Letters concerning the David Dennis Lawsuit
Director of SDA General Conference Auditing from (1976-1994)
David Dennis Withdraws His Law Suit Against the General Conference
I have just received from David Dennis the current status of his lawsuit against the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church today, November 12, 2001.
Its been awhile since having contact with you. Hope I didn't frighten you off with the news that a recipient of your mails had shared it with the opposing attorneys. We have finally had to withdraw our suit. The judge ruled that GC officers can be immune from the case under the ruse of First Amendment. He died just days after making the ruling, so we shall never know what kind of deal he cut with the GC. Our appeal, according to my attorney, could have languished for two years and, frankly, my funds are deplete. As a last attempt to gain some form of exoneration for the lies propagated against me I have written an "Open Letter" to the GC President, Paulsen. I had planned to send it to Folkenberg. But, a friend pointed out that many think he's a "dead horse" (not true!). I have confirmation that the letter has reached Paulsen's desk, so I now circulate it. Feel free to share it widely:
Dr. Jan Paulsen, President
General Conference of SDA
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600
Dear Dr. Paulsen:
Two months ago, based on the advice of my attorney, I asked for the dismissal of a lawsuit against former GC President, R. S. Folkenberg, and certain of his business and political cronies, after the late District Court Judge, James C. Chapin, had ruled in favor of Folkenberg et al, thus allowing him to hide his corruption behind First Amendment privilege. I was asked by friends of the present GC administration to defer correspondence pending the possibility that you would take a Christian approach to resolving my grievance with the former leader which, based on absolute prevarications, slandered me before the world body of Seventh-day Adventists. Like Pilate, you have, it seems, preferred to simply wash your hands of the matter.
On the 19th of October, you chose to publish an ANN Bulletin in which you have repeated the old hurts, lies, and generally omitted the real facts of the case. For example, the tone of your message gives the impression that somehow you had won something in Court. Nothing could be further from the truth. You simply convinced the late judge (or had arrangements with him) that as a religious entity, closely patterned after the Church of Rome, your tortuous actions could be hidden behind the protection of the First Amendment. You have chosen to throw down the gauntlet. I am responding. It has been said that the “pen is mightier than the sword”. From personal experience I can testify that the personal damage inflicted by character assassination is more hurtful than physical assault. For the present, however, I shall limit my efforts to use of the pen.
When Robert S. Folkenberg tendered his unprecedented resignation as President of the General Conference on February 8, 1999 his mother was quoted as saying that his ignominious fall from such a high position of church leadership, for moral and financial corruption, was more difficult for her to bear than the then recent death of her husband. I was present for the beginning of his tribunal at the Marriott Hotel near the Dulles Airport that cold January day. I could sympathize with his mother’s hurt, for I know how his actions in orchestrating the false accusations against me some seven years ago brought pain to my own dear mother who, as a loyal church member, will soon celebrate her 99th birthday. While there are many similarities between our terminations from church office, the differences are striking.
Folkenberg’s closest friends from around the world gathered to review the documents shared by his comrade, James Moore. The documents and testimony were reviewed with the group he had selected to compose his panel of judges. I recalled the sham meeting that was set up to hear the charges against me, in December, 1994, assembled by his good friend Walter Carson, together with his Gestapo-styled associate, K. G. B. Mittleider, who still seems to be in charge of the open slander campaign against me. They were anxious to force me from an office I had held for more than 18 years. At my hearing the group was carefully chosen for the “kangaroo court” without my input and I was denied the presence of an attorney. In stark contrast, Folkenberg had two attorneys flanking him at the Marriott. I met them.
Another distinction between Folkenberg’s treatment and mine is the generous financial provision he has received. Full salary and benefits have been continued until an appropriate position is found for him. He has not missed a single pay period. He has received full service credit toward retirement. All this in addition to the undisclosed sums which he appropriated to himself from the church coffers. In my case I was fired just before Christmas. I received an official letter advising that I was “terminated immediately”, but my salary and health care coverage would continue for an added ten days, through the end of December, 1994.
A rather penetrating article appeared in Spectrum magazine, Vol. 27, Issue 3, 1999 detailing Walter Carson’s collusion with ex-president Folkenberg in his financial shenanigans. Mr. Raymond Dabrowski, was another of Folkenberg’s hand-picked comrades at the GC. You worked with Dabrowski in Europe. You will recall that Dabrowski was considered a communist sympathizer in cold war East Europe. He now serves as the director of General Conference Communications. In the Spectrum article, Dabrowski was asked to comment on the “wet noodle” punishment of Attorney Carson. He stated that “we prefer to err on the side of ‘mercy’.” I certainly did not feel “mercy” when I was cruelly and publicly maligned by top officials of the Adventist organization. A number of articles, likely ghost-written, have appeared over your name in the Review in which you advocate loving treatment of others, with mercy and forgiveness. Clearly you do not practice what you preach.
After the allegations presented in my original legal brief relative to Folkenberg and many of his associates’ corruption, had been proven true, I spoke with Robert Rawson, a former friend and co-worker in the mission field, and now Treasurer of the General Conference. Rawson denied that he had been aware of Folkenberg’s pilfering. I offered to meet with you and other new officers to resolve my long-standing legal case. Rawson promised to get back to me, but he did not. Rather, I learned of slanderous statements he had made about me to his fellow GC officers. Then I realized he, as chairman of the Risk Management committee, which had permitted the raid on GC insurance monies to cover up Folkenberg’s embarrassing criminal activities with James Moore, still felt beholden to Folkenberg. Naturally, both you and he would feel politically obligated, since he had personally chosen both of you as his close confidants.
Some have suggested that had I resigned I would have been treated more kindly. That, of course, is open to speculation. It is curious that I was told that if I would resign I could retain my credentials. When I was fired, however, these credentials were taken away. Why? It is a fact that most people believe a resignation, regardless of the duress imposed, is an admission of guilt. For example, the fact that Folkenberg resigned caused most observers to believe he was guilty. And guilty he was! I was not guilty of the nasty charges and the lies brought against me. I refused to resign. Early in the process of my termination I stated that if Folken-berg had simply asked me to resign because he did not wish to work with me I would have proffered my resignation immediately, but I could not do so on the basis of the false accusations brought against me.
If I had pandered to certain leaders they would not have attempted to have me ousted from office at the Indianapolis Session in 1990. If I had ignored corruption, including Folkenberg’s taking of illicit funds from the Columbia Union in 1991, I likely would have enjoyed peace and harmony to a normal retirement. Because of his personal animus against me, Folkenberg was unwilling to meet with me after the charges had been leveled against me, and, in writing refused to allow me a policy-provided Grievance Committee to resolve this within the confines of the church structure. I was not then, nor am I now, prepared to sell my soul for a mess of potage. The job was not worth the sacrifice of my personal integrity and dignity.
In Montgomery District Court proceedings, GC-engaged attorneys convinced the judge that the Director of GC Auditing was considered a “high ranking officer” of the church. Former GC Secretary, G. Ralph Thompson, testified that the Adventist organization is patterned after the Church of Rome. And former President N. C. Wilson, who has known me for many years but who would not acknowledge a friendship with me, stated for the Court records that I received this ill treatment because I “lacked people skills”. Is that another way of saying I was “not political”? If so, I am proud to say I have never been political!
Much has been said to publicly defame me. A great deal of this, of course, I have not even heard. Details have been twisted, stretched and magnified beyond all reason. That’s the nature of gossip. I have been slandered, in a methodical and continuous way, before the world church in writing and on the internet. Some have solicited speaking appointments and met with workers and members of the church solely to try to destroy me and any credibility I might have once enjoyed. Folkenberg and his allies have gone to the public media. They have interviewed with the Washington Times and the Los Angeles Times. The belief seems to be that if I can be vilified badly enough it will take the focus of the guilt off church leadership.
In spite of years in court, and a startling decision in our favor by the highest court in the State of Maryland, we were never able to proceed to a jury trial. With the help of millions of tithe dollars the GC repeatedly delayed the judicial process and blocked the discovery phase to keep from us documents we had requested showing to some degree the depth of corruption within the leadership of our church. The deposition of the guilty parties under oath was, likewise, circumvented. Rather than try to speculate about information we never received, let’s look at a few of the known facts.
High Level Corruption
For starters, GC spin doctors and attorneys have “strongly denied” the allegations made in my original law suit, filed in February, 1995. Folkenberg’s ouster from office for abuse of power and moral and financial corruption came as a shock to many people. Strangely, I had gone on record exposing much of this same information years before. Church leaders could have spared considerable embarrassment by a proper and timely investigation of those charges. By contrast, the investigation of James Moore’s charges were much more quickly reviewed. In the Moore case, I suppose, it was not possible to hide under the protection of First Amendment. I had pointed to some of the same personal business ventures in which Folkenberg and his close friends were involved, such as the personal deals with ADRA concerning the computer sales operation, the MCI fund raising, and the serious collusion with ADRA Vice-President, Ray Tetz. Still further was the personal financial benefits Folkenberg and his brother had arranged through Global Mission. Folkenberg was not anxious to have his brother’s rip-off land deal of the Sun Belt Health System opened to public view. Many are still asking how much money was required to compensate the attorneys for making certain the Los Angeles Times did not disclose that deal. Most of these ventures still beg for openness. Surprisingly, many church members fail to comprehend the meaning of the immediate resignation of Robert S. Folkenberg’s brother, Donald, as the CFO for Global Mission, when he was deposed as the SDA world president.
I had pointed to the deal Folkenberg had worked out with Ron Wisbey, in payment for his efforts to launder money through the Columbia Union for his personal financial benefit. There were those who chose to ignore this strong charge. It was only when the Washington Post revealed Wisbey’s compensation of $446,000 in a single year that many were shocked to suddenly realize that what I had said in my original complaint, some five years earlier was, indeed, an understated truth.
Wishing to spare himself any political embarrassment at the General Conference Session in Utrecht in 1995, and using the power of the office of the president, Folkenberg assigned vice-president Mittleider to find something (anything!) against me and thus force me to resign before the General Conference Session in Utrecht in 1995. Mittleider had been given this assignment more than a year earlier. “Moles” had even been brought into the auditing offices to assist in this diabolical task. Mittleider correctly prophesied that if I refused to resign it would “get nasty”.
The Court never allowed any free exchange of information as to what inspired and motivated a lady, Elizabeth Heisler Olson Adels, who we understand now resides somewhere in Oregon, to bring these lurid accusations. She had come to live with us for a short time when we resided in Singapore in the early 1970’s. She had suffered from psychological maladjustments and her teacher and parents were unable to deal with her. In the early threatening stages of this orchestration, contrary to the counsels of Matthew 18, my wife and I were not permitted to meet with her. There are many questions only she can answer. Why did she go into psychological therapy in Ohio? What really happened at her alleged rape on the Oregon campground? What are the actual truths behind her declaration that she had been raped on various occasions? What is known of her present life-style? Since we have never been able to meet with her we are not able to make any educated judgment as to her real problems or motives, nor can we anticipate any further assistance from the Court, since the facts are obscured by the First Amendment ploy.
Contrary to the charges leveled at me, I have been faithful to my marriage vows. I have not been guilty, as publicly charged, of sexual misconduct. I read a statement to the GC Committee, declaring unequivocally my innocence of the charges Folkenberg had brought. After reading the statement, which the executioners chose to totally ignore, I was ushered from the committee room. I was not allowed to answer, nor even hear, the eloquent and lengthy presentations of Folkenberg’s chosen hatchet men.
While I have no knowledge of the letters to or from Chris Seek Baerg, who is presently living with her third husband in Long Beach, California, we know they were provided by Folkenberg’s personal bodyguard, Melvin Seard. Some years ago he was investigated by a special committee at the GC for having a sexual liaison with Ms. Baerg. We know that another of Folkenberg’s business associates, Ben Maxson, was the first to bring him the story that Ms. Adels, who was in psychological therapy in Ohio, was prepared to share her filthy story. For those with whom her sordid document has not been shared (Walter Carson has published it on the internet), it seems worthy of note that the imagined events took place some twenty years in the past. Since, at heavy legal costs, you have been able to shield Ms. Adels behind the First Amendment, the real truth about Ms. Adels remains obscured.
Charlotte and I remain loyal to the message of Adventism and are church members in regular standing. Hopefully Carson will not bring one of his “trademark lawsuits” against us for using the name. We continue paying a faithful tithe. We have no intention, however, of paying it into the coffers which are used to fund the lawsuits against us and other committed SDAs. You will have a difficult time, I fear, twisting the Biblical command of Malachi to prove that the “storehouse” is the conference office. I guarantee, if sincere Adventists really knew how funds were mishandled in church offerings, such as to ADRA and Global Missions, they would stop the “channel” approach to their giving. I should know—I was, after all, the director of auditing for over 18 years.
This is the reason Folkenberg wanted me out of his way and wanted to destroy my name and reputation. It didn’t matter that, in the process, he was willing to destroy the credibility of the Auditing Service and thus prove the church incapable of monitoring itself. How can the auditor be independent if he is a recognized “officer” of the church—a real case of the “fox guarding the hen house”. Unless one is familiar with the political processes it would otherwise seem odd that the new Director of the Auditing Service, Eric Korff, would appear in Court to confirm that he is an “officer” of the church. No wonder my successors in auditing were willing to overlook multi-millions in losses to the Family Enrichment Resources (FER) organization in the very next audit of that entity.
Folkenberg knows, and I know, and he knows that I know just why he wanted me out of his way! You, as his successor accomplice will never allow disclosure of the total costs of this long legal battle. Certainly, you will never allow a truly independent investigation, such as the earlier promised “blue ribbon group”, to report on the facts presented in my original lawsuit. You and I both know that millions in tithes (and other church offerings) were expended just to keep full disclosure out of Court, and from the knowledge of honest church members.
Adventist Leaders and Sex
I was terminated and publicly defamed in the nastiest possible way, based on phony statements, false evidence, suspicions and trumped allegations. The prosecutorial approach was that I was guilty until I could prove my innocence! Tell me, Dr. Paulsen, did you ever try to prove a negative? Church records are filled with allegations of moral falls of ministers and church leaders. We received statements from family members of an acknowledged open adulterer, who had served in high denominational leadership. Yet he was not terminated. He was not suspended and his ordination was not revoked. His salary and service records were not interrupted. Today he pastors a nearby SDA church and is teaching the youth at our Columbia Union College. He is often considered a favorite camp meeting speaker. Why, I ask, was my case “different”, as stated by Thomas Wetmore, a GC Attorney assigned to defend his legal colleagues.
What about the individual who was discovered by local police to be sexually involved with a student in California? Rather than punishment and public humiliation, he was promoted to the presidency of a North American Adventist College. Remember Folkenberg’s own body guard? What about the supervisor in the offices of Risk Management who took unto himself another’s wife? Do you recall the case of the pastor who had sex with a female colleague? Court documents in my possession show that the conference defended him in the ensuing litigation, even after he acknowledged his guilt. He is presently pastoring a California church. Folkenberg had a close personal ally, a CPA who was an adulterer and Folkenberg knew it. Over my objections he sent him as a “missionary” in financial matters to the world. He esteemed his accounting counsel so highly that he continues to serve on many high level committees of the church. You may have heard of the retired minister, who was accused similarly as in my case, and Mittleider, ran for legal help to defend his friend from the allegations? What about the recent appointee to leadership at the GC, whose past has been checkered by adultery? We shall all be watching, with interest, how all of you will try to cover up the recent high-profile sex scandal at Southwestern College. Have you looked lately into such matters in the law offices? There are many many others, which I shall address in future responses.
