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CONTINUED CHAOS AT CHRIST LUTHERAN CHURCH IN LINCOLN
Posted on Friday, May 13 @ 02:30:01 CDT by van

News and Views Some time ago we uncovered a number of shady if not patently unchristian things going on at Christ Lutheran Church, LCMS of Lincoln, Nebraska. This is an update of information presented earlier and a hint as to things to come. Three primary subject areas are involved, namely the mis-use or diversion of tax exempt funds for personal purposes, the attempted cover-up of a homosexual scandal involving one of the ordained ministers at the church (More on this subject in next article) and a devious attempt to keep the members of the parish "in the dark" concerning behind the scenes dealings of the unlawfully constituted "Lay Leadership Board." An I.R.S. audit could likely bring the church's tax privilege to a screeching halt. Read on.

Del Lienemann, Sr., a Certified Public Accountant, and one of Christ Lutheran Church's (CLC) charter members has been investigating improper conduct on the part of the Rev. Luke Schnake and two of the other pastors of the church with regard to the handling and expenditures of money donated by members. In the opinion of a number of folks, Schnake and another minister, S.T. Williams, have instituted a plan to keep the members of the congregation completely uninformed as to the "internal control" of tax exempt money handling, and Lienemann has taken on the roll of a "Watch Dog." Lienemann has demanded an audit of the last four years' financial transactions by an independent auditor who understands "church finance."

Several years back, in keeping with what appears to be in keeping with Schnake's devious plan to "take over" and dominate, in a dictatorial rather than in a pastoral role, the secular business of the church which is incorporated under the laws of the State of Nebraska. He engineered the passage of an "Amended and Restated Constitution of Christ Lutheran Church, Lincoln, Nebraska" which essentially abolished the organizational structure of the church which had been in place since 1949 when the congregation was formed. It was through this mechanism the "Lay Leadership Board" (LLB) was created and most, but not all, of the business dealings of the congregation were given over to that board.

Lienemann has now uncovered what may lead to serious legal problems for the congregation. Being a "hard headed Dutchman" like yours truly, and determined to straighten out the fiscal irregularities of the church he requested information as to the legality of the current operating structure of CLC.

Lienemann knew that before the "new" constitution could become operable, the rules of the Nebraska District Office of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod required that the draft of the proposed changes by "Schnake's Take-over Team" had to be submitted to and approved by the Constitution and Handbook Committee of the District Office. Further, that the Nebraska District Board of Directors had to give its final approval. "Watch Dog Dell" requested the District President, Russ Sommerfeld investigate and determine when, if ever, the proposed drastic changes in CLC's constitution had been submitted for review and approvals. Sommerfeld tried hard to dodge Lienemann's request because he know there had been a major screw-up and procedure had not been followed.

By letter to Lienemann dated 10 May 2005, Sommerfeld stated, "Christ Lutheran Constitution and Bylaws were submitted to the Nebraska District Constitution and Handbook Committee on November 8, 2000." "Upon careful research into the process, I have learned that Christ Lutheran congregation and the Nebraska District's Constitution and Handbook Committee did communicate about the revision but DID NOT COMPLETE THE PROCESS OF FINAL APPROVAL BY THE NEBRASKA DISTRICT BOARD OF DIRECTORS. [Emphasis Added]

He further stated, "I have consulted the Secretary of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod regarding this situation and asked him to consult the opinions of Synod's Commission on Constitutional Matters to clarify appropriate action at this time." "The Counsel provided by Synod's Secretary is submission of the Christ Lutheran Constitution and Bylaws to the Nebraska District Constitution and Handbook Committee for review and possible suggestion changes and, upon their approval, presentation to the Nebraska District Board of Directors for Action." [Note: this is an incomplete sentence] Sommerfeld went on to state, "Christ Lutheran has promptly submitted their documents for proper review by the Constitution and Handbook Committee and action by the District Board." "While these actions are in process, the current Constitution and Bylaws entered into in good faith, and utilized bu Christ Lutheran congregation since 2000, remain in place."

