Mrs. White, who died in 2003 of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, had moved the annual meeting of Church of God ladies from Dallas to Big Sandy in 2002 and had requested that the Church of God Big Sandy continue sponsorship of the annual event after her death.
Disagreements and hurt feelings on both sides of the present controversy reached critical mass in March 2006 at the end of the tenure of a woman, a Church of God Big Sandy member, who had served as a conference coordinator in 2006.
The woman reportedly said she was accused by congregation members, including a member of the board, of trying to hijack the conference and transfer its sponsorship and operation to a group of Church of God women who were not predominantly members of the COG Big Sandy.
She also reportedly stated she believed she was accused of attempting to misappropriate conference funds.
The board member, on the other hand, denies the accusation that he accused her of misappropriation of funds and said that such an accusation would be "ludicrous" because she did not have access to any funds.
He said that, rather, some of the original organizers of the conference were worried that administrative decisions were being made without the "traditional practice of consensus."
Who's in charge
Pastor Dave Havir is involved because of accusations from some friends and relatives of the woman that he was remiss in not stepping in to defuse the crisis that some, but not all, say has centered on the conference.
Some observers say the disagreements over the women's conference are not the root cause of the present distress. Rather, they say they are a symptom and that the animosity between the two sides boils down to personality clashes that predate the women's-conference controversy and are ultimately a clash over who is in charge.
Church members who have criticized Mr. Havir have also leveled the charge that he has assumed too much power in the congregation.
Mr. Havir is not a board member, although he was a member of the original board in June 1995.
In January 1999 Mr. Havir voluntarily resigned his position on the board, and shortly after that the board amended its bylaws to preclude the pastor serving as a board member.
Some of the brethren who have expressed their unhappiness with Mr. Havir and the board majority founded, a few months ago, another Church of God group, called the Texas Fellowship.
The new group meets for church services in a community building in Lindale, 20 miles from Big Sandy, and in private residences in Lindale and near Hawkins.
Attendance at Texas Fellowship (texasfellowship.org) Sabbath services is about 20 of the brethren, while attendance in the building owned by the Church of God Big Sandy (bigsandychurch.org) is typically about 90.
Recent events related to the crisis included the formation of a committee called the Church Governance Review Committee at the Aug. 13, 2007, board meeting.
A few months later, during the Dec. 17, 2007, meeting, the board formed another committee, the Conflict Resolution Committee.
So far the two committees have not resulted in modifications of the Big Sandy church's governance practices or resolved the disagreements.
However, both groups lately seem more or less to be peacefully going their own way, and the monthly board meetings in the Big Sandy church's building are moving on to other matters.
Big Sandy's ties
The Big Sandy church is unusual in that it is an independent congregation with ties to many other groups and individuals in several states (and has sponsored as many as seven Feast of Tabernacles sites in the same year).
Some of the brethren in those outlying areas attend Sabbath services with the Big Sandy church by Internet and telephone.
In those regions support for Mr. Havir and the board majority is almost unanimous.
Mr. Monsalvo re Mr. Warren
Board president Mr. Monsalvo talked to The Journal about Mr. Warren's removal.
"First, the board removed Mr. Warren as a member of a church board and did not evaluate his standing within the Body of Christ," Mr. Monsalvo said.
"Second, the reason for the decision was Mr. Warren's conduct at board meetings. I want to tell Journal readers that there was no illegal behavior or any financial impropriety [on Mr. Warren's part]. We wish Mr. Warren continued success in his Christian walk."
For this issue The Journal invited church members on each of the two sides of the disagreement to write a 1,200-word essay stating their versions of the events and opinions pertaining to the disagreement.
Mr. Havir agreed to furnish The Journal with an article, but Mr. Warren and friends declined to write one.
Mr. Warren said writing such an article would be "beating a dead horse" and commented that such an effort would come "too late to do any good."
After reading a draft of this article just before this issue of The Journal went to press, Mr. Warren declined to comment further. Mr. Warren's wife, Darlene, told this writer that he was disappointed that the article was so biased and that it included many unsupported statements.
If anyone wishes to follow up with comments on this article, The Journal will be happy to consider publishing them in the letters section of this newspaper.
Any letters commenting on this (or any other) subject should be no more than 300 words each.