Editors note on background of this post: Sunday, September 11, 2016, the current Pastor of Livets Ord (Joakim Lundqvist at Word of Life, Sweden) went public with an apology to the many people who throughout the years have been hurt by the Church leadership. Although the most severe cases of abuse of power, unbiblical teaching and authorative leadership was under the leadership of it’s founder, Ulf Ekman, the apology was long awaited. The apology comes after a number of shocking public exposures such as secret greedy pension deals only for the boardmembers of the church, an extramaritial affair of the co-founder, ‘mob-like‘ dealings with it’s Ukrainian branch, conversions to Catholicism and much more. However, the Pastor was keen on pointing out that this apology was not to be connected with this. (As in being done under pressure)
Pastor Lundqvist appears sincere in his apology, and pointed out that even if a person only has ten percent responsibility in wrong doings, that person needs to take one hundred percent responsibility for that ten percent. True. In the aftermath of the unexpected apology members, former members and affiliates are now wondering what consequences these words will have. The guest writer today falls in this category of people, and brings some very valid points to the table.
LO Apology : Great but late and what now?
Pastor Joakim Lundqvist and the Pastoral Staff at Livets Ord are to be congratulated for their much needed, well written and well delivered apology to the people that have left hurt, bitter, confused or angry etc. by their association with Livets Ord.
I do not wish in any way to take anything away from the great importance of this apology but in all honesty it was late and I as well as many others do not understand- nor was any clear reason(s) given- as to why this critically important apology was not offered 2 years earlier when the present leadership took over from Ulf Ekman.
Many people who could have greatly benefited from this apology and could have used it for their own personal healing have either moved on or passed on…
This is tragic and to those who say:” Better late than never” I would like to state the second often forgotten part of that saying which is: “But better never late.”
However that being said, the crucially important question is what is now going to be done to translate that eloquent apology into a very real basis of concrete action so as to prevent a repeat of that apology in the future.
Winston Churchill said: “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
In addition to the above statement, I would add the very wise words of an old Australian Pastor who once sternly preached in his sermon:
“I am sure that all of you here can talk the talk-that’s easy -but I want to know if you walk the talk! “
I am totally one-hundred percent convinced that the present church government in Livets Ord with its secret behind closed doors meetings, secret decisions and secret discussions by its handpicked board members will only result in more scandals causing more pain and suffering and will and can only result in the necessity of many more future apologies.
A church government consisting of only handpicked members conducting secret meetings behind closed doors will always result in bad decision- making and scandals because -despite any possible good intentions- we are human and as such we are not perfect-far from it…
It will fail to produce a healthy church government and thereby a healthy church for precisely the same reasons a dictatorship or one- party state always fails and every single precaution and measure known must be used to keep it open and healthy.
Virtually all the major denominations of Protestantism have deliberately chosen and are governed by a board that is openly elected from its church membership and which holds regular open meetings -with all board members present- where any member of that church can come to ask questions and to voice their opinion.
A closed door church government in secret discussions by handpicked members will always end up in creating scandals and will ultimately result in an elitist and arrogant “Us “ and “ them “ form of leadership and mentality .
There are absolutely no advantages to this form of closed and secret church leadership over an openly elected board membership holding regular open meetings for all church members.
For those who do not believe in what I am stating- here follows some unfortunate examples.
NOTE: It is not my intention to attack or hurt any member of Livets Ord and if anyone should feel attacked or hurt I deeply apologize.
Nor is it my intention to degrade Livets Ord in any way, shape or form.
I simply want to state the facts which support my statements.
-After Ulf Ekman’s departure from the leadership of Livets Ord on June 2, 2013, a new era of “openness and transparency“ was declared.
- Approximately 4 months before March 9, 2014- when Ulf announced his and Birgitta’s intention to become Catholic – he met with certain Pastors of Livets Ord and discussed his plan of whom to tell what and when.
Within 3 months –before Ulf’s conversion announcement-virtually all the Pastors of Livets Ord knew – unless they deliberately decided that they did not want to know…
Yet during all this time there were numerous denials and misleading statements given out by Livets Ord stating that all of the accusations and rumors that he and Birgitta were going to become Catholic were false.
(In fact even a few volunteers who worked part time at Livets Ord at the time of his announcement told me that they had known for 6 weeks of his conversion and of his announcement. As the saying goes:” Two people can only keep a secret if one of them is dead.”)
Note: Do not ask for my sources for this information nor with which Pastors Ulf actually met with. I promised not to reveal them and I will not.
If you doubt my statements then simply ask the Pastors you wish to ask – at which precise time that they were either told or knew about his conversion. (And do not accept:” Oh- a few weeks or so before he announced it “as an answer.)
NOTE: The time length -whether 4 months or 4 weeks or 4 days before the announcement that they knew is actually unimportant.
The important point to note is that denials and deliberately misleading statements were given out by Livets Ord when virtually all of the Pastors knew them to be false- yet they all kept quiet about them.
As Christians – even if we do not lie ourselves – when we hear false and misleading statements that we know to be false and misleading yet fail to stand up and speak the truth then we automatically become part of that lie and support it.
- In 2014, Jonathan Ekman accidently leaked out the information about a corrupt pension deal (that was later shown to be illegal as well) that was made way back in 1998 giving all members of the board at that time; Ulf and Birgitta Ekman, Robert Ekh, Svante Rumar and Maj -Kristin Svedlund an outrageous pension of 100% of their salary and giving absolutely nothing to the pensions of the over 200 people who worked at Livets Ord.
This corrupt secret deal was commonly known by many Pastors but was not disclosed for 16(!) years and even then when it was finally done away with (although Ulf and Birgitta will still go on receiving over 45 000 kronor each per month) Svante Rumar and Maj-Kristin Svedlund were amazingly still allowed to keep their seats on the board of Livets Ord! They still sit there as board members today.
- This was followed by no less than 3 totally different official versions given out by Livets Ord in the space of 2 weeks of what was or what was not paid out to Ulf and Birgitta when they left Livets Ord.
- A secret, non –transparent deal and undisclosed payout was made to Robert Ekh when he left the board.
- A secret, non-transparent deal and undisclosed payout was made to Jonathan Ekman when he left the board.
6. When Ulf Ekman left Livets Ord in March 2014 the new leadership promised to release a Doctrine or Statement of Faith to stop the rumors that Livets Ord was going to or had a secret plan to become Catholic.
And now- over 2 years later- it has still not been released!
When I have (many times) asked about it –the answer is always the same:” We are working on it.”
There exists many Protestant Churches with exactly the same or extremely similar doctrinal beliefs as Livets Ord.
To use their Doctrine or Statement of Faith or to slightly modify it would take 2 hours to 2 days- not over 2 years!
I personally do not believe that Livets Ord has or even had a secret plan to become Catholic but the fact that it forbids it’s cell groups from having communion and forbids home communion between members (which is allowed and even encouraged in all Protestant Free Churches and in the majority of Protestant Churches – except for the ”High” (högkyrklig) Lutheran and the “High” Anglican Churches and of course the Catholic Church) is indeed strange…
These are the facts that show what has happened and what will continue to happen with a behind closed doors church government consisting of only handpicked board members conducting their meetings in secret.
Once again I deeply apologize if I have hurt any member of Livets Ord with this article for that was never my intention.
Believe it or not-I only want the best for all the members of Livets Ord and wish to see Livets Ord grow and prosper.
But that will not and cannot happen under the present form of church government.
Truth can only exist and flourish in the light and never in the darkness behind closed doors.
Luke 12:3 (NRS) Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.