Sunday, March 05, 2006

Web Site Calls for the Return of Calvary Pastor Pete Nelson

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Albuquerque Journal

Jeff Proctor

The controversy over who should lead one of New Mexico's largest
evangelical churches has entered cyberspace.

A Web site has popped up in support of Calvary
Chapel senior pastor Pete Nelson, who resigned suddenly last month
citing a struggle with founder Skip Heitzig.

The site—— asks members of the
congregation to sign a petition "to have Pete return as Pastor in good
standing, having control over all areas previously controlled by Skip."

The petition also calls for a new board of directors
made up of church members who live in New Mexico. Currently, four of
the six board members live out of state.

The Web site does not indicate who posted it on the
Internet, but said in an e-mail response to the Journal they are
"people who have attended Calvary for several to tens of years and have
an interest in restoring it from the turmoil it is currently in."

Others have expressed support for Heitzig and
confidence in church leadership— even if they also like Nelson as

"God hasn't resigned. He is still on his throne,"
said Linda McClanahan, who, with her husband, has attended Calvary for
14 years. "We won't know every single detail of what's going on, but I
have faith that everything that will come from it will be good."

A draft copy of Nelson's resignation letter obtained
by the Journal outlined a struggle for control of the 14,000-member

Heitzig served as Calvary's senior pastor for 22
years before choosing Nelson to replace him in early 2004. Heitzig left
to lead Ocean Hills Community Church in California.

Nelson wrote that Heitzig never allowed him to
totally exercise the duties of senior pastor and that he wasn't able to
appoint his own board members, as he said was promised when he was

The letter also contended that Heitzig was using
Calvary Albuquerque's assets to finance his national ministry.

During the past week, Calvary leaders— including
Heitzig and former board member Franklin Graham, son of evangelist
Billy Graham— have sought to reassure the congregation there has been
no financial impropriety. They have said Nelson was not ready to assume
all the duties Heitzig had carried out.

On Sunday, Graham expressed support for Heitzig and
said perhaps God would lead the former pastor back to Calvary.

Associate Pastor Chip Lusko, the church's spokesman,
said Wednesday, "We hope that any conflicts that exist can be resolved
using Biblical steps." questions whether board members
appointed by Heitzig who do not live in New Mexico should be allowed to
remain on the board. Of the six board members, one lives in Albuquerque
and another in Santa Fe. The others are from out of state.

Heitzig, who lives in California, is still board

"In his last service, Pete said that this church
belongs to Jesus," one page on the site says. "However, the board
maintains its tight grip of control. Do you have any connection to
those who control your church?"

The site also asks five "poll questions." Two are
"yes or no" questions: "Are you satisfied with the board's response to
the events of the last week?" and "Do you want Pete back as pastor?"

Other questions ask members' "opinion of Calvary,"
what they hope for the church's future and their preference for board

McClanahan said she was "really sorry to see Pete
go. He's a great teacher, as is Skip."

She said she and her husband accept the church's

"In 14 years we could've found out more about the
board and how our money was being spent, but we didn't," McClanahan
said. "We trusted in what was going on. So it's not fair now to go back
and question.

"There are all different kinds of churches— some
that are more transparent— and we could have chosen one of those."

She said Heitzig's vision for a national ministry
that uses Calvary's radio stations lines up with her worldview.

"What's important to me is how many people you touch
with the Gospel," McClanahan said. "The radio programs have touched I
don't even know how many lives."

Nelson had expressed concern in his letter over
Heitzig's proposal to turn Calvary Chapel's radio assets over to a new
company Heitzig owned.

The next step for Calvary is still unclear.

Board member Paul Saber has said he expects the
board to meet during the next few weeks and that naming a new senior
pastor is the top priority.


Anonymous said...

