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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Calvary Chapel Albuquerque Update

Christianity Today has just published an update on the CC ABQ situation that we've blogged about a couple of times...

Members of one of the largest churches in New Mexico are fighting to bring accountability to church elders who they believe are mishandling church property, misusing their authority, and covering up misbehavior.

Two groups formed after Pete Nelson resigned in February as senior pastor of the 14,000-member Calvary of Albuquerque, affiliated with the Calvary Chapel network of 1,300 independent churches, mostly in the West and Southwest. Nelson said he wanted "to pastor and lead a church and to be accountable to that local church." He was unable to do that with the "current structure" at Calvary of Albuquerque.

Nelson's sudden announcement on a Sunday morning took church members and staff by surprise. Nelson has not been in touch with the congregation or spoken publicly since he left. But it wasn't Nelson's disappearance that shocked them. Nelson's resignation letter, which was leaked to the press, alleged the church's former pastor Skip Heitzig was exercising behind the scenes control two years after he had left to pastor another Calvary church in California.

Heitzig had retained his position as chair of Calvary of Albuquerque's elders board, which included a significant number who did not live in Albuquerque. These were all loyal to Heitzig. According to Nelson's letter, Heitzig, as chair, forced off or blocked local church members from joining the elders board. Heitzig did not return calls requesting comment. Assistant Pastor Chris Lusko told CT, "I think there were some inaccurate facts in his resignation letter." However, he declined to comment specifically.

Heitzig attempted to place Calvary of Albuquerque under the jurisdiction of a "mega-board." That structure would permit Heitzig to manage Calvary Albuquerque, the church's two radio stations, and his Calvary church in Southern California. (The church's stations are not part of the Calvary Satellite Network, the broadcast arm of the Calvary organization.)

Under the Calvary structure, pastors and elders have little or no requirement to disclose finances or decisions to church members. At Calvary of Albuquerque, little information was disclosed publicly. The church says members who wanted information were allowed to set up private, one-on-one appointments with the pastoral staff.

Click here to read the entire article...

It just goes to show that transparency and accountability are even more important when your church grows to be large and influential.  :(


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May 10, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink

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As I see it there has to be accountability in church leadership to:
1. God first and foremost, (do nothing unbiblical)
2. Each other as leaders
3. The person in charge
4. The congregation (keep them informed of decisions and direction)
5. The community (it helps keep a good testimony)

Posted by: Andy McAdams | May 10, 2006 11:02:34 AM

I love the part where they hired a PR firm to quell the storm... Maybe we should set aside a tenth of every "Large" gift to hire 'spindoctors' for our church conflicts...

I am ranting here, but shouldn't this tell us something? PLEASE, people, drop the pretentious crap and humbly admit you messed up!

I think it is called confessing. And unlike hiring a PR firm, I do find it in Scripture.

Posted by: Jeff | May 10, 2006 12:24:18 PM

I remember worshipping one Sunday evening at Calvary Chapel ABQ back in the late 1980s...when it was still a medium sized church.

Accountability is a PRECIOUS commodity. And if Skip Heitzig is guilty of all the accusations, he has no credentials to be shepherding anyone...


Posted by: Phil Hoover-Chicago | May 10, 2006 1:25:21 PM

A new survey has just been created to gather information on Calvary Chapel leadership abuses. It can be found at http://ccsurveys.com.

Posted by: Scott Mahathey | May 11, 2006 8:38:35 PM

"Under the Calvary structure, pastors and elders have little or no requirement to disclose finances or decisions to church members. At Calvary of Albuquerque, little information was disclosed publicly."
I'm interested in what others think of an elder led church with a structure like this. Our mega church members do not assemble for even a yearly meeting, do not vote on anything, and are given very little input into the direction the church is moving. We can get financial info in one on one meetings if we ask the right questions but is that maintaining accountability? Our church claims to be biblically accurate in its form of government. What level of accountability would scripture indicate the church should provide members (and even the world)? Just wondering how others see this issue.

