Date PUBLISHED JUNE 2004
HOW MUCH FURTHER CAN WE GO?
The Special NAD Immorality Conference
The following information comes from a high level in the denomination.
At the beginning of March, 2004, every conference and union president in the North American Division was notified to arrange his schedule to attend an important meeting later in the month.
On Wednesday, March 17, at 9:00 a.m. ET, the presidents of the eight Union conferences in the United States (and the one in Canada), along with the presidents of all the conferences in their territories, met to discuss an important crisis confronting the church in North America.
After prayer was offered, in order to implore the guidance of God in the matter, the men began conferring.
What is the nature of this crisis they were called to deal with?
No, it is not the financial crisis in the retirement funds. They are in a state of near collapse; and current pastors may never, upon retirement, receive promised pensions.
No, it is not the educational crisis occurring in our colleges and seminary, which is filling our churches with pastors, who have been taught watered-down standards and doctrinal errors- instilled in their professors when they got their doctorates in secular, Protestant, and Catholic universities.
No, it is not the fiscal crisis of insufficient funding by church members. So many of the faithful who pled for a return to historic standards have been ejected, that tithes and offerings are not coming in as rapidly as they ought from remaining members, so many of which are content with an easy-going religion that has no requirements.
No, it is not the narcotics crisis, the hard drugs and liquor increasingly used by our college and university students; nor is it the wine drinking among a I growing number of our church members.
No, it is not the military crisis: the fact that over 2,000 of our young people have voluntarily joined the U.S. military, were trained in using guns, and are now serving in the armed forces- all with the quiet blessing of church leaders.
No, it is not the loss of thousands of the most faithful church members, because liberal pastors have chased them out of the church.
No, it is not the ministerial crisis, caused by the discharge of large numbers of local pastors, due to conference financial scandals and loss of funds. Very often, the best pastors- the ones who have most nobly defended our historic beliefs and standards- have been the first to be dropped.
No, it is not the legal crisis, caused by so many expensive lawsuits against the church because of pastors and teachers who have led children into sin.
Well now, what is this crisis that all the union and conference presidents were called to deal with in Silver Spring, Maryland at world church headquarters on Wednesday morning, March 17?
From a very high-placed source, close to the top, the following information comes. You may not believe it (for it is truly unbelievable), but it is true nonetheless:
The meeting was convened to deal with a problem of deepest concern to liberals in our church (probably because they are anxious that the ongoing changes in our denomination continue as rapidly as possible).
It is a matter of deep regret that a sizeable number of Adventist pastors, and some executives, have had predatory or adulterous affairs. The worst part, in the thinking of these liberals, is that in some cases the church members have learned what took place, and the leaders found it necessary to remove the ministers from the ministry. This is considered a great waste of talent. The men forced to leave are among the ablest defenders of liberalism in the church. Their presence is urgently needed! Their counsel at church meetings, their sermons placating sin, and their backslapping cronyism with leaders is deeply missed.
So the meeting was convened in order to devise methods for quietly restoring those erring men to the ministry! Yet this is happening at a time when hundreds of faithful pastors have been permanently laid off, church funds are low, financial scandals continue rocking the church, standards are declining, and the sin-and-be-saved theology keeps gaining ground.
If you ever felt like praying, I would suggest that it is time that you get started.
On the next three pages you will find a reprint of the six-page Restoration Policy, which will be approved at a forthcoming high-level denominational meeting. -vf
This is the first draft of a remarkable document. Because it camouflages the situation very well, and adequately deals with the legal ramifications, the final draft will very likely be worded about the same.
PAGE ONE: "APPLICABILITY"
Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Page One do an excellent job of throwing the casual reader off the track, in the hope that he will not grasp the true implications of this document.
Those two paragraphs appear to indicate that no possible type of sexual immorality is excusable; and therefore it would be totally impossible for a church worker, having been caught in such acts, to be taken back into ministerial or other church office.
Yet the remainder of the six-page document clearly provides for workers who have committed immoral actions to be reinstated in the ministry or other salaried positions in the church! There is obviously something very strange, very contradictory, about this document.
Upon examining Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Page One more closely, our attention is drawn to certain qualifying phrases: "criminal act(s)" and "medical diagnosis of a mental disorder."
First, unless the police caught the person and convicted him in a criminal (not civil) court, it is not a "criminal act." This provides a nice cover; since the church always discharges a worker anyway, as soon as the police produce clear-cut evidence that a church worker has done a crime.
PAGE ONE - DRAFT
These guidelines are intended for those workers who have violated the boundaries of sexual conduct causing suspension or removal of their denominational credentials and who wish to be restored.
