An Apology and An Announcement

I am sorry message

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.

Bible

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.

19 Comments

  1. Brother I appreciate and thank our Lord for giving you the spirit discernement, humbleness and wisdom. I will be praying for the adoption of your child!

  2. Well written. You must be doing something right if Satan is working so hard against you! I know the KY district is much better under your influence. When you wrote “and announcement,” I prayed that it wasn’t a resignation! (Don’t scare us like that!) We need you too much. You have helped make us “better together!” I feel that people who get on blogs and tear others down and spew negativity have nothing better to do with their lives and would be better off reading the Word and trying to find a way to serve others and spread some love. Continue to stand firm against liberalism that says we have to accept everything. We can love people to Jesus without agreeing with sin. You are doing a great job!!!

  3. I am glad you wrote this, because I have been experiencing similar “stuff.” I thought I could restrict people from my posts, but they still found a way in…I thought I could block them, only to be criticized by others for blocking their disparaging comments. Most importantly, it started effecting me and my walk with God because their sins were becoming my sin in too many forms…anger, resentment, turmoil…I finally got tired and decided to step off, step down, and bow down…by bowing down/laying it down at the foot of the cross my heart is being restored once again. You are in my prayers!

  4. May the grace of our Lord Jesus bring peace. I appreciate the spirit and content. You are loved and respected as a brother in Christ. May God continue to make His face to shine on you and your family and may You experience all that He has for you in these days!

  5. “Never wrestle in the mud with a pig: you’ll get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.” is a lesson most often learned the hard way. Movers and shakers, those who take charge and move things forward, are the most likely to have to wash some mud off before they learn the lesson. Apology accepted. Don’t stop doing what you are doing. Keep us moving in the right direction. REC us!

  6. Brian, you have nothing but love and respect from us. This is an attempt by the devil to discourage and disrupt. We have faith in your leadership and your vision. You are needed on this district. Be encouraged, brother.

  7. No need to apologize to me, but love the fact that you are humble enough to do so to anyone who feels any sort of angst.
    Some of those may be legitimately wronged, but having witnessed some of what has gone on, I will say that sone prople are just stupid and mean. Can’t fix stupid, so gou have to feel sorry for them. Mean on the other hand is a choice, so distancing os probably not a bad thing.
    I also stand with you wholeheartedly for the issues and beliefs for which you will not apologize.
    Love you brother!!

  8. You are a good man Brian. Facebook is both a blessing and a curse for many of us. It is a place for social and political commentary as well as religious debate. When such discussion becomes personal and injurious it is an indication that common courtesy and civility are abandoned and speaks more of ego than of revelation. A young pastor friend of mine (who I greatly respect) indicated that he felt led to take a facebook fast, in that the discussion groups took too much time away from his family, local church responsibilities and left him at times hurt, disapointed and confused about his role in the Denominational Church of the Nazarene. Your experience has been shared by others who may not share your perspective.
    Every person you meet carries with them a message, in that God speaks through diversity.
    I personally felt honored that you asked me to become a part of “Missional Nazarenes”. I love the articles of faith portion that you created. I count it as a blessing. Though we may not share the same perspective on certain issues, you have always been patient and kind to me. You are not afraid to tell anyone that you genuinely love them, though you may never meet them this side of eternity. Keep on loving, Brian, it is the greatest evidence of your calling. “The Gospel , in a word, is…………..”Love”.
    I love you Brother.

  9. I appreciate your post and it made me think of this quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

    Making a difference isn’t easy. You’re making a difference…and it counts. Don’t apologize for that. God bless!

  10. Thank you for your comments. And standing up for Godly principles. I admit I had to reread your article twice concerning the UMC and its issues on sexuality. But then realized you were speaking in esoteric terms. I too got involved in the, “I’m a Nazerene too” page. It did not take long to figure that group out. I did not quit the group but actually was banned. So much for tolerance and inclusion.

  11. When responding to truth, opponents have no effective recourse but to get personal. You must be doing something right. For Jesus, defamation and mockery were not an option. Unfortunately, for many in your circles, it has been. I think that speaks volumes.

  12. I’m pretty sure Brian’s apology wasn’t meant as an opportunity to give others a free pass to condemn a group they aren’t part of. I’m in NAZTOO, and yes, there are things said in there about a lot of issues that would cause some Nazarenes to blush. I hope I have not been one to say those things about another person, if I have I offer an apology similar to Brian’s. However, coming here to say those things about others still in the group seems petty and less than Christ-like. And I would assume Brian would not want that to be what his apology is remembered for (though I cannot and would not speak for him).

  13. The devil attacks where he knows it will hurt most. You have been chosen to preach holiness and to lead others in their teaching of holiness. I have read your posts since class and I truly enjoy them. Don’t let him whisper discouragement. Keep on in your mission, from this viewpoint, you’re doing great.

  14. Thank you so much for the candor with which you speak. I have appreciated following your posts and blogs. Your insights into topics have challenged my own thinking. As a pastor in the Church of the Nazarene I have read some of the posts and I too have stepped back some. Not because I don’t like differing opinions but mostly because the tones used in some comments have been hurtful in my opinion. As I have been dealing with a variety of situations in my own context of ministry I have been more and more drawn to study spiritual warfare. Today was my day to begin that study. As I read your Apology/Announcement my study came to me that you are dealing with spiritual warfare and strongholds. God opened my eyes to see some in my own life and repent of them and trust the Holy Spirit more. I firmly believe the closer we depend on the power of the Holy Spirit in prayer the more mud satan attempts to hurl at us. “God, help those of us who confess you as Lord to “hold unswervingly to the Hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we should spur one another on toward love and good deeds, so that we are built up in unity and YOU, God are glorified through our lives.”

  15. For what it’s worth, the blog you wrote based on Renfroe’s article was not plagiarism. As a University faculty member who deals with this regularly with my students’ papers, I can assure you that you did nothing wrong. I pray that God will encourage you and bless your ministry as you continue to stand for truth!

  16. This is one of the best district superintendents that I have had. I admire his courage, his beliefs and his willingness to stand up for those beliefs. I am proud to be on the Kentucky District and have Dr. Brian L Powell as my leader. I too was shocked at the way he was being attacked. But after General Assembly, I know that our church is alive and well. These people are in the minority. I pray they find the Lord before it is too late.

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