NYC Open Forum Meeting
March 2, 2003
(from the notes of a member attending the meeting)
Garry Vermaas, Steve Johnson, and Sherwin Macintosh held an "open forum" at an apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan to talk with members/nonmembers about what has been going on. The meeting began with an "apology" letter recap of what was said at Sunday morning service. It was read with little or no emotion as if reading from the newspaper.
Garry Vermass said he will not be a part of the decision making process any longer. He has chosen 30 men from his ministry to make decisions for him about the ministry now. (Note: He hand picked these men from his d-groups. There was no congregation input on the selection of these men.) He said he is NOT resigning as of yet, but if asked to do so he will.
Steve Johnson spoke about his title and how his pride and arrogance has hurt people. He said that there are no questions that he is not willing to answer.
First person to speak asks for Garry to resign. He does not fit the biblical description of an overseer. His harshness and controlling nature have hurt many. Also suggests Christian Counseling for Garry. Wanted to speak to Steve about some "private transactions" that took place while this brother worked in the church's accounting department.
Others agree with the problems and grief that Garry and the other leaders have caused. Why would anyone want to bring their friends and families to this? Services are screamed at the congregation and many are tired of listening to this. There is no worship of God--just preaching about works.
Young leadership has to go. These leaders are not mature spiritually and should not be leading.
Many are hurt and demand change. People spoke of having nervous breakdowns and extreme anxiety with the system of the church. It has destroyed many lives in and out of the church.
People have tried and tried to bring these issues up to the leadership, but they have been so arrogant and turned the problems around to the victims and put them down for speaking up.
The money is a big problem. Where is it going? One brother spoke about how he's been questioned about his missions contribution after he gave $1000.00 above and beyond his weekly. Then his DP's sat him down to examine his paycheck and he was told to give more weekly. Single moms give $75.00/week while the leadership lives lavishly. What a shame.
There was a married couple that spoke. They lead in many areas (including sectors) in Boston. They were full-time staff there and spoke about the nice salaries and perks that come with being on staff. They were taken out of leadership because of "finances" and are now homeless in New York, living with the wife's mom and trying to find a job. They are in their late 30's/early 40's. This is what happens when you give up your entire life for the church.
Racism on staff was another issue. Does the staff reflect the congregation? Racial comments have been said to many and are wrong. "Sharp" white disciples are the first to move up into a leadership position.
A sister spoke up and said "stop telling us what to do". Let people pick who they want in their wedding. The whole "red light" "green light" rules of dating are wrong. We are grown adults that don't need permission on where to live, who to date, and when to go on vacation. These rules are clearly unbiblical.
A sister spoke about how her kids have bags under their eyes because they are so tired with the church schedule and not getting to bed on time. If she doesn't bring her young kids to church every week, she is labeled as "unspiritual".
Back to Steve and him being "willing to answer anything". Someone asked if the leadership would be willing to stop receiving money from the church, get a full time job, and still work as ministers. They didn't like this question. Steve asked why and the person said "you have jobs to protect--why should I believe you that you're not just saving face here". They said they were willing. We'll see.
It was a shame that it there was only an hour and 45 minutes to talk about such important issues, but they scheduled a second group of people to come in.
Many unresolved issues here. The leaders asked for forgiveness and promised a new beginning. I'm going to have to wait and see about that.