No restoration may be done without going through the protocols as outlined. However, accomplishing these protocols does not in and of itself guarantee restoration or employment at the end of the process.
Some infractions are so serious that they disqualify a person from consideration for restoration. They are: any criminal act of a sexual nature, such as rape, statutory rape, lewd and lascivious conduct, sodomy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor (where a sexual act was included) or other similar criminal acts, breach of a counselor/counselee relationship, assault and battery or other similar acts of a sexual nature, multiple infractions, predatory behavior, long-standing, ongoing activities that constitute an established pattern, or a medical diagnosis of a mental disorder which leads to inappropriate sexual misconduct until the disorder is medically resolved.
Intent of the Policy
This policy and protocol is intended to be redemptive to the individual.
Protective to the community and church
Restorative when possible, clearing the way for the potential continued service and credentials of the individual
Restrictive, when needed.
That is what happened to the president of Andrews University a few years ago, when the Washington, D.C. police showed reporters the tapes they made of what the man did.
Second, a diagnosis of "mental disorder" is ordinarily only assigned by a psychiatrist; yet, in the 1970s and 1980s under pressure from the gays, psychiatrists stopped evaluating most immoral actions as abnormal.
This document is specifically about taking ministers back into the ministry who have formerly been kicked out for improper sexual conduct. The first paragraph of Page One says this: "These guidelines are intended for those workers who have violated the boundaries of sexual conduct, causing suspension or removal of their denominational credentials and who wish to be restored." This does not mean "restored to church membership"; for #3 on Page Three shows that they must first become church members, before they can be restored to the ministry.
Restoration Process Covenant
I,____________, recognizing and confessing the seriousness of my sin, agree to the following terms of the stated restorative process. I do so with the full understanding that this does not guarantee credentialing or future employment, but understand that the process may open these options for me.
I understand and agree to the terms as listed:
1.___________therapy sessions within the next_________ months.
2. Quarterly reports by the therapists to the evaluating committee.
3. Active and supportive participation as a lay member in a local Seventh-day Adventist congregation.
4. Final review and decision on my potential restoration by__________.
5. A specific follow-up plan after re-entry (to be drawn up at re-entry)
6. Restitution to those wronged by means of ________________.
7. (Other items as determined by the committee)
*Items 6 and 7 are optional depending on the observations of the committee.
I have received, read, and understand the treatment plan guidelines. I also agree that
violation or non-completion of this covenant and treatment guideline will terminate the process and potential of my restoration.
PAGE ONE: "INTENT OF THIS POLICY"
On the basis of what we have discovered, the remainder of this document is quite understandable. All the phrasing, in the bottom four paragraphs of Page One, is telling us that a church worker can be brought back into the ministry after having done such bad things. This kind of language, applied by Roman Catholic bishops and the pope to their priests, applies also to these former Adventist ministers: "redemptive," "protective to the community," "restorative when possible," and "restrictive." Frankly, such phrases do not sound as if it is very safe for the families and children of our church to be placed once again under their administration and care.
Notice that the "credentials" of these men are restored. It is Seventh-clay Adventist ministers who are given "credentials." The other workers have "licenses." Notice Page Five: ". . my potential restoration to ministry as per my restoration covenant." This entire document is primarily a way to safely take an immoral person back into the Seventh-day Adventist ministry ("safe" from a legal standpoint, not from the standpoint of whether the women and youth in the church are protected).
So, when Adventist ministers do something very bad, such as what Catholic priests do in their spare time, and are not convicted of a crime or declared to be insane, they can be restored to the ministry and once again receive tithe as their salary.
Thus it appears that there was a twofold objective in formulating this document in the fall of 2003. One was to bring fallen ministers back into the ministry; and the other was to provide a legal document, which would protect the church against later or repeated falls by the same pastor. This is exactly the legal maneuver being done right now by the Catholic bishops, in order to protect them from future lawsuits. What must our kind Father in heaven think of all this? How much longer will he tolerate it?
PAGES TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, AND SIX
These pages deal with legalities to protect the church against additional falls by a minister, after they have restored his credentials after his first grievous fall. Why are all these legal papers needed? "Restoration Process Covenant," "treatment plan," "treatment guidelines," "Restoration Policy," "proper protection of the church and the community," "Therapist Report," "therapy sessions," "Therapist Release Request," "ongoing counseling," and "meet with an accountability group."
Keep in mind that some dioceses (equivalent to Adventist conferences) of the Roman Catholic Church are almost bankrupt because of repeated attacks on parishioners! This resulted in large numbers of lawsuits in later years. Our denomination has done this also.
