Journal Staff Writer
Calvary Chapel of Albuquerque wants to use the next 60 days to "stabilize" itself in the wake of a recent power struggle and the resignations of several key church leaders.
The church's board of directors took the first step Tuesday by naming Dave Row as interim senior pastor.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it," Row said in an interview Wednesday.
Row takes the reins from Pete Nelson, who abruptly resigned Feb. 19. In his resignation, Nelson cited a power struggle over Calvary with church founder and longtime senior pastor Skip Heitzig, who has resigned from the church board.
Row will serve 60 days. He will assume all the duties his two predecessors took on at the 14,000-member church: taking over as president of the Calvary corporation, managing the church's staff and handling the sermons on Wednesday evenings and on Sunday mornings, as well.
John Ackerman, who has led a group calling for the resignation of all out-of-state board members, was disappointed with Tuesday's appointment.
"We believe the appointment of a senior pastor by the current board members is inappropriate," said Ackerman, former president of Public Service Company of New Mexico and a UNM professor. "This appointment should be made by a restructured local board. This is not a comment about David Row. But for that board to name someone really handicaps whoever takes that position."
Heitzig left Albuquerque in early 2004 to lead Ocean Hills Community Church in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., but remained as chairman of the megachurch's board. He announced his resignation as chairman March 8. Board members officially accepted his resignation Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Tom Garrity, a church spokesman, all but ruled out the possibility Heitzig could return to Calvary as senior pastor in 60 days.
"Skip's focus right now is on the Ocean Hills community," he said.
Also on Tuesday, California-based board member Raul Ries resigned. However, Paul Saber, of California, and Gino Geraci, of Colorado, remain on the board.
Garrity said he's not aware of any additional resignations by board members.
"Out-of-state board members provide a unique perspective and objectivity you might not otherwise get," he said. "There is some value in that."
Also during the next 60 days, financial and organizational audits will be conducted. National accounting firm Moss Adams, LLP., will audit Calvary's books. Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowships of Costa Mesa, Calif., will do the organizational audit, Garrity said.
Row, whose father and grandfather were pastors, joined the staff at Calvary in 1998. He oversaw the church's School of Ministries, which trains students for service in church ministries, until late 2004. He then took on the position of overseeing the pastoral staff. Dale Coffing will replace Row.
Row met Heitzig in 1987, when he was a congregant at Calvary, and the two have remained friends.
Row said he doesn't feel like he's filling a hot seat.
"I base that on the stability of this fellowship," he said. "There are a lot of great people here.