Friday, October 3, 2014

Part 8 - The Disposition of my 2013 LBC Motion and My Response

     In November of 2013 I offered a motion on the floor of the LBC meeting in Alexandria that addressed the contradiction that exists between the Louisiana Baptist Convention By-Laws and the Charters of the four LBC entities that are governed by Boards of Trustees (specifically as it relates to Louisiana College). Please go HERE to take a look at that rather lengthy motion. The motion was sent to the LBC Administrative Committee for consideration. In May of 2014 they passed along their recommendation to the Executive Board to “decline any action” on my motion. That recommendation was adopted.

I had hoped for a simple ruling… I wanted to see:
1) Clarification and enforcement that according to the Constitution and Bylaws of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Executive Director of the LBC is not permitted a position on any of the four LBC Boards of Trustees,
2) The Convention respectfully requests the four LBC entities to appropriately amend their Charters as to not contradict the LBC Bylaws, (in much the same way the SBC requested charter changes of its entities regarding the sole membership issue) and
3) From this time forward the Executive Director interact with those entities as an invited guest while maintaining a friendly and collegial relationship with those entities.

There are some who charge my motion was a personal attack against the current Executive Director. I continue to insist that this was never the case and have shown through my research that this is simply a constitutional issue. While serving as a member of the LC Board of Trustees I first noted what would be considered external influence on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Louisiana College in September of 2012. I noted continued exertion of undue influence in numerous subsequent meetings. However, in an effort keep my concern from looking like a “personal agenda” I specifically (and deliberately) did not identify any particular untoward action in my motion, nor did I charge the Executive Director with undue/external influence because my concern was primarily with the office and the corresponding articles in the LBC guiding documents and not with the individual as a person. Rather, I simply pointed to what I was afraid might come about (which of course, now has come to fruition) if the convention continued to ignore this issue and if SACS noted a similar concern.
     My motion was passed along to the Administrative Committee of the LBC. After not receiving an invitation to address the group regarding my motion, I sent a formal request to be allowed to speak. I was permitted to speak for a very short time (one person who timed me suggested I was in the room for 5 minutes). It should be noted that the Executive Director was in the room (along with a few other convention employees) with the Administrative Committee for a long time before I entered, he was in attendance while I addressed the group and he was in attendance for an extended amount of time after I left. Also of note is that I asked a number of questions to the group (which no one answered) and although I gave them an opportunity to ask questions, no one did. Wouldn’t it have been judicious to at least dismiss the Executive Director for that short amount of time so that at minimum some sort of investigative query could have been conducted and specific questions asked of the one who was lodging the concern? Of course, that did not take place and the group did not interview me and ask questions in order to help clarify my position.
     It is clear to me that to some degree the fate of my motion had already been decided. After the group recessed there was a lunch and then it was on to the full Executive Board plenary session. The following is what was presented from the Administrative Committee to the full board regarding the disposition of my motion:

(26:05) The last recommendation that we have is to move that the Executive Board of the Louisiana Baptist Convention declines to recommend any action regarding the motion made by Jay Adkins messenger of First Westwego referred to it from the 2013 LBC annual meeting for the following reasons:
     Number One: the charters of LBC boards are not in conflict with the LBC governing documents by naming the Executive Director of the LBC as a member of the respective boards, those charters being explicitly authorized to identify those who compose the members of the board to wit… this is a quote from the LBC bylaw Article Three, Section One… “that the composition and duties of the boards of trustees of agencies and institutions of this convention shall be clearly set forth in the convention resolutions authorizing their establishment and included subsequently in appropriate form in their respective corporate charters. All corporate charters and amendments thereto shall be expressly approved by the convention or by the Executive Board of the convention.” Article Three, Section One gives us an explicit exception in the prohibition of salaried employees of the convention serving on committees or boards of the convention… see LBC bylaw Article Four,  Section Ten… Which reads “No salaried employee of this convention and its boards and committees shall be eligible for election as a voting member of the boards or committees of this convention except as provided in the constitution of the Convention or these bylaws.”
     Reason number Two: Is the provision in the Louisiana College charter naming the LBC Executive Director as a member of the college Board of Trustees is not evidence of undue influence under the rules of this convention or of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges… the college’s accrediting body. Both the Louisiana College Board of Trustees and the Louisiana Baptist Convention, as the sole member of the college corporation, have approved this provision. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has not cited this provision as a violation at LC or at other Southern Baptist Schools with the same provision.
     Reason number Three: The recent 2006 edition of the Executive Director of the LC Board of Trustees, a practice common to other state convention schools is particularly useful to the LBC in light of the numerous actions in the last 25 years of Baptist College Boards defeating the rights of their parent conventions and going independent, the process of the LBC Executive Director as a voting member of the board serves as a strong reminder that the board serves at the pleasure of the LBC.”

Although I assumed there would be a dismissal of my motion I cannot tell you how utterly befuddled I was when I heard this particular response. This meeting took place in May of 2014 and I intended to write a response rather quickly especially considering some upcoming events (SACS was coming to visit the LC campus soon and I knew that they would be issuing a report some time in June. I also knew I had a family vacation to Europe coming up on which I wanted to focus). I was so frustrated by the Executive Board’s response to my motion that I felt pressed to do something that I had prayerfully considered doing in the past but had yet not done… something I was so ready to do that I had already printed out the paper work and spent hours transcribing the audio of a number of board meetings. You see, back in the early spring of 2013 I made a very informal and anonymous call to SACS in order to find out how someone goes about submitting an official complaint to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. I found out that they only take transcriptions of recorded events and will not receive audio files as submissions. Further, and more importantly, I was told that before someone submits an official complaint they should seek to exhaust every avenue of opportunity in order to bring attention to and rectify the disconcerting situation. That is exactly what I have been doing. I sought resolution with the LC Executive Board, I tried with the full LC Board, I tried on the floor of the Convention, I tried with the Administrative Committee and then finally I tried (although wasn’t given a hearing) with the full LBC Executive Board. Before I lodged an official complaint I was told to exhaust every avenue… and that is what I have done.
     Now are you ready for the big reveal? Friends, to this day I have NOT made an official complaint to SACS. Yes, I know… that is probably shocking. I’m certain that there are those who think that I was the one that sent info to SACS which caused the 3.2.4 Comprehensive Standard charge against the Executive Director for external influence… but the funny thing is… it wasn’t me. Don’t get me wrong. I told people that I was going to do such a thing because I had intended to do so… but you see I was trying to do the right thing. I was trying to “exhaust every avenue” before making such a complaint.
     At the end of the May Executive Board meeting I had resolved to finally make that official complaint to SACS about this issue since I assumed I had finally come to exhaust all avenues. I made a hurried attempt to get things in order and then I prayed. I know that sounds like a “Sunday school” thing but it is important that you know that I have always done that before posting anything regarding this whole situation. You might note that I normally wait a week or so before I post something about which I have experienced and over which I have had deep concerns. I spend that time praying, writing, editing and then praying again. I do not post rashly but deliberately and with careful words. As I rushed to get things in order to send to SACS I spent some time praying and, although I’m not one of those guys that says God “speaks” to him and have the capacity to divine and then dispense a holy curse upon someone, I do believe God directed me to wait. I was uncomfortable with that direction but it was as if he said to me, just be patient. So I sat the stuff aside and unplugged for the summer (see HERE for that story). I’m glad I did since now I can say that SACS identified the problem I have called attention to without my pushing the subject. External influence on the part of the Executive Director has been cited by SACS and LC has, in part and along with other issues, been punished for it. Keep all this in mind while you read the rest of my post.

Now to address the LBC Administrative Committee’s startlingly deficient response to my motion.

     Randy Johnson, chair of the Administrative Committee, stood to give three reasons as to why the Executive Board should recommend declining any action regarding my motion. Of the three reasons given the first is an unfortunate display of bad hermeneutics, the second has arguably been nullified by the SACS findings, and the third is a complex amalgamation of logical fallacies including parts of (1) appeal to emotion, (2) appeal to authority, (3) appeal to consequences, (4) red herring & (5) false dilemma. Let me explain.

     The first reason given to decline recommending action on my motion was “the charters of LBC boards are not in conflict with the LBC governing documents by naming the Executive Director of the LBC as a member of the respective boards, those charters being explicitly authorized to identify those who compose the members of the board to wit… this is a quote from the LBC bylaw Article Three, Section One… “that the composition and duties of the boards of trustees of agencies and institutions of this convention shall be clearly set fourth in the convention resolutions authorizing their establishment and included subsequently in appropriate form in their respective corporate charters. All corporate charters and amendments thereto shall be expressly approved by the convention or by the Executive Board of the convention.”
     There seems to be two primary hermeneutical faux pas happening here. First, there is an apparent suggestion that Article 3, Section 1 allows the individual entities to appoint whomsoever they choose to their boards as long as these appointments are “expressly approved by the convention…” This could not be further from the truth. I have noted HERE that according to Roberts Rules of Order, NR (10th ed.), p. 332, 15-8:
Motions that conflict with the corporate charter, constitution or bylaws of a society...  are out of order, and if any motion of this kind is adopted, it is null and void.
Thus, even if the LBC ratified the charter changes of the convention entities those changes would be null and void if they “conflict with the constitution or bylaws” of the convention. There IS such a conflict as noted in Article 4, Section 10 which says,
“No salaried employee of this Convention and its boards and committees shall be eligible for election as a voting member of the boards or committees of this convention except as provided in the constitution of the Convention or these bylaws.”
If the bylaws state that no salaried employee can serve (or be elected to) boards or committees of the convention, then the action of the convention ratifying entity charter changes which makes an allowance for such a seat is a direct violation of the bylaws and RONR necessarily applies. Thus, the aforementioned changes are null and void. Clearly this response to my resolution is deficient.
     Another hermeneutical problem is to suggest that Article 3, Section 1 is the “exception clause” which nullifies Article 4, Section 10’s prohibition of salaried employees serving on boards or committees (specifically for the Executive Director). Now think through this with me. If 3.1 is indeed an exception clause then it is an exception clause for ANY salaried employee. Therefore, any salaried employee would technically be eligible to serve on committees or boards of the convention. If that is the case, why the prohibition from 4.10 in the first place? Let me say that a different way… the rule states that no employee can serve (be elected) unless there is a provision “in the constitution of the Convention or these bylaws.” The exception then should be a specific one. In other words, if there is an exception, it must NOT be a blanket one, it would name who would be allowed to serve. This sort of exception is found in the applicable article for the Executive Director in Article 3, Section 9 where it does identify a particular exception for the Executive Director where he is allowed to serve as “a member and secretary of all standing committees of the Convention.” It further notes that the Executive Director can call on members of his Executive Board staff (salaried employees) to assist him in that task. THERE, my friends, is an example of an exception clause and it is there that the Executive Director is allowed a seat on the standing committees and NOT on the Boards of Trustees. The argument from the Administrative Committee is simply a case of bad hermeneutics or at least a dereliction in due diligence to rightly interpret the bylaws.

     The second reason given for the dismissal of my motion is that “the provision in the Louisiana College charter naming the LBC executive Director as a member of the college Board of Trustees is not evidence of undue influence under the rules of this convention or of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges… the college’s accrediting body. Both the Louisiana College Board of Trustees and the Louisiana Baptist Convention, as the sole member of the college corporation, have approved this provision. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has not cited this provision as a violation at LC or at other Southern Baptist Schools with the same provision.”
     Boy isn’t this interesting? Now it is absolutely true that SACS has no rule about Baptist State Executive Directors being ineligible for serving on Baptist College Boards of Trustees. But that wasn’t what my motion was about. My motion was about the possibility of the exertion of undue or external influence upon Louisiana College by the Executive Director. What has now been cited by SACS is that the Executive Director has indeed exhibited external influence and LC is now on probation, in part, because of the Executive Director’s actions. Therefore, this second reason why the Administrative Committee would dismiss my motion does not apply. Had the Executive Director not been in a voting member on the LC board of trustees then he would not have been in executive session meetings where I have recorded evidence of more egregious displays of external/undue influence than even SACS knows about at this point (since I have yet to make an official complaint). Spend some time in thought about that subject.

     Finally, and the weakest argument given as to why my motion should be dismissed is because having the Executive Director serving on the Boards of Trustees “is particularly useful to the LBC in light of the numerous actions in the last 25 years of Baptist College Boards defeating the rights of their parent conventions and going independent, the process of the LBC Executive Director as a voting member of the Board serves as a strong reminder that the board serves at the pleasure of the LBC.”
     Where do I begin? I suppose I’ll begin with the most basic of responses then move on to the fallacious rhetoric. Louisiana College and the other LBC entities have changed their charter to reflect that the LBC is the SOLE MEMBER of the entity. Friend, there is no way LC could “defeat the rights of the parent convention by going independent” regardless of whether or not the Executive Director is on the board. It simply cannot happen. The presence of any state Executive Director on any Board of Trustees for any state convention entity does absolutely nothing to “better-secure” the convention to an entity whose sole member is the convention itself. It is redundant, superfluous, and completely unnecessary. Furthermore, I take umbrage with the attempt to use logical fallacies (such as (1) appeal to emotion - the fear of past experiences of conventions who’ve lost colleges (2) appeal to authority - authority of the LBC and other schools, (3) appeal to consequences - having a school go rogue, (4) red herring and (5) a false dilemma - suggesting that the Executive Director’s place on the board would do anything to tighten up the link between the school and the convention when sole membership makes that connection legally binding) to argue that my motion should be declined. This response is not only embarrassing for whomever wrote this section it again points out that those who drafted this response to my motion do not understand the convention-entity relationship. Further, an undergrad philosophy student could have picked apart this section after one semester in class.

     Since the time I first publicly spoke on this subject I have been very careful to not “politic.” I have not made phone calls to stir the pot, I’ve not encouraged people to gather in small groups and I’ve purposely steered away from meetings around the state regarding concerns. I’ve simply spoken my piece, tried to present the truth and answered questions when asked. With that said, I am very much looking forward to addressing the response to my motion on the floor of the convention meeting in Lafayette this November. I now would like to encourage everyone interested to pass along this blog post, make phone calls, spread the word and then come to the convention and make your voice heard on any subject over which you have concerns. The only way things change is when those with courageous voices, a consistent vote and CP value speak up and make their concerns known. Be sure to have your church select you a messenger and join us for the LBC at First Baptist Church of Lafayette on November 10-11. I see this meeting as the final "avenue to exhaust" (for me personally and for my responsibility as a Louisiana Baptist) before I submit an official complaint to SACS. I hope the convention will do something that will remove the necessity of a complaint submission and a public release of information and audio recordings which validate the very concerns I have tried to tactfully address over the last 2 years.

Boiled down summary:
1) I have not yet submitted an official complaint to SACS and LC is now on probation. If I do submit a complaint it will further validate the SACS concerns.
2) The response to my motion from the LBC Admin Comm is deficient and does not apply and I will point that out at the convention.
3) If there is no change I will be forced to submit an official complaint to SACS and then will for the first time publicly disclose information as well as audio recordings of external and undue influence of the Executive Director on the Board of Trustees of Louisiana College.

in veritate et gratia,
Jay Adkins

Monday, September 15, 2014

Just a Quick Note...

     I'm going to be busy for the next couple of days with a meeting in Pineville, Louisiana. With that said, I will hold my post about the LBC Executive Board's response to my motion until later in the week (or even later). Please pray for us and that all the right changes are made... otherwise there will be no substantive change whatsoever.
     Until that time let me recommend you review my earlier post about the event to which SACS appears to refer when it cited LC in regard to Comprehensive Standard 3.2.4 (external influence). Further, take a look at my original 2 posts about the role of the Executive Director and LBC Bylaws and the LC / LBC relationship. That should catch you up and prepare you for what I hope to be one of my final posts related to my involvement with Louisiana College. The LBC, on the other hand, is a different subject all together.

Ego Paene Effectis

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Part 7 - My Response to the SACS Letter

     For those of you who have been frustrated by the debacle that has been Louisiana College over the last few years and who rightly identify the previous president as a major factor in that terrible situation, may I remind you that had it not been for the active defense and protection of the LC president by the Executive Director of the LBC I believe that the Board would have dispatched the president in the Spring of 2013.
     I have been on record as publicly citing issues of integrity and undue/external influence at LC since early in 2013. I felt a responsibility to make such a public expression after witnessing and/or becoming aware of untoward and manipulative actions in and around the Fall of 2012 and only after my vocal warnings and protests were met with dismissive commentary and correlating votes from the Board of Trustees. At every turn the findings in the SACS letter validate what we've tried to say and I believe goes so far as to vindicate those of us who've attempted to passionately and appropriately address these concerns. Thus far, our words of warning have been ignored and/or dismissed. Maybe now Louisiana College and more importantly the Louisiana Baptist Convention will be forced to deal with these charges.
     I did not want to do this. I do not enjoy having people I don’t know (and some I thought were friends) belittle me and call me a troublemaker for simply trying to tell the truth and stand up to institutional bullying. As a trustee I am charged with caring for the school and I have taken that responsibility seriously… even to the point of personal embarrassment and misguided criticism leveled against my character. For the first few years I served as a trustee in naivety and with a Pollyanna view toward trusting leadership, but after a short time I began to notice inconsistencies, questionable actions, purported programs which seemed to falter one after the other and an unusual culture of blind loyalty. All this led me to take an appropriately critical look at what was presenting itself. I’m ashamed to say that it took a whole term to see these things but I’ve spent the second term trying to correct my inaction.

My heart is broken…  
     I hurt for those who've ignored our warnings. I hurt for those who’ve not had the backbone to stand with us. I hurt for those who’ve been taken in by misinformation. I hurt that there will be those who will not apologize and rightly and biblically seek restoration through repentance. I hurt that once again LC’s reputation has been tarnished. I hurt that there are still those who think they've done nothing wrong. I hurt that there are those who think I am in league with Satan. I hurt that reasonable actions and high academic standards have been compromised for the sake of ego, political maneuvering and personal theological bias. This has been a time of grieving for me and simply put… it has hurt me.
     But above and beyond all these things my heart is broken over the precious faculty, students and staff families and individuals who have been maligned, non-renewed, belittled, embarrassed, castigated and suppressed. These people are the real casualties of what has transpired at LC over the last few years. The retaliation from on high toward those who dared to "blow the whistle" is unChristlike and more than that, it is illegal. The needless casting aside of faculty who hold a particular soteriological position in order to garner the protection of one who would swoop in and successfully defend such an action (and inept presidency) through undue/external influence is tragic to say the least. The castigation of our former board chairman, Gene Lee (who has been a godly example of humility and who simply sought the truth by properly investigating what he was told) in some cases has been downright cruel. The manipulation of information, deception and total lack of transparency all have contributed to reasons why we are once again on probation.
     Even though there are many who think I have "spouted off, ran my mouth, aired laundry, acted unChristlike, and have personally attacked brothers in Christ" let me say the following. I have attempted to present my concerns by systematically and deliberately working through the given process. I have only done so with much prayer and contemplation. Let me explain... I had concerns with an individual exerting what I knew to be undue influence (which anyone in the academy would know is a transgression of 3.2.4.). I spoke to that individual on a few occasions but to no avail. So, I then took my concern to the LC executive board again… to no avail. I then presented my now growing concerns to the full board and again nothing happened to correct the issues. I even went so far to draft a censure resolution to address the undue influence that was being exerted on the board but stopped short of presenting it when I saw the clear and distinct lines of demarcation. Clearly, by that point anything I would have presented would have been immediately dismissed and, believe it or not, I did not want to stir up any more strife.
     I continued to speak up when I felt the board was being manipulated even to the point of leaving a meeting in protest after a bizarre and unnecessary action was forced upon the board. I’ve tried to point out the issue with the LBC by offering a motion that pointed out that, according to the Bylaws and Constitution of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Executive Director actually is not afforded a seat on any of the four boards of trustees (see here and here) and I even referenced the possibility of accreditation sanctions in my motion when I wrote "WHEREAS Comprehensive Standard 3.2.4 of the Council on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) states: “The governing board is free from undue influence from political, religious, or other external bodies and protects the institution from such influence,” WHEREAS being found out of compliance with such Comprehensive Standards might result in further sanctions or even denial of reaffirmation by the accrediting body;" That motion was set aside (after the Executive Director himself dismissively spoke to the issue, which itself is arguably not an appropriate action to allow) to be handled by the Executive Committee of the LBC. The Executive Committee handed it off to the Administrative Committee which then (and I will be presenting more detail on this soon) offered a deficient, misguided and now verifiably contradictory response to my motion which was then presented to the full Executive Board and was ratified.

     I will be publishing my response to the LBC Executive Board’s actions regarding my motion within a few days. I’d like to ask each Louisiana Baptist to consider contacting members of the LBC Executive Board to suggest that in light of the now public SACS findings I be asked to address the full Board to (this time) be given a fair hearing in order to help remit the clear and now openly known and officially identified transgression of external influence (of which I first warned the entire convention in November of 2013).
     Let me further say (and this is not a threat, it is a transparent statement regarding what will be my response dependent upon how this issue is handled by the LBC) if there is any attempt to play off, minimize or dispute in any way the SACS findings regarding Comprehensive Standard 3.2.4 (external influence) I will be forced to once and for all publish hours of recordings, and explicit transcribed statements, that validate the SACS findings concerning the Executive Director of the LBC.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Part 6 - The SACS Letter Release

     Well, I wanted to post about the content of the SACS letter, however, I think it is more important to first post about the background regarding as to why and how this news came to be a front page story this particular day.
     I noted (here) that the Board of Trustees have been told nothing about numerous significant issues at LC which have come about since this past April. We’ve lost 4 Vice Presidents, the Dean of Students, have been in the midst of a presidential search of which we’ve been apprised of nothing (including even if there are applicants) and we found out we have been placed on probation but had been given nothing of substance (until today) about that probation and what it means for us.
     On September 5th, Louisiana College finally released a letter from SACS detailing our transgressions and what we must do to remit the cited findings. The timing of this is of note. I had been told, but have not verified this, that the board chairman had decided to hold the information until we convene on the 15th of this month. The letter is dated July 9th. In other words, they’ve had this information for almost 2 months and although we were told we’d get info “as soon as it becomes available” we were not given such info. That is, until yesterday morning (Thursday morning) when the Board Chairman found out that the local news paper had the report and that they were going to be running a story on Sunday (by the way, the first story is out and can be found here). As soon as that was known board members began getting the following email….

Dear Friends:
     Dr. Smith is sending out a copy of the SACS letter dated July 9, 2014 to each trustee tomorrow, September 5th.
     He will bring a report to the board on how the college plans to respond to SACS so we fully comply with the requirements for accreditation.
     Thanks for your service to LC as a trustee.

Tommy French, Chair
Louisiana College

Wasn’t that interesting timing? The following is an email to the board chairman, sent to the whole board, from LC alum and tenured board member Lonnie Scarborough…

     Why are we just now receiving this?  We were told by you in an email dated June 25th (see email and highlight below) that you would share this information when it becomes available, and now we see that you have had it since mid-July?  What precipitated the sudden need to send this information out when others have been requesting it for weeks?   Please explain.

Lonnie Scarborough
(phone number redacted)

I thought that was a great question. I actually had become aware of the letter when the Town Talk contacted me for comment. By that point I knew what was in the letter but promised not to say anything public about it until after the first article ran. I keep my promises. So as much as I wanted to give more info I simply replied to Lonnie’s inquiry (since experience with this particular board leadership has assured me that we weren’t going to be given a straight answer). Here is my response (with typos, bad grammar and all) (I have also redacted a few things that took place in executive session)…

     If I may... allow me to tell you why this information is only now being sent to us. This morning Dr. French received word that the local media has a copy of the SACS letter dated July 9th. Yes.... that's July 9th!!! Shortly after he received that information is when we began getting emails from Dr. French. The Town Talk will be publishing the letter and a lengthy story on Sunday. Once he found that out, clearly (and withing minutes) he began to let us know that we would receive the letter tomorrow.
     Lonnie, you are absolutely correct, Dr. French did indeed tell us that he would send us information "as soon as it becomes available." They've had it since mid July and we've not received it. Also, in the April meeting he similarly told us, concerning the pre-April dated letter, "redacted due to executive session." We never received that information. Further, he told us, regarding the confidentiality motion most of you agreed too, "redacted due to executive session." He went on to say, "redacted due to executive session." Friends, that is a direct lie. SACS does not require us to have a confidentiality motion. Further, and what might be the most egregious fabrication to us was his inference in at least one meeting and his direct false statement in an email to us where he said, "Demands by individual trustees to circumvent board procedures and threats to take independent actions with SACS, the press and blogs is improper and is part of the reason we have been placed on probation." Friends, trustee action on blogs and with SACS was not, and has never been "part of he reason we have been placed on probation." Our current chairman has lied to us repeatedly and has now, in the face of numerous and direct requests for information, withheld another letter from us to the point that ONCE AGAIN the media has information before we do. Not only will I be calling for his immediate dismissal at our meeting in two weeks, I would argue that this his actions rise to the level impeachment and a request to the LBC for his dismissal. That will be up to the Board.
     The letter is a scathing report. It is embarrassing and validates each of the concernes that a few of us have expressed on numerous occasions. The most heart breaking truth is that this probation was absolutely unnecessary had the board heeded some of the warnings of those of us who have dissented. It is time for the rest of the board to, with integrity and leadership, do what is right and make sweeping and serious changes so that we do not lose accreditation due to the continued mismanagement of Louisianan College. You will choose to do what is right or we will lose accreditation.
     ps. By the way, lest Dr. French says that the reason we did not receive the letter earlier is due to there being a typo date in the letter understand that the date has nothing to do with the content of the correspondence or its charges and findings. The letter could have been disseminated to us with that one caveat.

Jay Adkins

I received no response from anyone until 7:33 Friday morning when I opened up my email and read this…

September 5, 2014
To:  Jay Atkins

     In your haste to indict someone, in whatever righteous cause you are pursuing, you made some false assumptions.   These assumptions, not supported by facts, then led you to make false accusations against me.
     You called me a liar. You attacked my character. You slandered me. In the spirit of our enemy, you threatened to call for my dismissal at the next board meeting and suggested that a request should be made to bring me before the Louisiana Baptist Convention to ask for my impeachment and expulsion from the board without facts or cause.
     I am not afraid of your threats and accusations. I serve at the pleasure of the Board of Trustees and of the Messengers of the Louisiana Baptist Convention and by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
     These false accusations were not made in a personal and private letter to me.  Had you done this we could have discussed the facts in the matter to find the truth. Instead, you broadcasted your false accusations to the full board of trustees and you are guilty of slander.
     I have not lied to anyone.  I have not lied about anything. I have not misled anyone. I have not deceived anyone. I have followed proper procedure and protocol so that things might be done decently and in order. My character and my reputation before the Lord Jesus Christ are fully intact.
     You have joined with the one is “a liar and a murderer from the beginning” to bring a false accusation against a brother in Christ. You have joined with the one who slanderers the brethren to slander me.
     I sought the Lord and His counsel in this matter. Then I brought you and your name before His throne and waited for His answer.
     The Lord answered me without delay and said,
     “I am your shield. As I have protected you in the past I will protect you in the future. Leave Jay Atkins in my hands. The slander and lies that he has written about you is now written for eternity and cannot be erased. Therefore, he will wear his slanderous words as an albatross upon his character until I call him home. Anyone who joins with him in his slander will share in his guilt and I will hold them accountable.”

Deo Vindice,
Tommy French

I can’t say that I have ever been “prophesied against” (at least that I know about) but this was interesting for more than the neo-charismatic nature of the babblings of spiritual gobbledygook from a seasoned Southern Baptist pastor. What was most interesting to me is that I have been charged with being “a liar and a murderer” and have “joined with Satan.” Now for those of us who have been around LC for any length of time, this is nothing new. This is the modus operandi when one dares to speak against “god’s anointed.” When someone challenges leadership they are immediately chastised, charged with being in league with the devil and summarily dismissed. Normally this is all done with hyper-charismatic spirit speak (in this case, apparently coinciding with a direct prophecy of a curse from god upon my head). Seriously, this is nothing new.
     However, the following is what I find most fascinating. Conspicuously absent from the chair’s reply to me is any refutation to my specific charges. He notes that I am a slander, yet does not support that charge by telling me where I am mistaken. That is because he cannot. The things that I have noted I only noted because I have printed and/or audio proof of his obfuscation and disinformation. Thus, I sent back the following final reply to the board…

Mr. French,
      Slander is a very serious word. To be slanderous is to make a false and damaging statement about someone. I noticed that your pious bloviation in response to my correspondence does nothing to address the particular “accusations” I have made which you’ve said to be slanderous. You have not identified which of my statements are a false characterization of your actions.
    I will see you at the meeting with documented evidence from both audio transcriptions and email correspondence of your numerous lies to the Board. I will have printed copies for each member and will be happy to play the audio recordings if necessary. At this point it is not even an issue of taking my word for it… even SACS has identified such action from your leadership noting, “a prevalent culture demonstrated by administrative staff and the governing board of misstating, ignoring or denying matters of documentable fact and generating an apparent pattern of breaches in institutional integrity.”
     P.S. I have also been taught to be very cautious of any “special revelation” that is said to come from the Lord. I understand the Canon to be closed, so you’ll excuse me when I say I am not the least bit concerned about the prophesied albatross hanging from my character.

Cum Recta Doctrina
Jay Adkins

I have much, much more to say on this subject. Remember that I have not even published the LBC’s response to my lodging a concern with them about the role of the Executive Director and their simplistic and deficient response to me. Please pray for me that I will continue to seek the mind of Christ and fulfill my role of seeing this through until its end. Until I post again please be sure to check the follow-up Town Talk article that will come out sometime this evening or tomorrow morning… AND, if you are a Louisiana Baptist, how about you demand full coverage and reporting of this important story from our state paper, the Baptist Message.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Part 5 - Nothing Has Changed...

Absolutely Nothing Has Changed!
     My rejoinder to the simplistic and inapplicable response of the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s Administrative Committee’s action and subsequent ratification by the Executive Board regarding my 2013 motion will come soon enough. Until that time, and as I plug back into things after my summer break, I have to express my befuddlement regarding the current state of Louisiana College (LC).
     Hear me clearly… NOTHING has changed. For those of you who thought the former president was the problem, let me say again, it was not just one man, it is a deeply entrenched culture that will be very hard to overcome. Sure, some names have changed (which is evidence of lingering problems)… but nothing of substance has changed.
     I suppose I should not be surprised. Over the summer I purposely expressed restraint and remained silent about LC (see here) in part to observe and process the actions and decisions of both the school and the accrediting agency but also to unplug from all the disappointments, etc. Further, I wanted to give some degree of latitude to the President Pro Tempore / Interim President in hopes that I would finally see some interaction and substantive change. Alas, this has not happened.
     I had Dr. Argile Smith as a professor while I was working on my M.Div. in Biblical Languages at NOBTS. At that time I found him to be a kind man with a Pastor’s heart. I’ve even used a text he co-edited with the precious Dr. Jeanine Bozeman (wife of the late Dr. Welby Bozeman of LC) for some pastoral counseling and encouragement to others. I was pleased when he was brought to LC by Dr. Quarles and thought it to be a good hire. When things began to unravel, I became aware of a number of things about which I was deeply concerned. I have commented briefly on such matters in earlier posts. I was very disappointed with what I saw and there is even published audio evidence that appears to show that he presented false testimony about Dr. Quarles (this has been reported in the local media). Even with all that, I was hopeful there would be some sort of change, specifically in the areas of communication and transparency. I was wrong.
     Let me say here that I am fully aware the current Interim President has been dealing with an undesirable problem. However, arguably, one of the most significant issues LC faced during the current controversy is the evidentially deep division on the Board of Trustees. I knew we would not see any significant change from the current board leadership during this time (and I’m certain we will not see such a change until new leadership is in place) but I did have hopes that we would see regular communication from the Interim… something… anything. We needed leadership and leadership involves deliberate communication, especially in times of deep divide and contention.
     The meeting to “remove” Dr. Aguillard (I use the term remove very loosely since he still has an office on campus and has been given the title President Emeritus) happened on April 15, 2014 (keep in mind some of us began to issue our concerns as far back as late 2012 / early 2013). Apparently (this action took place after I left the meeting in protest), Dr. Smith was to become President Pro Tempore on June 1st with his job changing to Interim President on August 1st. Since that time we have yet to receive ANY correspondence from the Interim President. No emails, no phone calls, no snail mail. Nothing. That’s not to say he is not speaking with other board members, he certainly may be, I have no idea. However, it is no secret that I have been vocal about issues at LC and yet I’ve heard nothing personally nor have we received anything corporately from the office of the President. Setting aside the hope some held, that the Interim President would attempt to “mend fences / seek restoration / try to restore some sort of unity, etc.,” the fact of the matter is we have not even had a single email from that office about a number of very significant things that are going on at the school. Further, after numerous protests and demands for information to both board leadership and the administration, only one email (with no informative substance whatsoever) has come from the board chairman. But we will get to that.
     Let’s take a look at what has happened at the college during the summer months.

SACS Probation:

     I found out on June 19th (while I was at Disneyland Paris… from Facebook) that our school had once again been placed on probation by our accrediting agency (embarrassingly, social media has become the normal way I’ve been introduced to things related to official internal information at LC). The school was not placed on warning… but on probation. Let me be clear, it was just that day that SACS had publically issued the Disclosure Statement (although I know for a fact that the administration knew something bad was coming before SACS issues the disclosure) and surprisingly, I did indeed receive an email (albeit entirely void of substance) from the Board Chairman regarding the issue late that night. Here is what his email said:

            “Here is the LC press release regarding the SACS report.”

     Attached to that email was the press release from the office of communications at the LC. Clearly no substantive or helpful information was given to us that day. Nor has ANY specific information come to us since then. Nothing! Not from the previous president, not from the newly appointed administration, and not from the elected Board Leadership. To this day I’ve yet to hear any official word regarding or see any official documentation from our school other than the public, one-page disclosure statement from SACS.
     The following is the text of an email I wrote to our Board and its Chairman on June 20th (the day after I found out about our probation status).

Dear LC Administration and Board Leadership,
     I demand that the entire board be given a copy of the complete report from SACS immediately. Since part of the violations include 3.2.4 (which is the exact violation I have publicly and tirelessly lodged as an issue for LC) and that this specific comprehensive standard deals with board activities and undue influence, and if we are not immediately given the correspondence, then I will make that another matter about which I will personally communicate with SACS.
     My prayer is that this will finally force the board (and the LBC) to deal with issues many of you have been unwilling to take up. May there be humility in this matter lest we lose our school.
     Jay Adkins

     For full disclosure three other members also expressed concern about not having this information. Now at first glance, my letter might sound a bit harsh, but this was not written in a vacuum. Before this event we had been made aware (and it has been reported in the media) that there was some sort of letter from SACS which was withheld from us during the April board meeting. The Board of Trustees (you know, that governing body of the college serving as the fiduciary for Louisiana Baptists) was not allowed to see this supposed letter from SACS. We demanded it but were not given the information. I and others were very frustrated by that (and boy is that an understatement) especially since part of SACS requirements in the area of Institutional Integrity demand that “all parties agree to deal honestly and openly with their constituencies and with one another.” So with that as the backdrop, here is a second time we’ve been told about information from SACS and yet were not permitted access to the information.
     The following is the Chairman’s response to my email dated June 25th. By the way, this email only had 5 trustees listed in the “to” line and it just happened to be 5 of us who have been more public in our critique of the events at LC. The email included an attachment of the one page SACS disclosure statement which has been and is still currently available for public consumption at

     Cox will not permit me to send mass emails. I finally found the reason. Cox charges an extra monthly fee when more than five or six people are CC’d in the same email. Therefore, I am sending this email to you in small groups.
     Recently J Adkins and two other trustees made a demand that we send them the disclosure statement from SACS. This was not possible because the only information SACS released was a phone call from Michael Johnson to Dr. Smith. We are just now getting the disclosure statement.
     May I remind all trustees that we will send information when it becomes available. We are trying to carefully follow board protocols. Demands by individual trustees to circumvent board procedures and threats to take independent actions with SACS, the press and blogs is improper and unhelpful and is part of the reason we have been placed on probation.
     The Disclosure Statement from SACS is attached. Please note the email from Michael Johnson to Dr. Smith below.
     Tommy French, Chair

     Clearly, we could not receive information that the administration did not have. However, I’ve been told that the administration did have at least a bit of an idea about what was coming. Further, the issue is that we want to be told what is happening. We are responsible for this institution. Regardless of what had been officially received from SACS, some in the administration knew more than they were telling us, which of course, is what happened in the April meeting (as well in a number of other meetings over the last few years) thus, it is very hard to trust what we are being told. The request here should not have been only understood to be for new information, but for all information regarding interaction with SACS.
     We now know that the school has been sent a detailed letter from SACS regarding the specifics of our transgressions. And yet we’ve STILL HEARD NOTHING! Note that he claims, “we will send information when it becomes available.” Once again, this has not happened. Note also that he charges, “Demands by individual trustees to circumvent board procedures and threats to take independent actions with SACS, the press and blogs is improper and unhelpful and is part of the reason we have been placed on probation.” I did not threaten to take an independent action with my blog (although I assume he knows that this is an outlet of mine). Further, there are no Board procedures regarding the dissemination of SACS materials to the full board. Further still, we have no proof that any action from any board member is “the reason we have been placed on probation.” In fact, I believe that statement to be a direct contradiction of the truth. This is my response to the board chairman.

Mr. Chairman et al,
     First of all, we have no proof that what you say is part of the cause of our probation is indeed part of the reason since you refused to give us such information. Further, the reason I "demanded" information is precisely because you've given us none. At the time of my email we had been sent nothing. I found out that we were on probation from Facebook. Once again I have found out about LC problems (and this is as big a problem as we can have) from social media rather than from you. This is an ongoing embarrassment and a continued indictment on your leadership. We are the board and should immediately be apprised of such issues even if it were just a phone call. Anything less is an abdication of responsibility.

There was no response to this email.
     Friends, we are on probation for significant issues. Let me remind you that Principle of Integrity 1.1 and Comprehensive Standard 3.2.4 (external influence) is explicitly and EXACTLY what I’ve been citing as major problems at LC since 2012. We are now on probation for the very problems that a number of us have brought to the board. What has been the response? Not only no action, but stifling rejection of our concerns. I’ve even brought part of this concern to the LBC and they have roundly rejected it… so far. What else can we do?

Key Administrative and Faculty Losses:

     We have had serious and significant losses in faculty and Administrative staff over the summer and been told nothing about it. We’ve once again lost… yes, you guessed it… another Vice President of Academic Affairs. In fact, the only way I knew about his departure was due to my being a friend of his on Facebook. Gee whiz, what would Boards of Trustees do today without Facebook… I’m mean, how could we know anything about the institutions for which we are responsible? In fact, over the summer we have lost at least four Vice Presidents and the Dean of Students… and… we’ve heard nothing about it. I don’t have a clue as to the make up of the “Administrative Council.” I have no idea if there even is an active Administrative Council.
     For me, one of the most significant faculty losses was that of Steven Cowan. I did not know this professor personally, but when he was brought on-board I was ecstatic! Dr. Cowan was Associate Professor of Philosophy and is the co-author of my favorite introductory text to philosophy, The Love of Wisdom: A Christian Introduction to Philosophy. How in the world do we let go / non-renew a world class academician and philosopher? I just don’t understand. He was a bright spot in our attempt to be respected at the academy at large and once again, we blew it.

Presidential Search:

     I don’t know what else to say here other than, “we’ve heard nothing.” I don’t even know if we’ve had any applicants. Now, I am not on the committee thus, I do not expect to be apprised of each move the group makes however, it would be nice to get some sort of an update from time to time. How many applicants do we have? Are there any nationally recognized names? How are we even going to go about deciding on the new pres? Will there be a small pool that will be considered? Just one person? I don’t need to be involved in the day-to-day of the actions of the team… but we are the Board of Trustees and we know nothing at all.
     Just a couple of things about the search team before I conclude: 1) apparently the search team is made up of the LC Executive Board which is chosen by the board chairman each year. Thus, I wonder if anyone has even thought that if we were to have a new chairman then we would have a new search committee. 2) There is not a single earned PhD on the search committee (that I know of). I’m not saying one has to have a terminal degree to asses if an applicant is qualified to serve as a college president, but it sure helps to know something about an academic terminal degree in such an effort. 3) It breaks my heart that the committee did not include a student, members of the community and former alum as well as board members… but those with power seek to retain said power and I guess that is par for the course here.

     In conclusion, may I just say that I am looking forward to what will be my last LC board meeting (at least the last regularly scheduled meeting since I rotate off in November). I grieve for those who have not had the constitution to stand up for what is right and just while monumental embarrassing blunders, documented inappropriate actions and professional academic chastisement has happened during our watch. However, my hands, my head and my heart are clean before God and my family.
     Quint, you challenged me and I stayed. I did not resign when everything told me I should. Your encouragement led me to stay put. I did my best and I did what I understood to be right. As your dad, but more importantly as your brother in Christ, I hope I’ve given you the example of what it means to speak up when things are wrong, to stand up for those who are being hurt and to take in stride the rejection of others when they are upset with your position. I’m thankful you are my son and I love you and Canon very much.

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Unplugged Summer

     My last blog entry was my Mother’s Day post from May 10th. I have not posted anything related to the recent controversies to the Crescent Crier since the day before I visited the Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Board meeting on Tuesday, May 6th. In April, I tweeted that I would likely post something regarding what transpired at the April 14-15 meeting of the Board of Trustees at LC. I left that meeting early Tuesday (Tuesday is the day when we actually do the business of the school) when I realized what was being forced on the Board and from whence it came. I voted my conscience and left in protest. I learned a long time ago not to speak too quickly to an aggravating situation so that I might take time to correctly process the event, self check my motives and assemble a reasonable response. Thus, I have yet to address the unbelievable and deeply disturbing events of that day simply because I am at an impasse on what I should and should not publish. I do however have my own audio recording of that meeting and have transcribed it thoroughly so that when/if I do comment then my source material will be well documented. Furthermore, all the board action taken after I left is still very much a mystery to me. I have little-to-no specific information on how the search committee was selected (and I’m not even sure those in attendance would know since not a single motion to be voted on was handed out in written form so that we might best consider and have an appropriate debate on the merits of said motions), why, after two years and countless wasted hours and funds debating the issue, it was FINALLY agreed upon that it was time for the president to go (although I think I know exactly how and why that came about) and what was the discussion regarding the severance package (which some have called a golden parachute). Even if I did decide to publish some of the information I wouldn't have the most important bits of info from after my departure.

     After the events of the May LBC Executive Board meeting (which I intend to address in the next few weeks, having chosen to delay my remarks until nearer to the November convention) I decided to purposely unplug and spend the down time of summer focused on my family. This unplugging was not a total withdrawal from technology/social media but was a deliberate action on my part to disconnect from the events and disappointments related to LC and the LBC. I must say, I needed it more than I knew.

     The break was a wonderful albeit emotional time for us. First, we began the summer shutting down the “Adkins Academy for 3rd Grade Studies” since Canon was accepted to the Marrero Academy for Advanced Studies for the 14-15 school year (part of the Jefferson Parish Advanced Magnet Academy system). Then, Michelle found out that she would be moving from teaching 4th grade to 2nd grade (a move that was an answer to prayer for me). Thus, began the excitement of visiting “The Educator” for all new classroom decorations, books and supplies. Further, I found out that I was voted the “Volunteer of the Year” at Quint’s school, the Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy (this was legitimately the most humbling and meaningful honor I've ever received). Then it was off to Baltimore for the Southern Baptist Convention where I had a great time visiting with friends and where I once again served as a Teller for convention business. Finally came the most exciting part of the summer, our family’s once in a lifetime trip to Europe.

     We had been pinching pennies over the last 2 years in order to save up enough money to make it work. It was everything I hoped it would be. I had done a music mission trip tour of France back in 2002 (which was actually the catalyst that guided our move to NOLA) and hoped that one day Michelle and I could travel there together. Then, a couple of years ago, I took a study trip to England where I spent a short amount of time at Oxford and Cambridge for work on my PhD. Those travels caused me to want to take the fam to Europe, if ever possible. With Quint’s desire to one day go to Cambridge, I had hoped that taking him there would be a sort of inspiration for him. It was. For Canon, my hopes were far more practical. I wanted both my boys to see, process and appreciate other cultures and people groups. Specifically, I wanted Canon to see how big and different the world is… compared to the one he sees every day. On our trip home I asked Canon what he learned from our time in England and France. He responded, “that I’m not the only one in my world.” Indeed! The trip was great and if you follow me on Twitter (@_JayAdkins) you can see many of my pictures and comments from our trip.

     I decided that although we couldn't see all the things I had been privileged to see from my earlier trips, I wanted to really make our vacation time as special as I could so I decided on time in Paris, Oxford, Cambridge and London. We’d fly into Charles de Gaulle then back home from Heathrow. I spent a lot of my down time from the fall of 13 through the spring of 14 working on an itinerary for our trip. Actually, I worked on it, off and on, for over a year. Having visited those places before, I knew the things I wanted my family to experience and I knew approximately where I hoped to find accommodations. I planned travel times and modes of transportation while trying to group sights in geographical locations for ease of visit. Things worked out so well. The only thing that didn't go as we had hoped was our trip to Stonehenge. We had rented a car to drive from London to Oxford and I had planned a side trip to Stonehenge on that travel day. About half way there, while stopping to get gas, we found out that Stonehenge was closed to the public that day… it was Saturday, June 21st… the Summer Solstice. How I missed that, I do not know.

     A few of the highlights of the trip (for me) included Michelle and I placing our “lock” on the Pont des Arts bridge, climbing the Notre Dame tower with the boys, climbing the Arc de Triumphe, a family trip up in the Eiffel Tower, Rodin’s Museum (really, all the museums), Disneyland Paris, The Palace at Versailles, A day of relaxation sauntering around the base of the Eiffel Tower, having the perfect apartment location of our Paris excursions (if you ever make a trip to Paris and want an apartment then check out Habitat Parisien's offerings), the “chunnel” trip to London, walking Oxford and Cambridge with Quint, seeing Big Ben and the Peter Pan statue with Canon, the Portobello Road market in Notting Hill, feeding the birds on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral (sadly Mary wasn't there), the observation deck at the Shard, Speakers Corner with Quint and then, on our last day, the piece de resistance… the “Bond in Motion” exhibit at the London Film Museum which displayed all the vehicles from each of the Bond films (I’m a 007 nut… watched all the films… numerous times… its obnoxious really). It was a great trip, however during the same time there were some significant events happening back home that dampened a bit of the enjoyment of our trip.

     Our student pastor and his wife, Vinh and Michele Nguyen, were expecting their first child. They had a slight scare and made an emergency trip to the hospital only to be told the nerve-wracking news that there was indeed a problem and that little Alli was going to have to be delivered immediately… at 34 weeks. Complications were plentiful. It was hard to be so far away while our friends were dealing with that. Equally emotional, albeit positive, was the response I saw from our church family in supporting and caring for Nguyen’s during that difficult time. Then, to make matters worse, on June 26th my grandfather, the Reverend Caudle Adkins Jr., “graduated to Glory” (as he would say). I cannot express how hard it was to be so far away from our family during that time. Further, knowing I would not be able to make it back in time for (nor could they postpone) the service was almost unbearable. It was heart-wrenching for me. Thankfully, back in April, my dad brought my grandfather down to NOLA during one of his NOBTS trustee trips. What a special time that was. How providential and kind of God to give us that time together just months before he left our world. I had the privilege of pushing my grandfather’s wheelchair around the WWII museum (I've now been blessed to do with both of my grandfathers) and experienced the joy of listening in when the employees and other visitors would stop us and thank him for his service. I treasure that time and am thankful that God gave my boys those few more days with “Grumpa” eating at Parkway, telling jokes and hanging around the house. It was fun to watch him interact with the other old-timers at our local McDonald's and to see, when he handed my boys a surprisingly large amount of money, how it made him feel (which was clear by watching his reaction to their expressions). My favorite quotation from him during that trip happened while we were showing him around NOLA. As I drove down St. Charles toward the CBD he commented, “Man what a city! Ain’t nothin’ down here matches.” I’m just so thankful that God ordained that I would have the privilege to be in this family. The blessing of such a heritage is not lost on me. Even though I didn't get to see him very often over the last 12 years, just knowing he’s no longer sitting in that chair at 292 Gallaher Street in Huntington hurts my heart. It was quite a summer for the Adkins family.

     Now my attention turns. My final meeting as a member of the LC board is coming up in September (clearly, I am happy about this portion of my life coming to a close and I'm quite certain others are happy about that as well). With that said, I have a few more things to say on the subject and am already working on those blog posts. I will prepare and be ready for the Convention when it meets in November. There are some exciting things going on at church that I’m looking forward to seeing come about and one particularly unusual and exciting opportunity for me which I cannot say much about at this point. Suffice it to say, the fall is full. Most importantly, I must now reimmerse myself into PhD work. My academic career has taken a back seat while these other things have demanded my time. I am looking forward to the next year and its challenges and changes with heightened anticipation and overflowing joy.

     It’s time to plug back in… I hope we've got a surge protector somewhere.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

It is my contention that the mothers I’ve been blessed to be loved by are the best that have ever been assembled for any little boy. All my life I have been surrounded by a unique cadre of women that have poured their lives into me and each have deeply influenced the character and nature found in the man I have become. My mom, Linda Carol Bowling Adkins is, to this day, the most kind, supportive and tender mother I have ever known. When I'm sick I still think of her making me a "nest" and sitting on the side of the couch while she would rub my head and tuck in the covers around me. She'd make me tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich (my sick meal) and was the general who would subdue my illness at the wave of her hand.

Her mother, Orpha Cordella Smith Bowling (who has been with Jesus for quite some time and is greatly missed) was a strong, hard-working and funny woman who took great pride in gathering her family together and cooking big meals. She was more like a pioneering frontier woman who ran her home well and delivered her first child while her husband was in North Africa fighting a war. I can testify that my mom's tender side was balanced by the example of the firm hand she learned from her mother. I can embarrassingly say that I (inappropriately and disrespectfully) got in my mom's face once... ONCE. When I got up off the floor I made the decision I would never get in her face again. ;) She has been our caretaker, our nurse, our cheerleader, our rudder, our disciplinarian, our teacher and our adviser. I am a blessed man to have had her nurture and shape me.

My dad’s mom, Patsy Ruth Stidham Adkins (who is presently suffering from Alzheimer’s) was the picture of a humble, loving, Christ-like and submissive wife. Her home was spotless as she cared for her three boys and her Evangelist husband (who traveled extensively and was outside of the home far more than anyone would have wanted). She was a servant. If you looked up “graciousness” in the dictionary you would find her picture. As a young girl she was even the conduit that led her mother, Mary Virginia Summerville Stidham (my great-grandmother) to the Lord when, as a little girl, she would get up, dress and go to church even without her family… until the day that Great-Gran decided to follow her little girl to church. The rest, as they say, is history. I believe that my call to ministry is due in part to these godly women who prayed fervently for every family member, friend, neighbor, acquaintance and complete stranger they heard needed prayer. I can close my eyes and picture walking into my Great-Gran’s house. I hear WEMM on the radio (the one that sat on top of her refrigerator). I see her over in the corner of her kitchen cleaning up after her tea and can hear that she is talking to Jesus about her family. I’d come in quietly just to hear who she was praying for. I miss her terribly as well as her daughter, Patsy (my Mamaw Adkins). I am heartbroken that this disease has taken her from us. Her encouragement to live the way Jesus would want me to live still rings in my ears.

And then there is my sweet Michelle Lynette Slater Adkins. Anyone who knows me at this point in my life can testify that I would not be who I am were it not for the mother of my children. If the women above shaped the first 23 years of my life and set the foundation for who I would be, this one woman has broadened the last 18 years of my life and helped to grow me in ways that I would have never imagined. I must also recognize my dear mother-in-law, Janet Louise Burgess Slater, who helped to shape my Michelle into the woman that would help to shape me. I am eternally grateful for her influence, care and love for my sweet bride. Michelle swooped into my life and changed me. I learned about travel, compassion, giving, selflessness, priorities, forgiveness, friendship, love and so many other things that just sound so cliché. This is the woman who told me that she believed in me and believed that I could indeed finish that little two-year degree that I had been struggling to finish. She told me that not only did she think I could do that, but that I could go on to do more (remember this girl had a master’s degree before I even had a degree). She encouraged me, supported me, believed in me and has pushed me to be the best I can be. Now, after 4 degrees and working on a 5th, this woman is still there caring for and encouraging me all the while blessing my home beyond what I deserve and is helping to shape our two little boys into the men they will become just like those women did for me so many years earlier. Thanks to her I am a blessed man indeed. Who deserves such a life?

These unique women have shaped me into the man I am. Whatever good that may be in me can for the most part be attributed to them. Whatever mistakes I've made has come about due to my disregarding their instruction or meandering away from their guidance. To these women and to all the other moms that are sacrificially giving of their lives for the benefit of their children, I say to you, “Happy Mother’s Day!” Your children will be blessed if you can be half the mom these moms have been to me.

Monday, May 5, 2014

I'll be speaking to the LBC Executive Board

     Tomorrow morning, May 6th at 9am I will speak to the Administrative Committee of the Executive Board of the Louisiana Baptist Convention (LBC) regarding the motion I presented on the floor of the LBC meeting in November of last year. The motion posits that according to the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Executive Director of the LBC is prohibited from a seat on any of the four Boards of Trustees of the Convention. I presented this motion due to what I had witnessed while serving on the Board of Trustees of Louisiana College only after prayerful consideration and deliberately and carefully researching and examining the guiding documents of our Convention.
     My motion was referred to the Executive Board for examination. I had expected to receive an invitation to speak to my motion however after 5 months had passed and an upcoming meeting of the Executive Board was looming, I took the advice of another pastor and made an official request to speak. Although I hoped to address the full Board I was granted the request to speak to the Administrative Committee of the Executive Board (they were the group tasked with consideration of the motion).
     I sent the 23 members of that committee a 10 page pdf (which includes much of the material previously published on my personal blog). I received back a kind request from one member for a boiled down 1-page summary of the problem and my proposed solution. The following is that concise explanation which I have recently sent to the Administrative Committee:

Concise Explanation of my Motion

from Jay Adkins

I have covered every aspect of my motion in detail and with painstaking care. I’ve taken such care to ensure that no stone has been left uncovered and to attempt to answer every question I imagine could be asked of me. I have also been asked by an Administrative Committee member to produce a one-page summary of my concern and my proposed solution. I offer that to you today. Here are the facts: 
  1. According to the Bylaws of the LBC (specifically Article 4, Section 10) no salaried employees of the Convention are eligible for election as a voting member of Boards or Committees unless it is provided somewhere else in the Constitution or Bylaws.
  2. In Article 3, Section 9 of the Bylaws there is an allowance for the Executive Director to serve as an ex officio member of the Committees of the Convention… not on the Boards. (Compare that to the allowance made for the President of the Convention in Article 8, Section 4 of the LBC Articles of Incorporation where he is given ex officio on both the Committees and Boards) Further, there is a clear distinction between Committees and Boards throughout the LBC Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. The most clear distinction is made in Article 2 of the Bylaws where the delineation is made between the 7 Standing Committees and the 4 Boards of Trustees.
  3. Therefore, the Executive Director (and any other salaried employee) is in fact prohibited from a seat on any of the 4 Boards of Trustees.
  4. The Charters of the 4 Boards of Trustees now read (2 of which were relatively recently changed) to allow the Executive Director to sit as a member of the 4 Boards.
  5. The allowance in those Charters stand in direct contradiction with the Bylaws of the LBC.
  6. The LBC is the Sole Member of each of the 4 referenced entities. The “connectionalism” that Sole Membership provides affords the convention, in part, “the prerogative to unilaterally recommend the alteration or even the abolition of its entities.”1
  7. The Bylaws of the entities of the Sole Member cannot be allowed to supersede the Bylaws of the Sole Member itself.

    My Proposed Solution:
         I would like it to be clarified and then enforced 1) that according to the Constitution and Bylaws of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Executive Director of the LBC does not have a position on any of the four Boards of Trustees (Louisiana College, the Baptist Message, the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and the Foundation Board), 2) that the Convention respectfully requests that the four entities appropriately amend their Charters as to not contradict the LBC Bylaws and finally 3) that from this time forth the Executive Director be instructed to interact with those entities as an invited guest while maintaining a friendly and collegial relationship with those entities.
         Otherwise, we must change our Bylaws to allow the Executive Director to serve on the Boards.

    [1]David Hankins, The Relation of the Southern Baptist Convention to Its Entities. accessed from on April 30, 2014.

     For me, this issue is about the following things. First, Vigilance in protecting the Rule of Order. If we are to have guiding documents we are obliged to follow them. If they are insufficient we should adjust them accordingly. Second, we should Practice good Hermeneutics when it comes to interpretation of our guiding documents. We seem to have no trouble pronouncing anathema on those who would not correctly interpret constitutional law, but in matters of denominational hermeneutics we seem to lean heavily on interpretation given to us by our leaders. We should take hermeneutical care in denominational life by employing the wise proverb, “trust but verify.” Third, I would offer a Caution against Apathy related to Minutiae. Look, I know what it is like to be underwhelmed by the droning on and on of facts and figures. In fact, I am never a good listener when it comes to numbers. Put me in a room with financial guys talking money and my eyes glaze over. I am no help in that area. However, if I am in the room and have responsibility for my part of that discussion, I must engage and attempt to contribute. Let us not abdicate our responsibility when we are bored and uninterested. Finally, we should Encourage healthy Critical Thinking. Fundamentalists still today, trumpet the “liberalism” of textual criticism suggesting that such criticism is negative and seeks to tear down what is good. Friends, those of us who went to seminary know the great blessing that is textual criticism and we are indebted to those professors who taught us how to do it correctly. Because of textual criticism we can have answers for those who seek to discredit scripture. Healthy critical thinking is a great gift to us from the God who holds all intellect and reasonable thought. Isn’t our faith one that should seek understanding? Let’s not just do something because that is “the way it has been done,” or because sister so-and-so thinks it is the right way to do it.
      I look forward to speaking with and answering questions from the Administrative Committee tomorrow morning. Please pray for clear thoughts, open minds and reasonable dialogue.

PS. I have not forgotten that I said I would write about the most recent Louisiana College Board meeting. I will do that soon. I have been waiting for this week to pass (and for a few other things) before I spoke about what happened on Tuesday, April 15th. Please be patient.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dr. Hankins, it's time to go...

One week ago today I handed the following letter to Dr. David Hankins, Executive Director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention just before, in protest, I walked out of the April meeting of the Louisiana College Board of Trustees (I will publish my thoughts on that event soon). I now publicly present my letter calling on the Executive Director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention to resign or retire his post. 

April 2, 2014

Dr. Hankins,

     It is with a heavy heart that I contact you today. In the past, I have expressed my concerns to you over the phone, in email and in person. Your actions over the last year have entirely dissolved any vestige of confidence I once had in your leadership. In particular, I am referring to (1) your extreme bias against an historically rich and respected soteriological tradition, (2) the undue influence you have brought to bear on the Board of Trustees of Louisiana College and (3) your manipulation and behind-the-scenes power brokering to satisfy your own agenda. I believe these actions have eroded your ability to be perceived as an impartial and fair minded officer who is responsible for overseeing our cooperative work, and as such, they have rendered you incapable of continuing in effective service as the Executive Director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention (LBC). Today, it is with due respect but considerable concern that I call on you to resign or retire your post as Executive Director of the LBC.

     Dr. Hankins, you are one of the finest preachers I have ever been blessed to hear. Your intellect is undeniable. Your decades of service to the Lord are admirable. Your activity and stance on the inerrancy of Scripture is deeply appreciated. However, none of these things outweigh the abuse of power and questionable judgment you have displayed since September, 2012. I had no intention of coming to this point when I first offered my motion in the November, 2013 meeting. My hope was to simply show that our guiding documents do not allow a seat for the Executive Director on any of the four Boards of Trustees and I had hoped that the motion would be all that was necessary to address my concerns. However, since that time, especially after witnessing the activities of the last few weeks, I have come to the conclusion that nothing short of this sort of call is going to bring the problem to light.

     Thus, I present here a number of my specific concerns. I cannot stress enough that I do not offer these concerns with malice or as a personal attack. As stated earlier, I have no negative feelings for you as a person or brother in Christ. I am concerned about the Louisiana Baptist Convention and I feel it is necessary to bring out these concerns at this time. Included in these few selected items are issues that can be confirmed by personal testimony, eye witness account or audio recordings. I now offer the three overarching areas of concern and cite specific examples of each. Also, to be sure that you receive this text I will be emailing you a copy of this letter.

Bias against Reformed soteriology

     First, I believe your fixation on opposing a “particular” stream of soteriology is unhealthy and stifles cooperative work. As one who has been hired to oversee cooperative missions in the state of Louisiana, you have shown your personal bias (both privately and publicly) against those who are from the reformed perspective. I believe that, for the vast majority of Southern Baptists, the Baptist Faith and Message is more than sufficient for our faith and practice. However, in a phone call on July 3, 2012 you stated to me that you would like to see changes made to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 in the area of soteriology. You claimed that the current wording of Article IV it is “too broad” and “should be restricted to exclude Calvinists.” Yet, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 19-20, 2012, did formally resolve “that we affirm that The Baptist Faith and Message provides sufficient parameters for understanding the doctrine of salvation, so that Southern Baptists may joyfully and enthusiastically partner together in obedience to the Great Commission.” Further, you are aware that in 2013 an appointed committee, which your son helped to lead (and did, in my opinion, a wonderful job), presented a detailed and, I thought, thoroughly appropriate statement that, in part, concluded, “We must celebrate the unity we share together in our common Great Commission purpose, while acknowledging and celebrating variety among us. We must clarify the parameters of our cooperation where necessary but stand together without dispute.” Further, they argue, “No entity should be promoting Calvinism or non-Calvinism to the exclusion of the other. Our entities should be places where any Southern Baptist who stands within the boundaries of The Baptist Faith and Message should be welcomed and affirmed as they have opportunities to benefit from, participate in, and provide leadership for those entities.” This is the sort of balance and cooperative spirit we need at Louisiana College and among the leadership of the LBC. What we do not need are individuals that would call a college student an “aggressive rabid Calvinazi.”

     Second, in Executive Session on February 25, 2013 while defending Dr. Aguillard’s action of making a public statement against some form of hyper-Calvinism you [this passage is redacted due to its contents originating from a Louisiana College Board Executive Session]. That you cited such information in your soliloquy defending Dr. Aguillard is intellectually dishonest at best and sheer manipulation at worse. This obfuscation and authoritative use of unpublished statistics in order to influence a vote is not only disappointing, it is deceptive.

