Friday, September 29, 2006

Holiness Zones

I am somewhat strangely teaching a master's course at IWU right now called "Theology of Holiness." It seems to be a crash course of sorts in theological anthropology, harmartiology (doctrine of sin), and soteriology (docrtine of salvation--in this case with a special interest in sanctificology, a word I just made up). It's an 8 week evening course.

To me, one of the most interesting things we discussed this past week was the matter of "holy things" and contemporary culture. For example, I love the "Green Room" venue of College Wesleyan Church, mainly because it's dark and I can get up for coffee in the middle of the sermon (I actually don't attend it right now because I lead the "cathedral service," a more high church venue where we partake of the Eucharist each week). The Green Room does not have as non-chalant an atmosphere as some emergent services, but clearly the space doesn't come off as holy as the cathedral space or even the main sanctuary space.

We were reflecting this week on Uzzah getting fried for touching the ark, of cows being stoned if they touched Mt. Sinai while its "holiness fence" was turned on because the mountain was plugged into God, of Isaiah falling on his face before God in Isaiah 6. I am not one to pine for the "good old days" when we didn't eat under the same roof as the sanctuary. I accept cultural change.

But what if it is important for every generation to set aside something, not necessarily the same things as their parents, but something that is holy. Does every generation need at least a few "holiness zones" so that they can remember what it means for God to be God?

This was one of the questions we pondered this week.

Ken Schenck signing off here, now 13 days since Asbury's board could have been called and its crisis would have been over.

To Blog or not to Blog

Ben, I took off a couple of my more incendiary posts.

I started off blogging on this topic as a distant observer, an observer from afar. Slowly I found myself drawing data from quarters far and near, much of it without my solicitation. I found myself impassioned.

Then I posted to attempt to draw out something from the silence of the EXCO. I thought that we might get them to move. That also proved not to be the case.

Two comments. First I am still willing to believe that the chair, Jim Smith, and the vice chair, Dan Johnson, are good people. Is it possible that they themselves are not even the key drivers behind their own positions?

Second, I post this comment from a high level Asbury faculty, fairly well demonstrating that charges of accreditation crisis relative to the UM church are unfounded:

"Hi, Ken,

Asbury Theological Seminary has not been put on notice with the University Senate or the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church.
Our relationship with the University Senate over the past several years has never been better -- with cordial and hospitable visits from denominational officials to the Seminary and from Seminary administration to denominational offices. Maxie Dunnam has been serving on the University Senate, as has Dr. Hugo Magallanes, Assistant Provost -- Florida Campus. The ExL Program has been named "the gold standard" by the University Senate. President Greenway has had very positive relations with our friends in Nashville, as has one of our board members, Dr. Wade Paschal. Etc. etc.

On the particular issues you raise or that might be raised, the regular faculty of Asbury Theological Seminary is ca. 65 per cent United Methodist and the student body is ca. 60 per cent United Methodist; we are in the top ten per cent of all seminaries in the US with regard to the number of racial-ethnic professors on our regular faculty and in the last 15+ years the Seminary has had a solid record of hiring women faculty. Etc. etc.

Our relationship with the University Senate has been so strong that we have had conversations with the Senate about Asbury Seminary's being placed in a separate category --- not an official UM school obviously, but, among non-UM seminaries, practically in a category of its own on account of the number of UM students at the Seminary and its deliberate cultivation of a Wesleyan-methodist ethos. In fact, President Greenway and Provost Arnold had been invited to address the presidents and deans of the official UM seminaries later this academic year on the particular topic of nurturing a Wesleyan ethos in seminary education.

What is also important to stress -- and you have already been stressing it -- is that President Greenway has been furthering our good relations with the UM's at the same time that he has worked deliberately and diligently to connect with friends among the Free Methodists and Wesleyans, as well as other ecclesial traditions in the Wesleyan family. President Greenway has been clear in his representation of the Seminary's theological ethos as encompassing all three terms --- "Wesleyan," "holiness," and "evangelical."

Bottom line: I don't know whether there are any WMD's. I do know that this isn't one.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Alumni Coffee House Chatter

There's been a lot of discussion these last two days in the Alumni Coffee House. Several alums feel that Peter Kerr's account is very subjective and that others like me have shown a hateful and, even one person suggested, sinful attitude. I don't perceive my emotions as hateful, although you'll see I have been rather blunt and at times, angry.

I thought I might put here just some of what I've posted since Dan Johnson's post below.
____________________
"By the way, I wouldn't be surprised if when the Executive Committee brings their agenda to the broader board this time expecting it simply to rubber stamp what they've already "decided" for them (I hear the board has been run this way for years), they may just find that this group of individuals has some questions for them. Some individuals seem confident they know what the board will decide regarding Greenway... but if so, it is surprising that they weren't able to stop Greenway from becoming president in the first place."

__________________
Then I posted this in response to someone else's questions:

"Is Andringa part of the ATS board?
No, he is the former chair of the CCCU (Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities, the organization into which Steve Moore worked to get Asbury included), apparently now working primarily as a consultant. He's had an illustrious career and is highly respected, I believe.

If so, why was he hired as a consultant?
I don't know if Peter Kerr's original claim (version 1) that the consultant had not thought Greenway the best candidate has been confirmed or not, but it seems little secret that Dr. Smith has resisted Greenway as president since before the board decided on him. I have a hunch that Smith has continued to work with this consultant because they share a common perspective on what is best for the seminary. There's nothing wrong with that (unless of course if at some point someone let the end justify inappropriate means, and I cannot judge that).

If not, why would he communicate with Peter Kerr [a faculty member of Asbury College] directly at all, let alone write a letter of censure to him and his supervisors?
This seems a fair enough question. I know Dan Johnson contacted me and we had a friendly talk on the phone after I posted some questions here. He seems like a nice enough guy and I thought better of him for doing it. I am less clear that it is appropriate for a consultant to contact someone, unless of course they felt their reputation might be at stake. Then perhaps it would be appropriate."

_________________________
Then I posted this, adding on to something said by my old theology prof, Larry Wood:

"Larry: If there is information that anyone on the Board of Trustees has that cannot publicly be distributed, I respectfully request that this be shared with our faculty leaders in confidence (our provost and deans), and if my provost or my dean confirms this confidential information I am sure this faculty would immediately support the call for the President's resignation.

Me: As I think all the alumni would. But a phrase from a different context comes to mind here: "Weapons of Mass Destruction." We await any real evidence (and more importantly, I suspect the broader board outside the EXCO is awaiting) of WMD.

Don't ask us to trust you... we want to... but don't ask us. The potential consequences and implications in this case demand a healthy suspicion, not blind faith."
_____________________

Then this in response to some questioning Peter Kerr's motives:

"While there were clearly subjective elements in Peter's initial post, I thought the broad outline of the second one had little such, even if we should find that a few details can be questioned (you will not find that I am easily distracted from the big picture by questioning immaterial details like by-law references).

And do not paint me in some pro-Greenway category. I am pro-truth wherever it will lead in this situation. If I appear pro-Greenway it is because, given the evidence with which I have been presented (and not data restricted to internal avenues), the balance of evidence pushes me in Greenway's favor. If someone will produce real evidence of WMD, I will be glad to repent in dust and ashes.

I remain open to being convinced otherwise, but will become a more and more dogged gadfly the more I smell a rat."
_____________________

I posted this from a comment here, but later unsent it because I ultimately don't know whether it came from someone with knowledge or not. A former student of mine thought it served no purpose but to inflame, so I removed it. Of course everyone had read it and several had responded to it by the time I took it off.

"Someone posted this on a domain of mine:

'Contrary to the hopes and wishes of many seminary alumni, Dr. Greenway will not be returning to his post. This fact is all but certain. Furthermore, an interim has already been selected and will be introduced to the Asbury community in the very near future. Know this: those associated with the seminary will not be disappointed.'

I wonder if anyone on the broader board outside the EXCO has heard this wonderful news? Hmmm. I think I'll forward to them so that they can know how they're supposed to vote in October.
_______________________
Then this:

Vaughn W. Thurston-Cox writes: But as far as I can tell the board is making this nearly impossible. They are handing out information that is helpful for them.

Me: And by "board" here we mean primarily Jim Smith and then perhaps key members of the EXCO. My impression is that there is little communication going on right now between this power core and the broader members of the board. I suspect they have little more information than Dan Johnson has posted here. As far as I know (and I'll admit I don't know for sure), the broader board has not seen any WMD.

I personally believe that to preserve their honor when this is all over, several of these board individuals should either resign or return to the broader board. Otherwise the suspicion of wrongdoing will linger, whether it be true or not. The foul taste in all of our mouths will remain unless Jim Smith and several others reliquish their positions of power when this is all over and at least return to the broader board. Certainly it is very unwise (I'll tone down my emotions) for a chairman with one president to continue to serve as chair with another one. This is almost policy at all Wesleyan institutions of higher learning and it is very wise.

At least that's what I believe Christ would do."
____________________

Then I posted Keith's recommendation on the previous post as "Elder Statesman Advice from Keith Drury." Some thought it was not hopeful enough, that it represented the best human option, a "lose-lose."
____________________

Lastly I posted this tonight:

"I know some think I have spewed hatred in the posts I've made, but I am actually very sad, almost depressed by this whole thing and where I fear it is heading. It's no secret that Indiana Wesleyan University has long discussed the possibility of a founding a seminary. The Wesleyans do not have their own seminary, but many of our leaders have opposed founding one for a long time because they doubted we could form one as good as Asbury. And while I think it makes sense for us to have a seminary of our own, I've never worried too much about needing one--until now.

Maybe everything else was wrong with Greenway, for all I know, but he was successful in at least one area: he reconnected with our university--the single largest feeder college of ATS--and with our denomination. He was actually scheduled to come speak at IWU at about the time the board will be meeting to determine his fate. I don't know of any Asbury seminary president who's ever done that.

