This morning Chairman Tom Hatley read into the public record a report from the Executive Committee of the International Mission Board regarding the "Wade Burleson Issue." The report was a blistering indictment of my personal character and integrity. I'm used to this approach in an attempt to discredit me or silence me, so I will do the only thing I know to do and give you the information as I remember it with comment. I am grateful that my wife Rachelle was present with me and these things happened in a public forum so that I can discuss them.
(1). Tom Hatley read statements from my December 10th post "Crusading Conservatives vs. Cooperating Conservatives" and said I had not repented of the things I said.
He is only partially telling the truth. I have expressed regret on multiple occasions before the Board and on this blog for the militant language of that post, but I stand by the content and facts of what I wrote. I rewrote the post toning down the rhetoric and I continue to be baffled by the refusal to quote from the new post. I would urge you to read the posts yourself and draw your own conclusions.
(2). Tom read some comments from my posts, written by other people, and held me responsible for what was said because I was the "administrator" of the post..
I have attempted to maintain a high standard on my blog site, but people must realize I try to keep an open dialogue and do not monitor or moderate comments. The quotes Tom read were not my words, but Tom felt I should be held accountable for them.
(3). Tom said that I could not be trusted because of "multiple breaches of confidentiality" and said he was not going to bring this up except for a specific breach of "confidentiality" that occurred in Monday's post.
I am usually a calm, mild mannered person. My blood pressure went through the roof on this one. I became angry. My wife patted my knee and told me to be gracious. I appreciated her counsel and I believe I was as I tell you what I did in a moment.
I knew because trustee leadership does not like what I am posting on this blog I was susceptible to this charge. They would go over everything I wrote with a fine tooth comb trying to find a "breach of confidentiality." This is why I have been fastidious to make sure I only give information that is available to the public.
What infuriated me was that, once again, charges were being made in public without ANYONE EVERY COMING TO ME IN PRIVATE. That is not only unethical, not to mention anti-Christian, it is a violation of the new policies on trustee accountablity voted on at our last meeting.
I was stunned.
(4). Tom Hatley then said he was recommending as Chairman that I not be allowed to serve on any committees of the IMB and attend any forum or Executive Session of the IMB for the next year.
He then closed his report and sought to move on with the agenda. I went to a microphone and said this, "Mr Chairman, could you please explain to me the basis for these very public charges of breach of confidentiality. This is the first I have ever heard of this. If you tell me what it is I have done, and if it is a true breach, I will repent on the spot"
The Chairman then said (the following words are my paraphrase) UPDATE: May 25, 6:00 p.m.--- It seems reporter Tammi Leadbetter either had a tape recorder in the forum or transcribed the words with shorthand so I am going with her exact quotes from Dr. Hatley and not my paraphrase: "I appreciate that and I think repentance is due, but I would not, even after revealing this, I would still not change my recommendation even with repentance because of the pattern of the breach of confidentiality demonstrated. Repentance needs to be shown by action and not just by words. Matters that were shared only in forum, not in plenary session, about the intent of the executive committee to make a recommendation and the purpose of that was mentioned on your blog. It had not been mentioned in this session, so that would be a violation of confidentiality.” Dr. Hatley never read from the blog the alleged breach, never quoted for me or others the offending words, never gave any specifics to the charge and happened to forget he mentioned "multiple" breaches without supplying me or anyone else with evidence. Policy and Scripture states that I am to be approached privately first. That never happened --- again. First it was "gossip and slander" then it became "resistance to accountability and loss of trust" and now it is morphed into "a pattern of breach(es) of confidentiality. Would some one make up us his mind?
I was clueless for a moment trying to remember what I said. Then I said, "Mr. Chairman, I don't understand, could you please explain . . . "
Dr. Hatley rudely interrupted and said, I’m sorry, you’ll have to close that microphone
I left the microphone and sat down beside Rachelle and said, "Sweeheart, was I gracious in my tone?" She said, "Of course." I said, "Was I respectful?" She said, "Absolutely." I said, "Then why in the world is the microphone shut off by the Chairman when I am trying to figure out what it is I have done."
She said wisely, "It's because they don't like what you are saying."
