What would YOU do? pt.2.

<–What would YOU do? pt.1.                                   Open Letter to Classis.–>

Well, it is now the 12th of October, 2016.  524 years agoImage result for christopher columbus ship today, Columbus reached the New World.  Late last week, I wrote an open letter to the Classis, which I did in fact publish.  Only a couple of hours after I did so, information came to light which required a postponement of the dissemination of that letter, as well as an updating of its content, so I removed it.  Instead of merely revising the letter, I have decided to split the letter into two posts–the first being this, the follow-up to ‘What would YOU do (for a straight answer)? pt.1, and the second, a new Open Letter to the Relevant Classis.

A number of events and (non)conversations–especially via email and phone–have taken place in the last month and a half.  The essentials are as follows:

1. August 24, 2016: ST met with his ‘Oversight Committee’; meeting was opened with the uber-helpful (perhaps rhetorical?) question, ‘Why are we here?’  The ‘Committee’ proceeded to ask him about my blog (i.e., this one), and my sister and allegations (*cough*, rumors, *cough*, gossip) concerning her conduct from the 8th of December 2015.  Yes, you read that right.  They were meeting after how many botched email communications and empty months of thumb-twiddling (as opposed to diddling, though who knows?–perhaps some of this constitutes diddling–see Edgar Allen Poe’s short story) to talk about… anonymous people accusing my sister of recording a closed executive session (see A Visit to the Clubhouse).  Pff.  ST had written a letter documenting his experience of this process and this ‘committee’s’ treatment of him, but wasn’t permitted to read it.   Because… after a thoroughly unproductive summer and each man’s long drive to Gaylord, they ‘didn’t have time’ to go through a few pages of arguably important material.  After one of the pastors on the OC cut him off, he got up and walked out with ‘I’ve had enough.’

2. September 2016:  Where do I begin?  This ain’t Johnny Mathis’ Love Story.  On the part of the ‘Oversight Committee’, there was no reply to or interaction with ST’s write-up, copies of which they had in their possession from August 24th.  On the night of September 14th/ early morning of the 15th, ST sent a communication to the Classis Interim Committee, which included the following: an email with an attachment: a letter (the email) to the CIC explaining why ST was finished with the Oversight Committee, and a description (attachment) of the problematic interactions between ST and the OC which formed the basis for his decision to separate from them.  ST also included in his letter a proposal for how to go forward.  The CIC is composed of 5 men, including the Clerk of Classis, the Regional Pastor, a deacon, an elder (these last two are not members of the same local church), and–oddly enough–a member of the Oversight Committee.

There was one phone call to ST regarding his letter(s) to the CIC (sent September 14/15), one week after he sent it.  That was nice.  Nevertheless, it appears most of the men on the CIC couldn’t be bothered to read the letter or its supplement in its entirety (unless later prompted), and no one sent a reply to acknowledge receipt. This he learned during the above-mentioned phone call, and during a ‘serendipitous’ meeting at a local shop.  The Image result for traditional abc blocksClerk of Classis himself did not even read the attachment until sometime after the ‘Sent’ date, because he ‘thought they were the same email.’  Which just demonstrates, again, the validity of my previous claims on this blog that people in this Classis can’t, don’t, or won’t read (see Exhibits H.,L.,M.,O.,P.,S.,T.,U.,W., etc.), since it was quite clear in the body of the email what the attachment was.  (Insert angry face here.)  This is clearly an issue of respect.

Anyway.  People don’t read what ST writes, just like they don’t hear what he says.  Not important enough, no doubt–or, if some of them share an attitude with the ‘Oversight Committee’, they may think along the lines of: ‘We have to make sure ST knows his place.  If he has to wait, so be it.  We’re the popular kids, and if he wants us to be nice to him, he’d better take his swirlies without complaint.  Keep him guessing, that’s how we feel empowered!’  If I’m wrong, one of the OC/CIC/Classis members may please disabuse me of my not unfounded notions.

Another interesting thread: ST has made numerous attempts to contact one of the CIC members (a deacon), having sent a few texts and left a few voicemail messages.  This was over the course of the past 2+ weeks.  These attempts first stemmed from a desire to confirm that the member had received the email communication of mid-September and read it.  Now they’re an experiment to see how long he’s willing to blow  off ST.   Perhaps this ‘active avoidance’ is somehow related to that mentioned in A. Church’s December 17 letter to the congregation?  (Haha.)  Image result for action figure with shieldOr perhaps this CIC member has forgotten to disengage his ‘external shield of resistance’!  Or perhaps someone told, advised, instructed him not to contact ST? What the HELL is going on?  Is this the official policy—keep mum if ST asks you—or you—or you—anything?  Gee, that looks honest.  Update: ST learned late last week that this member has opted or decided ‘not to respond to’ him.  This was told him in a very matter-of-fact way by another Classis member (a fellow pastor, no less).  If you’re laughing, that’s okay–I did too!  Absolutely ridiculous.  See my remarks in the Open Letter on professionalism (as I say there, forget Christianity—acting like a Christian doesn’t matter to these people).  I will, however, point out that there is an alternate ‘ending’ to this ‘choose your own adventure’ story: someone else has stated that the deacon is planning to respond to ST ‘when he gets the chance’.  For what it’s worth.

3. September 27, 2016: Classis meeting, where the cool kids get to be cool, act cool, tell each other they’re cool, and make sure the rejects and losers feel their own powerlessness (my interpretation of events! there are always a few exceptions, but since the decent people and their protestations are ignored by those in charge, it hardly makes sense to focus on them.  Nothing they do can be of any significance except in the eyes of God who marks their attempts at righteousness).  Image result for diner scene back to the future

At any rate, like I said, a place for the cool people to affirm their coolness. The popular kids and bullies in high school would be a good analogy.

I guess 21 was in good form–described more than once by an onlooker as ‘rude’ and spouting further derogatory comments about my father (in his absence, of course).  CLASSY.  What is it about picking on my dad that makes 21 feel so good about himself?  and what is it about this man and his attitude that other people find acceptable, even praiseworthy?  Because as the onlooker described, someone else did try to stick up for the absent ST, but he simply ‘doesn’t carry as much weight as’ 21.  21, the noble author of Banner articles and Today devotionals, that ‘wordsmith’ whose tools of the trade are made-up vocabulary, a generous sprinkling of unnecessary hyphens, and postmodern drivel devoid of original analysis.  But he writes ‘masterpieces’ and has been at his ‘big’ church for a really long time, dontcha know (not for much longer, though).  Well, I confess it tickled me no end to tear apart his tripe (see Exhibits Q. and U., for example).  I hope it nettles him that while other people fawn over his writing skills, at least three of the players ‘on the other’ side can think and write circles around him.  Sorry.  ‘Feel goodism’ is no match for clear argumentation.  It’s not a question of intelligence—it’s a question of clear and rigorous (and biblical) thinking.  But he still has the power—and he probably felt very important when he left the Classis meeting to phone for himself one of the big wigs who met with ST.

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The rest of the cool people, I’m sure, could feel especially cool when the universally applied, not-necessary-to-explain-or-justify, sacred weapon known as the ‘executive session’ is drawn from its sheathe–REVERENCE!!  Silence in the ranks, except for ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of admiration!

ST drove two hours to be there for the segment of the agenda devoted to his case.  He did hear a bit of a presentation before somebody noticed he was there.  And drew attention to the fact.  Anyway.  If he heard right, the presenter of the report (on the efforts of the ‘Oversight Committee’) worded his comments on the ‘information gathering’ re: ST’s former churches in such a way, that an uninformed listener would think he had ‘separated’ from both his former churches.  How sloppy.  But like humanities professors making imprecise, lazy or dishonest remarks about Christianity, well–it’s not their religion, so who cares if they play fast and loose with the facts!?  And apparently one of our former churches was ‘Gaylord’ rather than ‘Gateway’.  Okay…and my father’s future is entrusted to these people, who are so capable, so careful, and who take his case so seriously?

But the Classis delegates were there.  They know what happened.  Animal Farm.  For those of you who prefer the ramblings of the (admittedly not-so-trendy-anymore) Emergents to George Orwell, and don’t understand that reference, well, I can’t help you.  And for the record, no, I’m not referring to the overarching plot of the takeover by a communist coup and its subsequent devolution into a totalitarian dictatorship.  I’m making reference to others of the themes explored therein.

There was a ‘vote’ to decide whether ST could stay.  He reckons it was 60-40 against his being allowed to remain while they were in ‘executive session’.  Clear cut, wasn’t it?  When he spoke to the Clerk of Classis last week to get the ‘Classis” reasoning on why he couldn’t stay, well–there wasn’t really a reason. Image result for the thinker Just a ‘Captain Obvious’ description of what happened.  ‘They wanted to deliberate without you.’  DUH.  Why did they want to deliberate without ST?  THAT is the question.

Week of October 2, 2016: ST got a phone call from the Clerk of Classis; an email from the pastor on his ‘Oversite [sic] Committee’; and a copy of the ‘report’ that the elder on the OC, who spoke at the Classis meeting, presented.  The phone call was the first communication to ST from anyone in Classis since the Sept. 27 meeting, and had likely been prompted by an email from ST to the Clerk (see Excerpt 2 in the appendix below) asking for follow-up, and why he was barred from the meeting.  This latter, all-important question, as described above, was never answered.

The email was the first communication from the OC since the August 24 meeting.  (There is, however, the exception of a short note from the ‘presenter’/elder on Aug.25, which hardly counts, since included in that email was a claim that the ‘Committee’ was ‘saddened’ that ST ‘left the meeting in anger’.  Spin much?  And apparently they’re mind-readers as well, though they are completely incapable of self-reflection.)  They’d had ST’s write-up to them for over a month—so why no interaction?  BECAUSE THEY DON’T CARE.  What else can you conclude, Christian brothers and sisters?  This email from the pastor naturally did not even acknowledge any of ST’s concerns raised in the Aug.24 document.  NATURALLY, since one of the big issues noted in that document is the OC’s omission in all dialogues to interact with anything ST writes or says.  HUGE SURPRISE that the pastor’s email once again seems to point to the fact that ST doesn’t actually exist.  More on that below.

Finally, the ‘report’ as presented to Classis, and which ST wasn’t allowed to hear since he wasn’t allowed to stay, was in fact worthy of ranking with 21’s disgusting deluge of documents from Nov.-Dec.2015.  I’m thinking of calling them—the elder and 21—Jannes & Jambres.

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One of them is a wannabe intellectual, the other is some other kind of fake, though I haven’t decided what yet.  Both of them are charlatans.  Or some other kind of dishonest.  That ‘report’ was a complete misrepresentation of the events and faux-dialogues between ST and this ‘Oversight Committee’.  And, just like the pastor’s run-on email which essentially consisted of a written genuflection before the Church Order, this ‘report’ did not even acknowledge the written evidence of ST’s position with regard to the OC and this process.  This evidence forms a written record which thoroughly debunks the report’s subtle but misleading claims about ST’s comportment, for example.  But why should the writer of it be afraid of lying to Classis?  Everyone else who did so last year got away with it, or was even applauded for his actions.

I did next have a passage on the style and some general statements about the content of the report.  It has come to my attention that the author (?) of the report has requested that it be kept ‘confidential’ by ST (the very subject of the report—lol!).  Fantastic.  So, if it’s full of misrepresentations and misleading statements, well, because the elder and the OC have invoked ‘confidentiality’ (see my post on this subject and numerous others!), he’s helpless to address and contest them because they can’t be brought out into the open.  How convenient!  Why can’t I invoke ‘ethical credibility’?  Ought people who demand confidentiality for themselves when they secure it for no one else, and likewise care so little to doing the right thing in several other related areas, be encouraged in their hypocrisy?  We have professional expectations and regulations in place, as we will discuss further below, to protect people, and to ensure that those in power do the right thing.  Does playing the Confidentiality Card to keep ST from discussing the material assembled against him make moral sense?

So, I shall have to keep my commentary on the quality of writing and the OC’s self-justification in my pocket for the time-being.  I will still include the following passage on the dishonest character of the report, which I trust does not constitute a divulging of any of the content: “While at first it might seem stupid to lie about the obvious, committing falsehoods to writing for which written evidence exists which could blow the claims out of the water, again—Classis let other people get away with it last year, so what does this elder have to fear?  Still, being responsible for this sort of thing—doing this to another human being and being so cavalier about it—would keep me awake at night.”

