Sunday, March 19, 2006

Heitzig Slams His Critics at Calvary

Friday, March 17, 2006

By Paul Logan

Journal Staff Writer

Calvary Chapel founder Skip Heitzig, saying he was betrayed, on Thursday unloaded on critics who questioned his actions as church board chairman.

Through a public relations firm, Heitzig lashed out at Pete Nelson, who resigned in February as Calvary pastor. Heitzig said his protégé deserted the 14,000-member church and left it without a pastor or plans for the transition.

Heitzig also lowered the boom on former Calvary board member Greg Zanetti and former Public Service Co. of New Mexico president John Ackerman, who attends Calvary. Both men criticized Heitzig's decisions and sought his resignation, as well as those of board members living outside New Mexico.

"I will not contribute to the creation of two camps that will divide this church I so dearly love," Heitzig said in one of nine documents posted Thursday on the Calvary Web site,

"I feel I have been betrayed in this process by men I have loved and trusted. ... I believe my communications and actions with Pete did not warrant his negligent behavior or the level of animosity from a minority of disenfranchised church members."

Nelson could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Heitzig submitted his resignation from the Albuquerque Calvary Chapel board March 8. The board has yet to act on it.

He left Albuquerque in early 2004 to lead Ocean Hills Community Church in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., but remained chairman of Calvary's board of directors.

In one of the documents posted by Tom Garrity of The Garrity Group Public Relations in Albuquerque, Heitzig listed his reactions to recent church events, including:

  • In his resignation letter, Nelson claimed he was under too much restriction by Heitzig and out-of-state board members, but Heitzig said that was not the case. "Under close examination, the facts may prove that Pete was under too little supervision," he wrote.

  • The heart of the problem surrounding Calvary Chapel, according to Heitzig, was a breakdown in relationships. "It would have been wonderful if both Pete and I were communicating frequently and openly about our feelings throughout this leadership change," he wrote.

  • "Based on the sheer volume of false or partial information released to the media and public," Heitzig wrote, "I conclude that the Bible's clear steps for conflict resolution have been repeatedly and chronically ignored."

  • Heitzig said his responsibility on the board was limited and his ultimate goal was to care for this church. "The church has been abandoned and I trust the board is doing its best to respond to meet that need," he wrote.

    Heitzig added that, twice during the months before Nelson's resignation, he had written Nelson "letters of encouragement."

    Among Calvary's Web site documents are letters Heitzig sent to Nelson Dec. 23, 2005, and Feb. 16, 2006.

    In the three-page December letter, Heitzig wrote to Nelson:

    "My continued involvement is therefore necessary and I believe has strong scriptural precedent along New Testament lines. I don't micro-manage ..."

    Later in the letter, Heitzig said:

    "As I transitioned from my pastoral ministry and my oversight responsibilities in the local church, I never intended to transition myself out of the radio ministry in New Mexico."

    In a letter to Heitzig and other board members in November 2004, then-board member Zanetti criticized Heitzig for attempting to transfer Calvary's radio operation to a separate corporation.

    "KLYT was gifted to Calvary ABQ because of my past track record in the community with reaching out to youth," Heitzig wrote to Nelson in the December letter. "The previous KLYT board added the caveat that ownership of this important asset would be transferred to Calvary ABQ since I would be its spiritual overseer."

    The Calvary board is planning to meet next week in Albuquerque to deal with Heitzig's resignation and continue discussions about a new senior pastor.

    On Thursday, about 100 Calvary members met with Ackerman and Zanetti in a question-and-answer session about the church's future.

    Journal staffer Jeff Proctor contributed to this report.


    Anonymous said...

    I have read most of the articles regarding this topic and find the one entitled “Christian Leader Supports Calvary” leaning more toward accuracy and relevance than the others. This particular article reveals the character that has flippantly been assassinated in other articles only adding more meaning to the phrase "there are those who have no interest in seeing God's work succeed, and those who do. It is easy to tell who is who by what they say."

    What is the bottom line here? The struggle of personalities? The struggle of conflicting opinions both inside and outside of the church? Will any of these exist beyond the average 70 years of life each human possesses?

    Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through Him.

    Again I say, what is the bottom line? Jesus, and Him crucified! 1John 3:17 (NKJV) And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

    Anonymous said...

    Forgive me please the passage was meant to be 1John 2:17