The St. Louis Post-Dispatch broke a story on March 21 that points out the lack of light and truth from our Synod leadership.
All members of Synod can grieve at this sad situation. The Harrison administration is in the St. Louis press in a bad way…again. The Sandy Hook apology, the Selma debacle and sharp budget cuts to global mission efforts, and the “Mobbing/Harrison Machine” story all come to mind. One can only hope this latest story doesn’t end up scandalizing our Synod.
Why do reports of secrecy and coverup seem to happen over and over again in the Harrison administration? Why is our public face “Joy:Fully Lutheran” while we privately hide the many problems at Synod headquarters from congregations?
Synod office in St. Louis isn’t a corporation that needs to protect itself from the light and truth of problems in ministry. That wouldn’t fly in your congregation, would it?
Harrison’s Administration Has Too Much Secrecy
Our congregations deserve to know what’s happening.
All of the congregations in Synod can handle the truth. We don’t need to hear about problems only when someone uncovers them.
An old corporate truth that comes to mind: “Secrecy like this is what people use when there’s something more to the story.”
Collver: Matt’s “Mini-Me”?
It is well-known in Synod that Al Collver has been the closest of confidants to President Matt Harrison. He has been President Harrison’s right hand since 2010 and before that was with Matt in Human Care. Synod employed Collver as Harrison’s point person for international operations and church relations. They are so closely connected that the Post-Dispatch reported Al is even labeled by some as “Matt’s Mini-Me.”
Suddenly last week, President Harrison fired his confidant and steadfast friend.
Collver’s District President says Al is still on roster, but he’s tight-lipped. Why was Al let go? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch smells something fishy. So do others!
“Cover-Up” is Becoming President Harrison’s Middle Name
President Harrison’s announcement is full of the same double-speak secular corporations use when they fire top people. The cover-up becomes clear when one compares the Post-Dispatch report with President Harrison’s statement:
“The Week of Invocavit, A.D. 2019 March 11, 2019
Dear Colleagues in Christ:
This message is to inform you that the Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III, Director of Church Relations for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), is no longer employed by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
Synod leaders now are considering how LCMS Church Relations duties will be handled going forward. More information on this will be forthcoming.
The Synod is thankful for Dr. Collver’s many years of service at the LCMS International Center. He has especially made significant contributions to the advancement of confessional Lutheranism around the world. We pray God’s blessings on him as he transitions to new professional opportunities in the church.
Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod”
Secrecy like this is what people use when there’s something more to the story.
This typical Harrison secrecy leads people to ask:
- Why did Harrison fire Al Collver, his long-time, ultra-loyal lieutenant?
- Is Al being forced to take the fall for something else going on?
- Since Collver was in charge of church relations, does this have anything to do with Harrison’s international mission partner mess?
MATTHEW C.’S “COVER-UP’S” LIST IS GROWING AND GROWING
Matt hid his secret plan to close Selma at the 2016 Milwaukee convention. Selma representatives were promised the convention would address their challenges. Their Workbook report was glowing. But the United List dominated Board of Directors and Harrison’s administration had already voted in “executive session” to close the school and told the regents they couldn’t say anything. How do we know? Former District President Kurt Schultz and other former Regents say so — as does “Stories from Selma” and other leaders in our Synod.
Matt crossed his fingers when he promised our Fort Wayne and St. Louis Seminaries funding for his pet Global Seminary Initiative Project. Matt left Dale Meyer and Larry Rast with the bills while he moved on to his next broken promises. Ask President Meyer and President Rast how they handled the news that instead of the promised $400,000 Matt promised, Synod only came up with $11,000 to support the effort.
Matt considered Hurricane Harvey relief donations as improvements to Synod’s cash flow. As of last fiscal year Synod reported more than $5M donated for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma still remain in St. Louis. You have to dig in the Synod website to find it, but by going to this webpage you can watch the dollars grow from under $300,000 to before Hurricane Harvey to over $6.2M in St. Louis today. And while Synod has paid themselves their “overhead” of 6% (Harvey donations) or 12% (current disaster relief donations), congregations are still waiting for the support already given by their brothers and sisters in Christ to arrive from St. Louis.
Matt hid his planned sale of Hong Kong properties from the Milwaukee Convention — and from our ministry partners in Hong Kong, too!
Matt promised great change with Synod restructuring in his campaign manifesto “It’s Time” (click here to download a copy). When was the last time anyone heard anything about Harrison’s progress on anything he promised in “It’s Time” he would accomplish — like the forgotten “Koinonia Project” to bring unity to our Synod by pastors talking to one another?
The Al Collver—Matt Harrison Cover-Up Looks Like a Doozy
Where there’s smoke there’s fire. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch seems to sense Al has taken the fall for the wrong-doing of someone above him. Otherwise, why would Matt be trying to cover-up the real reasons his good buddy Al had to be shown the door?
Remind us again of who was Al’s boss. He reported to President Harrison!
Scandals are not to be part of church life. There should be no whiff of scandal around the very President of our beloved Synod.
Let’s not depend on secular newspapers to bring truth and openness back into the Presidency of our Synod. We need a new Synod President!
Congregations…and electing a President who will own-up rather than cover-up…matters!