It has been reported that the North American Division is seeking information and probing into management of certain Andrews University students sent to Southwest Region Conference for a theological practicum for accredited completion of their university graduate work. These students were sent under the care of Pastor James Cox, Faith Temple SDA Church. Amongst the many complaints in leadership, students reported certain alleged abuses and mismanagement that resulted in what some would report embarrassing treatment of God’s chosen, ministers called to lead and pastor in our faith. Students reported that they were placed in such dyer straights that they had to sleep on the floor in less accommodating or appropriate conditions.
This particular class is a required accredited course for students to graduate within the program. Reports are surfacing that students were not allowed to seek opportunities to preach at other churches and network on their own behalf due to certain restrictions that Pastor Cox had placed on them as it related to appropriate communication with pastoral ministers within the conference. Sources say that students did not feel that they were adequately prepared or trained for field work and that the course did not meet their expectations. Sources also report that they shared deep concern of the conditions that they were subjected by the leadership under Pastor Cox.
Funds were provided to the host church and pastor to supplement the accommodation requirements of room and board for these theological students. It has been reported that inquiries have been made on exactly how services were rendered to these students and perhaps why such complaints would be lodged, as the funds provided should have adequately provided for their care. Pastor Cox has asked not to receive communication from this blog, otherwise a request for comment would be submitted. I welcome any clarification to this matter as it is of great concern to many constituents. I have received multiple requests by sources to share this matter with constituents.
The potential idea that students would be mistreated on representation of this conference is apprehensible and requires elaboration. It is an honor that Andrews University, one of our oldest institutions in this faith responsible for the global plantation of so many SDA ministers around the world, would choose our conference to host such a course. Are they now saying….Et tu Brute before they get a pulpit of their own?
My question to constituents is, when is enough….Enough? For the last twenty years we have watched the corporate home in Dallas of our beloved conference dominated by a select few of leaders. These few are responsible for influencing the dramatic movement of pastoral leadership, apparent financial blunders in property management, and a host of political cliques that seem to change as they see fit. It is reported, the “rat pack” is currently recruiting for the next election. How can we continue to support an administration that is fearful of the power and influence of this power network of pastoral leadership in the Dallas area? Do they not realize that their influence impacts more regions than just their church? Are they too focused on holding on to their positions in these key areas in an effort to prevent being moved? They serve and influence multiple committees such as executive, personnel, and the new “ad hoc” committee that most ministers outside of the “clique” do not seem to understand. A perfect example would be a clear conflict of interest held by the current ministerial director.
Pastor Gordon Jones, Ministerial Director for SWRC is currently serving as pastor for the Alpha SDA Church located in Austin, TX. It is reported that Pastor Jones requested to continue to serve as full-time pastor while also serving as full time ministerial director. One would ask why might this be a problem, this makes economical sense. The issue rests with the fact that Pastor Jones is also a voting member on the Executive Committee, as the pastor of Alpha. How can the ministerial director, a position designated in advocacy for pastors also have a vote on the committee? He is allowed to vote on matters that impact pastoral decisions when his primary role as ministerial director is clearly stated in our bylaws to have no vote. This is achieved due to his representation of the Austin area churches as pastor. He holds on to this position as a vote and influence on the committee. It is reported that he is predominately responsible for the massive moves and recommendations that have left many pastors abruptly relocated. How can pastors look to him as their advocate and spiritual leader when he has grave influence on their livelihood and futures? How can he serve two masters?
How could our conference have allowed such alleged abuses to Andrews’s students, when reports are surfacing that these complaints did surface to the desk of the president and were ignored. Well…it’s the four letter word, the elephant in the room wearing polka dots, FEAR. Our leaders are barely hanging on to their jobs and positions; they don’t want to throw rocks in a pond that they hope will remain still come elections in next September. Meanwhile, we are doomed to sit back and take these overt abuses of power and manipulative tactics to keep a minimal few leaders happy.
That’s the cold hard reality knocking us over the head every time we place a dollar in that gold plate every Sabbath. When will the executive committee step forward, set these wrongs right? Must we be on the cover of TIME magazine or in the news cycle of CNN before someone does something? Will it take a catastrophe before we wake up and realize that we do have the power to impact change NOW if we so choose? You decide.
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