Three Top Leaders are Out, But Has Anything Really Changed at Moody Bible Institute?

Last week, the president and chief operating officer at the Moody Bible Institute (MBI) resigned, and the provost retired.  And like me, many who were concerned about the serious issues at MBI felt some relief.  But a week after those major changes, it’s painfully clear that much remains the same at MBI.  Here’s why:

  1. Despite evidence showing clear wrongdoing on the part of the trustees, not one trustee has stepped down. 

    This is unconscionable given the severity of the board’s missteps.  Board Chair Randy Fairfax, a certified financial planner, has admitted that he was integrally involved in the board’s decision to give former President Paul Nyquist a $500,000 loan in 2009 to buy a $1.08 million condo in violation of IRS rules. Not only should Fairfax step down, but so should every board member who approved that loan.

    Fairfax and Trustees Jerry Jenkins and Juli Slattery also failed to investigate the serious allegations against former President Paul Nyquist’s administration when they first received evidence of them.  They also failed to inform the rest of the board of these allegations. 

    Had faculty members and I not investigated and reported the situation ourselves, the board would have done nothing.  And stunningly, when I first reported the contents of my investigation to the board, Fairfax and Jenkins were more interested in reproving me for violating some unwritten “protocol” than actually dealing with the situation.  This failure also is serious enough to warrant resigning.

    In addition, Jenkins also has admitted to gambling in casinos in 2013. He also reportedly used a luxury suite on MBI’s campus from about 2000-2008 as his family’s “second home” – another violation of IRS rules.

    Making matters even worse, Jenkins continues to deny that he considered the suite to be his own, or that he maintained it for his “exclusive use.” This contradicts the testimony of Konrad Finck, former facilities manager at MBI.  It also contradicts the testimony of former Operations Manager for Moody Radio Tim Svoboda, who recently told me a story confirming that Jenkins used the top-floor suite as his own.

    Svoboda said that about 10 years ago, he was told he would be allowed to stay in “Jerry Jenkins’ apartment” when he was on campus for a conference because Jenkins was going to be gone for a couple of nights.  “I can’t remember any specific person telling me it was Jerry’s apartment,” Svoboda said.  “It was just a well-known thing that it was Jerry’s apartment.”

    However, Svoboda said that when his wife opened the door of the apartment, she was startled to find Jenkins’ wife in the living room.  Embarrassed, Svoboda’s wife quickly exited the apartment and the couple found other arrangements for the evening.

    Clearly, Jenkins’ use of the suite in Jenkins Hall did not conform to IRS rules, which allow board members to use their organization’s facilities only when performing official business.  Rather than denying this fact, Jenkins needs to own it, apologize – and step down.  

  2. The new administration has not tried to rectify my wrongful dismissal for simply investigating and reporting wrongdoing within the institute.

    Instead, MBI recently announced the cancellation of my radio show, Up for Debate, stating: “After much prayer and careful consideration, Moody Radio has ceased production of Up for Debate.  We are grateful to the Lord for how He has used the program to equip listeners to discern various matters of the Christian life through the lens of Scripture, and we look forward to continue ministering to you through our other programs.” 

  3. The man who fired me, Greg Thornton, is the new interim president, which indicates that the new administration isn’t really new.

    MBI just moved some members of the past administration up the totem pole, and the culture of intimidation and punishing whistleblowers continues.

  4. Rich Weber, the theology professor who submitted a 65-page document detailing the serious issues with President Paul Nyquist’s administration at the request of a trustee, has had all his “teaching and other faculty responsibilities” reassigned.

    According to Interim Provost and Dean of Education John Jelinek, Weber is “no longer expected to be on campus.”

    I emailed Jelinek asking for an explanation for Weber’s reassignment, but he didn’t reply.  However, Weber’s reassignment came a day and a half after I posted an article on inerrancy that cited Weber.  The piece also reported that Weber believed that the previous administration had targeted him for dismissal at the end of the year because he had raised issues about theological drift at MBI.

    I took that post down at Weber’s insistence because he was concerned about how it was being received. I plan to repost that article in some form because the issues surrounding inerrancy at the institute are real and important.  But I am concerned about the consequences specific professors face if, and when, I cite them. The environment at MBI is clearly toxic.

  5. More than 30 faculty members remain slated for termination at the end of the semester, despite some of them alleging that their firing was retribution for challenging the past administration.

    Weber is not the only faculty member who believes he was targeted in the latest cuts because he challenged the administration in some way. Others have raised these issues, as well.

    I sent an email to Randy Fairfax asking him if the board intends to suspend the layoffs until further review, but he did not respond. The board needs to address this issue immediately.

  6. Perhaps most stunning, no one in leadership at MBI has admitted any wrongdoing – none. It’s as though they removed the top three officers at the institute simply on a whim.

     

    Fairfax said the board removed the institute’s three top leaders merely because “it is time for a new season of leadership.”  Fairfax emphasized that “the Board of Trustees holds these three men in high regard for their ethical, moral, and spiritual leadership” and feels “deep gratitude for their years of faithful service to Christ and to Moody.”

    Similarly, interim President Greg Thornton seems completely confused as to why anything happened.  “We’re still processing through the why of all of this,” he told Chris Fabry on his radio show last Thursday. “There’s no wrongdoing going on.  The board was aware of opportunities for improvement. . . . The why behind it is a bit of a mystery.” 

    After more than 10 years at MBI, I’ve become accustomed to the corporate speak and spiritualizing that leadership regularly employs to massage the truth. But this latest volley of fabrications elevates the practice to a whole new level of absurdity.

    No board abruptly removes its organization’s top three officers without grounds for doing so.  If it did, the entire board should resign due to sheer incompetence. 

    Sadly, MBI’s deceptive response reveals its leaders’ complete inability to tell the truth and to confess and repent of sin.  This is tragic, especially considering that the institute ostensibly is committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. MBI leaders need to tell the truth and own their sin. Until they do, the institute will continue its death spiral.

    As 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” MBI leaders have exhibited worldly sorrow, not repentance.  True repentance involves naming and confessing specific sin.  And these leaders, both at the board level and administrative level, have done wrong. They need to own it. Confess it. And change their ways.

    Fortunately, we serve a God who grants second chances.  No one at MBI committed an unpardonable sin.  Yes, the bad – and even unethical – decisions may disqualify certain persons from top leadership at MBI.  But God offers forgiveness to those who repent.  So please encourage the leadership of MBI to do it, and to give MBI a fighting chance to rebuild – for its sake. For the sake of the students, donors, employees and alumni. And for the sake of God’s Kingdom. 

 

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63 thoughts on “Three Top Leaders are Out, But Has Anything Really Changed at Moody Bible Institute?

  1. I have been praying for Moody now for 2 weeks (i.e. since your Jan 4 post). I deeply love this school and desire to one day send students there from a church I am pastoring (I haven’t had any seniors who want to go into ministry yet… that’s the only reason I haven’t yet!). Thank you for caring about the school.

  2. Gary

    It’s wildly naive to believe that Moody would have let those three go, if Julie hadn’t posted all of this information. She shined the light on what’s going on, they felt embarrassed, and those three were the sacrificial lambs. It was all corporate damage control to keep the donations flowing. I have to agree with Julie on this. At the end of the day, nothing has changed at Moody in the last week and sadly, it doesn’t appear that anything is going to change. But, that’s what happens when trustees are chosen based primarily on how much money they have. In days long gone, trustees were chosen because they were Godly people.

  3. If you want to comment on this post, you must do it as a real person with a real account. Comments from anonymous persons have been, and will be removed.

    • Cheryl Lewis

      While I appreciate your posture in avoiding anonymous postings, it raises the question of how you can put so much stock in the anonymous “Broken Twig” website.

    • Jeremiah Ames

      It is your website, but kicking out some posts seems a bit suspicious.
      What is there to fear, even if the comments are anonymous?
      Assuming you’re on the side of truth.

      • I don’t like anonymous trolls — and they’re rarely truthful. There’s a reason people hide their names.

  4. I’m confused by some of the allegations made here. I won’t go into everything point by point, but you mention that MBI had wrongfully terminated you. Are you an at-will employee, meaning you can be terminated at any time? Also, wouldn’t it be normal in case of a sudden vacancy, to move someone into an interim position quickly, someone who was familiar with the workings of the institution, in this case Mr. Thornton? I believe he is only there until they interview and hire a new president.

    • Dee Hughlett

      I listened to Up4debate every chance I got.
      I think Julie Roys is a whistle blower and MBI didn’t want that information out.
      If you listen to Chris Fabry’s interview a week ago with the interim President nothing was said about these matters.

  5. Dee Hughlett

    Thank you for your attention to matters at Moody

  6. I am very grateful that you are following the Biblical methods of reproving those who need it. I attended Moody briefly after college and loved the school. As a high school teacher, I encouraged my students to apply at Moody and have taken many groups on tours of Moody. I am absolutely stunned and saddened by the recent developments. I know that Satan attacks and tempts those in Christian leadership to deceive them and cause them to be a stumbling block to those they teach. I have seen Christians do this in the Christian high school setting as well. I will continue to pray that God will cause a revival to spread across Moody’s campus and help them to repent of their ways and cause them to see clearly how to proceed Biblically. People who are not willing to come clean need to be let go. God is able to bring about a cleansing and I pray that it will be so.

  7. My, that was fast. I just read a lengthy comment that provided additional information. It was respectful, and offered another viewpoint regarding these matters. I didn’t see anything offensive about it, other than the writer disagreed with some of Ms. Roys’ conclusions. It seems to have disappeared.

    • Please note the comment policy. I don’t allow comments from people with fake profiles.

  8. Stephanie Tally in shock anger in Barris meant sadness proverbs 1618

    Julie, thank you for your courage to speak out. Spot on Julie . Every point you made, made me want to call out, “Yes, yes, you’re spot on, Julie!
    So many emotions for me as a parent supporter – shock, anger, embarrassment, sadness…. Proverbs 16:18?
    I’m finding it difficult to pray, but…. More of you Jesus, and less of us.

  9. Jim Olsen

    Julie, you state, “As 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” MBI leaders have exhibited worldly sorrow, not repentance. True repentance involves naming and confessing specific sin. And these leaders, both at the board level and administrative level, have done wrong. They need to own it. Confess it. And change their ways.”

    1. It has only been 2 weeks.
    2. How do you know these peoples hearts? Did the Holy Spirit reveal this to you?
    3. I think repentance needs to happen perhaps on both sides. I am sorry you lost your show, but God is sovereign and in control regardless of what you think is happening.
    4. I think it is time to stop gossiping and slander in the this public forum.
    1 Cor. 13

    • Jim Hanks

      I appreciate your balanced response to Julie’s article. This is a time for Christians to come together in relentless prayer against the real enemy, i.e. Satan and his evil disciples. Moody has and should remain a beacon of Christian hope for the world. I am just a listener and reader of Moody ministries, and I give faithfully ever year to support God’s plan using this wonderful institute. Let us all stick together and keep it all going. Don’t let fear or pride get between God’s people.

    • Hi Jim,

      I would like to commend Julie for disclosing these issues and asking the church to pray for our brothers who are in power, as, just as someone else mentioned in a posting above this is only Satan’s attack on God’s people.
      However, we should not be discouraged, as we know what a powerful God we have.

      Now, unfortunately I do not agree with ether of your points Jim.

      1. It doesn’t have to take a long time for someone to repent.
      What Julie reported here are not fabrications and I believe every children of God who walks in the truth clearly sees these issues as sins. The bible shows in so many examples that when a man of God realises he sinned, he falls before God asking for forgiveness immediately (See David’s example with the census or Bathsheba sins 2Sam. 12:13).

      2. We all know about these sins and are affected by them in a way or another.
      These are public sins now and in this case, the repentance has to public. I know it’s hard as the pride plays a big role here but if we care about our eternity as well as about our brothers and sisters eternity, we have to leave aside the pride and everything else Satan uses to keep us in bondage.

      3. I do not see Julies mistake in disclosing our brothers sins. She only asked the church to pray for our brothers that they may repent and turn back to God (see Matthew 18:15-17)

      4. Again, if we read Matthew 18:15-20 we see that if two agree on earth about anything they ask it will be done by our Father in Heaven. I think this was Julie’s intention (at least this is what I gather from her postings). Could’ve she speak only with two or three or her closest brothers or sisters about these issues to ask for Gods help? Yes, she could. However, these issues were gossiped amongst the MBI employ and students and I guess this is God’s work trough Julie to stop that.

      One important thing I gather from what I see happening at MBI is that we are living in the last days where Satan know he has only a short time, so, his attacks are stronger and stronger and on more fronts than ever before.

      However brothers, lets be joyful as we know who wins in the end. We read that on the last page of the Book.

      Praise be to God who will get His glory out of this issue as He got it from other past incidents worse than these (see Jesus crucifixion)

      Dragos

  10. John M. Burks

    Wow! I had no idea this was happening. Please, keep us informed on where you are going to show up next. I love listening to your perspective on all the different issues that you discussed on your show.

  11. LInn

    I am withholding my giving to Moody until some clarity regarding the situation is given. I’ve unfortunately been in other ministry/church situations where a couple of heads rolled, and then everything went on as it was before. I get the feeling that the board is trying to minimize the situation by not dealing with reality.

  12. Jeff

    Julie, take heart and thank you for standing in the place of exposing the unfruitful fruit of darkness. I’ve stood where you stand and it gets tiring. The comment I just read asks “do you know their hearts? did the Holy Spirit reveal this to you?” No one knows a persons heart but what we ARE told to know is their fruit. And that is what you are basing your righteous judgment on. If only more of the Body of Christ would obey His Word to do just that (1 Cor 5:7-13). And this comment also claims you are gossiping and spreading slander. 1) Paul warned the body of leaders that were sinning – naming them by name in the epistles. 2) Slander is defined as information that is not true. It is NOT slander to publically note TRUTH. This stuff makes me sick: the corruption in the Body. It’s rampant and the main reason people are apprehensive about Christianity. Thankfully there ARE those are living in obedience to the Lord and confess their sins if they sin. But far too many are like Israel of old who brought reproach against the name of the Lord. Julie, don’t weary. You are correct to challenge. If there is nothing to hide they would be willing to respond to you and to make all of this public. I don’t know the extent of all of this, but it’s clear you found something very disturbing. The Lord bless you and grant you peace in the midst of this storm. Btw, I really enjoyed your show! I hope you can find your way back on the air soon.

    • Your spot on Jeff! Julie, bless you for standing for truth and within the hardest spot, the church system. Sadly, “the show must go on” mentality dominates so many evangelical institutions. Paul said, “I apposed Peter to his face.” That scripture is so real and if Peter and the boys werent humble and true they would have kicked Paul out of the club right after that confrontation! After reading your last article i was wondering about if they were going to cancel your show, and sure enough. wow. Sadly sometimes the truth is most unpopular in a place that claims truth as its foundation. Personally, I think Moody began its decline long ago when they embraced the false teaching of cessationism. When you box out the Holy Spirit to move like he wants to in your organization things get weird fast. Anyway, stay strong and “hold fast to the truth” as we need reformation still!

    • Jim Olsen

      What fruit are u speaking of Jeff?

    • Jim Olsen

      Also you wrote
      “Allowing professors who deny the inerrancy of Scripture to teach at the institute and write curriculum

      Allowing a professor who supports Planned Parenthood, liberation theology, and a host of other liberal causes to teach at the school, and even spearhead missions conferences”

      Who are these profs?
      They sign a doctirnal statement each year.

      • Rodney King

        Do you have a copy of the doctrinal statement that they sign? I’d be interested to read it. Perhaps the wording is too broad or too vague. Wording on doctrinal statements that is not explicitly Christian will allow wolves to comfortably enter among the sheep. I remember not very long ago, when Bryan College updated their doctrinal statement to affirm a Biblical, literal, six-day creation, that it exposed several liberal professors who had previously signed doctrinal statements.

        As a listener to Moody Radio, I find this theological drift deeply disturbing. I remember former president Michael Easley stressing that “We are Moody BIBLE Institute. ‘Bible’ is our middle name”. Oh, that Moody would return to the firm foundation of God’s Holy Word, and reject the neo-orthodoxy that so easily creeps in!

  13. Henrietta Leonard

    Thank you, Julie, for your willingness to tell the truth for the sake of the future of MBI and it’s students and ministries.

