To the Church In Keene, Texas: A Letter of Apology


(Spectrumbot) #1

On Friday I received news that Jennifer Scott would no longer be serving as senior pastor of the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church.

After confirming Scott's departure through a series of phone calls and emails, I began writing an article on the story, which I published on the Spectrum website. In the conversations I had, I was persuaded—and subsequently wrote—that the story was best understood through the lens of the ongoing issue of women in pastoral ministry, which will be the subject of discussion and a vote at the General Conference Session a little more than a month from now.

I wrote the story in good faith, convinced that the details as I had been told them were correct, but in short, I got things very wrong.

In subsequent conversations with leaders in the Keene community, and after several comments from readers, it became apparent that the situation leading to the end of Scott’s leadership of the Keene Church was very complex; reducing it to a single issue proved not only factually wrong, but also did injustice to the complexity of the situation.

On Saturday, I wrote a follow-up article in which I enumerated some of the facts I had gotten wrong, and apologized for suggesting that the headship theology espoused by Southwestern Adventist University professor Ingo Sorke might have made things more difficult for a woman pastor in Keene. Several also pointed out to me that this was neither pertinent nor particularly accurate.

The headlines of the articles used the words “released” and “dismissed,” respectively, referring to the end of Scott’s service as senior pastor. Both words carry connotations that likely misconstrue the facts of the situation.

While I did send requests for comments to the Texas Conference and Jennifer Scott, I did not receive a response, and went ahead with the article anyway. As is often the case, when personnel decisions are made, the specifics will not be shared for personal and professional reasons.

Both of my articles are now removed from the Spectrum website, as they lent more confusion to the situation than clarity. I take full responsibility for the fact that my articles fell short of Spectrum’s standards and my own standards for thorough and accurate reporting.

Sometimes, apologizing is not only the right thing to do—it is the only thing to do. So I apologize first to Jennifer Scott and the leaders of the Keene Church, second to the Keene community; to the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the faculty of Southwestern Adventist University and Professor Sorke in particular, and to the readers of the articles for the errors I made in reporting this story.

I appreciate those who provided feedback that led to correcting the story, and whose responses demanded the highest level of journalistic and personal integrity.

Sincerely,

Jared Wright

Managing Editor

SpectrumMagazine.org


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6843

(Garnett Weir) #2

It takes a big man to recognize when he has done wrong and a wise man to apologize. You have done both. I salute you.


(le vieux) #3

Well done, Brother Wright. We may disagree on many things, but this letter shows courage and integrity. Thanks.


(Stephen Terry) #4

I recently saw an old episode of “All in the Family.” The character Lionel, who is black, charged Michael, who is white, with racism. Michael who sees himself as liberal and progressive denies it. Lionel points out to him that every time they meet, Michael talks about how he is sympathetic to the “black problem.” He asked Michael why they cannot be friends without his always having to represent the entire black race?

Perhaps we are guilty of something similar when we make every woman pastor representative of the entire gender and their struggle for ordination. Are we liberal and progressive enough to let them be who they are without regards to a larger political agenda? While I feel we should not restrict ordination based on gender, we should also not give a free pass regarding accountability based on gender either. Barring facts emerging to the contrary, I prefer to assume that the church in Texas is acting in good faith in this matter. It does little good to speculate negatively in an information vacuum.


(Elmer Cupino) #5

Perfect example of the “Golden Rule.” Your parents trained you well. Carry on.


(Kent Hansen) #6

This is a thoughtful and appropriate statement. Taking responsibility in this kind of circumstance isn’t easy, but it shows integrity.


(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #7

I appreciate your honesty & grace in apologizing, Jared.

It’d be helpful to know more about the ending of
Scott’s leadership at Keene, since it has happened more precipitously than is customary in Adventist pastoring.


(Brent Stanyer) #8

Thank you, Jared, for the respect you are showing to the people involved and to your readers, and your professional and personal integrity.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #9

thank you for your candor. but we are all interested in the future of Ms. Scott. can Spectrum keep us informed. in the case of most pastors that don’t fit. a move is made not a dismissal except for serious cause., Tom Z


(Peter Marks) #10

Jared,

Having observed several episodes of pastors being “released” from their call to serve, in more than one part of the world, the original take on events in Keene seemed likely to be only part of the story.

I only hope that there is a tried and true mediation, conciliation and grievance process that can minister additional healing in the situation, if such would be helpful. For a great model please refer to the South Pacific Division Working Policy.

How careful this website and all other media will need to be as they report the news from San Antonio next month and make comment!


(Randle Patrick) #11

Perhaps by 3015 a “removal” of a female senior pastor of a SdA church in Africa will not make the news from any source and there will be a good ol’ girl network besides a good ol’ boy network.


(Winona Winkler Wendth) #12

Again: This could be a personal issue, and further questions might be transgressive. Spectrum’s investigating that would be inappropriate. We don’t know; we probably won’t know. Whatever political issues might be attached to this will come out soon enough—sadly, Adventist sociology does not draw a clear line between the personal and the public.


(jeremy) #13

i personally didn’t feel the stories on jennifer scott’s departure from keene sda church were unfair, or what reasonable people wouldn’t consider or even infer…the facts are that jennifer is a woman, that texas and the entire bible belt are known for a more conservative outlook that would tend to embrace headship, and that international delegates at the general conference in san antonio, also in texas, are about to return a yes vote on wo…if jennifer’s departure didn’t have something to do with the wo debate, it’s curious that keene sda church wouldn’t have considered the optics of the timing of their action - are there not people in charge whose job it is to consider such things…on the other hand, if keene sda church did intend to make a pro-headship statement, the timing of their action coincides perfectly with that intent…


(David Read) #14

I salute Jared Wright for his mea culpa and for withdrawing the stories. That was the right thing to do. Scott’s termination had nothing to do with her being a woman. The conference very much wanted her to succeed, and she just didn’t.

And Ingo Sorke never had anything to do with the situation; he was not a member of the Keene Church during Scott’s tenure, nor for several years before that time. As far as I am aware, he never publicly commented on Jennifer’s Scott’s hiring, nor on anything else that happened at the Keene Church during Scott’s tenure. He did not boycott the Keene Church, either, but attended when functions required him to attend. My understanding is that Ingo was a member of church about 5 miles north of Keene, but about a year ago became the primary mover in starting a new church plant that is enjoying success. His opposition to female ordination (as is mine) is principled and not personal to Jennifer Scott or anyone else.


(Peter) #15

Jared, My high personal respect and appreciation for you is only increased by your response to this. Spectrum is blessed to have you on staff.


(Allen Shepherd) #16

Jared,

Such an apology shows great strength. Kudos to you!


(Rajmund Dabrowski) #17

Jared, you made us proud! Not only that your candor said volumes about yourself, but such a reaction says something about Spectrum’s ethos!


#18

For being unprofessional - Spectrum just lost a lot of readers’ trust. You can’t just post something without checking your facts first. Wright was too hype about Scott’s departure because he’s for WO, that’s why he kept speculating (Inappropriate. - website editor) & made the community of Keene look bad.

I think Jennifer Scott just found herself a new job. #FireJaredWright (Inappropriate. - website editor)


#19

Thanks for explaining that David Read . I have been a pastor for about 8 years and when I read the news , I went online and watch some of her sermons and I was shocked , her sermons were not very good . As I pondered on this , I thought the lengths our church will go just to have a woman Pastor even though she is not qualified . Her sermons didn’t have any substance !


(Randle Patrick) #20

If Mr. Wright/Spectrum deems it necessary to publish an “apology”, or a “retraction”, is one thing.

To “delete” previously published material is something one would expect from the adventist review, advindicate, et al…

No publication with professional journalistic standards would delete previously published articles.

Props to “Spectrum” for allowing the ex-ers, formers, disaffected, “liberal” SdA’s a forum.

And hoping the SdA bubble will allow some of the above noted to remain in the SdA bubble.

Good luck and carry on to 3015

It’s still a sign of the times that Pastor Scott wasn’t the “best man” at the conference president’s wedding when the “best man’s congregation” told the conference to “release or remove” the best man and a “call” was made to prevent an “official release”.