A STATEMENT FROM DR. RANDY BECKUM
Dr. Randy Beckum recently gave a statement to the MNU Trailblazer student newspaper. It was quoted in part and you can read the entire article here.
I’m posting a longer version of his statement here because I feel strongly that it should be part of the public record.
I invite anyone interested in the facts surrounding the recent controversy at MidAmerica Nazarene University to give Dr. Beckum’s statement a full and thoughtful read. He outlines the facts in very plain and simple language.
To students, faculty, staff, alumni, and board members who requested a statement from me about recent events. It is offered with the hope of clearing up misinformation and misunderstandings.
On February 10 I gave a message in chapel challenging us to consider the teachings of Jesus, Peter and Paul in the context of our culture of violence, revenge, and retaliation. My hope was to speak the transforming words of Christ, truthfully and humbly, into a world that is desperately trying to squeeze us into its mold. I invited us into a conversation.
Immediately following the chapel message the conversation began. The President’s office began receiving questions and complaints. Dr. Spittal and I met and discussed the contents of the sermon and the need he felt to make a public statement about it. He responded with an official, positive statement affirming the message and the call for dialogue.
Dr. Spittal and I met again the following day. The discussion quickly turned to the contents of the Feb. 10 sermon with Dr. Spittal expressing that he thought I used the words of Jesus out of context. He also told me that my statements about wanting to speak to those who were Christ-followers alienated students. He expressed concern that the sermon lacked closure.
In a third private meeting on February 20, Dr. Spittal thanked me for serving in the dual role as Vice President of Community Formation and University Chaplain. The discussion turned to the Feb. 10 chapel controversy and I was informed that I had “divided the house” with the sermon and that our ROTC and others were unhappy with me. The president was receiving concerned emails about MNU’s commitment to supporting our service men and women. He was very concerned that MNU would be labeled as “unfriendly” toward the military. It was not my intent to disrespect those whose serve in the military or their families.
Dr. Spittal indicated to me that he was blind-sided by the sermon because I did not tell him about my topic and did not provide a manuscript before I spoke. We have never had an agreement that I would provide prior information about the content of my chapel messages. Following the sermon I shared the manuscript with those who requested it, including the president and the cabinet members. I was surprised at the President’s reaction.
Dr. Spittal then indicated that he wanted to move quickly with the restructuring of Community Formation. He asked me for a letter of resignation by the following Monday, Feb. 23 at noon. I did not in any conversations ask to be removed as the VP of Community Formation. We had not had any recent discussions about making the change. The removal was a total surprise to me. I left the meeting understanding that I was to resign from both positions.
I was placed on administrative leave and asked to be away from campus until March 13. In essence, I was suddenly off campus mid semester for a period of four weeks. Dr. Spittal stated the leave was “in order to facilitate the transition”.
In an email the following day, I agreed to write the letter of resignation and requested clarification, in writing, about the status of my salary and benefits. In a subsequent written communication he informed me that he no longer needed a letter of resignation because my job was just being realigned. I would continue as chaplain but was being removed from my VP position and my place on the President’s Cabinet, which I have held as University Chaplain for 19 years. In a follow-up email I let the president know that I was relieved to still have a job.
If we had discussed the change and I had requested the change, I would not have advised us to do it in such a disruptive manner and at such a critical time, the community formation team was shocked by the sudden restructuring. This came at a time when we were beginning to interview new RA’s and other student leadership positions.
The video of the sermon was singled out and posted with a disclaimer, which has not been done in the past. He has since asked us to remove the disclaimers from all chapel videos. I am thankful for this wise decision.
April 20th, 2015