Who Would Jesus Sue? Did Former Evangelical Free (EFCA) President William Hamel Allegedly Threaten Legal Action Against a Spiritual Abuse Victim in Glen Schrieber’s District?

Matt Boedy’s situation went from Glen Schrieber to the President of the Evangelical Free Church of America – William Hamel. Hamel in return reinforced Schrieber’s decision while also allegedly threatening legal action against Boedy. This post reviews how the previous EFCA President acted while also asking this question…is William Hamel the Donald J. Trump of the Evangelical Free Church of America?

“I’m an evangelical Christian but as I said on the blog: Someone needs to sue these bastards.”

From the Washingtonian Article on the alleged SGM Sex Abuse Cover Up

“When you have real power you don’t threaten. People know what your capabilities are.”

Dennis Kucinich

“I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”

Ezekiel 34:16 NKJV

 

hamel

Former EFCA President William Hamel

The situation with Matt Boedy and Riverside Community Church dragged on over time. You can read Matt’s narrative of what happened in “Disturbing Allegations of Spiritual Abuse at James Walden’s Acts 29 Riverside Community Church in Columbia, South Carolina.” Matt then resigned and you can read his letter of resignation to the leadership here. In the course of time he appealed to EFCA SE Superintendent  Glen Schrieber decided against Matt in a September 11, 2014 letter. You can read that in EFCA Southeast Director’s Response to James Walden’s Alleged Ethical Violations: Is Glen Schrieber a Tool of the Acts 29 Network? Matt then wrote a letter in response to Glen Schrieber. He gave him 10 days to reconsider his decision before appealing it to the President of the EFCA. You can read Matt’s response to Glen in “Matt Boedy’s Response to SED Superintendent Glen Schrieber; Next Stop EFCA HQ in Minneapolis.” After not receiving a response and being ignored by Glen Schieber Matt sat down and composed a 14 page letter about his situation in his former EFCA church. He then sent it to William Hamel’s office in Minneapolis. He followed up with 3 three phone calls over a 10 day period. I want you to remember that bit of information – 3 phone calls over a ten day period. But before we get into William Hamel’s response we need to ask the question who is William Hamel?

 

Who is William Hamel?

William Hamel received his education at Wheaton College and Trinity Divinity School. He was a pastor of an EFCA Church and then the District Superintendent of EFCA SE at one point I believe from January 1986 until November 1990 . He was elected the fifth president of the EFCA in June of 1997 at the National Conference. While Hamel is known for pushing ethnic diversity his best accomplishment I would suggest is the re-write of the 2008 doctrinal statement. Bill Kynes and Greg Strand were involved in that effort. I have written about Bill Kynes in “Acts 29 Bill Riedel’s Redemption Hill in Washington, D.C.; How Healthy is It?” William Hamel led the EFCA  and announced his retirement in June 2014. Eventually Kevin Kompelien would become his replacement in 2015. Today William Hamel and his wife Karen are members of South Suburban Evangelical Free Church in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

That said here is the email that William Hamel sent to Matt Boedy on October 31. 2014.

 

From: William Hamel <William.Hamel@efca.org>
Date: October 31, 2014 at 5:07:38 PM EDT
To:  “******@msn.com” <********@msn.com>
Subject: Cease and Desist

Matt,

I took the time to read your fourteen page letter and have taken the time to learn more about what has transpired.  I am in agreement with the conclusions of the District Superintendent that:

  • This is a local church matter and not a district matter;
  • If anyone has acted inappropriately it is your counselor, not your pastor.

I do not intend to discuss this with you or correspond any more.  I respectfully request that you refrain from calling our office seeking me or any other person.  We will not be accepting your calls.  Any further calls will be considered undue harassment and action may be necessary to prevent your from any further contact.

 

William J. Hamel, President

EFCA

 

When I read this email especially from the head of the denomination at the time I had one thought go through my head…

What a pompous ass… 

 

Two Standards on Legal Issues

There are so many thing to consider lets dissect this email in greater detail in evangelical culture. Many evangelical leaders teach that you can’t sue another brother in Christ. They often quote 1 Corinthians 6 to back up their claim. So here is the situation while many leaders teach that the sad reality is that many don’t follow their own teachings. For example here you have the President of the EFCA allegedly threatening legal action to someone who called his office three times. Three times! This shows that there are two sets of rules..for those in the pews and those in the leadership. Matt Boedy was allegedly threatened with legal action, and who did that in the end? It was the President of the EFCA at the time. That said I do believe things are changing in the modern evangelical church. I wrote a post exploring this topic called, “…Someone Needs to Sue These Bastards.” Are Evangelical Christians Reaching a Tipping Point When it Comes to Lawsuits and Legal Action?”  It also leaves me to ask another question, and I am not trying to make this political I am just trying to make an observation. We just had the conclusion of a Presidential election with one candidate who would shoot off threats of lawsuits left and right to people who angered him. It makes me want to ask this question….is  William Hamel the Donald J. Trump of the Evangelical Free Church of America in how he acted?

 

Is this how a Head of a Denomination Normally Acts?

Here is another aspect that I find deeply disturbing. Is this how the head of a denomination normally reacts? Matt Boedy had a disturbing situation in South Carolina and he took it up the chain of command to William Hamel. This is William Hamel’s job that he is supposed to do. Did he always sit behind his desk and compose such alleged threats? I personally am shocked that the head of the denomination is so thin skinned. Three times he is contacted and this is how he reacts?  Honestly his lack of restraint as a denomination leader is deeply disturbing. If you are an EFCA Pastor how do you feel knowing that this is the man who represented your denomination?  Does that give you comfort that this is the reaction and leadership that is taking place? Does this give you comfort or assurance in how the leadership of the EFCA is run?

 

Consider the Timing of the Email

Here is another aspect to the puzzle of the EFCA. Does this email help put the issues and problems of the EFCA in a greater perspective? For example look at the timing of the email. William Hamel sent this on October 31, 2014 it was in response to the situation at Matt Boedy’s Riverside Community Church. While that situation was ongoing in the south, up in the northeast in Pennsylvania there was another situation simmering at the same time. Up at Steve Estes Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania they were in the process of ex-communicating an alleged rape victim. In September of 2014 there was the alleged “trial” of Hurit. You can read about that inSteve Estes and Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania: A Painful Story of Domestic Abuse, Inappropriate Church Discipline, and Failed EFCA Polity.”   And shortly after that email was sent to Matt Boedy in December there was the excommunication service as well. During this time people were contacting the Eastern District and ultimately Minneapolis EFCA HQ pleading for help. Minneapolis ignored those fine people as well. This email gives an insight into an unprofessional and incompetent denomination leader who just didn’t give a damn.  It makes me want to ask the question does the EFCA honestly represent the Lord when at the time this is how the leadership behaves…both at the top of the denomination and also in South Carolina and Pennsylvania?

I hope this post gives both Glen Schrieber and Kevin Kompelien the current EFCA President something to reflect on. By the way if I were Kevin Kompelien I would make sure the spell check on my computer works properly or that the secretary can write well.  If you are going to shoot off an alleged legal threat make sure it at least contains proper grammar. That’s it guys, take care.