Dear Saints of MCC,
The Governing Board joins with all of UFMCC and our supporters in the stress and sorrow that has come into our beloved denomination. We have prayed and will always pray that God guide our every decision and actions. It has been a difficult time for all of us. Due to our fiduciary and legal obligations, the Governing Board has been compelled to keep silent about much of the process out of our concern for the private employment affairs of our staff. However, the most recent publications on social media make it clear that we need to clarify certain misstatements.
First and foremost, Rev. Elder Darlene Garner is on staff and currently on a paid sabbatical receiving full salary and benefits. Rev. Garner has been offered a position as a global consultant to begin January 1, 2018.
Many questions have been asked about the timeline.
Pre-General Conference 2016
The discussion of a restructure began in meetings prior to the 2016 General Conference. Rev. Elder Darlene Garner was present at these meetings and participated in the discussions of various restructuring options. Implementation for any of the plans discussed were put on hold until after General Conference when the result of the Moderator election would be known.
The Senior Leadership Team has further discussions about the need to have a more widespread focus throughout our denomination, its offices, and local churches to address issues of institutional privilege, which includes racism, sexism, misogyny, and classism. The discussion particularly addressed
- The importance of this work in every MCC Office
- Creating resources for local churches
- Moving the work diversity and inclusion into all office, and no longer locating it in one office alone
- Changes in staffing for later in 2017
Rev. Elder Garner was present and participated in these meetings.
August 23, 2017
The merger of two offices is announced as part of the restructure. The Office of Emerging Ministries and Office of Church Life and Health are combined to become the Office of Church and Ministry Development, headed by Rev. Elder Tony Freeman. Rev. Elder Darlene Garner is invited to be on staff in the Office of the Moderator to share her ongoing experience and wisdom as a Global Development consultant for at least nine months. The offer to Rev. Elder Garner is similar to past offers for other valued MCC employees who were considering options as they approached or entered retirement.
August 31, 2017
A proposed agreement was sent to Rev. Elder Darlene Garner on August 31, 2017.
September 4, 2017
A response was received from Rev. Elder Garner on September 4, 2017. There was a delay to the next step when Rev. Elder Garner indicated she was not willing to meet with the Governing Board member who had been selected to work on the agreement.
September 28, 2017
Barb Crabtree, Director of Operations, contacted Rev. Elder Garner on September 28, 2017, to schedule a meeting to finalize the agreement. At that time, Barb Crabtree was informed by Rev. Elder Garner that all further communication regarding this matter was going to be through her lawyer.
October 4, 2017
Barb Crabtree received an initial email from Rev. Elder Garner’s lawyer, Robert A. Carr, asking when MCC would respond to his previous email. Barb Crabtree responded on October 4, 2017 that MCC had not received previous communication and asked Mr. Carr to resend.
November 27, 2017
Mr. Carr’s statement on Rev. Elder Garner’s Facebook page, November 27, 2017, stated they had “yet to receive a response” to initial correspondence sent in September. MCC staff contacted Mr. Carr and learned he had been sending correspondence to an incorrect email address.
November 28, 2017
Mr. Carr contacts the Interim Moderator, Kimberly Brown (Governing Board), and Barb Crabtree by email and acknowledged there were errors in the email addresses he had previously used and attached letters from him dated September 27, 2017, and November 15, 2017.
There has been a great deal of discussion on social media sites about the failure of the Governing Board to respond to Rev. Elder Garner’s attorney, insinuating that the Interim Moderator and the Governing Board were choosing to ignore Mr. Carr or silence the voices of those concerned. This timeline should help clarify those concerns.
It is distressing and hurtful that there is an assumption of wrongdoing on the part of the Interim Moderator and Governing Board. Our silence is a reflection of our commitment to our legal and fiduciary responsibilities that are imputed to us as the elected members of the Governing Board. Our silence on this issue is as result of the instruction from Rev. Elder Garner that communication be through her lawyer and our legal obligation to respond accordingly. Our silence is our commitment to keep and protect confidential information about Rev. Elder Garner’s employment, even if social media is being used by others as a forum to resolve this matter.
Since MCC reached out to Mr. Carr earlier this week and are now confident that Mr. Carr is in communication with MCC representation, we are prayerful that discussions will move forward to resolution.
We ask all of you to keep the entire denomination in your prayers, particularly the Rev. Elder Darlene Garner; our Interim Moderator, Rev. Elder Rachelle Brown; your Governing Board, the Council of Elders, and the Staff. Know that the Governing Board keeps all of you in our prayers. Our desire is to be pleasing to God and to you in all that we do.
MCC Governing Board