United Church of God Council comes calling on
Big Sandy's congregation and board of trustees. (Part 3 of 4)
Brian Bettes: Please, we've been asked not to applaud for any comments.
Ron Feaker: Good afternoon, everyone. A couple of questions that I had have already been answered, been addressed. But I do have one that I would like to ask, and to me this is what this all boils down to. What does the board intend to do with Mr. Havir? Are you going to transfer him? Are you going to leave him here? What are you going to do?
And the second question I have on here is one that I brought up the other night, and I am going to direct this one towards Mr. McCullough.
A week ago, Mr. McCullough, you stood up here on the stage and said everything was real fine. Everything's going along great, and yet the letter they had sent, the fax they had sent, to Mr. Havir had already apparently been sent out, and he received it Monday. What I would like to know is: Certainly you must have already known that, that they were planning on transferring him. How come you did not say anything at that time in regard to Mr. Havir? I would have thought that would have been much better for you to have addressed him personally rather than to receive it from a fax? Those are two questions I have if anybody up there wants to answer them.
Les McCullough: Last--was it a week ago? Is that what you're referring to, a week ago? Yeah, I think things are going along well in general. I mean obviously we're talking about a specific situation here. When I say that we have had a series of good meetings, that there have been some good decisions made, there's been some forward movement, there have been some good things going on, that doesn't relate necessarily to the situation you're talking about here.
Ron Feaker: Okay.
Les McCullough: I'm talking about the general environment of the church overall. Why would I not speak to Mr. Havir? Yes, I knew that they were talking about it. It is not my place to address some of these things prior to the time the steps have been taken that are going to be a normal process of handling the situation. So it doesn't--
I spent the last two months talking with people who are--who have decided that they don't wish to move to Cincinnati because they have made a change in their philosophical feelings, their theological feelings, whatever you want to call it. After two months of that, I'm not anxious to take on someone else's job and talk with Mr. Havir about what is a ministerial-services function, a normal ministerial-services activity.
So I don't get involved. I shouldn't say I don't get involved because this is the first time that transfers, ministers and so forth have been brought up since I've been employed. I don't get involved with them doing their job. There's someone who has a responsibility to do the job; they make recommendations. If the recommendations are approved and go forward, then I just don't get involved in it. I don't take it up as my part to carry the job for them.
Ron Feaker: Wouldn't you feel, as president, though, that you should have that right to be able to say something to him? I mean based on something like that?
Les McCullough: It's not a matter of whether I have the right or not; it's just not the way that I would do it. I mean--
Ron Feaker: Do you still feel, then, that the way they done everything, then, was the right way to do it?
Les McCullough: No, I'm not necessarily saying that I think it was done exactly the right way. I've already expressed myself on that.
Ron Feaker: Okay. Then why would you not feel it wouldn't be right for you to say something directly to Mr. Havir? I mean, wouldn't that be better than sending a letter out? Wouldn't it be a lot better for you to go directly to Mr. Havir and say something to him rather than to send a fax to him?
Les McCullough: No, as I said, ministerial services has that responsibility. I don't involve myself in the day-to-day, the normal routine, the decisions that are taking place there, any more than I do, say, go to Mr. Walker's area and say something to one of his men.
Ron Feaker: Okay.
Les McCullough: I have always felt that if you have someone to do a job, you let them do their job. And you don't try to run them day to day.
Ron Feaker: Well, can you go ahead then and answer my first question that I asked in regard to what they intend to do with Mr. Havir? Are they going to go ahead and transfer him, or are they going to leave him here?
Les McCullough: Well, that's part of the reason we're here today: to find out what the feelings of the church area, how the United Church of God in Big Sandy perceives itself, whether they perceive themselves to be totally independent, as I said, or associated or just how they perceive it. And then we will be having a meeting on Monday with the council and explain to them--these men that are sitting here will be in on the meeting--explain to them what was said here.
Ron Feaker: If they had not had this session today, they would not have had this. And the same with the fax that went out to Mr. Havir. Then they would have automatically followed on through. Is that not correct?
Les McCullough: I'm sorry.
Ron Feaker: If nobody here had said anything, if they decided not to have the meeting today, and nobody wanted to contest what they'd done, would they just automatically go ahead and transfer Mr. Havir, then?
Les McCullough: There would have been someone come over and discuss it with him, yes.
Ron Feaker: Okay. All right, I don't have any more questions. Thank you.
Robert Fisk: Mr. McCullough, while you're up there, if you would, could I get you to answer Mr. Francis's question. We went on to another question, and he never got his question answered.
Les McCullough: What question was that?
Robert Fisk: Mr. Francis, would you like to answer the question again, please?
Dana Francis: It had to do with whether or not Mr. Havir's name was besmirched--
Robert Fisk: I was referring to the one about how they intend to deal with the church.
Dana Francis: Oh. Okay, I'm sorry.
Les McCullough: The question was what?
Robert Fisk: How y'all intend to further approach the churches in the United Church of God, if y'all continue to plan to approach them the way y'all have or if you plan to approach them in a different manner.
Les McCullough: Well, those are very broad questions, very broad statements.
Robert Fisk: Specifically, he saw the way you're approaching them now as arrogant and not as a servant trying to come to the congregation and serve the congregation.
Les McCullough: Well, that certainly isn't the desire. The organization, the way the church is established, changing things goes through the council to be discussed, and it's a matter that I'm not going to make an arbitrary decision one way or the other. I can't; I don't have the prerogative to do that.
I can make a recommendation, or I can do other things. But when you say are you going to be arrogant and abusive, it's like did you quit beating your wife. If I say yes, then I'm assumedly saying I am arrogant and abusive.
I do not feel that way. I do not intend to treat people that way. The people that I worked with over the last 36, -7, -8 years, whatever it's been, have generally speaking not found that to be the case.
Dana Francis: I might just say that the question was not directed to you personally. It has to do more with the approach that seems to be commonly used. It was used when David Hulme was in office, and I haven't seen yet a difference. I was wondering if there was going to be a difference in the way that our congregations are approached.
Les McCullough: Well, again, two months isn't a very long time. I have thoughts, and I have ideas and have made certain recommendations to the council. They have not been noised about. They've not been put forward one way or the other. And during the course of the year I would be discussing things with them. There are certain things I think need to be addressed. I won't be specific, but there's certain things that I think need to be addressed. I will do my best to have those addressed. I don't know how much further I can go with that.
Robert Fisk: I want to make a statement and ask a question, like everybody else. I have actually three questions I want to ask. I'll ask them one at a time, if I can.
We were talking about how Big Sandy feels and about how it looks at its association with United AIA, and the cold, hard numbers are kind of like this. This is the situation we have numerically with AIA. We send from this area--there are approximately 70 percent of the tithes and offerings from this area go to AIA. I think Mr. Dean said that number was like $360,000 one particular year.
In return from that, we received from AIA our pastor's salary--Mr. Havir, who was our pastor before there was AIA and will probably continue to be our pastor if AIA went down the drain.
But we receive his salary, and we receive some $5,000 a month or so, I understand, in other assistance for the needy. So financially what we're saying is: We send in about 70 percent of the tithes from this area is what y'all receive, and what we receive back is his salary and maybe $60,000-a-year-plus for the widows. That is the numerical situation, the numerical situation between United Church of God Big Sandy and United Church of God AIA.
United Church of God Big Sandy, Mr. Havir specifically has never requested, has never once requested, that the people here in the church send their tithes locally and we will then forward or whatever. The people here have from the beginning--
In fact, there's several people in the audience right now, I would bet, that don't even know they can give their tithes locally. And just as recently as last week one asked the question: Oh, you mean I can send my tithes locally? Because we have supported AIA. We've let the people choose where to send there money. We're not here trying to make money. We're here trying to help people.
But my question is this to Mr. McCullough as the president of the board of AIA: The board locally has discussed from time to time paying Mr. Havir's salary as opposed to allowing AIA to and picking up the third-tithe widows in this area locally and asking the congregation to pay their tithes locally. If this was done, would there be any reason why we could not continue to associate with AIA? Mr. McCullough, please.
Les McCullough: I'm just trying to find out from Doug. I am no expert on the constitution and bylaws. So you ask me a question, and I was referring to Doug whether there is a prohibition of some sort in the constitution and bylaws that would prohibit that. And I didn't get an answer.
Doug Horchak: I'd be happy to comment if I can.
Robert Fisk: Go ahead. Please.
Doug Horchak: The constitution and bylaws, of course, do allow for a congregation to take their tithes up locally. That's something I think we've all understood since we left Indianapolis, which would include taking care of third-tithe needs. As a matter of fact, we do have some congregations that still do that, although there are a number of them that find it easier just by way of being able to cut checks monthly to widows who need it on a regular basis. But in those areas that precedent has already been set.
In terms of an employee, while I know of nothing in the constitution and bylaws that would prevent it, I do know that the way that the constitution and bylaws of United Church of God -AIA are written, it talks about the--
And really the handout that some of you have refers to it in a general sense of being able to require the faithful service of its employees as well as the amount of accountability that a pastor would have--this is something that the board would have to decide.
From the very earliest days of United, we chose to have a very--and this was something that is not in the constitution, I will admit, but we had a discussion, and Mr. Holladay will probably remember this back in the transitional board--we have all of our congregations in the United States at least overseen by an employed pastor. Now, it doesn't mean that you don't have a resident elder that is going to be pastoring a church. That was the intent, and that was the desire.
It actually spoke to one of the goals we had when we left Indianapolis of taking care of the churches. So, to answer your question, everything except the local congregation paying for the man's salary directly is already a possibility for a congregation. That particular one, though, has its difficulties when it comes--
There's some legal ramifications of it, there's some issues relative to liability insurance. And I'm not trying to avoid the issue, nor am I trying to say that what I say is the final word.
But I do know that when we discussed this two and a half years ago, to be able to have an employee be able to have access to both the liability insurance, as well as be covered by it, there's some difficulties you have when you mix a corporate employee of one corporation with another, and it has nothing to do with Big Sandy, but it has everything to do with some of the very difficulties that were referred to a couple hours ago. So that's my comment. That's surely not the final word on it.
Robert Fisk: I appreciate your comment, and thank you, Mr. McCullough. According to the constitution, the reference that we've all talked to before, it says that the assembly of members wherever located, pastored by a minister recognized by the United Church of God AIA and governed by the United Church of God 's published rules of association, shall constitute a local congregation of AIA.
That doesn't say there that he's paid; he's recognized by that. So I presume any elder in the church, according to this, technically and legally, any elder recognized with ministerial credentials from AIA could be a pastor of a church, whether he's paid or not.
The only problem is that there are no rules of association, and, since this says wherever located, an assembly of members wherever located--and I think the United States falls within wherever located--there aren't any local churches. AIA doesn't have one, because they don't have the rules of association. Interesting thought.
A comment was made by Dr. Ward earlier about some of the things Mr. Havir may or may have not done. Dr. Ward just slightly mentioned that--just casually mentioned that--Mr. Havir was asked for a budget submission, and he can answer whether he submitted a budget or not. And he was asked for information about the building.
Dr. Ward, you stated earlier that you knew that the board was a local board to deal with financial matters. My question is, under that understanding that you knew that the local board handled the financial matters of the Big Sandy Church of God, why was a budget submission offered to Dave Havir, pastor, as opposed to the board, Big Sandy?
Roy Holladay: I'll jump in on this one.
Robert Fisk: I will say, Dr. Ward, you've changed a lot.
Roy Holladay: Yeah. What happened was a memo or resolution was sent out to all church pastors asking to give an account of the funds that they were collecting locally. The understanding would be that if you had a board locally who was handling the finances you would turn it over to them. They would prepare it, give it back to you, and you would forward it to the home office.
Robert Fisk: If I can interject with a question: Would Sears ask J.C. Penney to give them a budget of what they're planning to do next year?
Roy Holladay: Well, see, this is where the difficulties we're talking about arise. We understand fully that we have a separate corporation here. All we were asking for was a reporting or an accounting of the funds in the local church areas so that we could use that for future planning. We would know what's out there. There have been a lot of rumors going around as to how much funds were available in different areas. Nobody had any idea as to that.
