April 21, 2013
December 3, 2012
Dear Bishop XXXXX XXXXX,
I know you have many cares and concerns as bishop of our synod. I know you are faced with many tough decisions that impact the well being of congregations and people. For this, I have the utmost respect for your office. However, I find myself confused surrounding the events that led to the removal of Pastor Wayne Christiansen from serving as pastors of Epiphany/Garden Chapel and Resurrection/Faith Lutheran Churches.
As a member of Faith Lutheran, these are the things that I noticed regarding the positive job Pastor Wayne did:
a. brought together two churches that were ready to close their doors
b. developed partnerships with Encino Community Church, and a Vietnamese Church at the Garden Chapel
and Multicultural Learning Center a LAUSD Charter Elementary School covering 1 - 8th grades
at Faith. Which supplies both churches with unlimited funding to care and maintain both churches.
c. Funded out of his own pocket for nine months Pastor Cesor salary of $900.00 a month. This enabled the
church to start a Hispanic congregation which has grown to at least 75 members. The improper
garnishment deduction was going on at this time.
d. He was able to preach the word of the Lord and apply it to today's issues. He had a wonderful singing
voice and played the guitar.
e. At the weekly Drum Circle he provided, the pastor brought in a dear friend of mine, who I had not seen
for years. At church one Sunday there they were, I think I must of shouted out I was so happy to see
them. We became partners at several Cub Scout events and I helped them start a disabled cub pack for
he was disabled also.
I know there were some things that Pastor Wayne questioned regarding
a. His salary package from the start was not what it should be and he was incorrectly informed of previous
pastors salary to compare with.
b. The first controversy was his stand on "Honoring All Peoples". His back ground was working in
the Aids community as a counselor. He would include in his sermons from time to time his experiences
and some church leaders would take offense eventually leaving the church
c. The inaccurate calculation of the garnishment. I informed Mike Metzger the council president, and they
ignored us. The CPA said that there was only an $8.00 error. Harlis Brend who was doing the
calculations agreed. We went to Van Nuys, IRS offices and got revised instructions that they were only
suppose to take 25% not 50% and do not include the housing allowance. This action by the council
caused pastor to be homeless. The corrected adjustment gave pastor $750.00 per pay period.
d. Mike Metzger arranging counseling sessions with Dominic Savino, between Pastor Wayne and Harlis
Brend where the Pastor was not able to enter the church while Harlis was there. Harlis was the one that
was inappropriate to the pastor and he was also inappropriate to me. You approved of these meetings.
I don't understand why you approved because of Dominic Savino background. Removal from priesthood
because of abusing children sexually.
I too questioned
a. His salary package from the start was not what it should be at $3,000.00 a month with no allowances.
b. Improper calculating of utilities between MLC and Faith by Dave Damien
c. The audit Art and I were asked to do and why it turned into WWIII where key church leaders left.
d. Why the financial records were not at the church. I implemented the Quickbooks program at the
church and trained Harlis how to enter expenses and income and Art how to do the payroll.
e. Why was I voted off the financial team because of Harlis inaccurate posting of a payroll tax penalty
fee and our son's Eagle Project funds, which I posted in the correct accounts only to get chastised
by Harlis Brend and Mike Metzger.
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f. Why improperly garnish the Pastors salary at 50% where the instructions clearly state 25%
g. Why did Harlis not get reprimanded for his unacceptable behavior to the Pastor and I also endured.
h. Why was the church allowed to reduce his salary by 33% and not pay back which you instructed the
council to do.
It seemed like the questioning caused a lot of anxiety and grief amongst some people. From my perspective, it looks like some folks took issue with some of the questioning, and some centered their anxiety and grief upon Pastor Wayne. From my perspective, they drove him off, and I am curious as to why? It seems like the synod sided with the group that desired to get rid of Pastor Wayne. I am curious
as to why? What protocols were followed to remove him from office? Why is it so difficult for me to discover why he was removed? Was there impropriety? Was there abuse of the office of pastor? Was there a charge of heresy?
Having such questions up in the air for congregation members is not a good thing for the church because
a. I also was abused by the church council as mentioned above without anyone standing up for me except the pastor.
b. My issues and concerns were never answered. No one ever sat down with me to find out why and try
to resolve. Even Pastor Steve Flecher didn't want to know why I was so upset. He said he included you in the response to me.
c. Why did you take Wayne's means of making a living away? He is a very good minister and deserves
to be honored and respected by the church.
I would personally like to see things cleared up so that our congregations can move forward without all these questions hovering over our heads.
Woodland Hills, California 91303
en: notice from Bishop Nelson office, removal from the roster of ordained ministers of churchwide ELCA
cc: Pastor Cesar Arroyo, Bishop Hanson, Bishop Rinehart, Pastor Kevin Haug, Wayne Christiansen, Bonnie Biddison, Faith Council Member, Jane Affonso, ELCA Justice Team and members of team.