  14. John Fleischman

    Thank you for the update Julie, sad as it is.
    I have been very active in challenging NPR as to their continuing violation of their own “mission statement”, as well as their not caring about American police murdering innocent people as much as they care about demonizing anything or anyone Trump.
    Just recently, The Lord helped me to realize what an uphill battle it is, just as yours, and reminded me to, “…Be still, and know that I am God.”

    Thankful for your heart and willingness to lay down your life for The Kingdom, just as others like Rosa Parks, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther King have done. Prayers for you and HIS Will being done.

  15. Susan T.

    God bless you Julie for your concern for the Lord’s name and work. He gave you a mission and the courage to fulfill it. The results are in His hands. Praying for you! May I suggest that you contact Family Radio about a new position. They are a great radio station and I have pretty much moved my support to them. I am thinking they would be interested in having a program such as Up for Debate and having you on their team.

  16. I am not surprised but deeply saddened. I would hope that Moody leaders would take a lengthy time of repentance and seeking God’s heart for these matters. At the very least they should bring in a panel of spiritual advisors to walk with them through this journey, restore integrity and truthfulness, and return to the mission of Jesus.
    This is a time for many to grieve the pain and loss of an ministry that has impacted the world for Jesus and enter into a time of prayer and fasting for direction.

  17. Kathleen Hodgman

    I find the term “whistleblower” to have a negative connotation, and I do agree one of previous comments about slander was perhaps valid, in that slander accuses or describes untruthful or unkind thoughts or statements about someone, which obviates practicing real love or concern about someone. I myself have been guilty in the past of slandering certain political or governmental officials and have said angry,unkind things about them, instead of obeying scriptural advice to pray for them and those in authority.

  18. Kathleen Hodgman

    However, I do not think Julie is guilty of slander here, but she has proved herself to be someone concerned about MBI administrative and/or theological drift or changes so that she has spent time and effort to investigate and report to various people her thoughts, concerns and criticisms, and has not received answers from those whom she has contacted (is she merely a “whisteblower”, or following Biblical or scriptural commands or advice regarding pointing out errors or wrongdoing??)

  19. Kenton

    Moody is a trustworthy name, a place where the doctrine of a group should and has before, as best I can tell, risen above any one individual in the group. (I’m just a listener.) I believe Up For Debate should be placed back in the Moody line up. I believe some actions have taken place which require correction. At this point, I don’t think it is fair to say the loan had violated some IRS rule?

    The IRS isn’t the law, the tax code is, I think I am saying that right? I took three minutes and found the most recent 990 form I could see on-line. The loan by individual is listed at schL. That does not mean tax law was properly followed; but the financial statements seem to be audited… which means independent professionals should have seen and reviewed. So, if they were of the opinion not a violation, certainly would be reasonable to rely on that opinion. It was an older return – so maybe the loan cannot be outstanding more than ‘x’ years? Maybe the board wanted a certain home for the president and the loan would be repaid when the house was sold, idk??

    I’ve been on both sides of Christians not resolving conflict or pressure well. I hope this turns to a path of resolving conflict well. I hope this may be God preparing hearts for something to bring His glory to Him. I think I learned on Moody, the point of conflict is to learn how to resolve conflict.

    • Wilma Ellsworth

      Moody shouldnt be giving loans or large monetary gifts to any of their staff as they are a listener supported MINISTRY! I dont care what the laws are. It makes it more like Muddy Institute. It makes them seem a little or a lot, unethical even IF it’s not illegal. Just bc it isnt illegal, doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do. We put our trust in the integrity of the leaders and board to make decisions to reflect honor, integrity, ABOVE REPROOF; No cause for the world to look on and see inappropriate behavior, mismanagement or greed…no way could they honestly think any of these steps for Nyquist or Jenkins were the right thing to do. I just don’t get it. Shame on you Moody board, tarnishing a godly legacy.

