NOTE: Jay Adkins has sent in a postscript to his article, in response to some of the comments. It is attached at the bottom of the post.
Jay Adkins is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Westwego, LA, and a trustee of Louisiana College. He has firsthand insight into the sad events that have taken place there in recent months, and speaks with both courage and conviction. I contacted him and received permission to republish his letter in full. You can read it at his site, here.
Here is Jay Adkins’ statement in full:
A personal statement regarding recent events at Louisiana College:
One of the most encouraging and influential moments of my young life was when, after a very difficult season of our junior football league, my dad put his arm around me and told me that he was proud that I never gave up and that he looked up to me for not being a quitter. He has remarked similarly through the years. Considering my ‘love language’ is affirmation, I suppose it’s no wonder that his early encouragement has helped to shape me into the man I am today. Indeed, I do not give up. It’s a running joke in our family. Both my wife and father regularly refer to me as “conquer boy.” However, as I have grown up I’ve also come to understand that I have limitations. There are things that are outside of my control and times I’m unable to fulfill my responsibilities because of those outside influences. In fact, I believe there are times when, for integrity’s sake, one must be prepared to walk away from a situation in order that one’s name not become besmirched by its affiliation with the questionable actions of others.
This is how I felt when I left the Louisiana College Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday evening. For me, this meeting was the culmination of 7 months of growing frustration. I left Tuesday night embarrassed, saddened and disenchanted by what I had witnessed. By Wednesday evening I had spoken with a number of trustees encouraging them to consider resignation and had prepared a 2+ page statement outlining why I was going to resign my position on the LC board. It was a scathing retort regarding my personal growing concern and subsequent frustration since our September meeting of last year. Then Wednesday night God spoke to me through my 13 year old son.
Both of my boys have witnessed my struggle over the last few months and I’ve probably done a disservice to them by not better shielding them from conversations with my wife regarding my concerns. Michelle, Quint and Canon have been patient with me as I have spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with my responsibilities as a trustee, while also attempting to prepare for dissertation work on my PhD. Once again, I am reminded of how God has blessed me with these three very special people. Wednesday evening, my oldest son Quint (who at 10 could articulate 4 of the main arguments for the existence of God better than most Christian ministers I know) walked in my office and over to where I sat behind my desk where I had been working on my resignation letter. He asked me what I was doing. I told him I was working on my resignation notice. He asked, “are you really gonna resign?” I began to explain to him how I, at some risk, attempted to point out problems. I had tried to keep others from resigning over the last few months. I had attempted to present coherent arguments based on sufficient and, at times, empirical evidence. I had begged for transparency. I had even suggested that we allow certain individuals to defend themselves before the board, but to no avail. I told him that I saw no other course. I even read him portions of my resignation letter. He paused and then asked in a quiet tone, “Dad, do you believe you are doing what is right… if you do why would you ever give up?” That statement hit me hard but it was nothing compared to the following clarion call. I was moved before he even spoke because it seemed he was a bit choked up. He then asked, with the hint of a tear in his eye, “Dad, even if you knew no one in the world would ever, or could ever be saved, that no one would listen to you, and that no one would respond to your message, would you not still preach and tell others about the Gospel?” I sat there, with tears now in my eyes, shocked and pondering how such clarity could come from someone so young. Can you imagine… the early affirmation from my dad about not giving up becoming a challenge to me through the encouragement of my son so many years later. I am a blessed man.
So, for what it’s worth and/or for those who care, I will NOT be resigning from the Board of Trustees of Louisiana College. I remain steadfast in my commitment to present truth, call for transparency and challenge those who abuse power. I will not be dissuaded. I will continue to refuse to sign the confidentiality agreement (just as I have refused to do so the last few times it was handed out), not because I intend to leak information but because I believe it to be inappropriate and because in 15 years of pastoring I am fully able to discern what should be kept confidential and what can and should be trumpeted from the rooftops. Please know that I am speaking only for myself, not the board, and not for any others on the board who might have dissented with the recent actions of the board. Not only do I feel that making this statement is important, I believe it is necessary considering my fiduciary responsibility to Louisiana Baptists.
There are good men and women serving at Louisiana College who deserve a board that can be trusted to protect the integrity of the institution as a whole. There are precious students at LC who deserve the very best formal education that can be offered. To those who have been mistreated please know that I, for one, am sorry and that a few of us have worked hard to make things right. Some of the most kind and faithful men and women I know work on the LC campus and serve as trustees. The encouragement and comradery we have shared has been a great blessing to me. But with that said, I am also embarrassed.
I’m embarrassed over the needless loss of three godly men from our faculty. One of which was voted teacher of the year (whose recognition was conspicuously dropped from a chapel service). I’m embarrassed that of 41 SACS accredited institutions of higher education in the state of Louisiana, our school—the Christian school—is one of only three either on warning status or probation. I’m embarrassed that we have had five Vice Presidents of Academic Affairs during the current president’s tenure. I’m embarrassed that we have dismissed a report from outside investigative counsel who actually interviewed persons involved in certain allegations and yet accepted a report from an internal committee that interviewed no one. I’m embarrassed that we have lost Dr. Chuck Quarles, a godly and humble man whose scholarship is impeccable and whose love for missions and God’s messengers is second to none. I’m embarrassed that we clap and celebrate a 10 million dollar pledge while smugly dismissing the gracious gift of what might have been over 60 million dollars for the Caskey School of Divinity. I’m embarrassed that we have spent so much money on legal fees and unrealized grandiose schemes while our campus facilities are in disrepair. I’m embarrassed that our state Executive Director has had an inordinate amount of influence over our proceedings. LC is the only one of the 43 Baptist colleges (connected to a state Baptist Convention) whose by-laws in effect make the Executive Director’s position a permanent voting board member. The Baptist schools in states like Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Arkansas and the 9 Baptist schools in Texas, among others, have no spot at all for the Executive Director since it might be considered a conflict of interest considering the financial relationship the school has with the state convention. In fact, for over 100 years (until a by-law change in 2008 in meetings preceding my first board meeting in December of 2008) LC also did not allow a permanent voting position for the Executive Director. I’m embarrassed that because I am a board member I have been perceived as someone who doesn’t care, won’t stand for what is right and/or sits idly by while the school suffers. However, in the end I’m most embarrassed that I was going to resign. I was going to quit. I’m sorry the thought ever entered my mind. I’m not a quitter and I want to set an example for my son like my dad set for me. Pray with me that God will be glorified and the work of restoring the school that we love will be everyone’s priority.
I’m aware this is an uphill battle. We have four new members coming on before our next meeting and then will have five new ones who’ll be voted in during the November meeting of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Please pray that God will guide the selection of those who will serve the school and please continue to pray for the Board of Trustees of Louisiana College… not that we will be unified… but that we will act responsibly regarding the school we hold in trust.
In His Grip,
A postscript from Jay for SBC Voices
I did not enter this process without considering the cost. I knew very well that some would not approve of my statement and would most likely reject the idea that a trustee should even make such a statement. I am also aware that those who do not have all the information surrounding a certain happening will also have deficient responses. Thus, although it would be appropriate for me to say nothing and allow insufficient information to shape the responses of those who might not agree with me (and for that matter even those who agree with me) I believe it expedient to point out what I have not done. I have disclosed no confidential material, no executive session items and I have not presented the wording, originators nor the totals of any motion or motions made. Nor, as I’m sure has been presumed, was it I that leaked the information sent to the local paper in Alexandria (although I can’t say that I didn’t want to). The purpose of my statement was simple. First, I wanted to announce that I was going to stay the course when I had intended to give up. Second, I was frustrated by the perception that I was a part of a board that did not and/or would not hear the concerns of others who also appears to simply rubber stamp the administrations agenda. Finally, after much prayer and consideration (and because were I to resign I had intended to say far more on the subject) I believed that this was a necessary action regarding my fiduciary responsibility as one who continues to hold in trust Louisiana College.
The outpouring of support from alumni (and others) has been astonishing… even overwhelming. I had no intention of seeing my statement on a nationally perused blog. The only issue I’d take with umbrage is regarding the assertion that I have “popped off.” Might I point out to those reading this blog… I don’t even have a blog. I choose not to spend my time bloviating over the minutia of Baptist life and theological nit-picking. I rarely even read blogs (including my dad’s… sorry pop). I do not appreciate the innate culture of mud-wrestling so many blogs seem to perpetuate. I prefer to spend my time working in theology and apologetics. However, I would like to make this point. When one exhausts all (and I mean all) possible appropriate actions, including but not limited to utilizing parliamentary procedure and allowing certain important processes to run their course and nothing changes, we each—all of us—have the responsibility to say something. In this case I have concluded there is no other way to bring to light the concerns I have carefully expressed in my statement. As a trustee I have every right to express my concern to our board and as a Louisiana Baptist I have every right to express my concern to the convention at large. To be able to accurately and articulately answer some of the questions being raised on this webpage I would have to break confidences which I do not believe to be appropriate at this time. Suffice it to say were I to choose to “pop off” the wake would be devastating. So, ramble on my friends. My wording was intentional, measured, prayerful and even self-deprecating. I would that all who are concerned, whether elected or rejected, speak up when they see areas that do not jive with what is right and good. As an elected trustee… it is my duty. Blessings, and thanks to those who’ve offered words of encouragement.