Complaints filed with the Ohio attorney general accuse Fred Manchur, the former CEO of Kettering Health, and Dave Weigley, the current president of the Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, of abusing charitable funds, according to a report from WHIO-TV on March 24. The news station in Dayton, Ohio, obtained the complaints through a public records request and reports that the documents name Manchur and Weigley as the "masterminds behind the abuse of charitable funds."
I don’t personally know Mr. Manchur although his sister is a very dear and respected family friend, so I hope these allegations prove quite false. But Pastor David Weigley is one of the bravest and most honest SDA Administrators in this denomination. He has put his own neck on the line many times to fight the male headship heresy of the General Conference perpetrators of misogamy. Women pastors have been ordained and treated with respect in the Columbia Union. Following the money is always wise. But following the politics of female subordination may also unroof more to this story than finance. This may be a power struggle to replace Weigley with a 19th century testosterone worshiper?
Dr. Hohn. I have lived in the Dayton community for 48 years after growing up in the shadow of the GC in Silver Spring,MD. I spent quite a few years on the church committee circuit so I am no stranger to church politics. I am also deeply committed to the cause of women in the SDA church and Dave Weigley has always been one of my personal heroes for his very courageous stand on that and other issues. To characterize him as a mastermind of this scheme is grossly unfair but alas it is not a situation devised to undermine women’s ordination although that will probably be the end result and that breaks my heart because Dave would be the last person on earth to do that intentionally. This is about the money and accountability and represents both an individual failure and a system failure but it started in Dayton not DC. I have always been open about my serious problems with Ted Wilson’s view of women and his administrative style but I see no evidence that this is any of his doing although sadly it deals him a perfect hand of cards which I have no doubt that he will play.
The Adventist church in NAD has a board and committee structure that is not designed to produce serious accountability and so it does not do that. It works like this-you sit on my board and I sit on your board so we won’t rock the boat or give each other grief. They toss in a few lay people preferably ones that they can trust to support them though thick and thin and then control the information flow to get the votes that administration wants. The relationship between the hospital system and church administration has always been complicated and when they cut the hospital system loose from under church wages under Neil Wilson yet another factor entered the equation-big money. I don’t think that anyone thinks that going back to the old system would be better but neither do people like the multimillion dollar salary and perk packages that are now common or the lavish travel provided to church employees on their boards. Isn’t there something in between? Rightly or wrongly church members trust the church administrators that serve on those boards to hold hospital administrators accountable and when they do not it is not unreasonable for members to be upset because we are the ones stuck with the bill either in reduced services because of huge legal bills and settlements and/ or seriously reduced credibility in our local communities. Virtually all administrators move on to another job elsewhere while we struggle to clean up the mess. When lay people repeatedly warn church administrators that there are problems that need to be addressed and nothing happens those administrators are not innocent bystanders. And when hospital administrators get away with questionable ethical behavior time after time and nothing happens human nature being what it is they will take even more risks and the behavior will escalate.
There is an old saying that “Smart people learn from other people’s mistakes, average people learn from their own mistakes and stupid people never learn.” The best possible good that could come from this whole mess is that both church administrators and hospital administrators across the NAD would take a serious look at all of their relationships and commit to avoiding even the appearance of evil. How smart will they choose to be???