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Letter to Dan Jackson - May 12, 2013
Letter  to  Dan  Jackson
President of the North American Division
                                                                                                         May  13, 2013
Dear Dan Jackson:
(Name of accusers) have requested that I write this message to express their disappointment that you have not responded to any of the 23 messages sent to you regarding their situation.  Admittedly, the initial e-mails were only to inform you of the situation and that Working Policy L-60 / 15 had the potential to escalate up the levels to your desk. However, considering what happened at the Greater New York Conference and the Atlantic Union Conference regarding a similar situation in 2011, we knew it was more than possible, it was likely to become your duty to become involved.
The accusations that Don King, Carlyle Simmons and Leon Thomassian willfully neglected their duty, failed to be considered at the Atlantic Union Conference Executive Committee meeting on February 13th – L-60/15 failed because the accused used the power of their position to prevent an investigation into their own conduct.
The authors of this policy could have foreseen that the accused could prevent an investigation because written into the Working Policy is a new procedure when failure occurs. The policy defines a new process (written into the policy), which refers the matter to the administration of the next higher level, which is G. Alex Bryant, Tom Evans and yourself.
Although it became your duty on February 13th – (name of accusers) delayed asking you to perform your duty to pray about this and ask you if there was another way to resolve the problem. The problem has root in a new form of church discipline where the police are involved in the settlement of a grievance, and there is nothing written to protect the member from unfair practices. Gerson Santos and Earl Knight sent a letter to pastor of (local church) which authorized him to involve the police to settle a grievance between the church board of (local church) and two members of the family of God.  Since we are ‘treading on new ground’ let me describe what I am talking about.
The church manual does not authorize involving the police in any situation. The Chapter for Church Discipline has a section titled: ‘Settlement of Grievances of the Church against Members’  .  .  .
Church  Manual, page 61      
           Section:    Settlement  of  Grievances  of  the  Church  Against  Members
“At times Church organizations or institutions may have grievances against members. In such circumstances, Church administrators must in Christian forbearance, keep in mind the biblical counsel for settling disputes among Christians and apply that counsel to the settlement of grievances of the Church against its members. The Church should, in preference to litigating matters in a secular court, make every reasonable effort in cooperation with the member to provide a process by which orderly settlement of the problem can be accomplished.
   The Church recognizes the need of exercising great care to protect the highest spiritual interests of its members, to ensure fair treatment, and to safeguard the name of the Church. . .”
.  .  .  the biblical counsel for settling disputes is of course, found in Matthew 18.  Even it does not mention police involvement or civil authorities. 
Up to recently local church leaders have used good judgment in cases of emergency.  When someone brings a gun or violence into the church the police are called and no one complains that it was improper. But a member may make a critical remark or question a church board decision and the pastor calls the police to remove them from the church. It is situations that are not emergencies that need to be addressed by the church manual because this new form of discipline denies the rights that members have under the church discipline procedures found on page 61 to 67.  
Since this is not addressed in the church manual, Working Policy L-60/15 is the only process to resolve this matter where Gerson Santos and Earl Knight applied a form of discipline not even found in the church manual. In February, these ladies asked you and other high level church leaders (a list is available upon request) to suggest another way to proceed with resolution, but you did not reply, nor did any other church official on the list.  
The church manual gives us a hint of a solution on page 67 . . .
Church  Manual, page 67       
                      Section:    Right  of  Appeal  for  Reinstatement
While it is the right of the church to administer discipline, this does not set aside the rights of members to seek fairness. If members believe that they have been treated unfairly by the local church, or not had the right to be heard fairly, and the church is unwilling to reconsider the case or if the officers refuse to consider their application for reinstatement, the former members have a right to appeal in writing to the church for a hearing. The church should not neglect or refuse to grant such hearings. If it does, or if the former members still feel unfairly treated by the church after the appeal, they have the right to a final appeal for a hearing to the executive committee of the conference.

