A Firing Troubles Educators, Pastors, and Donors in the Oregon Conference

Gale Crosby is a Seventh-day Adventist educator with 41-years of denominational experience, 32-years of which he’s spent working for the Oregon Conference. He was principal of several academies, moved to conference administration as associate superintendent, and then for the last nine years, Crosby has served as vice president for education. That ended on March 17, 2022, when the Oregon Conference Executive Committee voted to end Gale Crosby’s employment, effective immediately, and “move in a different direction.” Crosby was just a few months from turning 65.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11781
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I don’t usually even read these types of articles because I don’t know what mind-set writes them, or what personalities are involved, but this one got my attention.

Interesting situation. Two comments jump out at me, as I have had previous experience with the SDA education system. Innovation can be a problem; and when your focus is on the students and their spiritual well being, there can be conflicts within the administration. What caught my attention was Brian Gosney, former Oregon Conference officer who stated, I found him to be an innovative yet an honest conference leader.; and the other comment by Anita Molstead, in describing Gail Crosby’s personality and work as being “outside the box”. Anything, within Adventism described as “outside the box” is suspect to the job-secure factions within the establishment. My guess is - this isn’t about money. And, oh yes, the comment about the difference between the “priests and the prophets” is quite telling. That’s what the NT is all about.

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By a friend’s recommendation, I read this (long) report until about midway. My only reaction is, more investigation appears needed since there may by much more to dig in before the real truth is found - the real facts about this firing. Apparently there was some abuse of power involved . Shameful situation again.

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Young person, never work for the church if you have plans to improve things. Work for God in your way but not for a conference. If you’re innovative or more successful than the person working over you has been, or if you’re more motivated than they are, or not as lazy as they are, they will destroy you. Not only fire you but completely burn your reputation to justify their actions. You can’t sue them because they have “first amendment protections,” and your denomination and local church people will question your character forever. If you prize your child’s sense of spirituality, don’t make them witness what you will go through from people who claim to act “in the name of God.”

In the church there is no yardstick for measuring success. Many realize that they can’t do more than average because it will not be appreciated by those above them and will make them a target. There’s a reason why independent ministries draw the crowds while conferences stagnate. It is not because of a lack of ability but because somebody in each institution realized that the way forward for them personally was to not show up anybody else by easily doing what the others claimed was impossible. If a pastor could do 15 baptisms a year easily in a conference where 2 is the norm, that pastor will set themselves up for great jealousy as the others fear being accused of being incompetent. There is a reason why every evangelism innovation fails and why most churches and schools never seem to grow without migration or births.

Long is the list of those nearing their pension who are terminated under mysterious circumstances before it vests. Especially if they are relatively well-paid for their years of labor.

In the church You’ll get paid less than your secular peers and be stifled by an institution that claims to want to do things better but is mired in mediocrity and where leadership longs for retirement when they can finally be “free” to practice the ministry they wanted to do but could not during decades of employment. Don’t waste your life or the fire God has given you. Be a tent maker if you must, but, young person, find another way.

I don’t know the persons in this story but it does seem that the fired individual was innovative and relatively successful in fundraising. That was his crime. And those who were offended by his success have decided to accuse him and utterly destroy him in the church and in the public eye because it makes them feel better. They have much to answer for in the judgment. The conference president’s statements appear to be a mediocre explanation from a mediocre man.

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What emerges from this report between the lines is a president who clashed with a vice president.

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An excellent summation of the The Adventist Peter Principle.

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It could be because the compensation of the VP was close to or more than the compensation of the President.

Plus, the donor bypassed the President.

(Pride, Greed, and Envy).

And the President whined to his compliance committee.

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But, they are keeping the Sabbath, right? :wink: :smirk: :thinking:
So, it’s all good.

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This article stabbed at my heart and brought back grief and pain. My husband worked for the Central and No. Calif. Conferences plus Washington State. He was an innovative and out of the box teacher and his students and parents loved it. However, the school board and educational Supt. did not. No. Calif. Conf. had an Educational Supt.in the 1970’s that destroyed dozens of teacher’s lives during his term. There was so much corruption. I was personally in the Angwin bank when this man walked in and talked to a cashier, asking to see a certain teacher’s monthly statement. He was wanting to know how he was spending the Conf. money (the teacher’s salary). Fortunately the cashier denied his request. This man told his teachers “I know everything you do, you can’t hide from me. I will fire you at will if I find anything I don’t like”. And he did. God loving, student loving teachers fell by the way side. My husband was fired for “not following the ‘rules’ correctly”. His last firing was in Washington State because he gave the Conf. Pres. daughter a C, which she deserved. The President said she had never been given any grade less than an A. That was the last time he taught school, anywhere. Oh yes, all employees be careful if you are approaching retirement. You may be on the way out for that reason also. I have stories to back up that one also. Sad that this is so negative. Interesting that the Org. Conf. used EGW to prove their point. She saw this happen in her day and fought against it. .

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This my suspicion too. Bypassing leaders tends to test the emotions of “control”. Self is challenged.

There must also be more to the story though too. EGW had wise words to politics in the church. She says there is no room for it. Unfortunately it does get practiced at times when “self” gets in the way. Hearts must be guarded from self too.

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Special thanks to Spectrum for covering this topic in depth. The fact that so many currently employed educators were willing to talk with you on the record says a lot. As someone who has logged quite a few hours on both executive committees and personnel committees a number of things jump out at me. In defense of those committees they can only make good decisions if they are fairly constituted to begin with and then given good information. I wonder what these people were told. Then as you mentioned was the total compensation for the VP for education higher than that of the president due to length of service and the added money from the grant? Then was the amount of money that the VP for education had to use for extra things for his employees higher than what the president had to use for his pastors due to the fund raising skills of the VP for education. One thing is clearly obvious the president knows little about the principles of philanthropy if he did not contact the major donor in question before dismissing the man that the donor had worked so closely with and trusted. That would be fund raising 101. You do not treat major donors that way. A constituency in session can overrule any executive committee action and it seems to me that delegates to this session need to be doing some serious homework.

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My heart sank as I began to read this article. For many years I have remembered Gale Crosby as one of the most effective teachers ever encountered in the Seventh-day Adventist school system. He taught my husband and I math from 8th-10th grade in what I believe were his first three years teaching. Even in those very first years as a teacher his skills in imparting math concepts were honed to a high degree. He was a truly remarkable educator who could teach someone who did not care much about math. When I heard a few years later that he had become a principal I was disappointed, but only because high quality math teachers are so hard to find. Over the years I have kept tabs on him through friends and knew that he was in administration in the Oregon conference–I knew that wherever he was those who worked with him were fortunate in having him on their side. I’ve often wished that my children had been fortunate enough to have a math teacher like him.

After reading this article and another published recently in another journal (and the comments associated) I can see that Gale Crosby is as admired by teachers and principals who have worked with him as he was by us, his students. I am happy to hear that he has worked for many years to provide education to children who needed it, support to educators and most importantly has developed a program for growing leadership within Adventist education. This is what any parent would hope for from conference educational leadership.

In the many years since my junior high days I’ve sat on several SDA school boards, including a conference academy board. As the previous commenter stated, these boards and committees often function with limited information and decisions are made that would never be made if those involved had the full picture. The information is often collected and distributed by conference officials alone. In my experience lay members were sometimes prohibited from collecting any information, even when making hiring decisions. Of course it is different in different conferences, but transparency is not a hallmark of most SDA groups, in my experience.

During the time I served on these boards I saw fifteen different principals hired in three schools. That’s a lot of principals in a short period of time (eleven years). None lasted for long and the whiplash the communities experienced having to accomodate to one after another new leader was exhausting. While sitting on personnel committees with the conference leadership we were often told that there was a very shallow pool from which to draw principals. I often thought about the need to develop a way to grow principals within the SDA educational system, but saw no efforts made in this direction. Our conference had no VP for education and I applaud the Oregon conference for having this position. The idea of a conference leader raising $50 million for education would be phenomenal in most conferences. Unfortunately, it would seem that in Oregon the success of the leadership program led to friction.

There is much that could be said, but in the interest of focusing on Mr. Crosby’s situation I will leave it at this. He has worked all of his career to improve the SDA educational system and seems to have been successful in this. His subordinates and colleagues are showing support for him. My hope is that he is able to use his talents to continue to work for Jesus in a meaningful way and can see his reputation restored.

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I was a parent of children that attended PAA while Gail was Principal. I remember his caring, and always wanting the best for our students, and staff. I am appalled at such defamation of character, and not allowing Gail to meet before the excecutive committee and explain his side of the story. I hope the President of the Oregon Conference realizes, how decisions are communicated can make or break trust in his leadership, and the Adventist Church as a whole.

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Keep an eye on future donations to the Oregon Adventist School System. This will be the thing that resolves this injustice. And it will also be the tail-tell sign of what is really at the bottom of this. It is obvious that the donors will think twice before continuing investing in this system, and that should be what brings about a change in the leadership of this conference. Unfortunately, many students and teachers and administrators will suffer before these things change. God rarely jumps in immediately but usually lets us writhe in our own self-service.

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I am not a donor to the OASS, but if I were they wouldn’t see the color of my donations for as long as who did any injustice were keeping the job. “No honey…, no money!” :cold_face: :cold_face:

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I truly believe that the conference is full of old white men who care nothing for the people they have been given charge of, they’re in it for the power trip. They profess to have a heart for Jesus, but they would never humble themselves like Jesus. Gale was an exception to this. As a child I attended a school with Gale as principal. He was one of the kindest, most God focused people I’ve ever met. Unfortunately, I am not surprised that he was crucified by the conference on the eve of his retirement. This is pretty common with teachers and principals in the Adventist system.

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What was he doing that was “innovative” and got him fired?

I have to echo George T’s comments above. I will reserve judgement.

I think there is possibly more to the story - or at least we as readers should be open to… This article definitely defends one side. Where the actual truth lies God only knows. I think we should be careful not to just jump on the “the conference just butchered another employee” bandwagon - though I too have seen this.

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The problem is that if we “reserve judgment” we are necessarily taking a side against Mr. Crosby as that is the default position. If the conference president is going to claim some kind of breach of “fiduciary duty” but can’t back it up, we should reserve judgment but side with Mr. Crosby in the interim. Otherwise we’re just piling on him because the weight of “authority “ is with the conference president.

In other words, there’s no middle ground.

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Isn’t our entire system about being innocent until proven guilty? So Oregon, simply prove your point or reinstate him. So…what you got?

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