Maybe I'm absurdly fretting over nothing. But knowing how ticked some key Wesleyans are about the way this has come down and myself fearing that we will have neither a miracle of reconciliation nor an even handed Drury option, I have been wondering if our church will be left without any clear option for a seminary after this is over. These are the thoughts that are depressing me tonight."
____________
So I end with the same feeling I've expressed before. The sides are well staked out, the options clear. So why isn't the board rushing to town to solve this thing? Why are they waiting to send the fire trucks when Asbury is burning?

So now 10 days since this whole crisis could have been resolved if Smith had convened the board as soon as possible.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Peter Kerr and the Consultant

Dear Friends and Alumni: (From Larry Wood)

Silence is a virtue in certain situations, but it can be wrong when a community such as ours needs to see the larger picture of an issue that concerns us as we try to do the work of God. So if silence can be a virtue, so can speaking out for what is right be a virtue as well.

It is in the interest of fairness and justice that I think it would be constructive and helpful for us to be aware of a letter from [the consultant] (the consultant that was part of the task force appointed by the executive committee to give President Greenway his evaluation) that was sent to professor Kerr's supervisors in an attempt to silence him. Below this letter I am also including a reply by professor Kerr that was sent to me because I am mentioned in it.

I requested professor Kerr's permission to post this as I wish to keep false rumors from flying around among our alumni about what is being said and for the purpose of providing information that is open and transparent so that all sides are being represented in this matter. As you can see from the comments by professor Kerr, there is no disrespect for anyone being shown and there is full respect for the governance responsibility of the Board of Trustees. Whatever decisions are made regarding this matter is to be rightly determined by the BOT. He respects that. And so do I. I will never speak against the final decisions of our Board, which is made up of faithful and good men and women who give sacrificially of themselves as they provide for the governance of Asbury. But I do hope that this open flow of information will help us all to see the larger picture. Hopefully the Board will also see the larger picture from the perspective of faculty, students, and alumni. And I hope that they will consider the policy of "shared governance" with the faculty. There is no hidden agenda here at all, but there is a call for due process so that regardless of the outcome healing can emerge.

Professor Kerr was responsible for all media relations in the DC area during the State Funeral of former President Ronald Reagan, and has had significant experience in these kinds of matters with his work at the Pentagon. We are indebted to him for his efforts to keep us properly informed on this important issue.

Finally, let me say that there has been no organized movement directed against the Task Force that I am aware of other than the faculty action which overwhelmingly voted to request the Executive Committee of the Board reinstate President Greenway's responsibilities. When students have asked me what to do, they can tell you that I've only told them to pray about it. Some students have suggested demonstrations, etc., but I personally have spoken against that. I believe prayer and the proper flow of information are the appropriate options. We await the results of the meeting of the BOT on Oct 17 in Atlanta, GA, at the airport. What they decide stands.

One final comment. If there is information that anyone on the BOT has that cannot publicly be distributed, I respectfully request that this be shared with our faculty leaders in confidence (our provost and deans), and if my provost or my dean confirms this confidential information I am sure this faculty would immediately support the call for the President's resignation. Until then, we wait....

Below are the two letters FYI:

-------------------- Original From Dr. A, the consultant for the Task Force---------------------
FYI, one of the CCCU member presidents just forwarded the two
documents sent to him and, so I'm told, to all CCCU campus presidents
(130+ American CCCU campuses. Asbury Seminary has been an affiliate
CCCU campus along with other seminaries).

I'm grateful that Dan Johnson's memo was one of the two documents,
underlining the importance of the board speaking directly to the
campus. The Peter Kerr article was his first version. He since put
out a "version 1.1" that modified some of his claims. Following that
version, Peter and I had a long phone conversation "on background"
where I gave him information that, if he were truly seeking the truth
as he says, would require him to publish version 2.0. For about a
week now, Dan Johnson (board vice chair) has had an offer to Peter
also to visit him by phone. Peter acknowledged Dan's offer.
Unfortunately, Dan leaves in the morning for a week or so out of the
country and he has yet to hear from Peter.

Although the College is a separate entity from the Seminary, few in
higher education know that. Unfortunately, it appears to me, older
and more savvy people at the Seminary "discovered" Peter and he has
become "the voice" of the opposition to the board of trustees. And
the wide circulation of his article now may well lead to national
stories and difficult questions for the College and Seminary about
free speech, use of institutional communications property for this
anti-institutional use, the ethics of Peter Kerr as a faculty member
of a Christian college (let alone a "journalist"), etc.

Thus, I am copying Peter's superiors at the College (and bcc'ing
Peter, too, as he promised his motives were to seek and report only
the truth).

This is only one of many things busy trustees are concerned about.
For those getting this who do not know, I have been a consultant to
the board on the annual performance review of Dr. Greenway. But my
concern now is even greater for the reputation of Christian higher
education. I have talked confidentially to a dozen or so national
leaders and consultants who just can't believe the situation. Of
course the board will prevail, but at what cost to the Wilmore
community.

Respectfully,
[consultant]

------------------Professor Kerr reply to his college supervisors----------------------

Dear elder brothers and sisters in Christ,

I understand Dr. A has written you a disturbing letter that expresses his concern regarding the ATS leadership impasse and how the news has spread. While I considered not responding to Dr. A’s comments, I care too much for those above me at Asbury College to allow my reputation to be tarnished without giving some context to Dr. A’s words. It is clear he is attempting to carry out his formerly veiled threats to my job and reputation, and so I believe a response is in order.

Let me start with repentance. I am sorry I placed the name "Asbury College" after my name on the narrative of events, when I should have simply said "a Christian College." I am proud to be on faculty at Asbury College, and I simply had not thought through a possible confusion with the seminary, especially since I was posting on a restricted ATS alumni website. My intention was to make it clear I was not an ATS faculty member. This error was properly brought to my attention by President Crothers and I promptly fixed the oversight. I humbly ask for forgiveness for my error, and for any inconvenience it may have created.

My motives for entering this issue have been made clear from the start. I have nothing to gain personally, but was convicted that I had to step in where I saw a grave injustice to a godly man. I promised long ago in the midst of Washington DC politics that I would always stand with the godly in their time of need. During President Greenway’s installation ceremony I was a student, and at that time we all confirmed our belief that God called Greenway to the position of President. My few interactions with him since simply confirmed to me his character and calling. Until President Greenway forfeits his calling by his actions, I feel bound by my word to support his presidency.

The ATS leadership impasse first came to my attention as I was asked to assist the ATS administration (under executive committee governance) to create a media release on the subject. I was greatly surprised at the request and immediately lent my influence to the more reasonable people who did not think dragging the external media into the fray would be beneficial. My astonishment at such a request led me to research the issue further, and I discovered what I continue to believe is an injustice aimed at President Greenway and being perpetrated by a small task force. The charge against President Greenway began as lack of performance, drifted into a vague "polarization" claim brought by Dr. A's report, and finally was leveled officially as a charge of "insubordination". I will let you read Dr. Johnson’s letter and I have attached my Version 1.1 letter for you to draw your own conclusions as to the details.

Regardless, my experience in PR and giving crisis communications training, plus seeing politics at their worst in the Pentagon, let me immediately see that the charge of "insubordination" and the subsequent silence of the task force put President Greenway in an impossible position. He could not (and still cannot) speak out because then he would seem to verify the claim of "insubordination", and the longer the silence remained the more rumors spread at the seminary that maligned his character. I wrote the narrative to give the silenced a voice, to expose what I continue to believe is an injustice, and to halt rumors against a godly man. I believe my narrative prompted the Dr. Johnson response letter that came 18 days after President Greenways’ forced "indefinite leave".

As to specific charges made in Dr. A's recent email:

First, he makes it sound like I in some way published a document to the whole seminary community, when in fact all I have done is post my findings on the "Alumni Coffee House" website that is in the First Class internet system with very restricted access. Even current ATS students cannot access the site, but I can as I am an MDIV alumnus of ATS. I have not escalated the issue from that site, and I even intercepted and convinced a local TV station not to do a story on the unfolding issue as I think it is an internal matter. I understand my writings have been given wings by other people, and my narrative of events has been publicly lauded and endorsed (and possibly disseminated?) by various tenured faculty at ATS to include Dr. Joel Green, Dr. Larry Wood, Dr. Jerry Walls, and Dr. Chuck Gutensen. Throughout the situation I have resisted slander and never mentioned a single name in a derogatory manner, and I continue to believe that the narrative I have written is a valid perspective held by many at ATS. I was surprised to discover the narrative I first posted was censored, being removed from the "Alumni Coffee House" site within a few hours of being posted. I am on good terms with the ATS PR folks, and I told them I would respect their request not to re-post my narrative, as I wish to be submissive as far as possible. However, many other alumni and faculty at ATS were surprised an academic institution would censor free speech on a restricted site, and they pressed the administration into restoring my post. I am convinced it was this censorship that made my post have such longevity, distribution, and appeal. It also allowed me to gather more facts and make good my promise to post again as more facts came to my attention. That is why I posted version 1.1 (attached).

Second, Dr. A makes me sound guilty for not trying to get all of the facts, and specifically for not interviewing Dr. Dan Johnson. He questions my integrity and motives. The truth is, everything I have done has been transparent, and I have attempted to get both sides of the story. In fact, I have written Dr. Jim Smith (the Board Chairman) three times asking for his input and giving him time to respond before my version 1.1 came out. While I intended to speak to Dr. Johnson, I already got his side of the story from his own narrative (which I applaud him for making) and from my call with Dr. A. Furthermore, Dr. A criticizes me for not publishing another "version 2.0" document, based on his conversation with me. This is an unjust accusation. During our conversation he repeatedly insisted we were only talking on "deep, deep background" or "off the record." I have nothing to hide, but he did not wish to give me any material on the record, and I will not break his confidence. Following accepted journalism practices, his chosen level of attribution means I really don’t have anything else I can publish. Furthermore, having looked into some of his answers, I do not yet find them compelling. Finally, I have been busy for this past week, and I have a full time job teaching, a part time private practice to supplement my pay so I can teach, and a part time ministry to which I am called, plus a family with young children, etc. I fail to see how one week’s delay for an interview I don’t really need is grounds to deprecate me by insinuating I am refusing to gather all the facts and questioning my integrity (specifically my stated desire to seek the truth). I can assure all parties the truth is exactly what I seek, and that I can be rather objective because I have nothing at stake in the current dispute.
Third, Dr A deftly paints me as some sort of pawn of higher powers at the seminary. This is false, and if used in a rhetoric class, I would say it was ad hominem and poor form. As explained above, I was not coerced into my actions, but have followed my conscience. I have no hidden motives or agendas, and though the vast majority of the faculty at ATS passed a resolution calling for the executive committee to immediately reinstate President Greenway, I was in no way coerced by any of them to tell the story.

Furthermore, contrary to his email, this is not about people disrespecting the ATS board. To my knowledge, no one has suggested opposition to the board at large. Many people do feel the task force (5-6 people) is to blame for the entire debacle, and that Dr. A’s report is the central instigator of the events. They would question why Dr. A’s unscientific/unrepresentative survey was allowed so much prominence and created so much disturbance, and why common leadership and feedback processes were not followed when dealing with President Greenway. I question why a man of Dr. A’s clear reputation and merit feels the need to silence a minor voice like mine, and why he doesn’t play the role of moderator and mediator to help resolve the impasse instead of being one of the primary voices in the dispute. I in no way wish to enter a spitting war here. In fact, I think there are many good people on both sides of the issue, and that we need to stop attacking each other and start attacking the issue. We need to act like the Christians we are, and stop using lawyers and board meetings and blind copy emails to settle our disputes. All I have done is try to be a giver of light. What a testimony it would be if we could have mediation and resolve the dispute on the way to "court", even as suggested by Jesus in Matthew 5.

To my superiors at Asbury College I simply wish to express my submission. I did not guess my post to the "Alumni Coffee House" would be censored and then gain such an audience. I did not act out of the desire for gossip, but instead to quell the gossip about a good man. I did not act to rebel against an authority, but instead to support one duly called and confirmed by the community. I have not acted without honor and character, nor for ill gains or motives, and I do not believe my actions reflect poorly on our college. Instead, I am a person who is willing to risk my job and reputation for the sake of conscience, truth, and the hope of eventual justice for another. I am also very open to your rebuke and advice in this matter, and if you feel so inclined as to direct me to cease my activities I am willing to set aside my free speech rights on this matter for the good of the community and our great college.

Sincerely with love and respect,
Peter A. Kerr

Latest Message from Dan Johnson

Dear Asbury Family,

I am going to be out of the country for several days, but I wanted to share my heart with you as we navigate through these troubled waters together.

I am grateful for the many members of our Asbury community who have an appreciation for the complexities of our current situation, and for the challenging role that the Board of Trustees is called upon to fill. You seem, indeed, to realize that, as the group charged by our by-laws with the chief fiduciary responsibility for the seminary, we have an awesome responsibility. Most of you also seem to appreciate the reality that in times like these, when personnel matters are concerned, persons in authority are not permitted to share all the information they have related to the situation. That is precisely where we, the Board of Trustees, find ourselves. There are a number of things that we would like to share with you, but that really is not possible, or advisable. If we could, we believe that much of the confusion and misunderstanding and speculation would dissipate, but again, we are not at liberty to do so. Please be assured that, to the best of our ability and our knowledge, we have shared with you the information we are free to share at the current time. Thanks for your understanding.

I am grateful that, during this time, our wonderful Asbury community has, for the most part, lived well into our Wesleyan heritage of "going on to perfection," in the realms of study, love, spiritual nurture and relationships. I am deeply grateful that students cherish the unique Asbury educational and formative experience so much so that they are giving their energies primarily to the preparation for ministry that God has for them. Asbury is, and will continue to be, a most remarkable place for the "shaping of our souls," for preparing women and men for the callings God has placed upon their lives.

I have been grateful for the opportunity to share in conversation with some of our faculty. This has led, in my view, to greater clarification and a decrease in misunderstanding. I believe that most of the faculty rightly recognizes that there may be more to a situation than appears on the surface. Many of the faculty have been long time friends to me personally and to many on the Board of Trustees. We have enjoyed great trust over the years, and our prayer is that this trust will sustain us and help to guide our thoughts and actions in these days. While some may choose to question the motivation of the Board of Trustees, I am hopeful that the knowledge of our long held common bond of love for Asbury will prevail.

To many of you, we, the members of the Board of Trustees, are nameless persons who show up occasionally on the Wilmore or Orlando campus. But let me assure you that Asbury Seminary is never far from our hearts, our minds and our prayers. This Board is an engaged Board, one which takes its responsibilities very seriously. It is important that you know most of us have had a long and beloved relationship with Asbury. For many of us, Asbury is the place which nurtured our souls and prepared us for ministry. For others of us, our devotion to Asbury is new, but wonderfully intense, filled with great appreciation and respect for this extraordinary institution of God. Always, we seek to act in ways that are in the best interest of Asbury Seminary.

I hope you will know that this is a Board of committed people, who, just like you, are deeply devoted to Asbury Theological Seminary. Please pray for us as we pray for you and everyone in our Asbury family. With God's help and guidance, we will come to the place we need to be.

Faithfully yours,
Dr. Dan Johnson,
Senior Minister,
Trinity United Methodist Church
Gainesville, FL 32653
Vice Chair of the Board and
Coordinator of Communications, Board of Trustees

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Word from Christ to All of Us

I am promoting this comment to a regular post because it is the voice of Christ. You'll find it comes from Keith Drury under the previous post.

________________
I hate to read all this messy stuff about Asbury. I hate it, even though it may be needed.

I am not an Asbury graduate and admit I have not even been a great supporter of this Methodist-reforming Seminary. But a funny thing has happened to me as I have followed this messy plot... I find myself rooting for redemption and reconciliation at the school, like I am an alum! Perhaps I'm an idealist or I am hopelessly overcome by a conviction that good men who do bad things badly often see their need to back up and fix the mess they have made. Maybe it is my tendency to believe that the best men and women often are able to reach down deep and bring up the best from their hearts in times of crisis. But I have great hope that a resolution will occur that will make ATS and all its people better. It still can emerge from the garbage dump and division we see now. It can! I can’t remember who the old guy was who recited past crisis events at Asbury, but I too am an old guy who has seen this kind of stuff before.

Here’s one story: When I was an undergrad the President of my college (one who every single student and 90% of the faculty loved and admired) got crossways with his board and one of his administrators. It was messier than this. It got into the newspapers. It splattered all over everybody and “sides” emerged. The President refused the Chair’s direct order to pay the administrator’s salary which he was withholding (full disclosure—my father was the board chair). There was open rebellion on campus. The denomination’s General Superintendents were too weak to step in—believing “If you wrestle with a pig you both get dirty—but the pig likes it.” So they stood by and watched the fire.

With everyone watching the institution go up in smoke it got worse. Students transferred. Faculty floated their resumes. Board members resigned (including my dad) and some of my best friends who were more gifted at ministry than I was dropped out of school and went to Viet Nam, disgusted that “Christians could act this way.” Most never found their way back into the church, let alone the ministry. I still get emails from some of them. Bitter emails. Lives ruined. Faith abandoned. The fallout continues to today.

In the midst of that crisis that was far too severe for a 20 year old ministerial student to experience first hand I learned a most important lesson of life: Never, ever break a relationship. Sure you can disagree. Argue. Fight. Vote. Remove people from office. Politic. Line up votes even. But never ever break relationship with a brother or sister in Christ. Grab the “enemy” by the arm and go out to eat. Laugh. Tell stories. Grant your “enemy” the logic of their good arguments. Hug them and say, “I totally disagree with you 100% but I also love you 100%.” When they sabotage your career laugh lightly and walk away—God always will bring you back like a cork under water. When they manipulate and tell (what appears to be) lies correct what you can and trust that your friends won’t believe it, or at least your children won’t. Even as students we could see this was the solution. Fight in love.

Unfortunately the primary men in that squabble did not do what was obvious to us students. They continued offering their gift before the altar and refused to go to those who “had ought against them.” They exited different doors at the college. They ate together in clusters of like-minded “sides.” They were not “easily entreated.” In the end they sent the President packing and said, “There, that’s that.”

But the school never recovered. The sin got buried under the tent floor was never mentioned again. We “moved on” and “started fresh.” But the school would never again be the same. And the ruined lives are still scattered here and there.

So, two other quotes come to mind:

One comes from a similar crisis when the general board of The Wesleyan Church voted to close a college (in fact, this same college) over the unanimous opposition of the local board of Trustees. The faculty (and some of the board) of that school were doing and saying things that (appeared to be) wrong and nasty. A white-haired old statesman on the General Board gave me a quote worthy of this situation. He remarked, “These men are better men than they act.” Regardless of the theological soundness of the statement it was a wonderful quote that was full of grace. He understood that in a crisis (such as faculty losing their jobs by the closing of an educational institution) people sometimes act below who they really are in Christ. I am trying to have his attitude in this situation. (Sidelight: This man used to be on the ATS board and would have been the sort of giant who could have stood up to speak for God in this situation but he is no longer serving—so I’m hoping someone else “full of grace” will rise to take his place among the Trustees.) We all need to understand that in crisis “its is the liquor speaking.”

The second quote is an old African proverb: “Where two bulls fight the grass is trampled.” I am hoping and praying that the students and faculty at ATS will not abandon the school (or their faith) in this mess. Students (and to a lesser degree, faculty) are mere grass in this fight and they are powerless to stop the bullfight above them. But I am praying that they will hunker down and wait it out. These men-who-are-better-then-they-act (and women) may yet still act out of who they really are. There is still hope. Maybe there is no hope for Greenway, or faculty power, or trust in the trustees, but there is hope for students who have answered God’s call to serve the church where there will be plenty of people who need to be helped to act more like who they already are.

