Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Fallout from the Fallout

Ross Parsley, acting senior pastor for New Life Church, told congregants via e-mail that he was sorry some learned about the church's latest staff resignation through the media. He also said that while New Life is all about forgiveness, that doesn't mean forgiven pastors get to keep their jobs.

"Redemption is available for every single one of us," Parsley wrote. "But redemption is not the only qualification for ministry leadership."

The letter, e-mailed to congregants this morning, addressed issues surrounding the resignation of Christopher Beard, leader of New Life's young-adult leadership program called twentyfourseven. Beard admitted to having a sexual encounter with "another unmarried adult" several years ago.

Parsley said that Beard was honest with the board investigating New Life Church's leadership, and he added that Beard's resignation was made necessary by several "remarkably poor judgment calls," of which the sexual encounter was one. Parsley said the church was treating Beard and his family with "respect and care," but he added that pastors are -- and should be -- held to higher standards.

"Grace, forgiveness, redemption, and restoration will always be hallmarks of New Life Church," he wrote. "But there will be healthy soul searching at every level. We are taking steps to ensure that New Life Church will continue to be a place worthy of the community's trust."

Here's the full text of Parsley's letter:

Dear New Life family and friends,

As events unfolded this week regarding Christopher Beard's resignation, some of you learned of this from news reports before you heard from us. I regret that this happened. Personnel issues of this nature require wisdom and sensitivity and even though we had begun to communicate with those closest to the situation, we were still working towards a general church announcement when some of you heard the news. I deeply regret that you did not first learn of this directly from us. Please know that we will do our best to communicate with you in a timely manner in the days ahead.

These are unprecedented events for our church and we are all new to this process, often figuring it out "in real time." We are dealing with media questions, privacy concerns, and timing issues with every decision. Please forgive us for putting any of you in an awkward position with our community.

As a result, I'd like to review some of the important elements that led to Christopher's decisions. After meeting with the Overseers, it became increasingly apparent to Christopher and to us that he should resign. With several remarkably poor judgment calls as context, Christopher began to realize that resignation was the best decision for himself, his family and the church. With the arrival of a new baby, he and his wife, Lisa, had been discussing possible changes in their future and these considerations, taken together, helped Christopher decide to resign.

Christopher held nothing back when he met with the Overseers and the Senior Staff. He was neither resistant, nor protective. He spoke openly about the sexual encounter that happened several years earlier and he has been truthful throughout this entire process. I respect and appreciate his honesty during this difficult time. After considering all the factors, the Overseers, the leadership team, and I concluded that it was right to accept his resignation.

In the days ahead, we all need to remember several things. (1) God is good. He loves our church family and he will continue to guide us. (2) Forgiveness is eternal. God has forgiven Christopher and we humbly forgive as we have been forgiven. (3) Gossip is always under-informed talk. It can hurt a lot of innocent people and it's just better not to gossip. (4) Healthy communications are direct. The Overseers are available through our website for any concerns you may have about this process or our staff members. (5) Redemption is available for every single one of us. But redemption is not the only qualification for ministry leadership.

Church leaders are held to a higher standard than others because the consequences are greater when that standard is violated. Leadership is mostly about modeling, but because we understand that no one is perfect, discipline must be measured with wisdom. I can assure you that we will not permit a "witch hunt" mentality to invade our church. Grace, forgiveness, redemption, and restoration will always be hallmarks of New Life Church. But there will be healthy soul searching at every level. We are taking steps to ensure that New Life Church will continue to be a place worthy of the community's trust. This is a healthy process. We invited it. We'll see it though. We'll be better for it.

The church has treated and will continue treating Christopher Beard and his family with respect and care. We will be faithful and gracious to them as we help them successfully transition to the next season of their lives. We love them and want to see them succeed.

I know this is painful. God's pruning process usually is. But it is good! Please trust this process. The Overseers are trustworthy. The Trustees are wise. The Selection Committee is working diligently. The Staff, our Elders, and Group Leaders are serving people throughout our church. As dark as this season is, we must remember the light that shined on that lowly stable in Bethlehem and follow it to that innocent and pure child who was born in adversity to save us all.

Thank you for your love and faithfulness,
Pastor Ross Parsley


Post a Comment

<< Home