BJU and GRACE Announce Upcoming Meeting to Attempt Reconciliation

BJU and GRACE will meet next week to discuss their differences and, both parties claim, to attempt reconciliation and the resuming of the investigation.

The dismissal of GRACE by BJU made national headlines this week, and pressure from the media and alumni doubtless played a role in BJU’s haste to attempt a resolution to the dispute.

GRACE announcement:

During the past week, representatives of GRACE and BJU have continued to
communicate for the purpose of working out a time for an in-person meeting. The parties
were recently able to schedule such a meeting for next week. The purpose of this
meeting is for the parties to articulate expressed concerns, as well as to dialogue about the
possibility of GRACE completing the independent investigation process started last year.
GRACE will post another update shortly after the meeting next week.

We ask for prayers for everyone involved in this upcoming meeting. We also ask that we
continue to pray for God to work mightily on the behalf of all the amazing individuals
who have been impacted by this most recent development.

BJU announcement:

Bob Jones University and GRACE will meet next week to discuss the concerns of both parties and determine a plan for moving forward.

Bob Jones University and GRACE remain hopeful this project can be completed with GRACE and in so doing raise sexual abuse awareness and minister to victims whose lives have been ravaged by abuse.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, a faculty member’s son had this to say:

 
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8 thoughts on “BJU and GRACE Announce Upcoming Meeting to Attempt Reconciliation

  1. A James

    “Both parties claim, to attempt reconciliation and the resuming of the investigation.”
    Dismiss me as cynical or picky…BJU’s vague announcement verbage gives me pause.
    On the positive side, at least there is some action.

  2. Pingback: The BJU Sex Abuse Coverup, Day 9 | The BJU Sex Abuse Coverup

  3. Carson

    I agree that people should pray but I don’t believe this will end well. Because the times have changed in the past decade or so with regard to the public transparency expected of public institutions, there is a general sense the BJU has changed with the times — at least some.

    And it has — some. Athletics, accreditation, some social behavioral standards. But I don’t believe BJU has changed much in one crucial area: ultimate authority. That has been their hallmark from their founding and the constant across the network of churches they spawned: ultimate authority, the final word on anything of significance, rests with the pulpit, with the church founder and, at BJU, with the Jones family. They may give in on some behavioral issues if survival seems to dictate that, but they will decide that, not someone else.

    The “contractual” issue that will be resolved at the proposed meeting with GRACE will ultimately be about authority: who determines the boundaries of their work, who controls the results, who specifies what is made public and what is kept confidential. The meeting is about the contract only in so far as it represents ultimate authority.

    History is pretty clear: the Jones have vilified any other institution or person or even conservative, fundamental pastors whom they think may be eroding their authority and influence (both inside and outside their IFB circle), they have kept hidden accounts and correspondence and agreements that have had the triple benefits of maintaining authority, reputation and high quality of life — life style. How many donors or parents of students knew the Jones for years routinely flew in a private jet, even on purely family jaunts?

    This current report threatens all three values: it threatens to erode authority, damage reputation and reduce the overall quality of life of those at the very top. IFB pastors and leaders have a long and successful track record of weathering worse storms than this (think, e.g., of the Farris family fiefdom in Florida and Dave Hyles) by circling the wagons: the challengers fatigue, the periphery forget, the “hundred percenters” stay true, a new generation helps refill the pews and budgets, and life goes on as it did before: petty men, mindless talk, lots of activities and a great life style all still center stage.

    Until final authority moves from the Jones’ family home I think it will be very difficult to embrace any change that appears to pose a serious threat to fundamental authority, reputation and quality of personal living. The negotiation room with GRACE will have to be large enough to accommodate some pretty big egos.

    1. A James

      Carson, “a perceptive post” indeed, and an awfully cold splash of reality. Are posts, comments, efforts to inform/be informed and to persuade/be persuaded in vain, then? You almost persuade me to make my own personal verdict about BJU right now and move on with my life leaving them and the controversy behind me. I admit that sounds liberating.

      This was the most chilling part of your comment to me: “IFB pastors and leaders have a long and successful track record of weathering worse storms than this…by circling the wagons: the challengers fatigue, the periphery forget, the “hundred percenters” stay true, a new generation helps refill the pews and budgets, and life goes on as it did before.”

      On one hand, I agree. How in the world is Hyles Anderson (as one example) still open for business? How could the patriarchy movement have a single loyalist left after such exposure via Doug Phillips?

      On the other hand, am I vainly grasping for hope when I think that at least the shining of light is at least more swift and furious (for those who want to be informed and believe that error should be exposed) with the internet/social media? Though Phillips’ church and the top levels of leadership kept it hidden for some months, I believe it would have gone on far longer (years) had not the blogs been there to pound the truth out. Once the religious community at large got the kernel of truth about Phillips’ undeniable outlandish immoral hypocrisy, it was just a matter of a few weeks before the Vision Forum store and then Vision Forum ministries shut down–not even a Christmas catalog for a final hoorah. At least that one individual and circumstance was swiftly made accountable and brought to justice.

      Again, am I grasping for hope that the internet increases the level of accountability and speed of awareness…in turn, at least, bringing faster results. How would the community at large have been made aware of the concerns around the Phelps/Anderson case? The information of his remaining on the board, the ensuing pressure…How would I have later found out, from a distance, that BJU still slipped Phelps into the academy chapel (after all had been said and done) so that I could let them know what I thought on that matter–just in case it would influence them.

      I guess we all have our lines of when we think the time to “speak up” is. The comforts and the lifestyle of the Joneses (along with other minor to me issues) may have been eyebrow raising and annoying at times, but nothing that would urge me to speak up as has their nontransparent shifts, the lack of strong leadership stalling success and forward movement, and credibility reducing/ethically questionable actions such as terminating GRACE. Everyone has their own limits and soapboxes. But, again, you make me wonder if the soapbox speeches are worth it? Your insightful comment, “”They may give in on some behavioral issues if survival seems to dictate that, but they will decide that, not someone else” makes me want to pull out my “pragmatism at BJU” soapbox, but I’ll spare you.

      One factor that I wonder about (that I don’t know how it relates to your analysis exactly) is the awkward instability of Stephen’s resignation and presidential process. This current state of weak leadership will either be their demise or a means to reduce the amount, as you said, of the final authority of the Jones family. One would hope that it would be an opportunity for the university to make some clear necessary breaks from the past to a brighter future.

      Something inside me keeps thinking that as the leader of Fundamentalism and as the most prominent influence and example of conservative Christian education, BJU would be held more accountable by God…”to whom much is given”…I know it is the Lord that weighs the actions and intents of the heart…bringing justice in His own time…the question remains, that your comment raises to me, is…what should be our role in all of this apart from making our personal final conclusions for ourselves and our families?

  4. baldjonesgrad

    Carson, yours is a very perceptive post. Not to put too fine a point on it, BJU is still not accredited, and likely never will be (unless you allow for that flim flam accreditation–TRACS–that several other fundy schools are touting). BJU changed their interracial dating standard, as well, but the change was probably due to a cynical political reason (election of Geo Bush the younger). I think you are spot on about the issue with the GRACE contract.

    I didn’t know about the private jets. Interesting. Don’t muzzle the ox and all that other stuff, taken to the extreme. BJU is an idea whose time has come, and gone.

    1. A James

      Somewhere else, I think I saw some calculations that if BJU were even a SACS applicant this year (or next), it still wouldn’t be until 2020ish that a graduating class would have an accredited degree. Supposedly it takes 24 months to be approved even after becoming an official applicant. Didn’t someone somewhere (could have been BJU News) also have a faculty meeting leak from the end of last year where Stephen referred to financial setbacks that could/would delay the SACS application process? Anyway, all that to say, that are not accredited nor are they yet official applicants. In the meantime, there are some departments within the university that have acquired their departmental accreditation at least..nursing, engineering, at least I think.

      “BJU is an idea whose time has come, and gone.” I readily acknowledge there are some glaring mistakes in BJU’s past and present. I also acknowledge that there is less of a constituency available that would desire a conservative Christian college (even if there were no scandal attached). If BJU, or some other group of people, were content that they would probably be small given the current state and direction of culture and Christianity, I sometimes put on an optimistic mask, and think there would still be enough people that would appreciate
      this option in higher education. I think the overriding internal problem at BJU is that they don’t exactly know who they are, who they want to be, who they should be, and who they want to please. They are struggling between faith, survival, and their heritage. We have an identity crisis on our hands…I think the indecisiveness with GRACE is a glaring result of that.

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