Thursday, May 26, 2011. We received another email from Ron Schultz. Without having consulted with us, without meeting with many of the people who wished to be heard, the bishop and cabinet made a decision in this case. Although the complaints against them were found to have no merit, the Higgs would no longer serve at Church of the Reconciler. Lawton, the founding pastor, retired, could no longer be connected to the church “in any capacity.” Among other changes being instituted, we were told that “Church of the Reconciler will become a mission church of the Annual Conference governed by a Board of Directors established by the District.” There had been no Charge Conference or any discussion with any member of the church about the change in status.
Those of us who had served in leadership positions were told we could submit our names “to be considered for a position on the advisory board.”
There are no words to describe adequately how we felt upon receiving this email. We were shocked that decisions had been made about moving our pastors and assigning a new one without even the appearance of following the consultative process as prescribed by the Discipline. We could not understand why, if no evidence was found that would lead to judicial charges, our beloved pastors were not coming back. After being shut out by the DS throughout the entire process, we were now being informed about the change in pastoral leadership and the takeover of our church by email! We were not even granted the respect of a meeting to discuss these changes. And most of us still had no idea what the original complaints were that started this whole mess.