The Vicinage Council Exonerates Mark Booker, Excoriates Those Who Disagree, and Appears to Point Towards an Implosion of Park Street Church.

Park Street Church 2014

“We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated.” Bryan Stevenson


The skinny: 1/3 of PSC members are wrong.

For now, 33% of PSC members who sought change have had their hopes dashed. The Vicinage Council report is in and at first blush:

  • Mark Booker and his supporters are in.
  • There is no sign of spiritual abuse.
  • The pastors on the Council believed they were educated enough to spot spiritual or emotional abuse without bias.
  • No documentation of Pastor Booker’s education is needed or provided.
  • All pastors and staff should have offered to resign when Pastor Booker came on board.
  • All pastors and staff who disagreed with Pastor Booker should not have been so naughty.
  • This investigation was primarily decided by local fellow pastors who did not appear independent in spite of their claims.
  • The bell curve in the report was poorly presented and appears to imply that PSC may not survive.
  • This “independent” investigation was done way too quickly.
  • Was the outcome predetermined?

The Final Vicinage Report

From here on out, I will quote directly from the report to support my conclusions. Be forewarned: The readers might find this report frustrating, and the dissenting members will feel like they were not heard.

Final-Vicinage-Council-report-050124

The first part of the report was a chronological history of the PSC conflict. The report laser-focused on the actions of Michael Balboni. This was a hint of the report to come.

How the Vicinage Council described its call.

Read the choice of words carefully. I bolded some words I found interesting. The reader will find lots more.

To independently assess charges brought against Mark Booker that he is biblically disqualified to serve as Senior Pastor at Park Street Church. The church Board reviewed these charges and determined that there was not evidence of disqualifying sins, as described in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, of such severity thatthey called for the Senior minister to be disqualified from pastoral ministry. The council will consider the evidence submitted by the former Associate Minister, Michael Balboni, and any other evidence deemed relevant that is gleaned in interviews of other ministers and church leaders. The Council will provide its determination as to whether the Board’s determination was correct, and that the Board’s process of determination was appropriate in light of the severity of these charges. The Council will also provide its determination as to whether the conduct of the Senior Minister, Associate Minister, and other ordained ministers during this process has been appropriate and aligned with biblical standards for their calling to pastoral ministry.

  • Was this an independent investigation? I will show why this standard was not met.
  • The Council only interviewed ministers and church leaders. Why not the membership, both pro and con? Is this a pastor-centric church?
  • They look at other ordained ministers on the staff to determine whether they are genuinely called to the ministry. All of them, just a few, or maybe five?

The makeup of the Council members precludes this from being an independent investigation. Also, are women not allowed on this sort of Council?

Ronald Hamilton, CCCC Conference Minister
Peter Balentine, CCCC Vice-President and pastor of Washington Street Baptist
Church in Lynn, MA
Nick Granitsas, CCCC Past President and interim pastor at Forestdale Community
Church in Malden, MA
Paul McPheeters, CCCC Northeast Regional Pastor
Jon Paul, Pastor at Free Christian Church in Andover, MA
Tom Petter, Pastor at Trinitarian Congregational Church in Wayland, MA
Terry Shanahan, CCCC Past Northeast Regional Pastor

The pastors on this Council are all locals. Remember, I grew up in Salem and know the area well. For example, Lynn, MA, is right up the road from Boston. Proximity breeds familiarity and feelings of “We’re in this together,” especially in Boston. These men are fellow warriors. I doubt they would be up to the task of having to speak negatively about a “brother.”

Also, I understand that the CCCC is having difficulties, which is unsurprising given that church attendance is plummeting all over the US. I smiled as I looked at this list. There is little reason to suggest that this group of men could be considered “independent.”

There were only three days devoted to interviewing people in person.

It appears that I have spent far more time getting to know folks involved in this situation.

The council held in-person meetings at Park Street Church on Tuesday – Thursday, April 2 – 4, 2024.

…The council debriefed at the end of the three-day meetings. We determined that further interviews were not necessary.

I suggest this group consult with GRACE to see how long a genuinely independent investigation takes.

Concerned members were not given a chance to express their concerns verbally.

Given the increasing reliance on elder boards in churches, the Council seems to be overlooking the input of the pewsitters, who volunteer and give money to the church. In this case, many of them were deeply involved in the conflict. Are they not as important as the Council’s fellow pastors?

It was determined that the council would meet with the people with the most direct involvement in the conflict, including the church leaders and the staff members.

It seems that the Council deliberately ducked speaking with the members.

Members: Your money supports this enterprise known as PSC, which probably used your donations to cover any costs resulting from this investigation. Remember this when the leaders beg for funds to cover shortfalls. Make sure they really care about you. The Council let you all send notes, but they didn’t seem to want to be in the same room with you.

We determined that further interviews were not necessary. However, we agreed that we would receive written statements from staff, leaders, and members of the congregation.

…We received numerous emails from members of the congregation who are opposed to the leadership of Mark Booker. We gave serious consideration of these statements and prayerfully discerned if they provided information that we did not gather in our interviews.

Mark Booker has management issues, not moral or character issues, as Michael Balboni alleged. With Management issues, one can be sent to a nice conference to learn how to “manage better.” Not so with moral issues, which some Christians call sins…

This is an excuse, often used in industry, for keeping on a questionable hire.

We believe that the Confidential Memorandum of the subcommittee was correct in identifying these allegations as management issues rather than issues of moral character.

Michael Balboni lied, and they know this because they spoke to some people who gave conflicting opinions.

As we know, the only people they spoke to were on staff. They also believed the testimony that seemed to jive with their assumptions. They choose to believe that what they claim are the “many.” Could it be that the “not so many” had a point? Is this a democracy in which the majority wins by having one more vote? What were the actual counts?

The council received testimony that conflicted with the accusations of Michael Balboni in these areas.
1. Mark did not demand to receive confidential information that related to statements made in confidential counseling sessions.
2. Mark was not responsible for the “toxic culture” that existed among staff members. There is much evidence that this existed prior to his tenure as Senior Pastor and that he encountered this as he assumed leadership.
3. Many testified that they have not witnessed or experienced aggressive behavior by Mark.
4. Staff involved in the issues with the music staff at the 4 PM service do not believe that Michael provided a correct account of interactions with the music leader, Shannon Jacob.
5. We received testimony that staff members were surprised by the reaction of Michael and other staff members to the development of the Ministry Leadership Team because they did not raise objections as the idea was proposed.
6. We received similar testimony as it related to early discussion among the staff about the elimination of the 4 PM service.
7. We received testimony it was not appropriate to accuse Mark of making decisions that “made him the center” of the church. Some of these decisions were made by the communication team and other staff members responsible for public church communication.

The problems started before Mark Booker. This is called “blame the predecessor who is long gone. He won’t mind.”

In this flash investigation, did the Council actually interview those who had come and gone? Or was it just too tempting to blame the last guy and run?

2. Mark was not responsible for the “toxic culture” that existed among staff members. There is much evidence that this existed prior to his tenure as Senior Pastor and that he encountered this as he assumed leadership.

Mark Booker is biblically qualified for his role.

There’s not much to say on this one. It’s what they came here to do.

These are examples of many significantly different perspectives of the specific allegations brought against Mark. These differences diminish the viability of a broad charge that Mark has acted in a way that disqualifies him from spiritual leadership as the Senior Pastor of Park Street Church. We agreed that the report of the subcommittee correctly assessed that these allegations did not justify biblical disqualification from ministry.

They did not provide a copy of his credentials but said he had them.

This is the most stupid part of this whole process. Just make a copy of his diplomas, etc., and call it a day. What in the world is so hard? This group sure wasn’t going to do that.

The council cited the fact that Mark Booker was fully vetted by the Credentials Committee as a part of his application for ministerial standing in the CCCC. This included reference checks, review of his academic credentials, review of his ordination to ministry, as well as examination of his theological beliefs. He was approved for membership in the CCCC.

Mark Booker is now a total believer in CCCC.

I believe that CCCC is changing. Keep an eye on this and see if the polity at PSC changes. I bet it does.

Evidence was presented to the Credentials Committee that Mark actively pursued an understanding of congregationalism before he applied. He studied historic documents of congregationalism and agreed to submit to congregational polity when he applied.

The Council members are “spiritual leaders” who say no one is without “weakness.” Booker is clearly qualified to serve as a spiritual leader…

This makes little sense. Maybe it is because I’m Lutheran, and we call it sin. And they shouldn’t speak about weakness until they acknowledge his clear qualifications to serve as a spiritual leader. Our guy’s got “character!”

We recommend that the church leadership and the church membership focus on these positive attributes as well as the concerns expressed in the accusations.
It is not appropriate to point out areas where he could be disqualified without acknowledging the areas where he is clearly qualified to serve as a spiritual leader.

Mark has publicly admitted his failures as a leader. He has acknowledged his sinful nature and brokenness. He has apologized and sought reconciliation. He has submitted to engage in further training to learn and grow as a pastor and leader. This is a testimony to his character.

The council members decided they were qualified to determine spiritual abuse.

Really? That’s what all pastors say, including the ones who abuse. This Council offered no clarification of the studies on abuse they reviewed, nor did they discuss their familiarity with dealing with abuse. There is a reason that this has become an important topic in the abuse survivors community. I have no reason to believe that they are qualified, even if they are pastors and counselors. This blog speaks to this issue regularly. Let me point out the recent discussion surrounding John MacArthur and his lack of understanding of abuse. They whiffed this one.

The council is composed of pastors with long tenure in pastoral ministry. The members are trained clergy and counselors with broad experience in dealing with family systems and organizational
systems where abuse is present. The council also reviewed studies on abuse in the church and discussed definitions of spiritual abuse. The council did see evidence of distress that was experienced in varying measures bymembers of the Park Street staff.

They are disappointed that Michael Balboni did not accept the Board’s findings that Mark Booker was not disqualified.

They sounded like my third-grade teacher, who was disappointed that I had used red instead of blue as instructed.

We were disappointed to learn how Michael responded to the Board’s determination. He refused to accept the Board’s conclusion that Mark Booker was not biblically disqualified. He then put himself in an untenable situation when he sought to resume his role on staff, while maintaining his conviction that Mark was biblically disqualified. This posture led to his eventual
termination.

Due to some other guy’s fault, PSC is heading towards implosion and death.

Park Street Church was at a critical point in her life and ministry when Mark Booker was called to be the Senior Pastor. We reviewed the statistics that showed that the church’s average Sunday attendance (in all services) decreased by 52 percent, from 1,889 persons in 2004 to 904 persons in 2019. This would place the church in a period of “decline” on the church life cycle diagram below. It should be noted that churches in this portion of the life cycle are characterized by apathy, questioning, and polarization. In summary, significant decline leads to the development of a negative culture in a church.

This chart (and the Council) imply that PSC is experiencing polarization. So, do they think the church is about to implode? Yikes!

Former and current pastors, including Michael Balboni, publicly questioned the work of the Search Committee in calling Mark. This was unethical.

The five pastors mentioned in the following should be concerned about their positions. I’m sorry to have to say this.

While the process led to the call of Mark Booker to be the Senior Pastor, the concern remained and has been expressed in the testimony of the five staff members who have publicly stated that they cannot support Mark.

Get ready for this one: According to CCCC guidelines, the new senior pastor should be able to remove all the other pastors and staff.

A newly called pastor should not be bound to work with staff that was hired by the previous pastor. It is helpful to the incoming pastor and remaining staff if the staff agrees to stay for six months to one year to help with the transition. Their continued work with the church will be the prayerful choice of the new pastor in consultation with the church leadership team. The church leadership team should be prepared for the fact that some staff members may be uncomfortable with this uncertainty and thus choose to look for other employment during the transition.

Finally,

I’ve written enough. There is much more that I could say, but I hope the readers will do that for me. I genuinely believe that a change in how the church conducts business was underway when Mark Booker was hired. He is doing what he was chosen to do. At this juncture, it does appear that PSC is demanding that everyone get on board because this train is leaving the station. I predict there will be more firings. As that occurs, more folks will leave the church for balmier venues. This will lead to a decline in income. Donations are the only power that members have at this time. In the meantime, is the implosion of PSC imminent?

The only thing that would help is to bring in a third-party, independent investigation. The men on the Council did not appear to be independent and played games with the term “spiritual abuse.” I don’t think they know much about it, which was evident in the investigation report.

I am so sorry to write this about a church that meant so much to me. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been hurt and those who have been spiritually abused. I do know the term. I’ve been studying it for over fifteen years, and I can safely say that the Viucinage Council missed an opportunity to study the pain of spiritual abuse in their very midst.

If I can ever be of help, you know where to find me.


Comments

The Vicinage Council Exonerates Mark Booker, Excoriates Those Who Disagree, and Appears to Point Towards an Implosion of Park Street Church. — 213 Comments

  1. “the Vicinage Council missed an opportunity to study the pain of spiritual abuse in their very midst”

    Could it be that members of the council wouldn’t accept spiritual abuse as a credible form of abuse because they know in dark recesses of their own souls they have been spiritually abusive themselves?

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  2. Many of us have said all a long that an independent review of Michaal’s spiritual abuse claims against Mark is the only way to be fair to all parties. Yet the booker is always right crowd in leadership have enbedded themselves in. The 67 percent and the present leadership are accountable to God and God does not like ugly!!! Dee do not count the 33% as being out the picture.

    One thing that the vc report states is that Mark could ask Michael about confidential things he was told. Even our friends in the Catholic Church take that very serouisly yet the vc Ministers do not?

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  3. “They did not provide a copy of his credentials but said he had them.

    This is the most stupid part of this whole process. Just make a copy of his diplomas, etc., and call it a day. What in the world is so hard? This group sure wasn’t going to do that.”

    I think we have a good handle on his academic credentials. The issues are that they aren’t quite all one would expect for a minister nowadays and that he seems to have obscured what they were. Now academic degrees aren’t essential; my late uncle’s highest regular degree was a BA (Cambridge) yet he was considered one of the top scientists in his field (he was a fellow of the Royal Society and an international member of the US National Academy of Sciences, he was also totally upfront about his highest degree though he could have claimed an Oxbridge MA). Hence the obscuring of his credentials by Booker is the major issue here. If he had been clear about what he has, people wouldn’t be speculating about why the details were obscure and wondering what else was missing. He should also have been clear about when and where he was ordained.

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  4. A Repost:

    So, the VC met with 10 (yes 10) current and former pastors who raised their objections from a closer position than anyone. And what was their conclusion after those brief conversations? Just because 10 of 12 pastors have concerns, doesn’t mean there are any.

    This is the evidence that convinced the VC that the 10 pastors (along with past and current elders) are wrong. “Well gee, we talked to people who said ‘Mark didn’t ask me to behave unethically;’ ‘I don’t think Mark created a toxic culture;’ ‘He wasn’t aggressive toward me;’ ‘I had no problem with the Sunday night transition’.” That’s like saying, “He may have robbed you, but I can bring 10 witnesses who will swear that he never robbed them. That proves that he never robbed anyone.” And, besides the jury was shocked to find different opinions among the witnesses. And as any lawyer knows, opposing views in a trial always “diminishes the viability of the charges.” Was this an investigation or sympathetic senior pastors standing up for another senior pastor?

    Who does the VC blame? Gordon Hugenberger of course. He did all of this. How? Because he was a true “we’re a team” Congregationalist rather than an “I am the boss” Anglican. And if the VC had bothered to interview anyone who worked with him, they wouldn’t have passed the buck. But Gordon..with that darn, Professorship and PhD., was the perfect Anglican scapegoat for the new PSC. I hope he’s allowed to attend the 2024 Annual Gathering in July. Congratulations to the CCCC Diocesan Primate Synod! Top-down leadership and “asking questions is unethical” win again.

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  5. BTA,

    Exactly. You can ALWAYS expect to find conflicting reports about abusers, and plenty of people to say, he’s a godly man, etc.

    And the typical pattern of churches is for the majority of the congregation to be pro-abuser. That might sound harsh, but it’s true.

    Just shows how unqualified the VC was to discern spiritual abuse here.

    C’mon, guys. This is Abuse 101!!

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  6. “Mark Booker is biblically qualified for his role.”

    The decision to shoehorn the whole situation into this shoebox gives the report a “through the looking-glass” air.

    1 Timothy 3: 2-7 “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

    This is subjective. Some of what we’ve read at TWW indicates that Mr. Booker is “quarrelsome,” that he is not “gentle,” that he is not “temperate.” Did the Vicinage Council representatives investigate his family life to see whether his children obey him at all times? The very fact of the investigation indicates that not everyone considers him “above reproach.”

    Titus 1: 6-9 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”

    It certainly sounds like Mr. Booker is “overbearing.”

    In summary, it seems as though the Council men decided that having some of the qualities listed in each epistle was good enough and simply ignored the others in order to conclude, it seems, that Mr. Booker is good enough for a church that was on the way to dissolution anyway, and anyone who’s not happy with that should leave. Maybe they can rename it “The Church of Mark Booker and I’m Not Too Sure About You” before they sell the building.

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  7. Elizabeth Klein: the typical pattern of churches is for the majority of the congregation to be pro-abuser

    I think most people attending a church see only what happens during the Sunday service they attend, and they’re not necessarily paying close attention to that. I sympathize with this: if you’re trying to keep your children quiet during the sermon, maybe you don’t notice that the pastor is running down members of the staff or other members of the congregation.

    If you’re not in the meetings, if you don’t know how the finances get managed and the music and ushers get organized and the bathrooms get cleaned, you assume everything is fine, just like you assume everything is fine when you walk into a restaurant. You don’t know how the manager treats the staff or whether someone is stealing the tips. You only notice when there’s an obvious breakdown in the service you expect.

    It’s a little surprising that a Congregational church would have a detached congregation, though.

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  8. I’ve known these ministers for years, and never once did any of them complain of a toxic culture among staff.

    The VC is right that there was and is a toxic culture, but it was on the board and personnel committee. Former elders have said board meeting were “raucous” years ago. No wonder they objected so strongly to allowing members of the congregation to observe meetings.

    The VC focused only on the ministers and gave the board a pass. They even had the gall to imply that the division within the congregation is the ministers’ fault (one especially).

    I can tell you it’s not. There was already an effort to deal with the rot on the board. It just got accelerated by the firing, and then the board made it all about Mark.

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  9. As I expected, this report reinforces my original supposition that PSC was a declining parish with deep but unarticulated internal fissures soon to enter a period of crisis, all pre-Booker. The first failed call committee reflected that conclusion. Booker was probably hired to right a leaking vessel, patch the hull, pay off any crew that needed to be retired and could not be supported financially, and given a mandate to make things right. The church leadership communicated this privately while maintaining a cheerful public face that all was well. Booker’s mistake was to take the job in the first place given his lack of experience in dealing with these very difficult, very stressful situations. He did it anyway and made a hash of it. His mistakes have been compounded by incompetent lay leadership.

    Churches in this situation face multiple competing challenges and in most cases need to hire an interim pastor who is a “turn-around expert”. That person is publicly charged with the task of superintending the hard choices that have accumulated unresolved over staff, style, and even location. In many cases, long-time staff will be let go which invariably causes deep pain regardless of the reasons. At the same time, the interim pastor will embark on a very inclusive strategic discussion with the congregation about “who we are and will become”, not least to engage everyone in the redefinition process. He/she will emphatically not just mandate changes…the authoritarian style is not appropriate. And that person will also ask “who is to be my successor?” and engage the congregation in that process. He will leave in part as a creator of a renewed congregation and in part as the scapegoat who made all the tough choices. The leadership after him will have a far more upbeat, cheerful, optimistic style, based in large part on the challenging but necessary work accomplished before they came.
    For PSC? Declining enrollment, declining finances, an accelerated view of chaos, and lay leadership that eventually concludes that they made a mistake with Booker. They still have an opportunity to right the ship but need to use Booker as their current scapegoat so that whoever follows comes in untainted.

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  10. (1) This was such a depressing paragraph:

    “The church leadership team should address the issue of the tenure of staff
    members when a pastor resigns. It is recommended that an incoming pastor has discretion about staff hiring and staff organization. A newly called pastor should not be bound to work with staff that was hired by the previous pastor. It is helpful to the incoming pastor and remaining staff if the staff agrees to stay for six months to one year to help with the transition. Their continued work with the church will be the prayerful choice of the new pastor in consultation with the church leadership team. The church leadership team should be prepared for the fact that some staff members may be uncomfortable with this uncertainty and
    thus choose to look for other employment during the transition.”

    The most pastor-centered, business-model, nonsense that is distressingly prevalent in churches in the US. Apparently the church community is not a family of disciples of Jesus, but another corporation that expects staff turnover on a regular basis. Especially that last sentence is so revealing… “choose to look for other employment during the transition.” The VC “pastors” show their own conditional commitment to their congregations in this statement. No sense of calling or family dynamics (though I know those are often weaponized in abusive situations!)… just a place of employment that is interchangeable with any other job elsewhere.

    (2) I’m wondering if any of you here on TWW have lived outside the US and seen a healthier church more broadly. What I mean is, when churches seek political power and influence in their states or provinces or at the nation-state level, it seems like a lack of trust in God to protect and provide. (It seems like a “We’ve got to look out for us and our own” mentality.) I’m wondering if the spiritual cannibalism we see at Park Street Church and often across the US is the result of this thinking.

    I’m also thinking of the “you reap what you sow” idea… you sow hunger for power and prestige and recognition and you reap abuse of anyone who stands between you and your goals. The ends more than justifies the means.

    (3) To be super clear, I’m not talking about US politics. (As an aside, have you noticed how people label things as “political” as a means to dismiss and refused to engage with that content? It’s just convenient to label something as political in order to exclude it.)

    (4) I am wondering about this podcast, the quote below, and Mark Noll’s books. (He is professor of church history at Notre Dame, but not a member of the Catholic Church… unless he joined since moving there from Wheaton College a number of years ago.)

    On the Media: Meet the Media Prophets Who Preach Christian Supremacy. Plus, Journalism in ‘Civil War’, 19 Apr 2024

    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/on-the-media/id73330715?i=1000653016904

    “Christian supremacy is the idea that Christians are better than other people. Therefore, Christians should exercise maybe even a coercive influence on people who are not Christian.”

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  11. Friend of Park Street Church: I’m wondering if any of you here on TWW have lived outside the US and seen a healthier church more broadly.

    IMO, the healthiest church on the planet is the persecuted church … where the Body of Christ depends on God daily in difficult situations … where believers pray and experience His power and provision to survive … where they love each other … where there is no barrier between pulpit and pew. In America, we are are largely ‘doing’ church rather than ‘being’ the Church. We aren’t desperate and hungry enough for God’s presence, so He gives us what we want but sends leanness to our souls.

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  12. janiceg: One thing that the vc report states is that Mark could ask Michael about confidential things he was told. Even our friends in the Catholic Church take that very serouisly yet the vc Ministers do not

    The abusive biblical counseling crowd believe that the pastor of the counseled can be told anything that could remotely resemble sin. And sin just about everything is labeled sin these days (see John MacArthur’s latest stuff) this abuse is being replicated in many churches. https://julieroys.com/john-macarthur-denies-mental-illness-no-such-thing-ptsd-ocd-adhd/

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  13. Erp: Hence the obscuring of his credentials by Booker is the major issue here. If he had been clear about what he has, people wouldn’t be speculating about why the details were obscure and wondering what else was missing. He should also have been clear about when and where he was ordained.

    He doesn’t care to tell you. He preaches, you listen. No questions.

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  14. BTA: He wasn’t aggressive toward me;’ ‘I had no problem with the Sunday night transition’.” That’s like saying, “He may have robbed you, but I can bring 10 witnesses who will swear that he never robbed them. That proves that he never robbed anyone.” And, besides the jury was shocked to find different opinions among the witnesses. And as any lawyer knows, opposing views in a trial always “diminishes the viability of the charges.” Was this an investigation or sympathetic senior pastors standing up for another senior pastor?

    Well said.

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  15. Stavros49: Booker was probably hired to right a leaking vessel, patch the hull, pay off any crew that needed to be retired and could not be supported financially, and given a mandate to make things right. The church leadership communicated this privately while maintaining a cheerful public face that all was well. Booker’s mistake was to take the job in the first place given his lack of experience in dealing with these tough, very stressful situations. He did it anyway and made a hash of it. His mistakes have been compounded by incompetent lay leadership.

    That was well said. Booker wanted a plum pastorate. He got it but was unable to administer the mess. He was an average guy with a nice speaking demeanor, which would work well in many situations but not in this one.
    This job required someone with extensive experience and the ability to rally members and staff around a common goal. Instead, he divided the talented staff because he was ill-prepared for the situation.

    Stavros49: need to hire an interim pastor who is a “turn-around expert

    They wanted a one-and-done solution and settled on the same solution. Your comments are excellent.

    Is it too late? I think so. Booker is not up to the task. The church will lose more members. Income will decline. The church is now well known as a messy church with a pastor who finalized the developing issues.
    It’s too bad. The church has a history that will be lost. As one commenter from a previous post said:
    “That building will make awesome condos.”

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  16. Max,

    “where the Body of Christ depends on God daily in difficult situations … where believers pray and experience His power and provision to survive … ”
    +++++++++++++++

    Churchin’ In America is just too cute. …..Cute as a button.

    Cute as a McDonald’s Happy Meal.
    .
    .
    I’d rather chew on a pine cone in the scenic outdoors.

    Or figuratively in an cavernous old library in big city, ….with long long solid wood tables and cute little individual reading lamps.

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  17. Stavros49: Churches in this situation face multiple competing challenges and in most cases need to hire an interim pastor who is a “turn-around expert”. That person is publicly charged with the task of superintending the hard choices that have accumulated unresolved over staff, style, and even location. …. He will leave in part as a creator of a renewed congregation and in part as the scapegoat who made all the tough choices.

    In theory that’s what they hired Phil Thorne to do. Funny how there weren’t these staff problems under him…

    But of course he also didn’t have the power to fix the dysfunctional lay leadership.

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  18. There are many problems with this report, which Dee and other commenters have covered well, but I was really blown away by the inclusion of that chart on church decline. There are no citations in the report, so we are left guessing where it came from. Did the council just make it up based on their intuition? Is there any research or data to back it up? This is one of many examples of unprofessionalism in the report.

    I am also shocked at how tactless it was to include the chart, with commentary that locates Park Street just north of “implosion” and “death.” This is an extremely serious assertion, and their recommendations completely ignore the dire implications of their own analysis. They say that all the church needs to do is listen to the VOCA consultants and hold a “solemn assembly,” and apparently that will reverse the decline and make everything right. These recommendations are radically out of step with their diagnosis of the problems.

    Unlike many people here, I do not think Park Street is doomed. Park Street has been around for over 200 years, and in that time there have been seasons of fruitfulness and seasons of trial. Ultimately, if Park Street makes it to the other side of this, it will not be because of anything Mark, or the elders, or the petitioners, or any other person has done. It will be the work of the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and who despite appearances, is still active and working through his church.

    This is not to minimize the seriousness of the situation, or to excuse church leaders for their many sins and offenses. It is only to say that the ultimate fate of all our work is in the hands of God, and this is why those working hard for justice and healing at Park Street can know their labors are not in vain.

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  19. The “church decline” image was included in the report because the committee had likely been told by lay leadership that PSC was on the accelerating side of that decline. They had probably also been told that Booker had been hired to stabilize the parish and restore growth which in the view of leadership probably required major staff changes. Their attitude had therefore been preordained by the early private conversations with leadership as to “this is why you were called in”. The chart did not just emerge out of thin air.
    PSC need not fall apart, but it will come unglued if this leadership group continues to direct it.

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  20. Elizabeth Klein,

    “You can ALWAYS expect to find conflicting reports about abusers, and plenty of people to say, he’s a godly man”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    no one is wholly bad.

    (even world-class criminals do many things in the good category)

    no one is bad all the time.
    .
    .
    so what.

    that’s not what we’re talking about, is it.

    (speaking to the morons who were distracted by a leaf fluttering in the breeze -“well, he smiled at me many times”- away from the serious matter at hand [unethical abuses of power])

    and running with that instead.

    all the focus of my 8-month old puppy.
    .
    .
    but it think it’s clear they knew what they were doing. and just as clear are their priorities.

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  21. Seeking Truth:

    Unlike many people here, I do not think Park Street is doomed. Park Street has been around for over 200 years, and in that time there have been seasons of fruitfulness and seasons of trial. Ultimately, if Park Street makes it to the other side of this, it will not be because of anything Mark, or the elders, or the petitioners, or any other person has done. It will be the work of the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and who despite appearances, is still active and working through his church.

    This is not to minimize the seriousness of the situation, or to excuse church leaders for their many sins and offenses. It is only to say that the ultimate fate of all our work is in the hands of God, and this is why those working hard for justice and healing at Park Street can know their labors are not in vain.

    The church, ultimately, cannot be doomed, since Jesus said that the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

    However, individual, local churches do rise and fall at times. (The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill comes to mind…)

    Even when abuse or high conflict isn’t present, sometimes a church has to close for other reasons.

    That was the case with my dad’s church. They got too small to be financially sustainable, knew they had to close, and went through a very careful, and painful year-long process to do just that. The amazing thing was that they thought through exactly which charities would get the proceeds from selling off the church building and the parsonage. When his church gave over the checks to these charities, the recipients often had tears in their eyes, just the amazement – this is EXACTLY the amount our organization needed!! Also, their church building went to another church body. They really wanted an active church to have the space.

    So God was definitely in the process of my dad’s church closing, and His people followed, even though it was painful. Also, my dad’s pastor got a call to another church in the area, where he is now going.

    They were a spiritually alive church that closed.

    Other churches are spiritually dead, but look like they’re flourishing by all external measures (butts in the pews, dollars in the offering plates, programs, ministries and missions supported, etc., which often get confused for fruit).

    Also, it’s possible to have spiritually alive people in spiritually dead churches, and vice versa. This side of heaven, both the tares and wheat grow together in the field. Only the wheat is the church. Ultimately, only God knows which is which. People are complicated. And it’s not harvest time yet.

    I completely agree with you, that the labor of the Balbonis, the resigned elders, the petitioners, etc. and others for PSC is not in vain. Not by a long shot. It might not have the outcome the laborers long for, and God’s timetable is often very confusing to us.

    But I think of the strong bond of those in the 1/3rd of PSC as a precious thing. I think the longing for a healthy church is a good thing. I think a knowledge of how Christians can fall for choosing our church leaders on the basis of “casting vision,” or “getting things done” (for God’s Kingdom of course, all while running over other believers) is a good thing – because I think this tendency a cancer in American evangelicalism.

    I personally, have been immensely encouraged by the courage of the Balbonis, the petitioners, Cindy Cutlip, and The Five. I have met and reconnected with some beautiful souls at PSC these past several months. Your passion for Jesus and His bride is beautiful to behold – and it has been costly.

    I also think that some of you are going to understand church-marginalized people in a way you never have before. Maybe God will put similarly hurting people in your path, and you can see and understand them, and sit with them and listen to them – which is the most healing thing you could possibly do.

    I see Resurrection hope in that, too.

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  22. Elizabeth Klein: church-marginalized people

    Lots of these marginalized types have been highly successful and used by God in the history of God’s people.

    Hudson Taylor
    Gladys Aylward
    George Muller

    The Casper ten Boom family asked to work with their pastor in saving people during WW2 but their pastor would have none of it. They went ahead with their work sans their local church.

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  23. Friend of Park Street Church: The most pastor-centered, business-model, nonsense that is distressingly prevalent in churches in the US. Apparently the church community is not a family of disciples of Jesus, but another corporation that expects staff turnover on a regular basis.

    100%. The “staff” are relegated to employees, employees that apparently are not currently, nor ever were, part of the local body of Christ, where “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you!”

    In the book, A Church Called Tov, the whole final chapter contrasts the business culture that began to take hold in the church about 50 years ago vs. the biblical vision of the role of pastor and the nature of a congregation in a journey together toward becoming more like Jesus.

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  24. ” there was not evidence of disqualifying sins, as described in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1,* of such severity* that they called for the Senior minister to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.”

    Does that mean that there was actually evidence but they didn’t regard it as severe enough?

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  25. Eyewitness:
    ” there was not evidence of disqualifying sins, as described in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1,* of such severity* that they called for the Senior minister to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.”

    Does that mean that there was actually evidence but they didn’t regard it as severe enough?

    Apparently, the VOCA report did come up with 4 areas of concern re: Mark Booker. Although the VOCA report itself is confidential, PSC elders did visit small groups to talk about it.

    I don’t know what all 4 areas of concern were, but one was “lack of empathy.”

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  26. “The pastors on this Council are all locals.”

    I think it is very common for pastors in the same locality to have social relationships with one another. They may have lunches together, get together for a common cause in their areas, etc. It is simply a fact that we are more likely to believe the testimony of someone we know than someone we don’t. We don’t even have to know the person well. Anyone who has participated in jury selection knows that acquaintance with any of the witnesses, let alone the defendant, is a reason to be disqualified from the jury pool.

    In addition to personal acquaintance with other local pastors, there is also the dimension of sympathy of senior pastors with other senior pastors. Given that it’s likely that most senior pastors have had painful encounters where they were misinterpreted or unfairly accused on something, is it not probable that their they interpreted the situation at PSC through the filter of their own experience? Do we think pastors are exempt from the tendency to assume that pastors are trustworthy simply because they are pastors?

    But this also assumes that people occupying the position of pastor are experts at everything. They apparently assume they are experts on the patterns that are present when abuse is present.

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  27. Eyewitness: 100%. The “staff” are relegated to employees, employees that apparently are not currently, nor ever were, part of the local body of Christ, where “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I haveno need of you!”

    In the book, A Church Called Tov, the whole final chapter contrasts the business culture that began to take hold in the church about 50 years ago vs. the biblical vision of the role of pastor and the nature of a congregation in a journey together toward becoming more like Jesus.

    A Church Called Tov is a great resource! Reading thru the sequel, Pivot, just now.

    I’m also reading Bully Pulpit: Confronting the Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church by Michael J. Kruger. PSC leaders’ behavior is described, over and over and over again, in the pages of this book, as well as many other resources on spiritual abuse.

    I just don’t understand how the Vicinage Council failed to see this, while claiming to have the appropriate amount of expertise to discern abuse. It’s plain as day.

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  28. “It is not appropriate to point out areas where he could be disqualified without acknowledging the areas where he is clearly qualified to serve as a spiritual leader.”

    This is laughable in its lack of logic.

    IT’s also part of image management when a crisis arrives to say, “But look at all the good things we’re doing!” whether you are the leaders of a corporation or a church. It’s verbal sleight of hand.

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  29. Seeking Truth:

    … Those working hard for justice and healing at Park Street can know their labors are not in vain.

    I read a Dr. Diane Langberg quote just now, which I hope is an encouragement to all those wounded Park Streeters, who have so faithfully labored for her:

    “Some years ago, I stated that ‘trauma is the mission field of the 21st century.’ I still believe that is true. However, now I also know that the voices of the traumatized are prophetic – the voice of our weeping God calling us to Christlikeness. The vulnerable, the oppressed, and the battered and abused are the call of God.”

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  30. Elizabeth Klein:
    Ava Aaronson,

    I love the Ten Boom family! Dad & I made a trip to Amsterdam in 2009 to see the Beje. I grew up in a small Christian Reformed Church, where a member’s mom was actually in Corrie’s 1st grade class, and knew the family somewhat.

    Guess where I saw Corrie Ten Boom? Many years ago at PSC. She was so little they needed to get a special riser for her to stand on or she wouldn’t have been seen at the pulpit.

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  31. Just a couple of things. First, it is common for 4C’s VC’s to be made up of local persons. The VC for my ordination in Minnesota was made up of persons from the Minneapolis area. I’m not saying this group did a good job or had the expertise to do this investigation, all I’m saying is that there was not necessarily anything nefarious in the make up of the council-simply business as usual.

    Second, I continue to be astounded by the 52% drop in worship attendance during Gordon Hugenberger’s tenure. Someone mentioned in an earlier comment that he was much loved by the congregation. I’d heard this as well. The only disses I heard about him (second hand) was that his sermons were too long and that he was more theologically conservative than his predecessor. And having worked with Dr. Fisher I would agree with that. And Dr. Hugenberger had a long tenure, so what gives with the drop in attendance? Did people stop driving in from the suburbs?Did the college & grad student ministries crash? I wish the VC had addressed this.

    Third, my experience tells me that PSC has never had a history of tight staff supervision. As an intern there I was attached at the hip to the Minister of Education and I could not tell you who he reported to. Maybe it was the CE committee. I don’t recall him talking about staff meetings, etc. The entire staff did meet daily for a half an hour mid morning. When I worked with Dr. Fisher at another church we did have weekly staff meetings and monthly on on one supervisory meetings. However, Dr. Fisher was never directive (at least with me) – quite laissez faire. I can’t imagine he was much different with the staff at PSC.

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  32. Eyewitness: narcissism. It’s not something you go to management classes to learn

    Nor can a narcissist unlearn narcissism … such behavior springs from a dark corner of the soul. Narcissism is a sad thing to behold when it is in the pulpit; it is so unChristlike. I suppose one could humble themselves, confess and repent of narcissistic sin … but the proud and arrogant find this extremely hard to do.

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  33. Friend of Park Street Church: The most pastor-centered, business-model, nonsense that is distressingly prevalent in churches in the US. Apparently the church community is not a family of disciples of Jesus, but another corporation that expects staff turnover on a regular basis. Especially that last sentence is so revealing… “choose to look for other employment during the transition.” The VC “pastors” show their own conditional commitment to their congregations in this statement. No sense of calling or family dynamics (though I know those are often weaponized in abusive situations!)… just a place of employment that is interchangeable with any other job elsewhere.

    Spot on.

    It’s also directly at odds with what the congregation was told when they voted to approve Mark.

    He was asked how he would handle being “senior” minister when he was younger than most of the other ministers, and he made some noises about having such a great team and wonderful resources.

    The congregation would have revolted if they’d been told all of the other ministers were out.

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  34. Former Boston Girl: I continue to be astounded by the 52% drop in worship attendance during Gordon Hugenberger’s tenure … he was much loved by the congregation … so what gives with the drop in attendance?

    There has a been a mass exodus of churchgoers from the American church over the past 25 years. This is following the decline of church attendance in European churches; many of those old cathedrals have closed. I suppose there are various reasons for this, but attendance is declining even among committed Christians. Covid has been blamed for some of it, but I think that has been overworked. Some folks are getting tired of church as entertainment; big screens, fog machines and skinny jeans just won’t keep them in the pews. And then there are those who consider “high” church to be too stuffy – too much ritual, not enough life. Bully pulpits and yes-men elder-rule, like the system at PSC, have also attributed to a drop in membership. Perhaps the largest growing segment of Christianity in America are the “Dones” … done with church, but not done with Jesus. It will be interesting to see where church in America goes from here … perhaps next time around we will see ‘the’ Church emerge from the ashes.

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  35. Former Boston Girl: Second, I continue to be astounded by the 52% drop in worship attendance during Gordon Hugenberger’s tenure. Someone mentioned in an earlier comment that he was much loved by the congregation. I’d heard this as well. The only disses I heard about him (second hand) was that his sermons were too long and that he was more theologically conservative than his predecessor.

    This is a peculiar statistic. Attendance also skyrocketed under his tenure. Is this 52% down from the peak? From attendance when he started?

    Church attendance naturally ebbs and flows, especially when there are lots of new (closer) churches sprouting up all around the metro area. We shouldn’t be looking to numbers as a measure of health.

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  36. Grieving: We shouldn’t be looking to numbers as a measure of health.

    True. My church has had a large increase in attendance in the past year, because we built a significantly building with a lot more parking available. However, this has has not correlated with health, literal or figurative: our pastor nearly died from leukemia, and now we have an assistant pastor who is abusive to the staff and volunteers and providing basically nothing but “doing the service” for the congregation.

    We’re all waiting out his can’t-come-too-soon retirement. Well, some are. Others are leaving.

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  37. dee: They are either stupid or in control and know what they are doing.

    A leader being honest about who he really is, for this church group, is not a dealbreaker, it’s an overlookable.

    Jesus’ teaching clarified dealbreakers (the rich man and Lazarus, Zacchaeus’ embezzlement, lying of Ananias and Sapphira) and overlookables (Zacchaeus’ stature and profession) in the Kingdom of God.

    Overlookables and Dealbreakers are a Big Tell.

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  38. One reason PSC has lost attendance is that during the 2010s there were a lot of new church plants coming to Boston that attracted the young adults that PSC was basically refusing to court. Now it’s even gotten worse and the current leadership seems to have no desire to understand what younger people are looking for in worship and community.

    And church attendance is declining everywhere. The PSC is being run is helping this trend.

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  39. Eyewitness: book

    “The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism” by Tim Alberta.

    You simply cannot make up the accounts author Tim Alberta documents. Truth is beyond fiction.

    Speaking of truth, truth about credentials, truth about who a man really is, truth about what a committee is really up to. Truth.

    The truth about Jesus and the vote is that the attendees voted for Jesus’ execution. And for the release of the murderer Barabbas. Go figure.

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  40. Dear Vicenage Council:
    Huge church atrophy, eight ministers opposing the Senior Minister (Kris Perkins, Dan Verrengia (wanted to retire elder board? Grace Chapel snatched him up with a quickness. I think you better change your story) Kim Morrison (who was randomly accused of spiritual abuse, although there was never an indication that she was disciplined for any rough/inappropriate behavior on her volunteers, a lovely woman, who was wildly successful in her homeless ministry, and a woman who beat Mark out for the position of Director of City Outreach btw, but was condemned by the Telios Institute of Spiritual Abuse, where Mark Booker has a ski buddy. A bit of a conflict of interest VC? “Oh no, never our Mark Booker nor ever could he, with his angelic countenance, be guilty himself “spiritual abuse.”)
    The list of incoming ministers opposing him goes on: Michael Balboni, Julian Linnell, Ray Kam, Damien Long, and Tammy McLeod) five of whom now have their jobs on the line as whistleblowers because they contested the significant leadership issues, and against him, Pastor Booker and this “insightful” elder board of ours took disciplinary action against, even though they are now considered a protected class. That my friends, is a violation of Massachusetts state law, even for church employees. Our “one voice” elder board didn’t have the backbone to confront it which therefore makes them complicit with Pastor Booker.

    Our prior senior minister Gordon Hugenberger was a person of the most upmost integrity and the most genuine character, that he held this church together seamlessly in spite of the conflict between conservatives and liberals, egalitarian and complementians. You dishonored him greatly by saying his staff had never been managed. Every single Monday there was an hour plus long staff meeting where all the ministers were involved, not just the handful of full-time ministers, because Pastor Booker doesn’t like pushback. Pastor Hugenberger empowered his employees and gave them the latitude and the trust to run their ministries without being micromanaged. Pastor Booker is the utmost coward, as most bullies are, and wants to exact his vision at any cost, which he refuses to put before the congregation in spite of the demand by the bylaws to do so. Again, something, the elder board completely overlooks. Gordon Hugenberger was beloved, I can’t say the same for your wondrous Pastor Booker. Pastor Hugenberger gave his 4 PM ministers, the latitude to create their own sermons, albeit they went over them with Gordon ahead of time. People loved Gordon, and you never heard a bad word about him. I loved his graduate level sermons, and the 4 PM sermons were less intense intentionally because the 4 PM drew in more newcomers and younger people often less seasoned in the faith. Pastor Booker is not worthy, by any stretch of the imagination, to follow in that man’s shoes.

    And you have the audacity to say that the minister should have offered their resignations to Mark when he came on board. How dare you insult the ministry staff this way, whom many of us had built trust with over decades, and shared things about our lives that we wouldn’t tell her therapists! There would be no financial support offeredThere would be no financial support offer to them or their families! How grossly stupid and insensitive of you to say such a thing. Mark Booker needed to come into this church and love this church, including the gift of our incumbent ministry staff that he was given. But his pride does not allow him to do so.

    It should be pretty telling to you, that hardly anyone knew about the deadlines surrounding contacting you, much less participating in an in-person interview, perhaps only to the Mark Booker dittoheads. In fact, no one ever received a confirmation that our emails were received by you, much like those to our elder board where our emails just go into a cyber void.

    I want to inform you that in spite of your comment that the 4 C’s vetted Mark Booker, his contract of employment was between Park Street and himself, so misrepresenting himself on a résumé is STILL an immediate cause of termination, which you do not have the authority to override. If we had an elder board with any ounce of integrity he would have been terminated immediately. I will tell you that I was on the Search Committee for the Director of City Outreach and helped interview Mark in a telephone interview, and we found a curious that he never disclosed the difference between his honorary masters of arts title, and an actual masters degree, which graduates of Oxford and Cambridge are required to disclose. As I understand it, he did not disclose this to the search committee for the senior minister position nor other people who interviewed him.

    Furthermore, if you had any inclination about employment law, you would know that issuing discipline against whistleblowers, even in a church, is illegal in Massachusetts. Now, pastor Booker is jerking Ray Cam around about coming back from his sabbatical, Which he was supposed to do as of May 1, but has been evasive about setting a date – a backhanded way of terminating him.

    Did you people interview any of the people who had left due to Mark Booker? I’m guessing not. The whole point is that the elder board and Mark Booker are driving people out who disagree with this “vision” he’s never disclosed, (I was in such person told to find another church) but which clearly compelled him to ax one of our major services, until there was a major public outcry, and a vision to throw our ministry staff into complete upheaval – clearly a vision, which is so incongruous with who we are that it’s destroying the church. But you’re going to conduct “safe interviews” and tell us that there’s nothing wrong with the church. 33% of congregants oppose this man and seasoned pastors start circulating a résumé around 10 to 15% disapproval, but there are no real problems with our church. The truth is, Mark was fired from his last pastoral role and it would be a death to his career as a minister to lose the role at Park Street. I take it you know this and you felt sorry for this problem minister. So instead, you write this garbage glowing report about Pastor Booker, akin to something his mother might’ve wrote, as though there weren’t a thing wrong. We had to subsidize this problem minister to the tune of $300,000 out of our endowment fund this year – a budget downturn unheard of in my 15 years as a member. There is no question that this “investigation” of yours was a joke, and you never intended to delve into the real problems of this church, and asked the hard questions that needed to be asked. Mark has a pretty face and a deceptive, sweet, humble countenance, as many deceivers do, that a seasoned council should not have been fooled by. YOU BETRAYED THIS CHURCH. Shame on you for wasting our precious time and taxing the patience of this congregation.

