Apology. For those who have observed, been directly involved, and/or been affected negatively by me over the past year and six months I’d like to sincerely say, “I am sorry.” I sit here this evening reflecting on what has been a turbulent journey filled with many ups and downs.
A year and a half ago we adopted a special needs daughter from China. Within two months of getting her home I was appointed DS of the Kentucky District, which meant moving to a new state. Within a few months of that someone added me to a Facebook group called, “I’m Nazarene, Too.” I made the mistake of actually remaining in the group and trying to engage.
It didn’t take long to recognize that many of the things being discussed in the group were far beyond what I was comfortable with. Actually, I was in shock that ordained clergy members and parishioners of the Church of the Nazarene would be endorsing many of the topics. I should have left the group immediately. However, I kept allowing myself to get sucked into the conversation. That is my fault, and I apologize.
Finally, I did leave the group. Upon exiting, I started a new discussion forum called, “Missional Nazarenes” as a way of providing a place to discuss topics that aligned with the doctrine and polity of the Church of the Nazarene. Some of the folks from the NazToo group also joined MizNaz and it didn’t take long for a similar tone to develop. Monitoring that group became overwhelming.
At some point I became the topic of a few conversations in the NazToo group. People were sending me screen shots of disparaging things being said. I responded to the criticism with a blog post. I shouldn’t have. I apologize.
For several months I mourned the brokenness of the relationships stemming from these online discussions. I sense the Holy Spirit leading me to make things right. I reached out to the leaders of the group and privately apologized for my blog post. This is a public apology to everyone else.
The months following certain personalities continued to mock and ridicule. I continued to be the topic of closed-group discussions. Meme sites were created where they could anonymously criticize. Fake social media accounts were created with the soul purpose of ridiculing. One of these sites even took pictures from times of prayer from our credentials board meeting on the Kentucky District and mocked us praying over some of the ministry candidates.
Although, I’ve tried to guard my family from these things, my wife and daughter have found a few of these sites and have been hurt by the content. A few months ago someone even went so far as to take the name “Missional Nazarenes” and start a group using the identical name. MizNaz had become a discussion forum we were using to discuss topics within the boundaries of our church polity. After usurping the MizNaz title, of course, they made many memes poking fun at the original group.
I apologize to everyone that has endured these occurrences. It has felt a lot like bullying and antagonizing. No matter how much distance I try to create I keep finding myself becoming target their criticism. I am sorry for allowing that to happen. I should have used better judgment.
A few days ago I read an article by Rob Renfroe, Pastor of Discipleship at The Woodlands United Methodist Church in Texas pertaining to the strain that exists in the UMC over sexuality and marriage. I read it over and over. His words stirred my spirit. I thought the same message needed to be shared with the Church of the Nazarene. I believe that the problems the UMC are facing pertaining to sexuality and marriage are just over the horizon for us.
So, I used Renfroe’s article and re-articulated the content using terms that are more familiar to the Church of the Nazarene giving him credit as the only source. I also added a paragraph explaining exactly what I was doing and shared a link to his article. I also added citations at the end of the paragraphs where his words were directly used. I thought that was enough for a simple blog post. However, some detractors quickly pointed out that much of the content was too similar to Renfroe’s post. They said it seemed like plagiarism.
I’m a guy who posts sources in the church bulletin when I preach a sermon. I reveal who the author is when I tell a story in public. I certainly would never intentionally take anyone else’s work and not indicate where it came from. So, I called Rob Renfroe. We had a pleasant conversation. He was thrilled that I used his article as a basis for what I wrote. In fact, during our conversation he gave me more ideas to include in future blog posts.
Regardless, I want to apologize for any confusion. I am sorry. I am sorry for allowing myself to be continually drug into these conversations. I am sorry that I’ve reacted negatively at times to the continual ridicule. I apologize for those who have observed, been directly involved, and/or affected negatively by the last year and a half of my presence online.
Announcement. I believe in the authority and inspiration of scripture, for that I do not apologize. I stand against abortion and the clinics that provide the services, for that I do not apologize. I believe that marriage is a biblical covenant between one man and one woman, for that I do not apologize. I believe that homosexual behavior is outside of God’s will for a person’s life, for that I do not apologize.
I do not apologize for being committed to the classical tenets of Wesleyan-Arminian theology. I do not apologize for standing firm in the biblical doctrines and orthodox positions of the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. I do not apologize for being a centrist who speaks out about the dangers of far right legalism and far left liberalism. I believe the centrist position has always been the Wesleyan way. Standing in the tension of the center is the most difficult place to stand. For this, I do not apologize.
I have two daughters at home that need my attention. One is a St. Jude patient that receives blood transfusions every five weeks. The other is a junior in high school and needs me during this crucial time in her life as she seeks God’s will and transitions into adulthood. We are also praying about adopting another child (please pray with us). I don’t have the time or energy to continue engaging these personalities who are waging war on social media. They can laugh, mock, make memes, celebrate, and throw a party because I’m done.
Over the course of the next few days I will be distancing myself from anyone who is associated with these personalities and social media groups. That means there will be some people that I really like that I will be disassociating with simply because I need to break the connection. I don’t want to, but I have to.
If I could go back one year and six months, I would have removed myself from the NazToo group without saying a word. I hope my experience can serve as an example for others as to how quickly we can find ourselves in the middle of something that we had no intention of being involved in at all.
Again, I apologize to everyone who has endured this season with me, even my detractors. I am sincerely sorry.