I too wish the board meeting were sooner. But at least there is time for the statesmen and stateswomen to decide they will risk their reputations to insist that Christ’s will be done in this situation. A few hours of prayer may be the best first item on the Trustees agenda. What does Christ want is the primary question. There is always a way to please Christ. After all, He is the primary “stakeholder.”

Who was the consultant?

I'm going to plod on... three more weeks... just so those who want us to tire of the subject will have to face a still fresh topic in October. Ugh!

And let me say that I am extremely irritated with Jim Smith calling the Board of Trustees so late in the game--in October just 2 days within its legal deadline. You'll have a hard time convincing me that this isn't politics. If there were any thought of restoring Greenway, they would have been called as soon as possible (which would have been within 10 days).

And of course the best course of action for the seminary would have been to call the BOT as soon as possible. Instead, we are forced to deal with the ever more pungent smell of decaying flesh at Asbury. Just think, if they had called the board immediately, the situation would already be resolved one way or another.

Good intentions on Smith's part? I'm still willing to think so. It's a smart move from his perspective. Emotions might go down if people will stop talking. Let everyone get tired of the subject to where they just want it to go away. Make the date and location secret so people can't lobby the board as effectively.

But that doesn't mean it was the right decision or that we have to like it. One way or another, when this is all done, resignandus est smithus. There's no other option apart from a miracle. The miracle would be sincere repentance from all parties--the core EC, Greenway, the faculty, [me], everyone--with an astounding reconciliation. And since I believe in free will, God's not going to force anyone to do these things. And I have moved far from optimistic for anyone to budge.

______________
So let me now begin to try to answer some of my interpretive questions that resulted from my detailed observation of Dan Johnson's public comments. Here is a definitional question, "Who was the consultant?" A rational question might be, "Why did Smith ask him to be the consultant?" Here's another one, a modal one, "How has the consultant actually functioned throughout this process?" And of course I would remiss if I didn't add further, "Implications?"

1. Evidence:
One website says this: He is "president of [insert organization], requested on Friday, April 29, 2005 that the board of directors initiate the process of finding his successor. He will have served as president of [it] for twelve years at the effective date of his retirement, June 30, 2006."

Inference:
This is a very competent guy with lots of experience. My earlier questions suggested that he comes high recommended. Indeed! This is an impressive guy. I was particularly impressed by one quote on that webpage by him: ""When I turned 60, I adopted the motto 'peak at 80' and so I look forward to many adventures ahead, probably staying close to my passion of helping CEOs and boards achieve worthy goals."

2. Evidence:
Johnson's public comment on the consultant went like this: "the full board had approved the use of a task force and understood it was the chairman’s role to conduct the process. Dr. Smith again invited [him] to assist, this time wanting what has become popular in many organizations, the so-called "360 degree" evaluation."

Further, "Dr. Smith provided twelve names to [him] and asked him to conduct phone interviews with those people, some of whom were suggested by Dr. Greenway and some by task force members." The questions were "five open-ended questions given to those selected to be in the 360: (1) How would you describe President Greenway’s leadership? (2) What specific advancements in the Seminary’s life (list of all areas) would attribute primarily to President Greenway’s leadership? (3) How would you describe President Greenway’s relationships with the following groups with which you are familiar (faculty, staff, students, trustees, alumni, donors, friends of the seminary)? (4) In what areas of presidential leadership would you hope that President Greenway could improve? (5) Additional comments?"

However, according to Johnson's statement: "The three recommendations in the fall of 2005 asked Dr. Greenway to work with an executive coach to help him in his first presidency in academia; to work with a professional consultant in fund-raising, a major role of the president

Inference:
Smith was apparently not using the consultant for the purposes directed by the board. He was using him for other purposes. Perhaps this is fully within his right as chair. We note, however, that he is not said here to work with the president at all or to be hired for such. Yet this was the purpose sanctioned by the board. None of the questions in the 360 have anything to do with tasks for which the BOT authorized a consultant, like fund raising, for example.

3. Rumor
The consultant did not support Greenway as the preferred candidate when he was being considered for the presidency.

Inference:
I don't know if this is true. Peter Kerr's piece insinuated something like this, but Johnson has flatly denied that he knew Steve Moore at that time. We should note, however, that if he in fact did not think Greenway or someone like Greenway was the best candidate previously, it raises questions about Smith hiring him.

4. Rumor
I relayed a rumor when I asked this question: "Is it true that the consultant indicated that, in his opinion, the Greenway Presidency had about a 2% chance of success?"

Inference:
If that's true, then we could understand why the task force would think that Greenway's demise was imminent. They haven't admitted this, hiding behind the insubordination charge. But (this is the exploding universe point) it seems well nigh impossible to deny that they were well on a course for Greenway's resignation before he first entered the room on October 31. I believe we have good reason to think this of Smith well before October 30. But I think the bulk of the task force was on board when they saw the consultant's results that night.

By the way, we have no reason to think that the consultant does not sincerely believe Greenway to be a disaster for Asbury. Similarly, we have no reason to think that Smith does not genuinely believe that Greenway is a disaster for Asbury. My goal in this post is not to malign the consultant--or to malign Smith. It is to raise the strong possibility that the process might not have been a Spock-like exercise in objectivity. The data was no doubt true for what it was. It just may not have been a fair respresentation of the whole community.

Why deny at least some of this? You don't have to share the details. Just stop hiding behind the insubordination thing as the main issue here or the efficient cause of this thing. WE DON'T BELIEVE YOU! The insubordination charge may sink Greenway, but this procedure should sink at least Smith. Clean our palettes of this foul taste!

5. Evidence
Johnson describes the 360 process in the following terms: "chairman Smith invited Dr. Greenway and members of the task force for names of administrators, faculty, staff, students and others. An equal number from Dr. Greenway and from task force members were selected to provide confidential written input. Not all suggested were included, of course, so no one would be sure who was involved. Dr. Smith provided twelve names to [him] and asked him to conduct phone interviews with those people, some of whom were suggested by Dr. Greenway and some by task force members... The task force reviewed a summary of trustee and non-trustee written feedback prepared by Dr. Smith, essentially a cut and paste from the responses. We also had a six-page written summary of [his] phone interviews (which averaged 45 minutes each)."

Inferences:
I don't necessarily object to this procedure as qualitative research. It is not quantitative research that would constitute hard data. Open ended questions with such an easily polarized result only suggest avenues for further study. As even Johnson suggests, the results are subject to multiple interpretations.

Yet the universe will surely explode if what Jim Holsinger didn't share with Greenway had something to do with his doom, that betrayal the rest of the task force felt when he left the room with Greenway. The data, by its very nature, could not have suggested such a conclusion on any sure basis. Maybe the task force knew other things. But this data, by its very qualitative, potentially polarizing, and open ended nature, could only have suggested more rigorous quantitative study.

6. Rumor from outside Asbury:
I want to be very careful here. This rumor is based on two specific comments that may not be validly generalized. But one might infer that some consultants are willing to help others get around "the system," presumably in relation to causes in which he believes of course. We're just wondering if he's a good friend to have when you want to be "wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove." I offer this as a rumor I believe. I offer no evidence, so you can completely reject it as pure speculation. I will not tell you the specifics of where I heard this one, but I believe it.

Inference:
He might have had skills at helping a group of 4 people convinced they had the wrong president to conduct a 360 in such a way that it looked maximally bad for the target person. Again, these can be valuable skills for the kingdom--I'm glad some Christians have them. I think the book of Acts tries to make the early Christians look maximally good.

Conclusion:
I hope I never have this consultant for an enemy and that none of my enemies have enough money to hire him.

We end this post with a quote from Oscar Wilde that I have made the motto of my blog at least until October 17: "The truth is never pure and rarely simple."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Jumpin' Jim Smith, Dirty Dan in the "Not OK" Corral

This is a response to an anonymously pro-core EC comment on my previous post (I should point out that the actual EC is a 14 member board and that this situation started with a core of 4). As a disclaimer, I don't necessarily think "Dan" is dirty. He seemed like a nice guy on the phone. I have said throughout that I do not even know whether Greenway is a good president or not. Clearly this core of the EC thinks he is "not OK," and the broader EC voted 12-2 to put him on leave.

My goal here is to flush out the truth in a war of power. To force as much as I can the open discussion of facts, events, and interpretations. As someone who is at the point where he can take or leave his association with Asbury, I am in a unique position to arbitrate these issues. My real goal is thus not to malign Jim Smith, Dan Johnson, or the other 2 alleged anti-Green individuals, whom I have always given the benefit of the doubt in terms of working for what they think is the good of the seminary.

My goal is to use the power of the internet to bring a balance of power, to give voice and rhetoric to those disempowered in the nitty gritty world of Asbury politics. Currently the 4 in the "Not OK Corral" seem to hold all the political cards that really matter. Only donors and constituencies hold substantial counter-cards to which they are accountable.

The goal is truth. I will eat my words with pleasure if it proves that I have not been aiding the truth.

My response to the anonymous comment:
____________________________
Thanks for posting the other side, anonymous pro EC. I wholeheartedly welcome them because I am interested in the truth, not in a pre-favored side. If I have misled, I sincerely want to eat my words in the name of truth. By all means, everyone post no matter your side!!!

I read Lawson's posts and have in fact mentioned him a few times here. I think it is clear that Lawson is one of the minority of professors who tend to side with the "Not OK 4." Or at least he is trying to bring balance to the picture. We remember that 16% of the faculty did not support the immediate reinstatement of Greenway and we can imagine that Lawson was one of them.

Lawson is a great guy. He taught me Hebrew and taught one of the most memorable classes I had at ATS (Dave Smith was in it too!). It was a read through Isaiah 1-12 in Hebrew. It was excruciatingly hard and delightful at the same time, a kind of early foray of mine into intellectual sado-masochism.

Yet Lawson's personality is not one to be involved in administration central. He is a genius who I suspect would just as well be playing his guitar at a night club as engaging in school politics. He is awesome. I wonder if his posts are in part defending his friends (including Jim Smith, the Chair).

But, his place in the food chain puts him in a much less informed position than other high administratively connected faculty who have found Peter Kerr's sequence of events to be generally accurate. Lawson actually does not question the "event" accuracy so much as the interpretation.

So as I commented to a fellow faculty member here at IWU about the basic claim that the EC had it in for Greenway (rightly or wrongly) well before his failure to return, "I just can't see any other conclusion... if I'm wrong then logic isn't real and the entire universe will explode." The fellow prof agreed with my logic, but stopped short of universe explosions.

But I can tell you this about little ol' Schenck Thoughts. There's no way I would teach at Asbury with the current EC core. I had a delightful email conversation with Lawson the other evening in which I wrote him that I could see in this crisis the end of my association with Asbury. I will continue to recommend the faculty of Asbury as top notch, but I wouldn't recommend anyone to teach there, if the current EC remains in charge.

I am a significant representative of the Wesleyan Church in relation to Asbury. I do not know what our two representatives to the board will vote and I have not contacted them. But I do not know a single IWU professor or Wesleyan anywhere with a positive view of the EC core right now. And I know people (so you can imagine the Alumni Coffee House is far from the only place I am hearing things).

That is something the broader board should consider. We might seem insignificant to those whose main goal for Asbury is to use it to reform the UM church. But in the real world, IWU is the largest single feeder of students to Asbury (not just Wesleyan, but we have a sizeable UM clientele), and the Wesleyan Church is a major student contributor on the whole.

Beyond that I heard that a local UM pastor here told a freshman UM student here that he might not necessarily think of Asbury, because it's UM accreditation might be in question. Asbury already has a bad reputation among so many UMers. This crisis is just adding fuel to the fire. And I've had online students this semester question whether their degree will be worth anything. Of course I think these are not realities either. The board will settle this in October and life will go on one way or another. But you can see the effect this crisis is having.

So Greenway may go, but here's a warning to the broader board from its constituencies, among which lil' ol' Schenck Thoughts must be considered a major representative. Maybe Greenway needs to go. But if so--if there is no reconciliation by them or some yet to appear elder statesman/woman--then you'd better boot Jumpin' Jim Smith and Dirty Dan Johnson as well just to hit the reset button and clean our mouths from this bad taste. Otherwise the stench of this crisis will linger and you just might lose a hefty part of your constituency.

Who is the Board of Trustees responsible to? Us, the alumni and feeder schools. That makes people like me Jim Smith's boss.

Jim Smith, Dan Johnson, Jim Smith, Dan Johnson, Jim Smith, Dan Johnson... The other two (names, please, anyone?).

What are you doing, Ken? People target the names they know. Everyone knows Greenway's name, so he's the easy target regardless. They should equally know these names so that any pruning is done on the basis of facts, not on the basis of what names are known by the public. [Ask Lawson which of the three Abraham/Isaac, Sarah/Rebecca, Pharaoh/Abimelech stories, from a form critical perspective, is most likely to be historically "true." The answer is the least famous set of names--Isaac/Rebekah/Abimelech. :-) Traditions gravitate toward the better known names.]

I still believe that Jim Smith and the other 3 on the EC in the "Not OK" Corral think they are doing the seminary a service. I had a very friendly conversation with Dr. Johnson and no doubt would enjoy his friendship under different circumstances. If I didn't think it was important for someone to work for a fair process and for the interests of those I represent I wouldn't try to hammer them. In fact, I don't think I have hammered them too much thus far.

But let's get their names out in the open so that they also are part of the mix, out where everyone can fairly evaluate their actions. Who knows, maybe they will be partially vindicated? Maybe the universe will explode as they are completely vindicated? But their names should be on the line with Greenway's.

May the Holy Spirit give discernment to any who would read this post! I want the truth. As far as I know, I am not hateful in spirit toward these individuals. My conscience is clear. But I don't think the truth will out unless someone stirs the pot. This post is my attempt to do some stirring!

Come out and testify to opposing council, ye who lurk here!

Guest Post: Anonymous Faculty Member?

I thought this anonymous comment was significant:
____________
Anonymous said...

(1) The Faculty of ATS took no vote regarding whether to send the resolution to the Exec Comm.

(2) The chair of the board asked to address the faculty, but did not invite faculty to address the exec comm. That anyone on the exec comm would compare the faculty's holding its own session with the exec comm's total disregard of the faculty demonstrates a basic and almost incomprehensible lack of understanding of the doctrine of "shared governance" that defines the seminary (for accreditation-related policies, see www.ats.edu).

(3) I have heard repeatedly that we have a north-south problem at Asbury Seminary, where I serve on the faculty. This is not quite true, I think. We do have a cultural problem, but it is not determined by the Mason-Dixon line. Rather, it is expressed in a president who speaks forthrightly and directly versus a number of southerners on the board leadership who speak and act in less direct ways. They think President Greenway is autocratic because they are unaccustomed to having a leader simply tell them what s/he thinks!

(4)Here is what I believe should be especially worrisome to anyone concerned about the longterm health of Asbury Seminary: If (as I have come to believe) some members of the board have been orchestrating a coup for some time, then Asbury has a much bigger problem than simply how to address the present crisis over President Greenway. If (as we are told to believe) no one on the board has been orchestrating a coup, then it is a serious matter that trust has eroded to such a degree that many of us, a majority of us, have reached a place where we do not trust the board leadership and are ready to believe a false account of these events. Either way, the troubles are deep and systemic. Either way, the need for genuinely spiritual leadership by the majority of the board could hardly be more acute. We are praying that the board as a whole will seek justice and exercise wisdom.

(5) Why do I refuse to sign my own post? It is because we have been threatened against making negative comments about the board, about members of the board, or about this whole process. Tenured and non-tenured faculty alike have been running for cover.

Who Decides, Self Published with Lulu

On the lighter side of life, I have gone ahead and self-published a book tonight that I wrote a couple years ago that never found a publisher: Who Decides What the Bible Means?

I ordered a copy of a draft, received it, then revised it appropriately. I think I've worked the kinks out of this second version, but I haven't actually ordered a copy of it myself yet to be 100% sure. I'll do that soon and report back.

But anyway, I decided to go ahead and make it available to anyone. Up till now I've had it so only I could buy copies.

Check it out at http://www.lulu.com/content/390078

It's $9.99 but, watch out, they slap almost 10 dollars of shipping on the thing! I've only made it available through Lulu at this time, so it doesn't have an ISBN at this point. Welcome to the new face of publishing!

Friday, September 22, 2006

On the Lighter Side

On the whole, this has been a discouraging week to me. Not least to note in this category is the Asbury situation. I am retroactively posting this entry, but if you look at the entry posted right after this one in sequence, you will find the thoughts of a faculty member at Asbury. My intuitions are with him or her as to what is really going on there.

But there were a couple of bright spots. One fun one, a student from an intermediate Latin class I "taught" at Asbury College in 1993 found me on the web, Jerald Walz. How he remembered my name I don't know. He's now working in DC at an institute (I think) relating to Religion and Politics. That was the year I was finishing up an MA in classics at the University of Kentucky while living in Wilmore. Fun!

The biggest bright spot was finding out what I have long suspected, namely, that my family background is Dutch. Most will know the embarrassing pronunciation of my last name Schenck ("skank"). I have long thought its weirdness probably belied a Dutch background rather than a German one (which would say "shank").

My cousin Tim has verified it. The answer came from a 1930 census, the year my great grandfather died of a burst appendix in St. Joseph's hospital in Kokomo (he himself lived in the country outside Frankfort and is buried in the cemetery of New Hope UM Church in the country there). We had never been able to figure out who his father was or where in the world he came from.

The census lists his father's birthplace as Holland and his mother's as Pennsylvania. Alas, my father's side is Dutch and my great-great grandfather must surely have arrived in this country from Holland in the 1860's or so (my great grandfather was born in 1871). Maybe he came to watch the Civil War?

Yeah!

Guest Post: Drury's Stages of a Church Fight

Stages of a Church Fight
Church fights escalate. They start small, but eventually can get whipped into a gigantic and destructive inferno. Sometimes the blaze starts as a fuss between two members. More recently it starts as a difference between a member and the pastor. Like a divorce, it can start with a little spark, but it eventually turns wild and destructive consuming everything in its path. A local church holocaust. What are the stages?

Stage one: Explain
At the lowest stage the member disagrees with the pastor and assumes the pastor doesn't understand. The member goes to explain how he or she feels or believes. Or maybe to explain the history here at this church so the pastor can understand and change. Explaining will resolve the difference. At this stage the member will talk to the pastor or write a letter if the pastor is approachable. If not, they will often telegraph their feelings through someone else.

Stage two: Persuade
But explanation sometimes fails to change things. If it does, the member realizes the pastor is not just misinformed, but is apparently just simply wrong. There is a difference of opinion. So the member switches from explanation to persuasion. So does the pastor, launching a training program, promoting a book supporting their position, or hauling off their members to a conference that will support the pastor's stance. If the member feels their mind is equal with the pastor's, an argument may ensue as both try to persuade the other. If the member feels ill equipped to go up against the pastor, they will likely give the pastor a book or article supporting their position. The pastor is trying to persuade the member and the member is trying to persuade the pastor. Resolution is still possible through persuasion and compromise.

Stage three: Win
Sometimes persuasion fails. Often. When a member fails to persuade the pastor or visa versa the member turns inward at first. Am I wrong? Am I alone? If they are indeed alone, they will often drop their case and shut up or switch churches. They are seldom alone. When others agree it turns into a plural tense fight. The conflict rises to stage three. There's a group who has a beef against the pastor. Before long there will be two groups. A second group will rise to defend the pastor, pitting themselves against the first group. There will be "sides" in the quarrel. Factions. Each side will guard what they say to the "other" side. People with no opinions on the original issue will soon be drawn into the fray. Division prevails. The original disagreement fades and the new goal is to WIN. Both sides want to win. The option for compromise fades rapidly.

Stage four: Remove
Like a forest fire feeding on its own heat, the conflict soon rages out of control. The pastor-opposers realize the only way they can truly win is if they get rid of the pastor. The pastor feels likewise about the opposers. The members work for removal -- through the elective process, or (easier) by working behind the scenes to make life so miserable the pastor will resign anyway. This stage may take a year, it is exceedingly messy, and seldom gets resolved without outside intervention. The pastor's supporters are pushed from arguing the original issue to simply defending the pastor, which gets harder to do as people start leaving the church, disgusted with the whole mess. Some of the pastor's supporters waver, admitting that the only way to get peace may be with a fresh start and a fresh pastor. Even now the pastor can escape with hide intact. But not for long.

Stage five: Ruin
If resignation or removal does not happen properly, the conflagration rises to a stage five forest fire. The pastor's enemies are no longer satisfied with getting the pastor out -- they want to ruin the pastor. Stage five fighters are fanatics. The fight is now a jihad. The local church becomes Belfast or Palestine. The pastor at this stage is not just kicked out the door -- he or she is shot in the back while fleeing. What a forest fire a little spark can ignite! What are the lessons in all of this? If you were teaching ministerial students as I do, what advice would you give to help them avoid getting burned in a fire like this?

By Keith Drury, 1997. You are free to transmit, duplicate or distribute this article for non-profit use without permission.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Friendly Conversation with Dr. Dan Johnson

I had a friendly conversation on the phone this afternoon with Dr. Dan Johnson, the Vice Chairman of the Asbury Seminary board. I believe he is handling a good deal of the communications between concerned individuals and the board. I don't think it would be appropriate for me to provide much commentary on our conversation, so I will be brief and try to stick as close to the facts as possible. He didn't think there was anything confidential in our conversation, and of course it ranged beyond the immediate concern to personal matters of where I was located, where I had studied, and so forth.

The contact with Dr. Johnson originated from an email from him late last night in which he offered to call me today at a time of my convenience. Then we chatted this afternoon.

Let me begin by copying my most recent post to the Alumni Coffee House, for Dr. Johnson didn't seem to have the details of the earlier list of questions on the tip of his mind. It was the following most recent comment, which I had sent to him, that seemed freshest on his mind. The impression I received was that he is quite busy responding to numerous concerned individuals, of which I would only be one.

My most recent comment: for anyone who might wonder where I am coming from in my posts, I am simply wanting any evaluation of President Greenway to take place fairly and openly. I am praying that the key members of the Executive Board will be straightforward with what seems to be to be the plain implication of all these unfolding events: they believe Greenway to be detrimental to the future of the seminary and have been doing that which is within their power to work to that end. Such motives are not evil, but with the ensuing events, to hide or distract from these ends becomes increasingly problematic and, eventually, unethical.

A simple acknowledgement would allow us to move beyond peripheral issues (like insubordination or consultants) so that the real issue can be addressed by a fair evaluation process before the entire board with input from the whole community, including those who are supposed to share in the governance of the institution.

It just seems so simple to me! What in the world am I missing here?

Back to the phone conversation: As best I recall, Dr. Johnson had two basic thoughts on my email:

1. First, he did not believe that the matter of insubordination was insignificant. As I recall, when I later asked in so many words if this provided a "convenient" way to enact prior goals of the task force, he did not like the word convenient. To me he seemed willing to conjecture that it might have confirmed prior impressions about Greenway. I don't remember the precise wording, but I am trying my best to represent the gist accurately.

2. He reiterated (I believe he or some board statement made this comment before) that it wasn't appropriate to reveal task force discussion of Greenway's evaluation. As I recall, he compared the situation to the goings on of a ministerial board interviewing candidates. Such inner dialog cannot be made public.

I agreed for the most part but wondered if at least some forthrightness about the task force's leanings prior to when President Greenway did not return might be beneficial. He indicated that he was only 1 person and couldn't speak for the board. He did mention that the vote of the executive board to put Greenway on leave gave an expression of its will (after the crisis began)--this last comment only having to do with the question of the public knowing the will of the EC.

That's the conversation as I remember it. All other things aside, I respect the fact that he would initiate conversation with me. This was I think the right thing for a person in his position to do (to put out fires, as Drury has said), and I can only imagine that he is doing a lot of it.

Pray for the peace of Asbury...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Right Questions for Asbury's Exec. Board

Drury has suggested that one way Greenway might come out of this mess is if he comes forward with a positive vision for the future. Part of the strategy here is to give the Executive Board a way to "save face" so that they don't feel like Greenway has to fry for their honor to be intact. At the same time, he admits that this is a long shot.

I think that the situation is way too far gone for this now. From all appearances, this sequence of events was in motion long before Greenway came to any meeting

So I personally see only one way for Greenway to survive, and that is if the broader board does not go along with the 4 on the executive committee who want Greenway out. Fortunate for Greenway, it would appear that the facts actually vindicate Greenway on each point, first, that the evaluation conducted was vastly skewed and inaccurate and, second, that the Exec. committee did not have the authority to place Greenway on a leave of absence.

No doubt the 4 on the executive committee think they are working for the good of the seminary. I bear them no ill will personally. But they do appear to be ignoring the will of the majority, including faculty, administration, students, and alumni. What the rest of the board thinks, I do not know. The board is of course the entity with the power and the group that must decide what will happen. I think we all have confidence that the broader board will do what it thinks is in the best interest of the seminary.

But I think, bottom line, someone has to lose. That's just the way it is. Either one or more on this executive committee will lose or Greenway will. One or the other will be sacrificed.

The following is a list of questions that I do not ask completely off the top of my head. In other words, they are questions I ask from an informed standpoint. I present them interspersed with the statements of the Vice Chairman:

Johnson: I know the confusion, sadness and frustration that many carry regarding all the speculations about the future of Dr. Greenway and the leadership of the board of trustees. I also know of your hunger for more information. Many emails and reports from campus reflect a tremendous amount of misinformation, as well as many differences of opinion on the same set of facts. Our board chairman, Dr. Jim Smith, asked me last week to help him by focusing on critical communications needs. You should know that all of the board officers have reviewed this and feel that it is time to give you as full a report as we are able.

Question: Could you identify the board officers who reviewed this statement?

Johnson: 4. What was different about the 2006 evaluation process?
Again, the full board had approved the use of a task force and understood it was the chairman’s role to conduct the process. Dr. Smith again invited Dr. Andringa to assist, this time wanting what has become popular in many organizations, the so-called "360 degree" evaluation. The same task force of officers, two past chairs, and the addition of the trusteeship committee chair, was called to Asbury for the review of documents and dialogue with Dr. Greenway on August 30-31, in time to make its report to the executive committee on September 5 at its regular fall meeting. To gather names for a pool from which a reasonable variety of people would be asked for their input, chairman Smith invited Dr. Greenway and members of the task force for names of administrators, faculty, staff, students and others. An equal number from Dr. Greenway and from task force members were selected to provide confidential written input. Not all suggested were included, of course, so no one would be sure who was involved. Dr. Smith provided twelve names to Dr. Andringa and asked him to conduct phone interviews with those people, some of whom were suggested by Dr. Greenway and some by task force members. We knew that there are hundreds of different software packages, forms, articles and philosophies about 360 evaluations, but the chairman chose a rather basic approach.

Questions: At what meeting did the Board of Trustees explicitly approve this process and appoint this task force? Why would we expect to get statistically significant and accurate information from folks chosen by the chair and the president? Why were random sampling methods not used? Even the basic qualitative methods taught in ATS’s DMin program were not followed in this evaluation of our President. Why did the chair get to name the 12 persons actually interviewed? How was reliability ensured and manipulation of data avoided? It is surprising that the board chair employed a consultant who disregarded common survey procedures. It is even more disturbing given the consultant’s eminent reputation. Given the stakes and in the name of basic fairness, why was a more statistically valid, random sample not employed? Would it be appropriate now to correct this oversight?

Johnson: 6. What were the recommendations, goals and priorities on which Dr. Greenway was to be evaluated?
The three recommendations in the fall of 2005 asked Dr. Greenway to work with an executive coach to help him in his first presidency in academia; to work with a professional consultant in fund-raising, a major role of the president; and to provide a way for employees to express their concerns in a way that would not be threatening, with our suggestion of using an outside, web-based survey used by many Christian universities called Best Christian Workplaces.
The goals and priorities had to do with Dr. Greenway’s use of time in fund-raising; his leadership in building relationships with the board of trustees; encouragement to develop a leadership style that encourages others without being autocratic; encouragement to provide leadership in all matters relating to the recruitment and hiring of new faculty; leadership in strategic planning; lead the seminary in the emphasis on "head and heart going hand in hand"; support the leadership of the Chancellor in the Marketplace Leadership Initiative for laity; and encouragement to put a priority on his personal and family life.

Question: Since policy mandates that the agreed to objectives are the only basis for evaluation, were these objectives satisfactorily met?

Johnson: 7. What were people asked in the 360 portion of the evaluation?
There were five open-ended questions given to those selected to be in the 360: (1) How would you describe President Greenway’s leadership? (2) What specific advancements in the Seminary’s life (list of all areas) would attribute primarily to President Greenway’s leadership? (3) How would you describe President Greenway’s relationships with the following groups with which you are familiar (faculty, staff, students, trustees, alumni, donors, friends of the seminary)? (4) In what areas of presidential leadership would you hope that President Greenway could improve? (5) Additional comments?

Questions: Why are these particular questions the right ones? Why are they so unrelated to the seven objectives that were to the policy-mandated basis for evaluation? On 2 above, the more President Greenway succeeds in fostering a team environment, the more transparent will be his leadership. On 4, why no corresponding question regarding strengths? Already, half the questions seem of doubtful value.

Johnson: 8. What were the responses?
Naturally, we want to honor confidentiality and it would not be fair to Dr. Greenway nor serve the purpose of this open memo to go into details. But you can be sure that there were two very different views of Dr. Greenway’s leadership that emerged. With such open-ended questions for those in the process, and fairly subjective recommendations and priorities for this year addressed in Dr. Greenway’s self-evaluation, there was room for different conclusions. The task force reviewed a summary of trustee and non-trustee written feedback prepared by Dr. Smith, essentially a cut and paste from the responses. We also had a six-page written summary of Dr. Andringa’s phone interviews (which averaged 45 minutes each). What remained to be done was the anticipated lengthy conversation with Dr. Greenway about last year’s report, his self-evaluation, the 360 inputs, and his thoughts on priorities for the coming year.

Questions: A "cut and paste" summary seems a very haphazard way of dealing with something so significant. What if another person were charged to do the "cut and paste"? Might this not give a very different view of things? Further, if we are going to make career decisions of this significance, would we not want to be sure our statistically insignificant sample were accurate? The point here is remarkably important. We have a consultant conducting a survey that fails to meet standards for producing a trustworthy result that ATS requires of DMin students. Minimally, when the results came back from an anecdotal survey indicating concerns, it seems any reasonable person would say, "Hmmm, given the nature of these findings and the seriousness of the decisions to be made, we’d better be sure about this. Let’s do a more thorough survey." Further, once the faculty vote of support was in, would it not further suggest that the survey was indeed in error?

Johnson: 9. What did this year’s task force finally recommend?
The task force had Dr. Greenway’s self-evaluation and the summaries of the 360 evaluations. The critical piece of lengthy dialogue with Dr. Greenway did not happen, so the task force was not able to complete its work and develop recommendations or priorities for the year ahead. August 31 started the beginning of the total breakdown in communications between the president and trustees.

Questions: Was there a straw vote taken by the chair appointed task force on the evening of August 30 that indicated President Greenway’s presidency was in jeopardy? Your tone suggests that the goal of the meeting for Thursday morning was to set objectives for the next year. However, Dr. Smith’s opening words to President Greenway were very much contrary to this tone.

Johnson: 10. So what happened to break up this process?
Very briefly, because the two summaries of the external evaluation responses were 30+ pages, the task force agreed on the night of August 30 that it was only fair to Dr. Greenway to give him a chance to read them the next morning before the planned discussion. Soon after 8:00 AM Dr. Greenway joined the task force, heard our rationale for inviting him to return to his office for an hour or more to review what the task force received the night before, and then return for the dialogue. As he left the room, one member of the task force left with him, to the great surprise and concern of the rest of us. A few minutes later we asked that person to return and expressed our deep sense that he violated the process. Later he asked for our forgiveness, which we granted. Evidently this trustee signaled enough of the task force members’ concerns to Dr. Greenway that he opted to call his wife, later leave his office, and through two voice mails indicated that he intended to resign and would not meet with the task force or the chairman. You can imagine our shock. We spent from about 9:00 AM to 2:30 PM trying to figure out a way to gain conversation so our task could be completed. Dr. Greenway understandably was in a very emotional state (as he acknowledged in apologizing later for certain demands that we felt to be exorbitant). The conversation among task force members naturally turned to questions such as "What do we do if he does resign?" "How do we interpret his refusal to meet with us?" and "What happens when we can’t finish our task of completing the evaluation for the executive committee next week?" We reviewed our bylaws again, asked the trustee closest to him to try to persuade him to return, and sought other counsel by phone. It was their recommendation to call a special meeting of the executive committee and place Dr. Greenway on leave.

Questions and Comments:
Given your comments about the concerns of the chair appointed task force, why would the task force be shocked? Consider:

1. As you observe, this unnamed member of the chair appointed task force "signaled enough of the task force members’ concerns to [President] Greenway." If these concerns were communicated, President Greenway’s response should hardly be surprising. Further, why, for the sake of the process, would you not want President Greenway to know "the task force member’s concerns"?

2. Moreover, did you indicate that President Greenway should cancel his morning preaching in chapel (only a couple of hours away) and that he should cancel other presidential meetings he had planned?

3. Likewise, did Dr. Smith originally indicate that President Greenway should look over the ad hoc task force’s report for "a few minutes or so"? And, was not an hour finally granted when President Greenway indicated surprise at the content of the report as it was being outlined to him?

4. Is it true that the consultant indicated that, in his opinion, the Greenway Presidency had about a 2% chance of success?

5. Was there any reason for President Greenway to expect such a negative review? Would not any reasonable person think he would be given more than an hour or so to read and reflect on his response? Would not a reasonable process grant at least a day to allow the contents of the review to be digested and a response prepared?

6. Did President Greenway indicate that he simply wanted to resign? Or, did he indicate that if he were being given the choice between firing and resignation, he’d prefer resignation?

7. At any time during the process, did anyone indicate to President Greenway that his resignation was not being sought and that the intent of the meeting was to work on objectives and actions for President Greenway to undertake for the coming year? In other words, if the communication to President Greenway that he was expected to resign was in error, did anyone undertake to correct this error?

8. Given you notice of President Greenway’s understandably emotional state, would not the appropriate response to President Greenway’s reluctance to meet be a recognition of that understandable set of feelings and, then to offer a 24 hour period for him to review the documents?

9. According to Board of Trustee policy, only the BOT as a whole has authority to direct President Greenway. How, then, could the chair appointed task force initially place him on leave, instruct him not to preach, and to cancel other daily duties/meetings? In fact, how could the Exec Com do so itself? As President Greenway has recognized his own regrets in the letter noted below, will the chair appointed task force step up and own it’s own procedural mistakes and questionable leadership practices?

Johnson: 11. What happened after this task force meeting?
The chairman called a special conference call of the executive committee for September 1. All 14 trustees on the committee were on the call. As you can imagine, many trustees were in shock over this "insubordination" and Dr. Greenway’s representation to others that this was a flawed evaluation process. The executive committee decided to place Dr. Greenway on leave without presidential duties, but with continued full compensation and benefits, and anticipated a full discussion of the matter at their previously scheduled meeting on September 5.

Questions: It is helpful that the term "insubordination" is placed in square quotes, as the term cannot literally apply to the actions taken by President Greenway, as is clear from the board policies. Again, by what policy does this group have authority to place President Greenway on leave? And, if the present impasse is not based upon "insubordination," then what?

Johnson: 12. What happened next ?
Dr. Greenway did not want direct communication with the chairman or the executive committee. We worked with Dr. Andringa and others in checking out useful solutions. SACS and ATS were notified. Chairman Smith stayed on campus to meet with the leadership team, faculty, students and staff to explain why Dr. Greenway was placed on leave. Then we prayed a lot, as most on campus did.

Questions: If communication had broken down between the chair and President Greenway, why were not alternative communication channels sought? Especially, since this specific process was not approved by the BOT? Why was a mediating path not taken? This is especially disturbing since President Greenway himself urged third-party mediation.

Johnson: 13. What happened at the executive committee meeting on September 5?
All 14 members were there. Except for attending the chapel, led by Dr. Kalas, the committee spent the day discussing all aspects of the situation. Since Dr. Greenway continued his stance of not meeting with the executive committee, we had to assume his earlier statements about resigning were still in his mind. Some wanted a full board meeting called. We agreed that Dr. Greenway had sought information on what severance agreement might be acceptable, so approved a very generous multi-dimensional package should he make that decision by noon, Friday, September 8. We also passed a comprehensive resolution 12-2 continuing his leave, providing for interim leadership, etc., which was shared with the community. All of us knew we were in troubled waters, new to all of us.

Questions: Again, by what board policy does the Executive Committee have this authority? Did the EC attempt to contact President Greenway on September 5? Why was a severance package being put together at this point? And, is it true that resignation papers were being drafted by the consultant? Perhaps most significant is the lack of any mention of resolutions passed by the faculty. Given accreditation standards regarding shared governance and given ATS’s own expressed commitment to shared governance between the BOT and the faculty, why have these resolutions been summarily ignored? And, why have the faculty’s resolutions not alerted the chair appointed task force to its erroneous conclusions regarding President Greenway’s alleged polarization of the faculty?

Johnson: 14. What has happened since September 5?
On Friday, September 8, working through his attorney, Dr. Greenway asked for an extension of the deadline until 5:00 PM Monday, September 11. The chairman asked the seminary’s attorneys to engage in the typical process of starting with Dr. Greenway’s long list of requests and trying to move toward something acceptable to all. Monday night came and the chairman decided that so long as the attorneys were talking, it was best for everyone to let that process play out. We know that among the 4300 degree-granting colleges, universities and seminaries there are at least 700 new presidencies each year. Some presidents are terminated by the board, but a more usual departure under these circumstances is a voluntary resignation, sometimes due to "irreconcilable differences with the board." Here certain differences certainly exist. Many trustees found Dr. Greenway’s behavior insubordinate and wished to proceed with termination, regardless of what the performance review showed. There were lots of opinions on the board and surely we saw or heard of many opinions from the faculty, staff and students.

Questions: Since you note the president’s use of an attorney, why do you not note the rapidity with which the board chair sought legal advice? Why is there no mention of the letter President Greenway sent that expressed regret for any misstep on his part and requesting third party mediation? Would not any reasonable person think this was an appropriate course of action given the break down in communication? Why did the chair choose to respond to President Greenway’s personal letter requesting an extension and mediation by asking the Seminary’s attorneys to contact President Greenway? On what grounds would you argue for insubordination—by what ATS bylaws and board policies?

Johnson: 16. What about the rumor some of Maxie Dunnam’s friends want him back?
A lot of trustees still admire Maxie. But he left when he wanted to and we as a board made the decision to hire Dr. Greenway. We did retain Dr. Dunnam as Chancellor, especially to focus on continuing his relationship with major donors. He has done well. Much of this year’s very good development report was due to Dr. Dunnam, some bequests, as well as to Dr. Greenway’s hard work.

Question: We missed the answer to the question you posed. Was the possibility of Dr. Dunnam returning as an interim president discussed, either formally or informally, by some members of the chair appointed task force either before, after, or during the meeting with President Greenway on August 31?

Johnson: 17. What is Dr. Greenway’s status right now?
He remains on leave without presidential responsibilities for people, programs or budgets. Soon after the executive committee continued his leave, he was communicating that he would never resign, that he felt his call to Asbury was still unfulfilled, that some trustees should resign, etc. But at the very same time, his attorney was continuing discussions for more than seven days on what the board would agree in severance benefits should he resign voluntarily. We recognize that many leaders, concerned for the welfare of their families, might choose to pursue all their options at the same time under these circumstances.

Questions: On what basis does President Greenway remain on leave? As you note toward the end, any reasonable person would have continued exploring all options, especially given the process problems identified. By the way, we understand that President Greenway was given 21 days to consider a severance offer, but that this offer was withdrawn within 2 days of its being placed on the table (some 19 days early). Can you clarify this?

Johnson: 18. What are the next steps?
While these uncertain negotiations were going on, the chairman told us that the full board would need to meet prior to our mid-November meeting, whether Dr. Greenway resigned or not. Technically, the executive committee could act for the board on accepting the terms of a resignation. But only the full board can terminate a president. The bylaws also allow any seven trustees to call for a special meeting, which must be held between 10 – 45 days from the call. That was done and a meeting will be held prior to October 23. We don’t yet know what the specific agenda will be, but to terminate a president our bylaws require the chair to appoint a special committee of two trustees, one faculty member and one administrator to meet with Dr. Greenway and to make a report to the board. This process has not yet been initiated. We continue to pray that God will open all our eyes to a better solution. Yes, time is short and our chairman, who is the board’s "manager," has some difficult decisions.

Questions: Yes, only the full board can give the president direction. So, why are we where we are? Would not a better solution be to seek mediation in order to get all concerns on the table? Since President Greenway has encouraged third-party mediation, why has this option not been given serious consideration? We seem on a course that might well leave the underlying issues in the dark. Would we not all benefit from complete transparency and an attempt to get at those underlying issues?

Johnson: 22. What should concerned faculty, staff and students do?
I understand your deep concern and the human desire to "do something." But we are a Christ-centered educational community. We have clear biblical principles about rumors, gossip, judging others, gathering good information, believing the best in others, etc. I do urge those of you prepared to lead us back to biblical principles that stand out during stressful times to do so.Of course, we need your earnest prayers. God can and will redeem this story to His glory.

Comment: Surely this is true of the entire community. We, too, call upon God to shine his light into the darkness and that all may be redeemed to His glory. We, too, seek a return to biblical principles. It seems we are strongly in agreement here, even if we might have different senses of the activities that this might lead us to. May God grant wisdom to all involved.

The Asbury Faculty Perspective

To balance Johnson's perspective, here is the resolution passed by the faculty on September 5:

_____________________________
We, the plenary faculty of Asbury Theological Seminary, meeting this day of September 5, 2006, resolve that,

Whereas,
(1) Board of Trustees’ policy clearly provides for the role and responsibility of the Faculty in Shared Governance. By definition, the Faculty is a political unit central to the governance of the institution, including faculty involvement in the removal of a president: “A member of the Administration may be removed from office by disciplinary action of the Board of Trustees…Such action shall be taken after careful investigation and recommendation by a special committee consisting of two members of the Board, a member of the Administration, and a member of the faculty, appointed by the chair of the Board of Trustees.” (Art. VII, Sect. E).

Furthermore,
there is no provision for an “Evaluation Committee” that operates separately from the Executive Committee: the By-laws state that the president is to be evaluated by the Executive Committee of the Board and the Chairs of the Board Committees annually in executive session at their Fall meeting (Art. VII, Sect. B). In addition, the By-Laws mandate a triennial review of the president’s contract. This review is to be a full and formal review. In each of the two other years, the By-Laws mandate an annual review, conducted by the Chair of the Board (VII.B).

Furthermore,
the By-laws make clear that the president does not serve at the pleasure of the Board. Neither can the president be dismissed, even for cause, without a process involving an investigative panel consisting of members of the Board, administration, and faculty. Hence, the Faculty is obligated to meet to determine its disposition vis-à-vis the current situation of its president.

Furthermore,
Board policy mandates that the Board review its president according to the goals the Board has set (Board Policies, adopted 12 May 2003, Serial Nos. 3.2, 3.4).

Whereas,
(2) in view of its confidence in the president, the Faculty is distressed and bewildered by action placing the president on indefinite leave, in violation of Board policy, and in view of Dr. Greenway’s strong desire to remain as president.

The Faculty expresses deep appreciation and full confidence in the presidency of Dr. Jeffrey E. Greenway. Although Dr. Greenway has been president of Asbury Theological Seminary for only 26 months, we have found in him a genuine concern for the spiritual and communal health of the Seminary. We have seen demonstrated a capacity to lead from the core of a life centered in Christ, with a capacity for authentic listening and consensus-building. We have discovered a commitment to involving others in shaping vision and decision-making for the Seminary. We affirm his integrity and grace in the care of employees of the Seminary, his persistent call to academic strength in the service of the mission of the church, his faithfulness and effectiveness in fulfilling the administrative responsibilities that belong to his office, and his willing and joyful involvement in the several facets of the life of the Seminary, including spiritual formation, community life, chapel and the classroom. We have found in him a capacity to develop and manage resources that enable the financial integrity of the Seminary.

Our great concern is based upon the following considerations:

In 2005, the Board gave the president seven goals, although instrumentation used to conduct a so-called 360-degree review did not focus on those goals.

Furthermore,
the judgment of the Committee regarding the disposition of the president’s contract [see below*] was not based on a failure of performance vis-à-vis documented goals. Instead, a negative valuation of his presidency was grounded in the perception of a perceived division within the Seminary community. [*At a called meeting of the Board Executive Committee on Thursday, the president was placed on leave until Tuesday’s meeting of the Executive Committee. Prior to the president’s reading the review report, the Executive Committee reported that they had received a report indicating that the ATS community (i.e., its administration, faculty, staff, and students) had been polarized on account of the president’s dictatorial and autocratic style of leadership, raising the question of the viability of his remaining in office. The president was informed that he needed to consider contacting JD Walt immediately, to explain that he would not be in chapel @ 11 that morning. Based on information the president had received prior to his reading the evaluation materials prepared by the Board Chair, it appears that he believed that he was faced with two choices: resign or be fired. It was subsequently communicated formally that the president had been placed on indefinite leave.]

Furthermore,
in accordance with By-law VII.B, the 2006 review should have been an “annual review,” but the chair of the board conducted instead a full and formal review [Note: the employment of instrumentation, interviews, and the appointment of a committee are indicative of a formal review rather than a review conducted by the chair. The only time there is to be a formal evaluation which can involve an outside consultant and the larger Seminary community is for the triennial evaluation which, in this case, should be next year, not this one since this marks the completion of his second year.].

Furthermore,
the reports to the ATS community that the president’s response was without provocation do not represent the course of events and reports outlined above. [Note: the president responded that, if these were his two choices, he would rather resign than be fired. --- And this set off the events variously reported to the Faculty, Staff, and Students on Friday.]

Furthermore,
the announced participation of the chair of the board in administrative functions (Announcement to the Community, 2 September 2006, 12:35 AM) directly contravenes Board Policy. [see Board Policies, Serial Nos. 3.0, 3.2]

Furthermore,
the faculty has no confidence in the evaluative process, for the following reasons:

1. We understand that President Greenway expected to be evaluated on seven goals set at the 2005 annual review and, therefore, this year’s process did not keep faith with expectations set by the Board a year ago.

2. There is a perceived conflict of interest with the consultant chosen for this process. It is widely known that a small faction within the Board has opposed Dr. Greenway from the beginning of his presidency in lieu of another candidate. The consultant was recommended by that candidate.

3. The design of the evaluation is unclear.

 Who were the persons chosen to participate in the evaluation? Are they truly representative of the Seminary’s various constituencies? How many persons actually participated from among all those invited?

 It is unclear how the data were analyzed. For instance how are the multiple comments to be weighted? There is no way of knowing whether a few participants made a majority of comments or whether all the comments reported are representative of the majority of the participants.

4. The conclusion of the report of widespread division among the Seminary’s constituencies over President Greenway’s leadership and concerns about his ability to lead in the future is confusing and not congruent with the faculty’s widespread support of his leadership.

Furthermore,
the detrimental impact of an abrupt interruption of leadership, occurring at the beginning of an academic year, would have long-term negative consequences for the Seminary at a time when the Seminary is experiencing a highpoint in achievements and productivity under Dr. Greenway’s leadership, and it would have devastating consequences for the president and his family, with unwarranted collateral damage to them and the Seminary.

We therefore resolve that

a. we affirm full confidence in the Presidency of Dr. Jeffrey Greenway. Vote results: 45 yes / 8 no / 3 abstentions.

b. we call for the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees immediately to restore Dr. Greenway to his full presidential responsibilities. Vote results: yes 47 / no 8 / 1 abstention.

c. we call for an emergency meeting of the full Board of Trustees to resolve this crisis within the next two weeks. Vote results: 52 yes / 3 no / 1 abstention.

d. we request that Dr. James Smith be removed from his responsibilities as chair of the Board of Trustees because of his inappropriate handling of the evaluation of President Greenway and because of the faculty’s lack of trust in his ability to resolve the profound impasse that these events have cast upon the Seminary. Vote results: 28 yes / 28 no / 1 abstention.

e. In demonstration of our commitment to these resolutions, we hereby declare that there will be no convocation for the 2006-2007 academic year until Dr. Greenway is reinstated to his presidential office. Vote results: 28 yes / 24 no / 2 abstentions.

Respectfully submitted,

The plenary faculty of Asbury Theological Seminary

(signed)
J. Steven O’Malley, faculty representative to the Board of Trustees, on behalf of the academic leadership of the Seminary (Bill T. Arnold, Provost; Leslie Andrews, Associate Provost; Hugo Magallanes, Assistant Provost—Florida Campus; and Deans of the Schools: David Bauer, Reg Johnson, Cathy Stonehouse, Ron Crandall)

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