Robert Fisk: Why would AIA need to know how much funds we have to make their planning? Why would J.C. Penney's need to know how many funds Sears has to do their planning?
Well, again, if you are under the constitution and bylaws--
Robert Fisk: Constitution only.
Roy Holladay: Clarify the bylaws, but under the constitution, it states that the council has the responsibility, the fiduciary responsibility, to oversee the finances--
Robert Fisk: Of AIA.
Roy Holladay: Yeah, all we were asking for was an accounting.
Robert Fisk: My question again is why was that not directed to the board. Even though it was incorrect to do so, how come that was not directed to the board as opposed to the pastor?
Roy Holladay: Well, you see, we don't know--you have to understand, as council I don't know how many local congregations have boards that are accountable, how many of them collect tithes locally. The--I guess if you want to call it an assumption--was simply that the--
If you sent a memo to the pastor, the pastor would know who it should be passed on to in any given area. Let's take my particular church area in Fort Myers. I was fired on March 2, 1995. We established a church before the Days of Unleavened Bread, and the Passover got started. We had the option either to incorporate or not incorporate. Ray Wooten had given me all of the information on how to go about it.
We decided not to. We decided we would wait and see what was going to develop in the sense that we did not want to go off and just be a congregation by ourselves. We wanted to see if there was anything going to develop.
We started collecting tithes the first year locally, and at the end of that year the congregation came to me and posed the question: Should we continue to do this? They decided not to--to do that. Other congregations decided to continue to do so. Others have had boards that decided.
When we left Indianapolis we specifically said that it could be done either way. But as a council we felt that, if you asked a church pastor to give an accounting, that he would then pass it on. If you're asking my opinion, how we felt about it.
Robert Fisk: Transfer that, please, to the question about the building. Since you knew the pastor was not the one building the building, you knew the board was the one building the building, why would you ask the pastor to submit plans on the building when he (a) doesn't have them, and (b) he's not the one doing it?
Roy Holladay: Well, again, you would assume that the pastor is going to be involved in that. I think you're making part of an assumption that I personally, until just the last couple of weeks, when my name was mentioned in the situation here with Dave Havir, prior to that time I did not have all that much information about who was doing what.
Robert Fisk: That's why I asked Dr. Ward the question. He has the information.
Roy Holladay: Okay. But I just wanted to give you the perspective of what the council as a whole thought about it.
Brian Bettes: It's about 10, 15 minutes until 6, and we really only have this building until 4 o'clock. We're way overstepping our bounds. I do believe that we may need to talk about finding another place to do this or another time, but we need to be out of this building fairly quickly. Go ahead, Dr. Ward.
Don Ward: When it comes to whether or not, I didn't know how extensive--
I asked Mr. Havir a few times, well, what does the board really do? How are they composed? He said, oh, they just handle finances. I don't know how extensive that is. I didn't know that you're saying that you're totally independent in the financial, physical sense, but in the spiritual sense that you are subservient to its constitution, which is ecclesiastical.
Then Mr. Havir, when he became an employee of United Church of God -AIA, he then voluntarily submitted to be under both: the constitution and the bylaws. And there's also a code of ethics in there, plus thus there's to render your faithful service as an employee. So as a minister of a congregation who is on the books of United as an employee, you would, I suppose, expect a timely response, based on his agreement to uphold the constitution and bylaws.
Robert Fisk: He didn't have the information. The information was held by the board, so again--
Don Ward: Meaning--
Robert Fisk: I think that's J.C. Penney asking Sears what are you doing with your money? Why are you building another building? But, anyway, to go on to one final question real quickly--
Don Ward: I need to finish this one--
Robert Fisk: --now that y'all are aware that the church here is locally incorporated and that we have chosen to affiliate with United, and you know how we feel here, are you still of the opinion that y'all have the right to ask Mr. Havir to transfer out of here now that you know that he was a pastor here before there was AIA, that we do feel like we are--well, we are locally incorporated--we're a totally autonomous entity, an we feel like he is our pastor. Do y'all still feel like y'all have the right to ask him to leave?
Don Ward: I'm sorry for interrupting. I did not finish the answer. It would seem that the congregation and the minister would be very much involved in building a building; it would not be just confined to six people or whatever you have on the board, of which the pastor is the chairman. Mr. Killingley talked about conflict of interest. Mr. Havir sponsored an amendment to the constitution of United Church of God -AIA that the president cannot serve on the board, whereas here you have the pastor as chairman of the local board, who supposedly is only over finance, yet he is responsible in the ecclesiastical sense to United Church of God -AIA, plus when he agreed to become an employee he became subject to everything that's in the constitution and bylaws.
Robert Fisk: To repeat my question: Now that the board, as a whole, or at least the four members here, five, whatever we have, now that y'all are aware how Big Sandy feels about itself, that we are a local congregation choosing to associate with United AIA, choosing to have 70 percent of the money or whatever amount it is sent out there and choosing to allow y'all to pay the pastor and some of the third tithe--it's not all paid; some of it's paid locally--and you're aware that he was our pastor before there was a United, do y'all still feel like y'all have the right to ask him to transfer?
And I guess, Mr. McCullough, since you're the president of the board, I guess that question would be answered by you. You're welcome to take a minute and ask the others if you need input.
Les McCullough: No, I don't think that's a problem one way or the other. We will discuss on Monday with the rest of the board how the board as a whole considers the situation. At this moment you say do you have a right to tell an employee--?
Robert Fisk: Do you feel you have that right. I didn't ask whether you had it or not. I asked if you felt you did.
Les McCullough: Well, okay, semantics. Ah, feel. Do you feel you have the right to tell an employee that you wish them to work somewhere else. Yeah, I would have to say I do.
Robert Fisk: Okay. Even though you understand we were more than willing to pay his salary, we allowed y'all to so that we could associate with AIA because of the understanding we had that was how we associated.
Les McCullough: Now, that's introducing a different situation. If the local Big Sandy church wants to pay Dave Havir's salary, do they continue under the umbrella of AIA? And I'm not in a position where I can answer that. I can't make an arbitrary decision on that. That would have to be something that the board would take into consideration and make a decision and come back and let you know.
