And, one additional comment found over on Pastor Weedon’s blog, Weedon.blogspot.com:
Remember and never forget: your District President can suggest names for your congregation, but he cannot forbid your congregation from calling any person who is eligible for call in the Synod. Let’s drop the asinine political games and give the complete list of eligible men to EVERY vacant/calling congregation.
The Lostpastors website has upset some District Presidents. There are I suppose many evangelical and “good order” reasons one could logically give to encourage men not to use the site, there is also (I suppose) recourse to the subtle use of threats. The site though is run by a layman who is well beyond the reach of any District President, and those pastors who are actively using the site have their identities password protected. The question that no one has asked though is why such a site ever became a reality to begin with, and the answer to that question is easily answered: Lostpastors is the child born from years of frustration, years of evangelical promises, and admonitions to men to wait patiently on the Lord, which unfortunately became an excuse for the absoluteness of negligence.
Had those men been treated with even a modicum of brotherly love; had they even been treated as human beings, neither that site, nor Resolution 3-10A would have never become realities. We can’t make the cry of “Peace! Peace!” or for “Good order” or wax piously about “walking together” and at the same time act as if these men don’t exist, but we did.
The manner in which “CRM” was explained on the convention floor gave the impression that men freely elected to go onto that kind of status; that it was a matter of choice, yet all of us know there is much, much more involved. Who among us is unaware of the abuses that have taken place? Lostpastors and Resolution 3-10A are the direct result of the frustration and the desperation of being ignored for years.
Aren’t we better than this? Aren’t we called to be better than this? In speaking of the Resurrection, Gregory of Nyssa once said that the best testament to the actual event of the resurrection wasn’t the gospels; rather it was the community who believed in the gospels; a people who lived as ones resurrected by the absolute love of God in Christ Jesus. If the best we can do as called servants of Christ is to treat our men the way they might be treated by a HR Department within a corporation, to simply watch men be “fired” from parishes, then we’ve no right whatsoever to call ourselves Lutherans, let alone followers of Christ.
It was wonderful to hear President Harrison speak of the funding for Soldiers of the Cross, but it is more than simply money, and there are those qualities of personhood that money cannot buy or replace. You can’t buy a man his dignity; you can’t purchase a new soul at a Wal-Mart; and all the food in the world can’t restore the spiritual damage, to say nothing of the marital damage, done to these men. Were they all as pure as the driven snow? Of course not, no doubt some did make errors, but that error does not negate the care, compassion, and mercy due them as fellow creatures who also bear the image of God.
We’ve all heard the stories of men who have been placed on CRM being a sort of “hands-off” commodity within Districts, as if they’ve drawn the black spot; moreover we all know them, in fact I know at least one hundred of them. Despite what Synod says officially in the “What About?” series, men who are on CRM are treated as if they’ve contracted leprosy, and that is an area that District Presidents have direct control over and could stop almost immediately. A gigantic step in the right direction would be to submit those names of men to vacant congregations within districts, and to put an end to the notion of call lists being “cherry picked.”All these men on CRM have ever wanted is to be shown some modicum of support by their ecclesial supervisors, yet many have gone 18 months or more without so much as a phone call, and those who do call frequently end up becoming well acquainted with a District President’s secretary, or are told in no uncertain terms to “STOP.” This is precisely what led to the Lostpastors site, and now, if social media sites are any indication of news, the site is spreading with vacant parishes now signing up.
No doubt there’s anger over the site, and perhaps even over the work I’ve been involved in, but “grass-roots” movements only come about when people reach a sort of tipping point, and we’re there. The Arab Spring didn’t happen because people felt they were being treated fairly or that their issues were being addressed; it happened largely because people felt disenfranchised from the very system that they were asked to support. No one ever wanted a brawl, or to create trouble simply for the sake of trouble; God knows there’s enough of that in our midst. This however is an issue within our Synod that impacts real men and real women and real children now, and calls for “good order” have become an excuse for neglect.
Will we be able to actually work together to solve these problems? I certainly hope so, but now all eyes are trained on District Presidents as more and more people become aware of our men and their families on CRM. Laymen and women have begun to ask “Why?” The level of District/COP cooperation and willingness to want to reach out to these men and to actually help them is going to determine the level of support received.
If earnest work is done on Resolution 3-10A, the Lostpastors site would vanish within 12 months, there would be no need for it. Currently the level of trust by men simply isn’t there, but that could be changed easily. It is indeed possible to work together to put the lives of these men back together again, but it is going to take real effort and a real willingness to want to do so, but we can’t go backwards and we can’t continue to kick the CRM can down the road; we can’t hide behind slogans like “good order”; we can’t make institutional by-laws and rules that which determines the life or death of a man on CRM, and we must stop politicizing the Church of Christ.