Why I Chose to Call for Secular Justice
A question many sincere hearts have asked over the years, is why, even after repeated efforts to resolve this conflict within the confines of the church, I brought a suit in the secular courts? First, and of high importance, is the matter of my name. The Scriptures say “a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches”. It was impossible, not to make every effort to silence those who were publicly assassinating my character and that of my family. Nevertheless, my human efforts, like the David for whom I was named, seemed pathetic and inadequate against the might and millions of church dollars you threw, in Goliath-like fashion, at the escalating number of lawsuits with which the denomination is involved. We still look back in amazement that you found it necessary to engage three of the most expensive law firms in Washington, D. C. to represent you against our small claim for simple justice, mercy, understanding, and honesty!
Secondly, was a sincere desire to see the corruption cleaned up in the General Conference and within many of its subsidiary organizations. In the nearly two decades of my association at the headquarters of the church I could see how the organized church is slowly being strangled by its own bureaucracy. My study a few months before my dismissal, which showed that the administrative overhead for just operating the structures of union offices in North America, is costing the church nearly forty million tithe dollars each year, though greatly unappreciated, is most revealing. I am convinced change within the church can only come from two sources: (1) lay people, through voice and financial boycott making their concerns heard and demanding a greater level of accountability; and (2) the political timidity, which currently frightens church employees away from speaking out, will have to give way to an internal revolt, demanding change. Where were church leaders, yes GC officers, during my long struggle? The silence was deafening.
Finally, the most pervasive reason for bringing the legal complaint was a sincere attempt to bring disclosure to the continuing cover-ups of high level fraud within the denomination. There must be open clarification of the FER scandal that personally benefited many church officials. There should be a full disclosure of the personal deals Folkenberg had with the likes of Carson, Watts, Wisbey, Tetz, Maxson, McClure, and Moore.
The Tragedy of This Experience
Many unfortunate results will and have accrued from this experience. For example, this was treated as a “test case” to see how brutal you could be to an employee of the church and still hide behind First Amendment protection. Therefore, what incentive will there be for young people to commit themselves to the service of the church, if, at the whim of an offended leader, the employee can be terminated, the contract of service broken, unemployment compensation unavailable, his retirement benefits arbitrarily reduced or denied, and then publicly humiliated before the world church?
Such experiences, as in the Piankowski and Oxentenko cases, continue. Mike Piankowski, one of this generation’s brightest young ministers in the denomination, was fired from his post as pastor of the Takoma Park Church in 1995 because he paid his tithe (a double-tithe) into the local church. More than a year ago a story, similar to my case, was circulated that Mike Oxentenko, of the Sligo Church, and his wife were abusing their children. He was forced from office. Rather than allow the judicial system to litigate, you hid behind the First Amendment and refused to allow discovery of the truth. I wonder how widely these abuses of the First Amendment are known, since Adventists have been taught to treat the separation of church and state as a “freedom”. Frankly, the church has treated me and unknown others to injustice far greater than I have ever suffered from the state. Now, apparently, you and your corrupt associates, heirs to an “old buddy system”, will enjoy unlimited immunity from any secular justice.
Frankly, it came as a surprise to my family and me to learn that the self-acclaimed “Caring Church” practices shunning. I have spoken to many who have left the roles of Adventist employ who confirm that once you fail to meet the expected level of obedience and political control of certain church officials, you are totally cut off from the love and support of those you once thought of as friends and brothers. Remembering how we joined the world church in praying for you and your family after your son’s tragic accident it seems incongruent that you have never reached out a hand to us, knowing of the estrangement we feel after having spent 34 ½ years in service to the world church. During those years I was never accused of “conduct unbecoming to an ordained minister”. Rather, under your leadership, Folkenberg’s message continues to get published by official GC media.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Folkenberg’s future, of course, is secure. He will continue receiving full pay and benefits from the very coffers he corrupted, while proceeding with his real estate and fund raising ventures in Virginia and elsewhere. He has stated that he is working under your supervision. Recently he was featured in a union publication peddling high tech equipment around the world. In due course, he will be offered another high level position with the denomination. It is reported, with a degree of credibility, that his name was suggested for the presidency at a recent conference constituency.
