(2/2) Park Street Church Petitioners and Proposed Vicinage Council Investigation


“Peace is not the absence of conflict; it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”  Ronald Reagan


Dee: A couple of days ago, I withdrew the post in the hopes that some folks at PSC would have some success investigating the Vicinage Council’s functions with the hope of impartial and thoughtful proceedings. At this time, the petitioners believe what they had first written is applicable. I have reformatted and produced the entire document here except for the signatories of this concern.


Dear Board of Elders and Leadership at Park Street Church,

We appreciate your desire to conduct an independent investigation and your recognition of the church’s need for one. However, we believe that an investigation conducted by the 4Cs Vicinage Council is inherently flawed and inappropriate for the following reasons:

  1. The 4Cs Vicinage Council lacks spiritual abuse expertise. The 4Cs website states that the Council assists in conflict. Our current situation involves matters far more serious than conflict, namely those of alleged abuse by the Senior Minister from multiple individuals. The investigation must be conducted by people with expertise in identifying and responding to abuse (e.g. GRACE). Spiritual abuse is often insidious and can be difficult for untrained individuals to recognize and respond to appropriately. Without the requisite expertise, it is likely that the results of the investigation will be called into question, whether they identify serious problems or exonerate the Senior Minister.
  2. The 4Cs Vicinage Council demonstrates bias and is not independent or impartial in its current plan. The Council will be chaired by the Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Hamilton, who has shown himself to be biased in favor of the Senior Minister in multiple ways:
    •   A reliable source has notified us that Rev. Dr. Hamilton has been in communication with the Senior Minister since September, providing counsel on multiple occasions, and recently advising the Senior Minister to not resign in response to the current allegations.
    •   Rev. Dr. Hamilton attended PSC’s annual meeting where multiple attendees overheard him express his opinion that all assisting ministers should have offered resignation letters to the Senior Minister when he arrived at PSC.
    • On the day of the Annual Meeting, Rev. Dr. Hamilton tweeted on his Twitter/X account, “To love as Jesus loved is to be a radical forgiver. #parkstreetchurch”. Given the time and context, this tweet could reasonably indicate a bias in favor of the Senior Minister by focusing on forgiving him for his mistakes, rather than prioritizing accountability and repentance.

It is imperative that both Rev. Dr. Hamilton and the Senior Minister confirm or deny the facts presented in the three points above, in writing. If this is not possible, or if any of the above facts are confirmed, Rev. Dr. Hamilton must recuse himself from the council.

Additionally, many of the 4Cs Vicinage Council members may be senior pastors of smaller churches with little or no staff, and may therefore lack understanding of a junior minister’s viewpoint. If an unbiased investigation is the goal, the Vicinage Council should also include junior ministers.

Lastly, the Vicinage Council has been engaged at the request of the Board of Elders with no guarantee that their report will be made available to the congregation. Given the close involvement of the Board of Elders with the dispute at hand, there must be a guarantee that the congregation will receive its report.

3. The 4Cs Vicinage Council should not investigate pastors who have allegedly expressed serious concerns about the Senior Minister.
The Moderator stated that the “Vicinage Council… will also provide its determination as to whether the conduct of the Senior Minister, former Associate Minister, and other ministers has been appropriate and aligned with Biblical standards for their calling to pastoral ministry.” It is absolutely inappropriate to investigate those who allege abuse and have not themselves been alleged of abuse. This could result in inappropriate charges, such as insubordination, against ministers whose consciences have compelled them to speak out. The scope of the investigation should be limited to the charges and complaints that have been brought forth against the Senior Minister, and the Board of Elder’s handling of these charges, including its decision to terminate Michael Balboni.

4. The 4Cs Vicinage Council investigation is not an appropriate response to potentially cancel the Special Meeting, which was originally scheduled for April 7th. The authority vested in the Congregation by our bylaws must not be hampered by delaying or canceling the Special Meeting. The Congregation has requested a Special Meeting four times to weigh in on this very issue. The 4Cs Vicinage Council should welcome congregational input, and the Congregation’s mandate to provide oversight of our church must not be subjected to an investigation by the Vicinage Council.

We do not agree with the Vicinage Council investigation as proposed. We ask that the Board:

  • Not proceed with the proposed 4Cs Vicinage Council investigation and to instead appoint an impartial organization with experience investigating spiritual abuse in large Christian organizations. If the Board insists upon proceeding with the 4Cs Vicinage Council, it should remove any potentially biased members, include spiritual abuse experts and junior ministers, and guarantee delivery of the report to the Congregation.
  • Follow our congregational heritage and involve other affected parties, such as the former Associate Minister, other ministers, staff, deacons, and Congregation, in deciding how to conduct an investigation, and establishing appropriate structures necessary for impartiality and independence.
  • Hold the April 7th Special Meeting in accordance with our bylaws and as initially promised to let the Congregation directly hear testimonies from those involved and exercise their duties as the final human ruling authority of PSC.

Thank you for your consideration of this letter and our concerns, Petition 3 and Special Meeting Request 4 Signers


Comments

(2/2) Park Street Church Petitioners and Proposed Vicinage Council Investigation — 42 Comments

  1. As someone who has been spiritual abused by a Sr Minister the thought that Leadership/Elders
    continues to not authorize an independent investigation is sickening to me. What does it take? A parishioner saying something happen to them before they get it? I want both MB and MB to be treat fairly in any investigation and the only way it can happen is by an independent one.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  2. Basically:
    Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, directly, no middleman. No Booker, no looker, no pastor nor priest.
    Love your neighbor as yourself, on level ground. The ground at the foot of the cross is level.

    If details are needed:
    “Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” -World English Bible, Public Domain (St. Jeanne de Chantal in Annecy, France, took this seriously, 1572-1741AD.)

    1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that any pulpitry, performance, music or media, if not LOVE, are for naught. Any activities, blogs, pageantry or programs, if not LOVE, are futile.

    Finally, charm is deceitful and attraction is vain but those who serve the Lord are to be praised, reads the Proverbs.

    God bless the faithful one hundredfold and more.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  3. ION: NYT publishes “Piety Meets Profanity, Our USA Raunchy Christians”

    Unfortunately, no matter how conservative the conservative Baptists et al self-identify, and no matter how fundy the fundamentalists proclaim to be, according to the NYT, they are front and center of raunch.

    Fundy Conservative Pressler, Patterson, Piper, Wilson, and Driscoll were raunchy, or worse, long before piety bonded with perverse. It’s a man’s manworld out there in Christendom. Go to church and prove your manhood. Unless and until the good guys step up and stop supporting or ignoring the debauchery.

    All of the above characters are on the dole of nonprofits supported by grift, IOW, the working wages of others with real jobs.

    Ah, the myth of the 10% tithe, the myth of paying professional pastors for what the NT clearly states is a GIFT of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12, Rom 12, Eph 4 … no grift for HS gifts), and the myth of hierarchical church leadership – the trifecta myths brought us here.

    Singular truth sets us free.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  4. Ava Aaronson: popular vote

    … is often an unpopular vote in Heaven

    The organized church shouts “Give us a King!” while the Kingdom of God moves forward with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The institutional church and the Kingdom of Heaven on earth in the here and now are too often not the same … and the pew doesn’t have enough spiritual sense to know the difference.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  5. Muff Potter: We often times get what we vote for, don’t we?

    In that case, literally — a desolating war (a generation later) against the occupying power, leading to the destruction of the national capital and the center of the national religious life.

    And we’re still dealing with the fallout of that, nearly 2000 years later.

    Judean nationalism turned out poorly back then, which might have lessons for religious nationalisms in our day.

    How blessed as the peacemakers, for they shall be called ‘sons of God.’

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  6. Ava Aaronson: All of the above characters are on the dole of nonprofits supported by grift, IOW, the working wages of others with real jobs.

    This is a characteristic of Big Name Fanboys in any fandom.
    Only TruFans without jobs or lives to get in the way can dedicate 24/7/365 to their Obsession.
    And they can scream louder and longer than all the rest of us who have jobs and lives.
    Because that is where they Live and Move and Have Their Being.

    The Loud Crazies have a way of defining the public face of any organization or movement.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  7. “On the day of the Annual Meeting, Rev. Dr. Hamilton tweeted on his Twitter/X account, “To love as Jesus loved is to be a radical forgiver. #parkstreetchurch”. Given the time and context, this tweet could reasonably indicate a bias in favor of the Senior Minister by focusing on forgiving him for his mistakes, rather than prioritizing accountability and repentance.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    amazing… how someone with the lofty title of Reverend Dr. Hamilton needs me to explain to him that forgiveness is not exclusive of accountability and repentance

    (albeit repentence is another one of those abstract shape-shifting words that christians redefine for their convenience)
    .
    .
    (spoken as someone who was born into christian… but who can no longer abide the baggage of the term.

    which is no reflection on God/Jesus/Holy Spirit)

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  8. I’ll say it again. This is the parable of the NBA. One-third of a team’s season ticket holders have lost confidence in their coach and stopped attending the games. Five of the most experienced players publically agree that they too have lost confidence in the coach. How can the management possibly justify questioning and challenging only the players rather than the coach? Maybe because they made their decision weeks ago.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  9. psc,

    It is outrageous that these five ministers have essentially been put on probation for speaking out against Mark. And it is frankly appalling how short-staffed this leaves PSC as Easter approaches.

