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In August 2015, the Concordia College Alabama board of regents received a request from the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod board of directors to “divest Concordia College Alabama from the Synod.” CCA’s board of regents proposed terms for divesture at the LCMS convention in 2016, but rather than receive a vote, the matter was reassigned to the LCMS board of directors for further study. In the intervening months, the LCMS board of directors appear to have made other plans for CCA.
At a meeting in February of 2016, the LCMS board of directors gave itself “sole discretion” over the distribution of $2.3 million to CCA, which hinged on CCA developing “a detailed Closure and Teach-Out Contingency Plan” and meeting other financial reporting benchmarks. Four months later, on June 30, the LCMS added 14 requirements for CCA to qualify for the July 15 $1.5 million disbursement, and finally determined on July 28 that CCA was not eligible to receive the promised funding.
Despite the financial crunch that ensued, LCMS legal counsel prohibited CCA from soliciting outside help.
According to its last president, CCA was looking for potential investors up until days before it decided to close, but a deal never materialized.
On February 21, 2018, Concordia College Alabama announced that it would close at the end of the spring semester. Officially, CCA’s board of regents made the decision to close, which made the closure compliant with LCMS bylaws in effect at the time (before they were modified at the 2019 LCMS Convention).[8, 9] However, members of the CCA board of regents denied that they voted to close the college.[10, 11]
Less than six years earlier, LCMS and Concordia University System officials helped broker an agreement that kept Concordia University Ann Arbor from closing.[12, 13] LCMS president Matthew Harrison spoke about this event and CCA in a speech in 2018:
The sale of CCA’s assets began on November 30, 2018. On January 3, 2019, the campus was sold to Dr. Paul J. Kim, a minister who has hosted revival assemblies in Korea, the United States, and other countries around the world since at least 1997.[16, 17]
2019 LCMS Convention
At the 2019 LCMS Convention, the Committee on University Education proposed a resolution “To Recognize and Give Thanks for Work at Selma”.[20, 21] In the ensuing debate, representatives of CCA and delegates to the convention challenged the assertions in the resolution, drawing responses and rebuke from CUS president Dean Wenthe and LCMS president Matthew Harrison.[10, 22]
6] Selma Times-Journal. “Concordia College in need of investors to remain open.” Blake Deshazo. February 6, 2018.
7] Selma Times-Journal. “Concordia College Alabama to close at end of spring semester.” Blake Deshazo. February 21, 2018.
8] LCMS Board of Directors. “Executive Session Telephonic Board Meeting Minutes (released to the public as authorized June 7, 2018).” December 19, 2017. p. 146
9] LCMS. “2016 Handbook: Constitution, Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation.” May 2017 edition. Bylaw 188.8.131.52(h). p. 128
10] Janice McDaniels. “July 24 2019 – Afternoon Session Part 1.” TheLCMS (YouTube channel). 2:42:02-3:04:24
12] Reporter. “Parties pose ‘creative solution’ to save Concordia, Ann Arbor.” Paula Schlueter Ross. May 25, 2012.
14] Matthew Harrison. “LCMS Synod Report: June 14, 2018.” Indiana District-LCMS (Vimeo channel). 1:15:46-1:19:46
15] Selma Times-Journal. “Concordia College set to sell off inventory.” Adam Powell. November 27, 2018.
16] Selma Times-Journal. “New Concordia owner has ‘big plans’ for campus.” Adam Powell. January 3, 2019.
Compare to original, unamended version of Resolution 7-05.