     Third, it has been rumored that you had hoped to have LC adopt the “Traditional Statement” as a guiding doctrinal document. Although I do not know how widespread your thoughts were on this matter, I do know that you made that desire known to the Executive Committee (EC). Again, there is evidence from the EC meeting on the morning of September 17, 2012 that you desired to replace the resolution prepared by the EC with the Traditional Statement stating, “I would be happy if we would take something like this traditional statement and just say this is what it is.” For almost 45 minutes you went on about your concerns over Calvinism and even came to the point of suggesting that the Baptist Faith and Message might need to be changed to “tighten up” the soteriological portion by saying, “I think the statements on salvation in the Baptist Faith and Message are fine unless people are using them to give themselves permission to teach things that Baptist generally do not believe.”

Interior Undue Influence on the Board

     First, you asked to address the EC of the Louisiana College Board of Trustees on September 17, 2012. In that meeting you were the primary voice of dissent which influenced a reversal of a proposed resolution regarding Calvinism, which had been tentatively approved by the EC to be presented to the Louisiana College Board of Trustees (and had already been disseminated to us). This resolution had been sent out to the Board on September 7, 2012 for consideration. To suggest that the conclusion of the original resolution was troublesome, since it didn’t state a position but that, in your words, the resolution presents “we don’t have an opinion” is simply not the case. The resolution absolutely posited a position by stating “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the debate over Calvinism, inclusive of labeling for or against Calvinism, will not take place at Louisiana College.” The original EC prepared resolution was more than sufficient to articulate that LC would not advocate for Calvinism and your action was entirely inappropriate. Furthermore, one of the final statements in my motion also stated very strongly (even using some of your own language) that we would not advocate for Calvinism, “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that within instruction on soteriology at Louisiana College the Board of Trustees affirms instruction on, while not advocating for or against, Arminianism and/or Calvinism, the debate of which has encouraged rigorous and healthy exchange of ideas through the history of the church, sharpening theological discourse to the glory of God.” If the concern truly was about LC not advocating for Calvinism then either resolution would have been adequate. Without the Executive Director’s influence to rescind the motion the Louisiana College Board of Trustees would have at least voted on the resolution and it’s passage might have averted a portion the present controversy brought on by the actions of the President of Louisiana College.

     Second, while in Executive Session on February 25, 2013 on two specific occasions where a debatable main motion was made, [this passage is redacted due to its contents originating from a Louisiana College Board Executive Session]. Clearly, as a Board member (even though I believe the LBC Bylaws do not grant you that position) you have every right to present your views. Again, that in and of itself, is not the issue. My concern is that I have witnessed numerous meetings where I do not recall you saying a word and yet since September 17 of 2012, validated by the audio recordings, I have heard your voice far more than any other member. I have gone back and listened to hours of recordings and of the numerous examples I could share, for time sake, I have only pulled out these few instances.

     Third, I would argue that your most egregious action is your [this passage is redacted due to its contents originating from a Louisiana College Board Executive Session]. Further, on the EC recording from the morning of September 17, before you spoke with the members, Dr. Aguillard mentions that he had gone back and looked through emails and noted, “Since I’ve been the president I’ve had two emails asking about Calvinism on campus.” He then admitted that the complaints originated from “Freshman led Bible studies in the dorm and not a classroom issue.” You are also aware that Comprehensive Standard 3.2.4 of the Council on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) states: “The governing board is free from undue influence from political, religious, or other external bodies and protects the institution from such influence.” Clearly, your threat was to [this passage is redacted due to its contents originating from a Louisiana College Board Executive Session]. This is absolutely inappropriate action.

Exterior Undue Influence in Convention life

     First, the interplay between you, Tommy French and Joe Aguillard (since the revelation of the recording and story in the Town Talk) is inappropriate. The fact that you would call the Board Chairman and demand the President’s removal is unbelievable, especially after defending him for over a year. Further, that you believe it is within your purview to do so is deeply disturbing… further still, that you actually do have the ability to cause others to change votes or be persuaded to a different perspective simply “upon your call” is even more shocking. Although the Board Chairman has abdicated his responsibility of leading by not keeping us posted on these actions (which is certainly not your fault) that you have continually worked to bring about this change, now against the President, is another clear sign of undue influence.

     Second, the fact that you recently had a meeting where you called in the current President of the Convention and 3 Past-Presidents to argue for Aguillard’s dismissal is unconscionable. I have the names of those men and have heard about the topic that was discussed. To suggest that such an action is not an exertion of undue influence is utterly laughable.

     Finally, the fact that you called three of the signers of the Open Letter to, in part, demand a public apology and then issue a press release that at best misstated the letter of one member and at worse presented false information, is interesting. To issue a press release that says that a member “contacted” you and not admit that you contacted the three trustees is irresponsible. A further question I have is why, if you called three members, did you not call the rest of us. The statement that came from the LBC communications office stated that a member asked for language to be removed prior to the open letter’s release. That is not true. No one asked that anything be removed before publication of that statement. The letter, which was not even my idea, had input from a number of members and was about the problems that we have faced which has inhibited our ability to fulfill our responsibilities. Your undue influence is only one of the many problems we’ve had. Furthermore, according to you “two other signees have also extended regrets regarding the remarks.” Such a statement is despicable manipulation of the truth. I understand that the regrets they extended have absolutely nothing to do with the letter itself but that the individuals regretted not talking with you before they signed the letter. I’ve not heard from a single trustee who’ve asked to remove their name.

     Dr. Hankins, although I disagree with you on a number of issues, I have never found any of our differences reason enough to abstain from fellowship and cooperation with you. However, at this point, you have clearly overstepped reasonable activity. Your actions, a few of which I have reiterated here, are out of bounds. Our cooperative tradition and Convention polity has always been a bottom up effort. You have inverted that solemn structure and have amassed too much power and authority. I am asking you to please seek what is best for the Louisiana Baptist Convention and consider resignation or retirement.

In Christ,
Jay Adkins

Brief Commentary:

     My intention was for this letter to remain confidential for a longer period of time but I have come to understand that the Executive Director has already allowed others to read my letter and/or told others about my letter. I have waited for some sort of response but such a response has not come. Thus, in my continued desire to function in transparency, all the while expecting a barrage of condemnatory murmurings (since that is what I heard happened upon publishing an extremely inappropriate dispatch from the current Board Chairman) I have chosen to make this letter public at this time.

     As I note in the letter (and have noted before in public) I hold no personal animosity toward the Executive Director. It is disconcerting for me that anyone would suggest that because I disagree with someone on some particular issue that I also must hold some sort of personal anger for that person. I think most mentally healthy Pastors learn early on not to take things personally. Generally speaking, much of the grief we get has more to do with some underlying issue than it does with a particular personality. I have learned from my dad, and tried to teach the pastor’s I’ve mentored, that when faced with a disgruntled church member we are to look past the person and down into the underlying problem. If we allow ourselves to be fixated on the personality we will never be able to shepherd that individual on to maturity and away from the very thing we are trying to grow them out of. Thus, I find that it is not a difficult thing to have strong disagreements with a person and yet not let if affect you to the point where it becomes “personal.”

     I will again admit that there was a time early last year that my anger did get the best of me and I regretfully had allowed my frustrations to bubble up into an inappropriate attitude toward the Executive Director. I mentioned in an earlier blog that a friend, another LBC Pastor, challenged me on that point and I repented. Since that time this has not been about personality for me. It is about exposing what I believe to be unhealthy and unChristlike traits of power wielding, manipulation and subversive behavior. I can, in peace and forgiveness, say with a clear conscience that this is about a desire to see our convention move away from this type of leadership toward one where hired ministry coordinators actively serve us and not attempt to superintend us. That, my friends is the Baptist way. Bottom up, not top down.

     Just as I have always done, I have redacted any specific reference to any item or action which happened in Executive Session. Of course, one of the most frustrating things for me is that so much of what we have done was done under the “protection” of Executive Session. However, I have been deliberately cautious not to contravene that responsibility. Let me reiterate and I will write more on this soon... I have NEVER broken any Executive Session confidence. I have never spoken about confidential matters that relate to anyone’s contract or employment. I’ve never commented on specifics or even generalities of litigation issues. I’ve never published any financial matter regarding Louisiana College. I have never privately leaked information. I have never initiated contact with any secular media outlet regarding issues at Louisiana College (even to the point of neglecting phone calls from media outlets). I have never contacted or communicated with (nor do I ever even read) any other bloggers who have commented on issues surrounding Louisiana College. Finally, I have never attempted to stir up the constituencies of LC to bring about some action. In fact, you could ask about that to the hundreds of alumni, students and other LBC folk whom I’ve regrettably been unable to reply to over the last year. These are important points that I want to stress in light of those who would be inclined to call me a trouble-maker or for those who have suggested that I have “popped off” or broken some unwritten Baptist Code of not rocking the boat.

     Please know that I am fully aware that it is not likely that the Executive Director will relinquish his post at my behest. I am not that naïve. However, I now feel that it has come to the point where someone must say something. Since I’ve spoken up I’ve had numerous calls from men around the LBC telling me about their own concerns and others that have shared their stories with me. Many individuals from many different backgrounds have expressed appreciation for my speaking up and for all that encouragement I am deeply thankful.

Semper Reformanda
Soli Deo Gloria!
-Jay Adkins