[The Rev. Jack Cascione of St. Clair Shores, MI accuses the president of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod of an "attempted coup" in the following report of statements flowing back and forth between the synod's Board of Directors, President, Commission on Constitutional Matters, and Board for Communication Services. The most essential comment is that of the Synod's VP of Finance, Mr. Thomas Kuchta, which indicates that the bylaws of the synod (at least as they are being applied by some) may be in such conflict with Missouri state law that every congregation (and pastor, teacher, DCE, deaconess, etc.) in the synod could be held liable for any 'irregularities' that occur in St. Louis or *anywhere* in the synod. Says Kuchta: "If the Board of Directors does not protect the Synod's status as a corporation under Missouri law, its members -- chiefly congregations -- would be open to individual liability were the Synod or any part of it to be sued in court." Every member of an LCMS congregation would do well to understand the issues involved here. EJG
From: "Reclaim News"
Monday, December 01, 2003 8:21 PM
"LCMS Board of Directors Thwarts Kieschnick's Attempted Coup"
For the first time in its 156-year history, LCMS President Kieschnick's interpretation of the Synodical Constitution may result in every LCMS congregation having to assume the Synod's liabilities.
Synodical Treasurer, Dr. Thomas Kuchta warns that, "If the Board of Directors does not protect the Synod's status as a corporation under Missouri law, its members -- chiefly congregations -- would be open to individual liability were the Synod or any part of it to be sued in court."
The November 29, 2003 LCMS News Release No. 140 titled "Board declares 8 CCM opinions 'of no effect'" misleads readers to equate the authority of Synod's Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) with the Synod's
Board of Directors (BOD).
Kieschnick said, "I will be working with the Board of Directors and the Commission on Constitutional Matters in an effort to resolve the apparent conflict between these two important groups of Synodical leaders."
The "conflict" as Kieschnick describes it, originated in Kieschnick's administrative style.
The CCM and the BOD are not equally empowered entities. The CCM is not named in the LCMS Constitution, only in the Synod's By-Laws. The CCM is a commission whose members are appointed by the Synodical President. The Board of Directors is elected by the Convention and, according to the State of Missouri in which the Synod is incorporated, must be legally responsible for the business, finances, and property of the Synod when the Convention is not in session.
Recent CCM rulings have attempted to limit the BOD's constitutional authority. If CCM rulings have authority over the BOD, the BOD is not functioning as an elected Board of Directors as required under Missouri Law.
Kieschnick's appointees to the CCM, rather than interpreting the Constitution are required, the CCM introduced sweeping new changes that dramatically increased the authority of the President.
Brad Hewitt, the Synod's chief administrative officer recently resigned from the Synod for another position.
The "conflict" is not only limited to the CCM and the BOD. The Synod's Board for Communication Services (BCS) has joined in the fray by slanting news releases in favor of Kieschnick's administrative innovations and its own budgetary needs.
For example, David Mahsman writes that President Kieschnick will be working to resolve the conflicts, when in fact; the decision of the BOD is final. Kieschnick has no constitutional authority to do anything about the "conflict" that he, himself, created. He wasn't even present at the meeting when the BOD made its ruling and where he was entitled to speak and register his vote as a member of the BOD. Is he going to resolve the conflict after the fact when he did nothing while events unfolded?
Mahsman lists rulings by the BOD that limit the Board for Communications Services funds. The CCM overreached its authority and actually ruled that the BOD could not limit the Board for Communication's Services budget. The BOD in turn declared the CCM rulings null and void.
Mahsman explains that the Board for Communication Services objects to interference in its business by the BOD.
We wonder when the CCM and the Board For Communications Services will issue their own budget for the Synod and declare the BOD an advisory board.
We also wonder why Mahsman publishes the names of those who voted against the BOD rulings. When does Mahsman report the names of those who voted against adopted resolutions except when he reports about the BOD?
Are all of the rulings by CCM, Board for Commutations Services, Board for Missions, etc. unanimous votes? Or is this Mahsman's way of publishing the names of those the Board For Communications Services wants reelected?
The Board for Missions had to cut 19 missionaries from its budget.
When the Board of Directors attempted to cut administrative and communication costs, and save missionary jobs, it appears that the Office of the President and the Board for Communication Services enlisted support from the CCM to preserve their own funding. The new Synodical motto for churchmanship may well be "Cover your budget."
Rather than accepting the cuts, attempts were made by the CCM to rewrite the Synodical Constitution and jeopardize the Synod's corporate status.
The Synod is already more than 200 million in debt over its Concordia University System. The BOD will most likely recommend the sale of two or three of the Synod's 10 campuses. Will the CCM once again assume the duties of the BOD?
It looks like this is going to be a hell of a political battle.