{update} As the Conflict at Park Street Church Deepens, Church Leaders Appear to Adopt an “Us versus Them” Position While Pastor Booker’s Credentials Are Still Not Released Publicly

Park Street Church 2014: Wikipedia

“If we see the world as US versus THEM, we can convince ourselves that US is better than THEM,” said Coach Kim Giles.


Update: MY cut and paste of the open letter repeated a line in the second paragraph. I have deleted it. Special thanks to a reader.


This post may help readers who have been involved in brutal church conflicts. In my situation, the church leadership treated us as if we were the “enemy.” We became “them,” a word equated with “bad” and “evil. “If I remember correctly, the word “Satan” was also thrown around ad-lib. At the time, they had no idea they were participating in a learning lab God had designed for me. And I learned; did I ever learn!

I am preaching to many in the choir. You have been there. You thought the church would behave differently, but the leaders screwed up (another phrase for sin.)You believed they would understand or, at the very least, show that they loved you. Many of you walked away from the church when you were treated poorly, and I get it. So does God.

The problem with “trusting the leadership’ meme.

My immersion in my Lutheran church clarified the problem. Luther emphasized that we are simultaneously ‘saints’ and ‘sinners.’ The pastors underline that they are sinners, just as we all are. In other words, thinking that leaders are sinners is not sinful. They are capable of screwing up the functions of a church. In this blog, we have shown churches that covered up sexual abuse, participated in unjust church discipline, played games with spiritually sounding words such as ‘gossip,’ pushed an authoritarian form of church leadership, and caused church dissolution. Those who questioned what was going on were told to trust the leaders in every one of these situations. Elders, who we have shown are often chosen to be “yes” men and women for the pastors’ agenda, have frequently shirked their godly responsibility.

Knowing that we are all sinners, elders, and leaders should welcome and encourage as many viewpoints as possible. Why is their response, in our articles, to prepare for war? The reasons are myriad but always differ from loving or showing kindness. Many elders are leaders of industry or respected professionals. We rarely see the local mail deliverer on elder boards because of general disbelief that God might speak through someone different than a well-known local attorney or doctor who knows they are leaders because well, they just are.

My objective is clear. We are ALL sinners, and unquestioningly trusting others is not wise. I bet we spend more time trying to figure out if we can trust the guy who is gutting our bathrooms than we do for the elders who are presented as the ones for whom we should vote.

Let’s look at a few things bound to cause comments from those who have been through church conflict.

Pastor Booker and the elders seem strangely reluctant to release his actual credentials. Frankly, this is getting a bit bizarre.

There is no reasonable reason for these documents to be withheld. If they are adequate, all questioning will disappear. Why do I need to explain this to church leaders?  Or is there something they don’t want the pewsitters to know? Do they see how this hurts the church? For example, I have an MBA from the University of Rochester. Please go and check it out. See how easy that is?

It is time for this nonsense to stop. If it doesn’t end soon, I believe that will be sufficient proof for me to think that Dr. Booker’s academic background is being misrepresented. I won’t care if I am eventually proven wrong. I will say I was wrong. This is gamesmanship and is unbecoming in light of PSC’s history of brilliant pastors/theologians.

A letter to Dee that gives an insight into the minds of the leaders of PSC.

I never get it when someone in a leadership position in a church writes a poorly thought-out letter to me. I have been doing this for 15 years. At the minimum, they should know that I have heard it all. Due to my confidentiality policy, I will protect this person’s identity, especially for first-time contact. However, I know they are involved in PSC leadership- really involved. I will post the letter, my response, and their response.

The leader’s first letter to me.

This letter is written in its entirety with no changes except to delete personal information at the beginning and end of the letter. Please see if you can spot the problems. I will post my response, which does not point out the many issues exposed by this letter. I would assume that church leadership will read this, so your comments and observations are important. The individual gave me contact information, which I have also not included.

Hello Dee,

I was just made aware today of your blog about our church.

Are Park Street Church Leaders Attempting to Destroy the Reputations of Those Who Aren’t Yes Men/Women?

You have only one side of this very difficult issue.  You are hearing from the side that has the most words out there in print.  This side is seeking to disparage the reputation of our senior pastor.  The sheer volume of material that they are putting into a rogue website is mind-boggling (and I don’t mean your website; I mean a rogue website that they call parkstreetpetition.com).  The elders, personnel committee, and a multitude of mature lay people in our church are not getting involved in this childish rant.  There is so much false information and gossiping out there.

It sounds like you actually want to seek to bring down the evil in this world, as you have brought down sexual predators, etc.
What you are doing here is wrong.  You are giving a voice to the very loud and dysfunctional group of people that don’t seek the peace of our church.   I find your words uninformed and sharp-tongued in tone.  Satan likes this kind of discourse, to inspire people to hate each other.

I’m surprised that you think it’s okay to give such a slanted view.  I’m happy to have a phone call with you, to give you a bit of my perspective, but I am not interested in having my words written in your blog.  I’m afraid of being slandered, misquoted, or attacked by you.

Thank you for reading.

My response to the writer

Yikes. I need to point something out. Do you notice how they assume that they might be slandered, misquoted, and attacked by me? This shows a basic understanding that I am a sinner, which is smart. They don’t know me.  However, when applied to the leadership by members, this understanding now shifts to “Trust me, I’m a pastor or elder.”

Sadly, your note to me leads me to believe that the Petition folks may have a point of view that needs to be discussed.  Let me point out the problems in your note. I have 15 years of experience in dealing with church dysfunction. PSC now has a seriously dysfunctional church and that one falls on the current leaders. That is where the blame properly belongs. Yet, it appears that the leadership is trying to place the blame outside of themselves.

Your equate the people on your side of the issue as “mature.” You portray the other side as “dysfunctional.” This is indicative of the circling of the wagons by portraying the other side as having a psychiatric issue (dysfunctional.) I assume you are not a board certified psychiatrist. Or, if you are , have not done a careful psychological profile that allows you to use such language. Don’t say that.

You  say the “mature people” are a. staying above the fray by being silent. But the other side is involved in “childish rants.” Again, as the self-identified “mature’ person, you should begin a process of self-assessment. In my church world, the “mature” leaders would convey love and understanding to their brothers and sisters who are obviously concerned and upset.  Where is your love and understanding? Why are you the one who is mature? Why are they the childish ones?

Then you use the typical and tiring trope that brings “Satan” into your mix. Do you know that some of the most uneducated, unlearned people use this argument in Christian disagreements. It is akin to the secular folks who bring up “Hitler” to paint their opposition. “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law” It looks like Satan is the evangelical answer…

Why is the opposition a “rogue” website? It appears that the folks are utilizing the bylaws, etc. to speak what they believe to be true. As a Christian church, I would assume you would want this to be discussed as opposed to being deep-sixed which would cause even more problems in the future.

For example, for the life of me I cannot imagine why the pastor will not post his education diplomas, etc. This is PSC, for goodness sake! It is the home of brilliant expositions of Scripture by some of the most learned pastors on the planet. I know. I was educated at the church. Pastor Booker MUST prove his educational background to those who question it. I have never seen anyone who is doing so much to not “discuss” his background. He may be exactly who he claims to be. Then again, he may not. There is a reason he is refusing and it sounds more and more suspicious. If hiss education is fine, release it and get it over with.

Why would you think I would want to call you after your poorly thought out letter? I am not surprised that you think your words might cause you to be embarrassed. BTW, do you know what “slander” means? It is often use by some religious folks to complain that their words are being challenged.

I will keep your identity confidential. However, your words, without identifiers, will be discussed. I am aware of who you and your husband are. I am disappointed at the unchristian like perspective you have portrayed. I thought leaders like yourself at PSC which, until now, I viewed as the measure with which I measured all, would do better.

Where is the love? Why are you going to war? You didn’t say one thoughtful thing about those who disagree with you. I can assure you that your “opponents” have done better in their discussions with me. They pray for you.

It is now evident to me that something more than a simple church disagreement is afoot. PSC has an excellent infrastructure and history. Be careful. In today’s evangelical wilderness, such churches become targets for takeover. If you don’t know to what I refer, Google ‘McLean Bible Church.’

I will pray that the Lord will lead all to a solution that honors ALL members and concerns. This is a church, after all, not Chick-Fil-A.

Finally, if you had really wanted to speak to me, as opposed to writing this screed, here’s how it could be done.

Hey Dee,
There is lots of pain at this time. I would like to speak with you as transparently as possible. I love those who disagree with my POV and I hope they know that. I will try, as kindly as possible,    to explain my thoughts to you.
In His love and mercy,

Instead, I am now beginning to understand that there is significant anger and unloving thoughts and actions on your part. This is worrisome.

If you wish to give me a call, email me and I will give you my number as well.

In the name of the One who is Love
Dee

Do you see what I see, or do you disagree?

Here is their response.

Dee,

Wow, I feel properly slapped.

You are right in so many ways about how my words could be taken.

I could surely have had a more humble tone.

Please call me.  I am available today up until 4pm.  Tomorrow all afternoon, Monday a lot of the day.

My thoughts on the response.

They got the fact that they screwed up, but I’m not sure how much. They respond by saying they could be more humble. I believe the word ‘humble’ is overused by leaders in the church when they discuss their ministry. It is often paired with the term ‘humble shepherd.’ Sadly, in my experience, that term is an oxymoron.

I wanted to hear them say they loved the members who disagreed and prayed for them. You see, the other side has often discussed their prayers for the pastors and leaders. They frequently speak of their love for the church and the people.

Folks, I’m concerned. Something is missing here. Remember that as you read this following letter from the church.

The Open Letter to the Park Streer Church Community: Assess the letter.

I have highlighted just a few statements that stood out to me.

PSC folks, I have been doing this for 15 years; I’ve read more letters from churches and church members than you can imagine. Seeing what stands out to me as one who loved and attended this church as a new Christian might be worth it. I do not want to observe things going the way of many other churches.

7 February 2024 An Open Letter to the Park Street Church Community

Over the last six months, we have grieved as our community has been divided. Decisions made by church leadership, both past and present, and the subsequent reactions by some in the congregation, have led to the intense division and painful situation which we now face. Because there has largely been just one public response, intensely critical of Mark Booker’s ministry and the Elder’s leadership, we feel a burden to offer an alternate perspective.

We affirm that Mark has been called by the congregation to be the Senior Minister of Park Street Church and that we greatly desire to continue under his spiritual and organizational leadership. We trust that the allegations made against Mark were fully and appropriately investigated by the Board, weighed, and accordingly found to be not disqualifying for pastoral ministry. While Mark has identified places he can grow as a leader, we believe he has the spiritual maturity, godly character, and requisite qualifications to lead our congregation well. By God’s grace, Park Street has borne much fruit under Mark’s leadership, and we believe it will continue to do so for many years to come.

We affirm that the congregation has called and elected the Board of Elders to wrestle with and make difficult decisions on our behalf. We recognize that the burden of leadership is considerable and there are many facts and details that our Elders and officers of the church cannot disclose publicly due to privacy and legal obligations. Even when we don’t agree with or understand every decision that has been reached, or we desire for more information, we respect the Board’s authority to make those decisions while seeking the Lord for wisdom and discernment.

We appreciate other lay leaders and officers of the church (the Nominating Committee, Personnel Committee, Clerk, Treasurer, Missions Treasurer, and Assistant Treasurer) who have worked to fulfill their duties with grace and integrity despite extraordinary circumstances.

We are grateful to the church staff who have continued to be on mission for the Lord and shepherd the congregation well during this disruptive time, even as they have experienced pain and anger themselves.

To those who are angry, hurt, or confused, we are praying for healing and restoration and will seek to extend the right hand of fellowship, even as we may disagree on the issues at hand or how the church might best respond.

Our church is facing serious problems, both internally and externally, that the Lord alone can solve. We trust that He is working in and through our congregational form of governance and pray that His will be done at the upcoming Annual Meeting. We exhort every person at Park Street to faithfully strive toward peace, submit to one another in love, speak to each other with gentleness, and pursue Jesus above all.

By signing this letter, I affirm that I am currently an active member or attendee of Park Street Church.

Do the folks who wrote this letter think they are helping the cause? I will give them this. They have effectively divided the congregation into “us versus them.’ This mimics the note I got from the above-unnamed individual.

The letter writer wrote a “kiss the butt” letter. I guess the leadership knows who wrote this letter or, at the minimum, can figure out who wrote it. That individual(s) attempted to do more than show they are good little followers. I’m not so sure they did.

Grieve…”We grieve.”

Am I the only one tired of the same old phrases that scream churchianity? I doubt highly the writer(s) really grieve. Visit the oncology ward of your local pediatric hospital. There, you will find genuine grief. I know, my daughter was once a patient on one. I would be curious to understand the genuine emotions under the surface. Anger, fear, frustration, etc.?

Criticism by one side only.  “public response, intensely critical of Mark Booker’s ministry and the Elder’s leadership.”

As an outsider, I think there are several differing responses: Dr Balboni, the Petition group, and others. Perhaps there are more. I think there may be more than “one side.” A few reactions may be categorized as intensely critical, but I would downgrade that to simply critical. It appears the writer wants to ratchet up the issue, again drawing a line in the sand. “They are intensely critical. We love our pastors, unlike them.”

Also, it is not intensely critical to ask for someone’s credentials. When my husband came here from Dallas, he had to present his credentials to Duke. He and many other physicians hang diplomas and credentials in their offices where patients can see them. Pastor Booker should do the same.

Trust…again. “We trust that the allegations made against Mark were fully and appropriately investigated by the Board, weighed, and accordingly found to be not disqualifying for pastoral ministry.”

What did Ronald Reagan say? “Trust but verify.” I’ve always thought this applies to much of my life, including my Christian life.

This has to be the stupidest argument ever. Just post the documents. Have him hang them in his office so people who visit him can see them. Blind trust in light of the current circumstances is not wise. Frankly, it is rarely wise. What if they are hiding something? Even worse, what if they are playing some unChristlike games with the members?

Believe…”we believe he has the spiritual maturity, godly character, and requisite qualifications to lead our congregation well.”

Simple belief about others without proof is not wise. Didn’t the Scripture commend the Bereans?

Much fruit…”Park Street has borne much fruit under Mark’s leadership.”

This is another one of those ‘things Christians say.’ Instead of churchianity, list the good and beautiful things that have happened. What precisely happened due to his leadership? How does the current fractured community reflect his leadership, or was it just the “others” who have caused this?

Make decisions… “the congregation has called and elected the Board of Elders to wrestle with and make difficult decisions on our behalf.”

When did the church stop being a Congregational church? Are you saying that only the elders would make these decisions, or does the community get to weigh in? If they cannot, why not simply become Anglican or nondenominational?

Warning, warning…” Even when we don’t agree with or understand every decision that has been reached, or we desire more information, we respect the Board’s authority to make those decisions while seeking the Lord for wisdom and discernment….there are many facts and details that our Elders and officers of the church cannot disclose publicly due to privacy and legal obligations.”

Please be careful with this misplaced ‘respect. Also, in most church conflicts, the pastors/leaders claim that they “can’t talk about it due to…whatever.” Many times, this is misused to keep the members in the dark. Take time to read this blog or those of others who discuss abuse. This topic comes up frequently. The leaders often do not want the pewsitters to know what is happening. Many boards are like sausage factories. They don’t want you to see the decisions (or the sausage) being made.

Shepherds shepherding…”shepherd the congregation well during this disruptive time, even as they have experienced pain and anger themselves.”

I called this out specifically because this is the problem that some have stressed. They do NOT believe they have been shepherded well or even at all. Maybe the ‘pain’ of the shepherds has prevented them from rising above this and responding in love. Love appears to be missing. Unfortunately typical…

Submit…”We exhort every person at Park Street to faithfully strive toward peace, submit to one another in love, speak to each other with gentleness, and pursue Jesus above all.”

In this situation, it seems that submission only flows one way. Those who disagree should submit and do what they are told. We submit to one another. Could it be that the elders/pastors should consider being humble and compromising? Given the letter I received, I don’t think this is in the cards.

Also, didn’t the word “congregational” get changed to “pursue Jesus above all?” Can someone confirm this?

Uh oh…Sign this…”By signing this letter, I affirm that I am currently an active member or attendee of Park Street Church.”

This is the worst part of the letter, and I am going silent to let you tell me why this is wrong in so many ways. This is a test, and TWW readers should figure this one out.

Finally, there is more.

The church has agreed to a special meeting where people will express their concerns about Dr. Balboni’s firing and Pastor Booker’s ministry. I will follow up on that when it occurs.

Two thoughts I have that I hope are not valid.

  • I believe that a church takeover is in process or has already occurred. Once it reaches a certain point, reversing the process is next to impossible. I have thought this from the beginning of looking into the issues. I hope the leadership of this church doesn’t play the power game. What I fear is that they are playing to win. Love, kindness, and the humility to admit that “mistakes have been made” are often lacking.
  • Is it possible that the church leadership is taking the church toward just one more “elder/pastor” dominated church? This model looks good from the outside. Controlling leadership is seldom loved. Instead, many of those churches are “admirals in rowboats.” It is an excellent way for men and women who like to control others to feel comfortable. If this is happening, Congregationalism may be replaced by Anglicanism. That denomination is experiencing a crisis of leadership at this moment. The grass is not always greener.

When it becomes “us versus them” in the church, church membership will decline so that all who are left are “us.” Is that what the leaders want? Some in The Gospel Coalition would think this is a great idea: shrink the church until all who are left are “on board.” Is that the endpoint at PSC? I pray not.

If you have free time (yeah, right), you can listen to Mark Booker’s sermon “Strive” from last week. This will sync well with this post. 😎

I need to stop writing. Tonight, I am serving at Night to Shine, a ministry for the differently abled. I am so grateful for those who read my words, whether you agree or disagree.

I look forward to your interpretation of what you read.

Darlene (Dee) Parson: BSN, MBA, Blogger, TWW purveyor, and all-around gadabout. I have put this here for a reason. Can anyone guess why?


Comments

{update} As the Conflict at Park Street Church Deepens, Church Leaders Appear to Adopt an “Us versus Them” Position While Pastor Booker’s Credentials Are Still Not Released Publicly — 134 Comments

  1. Admirals in rowboats… unfortunately, that is a pretty good analogy…. Sigh..
    The hubris of so many of the “so called” leaders we read about on TWW really gets tiring…. And is so opposite of how Christ tells us to act… double sigh…
    Finally, I completely agree about transparency. The longer this goes, the weirder it gets… just like good old Ravi…. And we all know were that ended up… triple sigh….
    Jeffrey J Chalmers, Ph.D. Cornell, 1988. Not that it matters, except that I have made comments about being a faculty member, and we in academia do usually check…

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  2. “By signing this . . .”?

    Sounds like the “true” member has signed some sort of agreement. I am not going to legitimize it by callng it by the name that some there are probably calling it.

    – Afterburne (not my real name, sorry)
    BS (in aviation)

    Some of the many certifications:
    CQE (Quality related)
    MCSE, CISM, CISSP (IT related)

    The really important stuff:
    Son
    Brother
    Husband
    Dad
    Granddad

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  3. I note that formal qualifications aren’t always sufficient or even necessary. My late uncle, by marriage, was a well-known scientist and professor, elected to the Royal Society, etc. but never got his PhD [or MD which in his field at the time was a legit alternative]. However, he was quite open about what degree he had (BA), and, I think quite enjoyed wearing the BA academic gown he was entitled to to events where academic garb would be worn. I’ve known other prominent professors who do not have a PhD and again they are open about the lack (admittedly this might be easier if your work is highly regarded in the field as it was for them).

    However this smoke around Booker’s degrees is odd. I also note what is missing which is any seminary training. The Rhodes and Oxford degrees are not seminary degrees. The stated Oxford degrees are preparation for the academic study of theology not for the priesthood. They probably would count towards fulfilling some of the necessary study a seminarian should do but not all. I would expect the ACNA would require formal seminary training for any priest they ordained. Perhaps his training was more of an apprenticeship and they accepted that; perhaps he went to a school that he or they are embarrassed about (e.g., way too progressive). This could probably be fine if he were open that his pathway was a bit unorthodox for a conservative priest. He might have been open to the search committee, but, I would also expect openness to the congregation.
    BTW a pastor with an unorthodox academic path can be a good pastor, and, a pastor with an impeccable academic path can be dreadful.

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  4. It seems to me that this post is another attempt to interfere with the internal affairs of another church and possibly to affect the outcome of any investigation that church might take. I note that the church has informed their members by letter of the current state of affairs and has called for a church meeting in the near future and surely it is for them, and them alone, to consider the case and any necessary action. The fact that you chose to publish a letter sent to you in confidence and against the author’s wishes doesn’t say much for the much trumpeted integrity of TWW.
    The question of “qualifications” seems to me to be a red herring given that the ministerial requirements were met and approved of before the person took up his position, particularly as the requirements are not exclusively academic and there are a number of pathways to ordination. You can access the NACCC.org website to read about them.
    In particular you can learn how such churches handle misconduct claims here – https://www.naccc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/naccc_misconduct_handbook.pdf. Park Street Church no doubt has its own rules for dealing with conflict and really should be left in peace to handle its own affairs.

    It might also be worthwhile to consider the words of the late Rev Edward D Griffin in his sermon “The Watchman” –
    It is impossible for a minister to deliver the whole message of God without giving offence to some. And the reason is, that the character and destiny of sinners are such as they cannot bear to hear described. The truth is, that heaven and earth are at variance….. Settle it then that heaven and earth are at variance, and that God has a controversy with men.
    Under these circumstances he sends forth his ambassadors, (whom by another figure he calls watchmen,) to assert his claims, to justify his ways to men, to convince them that he is right and they are wrong, at the same time to make overtures for reconciliation and to press the invitations of heavenly mercy. Now some sinners seem to expect that these ambassadors, instead of maintaining the honor of their king, will take the part of a revolted world against him, will sigh and condole with them as with poor injured beings, and will soften his charges and relax his requirements as being too severe. But how could they expect this….

    The grand secret is, that the natural heart wishes to be left in the undisturbed possession of its own pleasures, and to be solaced with self-esteem and with the hopes of future bliss. And because God spoils this self-esteem by his reproaches, and disturbs these pleasures by his commands, and crushes these hopes by his threatenings, therefore “the carnal mind is enmity against God.” And in proportion as the watchmen disturb its pride, its pleasures, and its hopes, the carnal mind is enmity against them. It would be well pleased to pursue its own pleasures unaccused of sin and soothed with the hope of future blessedness. But to be charged with rebellion, to be urged to relinquish its dearest idols, to have its peace assailed by the prophecy of evils to come, this it cannot bear.
    My unhappy friends, as one of the watchmen I declare to you that it is not my pleasure to give you pain. Could you point out any way in which I could disquiet you less, which would comport with the duty I owe to God and with tenderness to your immortal interests, and for which you yourselves would not reproach me another day, I would gladly spare you. I have not desired the woful day, O Lord, thou knowest“

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  5. “Do you notice how they assume that they might be slandered, misquoted, and attacked by me? This shows a basic understanding that I am a sinner, which is smart.”

    That’s true, of course. However, what stood out for me was that the person – I assume a mature man in a position of authority – used the words “I’m afraid …”. He is staking out a position as a person who is fragile, a person who needs to be coddled and treated with exceptional care.

    You know how, on the interwebs, sometimes a person will begin his or her post with the words, “I know I’m going to be flamed for this, but …,” or “Please don’t attack me for what I’m going to say …,” or words to that effect? This is pre-emptive self-victimization, stating upfront that any disagreement is going to be understood as a personal assault upon the weaker participant, and therefore illegitimate.

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  6. (Note: I see from other context that the interlocutor is a woman.)

    “Wow, I feel properly slapped.”

    ** Dee is framed as a physical aggressor, hurting the person who had already announced that she was “afraid” and therefore deserving of especial tenderness. **

    “You are right in so many ways about how my words could be taken.”

    ** Not “what I said,” including that people with differing views were “childish” and “rogue,” but “how my words *could be taken*.” Again, Dee is framed as an offender, having “taken” the words of the person who had staked out the victim position in a way that did not accept the obvious righteousness of the person’s “side.” **

    As I acknowledged when I posted my very modest academic credential, I don’t have any special schooling in churchy-stuff or psychology or anything. But I read Victorian novels. Doesn’t the original writer have any experience in reading comprehension and the ways words are used to establish and enforce status hierarchies in a communication dyad? She’s not even subtle!

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  7. > We rarely see the local mail deliverer on elder boards because of general disbelief that God might speak through someone different than a well-known local attorney or doctor who knows they are leaders because well, they just are.

    PSC probably has a lot of very highly-educated people among its membership. I wonder whether there might be a tinge of embarrassment on the part of the leadership that their Senior pastor’s formal training in his field of professional endeavor appears to be so “thin.”

    Erp,

    The thought occurs that if there are seminary students among the membership and attendees of PSC, some of them may have more formal ministry training, between undergraduate and seminary, than the PSC senior pastor has. Are the other ordained pastors better trained than the senior minister? That might be a bit uncomfortable.

    Perhaps the reason for the obscurity about the details of the formal ministry training is something simple, and as old as the human problem — shame. “I was afraid, and so I hid.”

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  8. Samuel Conner: The thought occurs that if there are seminary students among the membership and attendees of PSC, some of them may have more formal ministry training, between undergraduate and seminary, than the PSC senior pastor has.

    As a long time attendee of Park Street that has a post graduate seminary degree, I have thought about this. I have come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t care as long as the Pastor is honest –

    Booker’s lack of transparency indicates lack of integrity and honesty – so I have a problem.

    If a person does not have the same level of seminary degree as I have, I would want him to still be able preach thoughtful sermons like the Pastors of Park Street who helped make it once my church home: Harrell, Kim, Hugenberger, Schuliger, etc.

    I do not see Mark’s sermons as on par with these people – so I have a problem.

    I’m speculating here, but I doubt Mark translates the text from its original language (like Hugenberger would so wonderfully do) and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark uses sermon outlines from various online services that are available to pastors. With Mark’s record lacking of transparency, I also wouldn’t be surprised if he outright plagiarizes sermons as well. I have no proof, but I think he fits the profile of pastors who would do things like this.

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  9. Christine: I’m speculating here, but I doubt Mark translates the text from its original language

    Ouch. I hadn’t thought of that. That’s a skill that, in typical seminary programs, gets multiple semesters of intensive study, so important is it considered to be. I do think that facility in the original languages is a skill that interpreters of the text need to have.

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  10. Dear Dee,

    Thank you for writing this post and analyzing the open letter. I appreciate your insights and I hope those who have eyes will see it and understand. I have been an active member of PSC for the last six years. The open letter is the last straw for me. Whoever wrote the letter (and those who signed the open letter) felt so self-righteous and conveyed no sense of humility.

    The open letter is problematic as you have discussed. For me, it was daunting to read “To those who are angry, hurt, or confused, we are praying for healing and restoration and will seek to extend the right hand of fellowship, even as we may disagree on the issues at hand or how the church might best respond” because it sounded like we (the open letter writer and those who signed it) are on the right side and those “who are angry, hurt or confused” are not and that those who are presumingly right will extend their grace to continue to fellowship with those who are wrong. While the letter writer may see it as they are extending grace and will attempt to reconcile as it should be in God’s community, it just read as arrogance that we are never wrong. What is appalling is that people who signed the open letter are educated and professional individuals. How is it that they never once question what is going on? Isn’t it problematic that a minister is fired without a thorough investigation and that the process of how this minister was fired was dodgy?
    Isn’t it problematic to just trust a group of Elders without questioning them, especially if there are legal issues? That is serious! As a congregant, I would want to know what and whether these legal issues will affect the church. Just solely asking us to trust the Elders in blind faith is not enough as we are humans, we will fail and make wrong decisions especially if the board of Elders are a group of yes men and women who will not listen and stay open-minded to alternative opinions.

    The current situation in PSC feels like a political campaign. Every step is planned and strategized. Their candidate needs to be supported so he has to apologize on the pulpit to show that he is remorseful for what is going on. My question is why didn’t he apologize earlier? Why now when it is close to the annual meeting? There was also a membership class held in the past three weeks. No membership class was organized last year when the conflict (i.e the decision to cancel the 4pm service) started. Further, the introduction of this open letter during this annual meeting season to consolidate support for their candidate and the campaign office behind him does not seem like a coincidence to me.

    I agree with you that Pastor Mark should show his education credentials, to prove that they have nothing to hide; that the committee that hired him, conducted their search properly, that he has the theological foundation to lead the congregation and just for honesty’s sake. If they made a mistake/mistakes, my prayer for them is to stop covering up and may their hearts be soften to reveal the truth, so that we (as a congregation) can get a better understanding of what is going on, resolve the conflict and reconcile.

    Praying,
    Emily L, BS, MSc, Phd Candidate.

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  11. Main-line protestant denominations in the USA have requirements for ordination. Most require a M.Div, field-education site, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) – basically hospital chaplaincy and individual psychological counseling and testing.

    Plus a lengthy ordination paper – that they have to defend before other ministers in that particular denomination. Ministers then send their profiles to churches searching for a pastor. Then there are in person-meetings with a search committee. Once they receive their first call they can be ordained.

    Three distinct religious communities have each played a part in the on-going conflict at PSC. They are the ACNA, 4Cs and PSC leadership. So if none of the three groups verified SM educational degree, blame part of it on them.

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  12. Lowlandseer: Park Street Church no doubt has its own rules for dealing with conflict and really should be left in peace to handle its own affairs.

    Would you claim that Park Street is in a place of “peace?” If so – you have an odd understanding of peace.

    Park Street does seem to have a process in place – the bylaws. Which in many people’s opinions, are not being followed. And for some reason the parliamentarian who claimed to be interpreting these bylaws resigned. Seems very sketchy.

    Thanks for quoting a pastor’s sermon. I could do the same but don’t feel the need to weaponize well-intended ideas to make it appear as though I’m more spiritual than you and imply that God is on my side and not on yours.

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  13. Christine: Booker’s lack of transparency indicates lack of integrity and honesty – so I have a problem.

    … I do not see Mark’s sermons as on par with these people [aforementioned scholars who are learned, thoughtful, scholarly] – so I have a problem.

    … I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark uses sermon outlines from various online services that are available to pastors.

    With Mark’s record lacking of transparency, I also wouldn’t be surprised if he outright plagiarizes sermons as well. I have no proof, but I think he fits the profile of pastors who would do things like this.

    Excellent summary. Exactly the point.

    Meanwhile, those in power that put and keep the shadowy guy in power, drink Koolaid, reducing a church to the same.

    What is Koolaid? Water, sugar, and paint.

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  14. Lowlandseer: I note that the church has informed their members by letter of the current state of affairs and has called for a church meeting in the near future and surely it is for them, and them alone, to consider the case and any necessary action.

    I believe the upcoming meeting on February 25 is the annual meeting required by church rules. And yes it is for the congregation and the individual members to take action for what their church does. However those who interact or could potentially interact with the church can also take action whether to join, work with, or cease to work with. Admittedly most reading/writing here probably don’t fall into either group. However some have experience in dealing with churches and have seen a pattern they find disquieting.

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  15. dee: loved throwing people under the bus and driving on over.

    Pastor? Not a pastor. Sadist. Not a pastor.

    Apparently his followers like this. So they all find each other … sadists.

    With the current post, is the pastor a fake? (See above summary comment of Christine.) Is this what his followers want, a fake, a fraud? So the fakes and frauds have found their leader? Birds of a feather flock …?

    They self-identify by picking this guy, who won’t own up to who he really is? Cult of personality?

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  16. I do not expect him to voluntarily produce documentation of his degrees and diplommas. I’m beginning to wonder if what needs to happen is that some brave soul directly confront him before the congregation during his sermon on Sunday, demanding he produce documentation of his degrees in order to put to rest these “false accusations” against him? Someone telling the truth is normally quick to provide facts and proof; maintaining a lie requires some combo of silence, obfuscation, and bluster.

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  17. When it becomes “us versus them” in the church, the church membership will decline so that all who are left is “us.”

    And the Us will remain Smug in their Righteousness, Purged of all those Ungodly Unrighteous Heretics.

    “And they’ll Know we are Christians
    ‘Cause were Smug, ’cause we’re Smug,
    Yes they’ll KNOW We are CHRISTIANS ’cause We’re SMUG…”

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  18. More darvo. So just release the credentials already. Let folks see what you really earned, or did not earn.

    This much fighting and coverup pretty much makes it clear the senior pastor has fudged the facts and doesn’t want to fess up.

    Soul freedom folks! He has no authority over anyone anyway. Run don’t walk out of that place.

    And Dee, keep holding his feet to the fire until he simply shows the credentials! You may be called for such a time as this!

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  19. Watching: I do not expect him to voluntarily produce documentation of his degrees and diplommas.

    Which is usually an indicator they’re FAKE.

    Long ago on one of these threads, a PhD chimed in with the more they insist on their title of “Doctor”, the more likely their Doctorate is Fake. Like a wannabe with a Goering’s worth of stolen valor pinned to their chests.

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  20. Lowlandseer: The fact that you chose to publish a letter sent to you in confidence and against the author’s wishes doesn’t say much for the much trumpeted integrity of TWW.

    The person’s identity was withheld. Let me tell you how most people who come to TWW deal with confidentiality. They ask me if they could explain something as long as I do not discuss it online. I am happy to do that if the person is not playing a game. That happened a time or two, and I did post their words. Emails that come to TWW are my property; I can deal with them as I see fit. It appears the only ones who get upset are the ones who are causing the problem in the first place.

    We are dealing with an abusive situation at PSC. People are in pain. The reigning monarch and buddies are not dealing with it biblically. My guess is the pastor comes from your sort of mindset. He is the boss, and the elders are his consiglieri. This works well for industry and the Mafia, not a church.
    This lovely church is experiencing a mess, probably due to the pastor’s inability to get with the program. He rules by fiat, not consensus. This is a Congregational church, not a PCA church. That is the sticking point. Perhaps you hope they become part of the great cloud of TGC types?

    Lowlandseer: It is impossible for a minister to deliver the whole message of God without giving offence to some. And the reason is, that the character and destiny of sinners are such as they cannot bear to hear described.

    You are good at this. You have now labeled those who disagree with what is going on as “sinners” who cannot bear to hear the word of God as preached by the godly pastor. The offence of the Gospel is directed, IMO, at those who are not followers of the Way, not those who love and serve Him. I think there are authoritarians out there who aim it at Christians who don’t play along. Some try to claim that they are Christians who have fallen by the wayside. I can assure you that the people who are upset are the faithful who love the church.

    As an aside, I think TWW has effectively proven that there are lots of pastors out there that cause pain and suffering a opposed to preaching the Gospel of love and compassion.

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  21. Emily: Isn’t it problematic to just trust a group of Elders without questioning them, especially if there are legal issues? That is serious! As a congregant, I would want to know what and whether these legal issues will affect the church.

    As a member of a Congregational church, this is your right. But…if the church is switching to an elder-rule church, that input changes dramatically. I think they are trying to move the church toward elder rule. I am concerned that most of the church is not realizing this subtle shift in polity.

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  22. Watching:
    I do not expect him to voluntarily produce documentation of his degrees and diplommas.I’m beginning to wonder if what needs to happen is that some brave soul directly confront him before the congregation during his sermon on Sunday, demanding he produce documentation of his degrees in order to put to rest these “false accusations” against him? Someone telling the truth is normally quick to provide facts and proof; maintaining a lie requires some combo of silence, obfuscation, and bluster.

    This is a great comment!

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  23. dee: As an aside, I think TWW has effectively proven that there are lots of pastors out there that cause pain and suffering a opposed to preaching the Gospel of love and compassion.

    The thought occurs that the original Gospel proclamation, by both John and, subsequently, by Jesus, included warnings to the then religious establishment, including the custodians of the Temple of God, of a soon manifestation of Divine wrath.

    It may be that when things are not as they ought to be among the People of God, there emerges trouble that finds its ultimate source in God Himself (or, if one prefers, in His decrees), and the judgment begins with the shepherds of the flock.

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  24. Christine: I’m speculating here, but I doubt Mark translates the text from its original language (like Hugenberger would so wonderfully do) and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark uses sermon outlines from various online services that are available to pastors. With Mark’s record lacking of transparency, I also wouldn’t be surprised if he outright plagiarizes sermons as well. I have no proof, but I think he fits the profile of pastors who would do things like this.

    This is an interesting comment. If there is a concern, some geek in the church should run the sermons through programs like the ones that caught the president of Harvard or those that catch stupid kids who use ChatGPT to write their papers.

    There are websites one can join that allow the person to use the sermons without credit. I think it would be a wise idea to “trust but verify.”

    Here is the deal: If the pastor uses something from another source, he should state that he is doing so. If he uses sermons from the myriad of websites, he should tell the church leaders so they will know.

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  25. Christine: As a long time attendee of Park Street that has a post graduate seminary degree, I have thought about this. I have come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t care as long as the Pastor is honest –

    Booker’s lack of transparency indicates lack of integrity and honesty – so I have a problem.

    If a person does not have the same level of seminary degree as I have, I would want him to still be able preach thoughtful sermons like the Pastors of Park Street who helped make it once my church home: Harrell, Kim, Hugenberger, Schuliger, etc.

    I do not see Mark’s sermons as on par with these people – so I have a problem.

    I’m speculating here, but I doubt Mark translates the text from its original language (like Hugenberger would so wonderfully do) and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark uses sermon outlines from various online services that are available to pastors. With Mark’s record lacking of transparency, I also wouldn’t be surprised if he outright plagiarizes sermons as well. I have no proof, but I think he fits the profile of pastors who would do things like this.

    I suspect he is telling some truth just not the whole truth since if he were outright lying why not claim a seminary degree? I would expect given the degrees that he knows/knew some Latin, Koine Greek, and/or Hebrew (which depends on concentration within the degrees). Unfortunately his education was prior to Oxford requiring Masters students to deposit their theses digitally (2007).
    A speculation of plagiarism is not one to be made lightly and should probably not be suggested without something in support. The sermons seem to be audio only with no captioning or transcripts at least on the ones I checked (I assume no one in the church or potentially a congregant is deaf) so not easy to check (note youtube will, I think, auto-generate captions and transcript if the channel owner enables them and those captions/transcript can be hand corrected to improve them).

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  26. It would be insightful if current PSC attendees could give some experiences with the sermons, especially if they are veering toward New Calvinist interpretations. New Calvinism has major elements of patriarchal elder/pastoral authoritarian leadership styles as opposed to a congregational or conciliar ecclesiology. ACNA is a large tent among which are Calvinists and PSC may have either knowingly or unknowingly admitted into their leadership a New Calvinist vector that will ultimately and profoundly change the character of the parish. They at least should have that open conversation… “What governance style do we affirm?”… before going further. Perhaps their annual meeting will be an occasion for that discussion.

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  27. I wonder whether there may be an analogy between individual experiences of mistreatment by powerful people and group experiences. Dee has mentioned that in her observation, sufferers of abuse are generally reluctant to “come forward”. IIRC, she draws two inferences from this, 1) that reports of abuse are generally not fabricated and 2) there are generally other people who have also been mistreated by the same perpetrator.

    There might be an analogy to the experiences of groups. I think that most people are conflict-averse; they do not go out of their way to pick fights with the powerful, and they often retreat from aggressive moves by the powerful. If that’s true, and if it applies to the present situation, it suggests that perhaps rather than there being a few lay troublemakers stirring things up, a critical mass of normally conflict-averse people may have been pushed to the point of speaking up.

    One hesitates to sound like a materialist, but there may be a “dialectic” at work within the churches, and that might be from God, along the lines of Paul’s statement about the necessity that there be disagreements in order for what God approves to be made manifest.

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  28. “We rarely see the local mail deliverer on elder boards because of general disbelief that God might speak through someone different than a well-known local attorney or doctor who knows they are leaders because well, they just are.”

    I actually am a USPS mail carrier. I wouldn’t want to be on an elder board; I’m disgruntled and jaded enough 😉

    On a separate note, praying for you Dee and all TWWers; your comments, insights and love of truth make my life better and bring me comfort <3

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  29. Muff Potter: Hypatia of Alexandria didn’t have a PhD and yet she came within a millimeter of overturning Geocentrism many centuries before Copernicus.

    Evidence? Note that there were no PhDs back then and the usual method to establishing a reputation would be having a known teacher or teachers and to be a teacher oneself both of which she had.
    Also there is no evidence she was about to overturn geocentrism though she was definitely an expert on the Almagest.

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  30. I am beyond upset at the Loyalty Oath Mark Booker and his ilk are foisting on the remaining Park Streeters. Those who sign it are either: members of the inner circle, people who want to be members of the inner circle, transients who are in Boston for a limited amount of time, enablers, pew sitters and/or sheeple.

    I think people are overly focusing on details in a way to avoid examining the bigger picture.

    Over the years, Park Street Church has successfully swept under the carpet accusations of pastoral misconduct. (I know of at least two major incidents; one happened under Mark Booker’s watch, that have never been discussed publicly outside of Park Street Church.) This isn’t the first time that accusations of unseemly behavior by a Park Street Church minister has seen the light of day. On Sunday, June 23, 2013, John Chung, then a minister at Park Street Church, was arrested by Brookline MA police for being a ‘Peeping Tom’. https://www.wickedlocal.com/story/brookline-tab/2013/06/25/brookline-police-arrest-alleged-peeping/39952123007/

    At this point, questions about Mark Booker’s academic qualifications matter little. The damage has been done. The fact that Mark Booker has a history of not being transparent, when transparency is expected and required.

    Here is another incident, that hasn’t been discussed outside of Park Street Church–the fact that, in the Spring (Lent) of 2022, Mark Booker came down with COVID-19 and the leadership of Park Street Church, including Mark Booker, handled it in a most unethical manner.

    Mark Booker was formally installed as Senior Minister at the end of 2021. His formal installation had been delayed because of the pandemic. Mark Booker’s installation unofficially celebrated Park Street Church’s resumption of regular, in-person church and church activities. For 2022 Lent, Mark Booker decided to accompany Pastor Julian L. on an extended trip to visit Park Street Church missionaries. This trip was ill-advised, because Park Street Church had just experienced a very difficult transition in leadership, that the Park Street Church needed pastoral care that only the newly formally installed senior minister could provide. While Mark Booker was away, tensions continued to grow within Park Street Church.

    When Mark Booker returned from his mission trip, Boston was in the midst of a COVID-19 epidemic. He had many meetings scheduled immediately after his return to Boston, including a Friday meeting with the Deacons. One of the deacons noticed that Mark Booker looked unwell, asked Mark Booker if he had tested himself for COVID-19. At that time, it was considered unwise and highly irresponsible to attend any gathering if you were obviously unwell. Mark Booker preached that Sunday and held a Meet and Greet. According to a deacon, he appeared to be in worse shape than he was on Friday. As I recall, the deacon asked Mark Booker if he had tested himself for COVID-19 and did not get a satisfactory answer. The deacon said that Mark Booker woke up on Monday, sicker than he was on Sunday, got a COVID-19 test and tested positive. Fortunately, he had a mild case of COVID-19. However, he had exposed elders, deacons, church staff and those who attended the meet and greet–which included senior citizens and others in high risk groups–to COVID. Public health protocols at the time required that Mark Booker notify those he might have exposed to COVID-19 as soon as possible, so that they could take appropriate actions and get tested. This meant that Mark Booker (or someone on his behalf) should have sent an e-mail no later than Tuesday, to the entire church about this. This did not happen. I heard that he had tested positive for COVID-19 through the church grapevine (from one of the deacons). Park Street Church did officially notify the congregation that Mark Booker had COVID-19 in a few lines buried deep within the church bulletin. Mark Booker, and those who knew that he had COVID-19, needed to face stern discipline. Mark Booker’s failure to notify the church in a timely manner was grounds for termination of employment, with cause. It’s impossible to know if Mark Booker’s irresponsible behavior caused others to become sick with COVID-19.

    Mark Booker is not the cause of dysfunction and rot within the leadership of Park Street Church; it is the most visible symptom. It appears that he is being thoroughly enabled by lay leadership and others within Park Street Church.

    The Chris and Doug May are part of the rot within Park Street Church. It is morally and ethically unacceptable for an elder of a church as large as Park Street Church was to be a close relative of an employee, let alone a minister–and let alone a minister as controversial as Chris May has been. (I intentionally did not the names of the South African May missionaries. They are not responsible for the improper and unethical behavior of their parents / in-laws. I firmly believe that the South African Mays are doing the Lord’s work, serving the incarcerated in South Africa. I firmly believe that they are deserving of our prayers and support.)

    I am certain that there are other leaders within Park Street Church who contributed to the rot within or enabled it. (I have ideas of others who are likely involved, but without strong evidence, I will not name names.)

    At this point, even if Mark Booker posts his CV on LinkedIn, takes pictures of his diplomas and posts them on the Park Street Church website, it is too little, too late. The damage has been done; Mark Booker has lost the respect of way too many Park Streeters.

    For Park Street Church to heal, Mark Booker’s tenure at Park Street Church MUST come to an end as soon as possible. It is highly unlikely that Mark Booker will be able to serve in a ministerial role going forward. He will not pass an appropriate ministerial Due Diligence background check. The lay leadership of Park Street Church is just as responsible for this as Mark Booker is. It is high time that the Elders of Park Street Church put together a Golden Parachute Resignation Package that requires that Mark Booker sign a letter of apology and accept his resignation. The Golden Parachute package should be generous, such as year’s worth of salary plus benefits, so that he and his family can gracefully transition out of the ministry.

    For Park Street Church to begin healing, Chris and Doug May must resign their memberships and no longer be involved in Park Street Church affairs. They must be held to account for a particularly egregious form nepotism, where Doug May, as elder, at a minimum and just by his mere presence, provided social pressure that protected Chris May from criticism, investigation and church discipline. Chris May a part-time minister and is of retirement age. The Mays need to transition to a different church–I’m certain that one of the churches Chris May’s Spiritual Director, Adele Calhoun, serves at would be more than happy to welcome them into the fold. I am afraid that it will be uncomfortable for the South African Mays to serve as Park Street Church missionaries even though they did nothing wrong.

    Park Street Church needs to hire an experienced investigative team (and not the Telios Law Firm of Colorado) that includes, at a minimum, an expert, conservative Christian theologian, an organizational psychologist, a social worker expert in family systems, an expert in managerial development and an attorney who is expert in the legal discipline of Compliance to carefully investigate this disaster. The industry standard for this sort of investigation is that it is to be conducted by a team of professionals from various disciplines, that the report and recommendations are drafted by the team as a whole, not solely by one participating expert.

    Everyone in leadership during Mark Booker’s tenure, as well as the elders and members of both senior minister search committee, who did not strongly object, resign and was not pushed out will need to be held accountable. The married couple who serve as elders, MUST resign and agree to never serve in any leadership role at Park Street Church–nepotism is completely unacceptable. Those who turned a blind eye to the abuse of power rampant within the walls of Park Street Church must be held accountable as if they themselves committed the acts that they turned a blind eye to. In all likelihood, many, if not most, people in leadership roles at Park Street Church will have to be replaced.

    If what Dr Balboni has to say about the organist, Nate Skinner, that he essentially served as Mark Booker’s spy within the staff, is true, Nate Skinner’s employment at Park Street Church will have to be terminated, for cause. He is untrustworthy.

    At one time, the senior minister of Park Street Church held an academic chair at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I think Park Street Church needs to meet with leadership of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, to ask for help in healing the damage done over the past five or so years. I’m certain that there are professors and seminarians at Gordon-Conwell who would be willing to officiate Sunday services.

    After the third party investigation, it would be in Park Street Church’s best interest to hire a team of mental health professionals who specialize in working with people and religious organizations that have been harmed by opaque, abusive leadership. We are fortunate that the Boston Area has such a team of mental health professionals, based out of Newton, MA, the Freedom of Mind Foundation. Right now, chaos reigns within Park Street Church; it is clear that members, staff, former members and former staff do not trust each other and will need help rebuilding trust. There are many former Park Streeters, who have shed a lakeful of tears, who deserve an opportunity to meet with experts, who deserve an opportunity to be heard, to heal.

    I think a service of lamentation is absolutely necessary. It’s important to invite everyone who left Park Street Church, whether they resigned, were forced out or had their employment terminated, to these services. These are the victims; not only do they deserve an apology, they MUST be given the opportunity to witness the deeds, that demonstrates that Park Street Church leadership means what they say.

    One service of lamentation isn’t enough; regular services of lamentation over a considerable amount of time are needed. When I visited Germany, I spent a day at the Dachau Concentration Camp. I witnessed cadets and midshipmen meet with a survivor. The survivor stood next to the Major, showed the cadets and midshipmen his tattoo. Standing behind the cadets and midshipmen was Herr Two-Star, looking very Two-Star in his undress Grey uniform. At least in the German Military, “Never Again” means Never Again! with a Two Star explanation point. Park Street Church needs to take a “Never Again” means Never Again attitude to recovering from this mess.

    Former members of Park Street Church, such as me, must be invited to rejoin Park Street Church as members in good standing without having to retake the membership class. Park Street Church’s change in leadership must include those who left over what was going on; the enablers, the sheeple in leadership must go.

    Mental health evaluations, including psychological testing, must become part of determining whether a candidate is suitable for leadership; candidates for the ministry must undergo a psychological evaluation that includes psychological testing with scientifically validated metrics that is appropriate for the position, and undergo regular psychological screenings as part of ongoing employment. I’d bet that at least two instances of pastoral misconduct might have been averted had the pastors been required to undergo an appropriate psychological evaluation before they were hired.

    I am a realist. Sadly, I do not think the leadership at Park Street Church will do what it takes. I do not think they are willing to be held accountable, nor see to it that Park Street Church returns to its Congregational roots.

    We can always hope. We can always pray.

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  31. Mental health evaluations, including psychological testing, must become part of determining whether a candidate is suitable for leadership; candidates for the ministry must undergo a psychological evaluation that includes psychological testing with scientifically validated metrics that is appropriate for the position
    A Former Member of PSC,

    In other mainline protestant churches psychological testing is part of the ordination process.

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  32. “If what Dr Balboni has to say about the organist, Nate Skinner, that he essentially served as Mark Booker’s spy within the staff, is true, Nate Skinner’s employment at Park Street Church will have to be terminated, for cause. He is untrustworthy”

    Nate loves to knock down anyone who even mentions Michael anymore.

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  33. Yes. Off the top of my head, the Episcopal Church does require this sort of evaluation. The Northern Baptist Convention has a group that used to be based in the Boston suburbs, that provided this service. The Roman Catholic Church has organizations that offer this service to any Christian denomination. It’s become much more commonplace that seminaries are requiring this sort of evaluation.

    The evaluation process for a senior minister of a large church is likely to take longer than that of a seminarian–because the risk posed by a senior minister that is psychologically unfit is greater.

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  34. The Center for Career Development and Ministry in Nashua, NH offers these services: https://ccdmin.org/

    Here is a link to an organization that provides this sort of service:http://www.ministryds.org/

    The American Baptist Convention requires a mental health evaluation prior to ordination:https://tabcom.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/OrdinationProcess-CandidateDocuments.pdf

    Should Mark Booker be terminated by Park Street Church, The Center for Career Development in Ministry offers a program “Move Beyond Ministry” which is designed for someone like him who will be leaving the ministry as a relatively young man and will have to seek out a secular career path.

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  35. A note about churches: from 1 Kings 12:26-32 & 13:33-34.

    After David, then after Solomon, the kingdom was split in two.

    Jeroboam looks at the other side, with their people going up to THE Temple to offer sacrifices, under Rehoboam, the king of Judah, the OTHER half of the kingdom … Judah.

    Jeroboam goes nuts. Instead of seeking God for a solution to this conundrum, he builds 2 golden calf idols for his 1/2 of the kingdom to worship, since the other half got THE Temple. Jeroboam leads his 1/2, his people, into all sorts of evil idolatry. Yikes!

    Now imagine today, a pastor looking at the church + pastor across town, what is happening there, maybe what God is doing, and the observing pastor goes nuts. Next thing ya know, he is orchestrating all sorts of weird stuff in his church to keep the people there, to attract crowds.

    Idolatry. (For Jesus? Nope.)

    Games churches play. Just like the OT kings.

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  36. A suggestion from Dee:

    I think it might be time to get the help of the local media to ascertain the problems with the release of Pastor Booker’s credentials.

    Media sources can often get access due to the funds and complexities involved. I can’t believe one might have to turn to secular sources to get a church to be transparent.

    Please let me know if I can be of help.

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  37. There is a rogue third party that needs mentioning here. When Michael’s 17 page letter was released. I ask both sides if they released it to the community and they said no. Though I do not know much about the threat of black mail regarding Mark’s degrees that happened to. The text that says sign your name if you support ….It was poorly written. It would have been released on church letterhead with the Jason and Mark names on it. As of the writing of this email. The petitioners have tried to follow the by-laws to make changes. Who ever the third party is they are just angry at everyone.

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  38. Division of the church into “us” and “them” is a consequence of evasive communication coming from leaders of the “just trust us” variety. It happens every single time. See IHOP for another current example.

    The open letter is likely to appeal to people who are by nature inclined to be “loyalists.” Loyalists can have a variety of motives. Loyalty can be a good trait in its place, but it can be harmful when it’s applied in the wrong situations.

    Most Christian loyalists are aware that Scripture says that they should submit to their leaders. Heb 13:17 expands on this, encouraging congregants to make shepherding a calling of joy, not grief. So signing a petition like this might seem like the right, biblical thing to do to many people.

    But commands to trust leaders are not absolute and need to be balanced with the commands to beware of certain kinds of leaders. e.g. Jesus warns people to look at the fruit. You can’t know unless you look! Paul warns the Ephesian elders that wolves could arise from among themselves. It follows that you shouldn’t submit to an elder who is a wolf. etc., etc.

    Over-emphasizing “submission to leaders” can then become a cover for other loyalists who simply want to “wish away” the conflict. Worse, it becomes cover for sycophants, sucking up to church leadership to gain or maintain their position in the inner circle. Sucking up is a sure-fire way to climb the church social ladder.

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  39. I don’t have an issue with whether or not someone has a particular degree. I have a big issue with someone being deceptive about their degree. You can deceive by what you don’t say. You can deceive by “spin” where you word something in a way that people draw the conclusion you want them to draw without you outright stating falsehoods.

    There was simply no reason to avoid being forthright at the beginning. Worrying about whether those better-endowed with degrees would look down on someone with a lesser degree is not a good reason. It might have caused an issue with some, but leaders could then handle it directly.

    At this point, by not being forthright and openly sharing the degrees, the elders have dug themselves into a hole. They are not going to want to share the degree now because then even many of the loyalists will wonder why they didn’t just tell the whole truth in the first place, and their trust will also be broken. My guess is that they double down and wait for those who are concerned to go away. As with Ravi Z. “fudging” his degrees, a “little” deception can be a red flag. The reports of manipulation, etc. by Balboni are serious and should not be handled “in house.”. A 3rd party impartial investigation is needed. If Brooks is as Balboni describes, there will be a lot of wounded sheep in the years to come and the responsibility will be on the heads of these elders. As Heb 13:17 says, they will have to give an account.

    Dee, I hope some day you can write about a church that handled allegations in a trustworthy way! That is so rare!

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  40. “Elders, who we have shown are often chosen to be “yes” men and women for the pastors’ agenda, have frequently shirked their godly responsibility.” (Dee)

    “Brothers and sisters, choose men from among you who are known to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.” (Acts 6:3)

    How many church congregations actually do this? How many church elders really meet these qualifications? Heck, how many pastors would stack up to that charge?

    Spirit-filled elders/deacons gifted with wisdom from above are truly in short supply in the institutional church. Without those essential qualifications, too many are used by the pulpit to accomplish an agenda that is not God’s will. I truly believe God sends such men/women to every church to serve in those sacred offices, but they are often passed over because there’s not enough godly wisdom and leading of the Spirit in the pew to identify and appoint them to the roles God intended for them … so we get what ‘we’ want and end up experiencing the will of man, not the will of God.

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  41. “The leader’s first letter to me.”

    = DARVO

    Their response to your reply = false humility (IMO) … a lowly attempt to draw you into their way of thinking. I experienced that a lot in corporate America.

    False humility is a twisted form of pride in which their opinion of PSC leadership is more important than God’s opinion of them. The writer must be in the inner ring at PSC.

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  42. Ava Aaronson: OT: IHOPKC on X again today.

    Boz calling for complete shutdown termination.

    ” It’s time. It’s time to permanently close the doors at IHOPKC.”

    That will no doubt happen. All personality cults end when the personality passes from the scene.

    Mars Hill = Mark Driscoll … it’s gone

    Harvest Bible Chapel = James MacDonald … now a mere shell of its former self now

    Willow Creek = Bill Hybels … the Willowcreek network of churches is coming apart slowly

    IHOPKC = Mike Bickle … it’s done, but hasn’t quit yet

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  43. A Former Member of PSC: Mark Booker is not the cause of dysfunction and rot within the leadership of Park Street Church; it is the most visible symptom. It appears that he is being thoroughly enabled by lay leadership and others within Park Street Church.

    That’s increasingly clear as PSC missives fly through the blogosphere.

    As Scripture exhorts, it’s time to take an axe to the root of the tree! The Inner Ring at PSC has way too much control.

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  44. Eyewitness: Over-emphasizing “submission to leaders” can then become a cover for other loyalists who simply want to “wish away” the conflict. Worse, it becomes cover for sycophants, sucking up to church leadership to gain or maintain their position in the inner circle. Sucking up is a sure-fire way to climb the church social ladder.

    Frequent TWW readers have seen this time and again. The “Inner Ring” is alive and sick in much of the American church. Yes-men try to hold onto their power in a given church, fearing that they might not be able to enter the Inner Ring somewhere else. It’s a dangerous game to play with God.

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  45. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Samuel Conner,

    Yeah. That sq. root of a negative started out as a “bang head on desk” thing in my calc 2020(?) class. I understood it and it has a very useful, critical purpose in mathematics.

    In direct contrast, I believe a negative under a radical is never a good thing in church.

    (And, of course my professor for calc 2010 and 2020 was there back when the “crazy longhairs” were (my aunt went to the same college). He was a wonderful man, but he wuuzzzz a character!)

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  46. Much fruit…”Park Street has borne much fruit under Mark’s leadership.”
    This is another one of those ‘things Christians say.’ Instead of churchianity, list the good and beautiful things that have happened. What precisely happened due to his leadership? How does the current fractured community reflect his leadership, or was it just the “others” who have caused this?

    Thank you for saying this. I have heard this WAY too many times. Saying something with no proof. You must just believe me. There is fruit! And I don’t have to tell you what that fruit is.

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  47. JJallday:
    Much fruit…”Park Street has borne much fruit under Mark’s leadership.”
    This is another one of those ‘things Christians say.’ Instead of churchianity, list the good and beautiful things that have happened. What precisely happened due to his leadership? How does the current fractured community reflect his leadership, or was it just the “others” who have caused this?

    Thank you for saying this.I have heard this WAY too many times.Saying something with no proof.You must just believe me.There is fruit!And I don’t have to tell you what that fruit is.

    “Much fruit” under Mark Booker

    – Declining membership from over 1200 (2021) to less than 900, “the great purge”;
    – Firing of 4 ministers and counting;
    – Cancelled 4pm service (then reinstated after much anger);
    – Declining thith and offering (missing budget by approximately $500k in 2023);
    – Dividing members against one another

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  48. Can somebody help me reconcile these statements from Mark in his sermon on February 4th?

    At 13:33: I have a heart of a shepherd, and I consider it one of the greatest privileges of my life. It’s really all I want to do when I grow up one day, is be a shepherd. To sit with people, and to understand and bear your pain with you, and to pray with you.

    But until this past week he somehow wasn’t aware of the emotional impact of his decisions?

    At 12:50: I came to a clearer realization in which some of my deficiencies and weaknesses as a leader…have led to pain and mistrust for some of you.

    Or he was aware but didn’t give them “enough weight”?

    At 13:57: …some of the decisions that I’ve made or encouraged the elders to make, that I’ve given more weight to the principle or logic or rationale side of things, and not enough weight to the emotional implication inside of decisions, and its impact upon people.

    At 14:29: And I think that at times my commitment to principle or logic or to what I genuinely believe is right and good for the church as a collective has meant that I haven’t properly weighed the emotional impact of some of those decisions upon some of you.

    I don’t understand how someone who wants to be a shepherd could be so oblivious to such a fundamental requirement? This is what scripture says about shepherding:

    Jesus “had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34)

    “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-3)

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  49. JJallday: There is fruit! And I don’t have to tell you what that fruit is.

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

    “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: …hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy…and the like.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

    Discerning which fruit is left as an exercise for the reader.

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  50. On June 19, 2023, Church Staffing.com posted the position of Minister of City Engagement at Park Street Church. It said  ” Education:  Given the high-profile context of this position with government, university, and religious partners, the Minister of City Engagement must have at least a Master of Divinity degree…. a D.Min., Th.M., Th.D., or Ph.D. is desirable but not required. Candidates with a Master of Theology or Master of Urban Ministry degree could be considered for the Director level position.”

    So the minister who would work under one of the Associate Ministers was required to have a three-year degree that included exegesis classes in Greek and Hebrew. But if that person had only a Master of Theology, they would not be qualified to have the title of “minister” at all. Their lack of advanced education meant that their position had to be reduced to “Director”. Of course, the new posting has dramatically lowered our academic requirements despite our “high-profile context …with government, university, and religious partners.” So now a person who is not qualified to be an Associate Pastor or an Assistant Pastor has become a Senior Pastor. Even though he is only qualified to be a “Director.”

    I have the same three questions. It is possible that someone could list an MA degree on their CV and “forget” that they didn’t take a single class or write one paper to earn it? And then to express indignation and be “… exasperated by this baseless attack” to boot. When the leadership became aware of the dishonesty and lack of qualification how is it possible that they affirmed his ethical and academic reliability? This begs the ultimate question, what outstanding characteristics did the search committee see that caused them to ignore one of our two most basic requirements? Clearly, there are questions about administrative skills, interpersonal skills, ethics, disposition, and leadership skills. The preaching, as one could only expect reflects one year of training versus the required 6 years of training…simple, basic, predictable. What is that extraordinary leadership or pastoral gift that I just can’t see?

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  51. A secure and wise minister will keep the staff that has long-term institutional knowledge and strong connections to the congregation because he is more concerned about the well-being of his church than he is about bringing on a staff that he hires and controls. A true pastor’s primary concern is compassion and care rather than his personal power and authority.

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  52. BTA: A secure and wise minister will keep the staff that has long-term institutional knowledge and strong connections to the congregation because he is more concerned about the well-being of his church than he is about bringing on a staff that he hires and controls.

    Exactly. This ain’t no football team … this is the Body of Christ!

    BTA: A true pastor’s primary concern is compassion and care rather than his personal power and authority.

    A true pastor will surrender all power and authority to the living Christ. If he does, he will minister with compassion and care. Unfortunately, the authority and influence of Jesus are waning in the American church. An illegitimate authority has taken His place and has made a mess of things.

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  53. Grieving: Can somebody help me reconcile these statements from Mark in his sermon on February 4th?

    Here’s a scenario: Mark knows what a shepherd is supposed to be, but it’s very possible that shepherding to him is a very abstract concept . Compare visitors who “love” the sheep at petting zoos vs. people who have herds of sheep that must be fed, protected, cleaned up after, helped at lambing time, etc. One is sentimental “love” of sheep that exists as a concept in one’s head; the other is the nitty gritty, tiring work of actual care of sheep as a shepherd.

    Also worth noting is that he is testifying himself to what kind of heart he has. But “the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.” Given the contrast between what he says his heart is and what his actions are, self-deceit is a reasonable explanation.

    The rest of his statements are descriptions of how he leads, as a CEO, not as a shepherd. They amount to saying, “I made the right decisions. Sorry you got hurt, but it was necessary for the health of the church. ” He does not say he made wrong decisions, just that he was too logical and didn’t take into account the emotional impact. It reads like an excuse, not as an apology. He “confesses” deficiencies and weaknesses, not sins. And even his deficiencies are admirable things like logic, working for the good of the whole, etc. (I’d recommend reading Wade Mullen’s book, “Something’s Not Right” for keen insight into genuine apologies/repentance vs. image management. It is helpful in sorting things out.)

    He may even believe in his mind that he wants to be a shepherd and may frame the whole situation as “learning experience” that will help him “grow as a leader.”

    That’s one way to reconcile the statements.

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  54. Just watched the video mark sent.

    This statement “There is group that is committed to no longer see me as the sr minister and believe that I am dangerous to the health psc”.

    If he only knew that was not the case – there are some that believe in the by-laws and want him to get the help he needs so he can be sr minister.

    But there is a third group that sent him “show us your resume”….they are the real threat.

