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AUReporter Speaks Out on Merger Questions

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-------- Original Message --------
From:  AUReporter
To:  AUReporter
Subject:  3ABN/Amazing Facts Merger: Dead On ... or Dead On Arrival?
Date:  Tue, 08 May 2007 04:41:07 +0000

3ABN/Amazing Facts Merger: Dead On? or Dead On Arrival?

The most recent issue of 3ABN World magazine is now out and heralds a new masthead with 3ABN/Amazing Facts boldly exhibited on the front cover.

This reporter has received many inquiries regarding the proposed merger and therefore we have spent nearly two weeks asking questions, listening to answers and taking in various statements by various parties for analysis.

The day the merger was announced with much exuberance there were admittedly a host of questions from throughout the SDA world and quite a bit of excitement mixed with some concerns. The excitement was clearly for a worldwide ministry with a new vision and a purpose to usher in the Second Coming of our Lord, something we have eagerly looked forward to as a denomination for 163 and a half years and spent literally billions of dollars, franks, rubles, and Deutche marks in evangelism, medical ministry, publishing and now media entities. And here before us was the proposal for an Adventist Ministry Conglomerate that transcends the SDA denomination and finally finish the work with the pied piper reportedly being Garwin McNeilus, personally overseeing the negotiations.

And what came out of this was a proposal depicted by the Danny Shelton Apologists online something like this:

An agreement, variously referred to as contracts, and most likely best described as Letters of Intent, that would allow Danny Shelton to bring his 3ABN marbles to the playground; Doug Batchelor would bring his AF Marbles to the playground; they could play marbles, but neither could play with the others' marbles; and if either of the key players decided not to play anymore, they each could take their marbles and go home. It would seem to be more of a joint venture than a merger, but who's checking the dictionary of legal terms?

Some, including Danny Shelton, would believe the devil is in the press that has dogged 3ABN for the past several months; others would recognize that the Devil is in the details.

In the midst of the enthusiasm, there were a few, particularly employees from both sides and the denominational leadership, that were asking some detailed questions: Would Amazing Facts Secede from the denomination? Would 3ABN join the denomination? Would the employees of the joint venture be qualified for denominational benefits? And would denominational leadership still have at least some seats on the merged Board ex officio as they have currently on the AF Board? And who would be the new constituency that would elect the new board and officers of this merged entity?

Again, we were left to piecing together information from a variety of interviews, e-mails and chat-room apologists. Danny has clearly stated that he has invited Doug Batchelor to serve as President, but has clearly asserted that Danny will remain as CEO of 3ABN. This is in contrast to a Sacramento Central Church official who clearly had understood that Doug would most likely not serve as President, but rather Duane Peterson, the former managing director of AF who retired at the end of March. Duane, a former VP of Champion Corp, a merged Fortune 500 company, would clearly bring GAAP to 3ABN, if he could be convinced, but not likely, to play second fiddle to DLS.

Then there is the issue of denominational affiliation. A chat room question and answer with Danny Shelton at probably speaks most profoundly by the very specific issues relating to denominational affiliation that went unanswered by Danny Shelton. Whether employees would be denominational employees remains unanswered to this day. However, Danny Shelton did reveal that the old constituency would be shed and they had asked the 14-member ASI Mission Board, Inc. to serve as their new constituency.

Many were left speechless that AF would secede from its current constituency consisting of a mix of several hundred pastors and laymen in the Northern California Conference to instead become the exclusive pervue of a club of SDA businessmen, very similar to the way 3ABN is run now with the 3-15 members selected by Danny Shelton also serving as the directors of the ministry. A situation this reporter has decried as the underlying reason that 3ABN is facing the dilemma it now faces.

And if the new entity will now be run by 14 laymen and little denominational leadership on the board, and certainly far from the council of many advocated by the Spirit of Prophecy, will AF have cast off its denominational affiliation and with it walked away from denominational benefits such as pensions, insurance and a host of other services under the NAD Umbrella? Apparently that would be the way Doug Batchelor has elected to go, whether by happenstance or by design is unknown.

But then there is the big question, will the current constituency opt to let AF simply walk away or secede from denominational affiliation and become a virtually independent, non-denominational ministry? And if it does, will the various constituencies continue to support AF? More importantly, will the talent accumulated at AF be willing to stay with AF if they lose that denominational affiliation that currently allows seamless transfers between AF and NAD opportunities? Or will they opt to stay with the NAD to complete their pension qualifications and qualify for the other NAD benefits Umbrella?

Many believe the option of having AF secede is dead on arrival. The brain drain would likely be too much to bear and would leave AF simply overwhelmed by the 3ABN side. And then the question, what if they secede and affiliate with Danny Shelton's 3ABN, and loose the support of constituency who may see this as endorsing Danny Lee Shelton and his administration? Who would put Humpty Dumpty back together again, particularly in light of the recently filed lawsuit against this reporter and the implications it bears if they lose?

On the other hand, many welcomed the idea of AF maintaining its denominational affiliation and allowing 3ABN with its 200 Million plus in assets to merge into Amazing Facts. This would bring 3ABN into the denominational fold, require GC audits, likely require significant leadership changes and preserve the assets for the stockholders in the pews who are virtually unrepresented in the current governance of 3ABN.

Harold Lance, President of the ASI Mission Board, Inc., former ASI coordinator for the Ecclesiastical committee that was to investigate the marriage, divorce and remarriage of Danny Lee Shelton, and those issues only, would clearly state that this is perfectly legal. But then he would also chair the constituency for this merged entity. For most people who learn of the lack of representation and the clubby self-perpetuating membership / board of 3ABN, it is certainly unsatisfactory for a ministry that derives the vast majority of its funds from the stockholders in the pews of the SDA Denomination.

Some have even noted the current proposed mission conglomerate has undertones similar to the leadership issues between the head-strong John Harvey Kellogg, (leader of the Alpha of apostasy), and the denominational leadership of his day, ironically only a little over a century ago. E.G. White frequently admonished Kellogg and the SDA denominational leadership to practice leadership dispersion of the work as the God-given order of things, and frequently spoke against consolidation of the work, but to work together to finish the work. Ultimately, Kellogg created a rift that resulted in numerous casualties and disaffection and led to the medical work shifting from Battle Creek to Loma Linda.

We pray that the wise counsels of many will prevail here and the Lord's Will be done!!!

Gailon Arthur Joy

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