  20. Dave

    Julie:

    Hang in there. You are doing the right thing. Pointing out sin is required here, especially when this involves leadership. Thus, Nathan had to point out David’s sin, King or not. I never attended Moody, but always wished I had. Have been a supporter though and was considering attending the Seminary beginning next Fall. My heart is burdened for you and the faculty members who will be “let go” (as I am a faculty member elsewhere) – there are so many Godly men and women teaching there and it is sad to see the faculty impacted so negatively with this sequence of events. Moody must remain true to the Word. Theological drift unchecked is indeed the beginning of a slide downward. Hopefully Moody will not go the way of other Christian schools that eventually had to closed their doors as support dwindled. Seems to me perhaps what is needed here is for the Board of Trustees to submit themselves to an independent review committee made up of trusted men and women of God who are not part of the institution itself – and agree beforehand to accept the findings and recommendations of that committee. If not, the foxes will continue to guard the hen house and nothing will change. Will keep praying for all!

  21. It’s pretty tough for an organization with so many moving parts to make a whole sale change inside a month. You raise good points but I urge patience with this next phase of leadership transition. I’m sorry you lost your job, you are good at what you do, but seriously – you totally went nuclear. They’re not keeping you even if there was a change in leadership you approved of. As an alumni I am grateful for your bravery and sacrifice, but you had to know where it was leading. God will certainly lead you to a new outlet, you’re plenty gifted. As for MBI, there’s a sense in which your job is done. Let the proverbial chips fall. The light is shining on the current board more than you realize. Let’s see what happens.

  22. TJ Hahn

    I am sure mistakes have been made but I would encourage people to seek out the other side as well. Proverbs 18 teaches that it is folly to make a judgement while only listening to one side. I’m not saying Julie is all wrong. It’s just that in my years as pastor and mediating between people I have learned to never make a judgement based on hearing only one persons complaints.

    • John Fleischman

      Pastor TJ,
      I think there is no mediating going on here, nor do I believe MBI has any interest in, or intentions of, any kind of mediating. Their behaviours, as relayed to us by Julie and not addressed to “the Moody family” as Mr Thornton and Chris Fabry offered, in my opinion, show their position and attitude.

      Pretty hard to mediate with people that act that way.

      Again, I say, the timeline of events and Julie’s endeavoring to do this as Jesus said to, and MBI’s actions and silence, tend to judge themselves. No need for us to judge either party, although through Julie’s words and actions, yes she can be judged. MBI’s not offering any response, explanation, or rebuttal, condemns themselves.

      We forgive, but our forgiveness is not their confession, nor their repentance. Every one of us is accountable- for what we say and do, as well as what we don’t say and don’t do.

      Julie sought answers from “the other side”, and we are here now, because of actions taken by “the other side” in response to that seeking.

  23. Kim

    All this is very disturbing and then there are the kids attending this school. We as adults should be setting examples for the children and young adults. My first thought in situations of corruption and bad behaviors is to say a prayer for everyone involved and hope they find their faith. But most of all trust in God and know he has a plan even if we can’t make sense of the current situation. Stay true to your heart and faith and you’ll see in time God always has a plan and we have to trust in him.

  24. KELLY JO BROWN

    My heart hurts over the entire situation. Praying for the Lord’s will to be done. So thankful for you, Julie. Praying the Lord will give you strength and comfort during this turmoil.

  25. Benjamin J Chung

    I am new to you, but in a way, I am from your past. I graduated from Prairie High School, formerly of Prairie Bible Institute, of the class of 1985.

    I served on the Board at my alma mater, one shortyear. May I say something about the board experience? Julie, you are not a board member, and you have no idea who said what and what decision was made to get here. On the board, they often select loyalists, and supporters, and community leaders, doctors and lawyers and most of all businessmen. Moody founding maybe DL Moody, but what made it work was business.

    You have a business solution here on the board, the ends must be met, and trouble makers for the business is out. That is the plain and simple. I used to think God is in charge, but sorry folks, we have an American solution, which is USS Enterprise. It sound crude, I too was a believer in that faith-based institution finds a faith based solution, not a business solution. But sorry to tell you folks, you will not find it in a business plan and Moody is a religious business. I sued to believe that they believe in God. No, not no more. There is no truth in business.

    Please prove me wrong. Fundamentalism has met its final end, it is not the religious left that denied the inerrancy issue, it is us, people lie and say things that are not true. They are our leaders. Those that got fired are honest enough to sound the alarm, they are the believers. I am sure in the school abusers of truth thrive.

    Yours truly,

    Benjamin Chung, PHS 85

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