Jul 28, 2011 | Comments 17
Indeed, what is going on with the EC Foundation? (link)
If you are an ARP or someone who is interested in things ARP and you have not yet accessed this site, you will find it interesting. It is more than just a curiosity that an organization that has NO official standing with Erskine College and Seminary or the ARP Church would speak with such an official air regarding Erskine College and Seminary.
Below are some items of note that one will find posted on the EC Foundation site:
- “EC Foundation, Inc. exists to support activities that further or complement the educational activities and mission of Erskine College and Seminary.”
- “Our Mission: The mission of the EC Foundation is to provide support and encouragement to Erskine College and Erskine Theological Seminary.”
- “Our Vision: The Vision of the directors of the EC Foundation is to enable Erskine College and Seminary to continue to fulfill the aspirations the founders of these institutions set forth over 170 years ago.”
- “Our Hero: We must note that First Presbytery of the ARP Church persists in its attempt to unilaterally “punish” Dr. Parker Young for his participation in the legal action which preserved the present Erskine Board of Trustees. We believe that Dr. Young was correct in all that he alleged and the results of the legal action support this view. Our representatives who attended the First Presbytery meeting were astounded and amazed with the obviously coordinated attacks which continue against Dr. Young. We pray that these delegates will be able to understand the self destructive effects of their lack of Christian love and grace.”
Now, having taken a cursory look at the EC Foundation, consider the following regarding the Erskine Alums’ Facebook Site. Below is a copy of a post on that site by Dr. Jay West, former VP for Development at Erskine College and Seminary. This post gives information involving a possible class action lawsuit against the ARP Church that would wrest Erskine from the ARP Church. (This Facebook post and subsequent posts appear as they were posted.)
Opportunity for Separation with the ARP: I just received a phone call from a dedicated alumni. He/she is committed to contributing to and raising funds for a class action lawsuit for the alumni to retain ownership and control of Erskine. They are only interested in five people bringing the suit. Actually, they can probably fund it alone. This person is very serious, and is willing to out spend and go as deep and hard as necessary. In the end, it may be the only option left. If what I am told by this person is right, there is no possible way the ARP could fund such an effort financially, and if they can’t, they lose. I promised that he/she would remain anonymous. We are scheduled to speak via conference call again in two weeks. I am interested in your thoughts. Their thought is clear: there will be no compromise- look at the by-laws. This is the final stage. Please tell me your thoughts and suggestions.
Below is the follow-up that was posted by Dr. West.
THE ISSUE: I just heard from an alum who articulated very clearly what the issue is at hand. I have been told so many times, “just be patient, we are working on it.” Don’t worry, the Moderator’s Commission will not find anything because it is all about lies.” “Just give him (Norman) a chance.” : “Let the by-laws committee work.” “Syhod will come around.” “Now, we are losing credibility with some on the board of trustees- surprise” WAKE UP
THE ISSUE: as delivered by a fellow alum: “I am not hearing one leader beat out one message, deliver a Vision, Mission, and Steps to get there”
He is dead on target. When will we learn that the old ways of doing business with Synod are over. The constituency of Synod has changed.
Vision: to have Erskine as a Christian liberal arts institution that is tolerant of all faiths, but committed to one. Concscious of all of humanity. Excellent in academics. An incubator for future leaders. The family it used to be.
Mission: To exhaust all legal recourse whether or not there is a concensus as to how to move forward. To collaborate with all interested in the vision. To organize even a small group of alumni and resources to engage in a long and lengthy process whereby we have the voice we deserve as those who funded scholarships and built the campus. Execute a class action lawsuit with as few as five alumni to this end.
- Organize those interested.
- Develop one comprehensive strategy
- ecure the legal counsel already interested
- und the process
- Outspend the defendent.
- “’Win anyway” – Ray Tanner, USC National Champions Baseball Coach.
I am done with all of the back and forth discussions about evolution, lies, ploys, people afraid to call a spade a spade.
I am committed to what is stated above. Period.
The Editor of ARPTalk takes this threat of a class action lawsuit by Dr. West and the secular Erskine alums seriously. Some may counter that Dr. West is a “bully” whose threats cannot be taken seriously because he has so often threatened to sue people with whom he has come into disagreement. This threat, however, should be taken seriously because of what has taken place and what is being said on the alums’ Facebook site (“Alumni for Erskine”) and because of the existence of the EC Foundation.
Please, take note of the following.
First, note that there is a constant call on the Alums’ Facebook Site for contributions to be made to the EC Foundation. Since the establishment of the EC Foundation, the secular Erskine alums on the “Alumni for Erskine” (AFE) site have been encouraging the more than 1500 members of the site to contribute to the foundation. Sources in Due West have informed the Editor that the EC Foundation has a war chest of at least $150,000. Obviously, the folks at the EC Foundation are probably not willing to substantiate that figure; however, whatever the level of their resources, the calls to the alums for contributions to go to the EC Foundation rather than to Erskine College and Seminary have been loud and clear and, to some extent, successful. So, what are the folks at the EC Foundation going to do with the contributions that have been sent to the foundation?
Second, take note that in recent days there has been a division on the AFE Facebook site. This division occurred when the administrators of the site asked Dr. Jay West and others to tone down their rhetoric. The AFE administrators took exception to Dr. West’s references to the evangelical leaders of the ARP Church as the “Taliban” and to other disparaging remarks that Dr. West and others had made and to his and others’ call for a class action lawsuit in order to take over Erskine from the ARP Church. Many of the AFE participants cried “censorship” and have left for another Facebook site: “Alumni for an Independent Erskine” (AFIE).
From the discussions on the AFIE site, it seems that these secular alums who are for Erskine being an exsanguinated and a religiously insipid and theologically featureless Christian school are now promoting the ideas of Jay West and his lawsuit-happy band of ex-Erskinites who joyfully and loudly sing “I-hate-the-evangelical-faith-of-the-ARP-Church-so-let-us-take-Erskine-from-the-ARP-Church.” Mr. Jonathan Breazeale writes, “I’ve asked a friend who is a reporter for the Greenville News to investigate this further. / I also know some good attorneys in Greenville – too many of them, in fact.” Ms. Mary Elizabeth Todd followed suit with these words, “I know Anderson attorneys.”
The heavyweight voice in this song of villainy is that of Dr. Bill Crenshaw, “the Pied Piper of Due West” and “the Oracle of Erskine.” Notwithstanding that he is an Erskine English professor, Dr. Crenshaw calls for alums to withhold both their money and students. Responding to those who advocate negotiations behind the scenes, he writes:
If it is only behind the scenes work that is accomplishing anything, then this site is a total waste of time.
I haven’t seen much — if anything — that has been accomplished by behind the scenes work. The specific “accomplishments” that have been pointed to are spurious at best. I can tell you that they have had zero effect on the ground at Erskine.
I think this site does accomplish three things. First it spreads the word and the outrage. This is a means to and end. The end are the other two accomplishments: second, people are encouraged to quit donating to Erskine and to quit sending their kids until all this is straightened up. The power of the purse is far more significant and successful than any behind the scenes deal-cutting has been. And third, this shines the light on the actions of Synod, wingnuts, and the admin; i.e., it delivers a healthy wallop of bad publicity to Erskine, which means they have to spend time countering the bad publicity and answering for what they are doing. I would submit that if there is behind the scenes pressure being put on the admin or the wingnuts, it has come from the sense of outrage generated by this site that led to private, chew-them-out phone calls, not something achieved by following Marquis of Queensbury niceties.
Who has ever been offended that was a potential ally? Whom have we driven off with “Taliban” or other remarks judged intemperate? In theory, you can try to make a case that we might offend a potential ally: show me that evidence that this is actually so.Who have we lost? When? Why?
To whom can TOS appeal by using our words against us? We’ve done nothing compared to the atomic bombs dropped by TOS, by Chuck and Turby and all those who won’t submit and demand that we do. Does anyone seriously think that there is a large group of undecideds out there waiting to join the other side if we say “Taliban?” Who are they? Why haven’t they decided? If they haven’t decided yet, what good are they? You’re arguing that even though the issues are clear and the stakes are high that there is a significant number of people out there who haven’t made up they’re minds? Really?
Please. You’ve had a couple of posters who you thought were over the top, and you’ve made this into a broad issue that is simply a distraction and is working against your goal of comity. With all due respect to Nan, we’ve seen in that editorial how attempts at comity can become simple comedy, which ends up making us look stupid and spineless.
This is a non-issue. You’re wasting time with it. Rome is burning. Stop fiddling around.
For a man who is now infamous for publicly telling an Erskine student with whom he disagreed and who is an evangelical Christian that he had told a lie and that he could go to his “evangelical hell,” Dr. Crenshaw’s sense of outrage seems a bit over the top.
Well, we are back to the question of what is going on with the EC Foundation. Actually, what will be the role of the EC Foundation as the alums for a secular Erskine plot and proceed in their plans to bring a class action lawsuit against the ARP Church in order to steal Erskine from the ARP Church?
Once again, if the reader takes a look at the EC Foundation’s website, it is stated that the Directors are Bill Lesesne (President), Andy Byrd (Vice President), Lee Logan (Secretary – Treasurer), Sarah Brice (Director), Betty Hunt (Director), John Hunt (Director), and Steve Southwell (Director). Interestingly,
- John Hunt is an elder in the Young Memorial ARP Church.
- Steve Southwell is an elder in the Neely’s Creek ARP Church.
- Bill Lesesne and Lee Logan are elders in the Due West ARP Church.