Robert Fisk: Thank you.
Les McCullough: Is that satisfactory?
Robert Fisk: Since your constitution doesn't rule it out, I don't know why it would have to be a board decision to say that you can do something that your constitution allows, but--
Les McCullough: Well, because that's the way it's governed. It's governed by the council.
Robert Fisk: I would hope that there would be no problem in us doing that. Can you see any reason there would be a problem in Mr. Havir being paid locally and us still associating with United AIA?
Les McCullough: I can't speculate on that. That's what it'd be; it'd be speculation.
Robert Fisk: I asked if you personally see a problem. Do you personally see a problem?
Les McCullough: Do I personally see a problem with that? I would have to think about it. I'm not prepared to answer off the top of that my head that, yes, I do, or, no, I don't. I'd have to give it consideration.
Dael Baughman [Big Sandy elder]: Well, when I heard that there were going to be seven targets on stage to answer questions, I got my computer this morning and whipped out 13 questions. So relax; I'm not going to cover but one of them. Before I even ask that question, I would like to make a couple of real brief statements.
A lot's been said about how we perceive ourselves. I think the fact that we had to stop maybe five minutes into it and explain what the question was to some of the people might tell us some things. We can talk about the Big Sandy church, but first we've got to ask the question are we talking about the local board, the physical organization--we've heard a lot about organization vs. spiritual vs. legal entities--I think the fact that 70 percent of the money goes to AIA from this congregation tells us a great deal about how Big Sandy wants to be a part of AIA. So I think those two things there tell a lot about that.
So far as rules of association, I believe that that's something we should do. The constitution seems to imply it. That's certainly the way I understood it. I think it would have alleviated a lot of problems.
A parallel that I draw there: When Moses came down off the mount and gave the law to the children of Israel, I believe they said all that the Eternal has commanded we will do. You know, they agreed ahead of time. They didn't have to, but they did. I don't know that that's a good parallel or analogy or not, but if we have some rules we'll all know what we're supposed to do, and we can either live up to them or not.
The question that I have selected out of the list that I would like to ask, and this is either to Mr. Havir, since he's on the stage, or some of the local board: Can you cite any positive actions by you or the local board to promote a better working relationship and a harmony with the council of elders that have occurred since the termination of Mr. Hulme?
I was greatly encouraged by the way the council had changed. I really expected a change in attitudes all around. But I really haven't seen too much positive change in our attitude towards things, much to my dismay. So I would like to hear someone address that.
Dave Havir: Any of the local board or other members could say something. You're asking if there's any positive direction from the new administration?
Dael Baughman: No. What have we done locally to try to make a smoother relationship with the new--
I understood and I supported what we were doing. We were resisting because I didn't like the way--like a lot of people here, I didn't like the way Mr. Hulme and Mr. Andrews may be carrying the church. But I think there's been a great turnaround. We don't have those 75 votes anymore. I don't know what the votes are in every case, but I think the move to Cincinnati is being accomplished in short order. That made a lot of us happy.
There were a lot of positive things happening--budgets approved, there's going to be The Good News doubled, booklets published. What have we done locally as a church to make that work? I think most of us say we want unity, but what are we doing to effectuate unity?
Dave Havir: I probably think the biggest thing that we've done to help has actually not been initiated by us, but we responded in a very positive fashion, and we should give credit where credit is due. Up in Louisville Mr. McCullough came up to me and asked if he could see me privately. We went off into a corner, and he said we need some financial assistance to help provide some help up in New Zealand because we can't get a minister in there. The Australian minister's having to cover.
And I viewed this as a very positive step by the president. He did not come demanding; he came up and asked, and of course, and in fact he jokingly said: I told them I'd have to ask you since you're my pastor.
And then I mentioned to him, as you know I need to go ask the board about that, but I will do everything I can to recommend that. Of course, it'll be a board decision--since it's financial--at that level. If it were a smaller amount there are certain limitations on an ecclesiastical matter that I do not have to ask the board about. But anything over $1,000 because of the size I have to take it to the board, even an ecclesiastical matter. So I took it to the board. That's probably been the best thing we've done. That was in response to the president.
Could we do more? I'm sure we could do more. But that's the best thing we've done, but I have to give credit that President McCullough made the request of us, and I thought that was a beginning of really helping things to become smoother.
Dael Baughman: Well, I certainly can't speak for all the church, but from my perspective and I think from a good many others, we'd like to see as harmonious a relationship as we can, so anything else that we can do like that, not just money, but in whatever way.
Jim Baugher: I really appreciate the opportunity to address you folks. I do believe that they've missed the main crux of the whole situation, and I do believe also that Mr. McCullough was a little less than candid in his explanation of the letter, because it really wasn't a letter about transfer; it was a letter about termination, at least the copy that I read and have in my possession. It just strictly says that Dave Havir is terminated period. And consequently he was sending some people to make sure the termination was completed. He was given the choice apparently from the letter that he could either accept the transfer, resign or they would fire him, to put it bluntly.
And I've not heard anyone from the board make any kind of commitment that this is not going to be pursued, and I now personally from sources that Dave Havir is not held in the highest esteem by the board and that he's looked on as a rebel, and I also would like to suggest to the local board that they work very hard to get an absolute commitment from you folks to leave the man alone, because for him to work under the sword of Damocles, as it were, is very harmful, not only to him and his family, but also to the family of God.
There are a lot of people here that have a great deal of respect for the man, and unless you'll give us a commitment, personally, as board members, that you're not going to pursue this--naturally, unless there were some horrible crime that he commits theologically or personally or something, anyone can understand that--but just to leave the man alone to do the work that he's been given to do here. Not that I approve of everything he does, and we've talked about that on occasion. But to have anyone work under those circumstances trying to take care of a flock is a little more than ludicrous. And I'm surprised that none of these people have demanded--and I say demanded--from you people a commitment to leave him alone and not some two or three months later send some more hatchet people down here.
And, speaking of hatchet people, I have some personal experience with one of those hatchet folks, who came to me twice, once in my own home, to as it were excommunicate me from the Church of God because I was creating a disturbance. I was standing up for the truth is what was happening. And Dave Havir [Mr. Baugher minutes later said he had not meant to say "Dave Havir" here] told me he was going to have to throw me out of the church. And I told him very quickly, no, you can't throw me out of the church; you didn't put me in it. But such is the type of ministry we have around us, and people wonder why we have no confidence in our ministry.
