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LCC indicates willingness to receive the Lutheran Historical Institute

September 9, 2015 No Comment

lhistacks-webEDMONTON – Lutheran Church–Canada’s (LCC) Board of Directors has responded to the ABC District Convention’s offer to gift the Lutheran Historical Institute (LHI) to LCC, saying they are willing to accept the archives if it is determined they are legally allowed to do so.

In an August letter to LHI’s Board of Governors as well as to the ABC District Board of Directors, LCC President Robert Bugbee reported willingness to accept the archives. However, he noted that financial challenges remain. “While the Board is prepared to accept the gifting of LHI to the church at large, Lutheran Church–Canada is currently not in the financial position to operate the archives,” he writes, suggesting that a temporary storage of the archives may be necessary.

President Bugbee goes on to note that LCC has historically been one of four stakeholders that have financially supported the operations of LHI. The news earlier this year that ABC District would be unable to continue its contributions to the archives put the institute under significant strain. Because of its own financial constraints, LCC is not currently able to fund the archives on its own. But an investigation by LHI’s Board of Governors in recent months determined that the archives could be moved and temporarily stored for the amount LCC normally contributes to the operation of LHI.

“It is important to note that this storage proposal was not made because LCC is eager to shut down LHI,” President Bugbee explained in his letter. Instead, LCC’s board suggests the action in order “to provide some breathing space to prevent the LHI holdings” from being hastily and irreversibly dispersed to other archival agencies. The proposal of LCC’s Board of Directors would see the archives reopened at a later date once necessary funding for its operations can be assured.

LHI’s outgoing Board of Governors welcomed LCC’s proposal during their final board meeting on August 18. “LHI and its stakeholders spent a number of years exploring how Lutheran archives in Canada could be restructured to become a national agency,” noted Rev. Dr. John Maxfield, former Chairman of LHI’s Board of Governors. “The current situation may be giving us the opportunity to finally realize that goal.” LHI’s Board of Governors formally dissolved at the end of August as the institute’s funding (from LCC and other stakeholders) ran out. Operation of LHI reverted at that time to the ABC District Board of Directors.

“It is significant to note that the offer of the ABC District to give LHI to Lutheran Church–Canada comes at a time when Synod itself has been asked to propose a new structure for the church in Canada,” Dr. Maxfield continued. “We hope that those tasked with these considerations will take seriously the need for a unified national archive for LCC, so that LHI’s successor organization can emerge stronger than ever.”

President Bugbee agrees. “Our hope is that restructuring will create a framework in which Lutheran Church–Canada can restore the active operation of LHI in the future.” He further noted that there are no plans to relocate the archives. “We have no desire to move the collection away from the Edmonton area,” he writes in his letter. “The long history of operation there, the significant concentration of LCC pastors and congregations in Edmonton and the surrounding area, the presence of Concordia University of Edmonton and Concordia Lutheran Seminary, and the many people near Edmonton who have a history of involvement with LHI make it clear in my mind that the archives should remain there.”

The Lutheran Historical Institute remains closed while LCC and the ABC District await a legal determination as to whether the archives can be transferred. In his August letter to LHI and the ABC Board of Directors, President Bugbee suggested the creation of a provisional committee to provide practical guidance and support regarding the archive’s holdings. A number of LHI’s former Board of Governors have indicated they would be willing to serve in such a capacity, and other potential committee members are currently being sought.


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