    Very Much Signed,
    Susan E. Lane

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  41. Eyewitness: “It is not appropriate to point out areas where he could be disqualified without acknowledging the areas where he is clearly qualified to serve as a spiritual leader.”

    This is laughable in its lack of logic.

    Also: qualifications for a job are a list of items, some more desirable than others, and in many cases none of the candidates bring all of the qualifications wish-list to the table. The hiring org must then decide which of the missing qualifications are just “nice-to-have”, and which are essential, and deal-breakers if lacking.

    Disqualifications work differently: if you’re a bully, an abuser, dishonest, in most orgs even one of these is an automatic deal-breaker.

    Qualifications:
    + he’s a great speaker
    + and good at fundraising
    + good at cutting costs
    + we like him, theologically

    Disqualifications:
    – He’s a bully
    – He doesn’t get along with staff
    – he didn’t directly lie about his credentials, but is evasive and probably deceptive

    “Great – we have more qualifications than disqualifications – let’s hire him!”

    It shouldn’t work like that – some disqualifying problems are absolute.

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  42. Observant Outsider: a lot of new church plants coming to Boston that attracted the young adults that PSC was basically refusing to court. Now it’s even gotten worse and the current leadership seems to have no desire to understand what younger people are looking for

    This is the dilemma faced by “traditional” churches everywhere … trying to strike a balance between what the younger folks want and what the older folks have had. Church plants have become successful because they attract primarily younger members with a more contemporary format, without having to battle the older folks who don’t want that. Personally, I don’t care what the format looks like as long as there is some substance to it by keeping the Main Thing the main thing. Both traditional churches and contemporary churches miss the boat when they cut Jesus out of the equation to pursue doing church the way they want to; in so doing, they do church without God.

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  43. Eyewitness,

    ““It is not appropriate to point out areas where he could be disqualified without acknowledging the areas where he is clearly qualified to serve as a spiritual leader.”

    This is laughable in its lack of logic.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    it’s changing the subject.

    pointing out a problem in someone’s actions/behavior that compromise the raison d’etre that both/all parties desire & agree on,

    and deflecting with “well, I donate to charity”

    and “well,….well,….you smell!”

    very immature.

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  44. Gus: It shouldn’t work like that – some disqualifying problems are absolute.

    “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” #MayaAngelou.

    Credentials were not a dealbreaker among the disciples and in the Early Church.

    The question of Truth, i.e. lying and deception, is a dealbreaker for a church leader, back then and now.

    A church hiring a leader who deceives and lies about his credentials is in for a wild ride, a treacherous trek. Best case scenario… up and leave, running fast the opposite direction.

    There are church plants rising up on every corner in Boston? Opportunities abound.

    The Leavers can find each other on social media. Everyone packs up and finds a new fellowship at some point. Success stories abound.

    When the wheels roll out of the Temple, as in Ezekiel, the faithful move along, too, to be present where God is present while vacating where God has departed. Go with God, friends.

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  45. Gus: – – – He’s a bully
    – He doesn’t get along with staff
    – he didn’t directly lie about his credentials, but is evasive and probably deceptive

    Anyone else remember the !Yuck! stickers?

    !Yuck! stickers needed here, especially if the packaging is so fun, cool, and pretty that it attracts and appeals to children, including church children.

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  46. My apologies….I’ve not yet finished reading the comments, so someone might’ve already commented on this…. 🙂

    Quoted in Dee’s OP:

    The council cited the fact that Mark Booker was fully vetted by the Credentials Committee as a part of his application for ministerial standing in the CCCC. This included reference checks, review of his academic credentials, review of his ordination to ministry, as well as examination of his theological beliefs. He was approved for membership in the CCCC.

    From the above quote, it appears that the VC “blindly trusted” that the PSC Credentials Committee and / or the CCCC had done their “homework” when vetting Mark Booker….the reference checks, the review of Mark Booker’s credentials, the review of Mark Booker’s ordination into ministry, etc.

    For an independent investigation (in this case, the VC) to trust the information supplied to them by the people they are investigating suggests that the independent investigation is anything but independent.

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  47. Gus: – he didn’t directly lie about his credentials, but is evasive and probably deceptive

    i.e. Full Plausible Deniability, following every Letter, Jot, and Tittle of the law.

    “The appearance of law must be upheld, especially when it’s being broken.”
    — Boss Tweed, Gangs of New York (Martin Scorcese film)

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  48. Grieving: This is a peculiar statistic.Attendance also skyrocketed under his tenure.Is this 52% down from the peak?From attendance when he started?

    Church attendance naturally ebbs and flows, especially when there are lots of new (closer) churches sprouting up all around the metro area.We shouldn’t be looking to numbers as a measure of health.

    I think it is important to note that when Danny Harrell left the excitement in the afternoon services decreased. Although Walter Kim was loved, the 2 afternoon services were reduced to one under his leadership.

    I continue to think that when Danny left – a large portion of people who questioned, thought and believed differently than many of those more conservative congregants where were in leadership positions – no longer felt as though they were welcome.

    Shortly after his departure is when I think decline at Park Street really started to happen.

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  49. I’ve been an interested observer as someone in the Boston area who knows many in the PSC community. I haven’t commented before, but I’m surprised no one has mentioned (unless I missed it) this amusing bit from p. 16 of the report. [emphasis added]

    “We have prayerfully worked to be objective in our process. The similar findings in the VOCA Center report and our report indicate that THE TRUTH HAS BEEN DISCOVERED and that an additional investigation is not necessary.”

    Now THAT is a big leap. Two friendly investigations with pretty obvious bias towards the current leadership both agree. Therefore, THE TRUTH HAS BEEN DISCOVERED. Q. E. D. Move along, nothing to see here.

    I am also curious about any clear evidence that Ron Hamilton had been providing counsel to Booker back in September. A Wartburg Watch post from March 27 says: “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.” https://thewartburgwatch.com/2024/03/27/park-street-church-petitioners-and-proposed-vicinage-council-investigation-reprinted-here/

    If that is true, it would be alarming if the VC report didn’t at least acknowledge this possible conflict of interest, but perhaps the source was incorrect. Has Hamilton addressed anywhere what communications he’d had with Booker before leading this council?

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  50. Jerome:
    https://www.ccccusa.com/ministries/conference_care/biblical-peacemaking/

    “In more extreme circumstances, we have learned the value of gathering a Vicinage Council of experienced local pastors and lay people to evaluate, mediate, and offer counsel to a congregation in conflict.”

    “and lay people”? Why were lay people excluded from this Vicinage Council?

    Excellent question. I am simple-minded, but when I see the word “Congregational,” I think of the congregation.

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  51. researcher:
    My apologies….I’ve not yet finished reading the comments, so someone might’ve already commented on this….

    Quoted in Dee’s OP:

    From the above quote, it appears that the VC “blindly trusted” that the PSC Credentials Committee and / or the CCCC had done their “homework” when vetting Mark Booker….the reference checks, the review of Mark Booker’s credentials, the review of Mark Booker’s ordination into ministry, etc.

    For an independent investigation (in this case, the VC) to trust the information supplied to them by the people they are investigating suggests that the independent investigation is anything but independent.

    Exactly! What the VC is saying is, “Other entities have done the work for us. Nothing to see here.”

    Which isn’t an investigation at all.

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  52. Susan E Lane:

    Dear Vicinage Council:

    … I want to inform you that in spite of your comment that the 4 C’s vetted Mark Booker, his contract of employment was between Park Street and himself, so misrepresenting himself on a résumé is STILL an immediate cause of termination, which you do not have the authority to override. If we had an elder board with any ounce of integrity he would have been terminated immediately.

    I will tell you that I was on the Search Committee for the Director of City Outreach and helped interview Mark in a telephone interview, and we found a curious that he never disclosed the difference between his honorary masters of arts title, and an actual masters degree, which graduates of Oxford and Cambridge are required to disclose.

    As I understand it, he did not disclose this to the search committee for the senior minister position nor other people who interviewed him…

    Very Much Signed,
    Susan E. Lane

    Yikes. Talk about lack of due diligence!! So was that when questions about Mark’s ed creds came to light? When was that?

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  53. The Vicinage Council demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Chuchanity and gave lip service to Biblical principles and what it is to be Christian. Based on what I saw, the CCCC as a denomination is a fine example of a denomination dedicated to the practice of Churchanity; it has lost its way.

    The charges levelled against Mark Booker, all of which are serious and if any one is found to be true, require immediate his immediate termination as well as serious church discipline taken against his major supporters and members of the committees responsible for him being nominated for this position as well as those responsible for his continued employment.

    The charges against Mark Booker were easy to answer. The Vicinage Council could have required that Park Street Church hire a investigative firm that does executive level background checks. This is now routine in Corporate America, when looking for someone from the outside to fill a C-Suite, VP or Directorate position. The first thing such an organization would have done is verify Mark Booker’s credentials and how he acquired his Masters’ Degree. Should Mark Booker’s Masters’ Degree from Oxford be a courtesy (essentially an honorary) degree, they would have reported back on that–that he lacked the minimum qualification needed to serve. Furthermore, such an organization would examine Mark Booker’s tenure at Church of the Cross in Boston, a church detractors say he did not plant but acquired via a nasty takeover and turned out the people who actually started it. Such an organization would have interviewed people associated with his work at Noah’s Ark in Colorado and his ministerial work in Washington DC and Mississippi. They would have been on the lookout for overstatement of qualifications. Here are examples of organizations that provide this service: Sterling (https://www.sterlingcheck.com/services/executive-investigations/), Corporate Resolutions (https://www.corporateresolutions.com/executive-background-checks/)

    Mark Booker was ordained in the ANCA at a time when the ANCA did not require candidates to undergo a multiday psycho-social evaluation conducted by a team of experts. Given the charges that Mark Booker is abusive / excessively controlling / narcissistic, the Vicinage Council failed Park Street Church by failing to advise the Board of Elders to put Mark Booker on leave and to order that he attend a multiday psycho-social evaluation conducted by a team of experts familiar with the needs of a 900 member, urban church. This evaluation MUST be conducted by a team that has no ties to Mark Booker. Had this team expresses concerns about Mark Booker’s fitness to serve, he needed to be terminated. Ideally, a member of this team would interview Mandy Booker, looking for behaviors consistent with someone who is a victim of spousal abuse as well as other mental health issues commonly seen in someone who is attracted to an abuser.

    There is a much larger issue at play. Most churches are losing members, dealing with aged members with no new blood. I KNOW that many young people are tired of Churchianity, unqualified and quite possibly mentally ill people in leadership and all the hypocrisy within the Church.

    I am a dedicated Christian, but I no longer go to church. I refuse to be part of a dysfunctional organization, one dedicated to the practice of Churchianity at its finest, not Christianity. Here is what I have experienced in the past 20 or so years, that has, sadly led me to give up on local churches:

    1. I was a member of a Lutheran Church that ran a soup kitchen. I organized fundraising and cooked there once a month. One of the people who supervised dinners (minority) was abusive, threatened volunteers and refused to follow ServeSafe rules. Numerous complaints about this person’s behavior were made to the Pastor and absolutely nothing was done about it. Goodbye.

    2. I was a member of a Lutheran church and sang in the choir. I discovered tremendous favoritism–choisters were given private lessons, lied to (I was told that the lessons were open to all and they weren’t). I unintentionally benefited from this. I was a professional musician as well as someone who gave master classes to professional musicians who taught in conservatory. One of the leaders was verbally abusive and insulted new members, creating chaos in the choir. This church had a ‘Church within a Church’ where the under 40s had their own activities and didn’t interact with the rest of the church (and the choir was one of their activities.) The pastor certainly knew about this dysfunction, absolutely refused to discipline the abusive choisters and put an end to the ‘Church within a Church’. Goodbye.

    3. I moved from one side of town to the other side of town. I tried my neighborhood church. It’s minister had to resign, due to family issues. The supply minister was wonderful, a renowned scholar and wise man. Again, I sang in the choir and played multiple instruments. The minister that got called was the most prejudice filled person I had ever met. The minister was a bivocational pastor; a Social Worker. If you were not of the same ethnic group as the pastor, under the age of 30 or GBLTQ+, you were NOT welcome. Needless to say, there should be no place in the pulpit for someone like this minister or in Social Work. The new pastor refused to visit the minister of music when he was hospitalized for three months. The pastor refused to participate in assisting the ailing minister of music when he returned from the hospital–instead, the pastor decided to decorate the church for Christmas. The Minister of Music gave instructions to both the organist and me for the Christmas service. I had put together a children’s choir and percussion ensemble… very cute. Both the minister of music and organist thought we would be ready to perform for Christmas. The minister decided to change everything and didn’t want a children’s choir. Nearly everyone in the choir decided, on their own, not to sing the Christmas service in protest of the ministor’s offensive behavior and bad decisions. After all of this, even though I attended church, I decided not to take communion, because it was improperly served. I ended-up performing a cut direct on this minister when this minister pursued me. I triggered off a church split, with over half the church leaving within two months or so of the cut direct.

    4. I attended a small church and was the presiding Elder. I caught the pastor trying to misappropriate church funds, funnelling them into a personal foundation. I had to turn the pastor into the denomination, ask that the denomination audit the books. I realized that it was practically impossible to rebuild this church, so I recommended that the denomination keep the property (because if the denomination sold the property, which was in a prime location, I knew that it would be impossible for the denomination to buy equivalent property AND rental income covered expenses). I also recommended that the errant pastor be treated mercifully (I had my reasons, don’t want to share them). The denomination decided to adopt my framework. Everyone who went to that church moved on.

    5. I was a member of a church where the pastor held a significant position of authority within the denomination. Sadly, the pastor had a serious Anger Management problem. The pastor decided that his wife’s best friend (who lived in the area half-time), his adult daughter (who was getting a divorce), a father-daughter duo (both were qualified) and an elderly man(significant anger management issues) were to serve as elders. I objected over the unqualified elders / nepotism. Because 40% of the church membership were minority, at least one elder should come from that community. There were two elderly, wise ladies who served as de-facto community elders. At about the same time, I discovered that two families were going through hard times and could not afford Christmas gifts for the kids. I asked the parents to give me a wish list… I said, “No guarantees, but I will do my best to see that you have a Christmas for your kids. Until I shamed the pastor AND the elders into acting, the church was not planning to help these three children. At the members’ meeting, I was shouted down by the enraged pastor when I objected to the slate of candidates for elders. I had to call the police in order to leave that church safely, because the pastor was out of control. Again, I didn’t intend on triggering a church split, but I did, with the ethnic minority joining me heading for the ethnic.

    6. I attended a local church and got to know one of the deacons–a godly young man wise beyond his years. I told the pastor not to ask me to join the church until I had been active there for at least a year. Instead, after three months, he began pestering me to join. It turned out the pastor had been a member of a Christian cult and began promoting said cult during sermons. The deacon left to attend a graduate program overseas. I was not the only person who decided it was time to go.

    7. Park Street Church. I left because I had lost respect for ALL leadership, both lay and ordained, courtesy of Mark Booker. I firmly believe that neither Mark Booker nor his allies are Biblically qualified to hold the positions that they hold. I attended the members’ meeting where we were called to vote on whether Mark Booker should be called. I voted NO and was encouraging other members to join me. I tried to explain to them that I was unable to perform a Due Diligence background check, that he had personality characteristics, including being too charismatic for his own good, that strongly reminded me of Berkshire County cult leaders.

    8. Local SBC church. Right wing politics preached from the pulpit. Way too Southern in culture for this Yankee. Goodbye.

    When too many people have experiences like mine, no wonder why the pews are emptying out.

    Unfortunately, I have developed a really nasty allergy, most likely caused by Volatile Organic Compounds emitting from tailpipes. Traffic in my area has gone up at least 150% since the pre-pandemic levels. I’m not in any position to even consider attending church.

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  54. So, I just saw the latest letter from the PSC elders to the congregation.

    As expected, they say exactly what leaders in abusive churches say: you who have spoken out with your concerns about Mark Booker’s moral fitness for leadership, etc., are evil and divisive, and need to repent.

    In response, here are some excerpts from an interview with Dr. Diane Langberg from the March 8, 2022 episode of the “In All Things” podcast, hosted by Justin Ariel Bailey, with Dr. Tara Boer (https://inallthings.org/podcast-redeeming-feature-conversation-diane-langberg/).

    **************************************************************************************

    Dr. Diane Langberg: “Abuse,” if you trace that word back to the Latin, it basically means “to use wrongly.” … So when we experience abuse, someone has exploited us, has violated us in some way, tread on us. They’ve taken advantage of our vulnerability as humans, and used their power to use us wrongly.

    Dr. Tara Boer: I really appreciate your discussion of the different forms of abuse. I think it’s so important that those are named well and defined well, especially in the context of the church and the power dynamics that come with that… Discernment is really important as we ensure that what we’re taught in the church is really God’s truth…

    I was wondering if you could talk a little more about what spiritual abuse might look like in our churches, and how we might be able to detect and confront that when that happens.

    Diane Langberg: We have to start with the fact that “spiritual abuse” is an oxymoron. If something is of God, it bears His nature. And so if we, working for Him in some position, or with degrees or whatever, we use our words, our position, our authority, anything to take advantage of, misuse another person, to feed ourselves in some way – it’s spiritual abuse. We have used spiritual tools and positions to hurt someone.

    Which of course looks nothing like God…

    Tara Boer: I, too, have been in a profession like you, where I’ve heard stories of people that have sought counsel from religious leaders in their church. And I’m sometimes hearing the messages that they received from those religious leaders are really not that helpful, in terms of them naming abuse as what it is, and being able to find safety after that…

    Diane Langberg: Oftentimes, that spiritual authority is used to protect a system, not a sheep or a lamb. And so, even in hearing about abuse and and believing the story, you know, “Just forgive and go on, and it’ll be fine…”

    What will be fine is maybe the system. Not the sheep or the lamb. And eventually, not the whole body. Because that will seep out, and do damage to the entire system. Eventually – which we’ve seen a lot of in the news.

    Justin Ariel Bailey: I wanted to ask you about that, because we are in that cultural moment where light is being shed on abuse in institutions. There’s the #MeToo movement, along with the corresponding #ChurchToo movement. And that’s revealed, in many ways, how pervasive the problems are, especially in some of our religious institutions.

    But there’s also been pushback, a desire to protect the institution, protect the system. And there’s a concern that people will go too far, that there will be spurious accusations, or that “cancel culture” will get carried away and take down beloved pastors, leaders or institutions.

    How would you respond to that resistance?

    Diane Langberg: First of all, it doesn’t make sense, in terms of the reality.

    I have worked with trauma and abuse victims for 50 years, this year. That’s a whole lot of people. And in the course of that work, I have come across two, who were not telling the truth… So I think we are saying that we are afraid of something happening that is extremely rare.

    And so when we build our responses based on something extremely rare, we’re going to miss the great majority of people who have been terribly wounded, often in God’s name.

    Justin Ariel Bailey: Often, it seems like there is so much fear for the institution, and not for the victim. You’re afraid that if this institution gets something revealed about it, it will compromise any good work that they’ve been doing.

    How do you respond to that concern for institutions, that a lot of times is allowed to trump concern for victims, and a desire to listen to the voices of those who have suffered?

    Diane Langberg: First of all, we have to look at Jesus’ response to institutions. He did not protect them. He cracked whips and turned tables over twice, because the first time they didn’t listen and course the second time, they didn’t listen, either. His response was to weep and to say, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, I would… but you would not. You wanted to preserve your institution.”

    And in doing so, He told them they were robbers, blind guides.

    And a den of robbers – which means a safe place for those who steal. Which is backwards from a sanctuary! The word “sanctuary” means the opposite of that.

    And I think that’s part of what God is doing in the midst of all of this trouble, and stories, and sadness and grief that so many of us have.

    He’s shining the light on His church. “You have loved your institutions more than you have loved Me.”

    And we become a den of robbers. We are a safe place for those with power, who steal. We’re not a safe place for the little ones. And that breaks His heart.

    So I think we would be very wise to listen to Him in these situations that we wish were not true. And see what He’s teaching us, and how we have loved our institutions, and protected our institutions, and all these systems – using His name – and looking nothing like Him.

    So He’s calling to us, in the midst of this.

    Tara Boer: I tend to hear this overriding narrative, that these things just don’t happen here. Or that, we’re close enough, we know everybody, they wouldn’t do that type of thing…

    I’m wondering if you’ve found other ways that we could break through that barrier, with that idea that things like that just don’t happen here.

    Diane Langberg: Well, that statement, I think, frankly, defies the Scriptures – which says that the human heart is so deceitful that nobody gets it. And so to say, “That doesn’t happen here,” is to disbelieve.

    And we also do not understand the power of deceit – in ourselves, or in others.

    So you can have somebody who is kind to you, who gives a lot of money to the church, who cares about certain things – who is a tyrant at home, who only hits his wife where nobody can see (or abuses in other ways) – and everyone says that he’s a very nice man.

    And so when you say, “Well, he did this to me,” they say, “That can’t be true. And it can’t be true, because of these other things that he does.”

    But the other things that he does, make it so that you won’t believe that it is happening. And so he can do it some more. And we have been deceived by the deceivers, and by THE deceiver, in thinking that we have somehow managed to create a place on this earth, with human beings, where these things don’t happen.

    There is no such place!! That’s called heaven. It’s not here.

    Justin Ariel Bailey: You cite a study, where you talk about the fact that, as people ascend in leadership or ascend in their platform, the more they lose empathy for those who are below. And you say that’s scary in any sphere, but it’s terrifying in the church.

    I’m wondering if you can say more about the relationship between, as people get larger platforms and get more power, and how they can lose an empathetic connection with those that they’re seeking to serve.

    Diane Langberg: I would say, first of all, that many of the people in those positions have never used their power well. It just didn’t show. The bigger and more famous and everything else they got, the more it started to show.

    So it’s not usually something where you wake up one morning and start doing. It’s how you live your life. It could have been a bully to two kids on the playground, it could be that kind of thing – and nobody would think twice about it maybe, except the two kids and their parents. But over time, the burden and expectations that are placed on you because something you’re doing is getting bigger and bigger – the part of you that feels little (which is why we bully people) gets terrified more and more.

    And the only way to cut down that terror is to make everybody else small. And in order to do that, you have to treat them certain ways. And to try to find ways to do that, that are deceptive, so they don’t know you’re doing that – but eventually, it really starts to show. You’re practicing maintaining all the power, and taking it away from other people.

    And you wind up trampling on them, and somebody squeaks. And everybody says, “It can’t be true.”

    The bigger the system, the more threatened you are, that somebody will find out that you’re really not what they think you are – and so they have to do more to cover it up. And they have to have more power to make themselves feel better.

    It’s a relentless cycle. Highly destructive, as we know. Not just to the person who’s doing it, but to everyone around them.

    **************************************************************************************

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  55. In case this hasn’t been posted before, here is the latest abusive email from the sycophantic board of elders at Park Street Church.

    https://mailchi.mp/parkstreet.org/letter-after-vicinage-report?e=c91934db67

    Where is the next petition for a Special Meeting?! Get ready to sign it all you members who are still free of the clutches of Mark Booker.

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  56. (my blog continues as below)

    You want a “SPECIAL” meeting ? or you want another “INDEPENDENT” investigation?

    These two adjectives are non-specific, non-binding and euphoria-inducing.
    The moderator will decide how to manage/conduct the process, based on how he interprets the antique church by-laws. The rules are dictated without rhyme or reason.

    But of course: a meeting is cheap—-an investigation will deplete the endowment.

    Edited by Dee

    HOWEVER: My delight is ALWAYS in the Law of the Lord; on His Law I meditate day and night.
    In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and WAIT IN EXPECTATION. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong, you destroy those who tell lies.

    Let us pledge 100% non-stop loyalty to the Universal Church, the Bride of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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  57. NAAH: Just like our top executive over-stretches his clout to control the DOJ, Congress, FBI, CIA, etc. I lament the firing of the canine ‘Commander’— he must be confused who is the good guy and who is the bad guy.

    Hi, NAAH.

    Deletion by editor

    It would be better to discuss ideas and practices, not name specific people in government. It would be relevant if it were clearly written to be about TWW topics.

    This paragraph doesn’t relate to Park Street Church or abuse within a church. I don’t think it should be here.

    And Dee, if you want, do delete this post that quotes the content that should be posted on a different blog.

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  58. A Former Member of PSC,

    Your church experience is a familiar story for some who comment here. The American church is in trouble … a spiritual leadership crisis … too much flesh, not enough Spirit … too many traditions and teachings of men, not enough seeking God’s face for the here and now … little prayer, no power. Church should not be exhausting; it should be refreshing in the presence of the Lord.

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  59. Susan E Lane: There is no question that this “investigation” of yours was a joke, and you never intended to delve into the real problems of this church, and asked the hard questions that needed to be asked. Mark has a pretty face and a deceptive, sweet, humble countenance, as many deceivers do, that a seasoned council should not have been fooled by. YOU BETRAYED THIS CHURCH. Shame on you for wasting our precious time and taxing the patience of this congregation.
    Very Much Signed,
    Susan E. Lane

    Exactly, exactly! I’m so discouraged and disappointed by this charade! I happen to know one of these men tangentially and am desperately trying to figure out what to say and how and when… and hopefully in a calm manner so I’m not accused of “sowing dissension” or other abusive rubbish. Like, how can I trust this person now?!

    Once again I’ll say it… the betrayal only exacerbate the abuse… it is itself more abuse!

    Ok… back to catching up on the rest of the comments!

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  60. Gus: Disqualifications work differently: if you’re a bully, an abuser, dishonest, in most orgs even one of these is an automatic deal-breaker.
    Qualifications:
    + he’s a great speaker
    + and good at fundraising
    + good at cutting costs
    + we like him, theologically
    Disqualifications:
    – He’s a bully
    – He doesn’t get along with staff
    – he didn’t directly lie about his credentials, but is evasive and probably deceptive
    “Great – we have more qualifications than disqualifications – let’s hire him!”
    It shouldn’t work like that – some disqualifying problems are absolute.

    Thank you so much for pointing this out!

    I wish I had a famous friend online who could call out all of these men publicly! It’s just bizarre “let’s circle the wagons and protect a fellow church bro, lest they come for us next!”

    And SORRY to use an anti-indigenous phrase… I just can’t figure out how they are all that dissimilar from the colonial invaders who can’t see the image of God in their fellow humans and just want to protect themselves and those like them!!

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  61. “Ideally, a member of this team would interview Mandy Booker, looking for behaviors consistent with someone who is a victim of spousal abuse as well as other mental health issues commonly seen in someone who is attracted to an abuser.” [from above from A Former Member of Park Street Church]

    (1) I’m so very, very sorry for all the painful experiences that you have mentioned here. It sounds like you have been very deeply hurt by the institutional church. I’m so sorry and hope you can find comfort and support here!

    (2) I’m not sure I completely understand each item, especially when you use the word ‘minority’… do you mean Black, Indigenous, People of Color? BIPOC?

    (3) Perhaps it is helpful to this thread, in the grand scheme of things, that you wrote what I’ve quoted above…. Perhaps others have this thought, but don’t voice it.

    I’m trying very hard not to overreact to this statement. Unfortunately it is one of the very worst things people think about victims of domestic abuse (DV) and intimate partner violence (IPV). The reality is that NO ONE IS ATTRACTED TO AN ABUSIVE PERSON. Sorry to shout… this idea is just beyond victim blaming. Even if a person was an interested in self harm, that is a very different thing than waking up to find oneself ensnared in the web of an abuser… especially ensnared by marriage. There are many important distinctions between what you have experienced (if you have experienced abuse, that is up to you alone to name, just to be clear) and DV or IPV.

    Please, please, take these two free online training courses and really listen to those who have experienced DV and IPV!

    https://new-hope-education.thinkific.com/collections

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  62. Janiceg: Be warned psc elders abusers don’t change there ways. Whether it is 6 days or 6 months down the road you will dealing with this same issue again with Mark….

    Exactly! And related to why victim blaming in DV and IPV situations is so destructive… the problem is not something that exists between the two parties. It is a deep problem INSIDE the abuser. Take away the partner / spouse / significant other and the abuse will just adapt.

    To be even more clear, statistically the most dangerous times for victims / survivors is when they have just left an abuser.

    “Studies on domestic abuse and intimate partner violence indicate that the most dangerous time for a victim is when they attempt to leave or have recently left the relationship. This is because the abuser may feel a loss of control and escalate their violence to maintain power and control over the victim.

    Websites such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide resources and information on intimate partner violence, including statistics and research findings on risk factors and patterns of abuse.”

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  63. This might be a bit dramatic (I’m weary and very angry), but does this remind anyone of the third book in C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy, titled “That Hideous Strength.”

    Sooo many reviews of this online… I think the primary source is the best on this because it’s a work of art. In other words, please do yourself a favor and read or listen to the space trilogy! Preferably in order… they build upon one another.

    At the end the N.I.C.E.* institution starts to break down and all the alliances shift and then people start attacking each other. Allies become enemies and then the new alliances break apart… it all ends in destruction… complete chaos and destruction.

    *NICE stands for the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments. It’s a fictional organization depicted in the novel.

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  64. Susan E Lane: The truth is, Mark was fired from his last pastoral role and it would be a death to his career as a minister to lose the role at Park Street

    I’ve been trying to piece together his career before PSC when he was in the ACNA – because I absolutely hate the idea that they exported toxicity to harm other people. I also have a personal connection to PSC from my time in the Boston area.

    I’m wondering if there is indication of Booker being fired? That would be much more difficult in the ACNA than elsewhere.

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  65. I hope you alleged evildoers of PSC can take a small measure of comfort in seeing some of the things TWW has been called. You are in excellent company! I think “Daughter of Stan” may be Dee’s personal fave…)

    **************

    Wartburg witches
    Obscure
    Wenches
    O glorious wenches
    Minions of Satan
    Hatemongers
    x#&**#xx!@
    Narcissistic zeroes
    Morons
    Warthogs
    Quite a gossip column
    How did we ever get along without you?
    Assyrians
    Philistines
    Full of ****
    Bored housewives
    Yellow journalism
    Discernment Divas
    Feminist Heretic
    Discernamentalist Diva Mafia
    Poor reading comprehension
    In Need of ESL
    Anti-Christian bigot
    E Pharisee
    Discernment blogger
    Moronic fools
    Pit of venomous snakes
    Blasphemy
    Garbage
    Ungodly
    A cult following
    Judas
    Dripping Faucets
    Just like Doug Wilson’s comment section
    Daughter of Stan
    Minion of Satin

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  66. Friend of Park Street Church,

    Very sorry for offending you !
    I am a dog lover and kept thinking why ‘Commander’ was fired for defending his boss against those who were supposed to defending the same. But he is not one of CS Lewis’ talking animals, cannot defend himself. Hope the media do some FU with the vet psychologist in Delaware.——–sorry again for chatting about a dog instead of PSC.
    Dee please delete all NAAH messages— I dont mind at all.

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  67. Jerome,

    Hi Jerome
    Thanks so much for posting the installation service. I did not attend because I dont drive at night. I watched the whole video with prayer for everyone— many are my friends. But I wish to point out: the group of people who laid hands and prayed for MB were NOT VC members. They were the PSC ministers/elders/deacons at that time(at least as far as I can identify)

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  68. Susan E Lane: Mark has a pretty face and a deceptive, sweet, humble countenance, as many deceivers do, that a seasoned council should not have been fooled by.

    The problem with deception is that you don’t know you are deceived because you are deceived.

    So, what the heck is the deal with so many Booker supporters at PSC?! Is he that good of a preacher?! I haven’t heard anyone accuse him of being a good pastor even by those who support him (he doesn’t have that skill set). He’s also demonstrated to be a poor leader and staff manager. So he evidently is a good preacher/teacher?

    A pretty face, touch of charisma, and a gift of gab doesn’t cut it as “Pastor” in the Kingdom of God.

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  69. Max: The problem with deception is that you don’t know you are deceived because you are deceived.

    … So, what the heck is the deal with so many Booker supporters at PSC?!

    Fear. At least, it seems so, from their actions.

    The 1st Search Committee was rather contentious and disbanded without hiring anyone. so that put additional pressure on the committee that hired Mark.

    I also think, with a congregation PSC’s size and complexity, and with the downturn in attendance (which all churches are going thru), they were looking for a take-charge, charming personality. Which made PSC a sitting duck for a bully pastor, and PSC’s leadership complicit in the bullying.

    So now, Park Street Church is Mark Street Church (as another, clever TWW commenter called it).

    This is the way most abusive church systems operate. The abusers are typically defended; the victims are not.

    As Scot McKnight & Laura Barringer point out, every church has a culture, and the culture is its soil. It’s the water the fish swim in, and don’t even think about.

    So to change the soil itself is a massive undertaking. From their experience, it takes 7 years for a toxic church culture to turn around to a “tov” (goodness) culture.

    And that’s once the leaders own up to the problem. PSC isn’t even there yet. Worse, they’re doubling down, and now they have the VC report as ammo. It’s just compounding the damage.

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  70. Watching from nearby:I haven’t commented before, but I’m surprised no one has mentioned (unless I missed it) this amusing bit from p. 16 of the report. [emphasis added]

    “We have prayerfully worked to be objective in our process. The similar findings in the VOCA Center report and our report indicate that THE TRUTH HAS BEEN DISCOVERED and that an additional investigation is not necessary.”

    Now THAT is a big leap. Two friendly investigations with pretty obvious bias towards the current leadership both agree. Therefore, THE TRUTH HAS BEEN DISCOVERED. Q. E. D. Move along, nothing to see here.

    (The emphasis added is in Watching from nearby’s comment….I didn’t add it.)

    Watching from nearby,

    I love your comment. 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to write it. 🙂

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  71. Micah: I’m wondering if there is indication of Booker being fired?

    I can answer this definitively. Mark was NOT fired from his previous ministerial position. He resigned, much to the chagrin of his bishop and many at his previous church. I’m not sure where this rumor comes from, but I think it’s important to keep any falsehoods from spreading so we can keep an eye on the real problems, not imagined ones.

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  72. NAAH: I wish to point out: the group of people who laid hands and prayed for MB were NOT VC members. They were the PSC ministers/elders/deacons at that time(at least as far as I can identify)

    “Ministers from sister churches” were called to the platform to participate with the PSC ministers’ laying of hands on Booker. I’d be surprised if none of the VC were in the group.

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  73. I’ve not yet finished reading the comments….I’ve been following all the conversations…. 🙂

    Friend of Park Street Church: In case this hasn’t been posted before, here is the latest abusive email from the sycophantic board of elders at Park Street Church.

    https://mailchi.mp/parkstreet.org/letter-after-vicinage-report

    After I reading your comment, Friend of Park Street Church, I read the email you provided the link to (I’ve deleted the identifier at the end of the link in what I quoted above from your comment)….

    I’d comment on the abusive email you linked to — An Important Update from the Board of Elders, Park Street Church, May 6, 2024 — but I’d need to use too many expletive-deleted words (in more ways than one 🙂 )….

    To ensure it doesn’t get “lost”, I’ve made an Internet Archive of the An Important Update from the Board of Elders link, and I’ve included the link below….

    https://web.archive.org/web/20240507182627/https://mailchi.mp/parkstreet.org/letter-after-vicinage-report

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  74. researcher,

    So many people who are involved in church are naive when viewing the implications of church actions. For example, it is more than evident to church watchers and advocates that this was in no way an independent investigation. No matter how they spun it, it wasn’t. The outcome appears predetermined. The Board, VOCA, and the Vicinage all agreed. I bet they went out to celebrate on the Tithers dime.

    I wish all of you well as you navigate these dark waters. I wish it had been open and authentic.

    By the way, I posted my MBA diploma on X. It took me about 3 minutes to dust it off, take a picture, and post it. That should be required of the pastor, now and in the future. Something is peculiar here. Even the Vicinage wouldn’t make that happen.

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  75. I am in the middle of reading the book Bully Pulpit: Confronting the Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church by Michael J. Kruger.

    What makes this book on spiritual abuse a bit unique is that it’s written by a seminary president, who understands why pastors so often just get defensive on behalf of other pastors (as the VC just did). And yet, Kruger thinks the problem of spiritual abuse urgently needs to be understood and addressed. This whole book is his diagnosis and warning.

    I am seeing the behavior of Mark and PSC leaders on every page of this book.

    Highly recommend.

    https://www.amazon.com/Bully-Pulpit-Confronting-Problem-Spiritual/dp/0310136385

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  76. I appreciate all the insights, comments and heartfelt reflections on TWW over the past few months to help process what’s happening at PSC. One of Dee’s questions in this most recent blog stuck with me – “Also, are women not allowed on this sort of Council?”
    If anyone has additional insight into this, I am interested.

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  77. Seeking Truth,

    Seeking Truth: I can answer this definitively. Mark was NOT fired from his previous ministerial position. He resigned, much to the chagrin of his bishop and many at his previous church. I’m not sure where this rumor comes from, but I think it’s important to keep any falsehoods from spreading so we can keep an eye on the real problems, not imagined ones.

    Hello, “SEEKING TRUTH”
    You have made a very interesting and ‘honest’ statement. ‘I am not sure where this rumor comes from… important to keep falsehoods from spreading.” This mixing up of truth. rumor, falsehood is exactly why naive PSC members at PSC are shocked and grieved since Oct 2023. The 3 ministers who left before Michael bravely and sacrificially spoke up. The true reason why each of these 3 beloved and gifted ministers left was never explained. What was printed on the bulletin or verbally announced during worship service was NOT the truth (i.e. they were fired). Each of us had to snoop around for gossips and rumors in order to form our own interpretation—- until one day a reliable insider broke the gag rule and would say positively: HE WAS FIRED. This is the major reason for ‘revolt’. Will you kindly search for all possible rumors how to help him resign ?

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  78. Who ever wrote Mark’s latest press release email today needs to check some facts.

    i.e The Booker family has been very hurt this past year.

    So has Michael and the Park Street five and there families.

    Plus all the parishers who have been emotionally and spiritually abuse by the BoE.

    So the only press release email I want to read at is point is the one that says Mark is fired or resigns. Any elder that has or is supporting and enabling Mark to do the same.

    6 Ministers would never put there job on the line unless something really bad has happened. I am highly disappointed that the VC washed there hands clean and refused to support the 6 ministers. An independent investagation should have been done right from the beginning.

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  79. Friend of Park Street Church:
    And the latest is out from Mark Booker

    https://mailchi.mp/parkstreet.org/senior-minister-letter-may-7

    So, a friend of mine read this latest letter from Mark Booker to the PSC congregation.

    Then, he asked ChatGPT:

    “Write me a letter from the vantage point of a pastor credibly accused of manipulation, deceit, and spiritual abuse. This pastor has fired people because he is threatened by them, and they have gone public with it, but he doesn’t want to admit fault. The letter should trick some people into thinking it’s an apology letter, but shouldn’t actually admit anything. The letter should remind all people of their wrongdoing, and call the church to move forward into an unspecified (but articulated) future. And the pastor should use his family to garner sympathy for how hard this has been on him. In this letter, gaslight the congregation as much as possible.”

    And this was the sample letter ChatGPT came up with:

    “Dear Beloved Church Family,

    As I sit down to write this letter, my heart is heavy with the weight of recent events. It deeply saddens me to address the turmoil that has engulfed our congregation in recent weeks. Yet, even in the midst of adversity, I am reminded of the steadfast love and grace of our Lord.

    First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude to each and every one of you for your unwavering support during these challenging times. Your prayers, encouragement, and faithfulness have been a source of strength for my family and me as we navigate through these stormy waters.

    However, I must also acknowledge the pain and confusion that many of you may be feeling. The allegations that have been brought against me have undoubtedly caused distress and raised questions about the integrity of our ministry. While I am deeply saddened by these accusations, I want to assure you that I am committed to seeking resolution and healing for all involved.

    In times like these, it is easy to succumb to division and discord. Yet, as followers of Christ, we are called to a higher standard. We are called to extend forgiveness and grace, even in the face of adversity. Let us not forget the words of our Savior, who taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

    I also want to take this opportunity to address the impact that these allegations have had on my family. My wife and children have stood by my side with unwavering love and support, despite the unjust attacks that have been leveled against me. Their strength and resilience serve as a testament to the power of faith and the bonds of family.

    As we look to the future, let us commit ourselves to a path of reconciliation and restoration. Let us not dwell on past grievances or assign blame, but rather, let us focus on building a stronger and more unified community. Together, we can overcome adversity and emerge stronger than ever before.

    In closing, I ask for your continued prayers and support as we navigate through this difficult season. May we emerge from this trial with a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper commitment to living out the love of Christ in our lives.

    With love and gratitude,

    [Your Name]”

    *****************

    Not so far off from what Mark Booker actually wrote, is it?

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  80. Just so you know, things have changed since the annual meeting and Mark’s support in the church is sliding. While (slightly less than) 2/3 voted to affirm Mark as senior pastor, some did so tenuously or with reservations. Since then, things have gotten worse. From the disciplining of the five ministers to the treatment of Susan Lane, more congregants have been convinced that something is amiss. The VC report might convince a few who were waffling, but when things continue to be revealed and more people continue to leave, the congregation will continue to wake up. If they knew when they voted to hire Mark that it would come at the cost of so many beloved ministerial staff, Mark never would have been chosen. While it was absurd to include in the report, the figure showing the life-cycle of churches will be prophetic: PSC is headed to implosion and it will take a miracle to stop that.

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  81. Observant Outsider: If they knew when they voted to hire Mark that it would come at the cost of so many beloved ministerial staff, Mark never would have been chosen.

    Was Mr. Booker hired by the BoE with a charge to cut those staff and move the church in a different direction? … but the strategy was to be gradual and not so crudely abrupt? … was that the plan all along? … is that why the BoE is standing by their man?

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  82. Elizabeth Klein: https://religionnews.com/2023/11/20/dont-go-into-a-relationship-or-institution-thinking-you-can-change-them/

    Other relevant quotes from the article with PSC in mind:

    “when you think a person with a bad history (whether that is a history of unfaithfulness, abusive behavior or any kind of character issue) will change for you, there’s an element of self-pride there”

    “people don’t show who they are at first. Some are skilled with smoke and mirrors”

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  83. Friend of Park Street Church: And the latest is out from Mark Booker

    https://mailchi.mp/parkstreet.org/senior-minister-letter-may-7

    And the following link is to an Internet Archive copy of the link provided by Friend of Park Street Church….the latest email by Mark Booker, A Letter from the Senior Minister, May 8, 2024….

    https://web.archive.org/web/20240508030705/https://mailchi.mp/parkstreet.org/senior-minister-letter-may-7

    I read the letter….it’s just more of Mark Booker’s expletive-deleted bilge. There are, however, things that Mark Booker’s committed himself to….perhaps this information can be used to hold Mark Booker accountable….although, knowing Mark Booker and his allies, attempting to hold Mark Booker accountable to his own words will probably lead to firing, ex-communicating, etc. In other words, business as usual.

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  84. janiceg:
    Please pray for the Park Street five!!! ..they are meeting with the personal department and 2 elders about there jobs today through friday.

    Am doing & will continue doing. For Michael B., too. Many thanks for the update, janiceg.

    If any of you are interested, Aimee Byrd just came out with a brand new book called The Hope in Our Scars: Finding the Bride of Christ in the Underground of Disillusionment.

    https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Our-Scars-Underground-Disillusionment/dp/0310157145

    I think so highly of her. Aimee Byrd really loves Jesus, and was spiritually abused by her church & denom. She is a beautiful writer and thinker, and (I think) is still going through the painful process of finding a new church home.

    So I imagine many of you Park Streeters may be able to relate, and may find her book helpful.

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  85. Max: a remarkable resemblance … AI is scary stuff … might as well let the chatbots start preaching!(I suspect some pastors are already “borrowing” sermon notes from AI)

    I doubt Mark Booker used AI to formulate his letter to the PSC congregation.

    I just think it’s interesting that what he says is so generic, and yet so typical of a spiritually abusive pastor trying to hide behind Christianese, that a computer program can recognize it and basically burp out a letter remarkably similar to the one Mark sent.

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  86. researcher,

    Hopefully, Mr. Booker’s words are sincere and not staged when he says:

    “I am hopeful that our present humbling will lead to more faithful and persistent prayer in our life and ministry together.”

    If he counts himself among the truly humbled, that’s a good start. If the narcissist within him has survived this hit, PSC is in for more trouble in the days ahead.

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  87. Max,

    No they definitely did not anticipate this. I’m not sure what the discussions were when Kris Perkins was told by Mark to leave for basically no reason, but things have gotten so out of hand. I think there is just a lot of disdain and blame put on Michael and the five ministers for how public things have gotten. They assume that they have talked to the press (they never did) and there is this grand conspiracy to slander Mark/attack the church.

    It’s also worth pointing out that everything coming from the Elders is actually not representative of every elder. Notice how when it comes to interacting with the congregation, only a few names come up over and over again. This is because they say the right things and other elders are not allowed to speak openly or express their individual opinions. Leslie Liu was similarly punished for speaking out of turn at the annual meeting, though this was not broadcasted publicly and I don’t think she will be pushed out.