For me things are different. God has blessed me with the ability to hold a real job and work for a living. It had been our plan to retire in August this past year, with 40 years of denominational service. Purely, as a matter of stubborn and hateful revenge, I was refused a request to allow use of my “severance” pay to extend my service six months to provide the required credit of 35 full years and, thus, I was cheated out of this significant retirement benefit. One of the things we had looked forward to, in retirement, was the opportunity to serve the church as volunteers. The doors to most such possibilities have been closed to us. Ron Watts, president of the Southern Asia Division, and a close Folkenberg ally, refused our offer to help with the work in India.
I feel quite certain but few expected, with our meager resources, we could keep our case alive for nearly seven years. At a mediation meeting sometime ago the arbiter told me that your paltry offer for a settlement was limited by your “constituents”. If as they should be, members of the church, what input did they have in the decision to expend millions just fighting to keep the case out of court? We will have to accept your unwillingness to address our case, on its merits in court, as a strange sort of exoneration. Much we would have preferred an honest exchange of the evidence before an unbiased jury, rather than simply allowing you and your spin doctors the use of church assets and legal immunity to share your defamatory message to the world.
Charlotte and I do not cherish bitterness or hatred. We will not allow you or your predecessor to steal our crown. We pray God will forgive you for what you have done to our family and for your salvation. We rest our case in the hands of the righteous Judge, who knows not only our actions, but the motives of every heart.
David D. Dennis
David Dennis Case: was dismissed in court in 2001. Concerned SDA Church members still want David's allegations investigated by an independent committee and reported back to the church members.
General Conference President, Dr. Jan Paulsen cannot stand investigation. He has refused the request of SDA Church members for a "blue-ribbon" investigation of the allegation made by David Dennis. After the SDA Church spent millions of dollars (estimated at 5 million dollars) over a six-year period to keep David's case from being heard in court. Now the General Conference President, Dr. Jan Paulsen has continued the CHURCH COVER-UP to keep church members in darkness to the facts of the guilt or innocence of David Dennis.
Dale Martin, A 46 Year Concerned Church Member Wrote Tue 7/23/2002
Thanks for the update. I have heard many people speak highly of Dr. Paulsen, and I am surprised and saddened that he apparently chooses darkness over light in this matter. It appears that rather than to get to the bottom of the story and learn the truth, he would rather keep truth in the dark and hope that the entire episode will quietly go away.
If half of all that I have read is true concerning the “Dennis” affair, I think the man has been treated extremely shabby. And if Dr. Paulsen is the man of character and man of God that he should be, he should be happy to let the truth come out. Doesn’t he know that it will one day anyway? Perhaps he underestimates the stamina and perseverance of the laity, and just as David grew weary, is banking that the majority of the laity doesn’t know and won’t care about this and the issue will slowly fade way.
Looking at it from Paulsen’s side of the table, I have tried to find valid reasons why he would be reluctant to appoint this talked about “Blue Ribbon Committee”. Let see, now..... we (as a church body) have spent untold thousands (anyone know how much?), to keep this lawsuit from the courts. This must have been something really important to spend all this money just to keep 12 citizens in a court of law from hearing David Dennis’s story. It seems very strange that we now won’t spend just a little bit more time and money to get to the truth. I hear now that Dr. Paulsen says that investigating Dennis’s story and getting to the truth will do more harm than good and detract from our mission. Getting to the truth will do more harm? I ask, to whom will the truth harm? Dr. Paulsen, you should try to understand that the members in our church know we are not led by saints. Getting to the truth will do nothing less than to begin to restore confidence amongst the members. Hiding the truth is what makes us question.
Since I have only been exposed to what Dennis and his supporters say, it is quiet possible I do not have the whole story and do not know the truth. To correct this, I would welcome an honest inquiry into the matter and can’t see how the entire cost would take much more than a few thousand dollars for travel. There would, most likely, even be some “seekers of the truth” willing to serve at their own expense. If the findings of this committee were to show that what happened to Dennis was the result of a few “not so good” men, the truth should come out. If it was found that he was fired and unfairly treated by his church without good cause, then it is real simple. The wrong must and should be recognized and to the degree possible corrected. Of course, nothing can or could be done to undue the harm to this man and his family.
