When Debra Wallace-Padgett was appointed bishop of the North Alabama Conference, we had newfound hope. Perhaps, we thought, we would have a bishop who would listen to us and help us as we sought to recover our chartered status, our elected board, and our full ministry. After giving her a few months to settle in, we wrote and requested a meeting with her, so we could meet her, tell her our story, and seek restoration and reconciliation.
She refused to meet with us.
When challenged by former Chair of the Board Marti Slay on her refusal to meet with the members of a church in her district, Bishop Wallace-Padgett offered to meet with Marti and only two others. Feeling that such a limited meeting was unfair to the group which had worked so hard together for so long, and also believing it reflected a less-than-genuine desire to hear our story, Marti declined the offer, saying, “This is an ordeal that has been experienced by and has affected the entire church. The original letter of complaint to the Southeastern Jurisdiction contained 29 signatures. Five officers of the church were removed without cause when the appointed board was put in place. How would we choose only three people to meet with you? One of the many problems throughout this process has been the lack of transparency. Everyone who wishes to hear and be heard should have that right …. Personally, I do not sense a willingness to actively engage with us. Apparently there is no possibility of restoring our rights as members of the church. Without that possibility, I see no reason to put myself through another excruciating review of this difficult and painful experience.”