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Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 11 months ago

He's back

Skip is returning to CA. Skip thought he was going to inherit the Big Kahuna - CCCM. Somewhere along the way this became an impossibility. And Skip found himself in the mission field of San Juan Capistrano, CA longing to return to his former home of Calvary of Albuquerque. The grass really is greener on the other side of the fence, twice even.


Skipping out of Albuquerque

The story of Skip Heitzing and Calvary of Albuquerque is not going away, it's not just the scandal of the week, but it is probably the scandal of the year for Calvary Chapel. Or at least it is a close second behind the Smith vs Kestler lawsuits. What is shows is insight into the flawed structure of church governance at Calvary Chapel.


Resignation of Nelson Just the First Salvo

The resignation of Pastor Pete Nelson from Calvary (Chapel) of Albuquerque was just the beginning of revelations. Usually these things are handled quietly and nobody knows much about what is going on. In Pete's case somebody leaked a draft copy of his resignation to the press. Not only that but it gives a lot of details into the secret workings of the Calvary Albuquerque (CA) board of directors. Then the press got ahold of a letter from a former board member outlining charges of impropriety.


Skip Held Onto Power at CA

Turns out that when Pete took over the Senior Pastor role at CA he didn't get what he was promised. Usually CC pastors get to control the board. Problem in this case was that the former pastor, Louis "Skip" Heitzig didn't want to give up control (we find out why later on). He was founding pastor and thought he should keep his hand in the pie.


A Clear Ethical Violation

This is highly unusual in other denominations. There are explicit prohibitions in the Ethical Standards of most other denominations which make it clear that pastors are not to involve themselves with the actions in their previous churches. It's considered an unethical practice. But Calvary Chapel has no written ethical standards and the unwritten standards don't seem to include such a prohibition.


The Scandal Grows

This scandal has wider lines than just the resignation of a pastor at a megachurch. Turns out that the board which was handpicked by Skip "gifted" Skip with a termination package (remember Skip quit, he wasn't removed) of almost a half a million in cash and door prizes. Allegations have been flying that some of these were stolen by Skip on the way out the door.


Skip's Defenders Line Up

The legions are lining up to defend Skip. He had Franklin Graham (a one-time CA board member it turns out) defending him at a recent service. Greg Laurie of Harvest Riverside (CC by another name) also served on the board and wrote a letter of character witness for his friend Skip.


How it broke

This story was unusual since it broke outside the traditional lines due to a series of articles published in the Albuquerque Journal. If you want to on-line subscribe it will cost you $8, but thanks to some folks the articles are available at other places.


What are the other charges?

Some of the charges include:


  • Heitzig took a $300,000 severance check from his hand-picked board (considered self-dealing).
  • Heitzig took equipment for the radio station, a laptop and a couple of cars worth a total of about $166,000 as severance. (Usually somebody gets severance when they are let go, not when they quit). (Again considered self-dealing).
  • Skip tried to take the radio station away from CA and put it into his own hands at the same time that the radio station was being used for security of loans at CA.
  • Skip fired people from the board who were not in agreement with Skip's actions (read the letter from Greg Zanetti).
  • The CA board was made up of people who did not attend CA. Some of them are CC pastors in other churches (again an ethical violation in most denominations).
  • Most of the CA board was made up of people who don't even live in New Mexico including Franklin Graham, Raul Ries, Greg Laurie and Paul Saber.
  • The absentee board members showed more loyalty to Skip as an individual than they did to CA. They had a fudicial duty to watch out for CA.
  • Heitzig's daily half-hour radio program, "Connection Ministries" cost the church nearly $7 million between 1994 and 2004.
  • CA had about $7 million in debt when Heitzig "left" for Ocean Hills in California, roughly equal to the losses from Connection Ministries.
  • Calvary leaders were unwilling to inform the congregation of their intentions or plans for the church's future.
  • Employees such as Chip Lusko were paid by CA but did work for Skip's "Connection".


List of the links

Here's a list of the links to the stories.



As you can see, this story is not going away any time soon. This story is being followed in the Phoenix Preacher BLOG.


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