Did not all these men vow to submit to the higher courts of the ARP Church? The last two mentioned are also retired Erskine Vice Presidents. These are men who helped to shape the Erskine disaster with which we now have to deal. When they took their positions at Erskine, they found Erskine a small, struggling liberal arts college of less than 600 in the middle of a cow pasture, and when they left Erskine after years and years of ruinous management, they left Erskine a piss-ant hill school of less than 600 in the middle of a cow pasture – terminally feeble and dying! Indeed, Mr. Lesesne and Mr. Logan are horrified that so many in the ARP Church call their tenure a failure and a nightmare and want to change the direction of Erskine! Let it also not be forgotten that these nice men provided leadership in setting up the EC Foundation so that tax-deductible gifts could be given to those who contributed to the foundation so that the foundation could pay the attorneys’ fees of those who sued the ARP Church in civil court last year.
Once again, as one looks on the EC Foundation website, one finds that the EC Foundation has contributed a paltry $11,000 to Erskine College and Seminary this past year in scholarships. Sources in Due West have informed the Editor that the EC Foundation has received much more money than that, on top of the approximately $160,000 that the Foundation raised and used to pay the legal expenses of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit last year against the General Synod. If the EC Foundation is so intent on “supporting” Erskine, why has more money not been contributed to Erskine College and Seminary’s scholarship fund? A gift of $11,000 in scholarships is not much when the foundation has received contributions far in excess of that. What are the Directors of the EC Foundation waiting for? Are these monies being held as a reserve to pay for legal fees if a class action lawsuit? Indeed, the Erskine Facebook alums have not been shy in stating that they are for legal actions against the ARP Church and that they are contributing to the EC Foundation instead of Erskine in expectation that the folks at the EC Foundation will lead the way to an Erskine free of the ARP Church. The AFE site claims a membership of over 1500, and $150,000 is easily within the means of a group that large!
Well, what is going on with the EC Foundation? If past performance is an indicator of future actions, and, if there is a class action lawsuit against the ARP Church in order to seize Erskine from the ARP Church, the secular Erskine alums will need a place to channel their donations so that they can get a tax deduction. Was that not the role of the EC Foundation in the lawsuit last year? These secular Erskine alums are not going to give without it being a tax deduction! They are too parsimonious for that! Their passion only goes so far!
Now, there is another question – a far more important question: WHAT WILL THE ARP CHURCH DO WHEN THIS TAKES PLACE?
We are averse to lawsuits. Unless it is a freedom of religion issue, most of us had rather suffer wrong than fight a legal battle. We are simply opposed to seeing the resources of the church being used to enrich the pockets of attorneys in the name of Christ. Also, today, there are not many of us in the ARP Church who have relational ties to Erskine College or Seminary; besides, this conflict over Erskine has been long and divisive and distracting from the work of the church. Whatever affection we had for Erskine College and Seminary, it has been exhausted.
Of course, none of this may come to pass. These secular Erskine alums want it to come to pass; however, there is a matter of “standing.” That is, do they have “standing” in the eyes of the civil court to do what they propose? This is a matter for attorneys and judges to hash out. Many of you were of the opinion that the civil actions last year of Chesnut, Taylor, and Young would not stick in court. Many of you were shocked by the ruling of the Newberry judge. Forasmuch as the actions of judges are not predictable, the Editor urges that ARPs should take seriously the threats of Dr. West and his happy band of Erskinites who want to steal Erskine from the ARP Church. They hate us! Their spite knows no limits!
Ugh! All of this is so tawdry and disgusting and reprehensible! Outsiders watching what we are doing must think that we are battling for something of great significance. Good grief, this is a struggle for a pitiful college and a pathetic seminary! The truth of the matter is that we have become nothing more than dung beetles fighting over a steaming pile as though it were the only cow pie in the pasture. We speak of Erskine BECOMING “the preeminent liberal arts college in Southeast.” That ain’t goin’ to happen! First of all, Erskine is no longer a “liberal arts” school but is now classified as a “Baccalaureate” school. Good heavens!
Is the above discussion as nauseating to you as it is to me? We are in a struggle for something that has become irrelevant to the future of the ARP Church. Erskine College and Seminary are a distraction from the mission of the ARP Church as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and a waste of the resources of the ARP Church.
Let Jay West and Bill Crenshaw and their merry band of secular clowns and BOIs have Erskine College and Seminary, and let the BOIs dance all day and night to the piping of Bill Crenshaw as he plays his “I-hate-the-religion-of-the-Bible” tunes as Erskine becomes a memory and Due West a ghost town. Let these masters of institutional ruin who have elevated mediocrity and unfaithfulness to art forms be the ones who carve the Erskine tombstone and plant it in the cow pasture. How fitting!
These are my thoughts,
Charles W. Wilson
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