.  In Illinois, it's par for the course (grin).  But, what's it called when you really wanna do something in the Church?   We call it "decent and in good order."
  5. This must be SOME Task Force to come up with these amazing plans that they can't go back on if they don't work!  Once you sell a building and uproot ULC, you can't go back on it right?  Psyche!  No oopsies or "take backs!"  They are especially gifted to come up with the plan without involving ANY of the pastors doing campus ministry in the district!  This is, you guessed it, all in "decent and in good order."
  6. The new campus facilitator's total package in the proposed budget (page 32) is over $120k.  Yes, that's $120,000+.  I'm not a pious person and a worker is worth his wages, but is a facilitator really worth $100k?  When I was an associate, I think my total package was $50k!  This guy may be worth two of me!  That's cool!  It doesn't take much!  But, is he worth evicting a vibrant church from their building?  This is, of course, "in decent and good order."
  7. According to the MNS Campus Ministry budget (page 9), $76,700 of Mission funds are allocated for ULC in 2011. What this budget doesn’t show is the $41,435 that ULC pays to the District in rent or the $5,000 in programming fees that ULC requested NOT to receive this year. It also doesn’t show the $18,000 received from renting out ULC’s parsonage. ULC provides for Pastor Kind’s salary and benefits on their own, as well as their administrative costs. So in reality, ULC will cost the MN-S district a grand total of $12,165 in 2011.   But, wait, if you take ten times that $12k that it costs to have ULC on U of M, you can get your very own Campus Facilitator!  COUGH!  Does this sound like something that needs to be disrupted for the sake of decency and good order?
  8. Then there is this, and this one is most important to praedicabitur in tectis: It's common knowledge that more college students fall away from the faith than any other "age" of individual.  Why would we as a church body take away a church building where faith is being built? And ULC is a congregation, not just a campus ministry. This is not a struggling inner city church where they are barely getting a handful of people on Sunday and can't afford a pastor any more.  This is a vibrant church with a youth group and a VBS.  What do you think it will do to the faith of these college students for a District BOD of their own church body to sell their property for 30 pieces of silver (or six million dollars?)  What is the cost of the faith of a college student (Mark 8:36)?  Is all this "in decent and good order?"
If you want information on this, please check out the Save ULC website

1 comment:

  1. Thank God for our Lutheran Campus Ministries. It was a tremendous benefit to me personally to be connected to Chapel of the Cross, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I had countless discussions with Pastor Gary Peterson. I shared my hopes for the future, I discussed my faith concerns, I confessed my sins, and I received Absolution. Lutheran students need the support that a University Chapel and Pastor provide. They can be forums for answering the troubling questions that arise from their secular classes whose focus is too often rooted in Darwainism or the Historical Critical Method of Biblical Interpretation. For many, it is a faith destroying environment. Our college age students need the support that the Word and Sacraments deliver in a very tangible way. Where budget cuts are needed, the Minnesota South District should look to make cuts in the unneccessary expenses, not the Word and Sacrament ministry taking place at the University. And if this doesn't convince them, I would point out that the real estate market is at rock bottom right now. They won't get what the building is really worth right now. So, is it in Decent and Good Order to do this now.