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January 21, 2003 Pastor Earl Blackburn Trinity Reformed Baptist Church 14407 East Rosecrans Avenue La Mirada, CA 90638 Dear Brother Earl: It was good to hear from you last week. As we discussed I am sending you this letter, which I had drafted back in October of 2002. The goal of this letter is not merely to answer your letter of April 18, 2002 but to bring unity to the body of Christ and glory to His name. It is my prayer that this letter will be a foundation for our future discussions on this matter. I want to preface my remarks by acknowledging that I am a rather newcomer to the Reformed Doctrines, that we hold so dear, compared to you and many other pastors in ARBCA. I have sought to sit, watch and learn from those more experienced than I am. I attended the meeting in Mesa, Arizona when ARBCA was constituted as an association in 1997. I was very impressed with what I observed at that meeting. Earl, you may not realize it, but you played a very big role in my decision to present ARBCA to our church. was impressed by the professionalism and the humility that you displayed when you conducted those meetings. As I got to know you better, I was moved by your obvious ove for our Lord and Savior. And I watched as you dealt with some very difficult circumstances in the association with dignity and compassion. I place a high value on our friendship as it has developed over the years. Its for these reasons that I was so saddened and grieved by your letter. I have wrestled over how to respond, how much to should say and how I should say it. To be honest with you, besides being saddened and grieved, I was also quite angry when I read the letter. It is my prayer that this letter is a step toward a resolution of the matter at hand. I will begin by trying to clear up a point I believe to be at the heart of the whole matter. The informal council, after reading all the documents submitted to us, set up a priority for the work we were asked to do in a limited amount of time. The number one priority was to find out what happened to the children Tom had supposedly spanked. The rest of the complaints from both sides were to be put aside until that objective was achieved. Was Tom told by me that all of his complaints were irrelevant as Don has stated in his “report?” That is only half true. Tom was told they were irrelevant for the first issue at hand, the abuse of children. He was repeatedly told that he could say anything he wanted but in the order and time we set forth, not him. Tom repeatedly tried to bring in his complaints with the Elders of Miller Valley to mitigate and even justify his actions. He ‘was not allowed to waste precious time doing that. Don states that all of his complaints were dismissed one by one by me. That too is not accurate. Some of them we readily conceded were true and were in fact acknowledged by the Elders of Miller Valley. It was very clear that Tom Chantry wanted to steer the investigation of the Informal Council away from his culpability for possible crimes and shift it to the deteriorating relationship with the Elders. I want to say this in the strongest possible language. ‘The council was well aware of what Tom was trying to do and would not allow it. It is unfortunate that, Don Lindblad did not see what Tom was doing, and therefore he viewed the actions of the Informal council in a negative light. As I have reviewed the actions of the Informal Council in this regard, far from being a mistake, I believe it was one of our greatest strengths. In your letter, you place the word of Don Lindlad against the word of the members of the Informal Council. In your mind, Don is truthful, and we are not. You may argue that that was not your intent, but that is the only logical conclusion based upon what you have written, I love and respect Don as a brother in Christ. I do not question his integrity nor his veracity. I do not question your statement that, “he has always been ‘Judgment Day” honest with me.” Yet I believe that Don’s perception of what occurred was seriously flawed. It was very obvious to me from the very beginning that Don was quite upset with the events in Miller Valley, including the actions of Tom Chantry. It was also clear that Don has a great deal of affection and love for Tom. But it also became evident to me that Don did not understand what the council was trying to do. Due to those factors, Don’s view of the events of that weekend were very biased. Don prejudged and read into the motivations of the members of the council. His comment, “It appeared they had already unfairly (italics mine) come to a conclusion about matters before hearing Tom,” on page two of his “report,” is such an example. Early in our investigation, it became obvious that Don was acting as a “defense attorney” for Tom and not an impartial friend. Several times before Tom would reply to a question, he asked for time to speak with Don alone. 1 do not believe that Don Lindblad had any improper motives, but I believe he was blinded by his love for Tom Chantry. I also believe that he was swayed by hearing only Toms side of the story. Remember, Don never spoke to the Elders of Miller Valley, nor the children involved, nor their families. Quite frankly, I believe he missed what was going on. This is clearly seen in his comment on page 3 of his “report.” He says, “Imagine our surprise, then, when we were asked to meet with the investigators about an hour later. Instead of pressing for some form of church discipline or civil charges, they told us they wanted to give Tom back his life.” Don may be a gifted preacher but he severely misjudged the actions and motivations of the Informal Council. I want to say this again as strongly as I can. On our last meeting with Tom and Don, Tom was given the opportunity to say whatever he wanted to say. He was told by members of the council that we agreed with some of his complaints and had already addressed some of them with the Elders. In particular, they were wrong in trying to keep Tom in the pulpit as long as they did. But any such discussion had no bearing on his actions with the children in question. It was at that time that Tom made the statement, “Then it doesn’t matter anymore.” This statement confirmed our suspicions that Tom was trying to cloud the issue with his complaints against the Elders of Miller Valley. However, we believed that he would be content and live up to the agreements in the documents he signed. While not a perfect solution, we honestly felt that it was a biblical solution to a very difficult situation. Now let me address some of the comments in your letter. You state that Don called you during the investigation by the council, and you gave him certain counsel. You told him to insist on certain things. You told him to phone Tedd and plead with him. You also warned him of your concerns of “serious and unsettling ramifications.” 1 find this behavior highly irregular and questionable. The AC had sent an Informal Council to investigate certain allegations, and in the middle of the investigation, you, as chairman of the AC, give counsel to a man who is for all practical purposes, “representing” one of the parties. The next paragraph on page two of your letter is even more troubling. Tom drove to your house and the number one concern on your mind was not whether or not a resolution had been obtained but whether or not Tom had his say. That troubles me greatly. Then you again talk to Don Lindblad. You have apparently spoken of this matter with Walt Chantry and others as well. Yet, you chose not to speak with any of the members of the council regarding what you considered to be a serious problem and something that bothered you greatly. By this I am also troubled Let me list several of my concerns over your involvement in this matter. First, of course, is that you never called one of us to voice your concern. Ifit were as bad as you say, it seems only right that you should seek to remedy the situation as soon as possible. Remember, when the Couneil left Prescott, we all believed that a resolution had been achieved. If you knew otherwise, you were obligated to contact us. Second, if the couneil’s actions were improper, the remedy was very simple. Call for a Formal Council to be constituted. Had you called me, I would have supported that move based upon the attitudes of Tom and Don after they signed the documents. Third, I am disappointed by the fact that it appears that you too were taken in by Tom’s attempt to cloud the issues. ‘When you state that, “the entire incident not having taken place in a vacuum,” it shows a bias toward Tom. Problems within the Eldership of Miller Valley Baptist Church can in no way be considered mitigating circumstances in the inappropriate spanking of children by Tom Chantry. And that was the conclusion of three impartial elders who had no allegiance to either party. Fourth, it also appears to me that, you, Don Lindblad and others, believe that Tom is truly repentant for his actions. I do not. The actions of Tom Chantry while with the Council, and apparently his actions afterward, are not the actions ofa repentant man. If Tom were so distressed by our “lack of hearing his concerns,” then he should have refused to sign the documents. But by signing them, he was bound to adhere to the conditions and accept them. He has not. Instead he has fostered contention and strife within the body of Christ. Tom was pleased with the outcome of the investigation but was not pleased that he was unable to pull the wool over our eyes. And he has used Don, his father, and you to do harm to the body of Christ in general and to ‘our association in particular.