And Dave Havir never did that to me. He had opportunities, but--anyway--the question is: Are you willing at this point to make an absolute commitment to this church that you're going to leave the pastor alone? Simple question. Anyone have an answer?
Leon Walker: First of all, relative to the letter you saw: It's a fake. Is that not right?
Dave Havir: There was no mention about termination.
Leon Walker: That's right. There was no mention about being terminated or fired in the letter. Mr. Havir has confirmed that. Is that not the case, board members? That's the case. The letter you have is a fake.
Jim Baugher: Well, the letter that I had was supposedly a copy of the original. My wife said that I said Dave Havir was a hatchet man. It was Ken Giese that was a hatchet man.
Leon Walker: I'm referring to the letter that Mr. Havir received, that board members received. You said that it had mentioned termination and that if he did not resign he would be fired.
Jim Baugher: Or he would be terminated.
Leon Walker: No, I said that letter is a fake. The letter that was received by the board and by Mr. Havir did not say that. Is that not right? Would you confirm that, please?
Dave Havir: The letter I received said I was no longer--I was reappointed as the pastor. It did not say if I was transferred or terminated. Doug Horchak on the phone on Monday confirmed to me that it was a transfer.
Now, whether or not my salary's in the budget: That would be the question to ask. That way I would know if it's really was intended to ultimately be a termination.
But I think they would have discussed with me about a transfer, and I don't know if it went beyond-- I don't know if they ever talked about termination. It's never been brought up.
Jim Baugher: Okay. It was my understanding that you were being terminated that way.
Leon Walker: I'm simply saying that the letter that was sent, though it should not have been sent that way--and that's been said many, many times--did not mention termination or being fired or any such threat of that.
In terms of whether or not members of the council will at this moment in time say what is going to happen, we cannot do that. We're having a teleconference on Monday and we're going to be discussing the whole issue further at that time. So there's no way we can discuss here as four members of the council what we will discuss with the whole council Monday. We'll all have to wait and see where we go from here. We're here fact-finding. We're here talking. We're here communicating. We're trying to learn and to be able to bring what we have to the entire council Monday. And there will be a full discussion at that time.
John Trotter: For those of you that don't know me, my name's John Trotter, even though that's not relevant. Hopefully my comment or question will be.
I think the book of Amos has the question that is germane to our situation here in Big Sandy, and that is 3:3: Can two walk together except they be agreed? We have heard this afternoon for several hours that there are many different opinions about the role of the United Church of God, an International Association, and spokesmen for the local board articulating that the local church is an independent operation.
We're not talking about, as we have this discourse this afternoon, we're not talking about doctrinal issues. Our differences in that we are not walking together or that we are of different opinions is not over doctrine; it's over the mission of an organization or our view of the mission of the organization, and, secondly, it is the form of government that we have.
I'd like to ask the question, representing what I think is a less-vocal constituency in Big Sandy, and that is: What will the options be for those of us who seek to strongly affiliate with United Church of God, an International Association? We are in a position here where can two walk together except they be agreed? We are not in agreement about the role of the local board, the role of the local pastor and the role of United Church of God , an International Association.
So for those of us who seek to more closely affiliate, to more closely associate, to more closely fellowship with the mission as stated by the chairman of the board, who's Mr. Dick, the twofold commission that we've heard for as long as we've been in the Church of God, and that is to preach the gospel to the world for a witness and to feed the flock--and the order of those may be changed from time to time, depending upon short-term needs--but what options, my question, what options are there available in the local area for those of us who seek more closely to affiliate with United Church of God -AIA?
Les McCullough: Well, John, it's hard to come to a clarification or a clarity of exactly-- It presupposes something that none of us want to presuppose. Your comment presupposes the fact that Big Sandy, the United Church of God Big Sandy, decides they want to be completely independent and are not willing to be directed by AIA. If they make that decision and there's a separation, which we would certainly hope would not be the case, if that decision were made, then obviously there'd be some contingency taking care of those who were here.
John Trotter: I did not articulate part of my question, due to nervousness, and that is it remains to be seen as to whether our differences are reconcilable or not. And if we are not able to reconcile our differences in the local congregation with respect to United Church of God, an International Association, then the alternatives look pretty clear, because--if we all believe the book of Amos, and I think we do--then we will not be able to walk together except we be agreed.
My question or my concern is that I think there is a constituency, a sizable constituency, in this area that seeks to more closely affiliate and to fully with the organizational mission and purpose of United Church of God, an International Association. And we hope that our alternatives are peaceable and that they are comfortable in that we will not have to disperse or have to drive great distances in order to accomplish that goal. Thank you.
Les McCullough: You mean you don't want to be driving to Dallas or somewhere? As I said, John, those are situations that we would hope would not arise, and if there were some circumstance of that sort would take place, then we would have to try and take care of things.
I think, Bryan, 6 o'clock?
Brian Bettes: I've been told that we're going to stay here until we get kicked out. So let's just try to go on and see what we can accomplish because all these people do want to ask questions. And, to the subject that was just spoken to, Mr. Spears promised me 30 seconds. I'm going to yank him down after 30 seconds.
Floyd Spears: I believe there is a scripture that says blessed are the peacemakers, you know, something like that. You can carry that on as far as you chose. I can't speak for the local church board today, and evidently you can't speak for the council of elders today. So, as far as I'm personally concerned, I'm perfectly willing for the local-church board to pay Mr. Havir's salary for as long as we need to reconcile this matter between the Big Sandy church and AIA.
But I am not willing to proceed with the idea that we will accept whatever you say. I can't do that, because I believe that in separating the church in 1995 that God wanted a redirection of the efforts of His people. I've not seen that redirection, but I have seen a falling back into the same old tracks and ruts and authority that we had before. I'd be happy to pay, as far as I'm concerned, Mr. Havir's salary as long as it takes to resolve this matter.
