Sunday, March 26, 2006

Letters to the Editor - Views From the Pews

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Church Delivers Money's Worth

AS ONE OF the 14,000 who worship at Calvary Chapel who was referred to by Greg Zanetti as a "little old woman" ... being taken advantage of financially by Skip Heitzig, I would like to respond. ... I do not regret the money which I have donated and which was given to Heitzig and his family.

If one does the math, the severance pay is a bonus of $12,000 for each year that Heitzig has served. Although I have attended Calvary for only about six of those years, I suspect that in the early years of the church those finances must have been "lean to nonexistent."

It would be interesting to know how many years Heitzig went without any financial support at all. It was also noted in the article that the Heitzigs were not furnished housing, which is a traditional benefit given by many churches.

And why is it so horrible that some of the money from the local church be used to support a worldwide radio ministry? Didn't Jesus say to go into the entire world and preach the good news?

Perhaps the reason that I attend Calvary Chapel is the reason that others do also. I want Bible study. I want to study chapter by chapter, verse by verse. I want to start with the biblical text and a teacher to expound— not a sermon with a convenient scripture as a postscript. I receive this at Calvary Chapel and, yes, I get my money's worth.



House Cleaning Is Long Overdue

THE SITUATION with Skip Heitzig at Calvary Chapel is standard operating procedure. Wide is the path and many are they who have been burned by Heitzig.

There are many casualties over the last two decades of good people who have been axed, canned or forced out simply because they crossed him. Pete Nelson is the only one who has had the guts— or perhaps more accurately, the venue— to make it public.

Franklin Graham and Calvary's current board seemed to express concerns about Nelson's leadership. I believe the problem is Nelson's "followership"— his unwillingness to blindly follow Heitzig's dictatorship. God bless Nelson. Cleansing begins with the House of God.



This Trash Isn't Front-Page News

CALVARY CHAPEL'S internal garbage is not front-page news. It does not deserve more than a brief article in the Metro section— if that.


Rio Rancho

New Congregation Also in Turmoil

IT IS DEEPLY sobering to read of all the turmoil at Calvary Chapel because of Skip Heitzig's involvement.

Hearing of this brings back painful memories of how Heitzig defiantly strutted into our church and assumed the throne under false pretenses to become the senior pastor of Ocean Hills Community Church in 2004.

He was extremely crafty at dismantling our wonderful body of believers. In less than a year, he obliterated our choir— stating that it was an antiquated form of worship— canceled all Bible studies, let go all our pastors, one of who had a wife dying of breast cancer.

He refused to meet with concerned church members, stating that they were immature. He had a Machiavellian way of squashing anyone who had a dissenting opinion. Should the old board members and old pastors of Ocean Hills Community Church speak candidly about this, I'm sure their testimony of Heitzig would be the same as Pete Nelson's.


Coto de Caza, Calif.

Heitzigs Our Own Jim, Tammy Faye

I WAS STUNNED to read on the front-page news what I personally knew was brewing at Calvary Chapel for years. I attended Calvary for close to a decade and finally left in disgust over the arrogance, lack of accountability and spendthrift ways of Skip and Lenya Heitzig.

I felt that the only difference between the Heitzigs and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker was the Heitzigs' facade of an "Orange County" lifestyle/class which seemed to be lacking in Jim and Tammy Faye. Their motives however are the same— power, greed and fame seeking, which are definitely not fruits of the spirit.

My experience with the Heitzigs was they were totally unapproachable, lived in a huge expensive home in Tanoan, drove only high-end luxury cars, jet-setted around the globe with Franklin Graham and never ceased making improvements on their Disney-esque "temple of greed" that they now call Calvary Chapel on Osuna Boulevard. ...

The allegation that Heitzig maintains control over his empire is not too far-fetched. I recall a former roommate of mine who was on staff at Calvary in the 1990s who tells that Heitzig maintained control even over where his staff lived. Addresses in the South Valley were unacceptable. ...

Now Heitzig has brought in his big gun Franklin Graham to further fuel the fear and intimidation that he so subtly yet expertly uses to control his flock. By doing this he sends the message to the Christian community that Pete Nelson is wrong and not to be trusted. What card-carrying evangelical born-again Christian is brave enough to argue with the son of Billy Graham?

I am deeply thankful that these abuses have finally come to light. Heitzig has imposed such power and fear over his people that I am deeply impressed at Nelson's brave stance to "speak the truth."

