Saturday, March 29, 2008

Accountability Issues

In a recently posted comment on another blog, I formed a hypothesis that the relationship between a synod asking for money and a synod promulgating pure doctrine is often inversely proportional. When the synod's efforts are directed toward the promoting Christ's teachings, there is less of an emphasis on raising money. And conversely, when there isn't as much emphasis on doctrine, there are greater efforts to get more cash to do "great" things. (I think I also wrote something similar in a Logia Forum piece which I'll try to dig up and reproduce here.)

Probably the greater part of the injustice with Issues, Etc. has to do with doctrinal issues which the show addressed so masterfully. But that isn't the only reason. The leaders of synod are desperately looking for more money to cover the growing debt. Some of the leaders have been eying the KFUO licenses as easy income. Therefore, Issues, Etc. and the entire station may be regarded as expendable so that the synod can cover its debt -- or sink more capital into the Fan Into Flame debacle.

The congregation I serve put forth an overture to our Northern Illinois District convention in 2005 calling for a detailed accounting of the Fanning into Flame funds. How much was raised? Where is it kept? How is it being spent? And the like.

After being passed at the NID convention, it was sent on to the 2007 Synodical convention. Overwhelmingly, it passed there, too. Here is how the resolution reads:

To Report Detailed Accounting of Fan Into Flame Funds

Overtures 1-13–14
(CW, pp. 136–137)

WHEREAS, 2004 Res. 1-04 committed the LCMS to a $100-million fund-raising effort to support the Ablaze! initiatives; and

WHEREAS, The fund-raising effort is now known as Fan Into Flame, and more than $20 million in cash and pledges has already been entrusted to the movement; and

WHEREAS, The Synod’s Board for Mission Services is charged with gathering and dispersing these funds; and

WHEREAS, A detailed report to the congregations is being issued at this convention; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That a detailed annual report of the Fan Into Flame funds be written by the Synod’s Board for Mission Services, to be published throughout the Synod.

Action: Adopted (6)

(The resolution as presented by the committee was adopted without discussion [Yes: 1,094; No: 62].)

To date, I am told that about $6-million has been spent promoting the program, perhaps $9-million raised, and some $30-million pledged. I don't really know all the details. I just know that there is SUPPOSED to be an accounting. And I suspect that the synod president and the executive director for missions would prefer to have the accounting reported later rather than sooner, lest congregations get the idea that the fulfillment of their pledges to Fan into Flame is in effect going to pay off the synod debt (and any additional funds needed to promote the campaign).

The last few years in synodical fund-raising have seen what amounts to a clear-cutting of a forest -- not that there aren't funds available from generous mission-minded Lutherans, but rather that people are tired of giving money to campaigns and to an administration which continually adds to the bureaucracy with further financial burdens (cf. Sam Nafzger's newly-created, highly-paid position). In the last analysis, it may be that President Kieschnick will be held accountable for standing at the helm while the synod is bankrupted both financially and theologically.

Kyrie Eleison: Lord, renew the vim and vigor within us by Your holy Word and Sacraments, teaching us true repentance and enlivening us with full forgiveness for Jesus' sake.

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