John Bearse: I have a few questions and comments. First off, it's been said or referred to, this separate church of Big Sandy. We're not a separate church. We are part of one church, with one Lord and Master. We have talked about a conflict of interest. We have conflicts of interest everywhere. We have to sit down and discuss them so there's no conflict. But there are many interests. Mr. Havir has used the analogy of his children growing up being interdependent and independent, and I mentioned this before and I want to mentions this again, but we're in a crucial point in the development of a family.
Dr. Ward has mentioned that we were fathered in the truth by Mr. Armstrong. I'm not old, too old; I feel old sometimes. There are young people, there are youth who are listening and watching all this, there are people who have been here for 30 or 40 years, we have elders who've been on the council or just advising the council who've been in the church, in the truth, for decades.
This is a church with--it's a family with many ranges of age and development. We're at a point now where we have a lot of children who want to be dependent upon those adults, those fathers in the faith, who want them to be there for a resource, but who also want to say I can do this now, or part of it, with your help.
And the conflict of interest of whether we should be sending tapes to a local church area, maybe we should put something on the Internet, or maybe we should be doing a little waiting-room program. Those are steps to growing up, and the church wants to grow up.
Now, I don't know if it's because of Big Sandy's history or their size or the whatever, this is coming up. I hate to bring this up, and, Dr. Ward, I want to mention conflict of interest. I don't think it is; I'm fully supportive of what CBE is doing what IBLC has done, in that we need to get materials out there. [The IBLC and CBE are two independent ministries that Dr. Ward cofounded or founded since he has been attending the United Church of God -AIA.]
But if a church area can't produce something in a way that maybe is not glitzy Hollywood, but to help with sermons or Bible-study tapes. If a church area can't do that being in governance, how can CBE do it? How could IBLC have done it?
We want to help. We want to do things. But we want the resource. We want advice. We want help and guidance in that sense.
But we're at a point here, and Mr. Spears mentioned, that we kind of need to take a break. In a family if you've got children who want to be independent, the adults, the parents, say, oh, no, don't do it, don't do it, and slam the child down. And the child can say, hey, we're going to do it, we're going to go do it on our own. There needs to be a reckoning. Otherwise something terrible could happen, which is the destruction of the family.
And maybe you're going to have a board meeting on Monday, and there'll be board meetings down here, and there will be questions and answers wherever, and the information's going to fly on the Internet and get published and called on telephone calls. We need to take a break and be very careful what's done the next few steps, because it will affect the United Church of God AIA, the Big Sandy church, the world, everywhere, whatever Church of God, the people, the brethren, they're going to look at this and say where are we going? Is this indicative of the attitudes? We just need to be sure of what we're doing.
Joanne Woodring: First of all, with the money situation, as much as United Church of God Big Sandy has helped out with AIA, I believe that Mr. Havir has been a very good representative of AIA. Mr. Horchak, you said that you don't consider a transfer as a punishment. You're punishing the congregation. It's not just Mr. Havir. My other comment--
Well, actually, last year a year ago at the meeting we had with a question-and-answer session, we were told that we would have representation, we would be able to give our comments, but that didn't happen that way. You went ahead and sent the letter out without ever consulting the church area or even Mr. Havir, from what I understand.
I believe he has been a good representative of AIA, and it'll be your loss if you let him go.
My other comment is, which has nothing to do with any of this, but something that Dr. Ward said: You said you wanted truth. You said that you believe in a hierarchy. The United Church of God governing documents do not believe in a hierarchy. So my question to you is: From what I hear, David Hulme believes that Mr. Armstrong was right and we should have a hierarchy. Do you agree with Mr. Hulme? If you felt that it should be a hierarchy, then why didn't you go to Global? That's what they have.
Don Ward: I said the Scriptures clearly teach that authority in the Bible is hierarchical, and if that's not what it says--Paul says follow me as I follow Christ. God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of man, and I have talked about it several times in council meetings with regard to a lot of what we're discussing here today has to do with the fact that we have not been educated as to what United really is. And the government in United is hierarchical. There is a hierarchy involved in that government.
I think one of the main things that we're discussing here today is whether or not that we're going to have the--
I grew up in the Baptist Church; they selected their ministry--whether or not the congregation--you say we want another minister; it's totally up to them whether they get rid of Mr. Havir or whether they don't or when they have another minister come on. The governing documents of United are not structured in that way. So the reason I affiliated with United is because I did want to be a part of it, and that's where I chose to go. But once again government is not my main thing.
Sharon Bettes: Thank you.
Heidi Newcomb: I just want to make a couple of comments. First of all, I've been associating with this congregation, not from the very beginning, but I waited a year before I started attending this congregation. And the thing that I probably appreciate the most is the wide variety of ministry and elders that we've got in this congregation. It's very unique, and I think it's a blessing to have that.
And we have a very, I think we've got a healthy congregation in one sense, in that we have a lot of interaction with each other. No matter what level anybody thinks they're on or whatever, there's free interaction among the people, and I think that will always be here in this congregation, regardless of who is the pastor or whatever that may be. That's something that's ingrained in the congregation that is not going to change simply because there may or may not be a different pastor down the road. And that's basically what I want to say.
Beverley Glenn: Hello. My name is Beverley Glenn. I'm a member of this congregation. It hasn't been expressed yet, so I would like to do that at this time. I think I speak for the congregation. We want to let you know we love Mr. Havir. We love his wife. We love their children. We've been very hurt by the way that he has been approached, being told that he is no longer our pastor. We don't think it's right because he should have been notified. I think you should have asked him or let him know that he was going to be transferred and then give him time or give him a location, give him and his family an opportunity to go out and look at other locations, to see where would they put their children in school. And I know that that has hurt us a lot. Yes, a lot of us have been crying. I know they haven't gotten much rest.
I don't think it was the way to do what you did. It was not Christian. I think everybody deserves to have some time. He could have announced it to us, and we could have time to absorb it. So I just wanted to let you know how I feel, and I think I represent my brothers and sisters in Christ here. God also says you know a man by his fruits. We know that Mr. Havir is preaching the truth. He's always done. We have the Bible in front of us. He's teaching us. We're very sold. We're very firm. We don't want a new pastor. We don't. We want to keep the one that we have. We want to keep Mr. Havir and keep his family.
We also think about the teenagers. What will this do and upset their lives? They're planing on a teen dance or whatever. We all love each other. We get along together. Why do we need a new pastor? We like the one we have. Thank you.
Sharon Bettes: Gentlemen, I've talked with you several times, most of you, about church issues, about keeping people together instead of breaking them apart. I've sent you letters expressing my feelings about this congregation in particular. What I want to address right now is that y'all mentioned that the bylaws in 126.96.36.199 don't say anything about what kind of communication has to go on, who picks our pastor, nothing like that.
And y'all were surprised that we thought that we could be an independent congregation associating under your rules of association when that's what you wrote, and we believed what you wrote. And now we're being told you don't mean what you write. What do you mean? Because if you're surprised at our reaction, if you're surprised at how emotional we are over this, then you haven't been looking at your own track record.
In 1996 there were 18,000 people, according to New Beginnings. In December 1997, 13,109, a loss of 4,891 sheep, 27 percent, or 2.7 sheep for every 99 that you should leave in the fold to go get the missing sheep. We haven't seen you doing that.
You started with Birmingham. When ministerial services interacted with Birmingham, there was a split.
Next Nashville, Austin. Now six people are left in Austin, and they don't even meet there. They hardly have church at all.
New Jersey and New York: no United Church of God congregation left. You took the pastor, then allowed that congregation to shrivel up to nothing, then moved him to El Paso, now you don't have one in El Paso, either.
We're all supposed to look at fruit. You're supposed to look at fruit, and we're supposed to look at your fruit and our minister's fruit. Our minister has good fruit. Your track record is not really good, as far as fruit.
Dallas South couldn't support the minister; they were too small. So you gave him Waco. Mark Gully offered to pastor Waco for free because he knew Waco would split if you sent Dallas South's pastor there.
Now there's 12 meeting in Waco out of 40.
Houston East has shrunk down to about 40. I can't find exact numbers because everybody that I know that went there doesn't go there anymore.
Houston Southwest has shrunk down to about 40. Again, I don't know anybody that goes there anymore. And I used to live there. Their local board was closed; their money was sent to Arcadia.
Toledo split. Their statement, when they split: They requested that the council uphold the constitution and bylaws of the church, and the council refused. That's their statement.
West Palm Beach split.
Hartford, Conn., split. The reason Hartford, Conn., split is because members attended Feast sites this past Feast in other organizations with their family members who are in those other organizations. And when they came back from the Feast they weren't allowed to serve. The piano player wasn't allowed to play piano because she'd gone to another Feast site. And you all backed the pastor that said that, and then they split.
South Dakota's had a split.
Minneapolis has had a split.
Kansas City has had a split.
Victoria, British Columbia, left.
San Antonio has had a split. They now have Church of God South Texas down there.
Ron Smith was fired for philosophical reasons. He's no longer considered a pastor by you guys: not for biblical reasons--philosophical reasons.
Howard Davis was fired, then you all reinstated him. He's had a successful TV program that he's doing for basically nothing.
Jan Zijderveld, Dutch member, did the translation. He was fired. He appealed to the council three times. No council member has ever talked to him at all.
Mark Gully. Mark Gully laid down his 12-, 13-year career, offered to serve for free, to keep his church from splitting because he loves his sheep. He cares about them. You said no. Don Hooser came down and wouldn't even as much as let him lead prayer in the church anymore, even though he's still considered a pastor-ranked minister.
Now Mark Gully has been removed as a minister and elder. Why? For serving Passover to people who were not going to be welcome at Hooser's Passover table. Funny thing, I thought it was Christ's Passover. And I thought Passover was about love and service and forgiveness. But that's not what Hooser's taught the people in Waco.
Dr. Ward, we all came out for the truth. I don't see this, the council that has worked up until now, standing up for truth. I see them splintering and dividing all these churches. We're supposed to mark those who are divisive, and we are supposed to look for fruit, and what I would like to beg you guys now is to repent of these things and change. Use God's Spirit, have a different track and begin to show a different kind of fruit so that we once again look up to all of you and respect you for the things that you were supposed to have been doing all along.
It's your job to find out what's really happening. It's not your job to listen to what people tell you and just assume they're telling you the truth, because people on your council have lied to me. You're going to have to do the right thing by the church or it's just going to keep going. And I think Neil has a comment on the same subject.
Neil McIver: Thank you. What I want to discuss, and I was discussing this at about 1:30 this morning in Minneapolis, where Minneapolis United Church of God , St. Paul United Church of God , with AIA, and where Mr. Horchak has been working at one time with the splinter group that's been kicked out of United, they feel like ministerial services is not service but a disservice to the organization. I feel like they are a disservice because I've been watching this for three years. And now Aaron Dean, and I'm not saying this to slander Aaron Dean or anybody or to get down on Aaron, because we work together and we fly across the country together, I ask why is he asking us to trust you? I can't trust this. Are you asking us to trust this record?
And I asked Mr. Horchak: Do you like your record? It's right here. Your ministerial services. Is this a very good record? It's on every one of your council members' desks except for Mr. McCullough and Mr. Dean: the mess that's in Minneapolis. Did we create this because the communication was not there as it was not here? And now we have people that had a board in Minneapolis and a lot of the other churches that's having the same thing here. But the people stood up and said, no, we don't want it. We don't want you; you've got to leave. It happened in Kansas City, Waco, Austin, Minneapolis.
It took me from yesterday afternoon at the Canadian border to get home this afternoon because I brought a message back from the Minneapolis churches and St. Paul churches. They're scared of their regional pastor [Jim Servidio]. Why are they scared of their regional pastor? Because he's lording it over them. Don't let that happen. There's miscommunications. You've already admitted it. There's miscommunication of what United is. How are we going to fix it? And I'm talking about you guys and us.
It can be fixed. How are we going to do it?
Doug Horchak: Since it looks like most of that list was focused on ministerial services, I thought I would comment. First of all, I don't have the time to comment on all the details regarding all these situations. There's a few of the ones Sharon mentioned that I have no direct part in. Most of them to some degree I do, to some degree.