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  88. Observant Outsider: This is because they say the right things and other elders are not allowed to speak openly or express their individual opinions

    I could never serve on the elders. Withholding the truth from people I am called to serve. Whether it would be to call out mark on all his issues or tell the other elders that it is wrong to not do a independent review of the michael/mark issue and that the firing of 5 ministers because mark has done bad things. I feel for lesilie Lui – at least she did not keep the secret about other complaints about mark. Manipulation and sensorship sounds like the spiritually abusive leadership is having fun watching the church crumble from within its own walls. I pray for all those who have been hurt by the actions of the leadership in there relentless support of the SP.

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  89. Observant Outsider: the Elders … when it comes to interacting with the congregation, only a few names come up over and over again

    Yes-men, who sit at the right hand of Mr. Booker … loyal to the end, they control the narrative. We’ve seen it multiple times on The Wartburg Watch … the same old playbook. This, of course, has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God or pursuing the Great Commission … just who is going to rule and reign over the PSC kingdom.

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  90. As a responsible congregant, Pastor Booker, I am reminding you, as per your own sermon excerpted below, that you are not the Christ. Whom would we magnify by letting go of our 5 ministers? Answer truthfully.

    ______________________
    On Sunday, March 20, 2020, Mark Booker preached his first sermon as the Senior Minister of Park Street Church (PSC). This is from his sermon, “He Must Increase.”

    “It’s clear that God wants us, Park Street Church, to hear this message, obviously. ‘We are not the Christ’ – not you, not the elders, not me, not any other pastors or leaders in our community, and not our church collectively. We are not the Christ, and it is so easy, though, for us to forget this, and I think sometimes it’s easiest for pastors to forget this. We are called into this vocation hopefully because we care, because we love God and we love people, because we want to see God glorified and people made whole. But we can get busy in those efforts and begin to blur the line between Messiah and servant of the Messiah. That will manifest itself in a growing, in a number of things: prayerlessness, an over-reliance upon our own gifts, a growing inability to listen to those who disagree with us or provide criticism, and a greater dependence upon managerial and leadership books, rather than upon the Word of God, and many other ways as well. So, I’d like to make a deal with you at the outset of my ministry among you – If you ever see me acting like I think I am the Christ, you have my permission to grab me by the shoulders, to look me in the eyes, and to say to me with enthusiasm, ‘Mark, you are not the Christ.’

    Conversely, if I ever see any of you treating me like I am the Christ, then I promise to stop you, look you in the eye, and say to you, ‘I am not the Christ – stop it.’ Of course, what I apply to myself in this moment, and to pastors, applies to all of us. We are all prone to forget that we are not the Messiah. In one way or another, we’re all prone to believing that we are our own savior….” (bolding added)

    This excerpt was quoted in a letter to the Board of Elders from Joel and Ruth Luna.

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  91. Muff Potter,

    Muff Potter: The time is coming when they (the great ‘they’, which alludes to all of us) will rue the day they hatched AI.

    dee,

    dee:
    researcher,
    it is more than evident to church watchers and advocates that this was in no way an independent investigation. No matter how they spun it, it wasn’t. The outcome appears predetermined. The Board, VOCA, and the Vicinage all agreed. I bet they went out to celebrate on the Tithers dime.

    By the way, I posted my MBA diploma on X. It took me about 3 minutes to dust it off, take a picture, and post it. That should be required of the pastor, now and in the future. Something is peculiar here. Even the Vicinage wouldn’t make that happen.

    Friend of Park Street Church,

    Friend of Park Street Church:
    I’ve been studying AI for work to see if it might help us or if it’s a liability.I’m listening to the audiobook, “You Look Like a Thing and I Love You.”It’s so interesting!

    To Friend of PSC and Muff Potter and Dee and to Whom this may Concern:
    Wish to identify myself as one of all humans made in the image of God, trying but often failing to speak the truth and with love— yet trusting the Holy Spirit can empower forgiven sinners to defeat the Father of Lies (Satan). Who am I to judge? Remember our Lord has already won the victory…… we must trust and obey His command to love Him and love one another as He loves all of us.

    From all walks of life, including hi-tech nerds and computer-illiterates like me, we who support the Universal church (with roots of PSC) are clinging tightly to the True Vine. We trust the Holy Spirit is omnipotent and omniscient. Can a battery-operated desk fan oppose a tornado? We have no fear of artificial or Satanic intelligence. The Spirit of Truth will expose ALL LIES, whether from congregations or deacons or elders or pastors or VOCA or the 4C council. Our Lord is a consuming fire. THOUGH THOU SLAY US, YET WILL WE TRUST IN THEE. Let us humbly confess our sins, accept His merciful love, and follow our Savior to seek the lost.

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  92. Susan Lane:
    At Park Street Church you can lie as much as you want as long as you have an Oxford (or Ivy League) degree, oops! Even if it’s only a Bachelors. “Let’s just rewrite that job description for you…”

    What ever makes you think he even has a Bachelors?
    With a ManaGAWD, you ALWAYS assume a degree is FAKE until proven otherwise by third-party sources.
    Just like when they claim to have been a Navy SEAL.

    “Let’s all pray now to the God of higher education. Amen”

    Beware of Holy Nincompoop Syndrome, where the more stupid and ignorant you are, the more Godly you must be.
    i.e. “Wisdom of God is Foolisheness to Men” IN REVERSE.

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  93. Observant Outsider: when things continue to be revealed and more people continue to leave, the congregation will continue to wake up

    “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion” warned the prophet Amos.

    Even if they stir from their slumber, do you really want to be part of a congregation which didn’t have enough discernment to do the right thing with Mr. Booker and his yes-men elders, allowing this mess to spiral into a deeper hole?!

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  94. Headless Unicorn Guy: What ever makes you think he even has a Bachelors?

    We do know that Mark Booker has a bachelor’s degree from Rhodes. He announced his appointment to PSC in the Class Notes section: https://issuu.com/contemporarymedia/docs/rhodes_magazine_fall_2020

    The question is whether or not Booker earned 2 master’s degrees from Oxford U., or if one of them is actually “the Oxford MA,” which is an honorary title purchased several years after a bachelor’s degree, with a small fee.

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  95. Elizabeth Klein,

    Mark CV’s has what’s called a Masters of Arts distinction from either Oxford or Cambridge that’s simply an honorary title that one gets after they complete their bachelors degree. It gets you into the elite boys clubs in England basically. It is not a masters degree as other places in the world know it where you have a two-year curriculum, and research done in preparation for a thesis. Both Cambridge and Oxford tell their graduates either don’t put that title on your resume if they require a masters degree or make certain that you disclose to your potential employer that it is not a masters degree otherwise you set yourself up for termination for misrepresenting yourself. As I understand it from some higher ups, (I’m not giving names) Mark did not disclose this information when he was applying for the job. If that’s true, it means he was deceptive during his application process, and most ethical organizations would terminate him immediately. A simple inquiry of the search committee members and the elder board at the time would suffice to identify if Mark ever disclosed the information. The elder board doesn’t want to touch the subject, and the 4 C’s said they “vetted him“ but never touched the subject as to whether or not he disclosed that he did not have a true MA degree. The job description for the Senior Minister position would require a masters of divinity at least, or it’s equivalent. They’re simply trying to avoid the subject now rather than answer the question directly. The 4 C’s tried to make the point that Mark is capable of the position, but that’s not the issue. The point was did he earn the position due to deception, and, if so, this demonstrates highly unethical behavior right out of the starting gates, and that perhaps his reason alone to terminate him.

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  96. Elizabeth Klein: The question is whether or not Booker earned 2 master’s degrees from Oxford U., or if one of them is actually “the Oxford MA,” which is an honorary title purchased several years after a bachelor’s degree, with a small fee.

    A cv was posted on https://thewartburgwatch.com/2024/02/23/park-street-church-and-red-flags-fired-pastors-misplaced-credit-unanswered-letters-hidden-credentials-and-creeping-authoritarianism-what-you-should-think-about-before-you-vote/

    I think there is little doubt that he has earned a Rhodes Bachelor, an Oxford BA (later aged up to MA), and an Oxford Master of Studies in Theology with a thesis of “The use of the fear of the lord in Paul and the background of the Jewish wisdom tradition” (admittedly I couldn’t find that thesis online but that is really only common for PhD theses). I would say this is good prep for going into an academic career in theology (next step would be a doctoral program). It doesn’t include practical training as a pastor which is sort of expected nowadays in many denominations.

    I had also found using the wayback machine that Oxford theology department at the time he was a student may have encouraged senior students (those already with a bachelor’s degree elsewhere) doing the BA to treat the MA upgrade as an earned MA. Booker was likely tempted/misled to put MA without explanation and has since doubled down, perhaps not wanting to admit to a mistake.

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  97. Erp: A cv was posted on https://thewartburgwatch.com/2024/02/23/park-street-church-and-red-flags-fired-pastors-misplaced-credit-unanswered-letters-hidden-credentials-and-creeping-authoritarianism-what-you-should-think-about-before-you-vote/

    I think there is little doubt that he has earned a Rhodes Bachelor, an Oxford BA (later aged up to MA), and an Oxford Master of Studies in Theology with a thesis of “The use of the fear of the lord in Paul and the background of the Jewish wisdom tradition” (admittedly I couldn’t find that thesis online but that is really only common for PhD theses). I would say this is good prep for going into an academic career in theology (next step would be a doctoral program). It doesn’t include practical training as a pastor which is sort of expected nowadays in many denominations.

    I had also found using the wayback machine that Oxford theology department at the time he was a student may have encouraged senior students (those already with a bachelor’s degree elsewhere) doing the BA to treat the MA upgrade as an earned MA. Booker was likely tempted/misled to put MA without explanation and has since doubled down, perhaps not wanting to admit to a mistake.

    This seems like a plausible explanation.

    Again, this is something that Mark Booker had every opportunity to be upfront about. Why didn’t he just clarify this when questions were raised, instead of sending that bizarre letter to the whole congregation this past Dec about how ppl are threatening to expose his ed creds (if there’s nothing to expose, then why feel threatened?).

    Oxford’s instructions on the use of “the Oxford MA” are confusing. https://www.new.ox.ac.uk/oxford-ma-0#:~:text=In%20most%20UK%20universities%2C%20the,conferred%2021%20terms%20after%20matriculation.

    On the one hand, they point out that it’s not what most educational institutions even in the U.K. would consider a real master’s degree. On the other hand, if one has the Oxford MA, then one is to use the “MA” designation in one’s resume – but just not in addition to the bachelor’s degree that’s getting upgraded?

    That seems weird to me.

    The Vicinage Council’s report said that Booker’s ed creds have already been vetted by the CCCC Credentials Committee. So I looked up the process to becoming a minister in the 4C’s, and according to this document, the CCCC’s Credentials Committee would have had to receive Booker’s transcripts in order to let him become a 4C’s minister: https://www.ccccusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/MinCredentialsAppInstructions.pdf.

    Oxford U. wouldn’t give out any info about Mark Booker when the Globe reporter, Danny McDonald, contacted them and looked into it.

    So if anyone is interested in doing more digging here, the next step would be finding out who’s on that CCCC Credentials Committee and asking them about exactly what transcripts they received from Mark Booker.

    Here’s my problem (one of them!) with the Vicinage Council. Haven’t they ever heard of Ravi Zacharias???

    Don’t they know that when people started raising serious questions about Ravi’s integrity – including Ravi’s educational credentials – that his denom (Christian & Missionary Alliance) did an investigation, and Ravi was cleared, allowing him to continue in ministry, unscathed? Don’t they know that the RZIM board also claimed that they had thoroughly looked into all the allegations against Ravi, and insisted that they were all baseless?

    If the Vicinage Council has not heard about any of this, and the subsequent implosion of RZIM, then what are they doing advising PSC, which prides itself on being able to engage with culture??

    “The Credentials Committee looked into this, so we don’t have to,” isn’t going to fly in today’s culture anymore. Nice chart on PSC’s decline, but churches everywhere are declining. Here’s a better question: how many people are leaving their churches, specifically because of a lack of integrity in leadership?

    In today’s #ChurchToo environment, the increase of the “nones,” etc., pastors, elders, church & denominational committees with power, etc. are not entitled to automatic trust. Trust has to be earned.

    Further, as an alum of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary myself (MASF ’17), I am deeply offended that the VC brushed off this question about Mark Booker’s ed creds. Tom Petter served on the VC. He is a GCTS faculty member. And Nick Granitsas has taught courses on CCCC polity at GCTS.

    As a GCTS student, I was taught that academic integrity matters.

    But now you have a GCTS faculty member who is part of a Council blowing off some PSCers’ concerns about Booker’s ed creds – questions that are legit enough that you had a Globe reporter poking around to try to find answers.

    It never occurred to Tom Petter to pull Mark Booker aside and say, “Hey Mark, please just tell the PSC congregation what degrees you actually earned, and the difference between a MA and “the Oxford MA” (if what Mark has is actually the Oxford MA)?

    It never occurred to Nick Granitsas?

    Does it not occur to Tom Petter & Nick Granitsas how much GCTS students look up to their GCTS teachers?? We look up to you as Christian examples to follow.

    This isn’t the way.

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  98. Erp: A cv was posted on https://thewartburgwatch.com/2024/02/23/park-street-church-and-red-flags-fired-pastors-misplaced-credit-unanswered-letters-hidden-credentials-and-creeping-authoritarianism-what-you-should-think-about-before-you-vote/

    I think there is little doubt that he has earned a Rhodes Bachelor, an Oxford BA (later aged up to MA), and an Oxford Master of Studies in Theology with a thesis of “The use of the fear of the lord in Paul and the background of the Jewish wisdom tradition” (admittedly I couldn’t find that thesis online but that is really only common for PhD theses). I would say this is good prep for going into an academic career in theology (next step would be a doctoral program). It doesn’t include practical training as a pastor which is sort of expected nowadays in many denominations.

    I had also found using the wayback machine that Oxford theology department at the time he was a student may have encouraged senior students (those already with a bachelor’s degree elsewhere) doing the BA to treat the MA upgrade as an earned MA. Booker was likely tempted/misled to put MA without explanation and has since doubled down, perhaps not wanting to admit to a mistake.

    Thanks for this. I’m checking with someone with Oxford experience to explain this to me. He did state that the MA with distinction is not a masters degree. It is simply an honorary title given to someone with a bachelors degree and gets you into some exclusive clubs in the academic world essentially. Someone mentioned it’s something you paid dues into, and therefore can add the distinction to your résumé. I’ll dig a little deeper and make sure that my story is accurate. Thanks for the research you did also!

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  99. Susan Lane,

    “…an Oxford BA (later aged up to MA)…

    Oxford theology department at the time he was a student may have encouraged senior students (those already with a bachelor’s degree elsewhere) doing the BA to treat the MA upgrade as an earned MA. Booker was likely tempted/misled to put MA without explanation and has since doubled down, perhaps not wanting to admit to a mistake.

    “…the MA with distinction is not a masters degree. It is simply an honorary title given to someone with a bachelors degree and gets you into some exclusive clubs in the academic world essentially.

    …it’s something you paid dues into, and therefore can add the distinction to your résumé.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    how extraordinarily disappointing. how utterly meaningless.

    an entry level degree ‘aging up’, without earning it.

    (i never had this privilege. i’m earning my way, through hard work and enormous sacrifice.)

    buying your way into achievement and influence. disgusting.

    wreaks of the exclusive men’s club in english period piece.
    .
    .
    if true, in the end, this was his choice. he didn’t have to choose the fake path of unearned merit.

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  100. elastigirl:
    Susan Lane,

    “…an Oxford BA (later aged up to MA)…

    Oxford theology department at the time he was a student may have encouraged senior students (those already with a bachelor’s degree elsewhere) doing the BA to treat the MA upgrade as an earned MA. Booker was likely tempted/misled to put MA without explanation and has since doubled down, perhaps not wanting to admit to a mistake.

    “…the MA with distinction is not a masters degree. It is simply an honorary title given to someone with a bachelors degree and gets you into some exclusive clubs in the academic world essentially.

    …it’s something you paid dues into, and therefore can add the distinction to your résumé.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    … if true, in the end, this was his choice.he didn’t have to choose the fake path of unearned merit.

    If true, then he should have been upfront about it with the PSC congregation, once questions were raised.

    How is this “I don’t have to answer to the little people” attitude becoming of any minister?

    Also, why would any minister assume that these questions are unreasonable ( * cough cough * Ravi Zacharias)?

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  101. elastigirl: wreaks of the exclusive men’s club in english period piece.

    Well yes, women btw could do all the work and take the exams since the late 1870s but could not get the Oxford BA until 1920 (Cambridge was even later, my grandmother studied and took the exams there around 1915 but didn’t get her degree until 1948, her two eldest daughters got theirs at the same time, also retroactively). The Oxford and Cambridge Club, as it is now known, which draws from OxBridge graduates though you also have to be nominated and elected, only allowed women as full members in 1997 (after the universities publicly disassociated from it over their policy).

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  102. “The Oxford and Cambridge Club, as it is now known, which draws from OxBridge graduates though you also have to be nominated and elected, only allowed women as full members in 1997 (after the universities publicly disassociated from it over their policy).”
    +++++++++++++

    this floors me.

    is old school england simply too rooted in its ancient empire self to see the need to evolve?

    the kind of mindset that makes landfall on a foreign shore and claims it for England just ‘cuz? without regard for anyone else.

    (not bashing on england so much as on old-school-everyone who rests on their laurels, seeing no need change, no need to consider what is good, right, fair, etc.)

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  103. Has anyone else notice this week’s bulletin?. Large number of jobs opening.

    Job Opportunities at Park Street Church
    Park Street Church is posting the following staff positions to be filled:

    Director of Facilities

    Director of Communications

    Facilities Technician

    Administration, Communications, and Finance Coordinator

    Ministries Administrator

    Who left? rich did,

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  104. janiceg:
    Has anyone else notice this week’s bulletin?.Large number of jobs opening.

    Job Opportunities at Park Street Church
    Park Street Church is posting the following staff positions to be filled:

    Director of Facilities

    Director of Communications

    Facilities Technician

    Administration, Communications, and Finance Coordinator

    Ministries Administrator

    Who left?rich did,

    Wow, seems like a lot of positions to fill.

    Are those positions to fill for staff members who’ve already left, or are they newly formed positions? Or both?

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  105. Elizabeth Klein: Wow, seems like a lot of positions to fill.

    Are those positions to fill for staff members who’ve already left, or are they newly formed positions? Or both?

    I believe the openings are all previously filled positions that haven’t been re-hired yet…

    I’m curious why Director/Minister of City Engagement isn’t listed, if that role hasn’t been filled. I could be wrong but I also don’t believe Assistant Minister was posted before it was filled.

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  106. mle bire: I’m curious why Director/Minister of City Engagement isn’t listed, if that role hasn’t been filled.

    After reading that list of titles, I’m curious why there isn’t a “Commander of Great Feathers” or “Pastor’s Assistant of the Toilet (Pastor-Apostle’s Butt-Wiper)” or something similar.

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  107. Here is a beautiful interview with Aimee Byrd about her new book, The Hope in Our Scars: Finding the Bride of Christ in the Underground of Disillusionment: https://bethfelkerjones.substack.com/p/a-fertile-underground-an-author-interview

    Aimee went through horrific online harassment and spiritual abuse in her church & denomination, simply for writing books about her journey & struggle to be a thinking, female disciple in the church – as a LAY person. Plus nearly dismissive ecclesiastical trials. She went through a lot that she can’t unsee. But is closer to Jesus than ever before.

    I thought her journey just might speak to some of you…

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  108. I mentioned a minister from the area who has been following the Park Street situation closely and is familiar with the requirements at Oxford, where his alleged degrees are from. This was their comment about Mark’s CV:

    Oxford is very clear that in their usage “Master of Arts” is not a degree. They offer many different Masters degrees, as anyone can find online, but they have never offered a “Masters of Arts” degree. What he earned was a Bachelor of Arts degree. The “Master of Arts” designation is an honorary status that means that he can vote in university elections. Oxford is clear that if a graduate lists this, they are not supposed add a subject area (like computer science or theology), because you cannot get the Master of Arts in a subject. Graduates are also not supposed to mention a “First” because even the worst students, or even a janitor who never was a student can be granted this honorary status and no one gets a better status  (a “First”) than anyone else. A “First” implies that the student or individual earned a 70% or better grade. But there is no grading for their “Master of Arts” status since there were no exams and no papers on which a grade could be computed. If the graduate wants to inform an employer of his subject area and the fact that he did very well, (in England they do not have grade inflation like we do, a 70% is comparable to “cum laude” in America, if not “magna cum laude.” So he means to imply that he did well, and perhaps he did, but in his CV he mislead all Americans and 60% of all Brits! 

    The problem is not a poor education. He had a great education. The problem is his character/morals. He failed at a crucial point when, he was discerning, as PSC was, that the Lord was calling him to Park Street. But if the Lord wanted to call him, he would not have needed a deception to make it happen.

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  109. I also inquired about Mark’s Master’s thesis, which would seem to imply he had a true” Masters. This was their answer:

    His CV lists two master’s degrees, but the first of them is what Americans would call a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology degree at Oxford.  At Oxford or Cambrige, they are very clear that “Master of Arts” is NOT a degree. It is sometime called “a mark of seniority,” or a “status,” or a “rank.”  If you want to know his degree was, it was a Bachelor of Arts, Theology.

    Basically, because he had matriculated about 6.5 years earlier, and because he applied for this change in status, and because he paid a 10 pound fee (or so), and because he was willing to attend another graduation ceremony (or was officially excused), he acquired the status of “Master of Arts.” He earned this Bachelor of Arts degree, with all the courses taught at the undergraduate level, in just two years rather than the usual three years in England, because he had earned another Bachelor’s degree earlier (at Rhodes College in the USA).

    The second Master of Studies, Theology, was an actual graduate level degree which required one year to earn. He may have had one or two “taught courses,” such as we are used to, but in Britain they favor mostly research courses at the graduate level where the student teaches himself or herself through reading required books and articles and writes a major paper or dissertation. The grading is based on the quality of what he or she writes.
     
    It’s concerning that no one has verified that they have actually seen either of his degrees including that Master of Arts document, to confirm the dates, etc., or to confirm that he actually got that before his application to Park Street (not that it matters because, as I say, it is NOT what Americans and even most British think of when they hear Master of Arts). I have no idea why with all the debating about this issue he has chosen not to just take a couple of photos and post them, or for that matter, provided a copy of his transcript.

    He has claimed to have a near equivalent of the MDiv. He cannot have that since two of those years were courses at the undergraduate level. This matters, as I learned. I took first year Greek and first year Hebrew at Harvard. When I went to Gordon-Conwell, I decided to retake Greek because I had taken it four years earlier. The Greek at Gordon-Conwell, taught at a graduate level, was much more demanding and covered much more grammar, vocabulary, and actual translation. Also, the students I know who took Hebrew at Gordon-Conwell, who used the exact same textbook, covered more chapters and learned more grammar, etc.
     
    This comparison does not matter, since the concern is not about the quality of his education. It is good enough. The concern is with his possibly intentionally misleading the Search Committee, and misleading all the rest of PSC, and continuing his misleading claims in that letter he wrote to the congregation in late December.

    Really, all he needed to say was that he forgot to tell the search committee that the Master of Arts at Oxford is similar to what Americans would call a Bachelor of Arts. It did not require any more education, any more courses, any more exams than what he did at the undergraduate level to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree. The Master of Studies degree on his CV was a graduate level Master’s degree like we understand it.

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  110. Susan Lane:
    I also inquired about Mark’s Master’s thesis, which would seem to imply he had a true” Masters. This was their answer:

    His CV lists two master’s degrees, but the first of them is what Americans would call a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology degree at Oxford. At Oxford or Cambrige, they are very clear that “Master of Arts” is NOT a degree. It is sometime called “a mark of seniority,” or a “status,” or a “rank.” If you want to know his degree was, it was a Bachelor of Arts, Theology.

    Who is the “they” that provided that answer?

    The PSC Search Committee, or the CCCC Credentials Committee?

    Susan Lane:

    … The concern is with his possibly intentionally misleading the Search Committee, and misleading all the rest of PSC, and continuing his misleading claims in that letter he wrote to the congregation in late December.

    Really, all he needed to say was that he forgot to tell the search committee that the Master of Arts at Oxford is similar to what Americans would call a Bachelor of Arts.

    100% agree.

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  111. Susan Lane:
    Elizabeth Klein,

    Sorry, I can’t divulge my source. It’s person with close ties to the church.

    It would be very interesting to see if the CCCC Credentials Committee would confirm what MA degrees Booker actually earned, since the Vicinage Council also thinks that they don’t have to answer to the little people & their pesky questions.

    According to the CCCC Credentials website, they would have had to receive his transcripts to approve him as a CCCC minister.

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  112. OK, I think I have to eat some crow here. I had been part of the Director of City Engagement search when it first started but left it just before they officially signed on Kim Morrison. I sail that I believed Mark had been a candidate and had admitted that at the annual meeting where the congregation confirmed him as their choice, but I’ve been double checking with some colleagues and I may have him confused with another candidate, according to them. It’s possible that what Mark had been talking about at the annual meeting was that he was passed over in the first senior minister search, but was called back when PSC regrouped in the second senior minister search. At any rate, I didn’t want to be responsible for spreading misinformation, so I thought I would mention something.

    My apologies.

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  113. Btw, here is the document that Mark Booker would have had to fill out and submit to become a minister in the CCCC:

    https://www.ccccusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/MinCredentialsAppInstructions.pdf

    Notice on p. 2 the bottom, the CCCC Credentials Committee asks for transcripts.

    “4. TRANSCRIPTS
    a. Please submit transcripts from colleges and seminaries where you did your
    theological preparation.
    These can be upload as separate documents or mailed to the CCCC Home Office.”

    I don’t know who’s on the CCCC Credentials Committee now (or who was serving in 2020), but the email address for the CCCC Home Office where Booker sent his transcripts is:

    homeoffice@ccccusa.com

    Just in case any current PSC member would like to do some digging and ask about Booker’s transcripts…

    The key issue here (to me) is honesty and integrity about “the Oxford MA” – not what Booker’s grades were, or whether or not the CCCC or PSC deems an M.Div. essential for ministry.

    Seems to me that if the CCCC Credentials Committee is really interested in the healing of PSC, they can begin by being transparent about what MA degrees Booker actually earned, and put that matter to rest.

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  114. Elizabeth Klein:
    Btw, here is the document that Mark Booker would have had to fill out and submit to become a minister in the CCCC:

    https://www.ccccusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/MinCredentialsAppInstructions.pdf

    Oops, those are the instructions for the application, not the application itself. (FWIW, here’s the application: https://www.ccccusa.com/resources/applications-forms-2/ministerial-application/.)

    Anyway, the point is, a candidate must submit educational transcripts to become a CCCC minister.

    I think homeoffice@ccccusa.com should provide a clear answer to “the Oxford MA.”

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  115. The CCCC is clearly unwilling to objectively look at Booker’s CV. They simply reiterated work already done rather than review and confirm that he did not mislead. The CCCC has made itself part of the coverup of Booker’s abuse. This situation continues to expose how deep the rot has spread.

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  116. Susan Lane: I’m sure we’re not going to get any kind of an announcement until a decision is made on the five ministers

    Which is another leadership failure at PSC … they just need to do what they are going to do and get this thing over! Slowly dragging the church through this mess is agonizing for all concerned. They have known from day 1 exactly what they were going to do with church staff … so do it!! Approaching this in a Christian manner was thrown out the window at the initial church meeting to affirm Mr. Booker.

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  117. Susan Lane,

    Susan Lane:
    If anyone wants to join me in a group fast today for the ministers who have met and are meeting this week, and for the Holy Spirit to inform the leadership’s discernment, I encourage you to join me.

    God is in control, come what may.

    ~Susan

    Susan Lane,

    janiceg,

    janiceg:
    Has anyone else notice this week’s bulletin?.Large number of jobs opening.

    Job Opportunities at Park Street Church
    Park Street Church is posting the following staff positions to be filled:

    Director of Facilities

    Director of Communications

    Facilities Technician

    Administration, Communications, and Finance Coordinator

    Ministries Administrator

    Who left?rich did,

    Elizabeth Klein,

    Dear siblings in Christ, supporters of the Universal Church (incl. PSC)

    Yes certainly I will pray for Tammy Macleod, who has highest seniority among our current ministers. Meanwhile, I am wondering why PSC posted 5 new admin. jobs in the same time frame that our five seasoned ministers were getting interviews. We all know the PSC budget deficit is out of proportion to loss of PSC members, because many active members reduced their donation pending the status of these ministers. I am wondering if the newly posted jobs will be funded by diverting funds from the ministerial budget i.e. the five ministers may be subjected to a pay-cut. If that happens, Tammy Macleod will suffer most. From personal experience, I know the expenses required by a chronically handicapped family member is much much more than health insurance would cover. Therefore, as we faithfully pray for dear Tammy, let us be prepared to offer her tangible support. e.g. PSC members can make donations to the PSC Ministry and Operations budget with specific designation for Tammy Macleod, just like we can donate to the Missions budget specifically for any missionary e.g. to Andrew May, or to CRU, or to Bill & Paula.

    In three days we shall celebrate Pentecost:
    O Spirit Divine, descend upon our souls!
    ” HEAL OUR WOUNDS, OUR STRENGTH RENEW, ON OUR DRINESS POUR THY DEW,
    WASH THE STAIN OF GUILT AWAY, BEND THE STUBBORN HEART AND WILL.
    MELT THE FROZEN, WARM THE CHILL, GUIDE THE STEPS THAT GO ASTRAY.”

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  118. A dear relative of mine explained to me that the VC used the biblical definition of spiritual abuse which is so different then what j and r described in their recent correspondence. The secular view is what people learn about in graduate schools. The VC pastors only used the ones described in the bible. Which has fallen short given what has happened in the clergy sexaul abuse scandals and similar cases like ours. Janice

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  119. Susan Lane: If anyone wants to join me in a group fast today for the ministers who have met and are meeting this week, and for the Holy Spirit to inform the leadership’s discernment, I encourage you to join me.

    Susan Lane,

    I thought I’d add this, as it might help your cause….and no offence intended to you, PSC members, former-PSC members, TWW readers…. 🙂

    I don’t know what any of you (Susan Lane, PSC members, former-PSC members, TWW readers) believe is meant by the often-used phrase “fasting and praying” 🙂 ….and I’m not intending to draw the conversation off topic….

    Has anyone considered that the word “fasting” in the often-used phrase “fasting and praying” could refer to MANY kinds of fasts? Some people, for many reasons, are unable to fast in the sense of going without food….for example: diabetics, people on certain kinds of medications, people with eating disorders, etc.

    Perhaps instead of a food fast, people might consider a different kind of fast….kinda-sorta like a news fast, a “favourite food” fast, etc. 🙂

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