Posted May 2006.
In late 2000, Tongues Revisited: A Third Way (now online free) was published with a foreword kindly supplied by Dr Peter Lineham. In 2002 he publicly identified himself as a homosexual, albeit 'non-practising'. In mid 2004 I was made aware of this, and just before Christmas 2004 received a circular Christmas email from him which contained a paragraph telling of his being in leadership roles in Bible College of New Zealand, Scripture Union, TSCF (Tertiary Students Christan Fellowship), and TEAR Fund, and also being chairman of a 'small gay fellowship' in Auckland. I wrote to the Boards of the four organisations mentioned...
Brief outline of events...individual letter files listed at bottom of page.
The writing of my first letter (file 01) began in the last week of December 2004 and took until March the 3rd, 2005 - around two months. I consulted with a number of people of standing who I knew shared my concerns. These included an Anglican Minister, a Reformed Minister, the CEO of a large International Christian organization, heads of two New Zealand Christian organizations, and the Secretary of a third. Throughout February, I sent copies of the letter as it developed to these people three times asking for advice and comments. They made numerous very helpful suggestions, all of which I took on board in one way or another.
Finally the letter was sent to the Chairmen and Boards of Governors on the 3rd of March, 2005. The letters were identical except for where they addressed the particular Board, or made reference to the organisation. I advised the people I had consulted that the letters had been sent.
The following day, the 4th of March, I sent a copy of the BCNZ letter, with a covering letter to Peter to advise him of what I had done. He has not replied, but I have no issue with that.
As a result of not having received a response from any of
the Boards after a month, I sent another letter to them dated the 6th
of April (file
02), requesting acknowledgement of the original letter and an indication
as to when I could expect to receive a substantive response. Again the letters
were identical except in regards to whom they were addressed.
On the 15th of April I received an email from Karen Spoelstra, TSCF Acting National Director. The email had attached a copy of the official TSCF letter. I received the hardcopy of the official letter the following Friday (file 03). It appears a computer spellchecker had been run over the letter and the name of my street address changed by it, so the letter got sent to the wrong place and returned. The address was corrected and re sent, thus the delay in me receiving it.
Due to considering the TSCF response inadequate - minimal to say the least, I emailed Karen on the 17th of April, (file 04) asking her if their response was the only one I could expect. She has not replied, in fact to date (22 May 2006) I have had no further correspondance from TSCF.
The following week I received a response dated 19th of April, from Peter McNee of BCNZ (file 05). Note at this point that the BCNZ Board must have known about this whole situation regarding Peter from around mid 2002 when he went public. Their response should be read with this in mind. As I considered the BCNZ reply inadequate also, I sent a hardcopy letter to Peter McNee asking if this was the only reply I could expect (file 06). In a letter dated May 18th (file 12) Peter McNee replied, ‘At the moment the reply I sent is all that you can expect’. On the 21st of May, I responded to Peter McNee saying that I considered the BCNZ Board’s replies unacceptable (file 13).
Due to not having received a response of any sort from Scripture Union by the end of April (two months), I sent a third letter to them on the 29th of April (file 07). I finally received a letter dated 2nd of May (received 14th May), from Rodney Dimock, Chairman of Scripture Union (file 08). Like Peter, Rod is an acquaintance of mine from many years back. I did not consider the response any more adequate than the others I had received, so I wrote a letter on the same day - 14th May - in reply to Rod asking if this was the only response I could expect (file 11). To date I have had no further correspondance from Scripture Union.
On the 11th of May, I received a response - dated 5th May - from Dr Rachel Appleby of TEAR Fund (file 09). As TEAR Fund’s response was simply an acknowledgement of receipt of my two letters, and gave no indication regarding how they viewed the content of the original letter, I sent on 12th May a letter (file 10) asking if this was the only response I could expect. I had no reply to this letter.
On December 11th 2005, I wrote a common letter to the four Boards (file 14) with an article by Peter enclosed.
TEAR Fund replied to my December letter on February 1st (file 16). I did not reply.
Needless to say I do not consider the responses (or lack of responses) to my original serious letter, either satisfactory or reflect well on the four organizations involved. It is now around fifteen (15) months since I sent that original letter. I think that by giving each board three opportunities and allowing them over a year to provide a substantive reply, I have been very generous to them in the way I have approached the issue.
I would add that while I am extremely bothered by Peter’s disclosure, the issue of major concern here is not a personal matter between him and me. And nor is it just a private matter about which I could approach him and provide counsel, if he was open to it. It is that four leading evangelical organizations in New Zealand have known about it for a considerable period of time and yet have retained him in positions of leadership. Added to this - as it has developed over the past year - is what I consider the totally inadequate way these organisations have responded to me.
What Peter's status is in any of these organisations at present (June 2006) I have not had confirmed.
[Of note: The CBRF (Christian Brethren Research Fellowship) Journal of May 1986 (No 102) contained three responses to the Homosexual Law Reform Bill then before Parliament and the petition that was circulating at that time. The editor was Peter Lineham, and the three contributors were Rev. David Stewart, then Principal of Bible College of New Zealand, Gavin McIntosh outgoing General Secretary of TSCF, and myself. David’s article was a reprint from the BCNZ magazine the ‘Reaper’, and Gavin’s a reprint from ‘Pronto’. Mine was basically a Bible class lesson I had given. David and my articles are totally consistent with my letter to the boards, although David (and Gavin) appealed to and placed weight on the now discredited material of Alfred Kinsey.]
The letters below, in PDF format, are in chronological order by date on letter.
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