Posted by: Jackie | May 11, 2006 11:54:49 PM

Jackie - CCABQ is not "elder led" - their form of church govt is actually called "elder rule". Elder led is a form of congregational government - Elders are elected by the congregation and take spiritual leadering of the church. "Elder rule" churches have an elder board that perpetuates the leadership by selecting its own elders to replace or add to the board. They do not seek or need the congregation to vote on anything.
There is nothing wrong with either form. Just as there is nothing "wrong" with a presbyterian or episcopal form.
But the church needs to be consistent with its form.

Posted by: ken | May 15, 2006 11:08:22 AM

I attend Calary Chapel South Bay (pator Steve Mays) and like any church I have learned take in the good and throw away the bad,after all not all seed produces good fruit;be it as it may,if this is true I think leaders of this mega church movement should fall flat on their face and repent just as you and me should also do;causle christianity is like taking a long warm bath,it makes you relaxt and even take a napp-God help us and have mercy on sinners saved by His everlasting Love and grace.

Posted by: Tomas Espinoza | May 15, 2006 11:51:39 PM

absolute power corrupts absolutely. they have to answer to nobody, which results in absolute power. They seem to forget though, that God sees all.

Posted by: m nash | May 25, 2006 9:32:42 AM


Calvary of Albuquerque Invites Heitzig to Return

Board Responsive to Input from Audits and Congregation

Albuquerque, NM – The Calvary of Albuquerque Board of Directors Announced today that Founding Pastor Skip Heitzig accepted an invitation to return as its new and permanent Senior Pastor. The invitation and its acceptance helps to bring a close to a very public and thorough process. Since February, the Board commissioned separate audits of its financials, organization and pastoral staff as well as meeting with congregation in various private and town hall meetings. Skip will rejoin the Calvary pastoral staff by the end of July, he is currently the Senior Pastor at Ocean Hills Church.

Commenting on Skip Heitzig’s return to Albuquerque Phil Hodge, on behalf of the Board of Directors and Staff of Ocean Hills Church, announced to the congregation today, “We know that you must have a heavy heart, as we do, upon receiving today’s news. Although it will be difficult for us who love them so, we trust that you will join us as we commend them to follow God’s leading to return to the work they have not yet completed in Albuquerque. The past 2 and a half years at Ocean Hills Church has seen God’s hand at work; attendance has tripled, finances have improved dramatically to a very comfortable position with reserves, we have a fresh way of providing expository teaching of the word and a new focus on evangelism.” Phil Hodge is the President of the Board of Directors.

Interim Senior Pastor of Calvary of Albuquerque Dave Row said, "The Board is glad to report that the in unity with the pastoral staff, we welcome Skip and Lenya back to Albuquerque, and look forward to what the Lord will accomplish in the coming days. We hope the church and community will focus on our message of God's love, forgiveness and grace, that is found is Jesus Christ our Lord.”

After commissioning two audits from national accounting firm Moss Adams and a pastoral audit from Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship, and receiving input from the congregation, the Board has taken the following actions:

• Resuming the practice of having an attorney present at board meetings to advise on procedural issues.

• Increased scope of the existing finance committee to make recommendations to the board on operations at Calvary.

• New inventory and security measures are being addressed at Parchments Bookstore at Calvary.

The board has also authorized a number of other initiatives, including creation a governance and radio advisory committee, to report recommendations in those respective areas.

Interim Senior Pastor Dave Row will have a media availability Sunday at 1pm. He will take reporters questions and provide additional information to today’s announcement.

Calvary is a Christian fellowship where we gather for the purpose of knowing and glorifying Jesus Christ. We desire to see all people become committed to live as followers of Jesus Christ. As the church is growing, our vision also is growing. Consequently, we are a fellowship in the process of constant development by God.

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Posted by: sean | Jul 9, 2006 12:26:50 AM

Iwas so hurt to see EX-PASTOR ODEN FONG

Posted by: STEVE | Nov 1, 2006 4:04:11 AM

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