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  55. BTA: It is possible that someone could list an MA degree on their CV and “forget” that they didn’t take a single class or write one paper to earn it?

    It’s called “academic FRAUD” and is treated as an Anointing of the Holy Spirit.

    And then to express indignation and be “… exasperated by this baseless attack” to boot.

    “WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM? I’M NOT THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM!”

    “D-A-R-V-O!
    D-A-R-V-O!
    D-A-R-V-O!
    And DARVO was its name, Oh!”

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  56. Eyewitness,

    “He does not say he made wrong decisions, just that he was too logical and didn’t take into account the emotional impact. It reads like an excuse, not as an apology. He “confesses” deficiencies and weaknesses, not sins. And even his deficiencies are admirable things like logic, working for the good of the whole, etc.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    in my observation, the pastoral leadership industry has ‘narcissist’ as its model.

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  57. elastigirl: n my observation, the pastoral leadership industry has ‘narcissist’ as its model.

    Another possibility is “the spectrum”. Weakness in perceiving one’s impact on others is a common feature of this, so that subjectively good intentions can lead to choices with socially destructive outcomes.

    Not pointing fingers (except perhaps at myself); just raising an hypothesis.

    This is a vote in favor of the recommendation made and echoed in some prior comments, that comprehensive psych assessment is desirable for candidates for ministry training and for potential hires.

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  58. JJallday,

    “Much fruit…”Park Street has borne much fruit under Mark’s leadership.”

    This is another one of those ‘things Christians say.’

    …I have heard this WAY too many times. Saying something with no proof. You must just believe me.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    it seems to me that christian church culture is like living in a Pepsi commercial.

    ginned up people intoning curated slogans full of conviction

    with all the substance of an aluminum can full of carbonated water, sugar, and caramel coloring.

    (not everyone… but nevertheless even the more astute succumb to these things)

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  59. Grieving: And now the Board of Elders is piling on:

    https://mailchi.mp/parkstreet.org/2024_02_15_boe_letter

    This is getting ugly.

    So let’s stipulate that of course everyone should be continuously opening their own hearts to God’s searching, always, but that it is especially important during a time of conflict.

    Otherwise, I have some questions. Who is VOCA? What are their qualifications to assess spiritual or emotional abuse? Are they an organization who is known to side with leadership? (That will be true of a variety of supposed groups as well as groups up a church’s hierarchy for certain denominational churches)

    How do you proclaim that there was “nothing that rises to the level of spiritual abuse” without an investigation? What is their definition of spiritual abuse?

    And a huge red flag: the non-investigation nonetheless concluded that Mark needs to “grow” in areas of empathy and humility.

    That is utterly alarming. (Deficiencies in those qualities make it highly likely that there has been abuse of power that lead to people being emotionally and spiritually damaged.) If you have anyone who works as a therapist at your church, ask them what the dearth of those qualities signifies. In my experience, people deficient in those qualities do not “grow” in them if they are able to retain a position of power. And they will not grow in them absent a desire to really explore who they are and what is driving them.

    Three book recommendations are Bully Pulpit by Michael J. Kruger, When Narcissism Comes to Church by Chuck Degroat, and Something’s Not Right by Wade Mullen. Michael Kruger writes a blog that had 4 or 5 articles previewing the topics of his book which could be helpful and quick. Chuck Degroat and Diane Langberg post frequently on Twitter/X.Diane usually posts every day. You will find so much wisdom in her short posts.

    Let’s translate “needs to grow in empathy” to “does not exhibit Christlike love ” and “needs to grow in humility” to “is arrogant.” It’s true that each of us lacks Christlike love at times or humility at times. But to have those qualities flagged as growth areas seems to me to mean that his issues are not at “normal” levels. It sounds like lack of love and arrogance might be descriptors of his character, his practice, rather than incidents of failing. Whether or not the words of his sermons are good, if he lacks love, it’s cymbal-bashing.

    Someone who lacks in love and is arrogant doesn’t need to put them as “areas of growth” on his annual review. That calls for deep reflection and repentance.

    And the elders confessing that they have pushed forward decisions without unity are correct that that is a good deal of what the problem is. If they are giving voice to dysfunction on the elder board, members of the elder board should be stepping down. They may not be disqualified from the office, but they have failed to shepherd.

    It is also a bad sign that an upcoming vote is going to determine the truth. How often in the Bible did the majority get it wrong? I don’t know if your bylaws allow it, but a period for each side to present their concerns to the other together in a meeting with a delay of the vote would be wise.

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  60. One issue is that every one of us needs to grow in empathy/compassion/love and humility. If what the VOCA non-investigation found was that he needed to grow in those areas, it opens it up to sin-leveling, if , in fact, lack of empathy (love) and lack of humility (arrogance) are practices. If they are practices and character traits, he is disqualified from office and it also makes it likely that what most people would call emotional and spiritual abuse would occur. (Obviously,,not being there, I can’t make a determination from here, but the resigning pastor’s letter certainly makes that seem likely from afar.) You can do a good imitation of “repentance” short term. But repentance requires time to show its fruit.

    If the assessment is that his level of lack of empathy and arrogance did not rise to the level of disqualification, then the next question is: Who is going to hold him accountable ? The board that already says they didn’t do a good job of it to this point?

    From the report issued by Willow Creek after the sins of Hybels had been brought into the public eye: “it is difficult for any board to hold a Senior Pastor accountable more than he or she is willing to submit”

    So a key question to ask is how willing has Mark been to submit to correction over time to authority?

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  61. Eyewitness: What is their definition of spiritual abuse?

    I don’t know about PSC, but most sources define spritual abuse like this:

    “Any attempt to exert power and control over someone using religion, faith, or beliefs can be spiritual abuse. Spiritual abuse can happen within a religious organization or a personal relationship … a pattern in which one individual (whether an intimate partner or person with authority) uses fear, intimidation, violence, or other harm to control another”

    https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/signs-spiritual-abuse

    Control of others through manipulation, intimidation and domination by church leaders = spiritual abuse.

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  62. Eyewitness: Who is VOCA? What are their qualifications to assess spiritual or emotional abuse? Are they an organization who is known to side with leadership?

    Background on the VOCA Center:

    https://mailchi.mp/parkstreet.org/2023_12_08
    https://www.vocacenter.org/

    They look like coaches? Here are some of their other brands:

    https://www.gothambridge.com/team
    https://rkepartners.com/about-us

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  63. Grieving: Background on the VOCA Center:

    https://mailchi.mp/parkstreet.org/2023_12_08
    https://www.vocacenter.org/

    They look like coaches? Here are some of their other brands:

    https://www.gothambridge.com/team
    https://rkepartners.com/about-us

    I have a huge problem with their deceptive marketing on the rke website… the use of logos without the firm’s permission is not only tacky but legally questionable. For some reason I don’t the DOD would have given this firm the right to use the U.S. Army logo.

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  64. Grieving: Background on the VOCA Center:

    https://mailchi.mp/parkstreet.org/2023_12_08
    https://www.vocacenter.org/

    The church hired professional business coaches. Imo, all sorts of problems have been brought to the church from importing a business model into the church in the 1980s or so. Things like marketing, branding, appealing to consumerism… not good for the church. Businesses are for profit and by nature in competition with other similar businesses. That is not a kingdom model.

    There were businesses in the time the Old and New Testaments were written, but God did not choose to use a “business” as an analogy for his church: His Bride, a family, a building with Jesus as the cornerstone, a body.

    In doing professional business coaches, knowingly or not, the elders limited potential outcomes. If all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail. In business, the law in most states is that only *intentional* infliction of emotional distress is actionable by an employee. Because an employee would need to prove intent, not just the effects, it’s not a suit often brought. Therefore, business coaches wouldn’t have expertise in what constitutes emotional abuse.

    Only one person, the founder, Chip Roper, lists “training” in counseling and theology. (From where? what did it consist of?) No degrees are listed for any of them that I saw.

    If Mark is spiritually/emotionally abusive, it would likely take someone with deep experience and training in that to properly assess it. For one thing, abusive people wear two faces. One face will be the well-meaning, earnest, possibly charming Christian “shepherd” face. It is with that face that they groom the congregation, but especially those with influence. Only the wounded sheep will have seen the face of the wolf. It is easy to be fooled or there wouldn’t be so many cases that took years to come out and so many victims who were not believed.

    Emotional abuse “overlaps significantly with spiritual abuse” according to Michael Kruger. And in the UK, where there have been academic studies seeking to define it, spiritual abuse is defined as a type of emotional and psychological abuse by Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys. Their book based on her dissertation and multiple peer-reviewed studies is Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse.

    A business consultant is likely going to view abuse as “interpersonal conflict” and as soon as that happens, there is both-sidesing of any issue. They, like most people, are also likely to be taken in by the face of the earnest shepherd who needs to grow. I am sharing general observations of the dynamics often involved. People with expertise on the ground will have to figure out whether the shoe fits.

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  65. Eyewitness: In doing professional business coaches, knowingly or not, the elders limited potential outcomes.

    Knowingly:

    From the announcement: VOCA Center will begin with relationship building and pursuit of understanding with our staff members, and the information staff members share will be anonymized. In this way, we expect VOCA Center’s expert and unbiased process to unearth any significant concerns. VOCA Center will then likely help us address any concerns and opportunities identified.

    They made it clear that this was not an investigation, because there was obviously nothing to investigate once they (or rather, the majority) had made their determination about Balboni’s concerns.

    Despite never talking to anyone other than Balboni and Booker.

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