SUMMATION # 2 OF INFORMATION RELATING TO TGJ RESIGNATIONS
This second “Summation” begins where the first ended on July 20, 2005, with abbreviated overlapping for sake of continuity. In the previous “Summation” I wrote:
On Wednesday July 20, 2005 brother Curtis Cates participated in the Board-Editors’ meeting as President of TGJ Board and brother Joseph Meador participated as Vice-President of TGJ Board in the meeting in Schertz, Texas. This meeting began at 9:00 am and by 9:30 am brother Dub McClish was no longer Editor of TGJ and brother Dave Watson was no longer Associate Editor of TGJ.
The meeting began with brother Curtis Cates stating the ground rules. First, brother Cates stated that the meeting would not be a “question and answer” session. Both brother McClish and brother Watson had a list of questions prepared to ask the Board, but in view of brother Cates’ statement and rule, they only managed to ask very few. Second, brother Cates stated that brother Michael Hatcher would be the only spokesman for the Board. Third, brother Cates then asked brother Hatcher to read a unanimous resolution the Board had made the day before. Board members later stated that the board began meeting at 8:30 am on the previous day and “agonized” all day to reach this resolution. Brother McClish requested a written copy of this resolution on July 21, 2005 but none had yet been given as of July 28, 2005 when the first “Summation” was written and sent out. On August 9, 2005 brother Michael Hatcher sent brother McClish the following:
On July 23, 2005 I sent a message to the entire board concerning the request Dub McClish made for the statement which I read at the beginning of our meeting with Dub and David. He also requested the statement of the board’s acceptance of their resignations, but this was not written but only an oral statement. Since I did not receive one word from any board member, I take it as no one on the board minds Dub having the statement. Therefore, I am reproducing the statement for Dub below.
Brother Michael Hatcher read the following statement at the beginning of the meeting on July 20, 2005:
The board deeply appreciates each of you and the time, effort, and interest in the paper which you have demonstrated. The recent events that have occurred as a result of the correspondence relating to Burt [sic] Thompson and the two email messages from Dave Watson have created a situation which has given the board the impression that the continued existence of The Gospel Journal is in jeopardy. The board has thoroughly discussed the situation and has unanimously determined that a change in the editorial staff may be necessary. Before making a final decision, we would like to hear any comments that either of you desires to make. It is not our intention to turn the meeting into a question and answer session. After the board has heard your comments, we will meet in a closed session and as soon as possible return and let you know our decision. If you would like to take a few minutes to consolidate your thoughts, please let us know at this time before we proceed. I will be the only spokesman for the board during this portion of the meeting.
Since they both saw the “handwriting on the wall” brother McClish resigned as Editor of TGJ and brother Watson resigned as Associate Editor of TGJ. Not one of TGJ Board members made any attempt to talk either brother McClish or brother Watson out of resigning as they had done with brother Cates and brother Meador the week before when they had both resigned. Not one of TGJ Board members offered any options to either brother McClish or brother Watson. Not one of TGJ Board members suggested that the resignations were premature or should be discussed further. Instead, brethren McClish and Watson were asked to leave the room while TGJ Board members met in a closed session.
A few minutes later brethren McClish and Watson were recalled to the meeting of TGJ Board. Brother Michael Hatcher delivered orally another “unanimous resolution” which accepted the resignations of brother McClish as Editor of TGJ and brother Watson as Associate Editor of TGJ, again, with no questions asked and no hesitation. This resolution was not written originally, but brother Hatcher has written this resolution from memory: “By unanimous resolution the Board of The Gospel Journal, Inc. accepts the resignations of Dub McClish as Editor and David B. Watson as Associate Editor, respectively, of THE GOSPEL JOURNAL.” After some further discussion, brethren McClish and Watson were excused from the meeting by 10:00 am.
On July 10, 2005, sister Rhonda Thompson had written a letter to brother McClish (see Item 1). On July 14, 2005, sister Lavonne McClish wrote a letter to sister Thompson (see Item 2). On July 15, 2005, brother McClish also wrote a letter to sister Thompson (see Item 3) and an e-mail letter to brother Thompson (see Item 4). On July 21, 2005, brother McClish received an e-mail letter from brother Thompson with “Apology Accepted” in the “subject” line, which read as follows:
A few days ago, you sent me an e-mail with a letter attachment. In that letter, you stated that you were writing to repent, and to ask for my forgiveness for things you had said about me in an earlier e-mail you had authored (and that ended up being fairly widely circulated).
Thank you for your kind letter. I am deeply appreciative of the fact that you wrote to apologize, and for the content and tone of your comments. If I have learned anything at all from the events in my own life over the past two months, it is the intrinsic value of requesting—and being granted—forgiveness. As the psalmist asked, “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3). I know I certainly could not! I, for one, do not want God to dispense to me justice. Rather, I want Him to extend to me mercy and grace—though I know I deserve neither. You and I both understand what biblical teaching is on this matter. If I do not freely extend forgiveness to you when you request it, then I will receive none from my heavenly Father when I request it. “Judgment is without mercy to the one who who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:12).
Your request for forgiveness is therefore granted—gladly and freely. You are forgiven. Not partially. Not almost. Not 99.9%. But completely. Mercy has triumphed over judgment. Consider the matter closed. I do—and will from this point forward.
I would like to request that you and Lavonne please continue to pray for me. I earnestly solicit you petitions to God on my behalf, on behalf of my family, and on behalf of my beloved former coworkers at Apologetics Press.
PS: Thank you for granting me permission to send your letter of apology to those who I think might benefit from it. You may feel free to do the same with this e-mail if you so desire.
On that same day, July 21, 2005, brother Lynn Parker sent an e-mail letter (see Item 5) to brother Curtis Cates concerning “The future of TGJ” asking him to: “Please pass this on to other Board members.”
On July 22, 2005, sister Thompson wrote another letter to brother and sister McClish (handwritten), accepting Dub’s apology to her (see Item 6). On that same day brother Thompson sent copies of his e-mail exchanges with brother McClish to Andy McClish, Dub’s son. Brother Andy McClish responded as follows:
Yes, I had seen Dad’s letter to you (as well as his exchanges with Rhonda) but I appreciate very much your thoughtfulness in sending it on to me. I rejoiced to see your response to him yesterday afternoon.
I realize that we may have differing viewpoints about what I’m going to say next, and I fervently hope that it does not cause any hard feelings between us. I believe that there was nothing intrinsically wrong in what my Dad did (regarding the ‘summation” e-mail). His motives were not malicious in any way. That being said, however, it’s obvious that (as is sometimes the case in the course of human activity, where perfect foresight does not exist) there have been horrible and unintended consequences as a result of his e-mail being widely distributed.
I know that (as Dad expressed in his letter to you) if there were any way he had it in his power to “take it all back” (knowing what he now knows), he would gladly do so. I wanted you to hear, from another source who’s been watching all of this, that I know of nothing in my Dad’s life (and that includes some pretty tough times) that has affected him as profoundly as this situation has. The grief and regret he expressed to you is absolutely genuine, and as deep as I have ever seen him experience.
Please understand; I’m not writing any of this to try to engender sympathy for my father, or to try to minimize your suffering in any way. I simply want to emphasize, as strongly as I can, how much we care for your soul and how much we want your recovery to succeed without any hindrances.
I am still praying every single day that things will only get better and better for you, for Rhonda & the boys, for AP, and for the cause of Truth. Keep fighting the good fight, and if you know of any way I can help you, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Always your brother in Christ,
On July 26, 2005, brother Kent Bailey sent an e-mail message to brother Tommy Hicks, TGJ board member at large (see Item 7), to which brother Hicks responded the same day (see Item 8). Brother Bailey then asked brother Hicks some questions (see Item 9), to which brother Hicks responded (in bold print) as follows:
Out of respect and friendship for you, in response to your previous email query, I provided you with correct and truthful information which I thought would be helpful to you. As I mentioned in my reply to you, I must refer you to brother Curtis Cates for further comment from The Gospel Journal Board.
Brother Bailey responded to brother Hicks as follows:
Thanks for your second response. I did send Curtis a copy of my E-mail to you along with the questions that I raised. Hopefully he will respond to them.
Again, I want to assure my love for you all of the other members of the TGJ board. I do pray this issue will be resolved in a Biblical manner.
On July 27, 2005, brother Ken Chumbley wrote an e-mail message to brother Michael Hatcher asking the following:
I have heard some rumors with respect to Dub McClish and David being dismissed as editors from the TGJ. Is this true? If so, why were they dismissed?
Brother Michael Hatcher responded as follows to Ken Chumbley (note the almost identical wording of paragraphs one and three of the foregoing Hicks letter to Bailey with paragraphs one and two of the Hatcher response below, indicating that a “stock answer” had been issued by someone to all board members):
Thanks for your inquiry relative to The Gospel Journal. Please allow me to refer to brother Curtis Cates, the President of the board of TGJ. If you contact him, I am sure he will openly discuss any of these matters with you.
I will make a couple of comments. The use of the term “dismissed” implies the idea that the board “fired” them. I know this has been spread by some, but it simply is not true. Neither Dub nor David was “fired,’ and neither were asked to “resign.” Both Dub and Dave resigned on their own volition. Some are now saying that Dub and Dave “saw the handwriting on the wall.” While the board had met, no vote had been taken and no decision had ever been made by the board to either “fire” them or to “ask for their resignation.” They made the decision to resign and the board accepted their resignation.
I hope these thought will help you out and if you have further comments or questions please contact brother Curtis Cates. His email address will be in the CC box above, or he can be reached at Memphis School of Preaching.
On July 28, 2005, brother Michael Hatcher made a motion to his fellow TGJ Board members that brother Dub McClish be reinstated. Upon receiving no positive responses (no responses of any kind from some), on July 29, 2005, brother Hatcher resigned as Secretary of the Board of The Gospel Journal, Inc. His resignation statement is as follows:
I know we have all been grieved of the events of the last few weeks. It has brought all of us great heartache and sadness. Much of the rhetoric has been high, which was to be expected. I do not plan on detailing many of the things in my mind at this time. However, there are a few points which I cannot allow to pass.
In our board meeting on the first day, we did mention many of the points brother Cates brought up in his email message (getting into the original purpose, not being “issue oriented,” not being embroiled in local congregational issues, etc.). However, with the discussion of all these things, not all of them on the whole would have caused us to discuss the dismissal of Dub or David. The sole reason for that discussion was the reaction which some took to Dub’s statement which he sent to 23 people. (Yes, I now believe that it would have been in the best interest of and the best wisdom to ask Dub to return as being editor.) Brethren, I do not believe Dub sinned in sending out that statement; however, I do believe Frank Chesser did sin in his ungodly actions (which is being born out by the fact that he did not send out Dub’s letter to him, nor his letter asking Bert and Rhonda Thompson to accept his apology). At this point in time, Dub was correct in the impression of the brotherhood that Frank Chesser has “won.”
The “spin” that the board has put on this is just that—“spin.” The fact is everyone knows that it is also. While we are stating publicly that there had not been a vote taken (there had not) thus no board decision had been made (technically there had not), we all knew that basically there would need to be a change made regarding the editor and associate editor. The differing terms used (“fired,” “dismissed,” “accepted their resignation”) all boil down to the same thing, and brethren know that. Dub (and David) were placed in a position in which they were forced to resign (if you don’t believe that, ask either one of them). While our spin is fine and technically true, everyone else realizes the situation also. (This is especially true when Brian Brazwell’s [sic] understanding of what Barry Grider said to him conveyed to Dub was the end result—that Dub is no longer with the paper.)
When I received brother Meador’s response, I was both hurt and outraged. In my email making the motion to reinstate Dub McClish as editor (I did not mention making a motion reinstating David, only Dub), I had also mentioned discussing the situation with my elders and that they were not pleased with the action of the board in accepting Dub’s resignation. Brother Meador mentions in his email that we are dealing with “a few who are in a small, but no less toxic, loyalty circle…a small negative faction, who if they gain control, will only rupture fellowship in the church even more than they already have.” Since my elders here at Bellview are individuals who disagreed with our decision and expressed that disagreement to me, I have no alternative to understand that brother Meador has placed them in that class of “toxic, loyalty circle…negative faction.” Additionally, many of my close friends and ones I trust totally (not just Lynn Parker, and I have not even talked to David Brown) have called expressing their objection and displeasure with the board. These are brethren who regularly speak on the lectures here at Bellview and that I speak with at other locations. They are also placed in that “toxic, loyalty circle” by brother Meador. Additionally, since I believe the board should have asked Dub McClish to return as being editor, I guess brother Meador places me in that “toxic loyalty circle” as well. Brother Meador, I am calling upon you to repent of your attitude toward faithful brethren.
Whether brother Meador repents of such attitudes or not, I will no longer be a part of The Gospel Journal. I am tendering my immediate resignation from the board (including, of course, being the secretary of the board). In addition, the board will need to find someone else to be the temporary editor of the paper (I do not plan on editing the August issue). You can have whoever you choose to contact me concerning the articles and the part of the August issue that has been completed.
Brethren, it is with sad heart that I do this, but as brother Meador said, “This is a matter of principle as far as I am concerned.” I have enjoyed our association together. I still believe a paper such as The Gospel Journal is needed in the brotherhood, but I believe the board has destroyed the paper to such an extent that it will not be revived.
P.S. While I hold in confidence all the discussions which were done in confidence and which we agreed to be such, this resignation letter does not need to be held in such a manner.
P.S.S. Since Curtis mentioned that he wondered if some were making these things a test of fellowship, please understand that I am not making the acceptance of the resignation of Dub and David a test of fellowship.
Then, on August 11, 2005, brother Michael Hatcher issued the following public apology to brethren McClish, Watson and others:
Dub McClish, David Watson, and others:
I want to sincerely apologize to both Dub McClish and David Watson for the way things were handled and my part in all that took place regarding your no longer being with The Gospel Journal. My actions and votes at the time were out of the sincerity of my heart and what, at the time, I was lead [sic] to believe to be best for The Gospel Journal and its continued existence. I now realize that the information I received was wrong. I was being given the information that brother McClish’s reputation had been ruined and that if he remained as editor the paper would die. Not having heard anything myself, I simply accepted what I was being told by my fellow board members (sadly, I did not realize that I could not accept what was being said and I apologize for that).
It now appears to me that there has been a concerted effort to destroy the reputation of a good man—Dub McClish. I apologize for my part in being used to further their cause. I am sorry for not doing some of the things that I should have done and not realizing what was taking place (especially behind the scenes) so I would not have had a part in it. Brother McClish had done nothing worthy of being forced to resign, but it appears to me that the board bowed to pressure to get rid of him, and I was made an unknowing accomplish [sic] in this. This pressure began with Frank Chesser’s hate-filled response to brother McClish’s summation of the Apologetics Press Scandal (which none of the board members thought there was any sin involved). But apparently to support Apologetics Press, brother McClish was sacrificed as was The Gospel Journal itself. I sincerely apologize to Dub McClish, David Watson, and the brotherhood for my part in this sad state of affairs.