Council of elders asks pastor
for Q&A time with
BIG SANDY, Texas--The latest twist in the continuing tale of the United Church of God Big Sandy is that the council of elders of the United Church of God, an International Association, wants to meet with the Big Sandy church the Sabbath of May 9 to answer questions from members of the congregation.
(See the home page of The Journal [www.thejournal.org] for articles giving details of events and circumstances leading up to the Sabbath visit.)
Pastor Dave Havir heard Friday, May 8, about the request to address the congregation in a panel discussion and question-and-answer session that would take place immediately after Sabbath services the next day.
Mr. Havir has agreed to the arrangement. Scheduled to appear on the Q&A panel are the four council members who live in the Big Sandy area--Aaron Dean, Les McCullough, Leon Walker and Don Ward--along with elders Roy Holladay of Fort Myers, Fla., and Doug Horchak of Denver, Colo.
Mr. Holladay was the man originally scheduled to take the place of Mr. Havir as pastor beginning on the Sabbath. The prospect of Mr. Havir's transfer out and Mr. Holladay's transfer in sparked a week of discussion, phone calls and Internet postings that ranged far beyond Big Sandy and East Texas. In Big Sandy it prompted a series of three meetings of church members to discuss the circumstance--four, counting the scheduled Sabbath Q&A.
The unhappy reaction of many of the Big Sandy brethren to the prospect of losing Mr. Havir apparently prompted the church's council of elders and ministerial-services department to alter their plans.
Mr. Havir had announced May 8 that President McCullough and the ministerial-services department had decided not to press the issue and would not send two elders to town to prepare for the change of pastor.
Furthermore, Mr. McCullough had apparently postponed, if not canceled, the changing of the guard in Big Sandy. The three men originally scheduled to visit Big Sandy were Mr. Horchak, Mr. Holladay and regional pastor Ken Giese of Houston, with Mr. Holladay to stay on permanently.
The United Church of God -AIA reportedly would have offered Mr. Havir a transfer to another area, although Mr. Havir has indicated he was "not predisposed" to move.
The 12-man council earlier on Friday, May 8, had met for four hours by telephone to talk about Big Sandy, although it was not clear whether all 12 councilmen were involved in the meeting, especially since Jim Franks, a council member from Houston who is thought to be intimately involved in the Big Sandy situation, is in England on church business.
So the council delegated Mr. Dean to speak to Mr. Havir and ask if United Church of God -AIA representatives could show up for the Sabbath Q&A. Mr. Havir said that was all right with him.
"Aaron mentioned that the council assumed I would conduct services as usual tomorrow, choosing whomever I'd like to speak," Mr. Havir said. "Then after services they're requesting a question-and-answer session on the stage. I was able to check and see if we could rent the hall for a little longer tomorrow, and that worked out okay. I think they've requested that I be up on the stage as well."
The Journal asked Mr. Havir and Mr. Dean what is the purpose of the visit. Mr. Havir said he didn't know, and Mr. Dean said he wasn't sure. "Just a question-and-answer is all I know," Mr. Dean said.
Some members of the congregation are also asking that Mr. Giese and Mr. Franks be present. Mr. Giese could conceivably attend, since he lives in Texas, although, as mentioned earlier in this article, Mr. Franks is not back from England yet.
Mr. Havir said some Big Sandy members wished Mr. Franks could attend because they wanted to question him about his alleged involvement in the split in the Waco, Texas, congregation several months ago.
Mr. Havir agreed to the council's request for the visit, but what would have happened had he said no?
"I suppose that I could have said no," he said, "but there was no way I was going to do that because I already have a reputation of being uncooperative."
Mr. Dean said the council does not want to disrupt Sabbath services. Council members assumed that church services, including a sermon by Mr. Havir or another speaker of his choosing, would go on as normally scheduled, Mr. Dean said.
Sabbath services are set for 1 p.m. in the auditorium at Hawkins High School, on FM 14 a block south of the intersection of FM 14 and Highway 80. Big Sandy residents report that several visitors are driving and flying to Big Sandy in time for the occasion.
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