One thing to note: the ‘Oversight Committee’ burned all this time interviewing people at our former churches who had nothing whatsoever to do with what happened at A. Church, gathering ‘data’.  Odd how none of that data shows up in this ‘report’.  You have to wonder if it’s because the interviewees had only good things to say!

Now, I come to one particular conclusion: to many, if not most, people in this classis, ST does not exist.  He is real on some level—he is something, enough of a something to merit all this fuss and wheel-spinning.  He’s a project of sorts, with a deadline, a goal description (perhaps), and something that requires a show of action in convening ‘meetings’.  Of which he is not allowed to be a part.  He is a something which requires a lot of discussion and deliberation, in which he is not allowed to participate, and elicits criticism and even accusations, of which he is not allowed to be privy until it is too late to defend himself: he is only allowed to know what is said about him a week and a half after the meeting has adjourned and the Classis has only heard the OC’s claims.  That is, the Classis made any and all decisions in ignorance—thus, they were not qualified to make any decisions after being only half-informed about the issues and after deliberately, once again, SHUTTING OUT the one person whom they especially needed to hear from—the reason all this must happen in the first place.  Lunacy.

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So, on some level, ST does exist, and, it can be argued, from all the business and busy-ness and ‘discussion’, about him, he, or it, is rather important.  All the evidence, however, points to the fact that Classis does not see ST as a person.  A person (here we are speaking of a human individual, and specifically a Christian) is permitted to have a voice; is acknowledged to experience reality, whether it be defined as basically as pleasure or pain (which we all understand animals to experience), or as more complex: living life as a conscious being, in several different spheres: mental, spiritual, emotional, social, cultural; is guaranteed certain rights by secular law; and is also owed certain dignities under the law of the Judeo-Christian God.  I now include a rough-and-ready thought exercise (written on the 24th of September, 2016) on the Church Order in this Classis and the Classis’ prioritization of it over the welfare of a flesh-and-blood believer:

**

On the Church Order: Purpose & Application

“What is the purpose of the church order? It is to protect people, to protect the church, and to ensure things are done in a proper, organized and God-honouring way. It is supposed to ensure official activities are oriented in an orderly way and unto the Good.

Once there has been this kind of departure from the church order, which comprises such displays of incompetence, such lack of care for expediting a stressful process, and such constant misconduct (*see elaboration below), it seems incongruous to insist on adherence to the church order by forming a new committee (update: or as we now know, keeping the old one, which has demonstrated its own lack of charity and honesty). This Classis has proven over the past year, again and again, that its habit is the aforementioned incompetence, pretence to qualifications which it does not possess, and acting in ignorance to the detriment of one of its own, in spite of several reasonable protests from several different quarters.

The HABIT, the mode of being, of this Classis is refusing to acknowledge its shortcomings and wrongdoings, one of which is a tendency to repeatedly mistreat a person without knowing all the facts. Worse, the Classis actually refuses to inform itself of the facts when they are easily accessible. Why this is so is a mystery—the only explanation I can think of is that, while Classis can admit to itself, in secret, that it makes things up as it goes along, using pharisaic devotion and appeal to the ‘church order’—as this Classis constructs and construes it—as a crutch or as an instrument of coercion, it cannot admit to others outside of the bubble that it doesn’t know what it’s doing, and worse, that it has dropped the ball and that people have suffered injury and injustice as a result.

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There is no reason to expect that the continued involvement of this Classis, or a part of it, will yield better results than heretofore observed. It is not reasonable to uphold the necessity of adherence to the church order in this situation–for example, insisting on the formation of a new committee rather than turning to the alternative suggested by the victim of this Classis’ malfeasance—when the church order has already been so breached by classical officials assigned to the case. This process has already been derailed from the church order-designated track, and thus can no longer be treated as ‘normal’, to which the church order can be re-applied without question or reflection.

The same (type of) people who have misused and abused the church order will still be at the wheel in this ‘mulligan’; it is stupid to think that a return to the church order for a re-do of the same step by the same people will produce a different, better outcome. The application of the church order in this situation by this group of people is what has brought us to this point; what has been so driven off-course by this misapplication cannot be set right by a repeat performance. To persist in this course would constitute a disrespect for the nature and purpose of the church order, and would demonstrate a complete lack of awareness of or concern for the well-being of the person who has been figuratively beaten with the church order by classical officials.

Image result for golden calfThe church order does not exist as an end unto itself. There is a moral purpose in it. The Classis’ ultimate obligation, and the church order’s ultimate end, is the best, most consistent upholding of God’s moral law in His church. The moral, Christian, loving thing for this classis to do is… what, exactly? Perhaps it is to acknowledge that it is out of its depth in this complicated situation; to apologize for its consistent mishandling of the case, which has further damaged an individual the Classis is directed by the church order to protect and support; and to apply the church order in the same way that Jesus applied the Law—according to its spirit rather than to its letter.

It should be noted that both the deviation from and application of the church order in this case by this Classis seems always to work to the disadvantage of the person at the Classis’ mercy—the one to whom Classis is supposed to provide opportunities for ministry. When the OC goes beyond its bounds in its ‘information gathering’, it contributes to the stress and alienation of the victim; when Classis insists on forming a new committee (update: or again, in this case, keeping the old one), formed purely out of concern for keeping with the church order (though the potential retaining a member of the first committee would be purely for their own convenience), this also is unto the marginalization of ST.

*By this broad term (misconduct) I mean the mishandling of a person’s case, flagrant disregard for his personal well-being and for a body’s official mandate, unethical conduct including but not limited to deliberate marginalization of an individual apparently deemed an undesirable, violation of this individual’s confidentiality with both impunity and defiance, while using confidentiality as an excuse to withhold information elsewhere deemed to be public, etc.”

**

Now, in brief:

ST has been repeatedly ignored, misrepresented, barred from interaction with and speaking to this Classis on matters concerning his future AND HIS ONLY (not, for example, 21’s), and lied about.  REPEATEDLY.  And by several different people, ranging from a church coach to fellow pastors to elders on his own council and on the OC.  And of course his exclusion from ‘executive sessions’ is on the shoulders of the whole of Classis.  Several of these people have been vociferously called out on their unchristian course of conduct toward one who has been so flagrantly mistreated.  At every turn, so many of the actors in this ghastly spectacle continue the cycle of injustice.  ST is not a person.  He is a thing.

He is a cardboard cut-out, a specimen in a jar (perhaps actually Image result for cardboard cutout star trekdead rather than alive, but since I don’t know how these people treat their pets, I can’t judge whether their animals receive better treatment as creatures than a brother in Christ).  Again, what other conclusion can you draw?  Your name is on an agenda, and your existence evokes work, superficial, unreasonable and inept though it be.  But what you say, what you write (and what therefore constitutes a record of something which should influence intelligent people’s decision-making), what you do, what you think, what you feel–is not even acknowledged to be real.  You don’t experience anything, you are conscious of nothing, and you have no voice.  Therefore you are not a person.  In the eyes of this Classis, ST is not a person.

The Classis did make a decision on September 27: ST will have to continue with the current ‘Oversight Committee’, because ‘Classis’ does not want to have to form another committee (again, more people who can’t read–they didn’t have to form another committee!!), and ‘they’ want the OC to ‘continue their work’.  Continue?  When did they start?  Again, no will, no perspective, no voice.  CIC, what part of ‘I’m done’ don’t you understand?  Was this actually Classis’ decision to make, not having all the facts?  So, now, ST knows that the OC wilfully misrepresented—i.e., lied about—him to the Classis.  And this is after ST wrote what he did to the OC about his experience with them—he put his cards on the table, expressed his concerns, and what they continue to do, unconsciously and unwittingly, is to validate his claims that they have mistreated him.  It’s so stupid.

And Classis says, ‘Keep on working with them.’  That makes sense.  It implicitly countenances sneakiness and dishonesty.  We can only conclude, after amassing and analysing all the evidence, that nastiness doesn’t make these people mad.  (See Appendix iv. and remember that ST pointed out to both the CIC and the OC the past violations of the Ninth Commandment.  Wry smile.)

So, what would YOU do for a straight answer, or for some sign of brain activity, even integrity?

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Two and a half months on, we are still no closer.  The very least some people in this drama could do is dispense with the phony piety (you know who you are!).  But with this now written out, we can move on to our Open Letter.

Appendix: some excerpts from correspondence from ST to various Classical parties.  As always, names have been altered or omitted.

Excerpt 1: the email sent by ST to the CIC on Sept. 14/15.  I may in future include portions of the attachment described.  I have altered the formatting for easier pasting and reading on the blog:

RE: Article 17 Oversight Committee

DATE: September 15, 2016

Gentlemen:

I am writing this letter after 9 months of languishing in limbo, following the dismissal from my calling church, A. CRC. This forced termination was approved by Classis NM on Tuesday, December 8, 2015.

On the night of the Special Meeting of Classis, an “Oversight Committee” was formed, comprising Rev. C, Rev. J, and Elder B. The purpose of this letter is to inform the Interim Committee of Classis NM that I will no longer be working with or interacting with this “Oversight Committee.” I will explain the decision for terminating my relationship with the Committee below. I will also propose what I hope is a constructive suggestion for moving forward in the aftermath of severing my relationship with the Oversight Committee.

I begin by pointing out that the process for enabling ministers to move on after an Article 17 separation is somewhat flawed. The Church Order instructs the Classis to form an “Oversight Committee” for the purpose of establishing whether the minister is ready, thus eligible, to take a call to another church. Under the heading, “Provisions regulating release from ministerial service in a congregation,” in the Church Order, Supplement, Article 17a, the first two entries read as follows:

a. If a classis decides a released minister needs evaluation and assistance before accepting another call, it shall specify at the time of release {emphasis S. Templar’s} what is required before the minister is declared eligible for call.

1) The classis shall appoint an oversight committee of no fewer than three persons to plan and monitor an evaluation of readiness for the ministry that focuses on professional competence and personal/emotional status. An evaluator or evaluators mutually agreed upon by the classis and the oversight committee shall conduct the evaluation. {emphasis S Templar’s} (Pastor-Church Relations is able to recommend appropriate evaluators.) Classis shall determine who is responsible for any costs of evaluation or stipulated personal counseling.

One of the flaws inherent in the above section is that the instructions to Classis about forming the Oversight Committee are too vague. Nowhere does the Church Order specify how this Committee is to be formed. In fact, the only explicit instructions given about the composition of the committee are found in subsection a, which follows 1) above:

a) The committee, composed of both laity and clergy, may include one council member of the congregation involved in the separation.

Notice, the only recommendation set forth by the Church Order about the Committee is that it is to be “composed of both laity and clergy.” Unfortunately, in the absence of more explicit instruction, Classis NM appointed the Oversight Committee for me on the night of the December 8 Classis meeting, and charged three of the same delegates who approved my termination to shift posture and become THE Committee which helps me become eligible to take a call!

There is a seeming “conflict of interest” in this arrangement. Again, three of the same delegates who approved my firing were asked, mere moments later, to “help me” in a process of readiness for ministry!

In my judgment, the members of this Committee should have been drawn from a pool of candidates who were not present at the Special Meeting of Classis. This pool of candidates could come from CRC members within the Classis, or even outside Classis NM. One ordained pastor I know stated flatly that the Oversight Committee should be “outsourced,” meaning its members should come from a different Classis. This would help to provide a greater measure of objectivity.

Moreover, the members of my Oversight Committee were not chosen on the basis of who would best be suited for the task based on giftedness or experience. As I understand it, there was no clear job description given and no time for reflection on the part of the delegates. Instead, there was a request for “volunteers” and three people put their hands up. Given the importance of monitoring the status of a released minister, it concerns me that more time and thought was not given to how this Oversight Committee was constituted.

Additionally, my character– my name– was besmirched in the December 8 Special Meeting of Classis, as well as in documents which were distributed to the delegates. The delegates present at the December 8 Classis Meeting all heard negative, critical things said about me, with no evidence presented from the other side. How unjust! Worse yet, the delegates received documents which slandered me. Actually the formal term, since it is in writing, is “libel.” But a number of false, defamatory things were said about me. In my judgment, the members of the Oversight Committee have been treating me based on what the delegates read and heard around the time of December 8, 2015.

It is important for the members of the Classis Interim Committee to understand the implications of an Article 17 separation, especially as it pertains to the status of the minister who has been released.

Note the following excerpt from Section 4, page 32, Manual For Synodical Deputies:

A minister who has been released from service to a congregation does not immediately lose ministerial status. The minister continues in good standing and is available for a call to another congregation. Because there is no disciplinary matter involved when Article 17 is employed, the council should be able in good conscience to recommend the released pastor for a call to another church (see Acts of Synod 1960, pp. 45-46). {Emphasis S. Templar’s}.

As a matter of fact, not only does a minister who has been released on the basis of Article 17 continue “in good standing,” the Article 17 charging document relevant to my separation was explicit in its assertion that there was no disciplinary matter involved:

“First, it should be noted that Pastor Simon works diligently on his sermons and is obviously scholarly in his Biblical work. Also, he has suffered much in his personal life and has done so with Godly faith and courage. Pastor Templar is certainly not accused of any moral failing. And so we can be thankful for him.”

Again, the point of presenting the material above is to establish that I was not accused of anything worthy of discipline. Nothing of a moral/ethical nature, nor any matter of doctrinal error, was a factor in my dismissal. This is an important point, because, as one of the elders who is currently on Aetna’s council has said both orally and in writing: “The pastor was treated worse than a criminal.” This elder was referring to the behavior of Classis Northern Michigan and the Church Visitors. But as I noted previously, the Oversight Committee has been treating me based on the negative, critical statements made about me last December.

As if this weren’t bad enough, the Classis and the Oversight Committee have neglected to comply with specific directives set forth by the denomination with regard to the treatment of separated ministers. The following excerpt is from Appendix C, page 51, Manual For Synodical Deputies:

If a separation does occur, it is important to recognize that there are continuing needs. . . . . The separated pastor and his/her family should not be forgotten as they leave the congregation and seek another call. The congregation and classis should covenant to provide continuing ministry and care for them, assisting in any way possible to encourage personal healing and further opportunities for ministry. {Emphasis S. Templar’s}.

Quite honestly, the above has not happened! I mentioned previously that the process used to form the Oversight Committee had contributed to a lack of objectivity about my conduct and record as a minister of the word. On several occasions, the behaviors and attitudes of Committee members indicated a bias against me. For this reason, on August 24, I gave each member of the Committee a letter in which I stated that the relationship between the Oversight Committee and me may best be described as “adversarial.”

I have attached a document which details a number of interactions I have had with this Committee over the past several months, in order to demonstrate that our relationship is neither supportive nor collegial, but adversarial. I have discussed this Committee’s treatment of me with Rev.*, — of Pastor Church Resources, Dr.**, Professor Emeritus of — at Calvin Theological Seminary, and Dr.Y, the —of the CRCNA. I have spoken with Rev.* in his office, have had lunch with Dr.Y, and am scheduled to have a conversation Dr.** on the telephone. I have also corresponded with all three of them, and have provided them with ample documentation.

They understand perfectly why I want to be “done” with this Committee, and are encouraging me to move forward as best I can. In fact, it was Rev.*, along with Dr.Y, who recommended that I connect with Dr.** to make sure that the way I sever my relationship with the Committee comports with the Church Order!

As I noted above, the attached document describes several unprofitable interactions I have had with members of the Oversight Committee, as well as questionable behaviors. A prime example of these behaviors was their contacting members of my two former churches, Covenant CRC in GL, MI, and Gateway Community Church in —, MI. It seemed beyond the scope of their mandate to fish for information in a church I served over 10 years ago, and another church where I served my Seminary Internship 18 years ago!

In this connection, Dr.** wrote the following:

“If I had been consulted by the oversight committee as to whether it would have been appropriate for its members to interview members of the Covenant CRC of GL and of Gateway Community Church of —, my response would have been that this is out of bounds. The committee should limit its work to what took place at the Aetna congregation — why it happened that further ministry became problematic — and what role you might have played in that. This is an issue of natural justice. It is for the same reason that judges in this nation’s courts often disallow evidence relating to previous allegations or proven criminal misconduct in entirely different cases.”

He also said the following with respect to my severing ties with the Oversight Committee:

“If only half of what you allege with respect to this oversight committee is true, that would still be mighty good evidence that there has been injustice and, minimally, a clear lack of caring for one who wishes to continue in his career and has demonstrated a willingness to live up to the expectations of the classis that released him from the A. CRC ministry. I think you have adequate grounds to be “done” with this committee and request the appointment of a new one or have the classis “sign off” without one. This is not working.”

I close this letter by offering a proposal for going forward. In my judgment, it would be counter-productive to appoint another Oversight Committee. This process has already dragged on for nine months, and I would personally like to expedite matters. I trust that the members of the Interim Committee, as representatives of the Classis, feel the same way and would prefer to sign off on my situation in a responsible way and be done with it.

Therefore, I recommend that the Interim Committee enlist the services of Pastor Church Resources, in particular Rev.*, along with a licensed therapist (acceptable to the Interim Committee), Rev. ***, a retired CRC minister. Rev.* and Rev.*** would collaborate using the evaluation/assessment generated by the denominationally approved [counselling group] of C—, Illinois. Based on the assessment, they would discern possible “growth areas” and make appropriate recommendations. I, in turn, would covenant with the Interim Committee and the Classis to implement these recommendations in order to be declared eligible for a call. I trust this proposal is agreeable to the Interim Committee.

Cordially,

Rev. S. Templar

Excerpt 2. An excerpt from an email sent to the Clerk of Classis on Oct.6, 2016:

To begin, I found it interesting that I was not allowed to participate in nor observe the discussion pertaining to the work of the Oversight Committee (appointed at the Special Meeting of Classis, December 8, 2015, following the approval of my termination from A. CRC) at the September 27 meeting. Nor was I allowed to participate in or observe the discussion which concerned my decision to end my relationship with the Oversight Committee.

As Clerk of Classis, and as a member of the Interim Committee, would you please explain to me the rationale for such a decision? Since the issues discussed involve me directly, and since I have a greater stake in this matter than anyone else present at the Classis meeting, I would appreciate an explanation as to why I was not permitted to be present in the so-called “Executive Session.”

It seems axiomatic that there is no “hard and fast” rule which led to this decision, given that a significant number of delegates voted to allow me to be present during the “Executive Session.” I should also point out that if anyone had negative things to say about me, it is a fundamental tenet of American jurisprudence that a defendant has the right to face his accusers. It appears that secular courts could teach Classis NM a thing or two about justice.

Finally, I am wondering: were you able to read and digest the two (2) documents I sent to the Interim Committee on September 15? I ask this question for two reasons:

1. First, it has now been three weeks since you and the other four members of the Classis Interim Committee have received the documents. And yet, apart from some brief discussion on the telephone with Rev. **, no one from the Interim Committee has responded to or interacted with my concerns in any way. In fact, for over a week, the only indication I observed from anyone that the documents had been received was from you, when you informed me that you had forwarded my e-mail to [elder member of the CIC] and [deacon member of the CIC].

2. Second, I ask this question because two members of the Interim Committee relayed to me that they had not read the documents I sent. This concerned me. So, I attempted to contact another member of the Interim Committee in order to ascertain if he had read what I sent. For some strange reason, this brother does not respond to my phone calls or my text messages. As of last week Tuesday, September 27, I have left three voice mails and sent three text messages to his cell phone. Since I have access to his wife’s e-mail address, I sent her a note on Saturday, October 2, requesting that she notify her husband of my attempts to contact him, given that there seemed to be “technical difficulties” with his phone. Oddly enough, she has not responded to me either. It’s been five days.

Can you think of any reason why a member of the Interim Committee would avoid me?

Anyway, I include all of that to ask the very pertinent question, did you read the two documents I sent to the Interim Committee? I find it troubling that members of a committee charged with deliberating my status and deciding on a course of action with respect to my “Oversight Committee” would be so negligent. How, pray tell, can the Committee do its work appropriately if its members are unwilling to apprise themselves of the data so germane to this situation?

Finally, did the Classis make any decision about my situation which may be shared with me? If so, is there a plan to convey this information to me in the near future? I would appreciate any details I can get. Surely, every aspect of these deliberations is not “Top Secret.”

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5 thoughts on “What would YOU do? pt.2.

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