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, calvaryabq.org.
"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:
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.