You will recall John Adam, our good friend in Memphis, Tennessee. For years he battled Donald Davenport and various Adventist Health System siphoning of funds, bankruptcies, and other unsavory activities. On one occasion in the mid or late 1980s, he discovered that the Ministerial Director of a nearby conference was wronging young people in the conference,- and that the conference president was in the process of hushing it up and retaining him as a conference officer so he could do it some more. John phoned the conference president and told him to either get rid of the man, or John would publicize the matter. The conference president immediately transferred the man out of the conference, where he became a local pastor.
I could tell more incidents; but I want you to know that it is being done. Just as Catholic bishops have done for decades, our church leaders always want to keep each incident quiet; so they just transfer the offender to a distant church. (Notice that the first seven paragraphs of Page Three guarantee that church members will not learn that they have a predator in charge of their church, while line eight speaks about pledging to safeguard the community and church,- yet the two are contradictory!) Page Four mentions that, after "restoration" to the ministry, he will be "working with vulnerable people in crisis situations."
Carefully read the concluding six pages. It is obvious that the man being taken back into the Adventist ministry must have done something very serious, and very harmful to others. For example, the first line of Page Three speaks of "the seriousness of the sin and the possibility of restoration." Why are they being restored to the ministry after a serious sin?
Are these the kind of ministers you want to support? This situation is absolutely terrible! Why is it that our leaders believe that God will tolerate such increasing levels of wrongdoing in our denomination? The Jews believed their church could not fall, even while it was falling. We are reliving their experience today. Yet it does not have to be so. We sigh and cry for the sins done in the church; yet the repentance is not forthcoming. How much longer will God wait before taking action?
For more information on this general topic:
WM-583-586 THE TORRES CASE Part 1-4 Jan 95
WM-587-588 KEEPING ADULTEROUS PASTORS Part 1-2 Feb 95
WM-589-591 OUR HISTORIC STANDARDS ON ADULTERY, DIVORCE,
AND REMARRIAGE Part 1-3 Mar 95
WM-601 PERMITTING ADULTERY IN THE MINISTRY June 95
WM-602 VIOLATION OF THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT AND CHURCH RELATIONSHIP Mar 95
WM-657 NEW ADVENTIST NO-FAULT DIVORCE Dec 95
Restoration Process Covenant
(Conference, Division, etc. - the employing agency)
Recognizing both the seriousness of sin and the possibility of restoration, the committee agrees to be fair and faithful to the terms listed on the other side of this document. We, further, agree to treat all information as sensitive to the extent possible, however, information will be released to at least the following:
Committee members and consultants.
The individual involved
Potential employers (when they make a formal written request for information)
Others as specifically designated by the individual involved
While records will be kept, they will be separated from other personnel data.
We pledge to prayerfully and carefully work toward individual redemption as well as reasonable and proper protection of the community and the church.
____________ Committee Chairman __________ Date
Regarding counseling for: ____________
During the period from_______ to_____, I have had therapy sessions of, ______minutes each with the above named individual/s.
Based on these sessions, my evaluation is that the client is ___ is not __ making progress leading toward restoration as a professional who will be working with vulnerable people in crisis situations. Comments illustrating my evaluation follow:
(Please comment on specifics and other issues that are salient to this individual's situation. Additional sheets may be used.)
Therapist Release Request
I, ________________ request my professional therapist, _______ of __________
to release progress notes and/or other information on therapy issues surrounding my potential restoration to ministry as per my restoration covenant. Information may be released to the following individuals or their designees:
Signed _____________ Patient/Client
(A notarized original of this document shall be filed with the committee chairman) PILGRIMS REST - HCR 77, BOX 38-A - BEERSHEBA SPGS, TN 37305
AFTER RE-ENTERING THE WORK FORCE THE FOLLOW-UP PLAN IS:
1. A_________ month period of time when the individual will meet with an
accountability group at the frequency of _________. This group will assist in evaluating and monitoring the on-going progress of the individual. Reports will be sent to
the_________ committee on a frequency of _________. These reports will be maintained in a file separate from the personnel file.
2. Ongoing counseling with a professional counselor as determined by the __________ committee.**
3. Specific mentoring by a seasoned individual or individuals to assist in both professional and spiritual growth. "
4. Other items as designated.**
**NOTED: These items will need to be determined at the end of the process. They can not be defined at the beginning because they will self suggest as part of the process and completion. Other items may be deemed necessary as well. The above are not intended to be all inclusive, but they are, at least in part, to be part of the consideration and restoration matrix. The committee empowered to direct the process is to approve all therapists and mentors.
The items as listed above are part of the overall treatment plan and are considered a part of the contract/covenant to bring restoration. Non-compliance with the after restoration" items will void the contract just as much as non-completion of any other part of the process and contract/covenant.