Friday, October 30, 2009

Bouman: CORE Lies to Members

For many years, Stephen Bouman served as our bishop.  These days, he is the ELCA's Director of Outreach and Mission.  It was in that capacity, more or less, that he attended the CORE wingding, and has published an open letter to the schismatics-in-waiting.

It's a good letter, and we urge you to click the link up top.  It is classic Bouman, in ways that may tickle those of us who know his style:  the eirenic (if perhaps misplaced) assurance that "my heart is with you," the wrenching anecdote about an immigrant, the preoccupation with Isaiah, and the central theme repeated so often you can chant it along with him.  But that theme is both familiar and important, as he asks CORE, over and over, whether they are serious about mission.  

He doesn't just mean building new congregations, but also -- and this is another favorite theme -- about the witness of the church in the public square.  For example:

You seem ready to engage our African and Latino brothers and sisters and their growing outreach in the life of the ELCA. Again I want to ask you, are you serious? Speakers made fun of Bishop Hanson for his call to "public church," but how dare we welcome our immigrant brothers and sisters and ask them to leave their issues and vulnerability in our society at the door? 

All this is good.  What caught us off guard, though, is a note of genuine accusation.  He says that the CORE leaders lied about a matter of policy, and would not let the truth be heard:

During the meeting, ... [it] was said [by two mission pastors] that the ELCA is and will punish mission pastors for their convictions of conscience through withholding of funds for their mission. After these untrue statements were made, people passed the hat for these ministries in order to make up funding that the ELCA would withhold. 

As executive director for the Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I want to say as publically and as strongly as possible that exactly the opposite is true. ...

I was not permitted to speak and correct these allegations.

This surprised us, largely because it is unlike Bishop Bouman to point an accusing finger at anybody in a public forum.  But he did it.  And rightly so.

And wow.  They just plain lied.  Then they refused to let the mission director of their own church correct the lies.  Delightful.


mark said...

Apparently (according to Pr. Bouman's letter) it wasn't statements by the CORE leaders (steering committee?) but statements by two mission pastors that were untrue.
Two CORE leaders have published a response to Pr. Bouman:

The response does not, as far as I can tell, deal with the veracity, or lack thereof, of those claims or the counter-claim. They do go so far as to say that they personally regret some of the intemperate speaking during public discussions.

Father said...

There is a significant moral difference between "we regret intemperate speech," which they do say, and "we are sorry for the lies," which they don't.

And had this just been a couple of wingnuts who got got up and said something that was both rude and false, it would be one thing. (We've all seen Father Haddock at synod assemblies). But they actually passed the plate to drum up financial support to "compensate" for the money these guys weren't going to lose anyway.

Frankly, the letter is strikingly evasive. It addresses Bouman's main point only with promises, and his most damning one it leaves unmentioned.

mark said...

Again - Pr. Bouman does not say that CORE leaders lied. He says that two mission pastors lied. In your headline you write: "CORE lies to members" when what our former Bishop said was: Mission pastors at the CORE convocation lied. i.e. members lied to CORE not CORE lied to members. There is a difference.

Still, one wonders why the folks running the meeting did not offer Pr. Bouman the simple courtesy of an opportunity for rebuttal.

Father said...

One doesn't wonder, and my headline stands. it was a lie of omission, but pretty clearly a deliberate one.

Diane said...

self-righteous jerks.

sorry, that just got away from me.

I'm getting real tired of being called a heretic.

But I suppose I'd better get used to it.

Diane said...

oh, and I do so appreciate your former Bishop, Pastor Bouman.

Pastor Joelle said...

This is not the first or last time CORE has done/said something outrageous and backed down when called on it. This group is not trustworthy