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President Schiemann on ABC District situation

February 18, 2015 No Comment

by Donald Schiemann

President Don Schiemann

President Donald Schiemann

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

At some time or another everyone faces a major crisis in his or her life. It could be entirely of one’s own making; it could be entirely the result of another’s actions; it could be a combination of the first two; but it is always the result of the fact that we live in a sinful world. Apart from trying to understand our circumstances and the people involved, a common question at times like these is “Where is God in all of this and why has He allowed this to happen?”

I am the first one to admit that I don’t have all the answers. I know that this is not a terribly comforting response to those who have been impacted by the current situation in the ABC District regarding Church Extension Fund and ABC District Investments. I doubt there are few in our church who are not yet aware of what has happened—and certainly our people in the ABC District are all too aware.

In a pastoral letter to the ABC District which went out some weeks ago, I expressed that this has happened on my watch. I have always said that anyone serving as a District President needs to understand that “the buck stops here.” Our District staff, execs, board of directors and others are, quite literally, working night and day to try and address the situation. I would not liken this to a five kilometre race; it is much more like a full marathon. So far, we have gone a couple of hilly kilometres and we have a long road to travel yet.

This is a situation I never wished for, but one in which I have seen God at work in so many ways. It is a time when I have been struck by how much God has done in the midst of this. And He has taken this situation and this time to remind me and to teach me of things that I have so often taken for granted.

What have I been reminded of and what have I learned? First of all, that God’s grace is always sufficient. It is sufficient to cover my sin. It is sufficient to strengthen all of us for the facing of the days ahead. It is sufficient to heal our wounded district.

I have also learned much about how God is at work in the hearts of our people. In the many e-mails, phone calls and letters we received—even those that sometimes expressed anger, sense of betrayal and disappointment—we were almost universally assured that they were praying for us. I have learned that we are a praying church and we take God at His word when He promises to hear and answer our prayers.

I have seen that we are a tremendously caring and giving church. As a district, the first thing we determined to do was to set up an emergency fund for those who would be grievously affected by the freezing of their savings. Beyond that we have had people and congregations donate their CEF savings to help alleviate the situation. I see also the care that family members are providing to our investors—particularly the older investors—who struggle to comprehend what is going on. And I recognize that many who may seem quick to criticize often do so because they care about those who have been impacted.

I have also been reminded that the church is the bride of Christ and that He will take care of her. The Gospel which she proclaims will continue to be preached until our Lord brings human history to a close and calls His bride to her eternal home. Meanwhile church structures will change and emerge but that which is of first importance must always stay the same. As St. Paul wrote: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

We have a gracious God for the sake of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He invites us to pray and cast all of our cares on Him.  He encourages us to care for one another. He promises to be with us in any and every situation until the end of the age. My friends, in the midst of this and whatever other trials you or I may face, we can live in hope. I dare not diminish the serious nature of the situation we are dealing with in the Alberta–British Columbia District of Lutheran Church–Canada. But I am bold to commend these words of Scripture to you: “I (we) can do everything through Him who gives me (us) strength.”  (Phil. 4:13)

Sincerely, your brother in Christ,

Rev. Donald Schiemann, President
Alberta–British Columbia District
Lutheran Church–Canada