Typical Calvary Chapel nonsense. I have yet to hear of a CC that doesnt have a rockstar, dictator for a pastor. It's because of the church government style which is totally unbiblical. With CC, you have one guy who is accountable to no one. He can fire his board at any time and hire yes-men. If you dont believe me, read Calvary Chapel Distinctives. Because Calvary pastors believe this, any dissent is met with hostility. They are God's man and you are being sinful by disagreeing with them. In the New Testament, you dont see this model at all. There is a plurality of elders. That's it. No super pastor, no archbishop, no pope. Calvary Chapels will always have these problems because their church government is flawed and unbiblical. It corrupts good men into dictators and is the cause of much abuse.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the anonymous poster. I have been a member of a Baptist church for over 10 years, and I have NEVER seen power fights in my Baptist church like I have seen at a Calvory Chapel. The Baptist denomination simply would not put up with that type of behavior. The funny thing is, the folks who like to grab power tend to put on such a friendly front. They'll be everybody's best buddy, and at the same time, grab all the control they can get over a population while takeing home a hefty paycheck. The best thing for this operation would be a disbanding and a sell-off of its assets. Then, the people left in the congregation can get a clean slate and a fresh start. In a church that teaches the proper fundamentals, of course.

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 than the others. 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

Anonymous said...


Calvary of Albuquerque Invites Heitzig to Return

Board Responsive to Input from Audits and Congregation

Albuquerque, NM – The Calvary of Albuquerque Board of Directors Announced today that Founding Pastor Skip Heitzig accepted an invitation to return as its new and permanent Senior Pastor. The invitation and its acceptance helps to bring a close to a very public and thorough process. Since February, the Board commissioned separate audits of its financials, organization and pastoral staff as well as meeting with congregation in various private and town hall meetings. Skip will rejoin the Calvary pastoral staff by the end of July, he is currently the Senior Pastor at Ocean Hills Church.

Commenting on Skip Heitzig’s return to Albuquerque Phil Hodge, on behalf of the Board of Directors and Staff of Ocean Hills Church, announced to the congregation today, “We know that you must have a heavy heart, as we do, upon receiving today’s news. Although it will be difficult for us who love them so, we trust that you will join us as we commend them to follow God’s leading to return to the work they have not yet completed in Albuquerque. The past 2 and a half years at Ocean Hills Church has seen God’s hand at work; attendance has tripled, finances have improved dramatically to a very comfortable position with reserves, we have a fresh way of providing expository teaching of the word and a new focus on evangelism.” Phil Hodge is the President of the Board of Directors.

Interim Senior Pastor of Calvary of Albuquerque Dave Row said, "The Board is glad to report that the in unity with the pastoral staff, we welcome Skip and Lenya back to Albuquerque, and look forward to what the Lord will accomplish in the coming days. We hope the church and community will focus on our message of God's love, forgiveness and grace, that is found is Jesus Christ our Lord.”

After commissioning two audits from national accounting firm Moss Adams and a pastoral audit from Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship, and receiving input from the congregation, the Board has taken the following actions:

• Resuming the practice of having an attorney present at board meetings to advise on procedural issues.

• Increased scope of the existing finance committee to make recommendations to the board on operations at Calvary.

• New inventory and security measures are being addressed at Parchments Bookstore at Calvary.

The board has also authorized a number of other initiatives, including creation a governance and radio advisory committee, to report recommendations in those respective areas.

Interim Senior Pastor Dave Row will have a media availability Sunday at 1pm. He will take reporters questions and provide additional information to today’s announcement.

Calvary is a Christian fellowship where we gather for the purpose of knowing and glorifying Jesus Christ. We desire to see all people become committed to live as followers of Jesus Christ. As the church is growing, our vision also is growing. Consequently, we are a fellowship in the process of constant development by God.

Anonymous said...

I belonged to Calvary Chapel San Diego for 13 years and loved my pastor Bryan Newberry. It was there I met Pete and Angie. They were a really neat couple and Pete was leading up the youth group.

However, I have now been a part of a Baptist Church for 4 years and I must say it took a little while to get used to it, but I really love the way it is set up. I think it is much more healthy and avoids a "one man show" where pride can creep in as it is our sin nature.

I pray that CA can be healed and that the Lord would protect Pete and Angie where ever they go. Also I pray for Skip to make wise decisions based on what the Lord wants.

Blessings From a Former CCer and now a blessed Baptist.