If after a full and impartial hearing, the conference committee is satisfied that an injustice has been inflicted by the church, the committee may recommend the reinstatement to membership. But if membership is still refused by the church, than the conference committee may recommend membership in some other church. On the other hand, if it finds good grounds for sustaining the church in refusing to reinstate the former members, it will so record its decision.”
Gerson Santos and Earl Knight have not recognized the right of (name of accusers) to seek fairness, and more importantly neither has Don King, Carlyle Simmons and Leon Thomassian.  These ladies believe they have been treated unfairly by the church but they can not even ask that the process described above be followed because they are members in good standing and this applies to reinstatement of members who have been removed from fellowship. In the established church discipline process the accused have a right to fairness and they have a right to a final hearing but in this new form of discipline these rights do not exist. They can not ask for the process described above because it applies to the discipline process found in the Church Manual. The only way for (names of accusers) to deal with this new form of church discipline is to accuse the persons who authorized the police to settle the grievance.
Therefore, we can only point to the principle that (names of accusers) have a right to seek fairness because this new form of discipline is so unfair when there is no emergency that required the police.
The church discipline that is found in the Church Manual, is designed to bring repentance and restoration of the erring member back into fellowship. According to the Church Manual  .  .  .
Church  Manual, page 63       
                              Section:     Discipline  by  Censure
“A vote to censure is for a stated period of from a minimum of one month to a maximum of 12 months. . .  They are not deprived, however, of the privilege of sharing the blessings of Sabbath school, church worship, or communion.  .  .”
This new form of church discipline does not restore, does not show the love of God for the person who has erred, and it does deprive them of the blessings of church worship or communion etc. – the decision by Gerson Santos and Earl Knight does not reflect God’s forgiveness and goodness and mercy. It is unfair and goes beyond the ultimate punishment that the church can use to discipline a member.
(Names of accusers) authorized me to contact the leaders of the Atlantic Union Conference. Thirty e-mails were sent to Don King, twenty-two e-mails were sent to Carlyle Simmons and thirty-five went to Leon Thomassian, none of them replied to any of these e-mails. Numerous phone call attempts and uncounted voice mails were not answered by Don King or Carlyle Simmons. However, Leon Thomassian did speak to me on the phone twice, (more about that below).  On December  8th 2012, Don King attended the NY13 Rally at Manhattan Church where Mark Finley was speaking, I spoke to him personally about this and gave him a copy of the video showing the incident with the police on Sept. 22, 2012.  There is no doubt in my mind that the administrators of the Atlantic Union Conference are willfully neglecting their duty and they are aware of the situation that required them to perform the duty clearly defined in working policy L-60 section 15.  I also believe it is questionable conduct for them to abuse the power of their office to prevent an investigation into their own conduct. If they are innocent, they should be willing and happy to clear themselves in the proper venue.
In early March, Gerson Santos agreed to meet with (names of accusers) and even thought it was your duty to get involved with the resolution of this matter at the Union Conference level, these ladies delayed asking you to perform your duty to give the local conference a chance to resolve the matter. The meeting happened on March 21st at the GNYC office, it was face to face between Gerson Santos and (name of accuser).  He admitted to her that he had accepted the report from pastor of local church and the decision of the church board without investigating any details, and more importantly without speaking to her. This was an admission that he did violate the church manual and so when he asked for “several weeks to investigate the matter” these ladies granted it to him. Exactly four weeks later (on April 18th ) he sent her a letter with his decision and spoke to her on the phone.
His investigation was to send two conference staffers to speak to the church board and based on that report he decided to continue police involvement as the solution to the grievance.  This was the same mistake Gerson Santos and Earl Knight made in September, when they accepted the report from the Pastor, this time they accepted the report from the church board, who only knew what the pastor told them. Gerson Santos will not say there was an emergency, he did not say there are witnesses who testified to an emergency, and he did not ask for witnesses from the church to come forward with what they know about the one year (names of accusers) attended (local shurch). Also, he did not ask (names of accusers) to supply any names of people who could give testimony in their behalf and he did not ask the ladies to provide any documents or evidence which she was prepared to give him.  In short, his investigation still did not give her any opportunity to defend herself or hear her side of the story.  
After she received his decision, I was asked to contact you and ask that you follow Working Policy L-60 section 15, in February you received a document signed by (names of accusers) authorizing me to do this.  The request for you to perform your duty was made in Message # 118 sent to you on April 18th -  that was more than three weeks ago and you have not responded. When a person holding a position of responsibility is accused of neglect of duty, silence is a poor defense.
Therefore, (names of accusers) have decided to accuse G. Alex Bryant, Tom Evans and yourself of willful neglect of duty which is professional misconduct.
(Names of accusers) hope that you reflect upon the position you have taken and what it means for the resolution of this matter caused by this new form of church discipline, which prevents members from attending church, and violates the rights these two faithful Adventists, who are members in the church for over 30 years. 
Returning to something mentioned above about Leon Thomassian, Treasurer of the Atlantic Union Conference. He was willing to speak to me on the phone twice. His position is hard to understand, I don’t think he understands it himself, but when working policy L-60 /15 was discussed he said that he is not authorized to call a meeting of the GNYC Executive Committee. This is what the working policy says  .  .  .
                                       NAD Working Policy L-60 section 15
       Integrity of Organizational Officers -
In the event the integrity or the moral or professional standing of an executive officer of a division, union, or local conference/mission/field is called into question, the process to be followed to safeguard the integrity of the ministry shall be as set out in the division policies. Should those processes fail and the matters involved be of such a character that the executive committee of the organization served by the officer is unable to resolve the difficulty, the matter shall be referred to the next higher organization. The administration of the higher organization shall call, and its president shall chair, a meeting of the executive committee of the organization served by the officer in question. The officers of the higher organization shall meet with the executive committee of the lower organization in an endeavor to resolve the matter, provided those exercising voting rights shall not exceed ten percent of the membership of the executive committee of the lower organization present.
 Leon Thomassian has been told that he does not have the authority to call a meeting of the GNYC Executive Committee, he did not say who told him. He says only Don King, the President, can call this meeting. I asked him to read the policy and see that it does not say that. He reads the policy and here is where it gets strange, there is some unwritten part, or written amendment or tradition that excludes him from being able to perform this duty.
He claims to have sympathy for the ladies and would start an investigation if he could but he does not have the authority.  It is as simple as you explaining to him that he has the authority, and I believe he will then do his duty.  Or, it could be as simple as you explaining to (Names of accusers), that what he says is true, and this policy is not as clearly written as it can be in this regard or reference some appendix or official note to this policy.
 It is because (names of accusers) realize how easy it is for you to do something that can resolve this situation that they have decided to accuse you of willful neglect of duty and the professional misconduct that your neglect has demonstrated.
As members of the church for over 30 years they are saddened to realize that there is no accountability in the Seventh-day Adventist church, and the injustice done to them by Gerson Santos and Earl Knight can not be corrected, because the Union conference administrators will not follow working policy L-60/15 and start an investigation in the proper venue. These same church leaders cause the same policy to fail in order to prevent an investigation into their own conduct.  Now these ladies discover that the NAD Administrators also neglect the duty so clearly defined in the working policy.
What is sad for me is to see these ladies realize that they can find more justice before unbelievers in a court of justice then they can in God’s church, and they are considering going to (local church) knowing that getting arrested is the only way to resolve this matter.  Their arrest would get more attention if they go to (local church) when Mark Finley is the speaker and he starts his series on May 20th and when Ted Wilson starts his NY13 series on June 7th - - if you will not call Leon Thomassian and make such a simple attempt to resolve this, maybe you will contact the NY13 leaders and ask them to speak with the pastor not to arrest these ladies for attending these two events at (local church).
I hope that you will respond soon
In God We Trust

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