Over a year ago when trustee leadership of the IMB went behind closed doors to make a recommendation that I be removed from the Board for 'gossip and slander,' I was stunned because nobody in leadership had given me the courtesy of a phone call, personal conversation, or even a short, 'Wade, I think you should know this is what I intend to do and why I intend to do it.' I was completely and absolutely blindsided. Of course, the recommendation was unanimously rescinded at the very next trustee meeting, but what still confuses me is why no brother in Christ ever approached me to talk with me about such drastic action. You would think brothers would do everything to communicate with brothers about any offense they may have.
The only analogy that seems appropriate to describe my experience in January of 2006 was that of 'being run over by a freight train.' I have made it no secret that I made a vow last winter that if I came across anyone in the SBC who had been mistreated, slandered, or abused by people in positions of power I would do everything I could to help the person who was 'run over by the proverbial freight train.' Dwight McKissic and I developed a friendship after I heard what happened to him because of a message he preached in chapel at SWBTS. There are a few who have tried to say that Dwight and I were friends before he preached the message, but both he and I know the truth, and those who say I put him up to preach that message to help missionary candidates who have a private prayer language are revealing their own lack of integrity by asserting as fact something Dwight and I both know is not true. However, I am now proud to call Dwight a friend.
One of these days I will tell people how I came to help Sheri Klouda, the former professor of Hebrew at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was purely accidental (I would call it providential), and my contact with her that eventually led her to share a heart-wrenching story that spurred me to action seems to me to be a direct intervention by the Holy Spirit. No other person was involved but Sheri and me. In fact, it took me a while to find her in Indiana. Once I heard her story, I knew that I must do something to help her. We currently have raised and forwarded nearly $5,000 to Dr. Klouda to assist her family as they make their way through some difficult financial problems due to the unexpected and unfunded relocation, the difficult hardship of not being able to sell her home in Texas, and the struggle of Sheri's husband not being able to work. I want to publicly thank all those who have contributed.
However, what baffles me about the Klouda situation is the absolute lack of willingness for anyone responsible to talk with me about my offense with the way Sheri, her husband , and her daughter have been treated. Prior to making the post public I emailed the full transcript to Dr. Paige Patterson's office and asked him to read it, correct any factual errors (if any), or dispute the document itself. I also called and left my private cell number. In addition, several weeks prior to publishing the post I went by Dr. Patterson's office to meet with him personally. He was unavailable, so I left my private cell phone number. I never heard from him. I have now called his office five times, three prior to the Klouda post, and two after the Klouda post, and he has yet to call me. I have called Dr. David Allen, Dean of Students, twice and asked him to call me. I have never heard from him. I was told by a friend of mine that a SWBTS trustee called him to get me to 'back off.' I immediately called this trustee to visit with him personally. He was not available so I left my number and I have yet to hear from him. I have called Dr. Van McClain's office twice and he has not returned my phone calls. Dr. McClain, Chairman of the SWBTS Board of Trustees did email me a response back to my request to see the minutes of the business meeting where Sheri was hired. He refused until after the April 2007 SWBTS Board Meeting, and only then 'conditioned upon any action taken by the trustees.' He had earlier told the Dallas Morning News that the vote to hire Klouda was not unanimous and that fact was the 'inaccuracy' in my post. I believe the record will show it was unanimous, but it is very frustrating to not be allowed to see the very document that will prove the veracity of my post. Frankly, the practice of freezing minutes ought to send a chill down every Southern Baptists spine. Of course, if the record shows I am wrong, I will apologize for the error, but I find it interesting that the vote total for hiring Dr. Klouda was an insignificant fact in the Klouda post -- yet it was the only fact in the Klouda postdisputed by the one man who said the post was inaccurate.
There are three SWBTS trustees who have visited with me about Dr. Klouda, but all three did not even know who Sheri was, or that she had been an employee of SWBTS. In addition, all three initiated contact with me after I had made repeated attempts to contact people responsible. These three trsutees told me they were not informed enough to answer any questions, but looked forward to getting appropriate information themselves, and simply called to get some information from me. Those who are able to resolve this situation in terms of knowledge and action are not talking.
My purpose for persistence in calling the men who are either responsible for the Klouda removal at SWBTS or have the answers for why she was denied the opportunity for tenure review and defense is to offer a solution to the problem. It seemed to me that a couple of very concrete and specific steps could be taken to resolve the situation with Sheri Klouda and her family that would give the Kloudas a sense that an injustice had been corrected, as well as an opportunity for the President of SWBTS to change the direction and policies of SWBTS so that his desires could be implemented without subverting the current trustee approved policies and procedures for faculty tenure.
However, I am now washing my hands of this matter. There will be no more calls or attempts at resolving this matter with administration or trustees. I can only chuckle when people say that the 'proper process' has been bypassed when it comes to the Klouda issue. The process only works when brothers in Christ are willing to talk. I will continue to help Sheri and her family. If I hear of another person who is being mistreated by any political 'machine' in the SBC, I will do what I can to help. If people ask, "Where were you five years ago?" or any other questions that pertain to why I have not helped people prior to 2006, my response is this: I had absolutely no undestanding of relevant issues prior to January 2006. Now I do.
Those who may disagree with me on the issues are my brothers. I am not even asking them to agree or even see things the way I do. Just talk. Just dialogue. Tell me where I am wrong. Show me where I don't have it right. I can learn, but I also don't give up on correcting a wrong until I have good answers and either see the error of my ways, or find a good solution to the problem. And by the way, good solutions give me confidence in leadership and I will do everything in my power to keep good leadership in charge of our institutions.
When SBC brothers refuse to talk to SBC brothers, then it could be that someone other than family might have to intervene to resolve the offense. If, or when, that happens the only people who should be blamed are those brothers who refused to talk.
In His Grace,