March 31, 2010

E-mail to the Readers of ARPTalk

Dear Readers of ARPTalk,

The letter below was written by Ms. Toni Pate (ETS, 1998). Ms. Pate’s letter was sent out by Ms. Randa Mammarella of Erskine Theological Seminary as a request for funds for what seems to be “The Erskine Defense Fund to Sue the ARP Church.” Please take note of the highlighted portion of the letter.

Dear friends of Erskine,

I am sure that most if not all of you are aware of the situation in which our beloved school currently finds itself.  Both the college and the seminary have been under scrutiny to see if they continue to uphold the faith and mission that has historically made Erskine the fine institution that we believe it is.  Those who conducted the examination have found the school falling beneath their own standard and have taken strides to remove and replace trustees in order to achieve goals in alignment with that standard.

As a graduate of Erskine Seminary, I disagree with their findings.  On the contrary, in my experience Erskine Seminary is a blessed place of orthodox Christian beliefs and practices. Never before or since have I been under the leadership or tutelage of finer Christian teachers and administrators.  I do not reflect on them as hired faculty as much as mentors to all of us in our Christian life as well as our vocations.  They challenged us to always seek truth from scripture, to apply it to ourselves before attempting to apply it to others, to understand the truth of Christian doctrine, and to have a tested faith of our own- not just an inherited one.  In every regard, God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit were lifted up as supreme.

My family is proud to have had seven Erskine College graduates as well. The first of those was my great grandmother, Laura Agnes Sharpton, who graduated from the Due West Female College in 1868, just six years after its founding. Kennedy and Boyce are among the signatures on her diploma.  The legacy of Erskine College as one of the finest of Christian institutions rests on the mission and faith of the founders, the graduates, and the ARP church, all!

For these reasons, I am grieving that the ARP synod, despite any good intentions, has called such admirable disciples as the board of trustees into question-trustees who tirelessly give their time, wisdom and resources toward maintaining our Christ-centered college and seminary.  In my opinion those voting individuals are not only wrong, they have cast Erskine in a negative light in the public eye! Erskine! 

I have debated how I might let my voice be heard and have decided to send a donation to Erskine earmarked for the legal fund in hopes that the questionable methods of the Synod's decision will be overturned in court.  I invite you to do the same.  You can select the links below (or copy and paste them) to donate to the college or the seminary online—or you may pay by check.  If you choose the latter, make your check out so that the "memo" line reads "Apply to Legal Defense FIRST" in hopes that the coffers at Erskine will be so filled to overflowing that our contributions will cover this non-budgeted expense, and any overage can bolster the institutions' budget.   (Seminary giving page)   (College giving page)

(On both giving pages, write “Legal Fund” in the section asking for your email.  The money will then be placed in Erskine’s Legal Fund account.)

I am sorry that I never wrote to the ARP church to tell them that their desire to have a Christ-honoring college and seminary has been more than met at Erskine.  I see the error in that now. I pray for a time when the church and the school that she sponsors will stand in mutual support once again.  And I hope that my testimony will continue to be that the Lord is able to accomplish great things for His kingdom through Erskine College and Erskine Seminary.

May He be glorified,
Toni P. Pate
Erskine Seminary
Class of 1998

An ETS alum wrote an e-mail taking umbrage with Ms. Mammarella’s decision to send out Ms. Pate’s letter as an official communication of ETS to the Alumni and to post it on Facebook. Ms. Mammarella’s reply is below. Note the highlighted paragraph.

Dear XXXX (Editor removed),

Thank you for responding to my email that included Toni Pate’s letter.  I am sorry you feel it was inappropriate for me to send.

I have been an employee of Erskine Theological Seminary for over four years now and have had alumni relation responsibilities as well as development ones in this position.  I felt Toni’s letter dealt with both of these areas of my job and therefore I made the decision to circulate it through the alumni eBlast and on Facebook.

We have already received several legal invoices at
ErskineCollege and Seminary that will require payment.  The first bill we received was generated from when Scott Mitchell filed the original suit.  That bill alone is well over $10,000.  More are coming.  Since ErskineCollege and Seminary are responsible for making these payments, it did not seem inappropriate to me to send a letter written by an alumna urging others to help us pay for these bills.

I am truly sorry you feel this was not appropriate for me to forward.  However, the majority of alumni I have heard from reflect bewilderment and disappointment in the actions of the Commission.  Toni’s letter gave voice to this concern as well as provided a recommended action for concerned alumni to take to help defray the legal costs.

Randa L. Mammarella

Randa L. Mammarella
Director of Seminary Relations
Erskine Theological Seminary
P.O. Box 668
Due West, SC   29639
864-379-6639 Office
864-378-2376 Cell
Wish to contribute to Erskine Theological Seminary?  Click here:


The Editor of ARPTalk asks the following questions:

·        Was there a meeting of the Erskine Board? Which configuration of the Board? Was Mr. Scott Mitchell directed or given permission to bring a lawsuit against the ARPChurch in behalf of EC/ETS? Where are thr minutes of this action? Will these minutes be made public? How was this done with a temporary restraining order (TRO) in place?

·        Who is authorizing the payment of “well over $10,000”? How has that been done with a TRO in place? Why is Mr. Mitchell NOT paying the attorney’s fees THAT HE INCURRED?

·        Who at the seminary or college authorized professors Burnett, Bush, and Hering and Mr. Chesnut to file a second TRO? How was that done with a TRO on the Board in place? What Board action authorized the Burnett, Bush, Hering, and Chesnut action? Is Erskine to pay those fees to attorneys, also? How did the Board do this with a TRO on the Board in place? Are Burnett, Bush, Hering, and Chesnut expected to pay the attorney’s fees that they incurred?

·        Is Erskine expected to pay the attorney’s fees that Dr. Richard Taylor, Parker Young, and Mr. David Chestnut have incurred in the name of the Alumni Association? Is not the Alumni Association an agency of the EC/ETS and Board authority? Is not the Erskine Board (that is, Erskine, Inc.) responsibile for debts that the Alumni Association incurs?

·        Are fiduciary responsibilities still in the province of the Erskine Board? Did not Dr. Young make much of “fiduciary responsibilities” in the hearing? Are they not expected to pay the attorney’s fees that they incurred?

·        Are not Drs. Ruble and Gaston the chief administrator at EC/ETS? What does all this say as to their“fiduciary responsibilities”? 

·        Ultimately, is the ARPChurch contributing to pay attorney’s fees both to sue itself and defend itself?

The above questions seem reasonable to the Editor. Maybe it is just the Editor!

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson