Sunday, January 15, 2006

Personnel Changes in Central Region: Plan, Panic, or Pogrom - Theological Frictions Rub ABC Staff the Wrong Way

Reasons for personnel changes are notoriously difficult to discover or to explain accurately. Generally, those that know don't talk and those that talk don't know. When termination documents call for silence in exchange for continued salary or extensions of medical benefits, etc., the problem is compounded considerably. However, the recent resignation by Art Jaggard from his position as Southeast Area Minister of the ABC of the Central Region has prompted more than a little speculation by the pastors in his area. Two responses appear newsworthy, one from the ABE Message Board and one from the Beacon Churches blog.

"Fred Ansel gave a blanket order at a staff meeting that anyone who attended [the ABE event in] Lombard would be fired. I am not sure if he privately told Art specifically to cancel or resign or not. I just know the statement was made at a staff meeting of the ABCCR."

In the end, Art did not attend the Lombard gathering. He remained Area Minister for a few more months.

Why was Art Jaggard terminated from his employment with ABC/CR? No, reason has been given for the resignation. Art has no comment! Any reader can tell that he and Debbie have not found a new place of ministry --- “I feel led to be open to serving as a pastor of a local congregation.”(emphasis added) Therefore one also has to wonder if Art was fired (forced to tender resignation --- most pastors are not fired they are asked to resign!)

One might wonder at the possible reasons

* Art was the only staff member to declare the practice of homosexuality sin at the Jerusalem Council. Other ABC/CR staff spoke against the adopting of the change to the Minister’s Council Code of Ethics, which would have made homosexual practices a violation of the Minister’s Council Code of Ethics.

* The Southeast Area was in the top half of the ABC/CR per capita United Mission giving pretty regularly. The area also engaged in New Church planting and local mission. Could this have made some on staff uncomfortable? Do we have some turf protection going on in the ABC/CR?

* He pushed for open and accountable leadership from the bottom to the top. Again, was the region staff uncomfortable with being open and accountable?

* His leadership in the area brought about transformation that called for continued support of United Mission while also encouraging new channels for giving and new ways of doing mission together. There are those in leadership for whom this would cause problems --- even the leadership of a church or region can say those seven last words of a dying church “We have never done it that way before!”

* Was it Art’s encouragement of those who started the beaconchurches website? While not creating or owning the site; Art did express care for those who felt that Fred’s statement “The Bible does not condemn Homosexuality.” [was wrong]. When beaconchurches was started Art said, “The churches that can no longer trust the Central Region system are still family and we need a format for them to connect.”

It may be any, all, or none of these reasons.

Regardless of the reasons for his departure, His Barking Dog quotes Dr. Glenn Layne approvingly when he wrote,

"Art Jaggard is a staunch evangelical who seems to have crossed the wrong people in ABC of the Central Region. He writes with the dignity and honor of a man with a heart for God."

[Not representing anybody official in the PSW; just about as likely to be speaking for others as Senator Ted Kennedy would to be at a Judge Alito support rally]

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