On Feb 20, nominations for Synod President will close. On about March 1, the top three recipients of nominations for Synod President will be announced. If Matthew C. Harrison finishes in the top three nominees, Harrison’s nomination total will be illegitimate. His total may include some or many nominations he gained via misuse of his Presidential office and his unconstitutional advice.
How Can We Recover Trust?
If Matthew Harrison is among the top three pastors receiving nominations for Synod President, Secretary Sias and Chairman Kumm should do the right thing. They should declare Harrison’s nomination total illegitimate because whether the congregations nominating Harrison followed their constitutions or followed his unconstitutional advice cannot be verified.
And more…They should move the fourth-highest recipient of nominations up onto the Presidential ballot as a consequence of President Harrison’s unconstitutional actions.
Synod in convention has given the Secretary and the Board of Directors this responsibility in Bylaw 3.12.2(b):
“The Secretary of the Synod shall provide a secure and verifiable method that will offer opportunity to every congregation of the Synod to submit nominations. He shall, with the approval of the Board of Directors of the Synod, obtain the assistance necessary to accomplish this task“ [Emphasis added].
Harrison’s Nominations Are Impossible to Verify
Because President Harrison misused his office and gave confusing and incorrect advice to select pastors in the Synod, it is impossible to verify if his nominations validly came from congregations according to their individual congregational constitutions.
Pastors and congregations who followed Harrison’s incorrect advice to have their Boards of Elders or Church Councils nominate him without constitutional authority could believe they did the right thing. However, according to our Synod Constitution and Bylaws, their nomination would be invalid — even though officers signed the form.
How Has President Harrison Broken Our Trust?
Per facts widely-known and by his own admission, Harrison inappropriately worked to increase his nomination totals. He did it in these ways:
- He mailed postcards from Synod’s official address seeking nominations.
- He hand-wrote notes seeking nominations on printed Synod stationary: “It’s important, Bro!”
- He sent pastors advice inconsistent with our Bylaws to pad his nominations, advising pastors to bypass their congregation’s constitution and have another group in their church nominate him.
- He created a possible liability for our Synod, exposing us to a lawsuit over the election process. (Remember in 2005-2006 when individuals and congregations sued the Synod over the possibility of election irregularities because of “circuit exceptions” granted by the Synod President. That United Lister lawsuit cost the Synod over $400,000 in legal fees before it was dropped!)
Let’s Remove This Taint!
Secretary Sias and Chairman Kumm: Matthew Harrison acted inappropriately — and pastors caught him doing so. His inappropriate and unconstitutional actions are now widely-known.
Matthew Harrison’s nomination totals are tainted. He is responsible to uphold the Constitution and Bylaws of our Synod. Harrison promised to do so. And he admits he hasn’t.
Bylaw 188.8.131.52 Every board or commission member, officer, and all staff of corporate Synod and every agency of the Synod shall be sensitive in their activities to taking or giving offense, giving the appearance of impropriety, causing confusion in the Synod, or creating potential liability [Emphasis added].
Secretary Sias and BOD Chairman Kumm, will you do your duty and deal with Harrison’s improper use of his office, causing confusion in the Synod and creating a potential legal liability for us all?
We can all forgive President Harrison. He’s apologized and receives forgiveness in Jesus’ name.
But forgiving him doesn’t mean his decision to misuse his office and give inappropriate and unconstitutional advice in order to gain nominations has no consequences.
To ignore Harrison’s actions may mean that the congregations who nominated a different candidate and followed the rules will be deprived of voting for that candidate on the final presidential ballot.