Friday, November 23, 2007

Heitzig Says He's Sorry; Controversial pastor apologizes if leadership style hurt anyone

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

June 25, 2006 Sunday

Heitzig Says He's Sorry; Controversial pastor apologizes if leadership style hurt anyone

BYLINE: JEFF PROCTOR Journal Staff Writer


LENGTH: 629 words

Calvary Chapel Albuquerque founder Skip Heitzig on Saturday apologized to the congregation for his role in a highly publicized struggle for control of the megachurch that eventually led to his resignation from its board of directors.

"If my leadership style has hurt any of you or pained any of you, I apologize deeply," Heitzig said from the Calvary pulpit, from where he was giving an evening sermon as a guest speaker. "This has never been Skip's church. This has always been and will remain the Lord's church."

A man in the congregation stood up and shouted, "Thanks for apologizing, Skip," after Heitzig's remarks.

Meanwhile, speculation on Internet Web logs and with church insiders has swirled since Heitzig's resignation in March that he may return as senior pastor - a post he held since founding Calvary in the mid-1980s until early 2004.

"Skip is a candidate by virtue of the fact that he is the founding pastor," Chip Lusko, a Calvary pastor and spokesman said Saturday evening. "But that is a board decision and not for me to comment on."

None of the board members was available for comment Saturday; neither was Heitzig.

However, with the completion of three audits that looked at Calvary's finances and organizational methods, the board "will proceed with its search for a senior pastor," Lusko said.

"There will be a church meeting (tonight) and we will present the audits to the church body. And from there, we will move forward."

Dave Row has served as interim senior pastor since March 22. The appointment was to last 60 days.

Pete Nelson, Heitzig's handpicked successor, stunned the congregation by resigning Feb. 19. Neither he nor other Calvary leaders would say why he was leaving.

But a power struggle became public when the Journal obtained a copy of Nelson's resignation letter that outlined a list of grievances against Heitzig and the board.

The controversy came to a head in March when a group of church members asked that Heitzig and other out-of-state board members resign. The group also sought more transparency in financial and personnel dealings.

Since then, Heitzig and two other out-of-state directors - Paul Saber and Raul Ries - have stepped down. Gino Geraci, who also lives out of state, remains on the board.

Heitzig has appeared as a guest speaker at least twice since his resignation in March, Lusko said. Heitzig conducted a communion service June 14 and will take the pulpit this morning for two services.

"One of the reasons I came (Wednesday) and tonight was because many of you have said, 'You have been silent the last few months. Where have you been?' '' Heitzig said to the congregation. "I do trust the local leadership here ... the pastoral staff ... the board.

"I resigned from the board of directors here to give them a chance to go through a process. I wanted to step out of the scene because of the media flurry you were getting hammered with."

After Heitzig's sermon, which focused on the Bible verse John 3:16, church members had mixed reactions about his return.

"I was very glad to see him here tonight," said Mark Mesilla, 45, of Placitas, who has attended Calvary since 1999. "In fact, I have been hoping and praying and checking the (church) Web site to see if he was listed as a guest speaker.

"I really hope this is a sign of things to come. Yes, I do hope he returns on a permanent basis."

Marleen Gutierrez, 66, of Albuquerque, had a different take.

"I didn't know (Heitzig) was going to be here tonight, and, frankly, I wouldn't have come had I known," she said. "I don't like the way he treated Pete or his secrecy. That is not at the heart of what this place is supposed to be about.

"I have come here and tithed faithfully since 1996, and that certainly will not continue should Skip Heitzig be back here as senior pastor."

LOAD-DATE: June 25, 2006


GRAPHIC: GREG SORBER/JOURNAL On Saturday night, Skip Heitzig returned to Calvary Chapel Albuquerque as a guest speaker. Heitzig will also be a guest speaker for today's services.


Copyright 2006 Albuquerque Journal

No comments: