Journal Staff Writer
The Calvary Chapel board of directors on Tuesday accepted the resignations of founder Skip Heitzig and Californiabased board member Raul Ries.
The board selected an interim senior pastor - to replace Pete Nelson, who resigned Feb. 19 - but did not say who it was.
"They were very adamant to make sure that the staff and congregation heard it first from them, rather than reading it in the newspaper," said Tom Garrity, who has been hired by
Heitzig announced March 8 that he was stepping down from the board in an attempt to "defuse" escalating tension within the church.
Heitzig, who served as chairman for 22 years, has continued to leave open the possibility he might return to
He also said, in a telephone interview from
John Ackerman, who was part of a group of churchgoers who asked for Heitzig and other out-of-state board member to resign, said Tuesday's actions were the first step in a transition.
"Calvary Chapel Albuquerque cannot move forward towards ultimate healing until the other out-of-state directors also resign," he said. "I would say we're disappointed because the resignations of all of the out-of-state directors did not occur at this meeting. Let's see what they come up with tomorrow."
In a statement released Tuesday, Heitzig said: "I have respectfully resigned from the board of Calvary Albuquerque after serving for 25 years and I want you to be aware of and understand the factors that led to my resignation. Some have mistakenly thought that doing so was an admission of wrongdoing. Such is not the case. Rather, I wanted to make a strong statement on one hand and on the other hand to give the church a hiatus from the media frenzy that has placed it in the spotlight before the unbelieving world."
Nelson, Heitzig's handpicked successor as senior pastor, resigned abruptly, and neither he nor
A struggle for control came into public focus when the Journal obtained a copy of Nelson's resignation letter that outlined a list of grievances against Heitzig and the board. Nelson wrote that Heitzig did not allow him to appoint his own board members or to exercise autonomy as senior pastor.
The controversy came to a head the first week of March when Ackerman's group demanded that Heitzig and the other out-of-state directors resign.
Ackerman, former president of Public Service Company of
The board on Tuesday released a statement saying Heitzig's resignation was "a concession to a group of local dissenters who assured him the media frenzy they helped create would cease."
Currently on the board are: Gino Geraci, Paul Saber, Paul Scozzafava, John Fidel and Michael Rosenblum. Geraci and Saber live out of state. Scozzafava lives in
In his resignation letter, Ries thanked the board "for allowing me to serve as a member of the board for the past few years. My intention has always been to help Calvary Chapel Albuquerque as well as Pastor Skip Heitzig through the transition period" of Ocean Hills and
He cited "many ministry responsibilities" at Calvary Chapel Golden Springs in
Disagreement over how Calvary Albuquerque was run had been simmering behind the scenes for more than a year.
In November 2004, thenboard member Greg Zanetti wrote a pointed letter to church leaders detailing some of the same concerns Nelson would raise more than a year later.
According to Zanetti's letter, Heitzig stacked the board with his friends - none of whom lived in
Heitzig has said that it was Nelson who asked Zanetti to step down. Nelson, Zanetti and Ackerman's group all have questioned whether non-local board members serve
Zanetti said Heitzig promised him in a March 8 conversation that Heitzig and the other outof-state directors would resign.
Heitzig told the Journal that same day that he wasn't clear on the others' resignations, and that he needed to speak with Zanetti again on the matter.
Zanetti said Heitzig did not return telephone calls or emails until last week.
Heitzig has said that his future involvement at the church would be up to the pastoral staff, made up of
"I serve at their convenience," he said.
He said that in his March 8 conversation with Zanetti, the possibility was left open that Heitzig could return to