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Outrageous SACS Report attacks Church Affiliation

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    Outrageous SACS Report attacks Church Affiliation This SACS Report should give any Christian denomination which sponsors colleges & seminaies an etreme case of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 5, 2010
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      Outrageous SACS Report attacks Church Affiliation

      This SACS Report should give any Christian denomination which sponsors colleges & seminaies an etreme case of the HEEBIE-JEEBIES.

      "Accrediting Panel Report on Erskine slams ARP Synod"

      Written by Don K. Clements Wednesday, 02 June 2010 07:46

      @ Acquilla Report http://tinyurl.com/33prwzc

      The recommendations and comments, if approved, will require Erskine to clearly separate itself from any direct influence by the ARP Church.

      The Aquila Report has obtained a copy of the SACS Special Committee Report which was triggered following ARP Synod actions in March. While just a recommendation (final action by SACS will be later in June) the recommendations and comments, if approved, will require Erskine to clearly separate itself from any direct influence by the ARP Church.

      As reported here previously, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, through is Commission on Colleges, appointed a special committee to investigate the situation at Erskine College and Seminary following recent actions by the ARP Synod to replace the Board of Trustees (http://bit.ly/bAfsnv).

      The special committee visited the Erskine campus on May 4-6 to complete its investigation. Members of the committee included the President of Garner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC (Committee Chairman); the President of the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, KY; a former Trustee of Mercer University in Macon, GA; and serving as the required COC Staff Representative, the Vice President of the Commission.

      On May 21 the Committee sent their report and recommendations to Dr. Randall Ruble, President of Erskine College and Seminary, pointing out that the report remains preliminary and is not official until approved (with or without changes) by the full SACS members at their annual meeting later in June.

      (It should be noted that SACS does not require that contents of their report remain private.)

      The report includes a summary of recommendations page. Those recommendations are:

      1. The institution demonstrate that the Board of Trustees is not controlled by any organization or interests separate from it.

      2. The Board put in place policies to protect the institution from unwarranted intrusion by external forces even if those forces are from its religious body.

      3. Steps be taken to clearly delineate the policy-making function of the governing board and those responsibilities be clearly communicated to the institution's faculty, staff, students and alumni. Further, since the Board has clear authority to deal with policy matters, the Synod should refer such matters to the board.

      4. The institution have and enforce adequate procedures for safeguarding and protecting academic freedom.

      While these recommendations in and of themselves may or may not bode well for supporters of the ARP Synod, and especially for the actions taken in March, it is the explanation sections of the SACS panel report that produce the most revealing nature and meaning of the report.

      For instance, in explaining the first recommendation, the panel said they found no evidence in the bylaws or minutes of control by an outside source, but through interviews of three members of the Moderator's Commission, "it was revealed that the APR Synod desired a board that would take Synod's instructions and move forward."

      Again, in explaining the second recommendation, the panel said that `the institution has experienced undue influence from its religious body as a result of a small group of faculty, students, and alumni appearing before that religious body to express a complaint about the lack of Christian presence on the institutions campus" which resulted in the March actions of Synod. Clearly `undue influence' is anything that appears to `direct' the Board to do certain things.

      Once more, in explaining the third recommendation, the panel said that Synod "must work with the Board to prevent undercutting the authority of the Board" and accused the Synod that their `undue influence' described above as having `created an unhealthy and unworkable governance structure."

      Further, in explaining the fourth recommendation, the panel said that "the apparent incentive behind the Synod actions and the general tenor of what has been said and written could lead a person familiar with academia to be extremely fearful for academic freedom at Erskine College if the Synod prevails in this situation."

      As serious as each of these explanations might seem, what might be considered the most scathing indictment of the action of the Synod did not result in a recommendation for change, but rather in an approbation of the Board for resisting the change in its structure through the March Synod actions.

      In that regard, the report states that "in response to this intended threat by the ARP Synod, the Board of Trustees took appropriate action to ensure that its own bylaws and policy regarding dismissal of Trustees was protected and upheld, and that any future or advised modifications to such policies (through the By-Laws) would be reviewed in due course through the existing government framework."

      The Aquila Report will be seeking comment on this story from Erskine Board members, members of the Moderator's Commission, as well as from those involved with other institutions whose Boards are appointed by a religious denomination. (Those desiring to comment should contact the author at don@... This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

      ===================================================================

      COMMENTARY BY CHARLES WILSON @ ARPTALK ON SACS REPORT

      The SACS Report: An Assault By Secular Terrorists Against the Christian Church In Higher Education - 4 June 2010

      http://tinyurl.com/2822xkm

      The SACS report and its recommendations represent a clear threat to ANY religious body that seeks to hold the trustees of denominational colleges and seminaries accountable to missional criteria. This report is a declaration of war on the Christian Church in higher education. The little ARP Church now finds herself as the Dutch Boy with a finger in the dike attempting to hold back the terrorist assaults of secular agnosticism/atheism that seeks to silence the voice and witness of Christianity in higher education. Our friends and brothers and sisters in the PCA (Covenant College and Covenant Theological Seminary), the Southern Baptist Convention (a host of colleges and seminaries), the RPCNA (Geneva College and Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary) and other Christian denominations and their colleges and seminaries are watching what we ARPs do in this important conflict. Our prayer is that they will join us in this struggle that is also their struggle.

      SACS bureaucrats have pushed themselves into a family dispute in the ARP Church between General Synod and Erskine, the educational institution of the ARP Church, and obviously interjected the SACS committee as a participant and taken the side of rebellious and traitorous Erskine trustees and administrators who are COVENANT BREAKERS who have broken faith with the GSARPC. Any veneer of evenhandedness and intellectual fairmindedness that the SACS committee may have had is now gone. This SACS committee has told the ARP Church to go to hell. To all other Christian churches that have denominational colleges and seminaries and that hold their colleges and seminaries in the same manner as the ARP Church, this SACS committee has also told to go to hell. The originating agency of the church that appoints trustees is, according to the report of the SACS committee, an idiot child with no standing in their sight.

      Don Clements in The Aquila Report writes: "The recommendations and comments, if approved, will require Erskine to clearly separate itself from any direct influence by the ARP Church."

      The partisan nature of the report of the SACS committee is BREATHTAKING! The Erskine Board, unless the meeting is canceled or rescheduled at the last minute, is scheduled to meet Monday, June 7, at Bonclarken. From all reports, the topic on the table for discussion is how to declare the Board self-perpetuating and independent of the ARP Church IN SOME MANNER. The timing between the meeting and discussions at the last BoT meeting and the follow-up ruling by the SACS committee are very close. Are the directional discussions of the BoT and the allied herding efforts of the SACS committee conjoined? It is enough to make one wonder if collusion has taking place! Do you think?

      What is a feasible response for the General Synod? Hang tight!

      A number of years ago in a conversation with a now retired administrator, he said that every so often the GSARPC got indignant over affairs at Erskine. Speeches were made. Investigations and reports were made. At the end of the day, the members of GSARPC felt good about themselves in that they had spoken out against evils at Erskine; however, the members of the GSARPC were not willing to undertake the hard task of discipline that makes for real accountability, and the folks at Erskine, having weathered the storm again, went on their merry way. Will the response of the GSARPC this year be a repeat of "sound and fury signifying nothing"? We must have the courage of patience in the face of the intimidation by the Erskine BoT and their allies on the SACS committee. C. S. Lewis says, "Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."

      The arrogance and sweep of the report of the SACS committee are astounding. Erskine College and Seminary is not the only educational institution that is denominationally connected in the manner that Erskine is. This report will probably cause a great deal of consternation amongst certain SACS member schools. As in the case of all committees, the appointing body SACS may modify or annul this committee's report. Since the Appeals Court has redlined 4 out of 5 of his opinions, not much has been heard.

      A committee report by a SACS committee is exactly that: a committee report. As noted earlier, it is open to change and it has to be adopted. If adopted, that is not the end of the matter. There is an appeal process, both with SACS and the civil court, for this report by the SACS committee has opened "freedom" issues that involve more than academic freedom. Did anyone notice that the SACS committee report seems to reach out and take not only control of governance but effectively ownership of Erskine? Issues such as these are what spurred Dr. Charles McMcKenzie, former President of Grove City College, to take on the federal government in civil court. Do not forget that Dr. McKenzie and Grove City College won before the Supreme Court. Beside, even if SACS does rule in a threatening manner, it takes time for a bureaucracy to work and time has to be granted from implementation. According to what the Editor is told, notations are given a year or two in which to be addressed.

      It is the opinion of the Editor that time and money and events are with the GSARPC. According to sources, since the redlining of 4/5 of Judge Griffith's opinion, the attorney's for the ARP Church are seeking to recover attorney's fees from the plaintiffs. One will have to wait and see how this unfolds, but it has been reported to the Editor that the matter is going well.

      These are my thoughts,

      Charles W. Wilson
      _________________________________________________________________

      REFERENCED STORY REFERENCED IN THE ACQUILLA REPORT

      ARP Synod actions on Erskine College Board questioned concerning accreditation status
      Churches in the News
      Written by Scott Jaschik
      Monday, 08 March 2010 18:12

      "…when there is a major change in governance, colleges are required to report to SACS about the change, and President Ruble did so the day after the church replaced the board members."

      Last week's dismissal – by a religious body -- of 14 trustees of Erskine College (to be followed by reconsidering the status of the remaining trustees) may violate two requirements of the institution's accreditor, putting its recognition at risk.

      Belle S. Wheelan, president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, said Friday that she became concerned about key rules about institutional independence last week after she read in Inside Higher Ed about the move by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church to assert more control over the college.

      After a gathering of church leaders fired trustees Wednesday and announced a new board structure, there is a serious chance that the college could be in violation of at least two standards that are required for accreditation, Wheelan said.

      The outgoing president of the college, Randall T. Ruble, said in an interview Friday that he too believes the church violated accrediting standards. While accreditors do not rush to yank recognition from institutions, they have the power to do so -- and thereby to end students' eligibility for federal student aid.

      Erskine, a liberal arts college in South Carolina, is the only higher education institution of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, known as the ARP. One division of the college is the church's seminary.

      READ MORE: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/03/08/erskine
      (REPORDUCED BELOW)
      ____________________________________________________________________

      http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/03/08/erskine

      NOTE: BE SURE TO REAL ALL THE EXCELLENT COMMENTS ON THE STORY, WHICH ARE NOT REPRODUCED HERE, BUT VIEWABLE AT THE ABOVE LINK BELOW THE STORY.

      Questions on Erskine's Accreditation - March 8, 2010

      Last week's dismissal – by a religious body -- of 14 trustees of Erskine College (to be followed by reconsidering the status of the remaining trustees) may violate two requirements of the institution's accreditor, putting its recognition at risk.

      Belle S. Wheelan, president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, said Friday that she became concerned about key rules about institutional independence last week after she read in Inside Higher Ed about the move by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church to assert more control over the college.

      After a gathering of church leaders fired trustees Wednesday and announced a new board structure, there is a serious chance that the college could be in violation of at least two standards that are required for accreditation, Wheelan said.

      The outgoing president of the college, Randall T. Ruble, said in an interview Friday that he too believes the church violated accrediting standards. While accreditors do not rush to yank recognition from institutions, they have the power to do so -- and thereby to end students' eligibility for federal student aid.

      Erskine, a liberal arts college in South Carolina, is the only higher education institution of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, known as the ARP. One division of the college is the church's seminary. The ARP is a small, evangelical conservative denomination – so small that its members alone are not large enough to fill the colleges' student body or faculty.

      The church fired trustees and restructured the board following a review that found trustees had not placed enough emphasis on church teachings in all aspects of the college. Some in the church have been critical of the college for any deviations from a biblically inerrant view of the world, attacking professors who have encouraged open discussion of various topics and who are not seen as doctrinally pure. Many faculty members -- while reluctant to speak out for fear of their jobs -- say that they are worried that the purge of trustees may be followed soon by a purge of the faculty ranks.

      Wheelan said that in cases where religious bodies appoint trustees, there is considerable leeway for those bodies to appoint qualified individuals who share a commitment to church views. But she said that SACS rules are also designed to ensure institutional independence by preventing any outside group from controlling a college. Two rules in particular may have been violated, she said.

      One states that a governing board must be "free from undue influence from political, religious or other external bodies" and that the board "protects the institution from such influence." The other states that governing boards must have rules whereby "members can be dismissed only for appropriate reasons and by a fair process."

      Normally, colleges are reviewed periodically by SACS for compliance with all rules. But when there is a major change in governance, colleges are required to report to SACS about the change, and President Ruble did so the day after the church replaced the board members. Based on that discussion, Wheelan said that SACS was about to send Erskine a letter asking how the college is complying with the accreditor's rules, and that Erskine will probably have 30 days to respond. Based on those answers, SACS may consider investigating further and taking action.

      Asked if he thinks the church violated SACS rules, Ruble said "I do," and specifically pointed to the rule about fair procedures before board members can be dismissed. "It's called due process and I don't think there was due process," he said. "I think this would be something that [SACS] should surely look at," he said.

      On the complaint from church leaders that the college is not sufficiently true to the faith's teachings, Ruble said that he could never claim complete success, but that many of the college's programs and courses do in fact reflect the faith of the denomination. "If the expectation is that we should show faith everywhere, in every part of every class, we have come up short," he said. But he said he wasn't sure that was a "realistic" expectation.

      Ruble is retiring as president this year and a search for his replacement is continuing. The process has been "kept highly secret from me and other people at Erskine," Ruble said. The search committee had told him that it was down to considering finalists, with the goal of naming someone by April or May. But some of the search committee members were fired by the church last week, Ruble said, so he does not know if they will need to make changes in the process.

      He also said he feared that the firing of the trustees could have an impact on candidates. "Wherever a board is removed like that, it raises questions for a potential candidate about what the direction of the college will be, and its stability and governance. That would be a logical question," he said. He also stressed that he believes the college will survive the current controversy.

      Paul Bell, executive director of the church's central office, said via e-mail that at the church meeting where the trustees were dismissed, "the issue of accreditation was discussed from various angles."

      — Scott Jaschik

      http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/03/08/erskine

      NOTE: BE SURE TO REAL ALL THE EXCELLENT COMMENTS ON THE STORY, WHICH ARE NOT REPRODUCED HERE, BUT VIEWABLE AT THE ABOVE LINK BELOW THE STORY.

      =============================================================

      "The Scandal of Erskine – A 21-Gun Salute!" @ ARPTALK

      HTML: http://www.arptalk.org/2010/05/21/scandal-of-erskine-21-gun-salute/

      PDF: http://www.arptalk.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/ARPTalk-_Extra11.pdf

      There are many words in the dictionary that can be used to describe the situation at Erskine College and Seminary. What is the best one? "Scandal" is a simple word, and the simple word is usually the best. "Scandal" is defined in this manner:

      "A publicized incident that brings about disgrace or offends the moral sensibilities of society and the outrage or anger caused by such an action or event."

      Yes, "scandal" is THE word – "THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE!"

