United Church of God Big Sandy board
meets to discuss attempt to remove pastor

BIG SANDY, Texas--The seven-member board of trustees of the United Church of God Big Sandy met the evening of May 4 in a crisis mode to deal with an attempt to remove the Big Sandy congregation's popular pastor, Dave Havir.

The board members discussed a letter, dated April 30, that Richard Pinelli of Arcadia, Calif., director of the church's ministerial-services department, wrote to Mr. Havir informing him that elder Roy Holladay of Fort Myers Beach, Fla., would take over pastoring the church by the Sabbath of May 9.

The board would have met anyway for its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on May 4. But, because of Mr. Pinelli's letter, the only item on the agenda was the attempted removal of the pastor.

Besides the seven board members, who included Mr. Havir as chairman, some 50 church members attended, including council-of-elders members Aaron Dean and Leon Walker, who both live in the Big Sandy area.

The situation had rapidly changed in the previous 24 hours. At first Mr. Holladay was scheduled, according to Mr. Pinelli's letter, to conduct Sabbath services the next Sabbath for the Big Sandy church. However, because of the way Mr. Pinelli was said to have handled the situation, he, earlier in the day, had apparently offered his resignation to the council.

Mr. Pinelli had quickly come under criticism for sending the letter by fax to Mr. Havir. Mr. Walker, commenting from the audience before the business meeting officially began, said that the council in Arcadia the previous week had discussed Mr. Havir's employment situation but that Mr. Pinelli's department, ministerial services, was commissioned to discuss certain options with Mr. Havir, not to summarily and impersonally notify him by fax that he was being replaced.

Mr. Havir said that he didn't know, therefore, if a scheduled trip to Big Sandy to be made by Doug Horchak of Denver and Ken Giese of Houston would take place after all. Mr. Horchak is a member of the ministerial-services team, and Mr. Giese is regional pastor of an area that includes Big Sandy.

In case Mr. Horchak and Mr. Giese do show up in Big Sandy this week, the board voted in its business meeting to schedule a special meeting Thursday evening, May 7, at which the trustees would invite the two men to speak. The board stipulated that the meeting would have to be open, with any interested church members present who wanted to witness the meeting.

Mr. Havir said he did not know if he would decide to meet with the two men if they showed up. The board, however, said it would be willing to meet with them as a group, although everyone on the board affirmed that he would not meet with the two men individually--only as a group and with the brethren invited.

The trustees said that, whatever happened with the ministerial-services team members' visit, the Big Sandy congregation would meet as scheduled at 1 p.m. in the Hawkins High School auditorium. The hall, they noted, is rented by the United Church of God Big Sandy, Inc., and the board of trustees of the corporation planned to schedule Mr. Havir to speak as usual on the Sabbath.

The first part of the meeting was made up of comments from many of the church members in the audience, including Mr. Walker and Mr. Dean, as well as statements from the board members. Check The Journal's Web site May 5 and 6 for some of the comments and updates on events as they unfold.

Following is the text of Mr. Pinelli's letter:

"Dear Dave,

"After careful and prayerful consideration, we have decided to exercise the option that we have discussed with you before and appoint a new pastor for the Big Sandy congregation of United Church of God, an International Association. As we examined all the factors involved in arriving at this decision, it became obvious that a change in pastors would be in the best interests of all concerned. Mr. Roy Holladay has agreed to assume the role of new pastor and will be introduced to the congregation on the Sabbath of May 9th, assuming his duties and presenting his initial sermon on that date.

"We are anxious to discuss the details of this transition with you in person. Doug Horchak and Ken Giese will be in Big Sandy on Wednesday, May 6th and Thursday, May 7th to talk with you as well as members of your local board. Doug will be in touch to arrange meeting times with all parties involved."

It was signed by Richard Pinelli. A notation indicated that copies also went to board members Bernabe Monsalvo, Don Mischnick, Greg Smith, Floyd Spears, Don Walls and John Warren.

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