I will say that I think that it's clear to me, and again, neither of us, either you as a group or Sharon, you, or the gentleman who just spoke have a way of knowing what I am about to say is something that you can prove or not. There are facts involved in most of these situations that most of you here aren't aware of. And I will tell you that while there's no questions but that when you deal with congregations or people in congregations or even ministers in some cases, that don't for whatever reason--and they could have different opinions--don't want to work within the agreed-upon ways that we chose to operate, and I know that's a general statement, you're going to have people parting ways.
As a matter of fact, one of the other gentlemen just mentioned a little bit ago that two can't walk together except they be agreed. Those situations that you just mentioned, whether you're talking about Austin, Waco or you talk about Toledo or Detroit, and I actually went there, Minneapolis, which is a situation that I was asked to be involved in due to our policy of appeal that we have in United, or a few others--involved circumstances that go far beyond what evidently you have as a list of things to repent of.
I can tell you all right now that, while I would not for the moment say that every i has been dotted and t has been crossed perfectly, and I'm willing to admit that, I have nothing to repent of, as far as I'm concerned, in terms of the effort and the intent of dealing with situations where--and again you can't paint all of these with the same brush. It is unfortunate that people have left. I know again that the circumstances in the church areas that I've dealt with, there has been an effort to bring people together. But people have to agree. People have to agree. And it seems like that gets lost in all of it.
I've sat here and listened to this list, and, you know, the fact that's all on one sheet makes it look even worse, and to ask if we need to repent of it. I just want to let all of you know I don't feel--
I mean there are things I as a human being have to repent of, and surely I've made mistakes in doing my job. But I would say that the implication of what was just said, that these are all mistakes, these are all problems that have been caused by this board or ministerial services, I don't accept that.
Now, that's a matter of opinion, and the implication that I don't care for the people I've been involved with in trying to resolve some of these situations, I can't say it offends me, but it doesn't make me feel very good.
Some of you in Big Sandy have expressed that you feel some people in United have jumped--you have pointed out that at times Big Sandy has been unfairly judged. But I also feel that in situations involving the ministry, whether you're talking of ministerial services in this case--primarily you are dealing with pastors or members or a combination thereof, where there are some difficulties and problems, some of which I couldn't get into, regardless of whether or not some of you got upset at me, I couldn't, whatever the other things are.
I made a comment in a memo that was sent to me the gentleman read earlier. The reason I didn't respond was that what he probably doesn't realize is that I get all kinds of things on E-mail. This past week has been a busy week, I'll have to say. And I see so many people who think they understand the facts. Can I make the same mistake? Yes. That's the way I took the memo that was sent kind of in a demanding way. Whether I was wrong or not is debatable.
But I've seen so many members in my congregation that they believe the worst first. They don't believe the best first about intentions and results. That's why I responded to the gentleman in the way that I did. Probably wasn't what he's looking for, but I'm human too.
But at least to respond to the list that you--
No, I don't repent, because I believe before God that I've tried to the best of my ability to bring some resolution to some of these difficulties. I think what we're facing is we have people who view governance and who view the role of the ministry and who view some of these things differently. And I think once those things are accepted, then if people choose to go a different direction, that's unfortunate.
That surely hasn't been my intent, and the gentlemen that I've worked with in ministerial services, it hasn't been their intent.
Sharon Bettes: I don't see how you can justify that when you have a document that says one thing and you say we don't mean that.
Doug Horchak: Which document?
Sharon Bettes: Your constitution, 188.8.131.52. And y'all said we did not mean American congregations would have associated by the rules of association. Well, why did you write it this way? You didn't say international only. You wrote it looking like we would all associate based on those rules of association.
That's one point I would like to make in rebuttal, and the second is that I have lived through Austin and Waco, and I feel that there were things in both of those situations that should have been done differently, and if they had there would have not been the acrimony, the bitterness, the ugliness and the sin that happened. And as leaders and teachers of the people y'all have the higher responsibility to educate, to make everything known, to make everything clear, to make everything plain.
But the fact of the matter is some of your team didn't even read some of the information that was sent to you about the Austin situation. And some of your council didn't even know what was going on in Big Sandy until Aaron told you, and he's brand new on your council.
Doug Horchak: Well, I can't answer for what the gentlemen who live in Big Sandy were and were not aware of here.
Sharon Bettes: But you were aware of it.
Doug Horchak: Oh, I was aware of-- I've talked to Mr. Havir about his approach towards, in dealing with the board.
Sharon Bettes: And what about the term "acceptable losses" in regards to churches' splitting? That's a term that ministerial services and people in Arcadia have used.
Doug Horchak: Well, again, Sharon, there's an assumption. I've never used that terminology, and I've never heard Richard use that terminology. There are losses that sometimes happen as far as use of that--sorry--
Sharon Bettes: So your bottom line is you're not responsible and you don't care?
Doug Horchak: Not responsible for--?
Sharon Bettes: For losses. You came here knowing that if Dave Havir was shipped out like the way y'all did it in a precipitous manner suddenly that this church would split. You knew that if you sent Hooser down to Waco, Hooser would split. You were told that.
Doug Horchak: No. The members-- Look, look. I just want to say this much because it wouldn't sound appropriate, nor do you or I have the time to go into the details of all these situations. I'm only stating this much: that there's facts that you, Sharon Bettes, are unaware of. And, clearly, there's probably things that none of us will ever be aware of. But to give a laundry list like that, I'm just saying that as far as my part in it, I'm not going to sit back down and be ashamed of the efforts that we've made to try to bring resolution to all these situations. And I think it's extremely unfair to make a list like that and to imply that all of these losses are as a result of abuses by ministerial services.
Sharon Bettes: The only reason it's there is because you're trying to add us to the bottom of the list.
Neil McIver: And what you're asking us to do is trust you, and that's what I'm trying to do. How can you gain our trust? How can we gain your trust? That's the point I'm making, is when we look at the record you ought to ask us to look at your fruits. Look at our fruits. How can we do that? And Aaron asked us last Monday night: Trust us, let us get this done, give us time.
Now I'm asking you how much time are you going to need to fix it? How long are we going to have to trust you? Where are we going to gain the trust between the two of us? That's what this is going to have to be.
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