Moody's 2019 commencement season concludes
Moody’s interim president, interim provost, and chair of the Board of Trustees released the following statement on Tuesday, Jan. 23.
Throughout our 132-year history, Moody has walked through many seasons of change. The truth that our Lord is “the same yesterday and today and forever” continues to bring tremendous comfort to us.
During this current season, some are understandably experiencing a wide range of emotions and have questions and concerns due to rumors and accusations they have read or heard about Moody. This grieves us deeply, so let us be clear that there is no corruption, or any illegal and unethical activity taking place at Moody.
As a Christ-centered organization, we take to heart the Lord’s teaching in Matthew 12 that we are all accountable for what we say. Therefore, we will not enter into rumor, speak ill of others, or debate matters publicly through personal blogs and social media. The Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Colossae have guided our recent communication efforts: walk wisely, use gracious speech seasoned with salt, and thoughtfully consider how to answer each person. We deeply appreciate your grace and patience as we’ve sought to wisely and thoughtfully communicate directly with you, our Moody family and friends.
As interim president, interim provost, and chair of the Board of Trustees, we would like to clarify the facts and provide proper context to help you better understand this current season at Moody.
Transition of Leadership
Moody’s leadership and Board have thoroughly reviewed the concerns raised by others and have confirmed that past events were given proper care, current doctrinal and theological questions are being fully investigated and correctly addressed, and personnel-related matters are being handled appropriately according to our policies and procedures. During that process, the Board met on January 10, and concluded that a new season of senior leadership is needed. In a large, multifaceted ministry, senior leaders need the crucial skills of effective management and close collaboration with staff and trustees, along with ongoing transparent communication. In order for Moody to rebuild trust, unity, and cohesion, the Board prayerfully decided this transition was necessary. The Board further recognized that clear and consistent channels of communication for both dialogue and feedback are lacking within our community. The Board and Moody leadership are currently discussing mechanisms to put in place to help further strengthen our culture.
The Word of God and Mission of Moody
Contrary to what some have said, the biblical foundation and mission laid down by D. L. Moody and others such as Emma Dryer remains firmly established. Moody is steadfast in our wholehearted commitment to the historic, orthodox doctrines of the faith and to the inspiration and inerrancy of the Word of God. This is clearly stated in Article II and its explanatory note of our doctrinal statement. The Board, faculty, and leadership annually and without reservation agree to this statement, which is a condition of employment. When an employee’s actions or beliefs regarding this doctrine are questioned, they are thoroughly examined and addressed in a timely and correct manner. This precious doctrine is central to our common Christian faith because it speaks to the divine authorship and unquestionable reliability of the biblical text, as well as the utter trustworthiness and perfection of our triune God. We have not, are not, and will not move away from the truth of God’s Word.
Moody is blessed to have faculty who are dedicated to the Word of God, and dedicated to equipping and preparing students to serve the Lord as He calls them. The quality of our faculty is a significant reason our students choose Moody. Thus, it grieves us that some of our faculty have been falsely accused of being in direct opposition to Moody’s stated beliefs and mission. As teachers in a higher education institution, they have academic freedom to express the outworking of their faith in the framework of and in unity with our doctrinal statement and mission.
Moody seeks to faithfully represent the Lord in all that we do. To that end, we have policies in place—such as a conflict of interest policy—to help guide our conduct. For example, these policies guided the process for authorizing and approving a loan for the purchase of Dr. Nyquist’s residence when he relocated to Chicago. Unlike many academic institutions, Moody does not have a residence on campus for their president. When the Board requested that he live close to campus to host student and donor events, as well as be readily available for Institute business, it was financially impossible—Moody is located among some of the most expensive communities in Chicago. The Board therefore approved an interest-only loan at the market rate of 4%, which Dr. Nyquist has been faithfully paying. The loan was properly made, documented, and publicly reported in our federal disclosure statement and in our audited financial statements. No IRS rules have been violated. In fact, Illinois state statute governing nonprofit organizations such as Moody specifically and expressly allows this type of principal residence loan.
The same is true of our conduct regarding the use of a Moody apartment by Board of Trustees member Mr. Jerry Jenkins. Contrary to what some have said, the Moody-owned apartment was used by the Institute to host visits to campus by him as well as other Moody staff and guests.
As it relates to Chapman Center, Moody seeks to wisely steward the resources the Lord has entrusted to us, which is why projects of this nature are not entered into lightly. It will be our first new building in 20 years. By consolidating Moody Publishers and Moody Radio into one space, there will be unprecedented collaboration and synergy in the area of biblical expertise and media content creation so that more people will be reached with the gospel. The Gary D. Chapman Chair of Marriage and Family will also be located here, helping foster additional collaboration with education leaders. Students will also have the unique opportunity to be equipped through real life, hands-on media production, resulting in Moody having exponential impact across cultures and generations. Contrary to false accusations, funds raised for construction have not and cannot be used to fund other ministry expenses such as education. Even if funds could be diverted for education in the short-term, it would not solve the issue of a lack of demand in certain programs, and the cost reduction necessary to ensure long-term ministry success.
Again, no corruption or illegal and unethical activity is taking place at Moody or with our Board of Trustees. While some may disagree with our decisions, it is false to characterize them as corrupt, illegal, or unethical. Facts are being distorted. We fully acknowledge that we are not perfect, but please know that every decision is prayerfully made. We use appropriate processes, both internal and independent external, to investigate and address any issues we or others discover. When a mistake reveals a shortcoming in our process, we revise and strengthen the process, as evidenced by some of the changes we will make with our communication.
A Call to Prayer and Unity
As we consider the theme verses for our upcoming Founder’s Week, Ephesians 2:14–15, we pray that all will remember the truth that Christ has brought us together as God’s family in the Church. We pray that all will work together in love to further build trust and unity for the sake of the gospel.
We are incredibly grateful to staff, faculty and students as they work through these issues in a godly, prayerful way and engage in a broader conversation about Moody. Please continue to be in prayer, and remember that our collective hope is in Christ Jesus our Lord, who will shepherd us through this season and strengthen us in our service to Him.
To Him be all glory, honor, and praise!
Interim President, and Senior Vice President of Media
Chair, Board of Trustees
Dr. John Jelinek
Interim Provost, and Vice President and Dean of Moody Theological Seminary