I am posting the following with permission:
The following is a composite of Pastor Jean and Kristina Fiscalini.
They have read this, agreed to it's publication and the truth
of the depicted incidents.
For those of you unfamiliar with foreign names, Pastor Fiscalini's
first name is the French version of the English name "John",
his last name is of Italian origin, he is a native of the German
speaking area of Switzerland and his wife is American.
Nobody owns the Church... Part 1
Sitting quietly, facing Danny Shelton, Kristina's mind races
back to the conversation she had with her husband the previous
"Honey, you realize if you stand up against Danny Shelton
that could be the end of your career at 3ABN," she said. Snuggling
closer to her husband she looked into his eyes, wondering what
effect this would have upon his decision. Smiling back at her,
he softly strokes her hair and answers, "The Lord has always
provided for us and that will not change. This is a church issue
and in good conscience, as a SDA pastor and one of the Thompsonville
elders, I have to go to the nominating committee and object to
Danny being re-elected as an elder. I am sure they will act correctly,
otherwise I will be forced to bring it up publically when the
vote is taken in church."
As a sense of foreboding came upon her, she realized her Swiss
pastor husband had more confidence in the correct functioning
of their local church than she. Knowing Danny's reputation of
only attending church board meetings when he wanted to guarantee
a specific outcome in an item on the agenda and having heard
how it functioned, gave her little faith in the leadership of
the local church: Prior to Danny's appearance there could be
majority agreement among the board concerning a certain topic,
after his arrival and a statement of his "suggestion" the board
would flip in the opposite direction and if necessary call for
another vote on the same agenda item in order to comply with
Danny's wishes. Having obtained his desired results, Danny would
exit the meeting, leaving the remaining Board members to handle
the rest of the agenda without his personal supervision.
The previous night's conversation with her husband and her
understanding of how the Thompsonville church board functioned,
is what brought her to where she was today, sitting on the sofa
in Danny Shelton's office, as he smiled at her from the other
side of his desk. To understand why Kristina felt it was necessary
to ask Danny Shelton the following question is understood in
light of the fact that the majority of church board members were
either employed by 3ABN or the spouses of 3ABN employees. "Danny,
I have a question. Does what happens in the Thompsonville church
effect a person's job at 3ABN or are the two separate?" For a
brief instant a puzzled look crossed upon Danny's face, quickly
regaining his composure, he answered, "No. They are separate."
While repeating his answer to confirm a correct understanding,
a look of relief passed over her face as she continued to discuss
a few other topics in regard to other matters. Getting up to
leave she hoped that Danny would remain true to his word.
After the first reading of the nominating committee report,
the 3ABN European Liaison, who also worked in the pastoral department,
felt very uncomfortable with one of the selections for church
elder–Danny Shelton. During the last cycle of church offices,
he and Danny Shelton had both been elders in the Thompsonville
Pastor Fiscalini had served both as a department head in the
German Swiss Conference of SDA and as a district pastor before
working for 3ABN. He and Danny Shelton were about the same age,
but their understanding of the responsibilities involved in serving
the local church were diametrically opposed. While Pastor Fiscalini
took his duties very seriously, Danny was not of the same mind
in regard to his responsibilities and the obligations of a church
Was it important 3ABN business that kept Danny from fulfilling
his obligations as an elder and a member of the church board?
No. For example, instead of attending Board meetings he was in
the gym playing basketball. Additionally, Danny never attended
the church elders' meetings or functioned as an elder in any
way during the time he and Jean Fiscalini were both members of
the Thompsonville church.
Driving home one evening after a church board meeting–where
Danny was present for just a few topics and left about 30 minutes
into the meeting–Jean saw the lights on in the church school
gym and a number of vehicles parked outside, including Danny
Shelton's big red truck. Looking inside he was surprised to see
Danny and a group of his friends in the midst of playing basketball.
Judging by their physical condition and their sweat soaked t-shirts,
it was obvious that they had been playing for quite a while.
Was this the reason that Danny had walked out of the church board
meeting, shirking his responsibilities? Jean Fiscalini could
hardly believe what he saw. Could it be possible that a church
elder would walk out on a board meeting just to indulge his own
Later, Jean Fiscalini would approach Danny Shelton privately,
under similar circumstances–Danny continued to leave church board
meetings, without a word of explanation and spent the rest of
the evening playing basketball in the Church School gym. It was
becoming obvious that Danny placed a higher value on his weekly
basketball games than his responsibility as a member of the church
When Pastor Fiscalini approached Danny Shelton with his concerns
regarding the performance of the duties of an elder–including
being present at church board meetings for their entirety, rather
than scheduling his basketball play at the same time; not arriving
at church until Sabbath school was over and not being involved
in any other functions of an elder–he reminded Danny how their
roles as church elders obliged them to a higher standard of conduct.
Danny's response was to laugh, but it was not with amusement.
There was a coldness in his eyes and a sharpness to his laugh.
The expression on his face changed to indicate he found no humor
in Pastor Fiscalini questioning his conduct. As chairman of the
church board, a fellow local elder and a Seventh-day Adventist
minister, Jean Fiscalini had begun the Biblical process described
in Mathew 18 by bringing his concerns directly to Danny Shelton.
To be continued in the next post...