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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 doorsb. 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.
Page 2 of 2
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.
I read the post, is there a specific question I could assist you with?
Lutheran Pastor's have no rights. Even with salary contracts this was denied
his salary. He was removed from preaching the word in the ELCA Lutheran Church throughout America without given a reason for removal. I want the ELCA to apologize for the treatment of one their own. Pay him his salary that was denied him for over a year and reinstate him on the roster as a pastor in the ELCA Lutheran Church looking for a position as a pastor. He has attempted to find work in the New York area. Where he is now residing with his mother.
Is there a question you needed help with?
Yes, Does he have any legal rights to sue the church for abuse of power?
No, not based on the facts you have given so far. There really is no "abuse of power" cause of action in a situation like this.
He could have a cause of action for breach of an employment contract if he had one and he could also sue for any damages caused by the excessive amounts of money that were garnished from his paycheck.
He could also sue for slander/defamation if anyone were blabbing information about him that was not true, whether they be an employer, a church member, or someone else.
You said no and than you said yes which is it? He is persuing a law suit. What do you mean there was no abuse done? I will send on the letter to mother to you. I can't believe there is no cause of action in just the information I provided you. Pastors can expect treatment from their congregations as what I witnessed and also endured from council members. The SYNOD has a policy that if a member is being abused they can appeal to the Bishop for a hearing. This was never honored.
There is no specific cause of action for "abuse of power
in a situation and the facts like this.
There are other causes of action that apply, like the ones I mentioned.
Is there a good chaqnce he could sue for any of the above you mentioned
I don't know what kind of employment contract he may have had but that would certainly be viable if he had a contract. Likewise, if they told untruths about him that caused him damages, and if he lost his job and can't find another one that would be pretty clear, then the slander/defamation cause of action would be valid as well.
I have another abuse question. I would like to implement an abuse Hot Line and
Abuse of Power is a cause of action against the government, not a church or an individual.
Did I use the wrong words? I would like to start an abuse roster that one could look up individuals that at least have a felony charge against them. My sister was murdered by her boyfriend and if we had information we would of known of his past and she might still be with us today. Is there a roster out there yet?
I'm not familiar with a public database like that.
Can I send this information on the Wayne for review?
There is something that law enforcement is using and checking since it is illegal for someone who has been found guilty of domestic abuse to purchase a gun but I don
don't think it is complete yet.
Who is Wayne?
My former pastor
You can certainly let him look this over. Once you issue your rating the question changes format and you can then print it out using the print function in your browser.
He used a knife
Who used a knife? Your sister's boyfriend?
There is no reason you couldn't set up a database like that although i'm not sure how you would enter the info and keep it updated.
He is in jail he got 15 years. I don't think it was enough time
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