After The Public Session
I went up to Dr. Hatley and said, "Tom, will you please tell me the basis for your charges." He said he would not talk to me. I asked him, "How could you make such public charges and not come to me privately?" He reiterated, "I will not talk with you." Unbelievable.
I left the podium area and waited to visit with IMB attorney Matt Bristol.
Matt very graciously pointed out that the Executive Committee was upset with this paragraph from my blog on Monday, "By the way, I am grateful that the Executive Committee of the IMB is recommending that a blue ribbon panel, including people from outside the Board, take a fresh look at the appropriateness of the new policies. I have specifically chosen NOT to speak out against the new policies, and this post is not criticising the new policies at all, it is simply trying to explain why some trustees may be "hurt" by my blog."
I told Matt that I had discussed this particular course of action by the Executive Committee with Tom Hatley via phone after the EC met in Dallas. In additon, I have had several convesations with denominational leaders in Nashville, Tennesse and with other trustees about this approach in anticipation of how to deflect criticism that will be directed in full force at the IMB for the adoption of these new policies by the Convention in Greensboro.
However, Matt said that this blue ribbon panel idea was discussed in a confidential Forum and it was the first time some trustees had heard about it, and though it was the subject of considerable debate by me privately with others, and in the PUBLIC business session this morning, it was confidential prior to the public business session in the eyes of the EC.
I pointed out to Matt three things:
(1). It never dawned on me that something I had discussed for at least three weeks prior to the business session with many people was stamped "confidential" simply because it was discussed in Forum. However, to whatever extent the EC felt there was a breach of confidentiality, I am deeply sorry and would have removed the offending paragraph immediately if asked!!
(2). I then questioned why in the world nobody ever approached me privately about this offending paragraph in fulfillment of Matthew 18 and our new trustee accountability guidelines, and why my microphone was shut off when I was attempting to ask the basis of the charge. Attorney Matt Bristol said he did not know and regrets that I was not approached before the meeting. My wife wisely said to Matt, "That's not your job, it is the Chairman's." I wholeheartedly agree. Even if the meeting has to take a break for five minutes, find me and ask me personally.
(3). I asked Matt what the other breaches of confidentiality were in the eyes of the Executive Committee (who by the way are rotating off), and he said he did not know. He conjectured that the vote total for the Chairman's election published on my bog was offensive to some, but I argued that a public vote should always be made public and I received the information by just asking in the hallway.
By the Way the Debate On This Issue Needs to Occur
I think last year's Executive Committee led by Dr. Tom Hatley and the new Chairman Dr. John Floyd who was the Chairman last year of the Personnel Committee that established the new policies, are all extremely sensitive because of past, and potential further, criticism related to the two new policies within the convention.
I think Dr. Hatley's and Floyd have a great deal to be concerned about.
Why in the world are we establishing doctrinal parameters at the IMB that exceed the BFM 2000? Does every agency have the authority to determine what they will and will not believe? Can the IMB be Landmark? Can the IMB be anti-reformed? Can the IMB refuse to appoint godly conservative missionaries who affirm the BFM 2000 but don't agree with new doctrinal requirements established at the whim of trustees without support of IMB administration?
The convention better hold the IMB accountable in this area. This trustee is trying but I sure get whacked at every turn.
I will not abide by the recommendations of the Chairman and will attend Forums and/or Executive Sessions in the future. Counsel for the SBC has informed me it is illegal for a trustee to be barred from meetings at which all trustees are present. Frankly, we should abandon 90% of those meetings in order to let Southern Baptists know what is going on. Things done in the light of day are always better for organizations like ours.
There was the novel approach by Chuck McAlester from Arkansas that nobody blog about PUBLIC meetings.
Sorry Chuck, this trustee will not attend forums or Executive Sessions, but I guarantee you I will blog about what goes on at the IMB in public meetings. If the Board holds Forums next year I very well may hold a forum of my own at the same time and just get to know our missionaries a little better. Everyone is welcome and blog your heart away! :)
Way too much is at stake for the future of our Southern Baptist Convention to not discuss the issues freely.
My wife and I are going out for a little shopping trip. After this morning she deserves some attention.
Let me close with a good word about the IMB. We are doing some great things around the world! Missions is NOT suffering. My goal is to insure the next 100 years are years of cooperation, progress and world evangelism.
I will persevere.
In His Grace,