Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mollie Hits a Home Run

On The Brothers of John the Steadfast website, Mollie Ziegler Hemingway has dug up a confidential report from consultants hired by President Kieschnick in 2008 (to the tune of $500,000) which sheds light on the construction of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance recommendations. Among other things, it’s readily apparent from the report that the consultants’ high priced recommendations were often ignored. The consultants make it clear that trying to sell a polity that results in more centralization of power and the need for drastic structural changes would be a difficult task – which explains much of the sense of urgency language that we’ve been hearing from the Task Force for the last couple of years. Pasted below are several quotes from Mollie’s article. I’d encourage you to make the trip over to BJS and read the whole thing. It’s a rather sobering commentary on the way the Task Force recommendations have been designed and marketed. The entire confidential report can be found here.
In a “Confidential Final Report on the President’s Blue Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance,” dated June 2008, the President’s own consultants noted that a number of the proposals would be a hard sell to pastors and congregations of the Synod. Despite President Kieschnick’s claim that the BRTFSSG was an independent entity, the consultant’s report makes it clear that it was Kieschnick and his staff’s task force all along.

…In fact, considering that people in the Synod do not see a need for change, the consultant noted, “Given that there is no groundswell of a call for change, the Blue Ribbon Task Force’s most critical task is to make clear to LCMS members the need for change.” (pg. 18) As we saw in the preconvention delegate gatherings this past year, President Kieschnick and his team have tried to create a sense of urgency and “need for change” in the structure and governance on the basis of financial reasons. It has been reported that President Kieschnick stated at these regional gatherings that if the recommendations of the BRTFSSG were not implemented there would be severe financial consequences forcing the Synod BoD to take drastic action. President Kieschnick holds this position despite the public statement of Tom Kutcha, the Synod’s Treasurer in last June’s Reporter, “In my opinion, the current recommendations by the BRTFSSG will have an immaterial effect on the financial operations of the Synod.” In other words, according to the Synod’s Treasurer, the recommendations of the BRTFSSG will NOT help the Synod’s finances – hardly showing a compelling reason for change. …What is apparent is that President Kieschnick has expended a lot of energy, time, and money trying to make his proposals seem “reasonable.”

…Again on page 84, the consultant notes, “most people believe there is no need for change in the structure and governance of the LCMS.” In light of this, it is interesting that President Kieschnick is so adamant on changing the structure of the LCMS. Each day, the BRTFSSG looks more and more like Obama’s health care bill – a top down proposal that is force-fed into the mouths of Americans. Regarding this top down approach the consultant noted, “The centralization of power and authority on the office of the president could certainly be viewed as anathema to the history and traditions of the LCMS. Certainly a number of study participants commented on the intrinsic distrust of a centralization of authority within the LCMS. This observation did not surface to any substantial extent among the advisory panel members. However, one advisory panel member believed this model placed too great a concentration of power in the office of the Synod president, and was particularly concerned about the communications function reporting to him. Overall, advisory panel members did not feel this model would gain the support necessary for adoption.” (pg. 88) This is why President Kieschnick and the BRTFSSG members spent so much time saying, “We have a congregational bias.” It is as if by repeating “congregational bias” they could over come what the consultant noted and advised against – the centralization of power and authority.

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