I would like to challenge the people of Calvary to investigate those independent audits to see exactly how their money is being spent. I doubt that but a handful will be courageous enough to do that.



'News' Makes Hard Process Harder

I HAVE WATCHED as the Albuquerque Journal placed report after report ... on the front page about the church that I consider my home. ...

Unfortunately, the way the Journal has handled the "news" has made an already difficult process a much more painful one. Not only do we now have to seek God's will as we search for a new pastor to lead in our church, but we also have to stand up to ridicule, anger and spite that I believe have been encouraged by the Journal.

As a member of the church (who) ... has been present at all of the services where the issues have been openly addressed, I can see that the Journal has not made ... truth its main priority when reporting the things that are currently going on at Calvary. ... It is discouraging and it is hurtful.

There are two things that I know for sure in this situation. The first is the media obviously has no sympathy in such situations and its only purpose is to exploit and feed off the stories that, of course, consumers will be interested in. ...

The second thing that I know for sure, and the reason I am writing, is that Calvary belongs to God, and that he alone has been working in the lives of the people in this church in amazing ways through Skip Heitzig and Pete Nelson as well as through the other leaders and ministers at Calvary.

I know that he will continue to work in our lives until the day he has perfected his work in us. My purpose for writing is to give hope and comfort where the Journal and others have failed to do so.

As many have mentioned in the services at Calvary, there is a time for everything, and the time now is to follow God and allow him to lead us where he may over the next few months or years. His plan is never disturbed or changed by the plans of men. We can be certain that he will work everything out for the good of those who love him. ...



Congregation Is The Real Loser

WHAT A surprise! It turns out that Calvary Chapel's wunderkind founder Skip Heitzig has feet of clay, a heart full of greed and a strong need for power and control— just like most of the other "big-church," evangelistic preachers.

Looks to me like the best indicators of a corrupt clergy are a huge church building with a "cult of personality" about the pastor or founder.

Unfortunately, the real losers in the Calvary soap opera won't be Heitzig, Pete Nelson or the church's board. They will be the members of the congregation who have given of their time and wealth to what amounts to another self-enrichment scheme.



Only God Decides Who Stays, Goes

... SHAME ON all of you. Reading the articles in the paper, I feel like I am back in fifth grade. He-said-this, he-said-that arguments are popping up everywhere. ...We need to focus on now and the future. Let's all grow up.

So Skip Heitzig received a very generous severance package. Who is to say that he did not deserve more? How many of us can say we have not only preached at one of the largest churches, but also led it? ...

To those who have started Web sites to bring back Pete Nelson, if you would take the time to think, you would know that your signatures will not bring Nelson back to Calvary. Only God has the power to do that. ...

John Ackerman is demanding that Heitzig and other board members resign immediately. Who is he and his group to demand the resignations? They do not necessarily represent the opinions or same feelings that others do. Have they spoken with the 15,000 plus members about this? ...

Why are we not setting an example by turning to the One who truly leads this church— God? ...I am a proud member of Calvary, and I am praying that people will let God choose who goes, who stays, where they go and everything else.



Actions Louder Than Preaching

THE RECENT debacle over Skip Heitzig and his Calvary Chapel is truly nauseating and difficult to comprehend. In addition to his clandestine move to greener pastures and a huge severance package, he "received cars, office furniture and radio station equipment" and the funding of his daily radio ministry to the tune of $7 million.

He and his crony Paul Saber's attempt "to transfer Calvary's two multimillion dollar radio stations to a corporation run by both of them" is indicative of a self-aggrandizing and financially ambitious mindset, not one of selfless teaching of the ways of the Lord.

It is obvious to the observer that this continuous and repeated pattern of self-serving behavior says much more about the real Heitzig and his gang than what he preaches from the pulpit. What would Jesus think?



Prayer Service Rated More Play

WHY IS IT when the "first 12 rows" of Calvary are filled— not to mention all of the other rows which were partially filled— to approach our problems with biblical standards (prayer), the story is buried in the back page of the paper?

Then, when a very small group, fronted by one individual, Greg Zanetti, raises questions about the church and doesn't follow biblical Christian guidelines regarding church problems, he is given front-page status day after day after day?

I may or may not agree with the board and pastors of Calvary, but I do know that Zanetti absolutely does not speak for me or for a majority of Calvary members.

There were many more at that prayer service than there are in Zanetti's group. To place his view on the front page and the rest of our views on a back page smacks of biased reporting or editing by the Journal.



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