In must be noted here that the submission of the constitutional and bylaws in question was made four and one-half years ago! Further, if the document in question is deemed by Sommerfeld to be operable, yet not reviewed and approved pursuant to both the letter and spirit of the governing synodical laws, CLC could have stated therein that it renounces the "canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired, revealed and inerrant Word of God", that it has renounced the "Doctrine of the Virgin Birth" and perhaps even stated that Martin Luther should be view as a heretic. While such is not the case, the stupid statement of Sommerfeld would imply that such could be possible.

Since the now rather infamous Senator Kermit Brashear, Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, is also legal counsel for the District Office and hence the chief legal advisor to Sommerfeld, the obvious cover-up of improper conduct has become more than a little odoriferous.

The district president seems to believe he is not accountable to anyone and can deal in a swash buckle manner whenever he pleases.

The possible downside to all of this is that Terry Waak, the business manager of CLC and the ill-conceived LLB, not being provided for in the constitution and bylaws which are unquestionably operable DO NOT LAWFULLY EXIST! If such is the case, the LLB is without legal standing and the entire structure of CLC is in question. This gives rise to many questions, like for instance, who can lawfully sign notes, enter into contracts, purchase real estate, etc. It would seem that the bank or banks to which CLC owes money would want it or their lawyers to get immediately involved in the resolution of questions in this area.

The LLB is headed by Thomas Lorenz (the same Thomas Lorenz who is the director of Lincoln's Pershing Auditorium which is itself in financial distress). Waak and Lorenz have been failing to tell the members of the CLC congregation the whole truth about financial shenanigans and have purposefully withheld the contents of the "outside auditor's" letters which accompanied the "audits" for 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. This and other dealings continue to haunt Lienemann and he is forging ahead somewhat like David taking on Goliath. [Remember how that story ended]

Lienemann has mailed a copy of his letter to Lorenz, dated May 4, 2005 to one hundred members of CLC. I have been provided with one of those copies and want to share the contents of it with all of the thousand or so members of CLC who might otherwise not get the information the letter contains. Here is a verbatim copy of that letter:

Thomas Lorenz
Chairperson LLB, CLC
1364 Prairie View Road
Eagle, NE 68347

Dear Thomas:

Received your letter dated 4-24-05 on 4-30-05. My original letter to you was sent 3-24-05. Your 5 page letter gives some explanation of what the LLB is doing, but lacks a lot of information you are not telling the congregation about CLC.

For example, you mention 3 audit reports for years 2001, 02 & 03. What you don't say is what the letters from the Auditor say about internal control and other irregularities. I challenge you to send copies of those 3 letters for 2001, 02 & 03 to the entire membership. I don't think you would receive an approval from the congregation that the LLB is doing a good job. I have those letters - they are more important than the audit reports. The audit reports basically reflect total income and expenses. No auditor knows the activity that takes place at CLC to determine if a voucher is proper or not. LLB should know, but doesn't seem to be concerned. A Blue Ribbon Committee that I suggested to you would go over all credit card statements, all travel vouchers, and all the perks, etc. If you think you have done such a good job, let the "Blue Ribbon Committee" see what they say after their review of the records.

Going back to the Auditor's letters, paying salary to an individual without a Social Security number is in violation of Federal laws. Same is true when you failed to file Form 990T as required by Federal law.

I have in my possession a hotel bill dated 3-6-02 for Ramon & Jami Marcano, amounting to $1,599.15. It appears a credit card was used for $691.15 as payment on that statement. Just who gave Pastor Williams the OK to take them to Cable Beach, Nassau Bahamas for marriage, and put them up in the hotel for 9 days? Who paid for the transportation, including Pastor Williams, on a situation that could not be Church business? Also, I heard Pastor Williams had to go to marry them. But I have a copy of the marriage certificate, and Pastor Williams' name does not appear on that certificate. That seems odd, don't you think!