    Without these five ministers, there are only four ministers other than Mark who can serve on Sundays. That is soon to go down to three when Adam leaves for his six-month deployment. Of the remaining ministers, only Chris May has long-term experience on PSC staff. Both of the others have served in their current positions less than a year, and neither appears to have much preaching experience.

    This is the fruit of Mark Booker’s leadership. He inherited a full and experienced ministerial staff. Since then, he has fired both Associate Ministers without hiring replacements. The City Engagement position has been vacant for two years because of his need for control over the hiring process. And now things have gotten so bad he has sidelined the majority of the ministerial staff that remains.

    I am truly baffled how anyone can remain impressed with Mark’s leadership of the church. I really want to hear one of Mark’s supporters tell me how exactly this supports Park Street’s witness and advances the Gospel.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  10. Seeking Truth,

    Notice how Randall Wetzig, who came with Mark and has been working as the “Ministries Administrator” and is now the “Assistant Minister.” I don’t doubt that Randall is qualified, but it was convenient for Mark that the ministers that were there before him are gone and now his guy is taking their place.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  11. BTA,

    It’s clear that the leaders of the church do not trust their congregation with the truth. All information has to be filtered through the board and everyone needs to trust their judgement. Cancelling the April 7th meeting, refusing to elaborate on the elder nomination process, the increase in executive sessions all put a hierarchy in which the congregation must submit to the will of their leaders without accountability.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  12. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

    You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

    So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.

    A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.

    Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

    On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’

    And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

    “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

    And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

    And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

    And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

    And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  13. Seeking Truth,

    janiceg,

    Dear Seeking Truth and Janiceg
    (1) Chris May has retired last year– but she is still ‘allowed’ to volunteer to lead during worship services
    (2) Yes, it is true: clergy do not get unemployment benefits. But they are still protected by labor law (I hope or assume) —should not be fired without being proven guilty of poor performance or feloony etc
    (3) The current PSC leaders are busy catering to needy people in the community; they just want those 9 ministers out! They are not interested in the livelihood of NINE PSC families dedicated to serve the Lord at PSC in the past 3 decades.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  14. Currently, the segments of the labor force that the states are not required to cover under Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA section 3309(b) include persons “in the employ of (A) a church or convention or association of churches, or (B) an organization which is operated primarily for religious purposes and which is operated, supervised, …

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  15. Observant Outsider,

    That appears logical:
    for the consumer—You get what you pay for
    for the worker—You get what you bargain for your labor, from your employer.

    I had two (late) brothers who worked for the City of Boston. The bargain was: the city does not deduct Medicare and social security tax. But they buy private medical insurance for you and your family. When you retire, you get pension and health ins. for the rest of your life. If you are still working when you die, your wife will inherit your pension and can keep that health insurance (i.e. instead of getting SS and Medicare).

    Small non-profit org. cannot offer much to their dedicated, sacrificial employees. But I would assume PSC with its > 200 years establishment would offer to all its employees a reasonably good package. But if the employee is labeled ‘guilty’, all benefits would be forfeited. A cold-hearted strategy from an organization dedicated to agape love.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  16. Observant Outsider,
    Observant Outsider
    Please advise: What about laws unrelated to employment?
    I need legal counseling on JUSTICE per se

    * Nowadays migrants enjoy some protection based on humanitarian principles (which is good) and may even be allowed to vote (which is amazing)
    * If a migrant suffers a hit-and-run MVA, and the offender is caught— I assume the offender is punished (e.g. go to prison or pay a fine) for violation of traffic law; the fine which he pays the government does not pay the victim’s bills
    * Does the law also requires him/her (or his/her car insurance co. if any) to pay the migrant’s medical bills? — even though the migrant has ‘no rights’ in this country ?

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  17. Seeking Truth,

    Absolute truth. Sincerely, I think Satan has blinded them. It’s a saddest thing I’ve ever seen. I just look around and shock that there are phone number of people who are comfortable, just sitting back on their haunches and doing nothing.

    But some people are callous. They don’t mind Mark‘s “corporate shakedown” mentality. Bring in a few lower paid young bucks who are malleable. That’s the game to them. They don’t get that this isn’t a doggy dog corporation. This is a church that’s supposed to be embodying the love of Christ, not just the outside world, but to its staff and congregants as well.

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

  18. janiceg: selected

    Janice, lots of people have MDiv’s, but that doesn’t make them qualify to be the associate minister of a large, historic Boston church, especially during a time of such strife, which requires maturity and experience. Mark intentionally groomed him for this role. He isn’t innocent.

    janiceg:
    Seeking Truth,randall does have a m.div

      (Reply & quote selected text)  (Reply to this comment)

Leave a comment - Click here for our commenting rules

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *