As many of our readers know, the Ambassadors of Reconciliation have just released their Consultation Report to the Board of Directors of Sovereign Grace Ministries. (link) The report was prepared by Ted Kober and Ed Keinath.
According to Dave Harvey, "this plan includes three areas where they and others will be involved in helping us:
1. Adjudication of allegations against C.J. Mahaney
2. Group reconciliation with others who have offenses
3. Follow-up consultation and recommendations"
Instead of analyzing the report itself, I decided to investigate the organization that authored the report, the Ambassadors of Reconciliation. Why look closely at AoR? I believe that impartiality is of utmost importance in this process and that transparency is crucial.
When Dave Harvey first named the Ambassadors of Reconciliation as the organization selected to help resolve SGM’s debacle, he described AoR as “a ministry that primarily serves Lutheran churches”. Fair enough. However, at that time I decided to investigate whether there were ties between Ambassadors of Reconciliation and Peacemaker Ministries (which has an established relationship with SGM). Furthermore, C.J. Mahaney and Ken Sande are friends as we have previously established here at TWW. In fact, Mahaney endorsed Sande’s 2004 revised and updated edition of The Peacemaker (which I recently added to my library) by writing:
“The Peacemaker is an indispensable tool for pastors. . . . There is no need for another book on this topic to be written now that this volume exists.”
Due to Mahaney’s close ties to Sande and Peacemaker Ministries, it was important that the SGM Board of Directors hire an impartial organization. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to find established ties between Peacemaker Ministries and Ambassadors of Reconciliation. (link)
That post went up almost a month ago. When I looked at the front cover of the Consultation Report, the AoR address — Billings, Montana — jumped out at me. Why? Because Peacemaker Ministries is located in the very same town! Google is such a wonderful research tool, and here is what I have found.
Ted Kober serves as President of Ambassadors of Reconciliation, which was established in 2004. Here is the description of AoR: “A Lutheran based reconciliation ministry established in 2004. Ambassadors of Reconciliation works with individuals, businesses, local churches, and national church bodies to foster lifestyles of reconciliation.” (link)
Ted’s bio at AoR shows his strong connection to Peacemaker Ministries by stating: (link)
“Ted Kober serves as President of Ambassadors of Reconciliation. Ted’s speaking includes presenting seminars on biblical peacemaking, training leaders in mediation, and leading board governance workshops. His international work includes equipping church body leaders from 33 different countries and 6 continents. Ted has published articles, Bible studies, devotions, and his book Confession & Forgiveness (CPH, 2002). He provides consulting for business and church leaders and serves on conciliation panels in a wide variety of cases, including complex church interventions. For thirteen years, Ted served in various leadership roles for Peacemaker Ministries and continues to serve as an adjunct instructor. He served as a reconciler for the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and on the synod’s board of directors. Prior to his work in reconciliation, his business background includes owning or managing interests in more than 30 different companies. He successfully resolved fifty-nine separate legal disputes in one estate. He has served in numerous lay leadership positions at Trinity Lutheran Church in Billings, Montana, and occasionally plays organ for worship. He lives in Billings with his wife Sonja, and they have one grown son David.”
Ed Keinath, who co-wrote the AoR report for SGM also serves as an adjunct instructor for Peacemaker Ministries (PM). Funny, I don't remember Dave Harvey ever mentioning the close ties these two men have with PM and Ken Sande.
I found an interesting interview of Ted Kober at the AoR website, which I highly recommend. In this video Kober explains how his friend Ken Sande reached out to him when he was embroiled in a terrible legal battle in settling his father’s estate. It is obvious that it was Sande who inspired Kober to establish a career in peacemaking, and he likely feels indebted to Sande for that inspiration. (link)
As Kober indicated in his “about us” information, he served in various leadership roles for Peacemaker Ministries for 13 years. Assuming he formed Ambassadors of Reconciliation immediately after leaving Peacemaker Ministries (2004), that means he began working for PM around 1991.
To give you an idea of the kind of work Kober did while at Peacemaker Ministries, here is a “Proposal and Agreement for Conflict Intervention” he prepared for a church. (link)
Kober’s proposal begins as follows:
“Greetings to you in the name of Jesus, our Peacemaker!
This proposal describes our services for a Conflict Intervention, which includes teaching, mediation, and consultation in response to the current conflicts in your church. Our intervention services are provided through the Ministry Relations Division of Peacemaker® Ministries. As the Senior Ministry Consultant for Lutheran churches, I (Ted Kober) prepared this proposal for you. I will be happy to answer questions for you, including if you desire, in a phone conference with your Board of Elders or Church Council. Upon mutual acceptance of this proposal, we look forward to further conversations to finalize dates for an intervention team to work with your congregation.”
If you saw the May 2003 Christianity Today article entitled “Missing the Rupture”, you would have read the following: (link)
“Dave Edling, director of church relations for Peacemaker Ministries, says his organization tells troubled churches, "Your problem is not psychological. Your problem is sin." … Edling and his associate, Ted Kober, intervene in eight to ten church conflicts each year.”
The Peacemaker Ministries website features a couple of articles written by Ted Kober, which are entitled:
How We Treat Each Other in the Church (link)
Conflict an Opportunity? I Hate Conflict! (link)
As I was scanning the articles featured on the PM website, one name really jumped out – Carolyn McCulley. She authored Keeping the Peace – Writing E-mail that will not Stir up Conflict. (link) In the article McCulley writes:
“Ken Sande, founder of Peacemaker Ministries and author of The Peacemaker, says e-mail has added an extra wrinkle in business and personal communications. As a former attorney and now a professional Christian mediator and lecturer, Sande increasingly has had to guide ministry and church staffs, as well as other groups, through friction that originated in e-mail or other online communications.
‘People are much more careful in how they write a letter on paper than they are in how they communicate through e-mail," he says. "The further you get away from a face-to-face communication, the more you lose your message-sending capabilities. It's not good enough to communicate so that you can be understood, you must communicate so clearly that you cannot be misunderstood. There's a huge difference.’ ”
Over at the Ambassadors of Reconciliation website, the Peacemaking Principles Pamphlet (a Peacemaker Ministries resource) is offered in the online bookstore.
Given the ties outlined above between Ted Kober and Ken Sande, is it any surprise that the Ambassadors of Reconciliation report recommends that select chapters of Sande’s The Peacemaker be consulted?
Well, there you have it folks. It will be interesting to watch this process go forward and observe how this serious matter gets resolved. I guess impartiality is in the eye of the beholder…
Lydia's Corner: 2 Kings 6:1-7:20 Acts 15:36-16:15 Psalm 142:1-7 Proverbs 17:24-25