ARP News Update

An announcement from the Erskine College and Theological Seminary Board of Trustees:

As part of its meetings May 23-24, the Board of Trustees of Erskine College and Theological Seminary voted to approve language for a proposed charter change regarding trustee removal. This proposed language addresses three important standards for trustee removal: cause, due process, and board approval. It also delineates the roles both Erskine and the ARP General Synod would play.

We believe this action serves the best interests of Erskine. It is the result of careful investigation, diligent work, substantial discussion and debate over many board meetings, and much prayer and reflection by members of the various committees as well as the full board. The proposed language, having been approved by the trustees, must now be received and approved by the ARP General Synod before the charter can be altered.

Over the past several years Erskine and the Synod have earnestly engaged in a conversation on how best to structure trustee appointment and removal in a way that serves the best interests of both the institution and denomination. This proposed change is the furtherance of that conversation and the result of the work of the board as well as a joint effort with the Synod Special Committee to Study the Synod-Erskine Relationship. It stands as an example of how the Synod and Erskine can work together toward the good of both.

As reflected in the wording of the motion, the board’s desire is to pursue Erskine’s stated mission; to ensure the board’s integrity and its ability to exercise independent judgment and proper fiduciary responsibility; and to maintain faithfulness in Erskine’s relationship with the ARP General Synod. The board, by its affirmative vote, demonstrates that this proposal meets these objectives.

We also recognize that this has been an issue of considerable focus and discussion in recent years among those who care deeply and feel passionately about Erskine. There are several points of context that should encourage those who have followed this discussion with interest, even if they question the board’s decision.

First, this measure was passed by an overwhelming majority of the trustees after much consideration and open dialogue. While there certainly have been and remain differing perspectives and concerns, this decision was not made rashly or without regard for those concerns.

Second, this language makes clear what in the past had been left to interpretation. It acknowledges that the denomination can have a legitimate role in removal should the need arise. It further clarifies by specifying grounds for removal. Finally, it explicitly defines the roles of both Erskine and the ARP General Synod and how all parties will pursue and be afforded due process.

Third, both Erskine and Synod committees worked together in a collaborative effort through joint meetings and open channels of communication. The result is that the denominational committee will make the same recommendation to General Synod as the language proposed by the Erskine board. Through a genuine spirit of cooperation, Erskine trustees and Synod’s committee have crafted a process that promises to be mutually beneficial.

Fourth, for the past several years, Erskine’s trustees have been working diligently to improve the overall governance of Erskine. In 2011, we revised our process for identifying and vetting potential trustees. Addressing the removal question in this clear and precise manner further enhances Erskine’s governance structure.

Finally, many have expressed concern about the impact this decision might have on Erskine’s standing with its accrediting bodies. In consultation with representatives from those accreditors and after careful consideration of the standards identified by these organizations, we believe we have pursued this action in a manner and with a result that likely strengthens rather than jeopardizes Erskine’s standing.

While we understand this action may not please everyone, we believe this is another right step toward healing and strengthening within and between Erskine and the ARP Church. We believe that all constituencies will ultimately benefit from a stronger Erskine and we ask that you continue to support Erskine with your prayers and gifts.

Read the board’s approved motion here.