Concerning other activities concerning CLC and moral problems. I have depositions of Ramon on 11-11-03, of Pastor Williams on 7-22-04, Ramon on 7-22-04 and Terry Waak on 8-05-04, concerning divorce case #403-2453. These depositions tell a lot of what was going on during this period 2002-2004. All under the watchful eye of the LLB. Concerning moral activities, I have an affidavit of Travis Savalos Phillips that brings out information on Charles Bohling and Pastor Williams. Item 5 in this affidavit states "the purpose of my making this sworn statement is to motivate leaders in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod to seek an investigation by competent law enforcement personnel, and to thereafter govern themselves in accordance with the findings." His affidavit is dated 3-5-05. This is two days after Pastor Schnake and Thomas Lorenz sent to all members a letter of how they resolved the problem. Laurie Williams provided documentation, which is devastating, and covers actions taken by Pastor Schnake, Williams, and other Church workers during this period 2002-2004.

Anyone that wants to see any of these items can call me and make a time to see them.

In your letter of 4-24-05, you also asked me for some additional information concerning the use of designated funds for normal operations. Let me preface my explanation by pointing out that the Senior Pastor and Terry Waak should have given this information to the LLB, as part of your responsibility for oversight of the congregation. Therefore, I was assuming that you and the LLB were aware of the following information, but have chosen not to share this information with the congregation, in effect, chose to hide this information from the congregation. However, if any of the following information is new to you or the LLB, you must hold the Senior Pastor and Terry Waak accountable for the concealment of this information.

First, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has set accounting standards for non-profit organizations. One of those standards deals with restricted funds. The standard indicates that the organization can only spend the restricted funds for the purpose for which it was given, unless the donor is willing to remove the restriction. Our congregation receives restricted funds for memorials and gifts, the debt retirement fund, the youth ministry fund, and the capital campaign. These funds flow into the general fund each Sunday, and are to be remitted to the building fund at the end of each month. If these funds are not remitted to the building fund in a timely manner, there must be a reason, and an alternative use to which the funds have been put. At the end of 2004, the general fund owed the building fund approximately $80,000. These funds were not remitted to the building fund, because they were being used for Church operations. The members of the congregation did not donate these funds for that purpose, and these expenditures for operating expenses violates the accounting standards. The proper procedure would be to transmit the funds immediately to the building fund each month, and then borrow back any unrestricted funds being held by the building fund for operating purposes, if they were needed by the general fund. The building fund has received very little of the funds due for 2005.

In addition to the misuse of restricted funds, the general fund is remitting to the building fund an insufficient amount of funds to pay the Church mortgage and construction loan at Pinnacle Bank. The general fund is also remitting to the building fund an insufficient amount of funds to pay the mortgages at Pinnacle Bank on the Church's properties that are being rented out. If not corrected soon, the building fund will not have any unrestricted funds left with which to pay the mortgage and construction loan payments to Pinnacle Bank. In addition, Pinnacle Bank is expecting the construction loan to be paid off by the end of this year, with monies being received by the Capital Campaign. Obviously, if these funds are not being remitted to the building fund, this cannot happen.

I am certain that if members of the congregation knew that their restricted funds were being spent for operating purposes, they would be very unhappy, and might choose to discontinue their giving until the situation was corrected

.Please read page 5 of the Missouri Synod guidelines for Missouri Synod Lutheran Churches. It states "this congregation shall have the following officers and boards, in addition to any which the congregation shall authorize from time to time". CLC does not fit that mold. It has basically done away with all the internal control, and put it in the hands of the LLB and the head Pastor. This violates the constitution of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. As this letter should indicate, the LLB set up is a failure, and has put CLC in a serious position. I am asking you to read this letter at your meeting on May 11th, and be sure all attending receive a copy. Also, I challenge LLB to mail copies of the Auditor's letters to the membership of CLC."

Sincerely,

Del Lienemann, Sr.

Finally, I suggest that a church which, I'm told, has an annual budged of around $2 million might be hard pressed if the Internal Revenue Service was to investigate and subsequently suspend if not revoke CLC's tax privilege.

One could almost write a book or a soap opera story line on the current goings on at CLC. I keep thinking about Jesus throwing the money changers out of the temple. I wonder why?

VansOpinion
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