      Indeed, Erskine is a public scandal in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in general and particularly to the ARP Church. Below are some reasons why the Editor writes of THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE. This article brings together just a FEW of the scandal-worthy things that have taken place. Please, forgive the random order of the listing.
      1.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is a Board of Trustee (BoT) that is in open defiance of and rebellion against the ARP Church that appointed it. It is a scandal that trustees who have given their word of support to the ARP Church refuse to follow or implement the directives of the ARP Church. It is a scandal that some of these trustees (David Chesnut, Scott Mitchell, Richard Taylor, and Parker Young) have taken the ARP Church to civil court in order to contravene the decisions of the General Synod concerning the college and seminary.
      2.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is an administration that, for more than 35 years, not only ignored, but subverted, the mission of Erskine College and Seminary. The mission calls for Erskine College and Seminary to be distinctively evangelical Christian. No competent person who understands what an evangelical Christian is will call EC/ETS distinctively evangelical Christian.
      3.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is that the BoT has, year after year, misrepresented the situation at Erskine College and Seminary to the General Synod in the BoT's annual reports to General Synod.
      4.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is a tenure system that promotes RIP – "Rest in Place." The Editor encourages the reader to consult the "Erskine Report" in the various Minutes of General Synod. Where are the academic accomplishments? Where are the books and papers published? Yes, there are lists for the seminary faculty (this year), but where are the lists for the college faculty? Indeed, there are some who are busy working and publishing, but they are scant. Clemson, for example, has a five-year tenure system. After five years, a faculty member's tenure is reassessed. At Erskine it is RIP!
      5.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is a faculty that very largely rejects the faith of the church that they were hired to promote. In a sane world, the BoT owns and operates Erskine College and Seminary in trust for the ARP Church. The faculty members of Erskine are not a law unto themselves. The BoT and administration on behalf of the General Synod of the ARP Church have hired them to promote the cause and welfare of the ARP Church. In essence, they have become the dog who bites the hand of the man who feeds the dog.
      6.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is a President who uses bifurcated disingenuousness in dealing with a personnel issue. Publicly, President Ruble speaks well of Dr. Bill Crenshaw; however, privately, with others, President Ruble speaks of the embarrassment to Erskine that Dr. Crenshaw is and of the long record of complaints against him. Alas, according to President Ruble, it is too difficult and expensive to remove Dr. Crenshaw because he threatens lawsuits. How pragmatic of Dr. Ruble . . . and how disingenuous! What of the lives and minds that Dr. Crenshaw is being allowed to influence and intimidate in and out of the classroom? Is it too expensive to remove a deleterious influence from the classrooms of our sons and daughters? How shortsighted! Such unwillingness and disloyalty to sworn responsibility have lost the loyalty of ARPs who now will no longer even consider Erskine for their children.
      7.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is an Executive Vice President of Erskine Theological Seminary (ETS) who systematically misrepresents his institution to the Church. Why is it that Executive Vice President Gaston continues to insist that all the faculty members at ETS affirm the inerrancy of the Bible? Numerous times he has publicly written or stated this. The most recent affirmation by Executive Vice President Gaston was at the March meeting of General Synod. Dr. Gaston handed the Editor a report with this assertion. After the report was handed out, he asked that it be taken up because, as he said, the report had not been approved by the BoT – an inexplicable oversight! (There are, however, copies of the report available.)
      8.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the misappropriation of money given for one thing and used for another. President Ruble, on the floor of General Synod last March, awkwardly explained that the sum was not $1,000,000 but only 900-and-something-thousand-dollars and the affair was just an accounting error. Such misrepresentation is scandalous!
      9.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the BoT's electing President Ruble to the office of President of Erskine College and Seminary by ONE vote.
      10.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the Chairman of the BoT, Scott Mitchell, launching a lawsuit against the ARP Church and then withdrawing it and, thereby, costing Erskine at least $50,000 in legal fees.
      11.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the Erskine College Faculty's voting Dr. Bill Crenshaw the Yount's Excellence in Teaching Award for 2009/10. Those of us who are older remember Dr. Younts. This award insults and betrays his high Christian ideals. The millstone to the left is the Editor's award for Dr. Crenshaw and the Erskine faculty. See Matthew. 18:6.
      12.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the Chairman of the BoT at this year's college graduation calling President Ruble "one of the great Presidents of Erskine" when the divide between the ARP Church and Erskine has never been so great or contentious. Frankly, Dr. Ruble's Presidency has greatly exacerbated the divide between Erskine and the ARP Church. One wonders what Mr. Mitchell's criteria for greatness are? Are they mediocrity and rebellion and doubletalk?
      13.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the fiduciary IRresponsibility of the BoT and administration in allowing Mr. Woody O'Cain to overspend somewhere between $600,000 to $850,000 in the recruitment of, that is, the buying of, last fallʼs freshmen class. Sadly, as far as anyone knows, Mr. O'Cain has not been reprimanded for his spending spree. One wonders, how much has he spent to get a class for this fall?
      14.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is a HALL OF SHAME of Erskine BoT members, administrators, and alums either filing civil court actions against the ARP Church and encouraging others to do so: Randy Ruble, Neely Gaston, Jay Hering, Richard Burnett, Michael Bush, David Chesnut, Richard Taylor, Bob Elliott, Parker Young, Scott Mitchell, Lee Logan, Wes MacAlister, Gid Alston, Bill Lesesne, Jay West, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (see http://www.ecfoundation.net/id1.html.)
      15.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is an academic Dean of the College whose only academic achievement appears to be nationally recognized as an expert in jump rope. And no, the Editor is not making this up!
      16.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the takeover of the seminary of the ARP Church by two PC(USA) ministers who have not been able to find academic employment in PC(USA) academic institutions and who have publicly and defiantly rejected the stated position of the ARP Church on the authority of the Scripture and have attempted to remake the seminary in the image of their aberrant theological constructs.
      17.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the number of ARP ministerial candidates who, in good conscience, will not attend ETS – even when the tuition is free.
      18.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the number of ARP parents who, in good conscience, will not send their college students to Erskine College – even when the discount rate is much decreased.
      19.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is an administration that cheerleads for the legal efforts against the General Synod and solicits money to pay the legal costs of the lawsuit against the ARP Church. Many alums on Facebook are boasting of the contributions they have sent to Erskine for the DEFENSE FUND. None of them has reported that their gifts were sent back to them!
      20.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the singing of the hymn "The God of Grace and Glory" by Harry Emerson Fosdick. Fosdick was a spokesman for outright theological liberalism (he denied the Virgin Birth and the deity of Christ) during the Fundamentalist/ Modernist Controversy during the 1920s and a leader in the fight against the orthodox cause. One of the ETS administrators was overheard gleefully saying that he liked the hymn because Fosdick was the one who wrote the sermon "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?" One wonders, did this individual choose that hymn for the ETS graduation?
      21.
      THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is a college student's filing charges with SACS regarding the continuing "culture of intimidation."

      In conclusion, THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE is the ARP Church for not addressing these matters with dispatch and resolution. Today, May 21, 2010, the BoT has elected Dr. David Norman the fifteenth President of Erskine College and Seminary. From all reports, Dr. Norman is very capable and his election is to be commended. However, in order for THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE to be corrected, the task of reclamation must begin with the General Synod of the ARP Church. Without the vigilance of and the unalloyed support of and the prophetic voice of the General Synod of the ARP Church, Dr. Norman's task will be needlessly onerous. If the General Synod of the ARP Church is not willing to give such support and expect reciprocal support, then THE SCANDAL OF ERSKINE will continue simpering along like a shallow stream.

      These are my thoughts,

      Charles W. Wilson
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