“Coming clean” should have some very positive results. If an unbiased inquiry were to show that Dennis was railroaded, not only would a good man’s reputation be restored, but also this could stimulate some long overdue changes in the way our church operates. Right now, it appears to me that our church is structured where one man has too much autocratic power and control over committees and jobs. We need leaders that are more accountable to the laity. Sadly, it appears that our church has been moving the opposite direction with leaders accountable to other leaders. This Dennis story seems to underline that point to me.
As Norm Smith and his group Members for Church Accountability say.....it is really about accountability. This Dennis episode, I think, points to some basic problems in our church. I am pretty much on the same page as Norm. I love my church and would like to see some needed change. There are too many people leaving our church because of shenanigans. WE may have to answer to God one day for doing nothing. Some good ideas on how to make improvement to the politics of our church can be found at (Members for Church Accountability) site.
Dr. Paulsen, right now it appears that you are the man where the buck stops in our church. I would ask that you pray again about this matter. Then use the power that you now have to establish an unbiased and independent committee of laymen to investigate the charges made by David Dennis. If the church has made a mistake and unjustly persecuted this man, it should be publicly acknowledged and somehow made right. There is far more shame in hiding the truth than in admitting the mistake. It appears that you have the unique opportunity to begin the restoration of one man’s reputation and bind him and his family again to our church, while at the same time begin the restoration and confidence of many laymen in the organization of our church and leaders.
And you, Dr. Paulsen, apparently have the power to do that at you fingertips. I will be praying that you will be seeking God's will in your decision.
The least of His Saints,
David Dennis Reply to Dale Martin 7/22/02
You forwarded to me a note from Dale Martin, in Texas, enquiring as to whether or not Dr. Paulsen had responded to my six-page letter sent him last October. The correct answer is NO. Later Dale mentioned a letter by Drs. Shankel, Grames and others in California. The facts are that Dr. Paulsen has not condescended to favor me with ANY form of reply.
His personal secretary, a former friend, sent me an angry response indicating that I would hear nothing further on the matter from Dr. Paulsen. The California doctors are a stronger force (in numbers and in dollars) and Paulsen tried to soothe them with the letter that you read.
He has not responded to their reply (and probably never will). One of the GC-employed attorneys, also an ex-friend, has sent word out that the GC equates me to Osama bin Laden and called my letter that of a "vitriolic poison pen".
Stewart W. Shankel, Richard Sheldon and George M. Grames wrote to Elder Jan Paulsen:
Dear Dr. Paulsen,
We have been very concerned about the allegations of malfeasance by officers of the Church expressed by David Dennis in his lawsuit against the General Conference. On April 8,1996 four hundred and fifty seven individuals petitioned Elder Robert Folkenberg to engage a team of independent, professional investigators to thoroughly investigate all of the allegations of David Dennis. We believe that if these allegations are false accusations, the church officers would be exonerated, and the integrity of the church would be preserved. If the allegations have merit, offenders could be properly disciplined, and again the integrity of the church would be preserved.
Elder Folkenberg did not respond to our letter, but we did receive a letter dated April 17,1996 from Robert W. Nixon, General Counsel to the General Conference. In that letter Mr. Nixon stated that, "Elder Folkenberg consistently has supported the possibility of setting up a blue-ribbon commission to look into all allegations once the litigation terminates."
Now that the David Dennis lawsuit has been withdrawn we are requesting that Elder Folkenberg's concept of a "blue-ribbon commission to look into all allegations", be honored by your administration.
Elder Paulsen wrote back:
I have given considerable thought and prayer to your recent letter requesting that the General Conference appoint a blue-ribbon committee to investigate the allegations made by David Dennis in his lawsuit against the General Conference. I also have consulted with others concerning your proposal, and I intend to get additional input on this issue from international church leadership as I have opportunity.
Such allegations concern me too, because like most church members, I value credibility and expect responsible church leadership, whether at the congregational, conference, union, division, General Conference, or institutional level. But the reality is that the church is made up of humans who from time to time make mistakes. We must confront those mistakes, deal with them as we think appropriate, learn what we can from them, and move on with the work of the church, which is the mission.
As I reviewed your letter and thought about the possibility of a blue-ribbon committee to review the Dennis allegations, I thought to myself—Would this essentially be a positive step contributing to the credibility of the church, or would this more likely be a negative step that could consume countless hours and dollars of administrative time and church dollars and yield little, if any, information that isn't already in the public domain and hasn't already been legally and administratively reviewed?
It seems to me that our history as a church, together with personnel changes that have occurred, have moved us past the time that a blue-ribbon committee would be a positive move for the world church. We have suffered the pain! I think we have learned some important lessons, and healing is taking place. I sincerely believe it is time to leave this chapter behind and move on with the true work of the church, taking the Gospel to the world.
Stewart W. Shankel, Richard Sheldon and George M. Grames wrote back to Elder Paulsen:
Thank you for your letter of February 25, 2002 in response to our request for an independent investigation into the David Dennis allegations. We appreciate that you recognize that we have a legitimate concern for the credibility of the church, and with you expect responsible church leadership at all levels of the church. We are disappointed that you believe that an investigation would not contribute to the credibility of the church. You are concerned about the consumption of countless hours and dollars of administrative time that would "yield little, if any, information that isn't already in the public domain and hasn't already been legally and administratively reviewed."
Certainly little official information has reached the public domain of the church membership at large. Most of the information has come through Spectrum and Adventist Today, neither is a church sponsored publication and neither enjoys wide circulation among the Adventist laity. In as much as the case has already been "legally and administratively reviewed," which allegations have merit and which allegations are without merit? Dennis alleged high‑level corruption involving more than one individual. If any of these allegations were accurate, what disciplinary action was taken against church officials involved in corruption? In David Dennis' open letter to you dated October 30, 2001 he states that former president Robert Folkenberg remains honest in the handling of them. We do well to pray for them in this regard. Thank you also for providing the wording of the "Policy on Openness and Accountability."
From David Dennis Wed 7/24/2002
Hi Dale and Robert:
While I direct this to Dale, I am copying in Robert a long-time friend, primarily because of our mutual interest. Your letter to Robert and copied to me is greatly appreciated. I am thankful for people with both insight and open minds. Your points, Dale, which I hope can someday at least be read by Dr. Paulsen, are direct and insightful. As far as I know, though I only previously knew Paulsen at a distance while he was in Europe, Dr. Paulsen is a fine Christian gentleman. He is a Norwegian (my wife is Norwegian), so that is a start. But, as with all of us he has some glaring flaws. First, the political system does not allow him to stray from the status quo. He is totally beholden to Folkenberg, who engineered his appointment (as a VP) to the GC. Further, he is subjected to a seething hatred at the GC against me. In addition to a general dislike of me over my role in auditing (I considered myself responsible to the constituents, rather than to management), some say they hated me because of my lawsuit, which I initiated for two reasons I consider very valid: It was the only course open to me to try to clear my name they had so publicly trashed; and I had hoped to bring change to the church political management structure through disclosure of shenanigans in Court. If there is ONE thing the GC detests its public disclosure of their mis-deeds. Rather than a blessing the misuse and abuse of the First Amendment in their hands becomes a curse in allowing them to hide their corruption. As long as it remains hidden it will continue!
While I am grateful for the pressures applied and the letters written, I understand from various parts of the globe, I have serious doubts any open response will ever be received. Some feel a financial collapse--an Enron/Worldcom type of disaster (a good possibility)--is the only way change will ever come.
Thanks for your prayers and help!
HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP END THE DENNIS COVER-UP
I would like to suggest to all SDAs that they write Dr. Paulsen and request to have a non-SDA independent accounting firm audit the General Conference funds as well as the "Blue Ribbon Committee" to investigate the internal affairs of it's officers. Make it clear to them that it is YOUR CHURCH AND YOUR MONEY and you have a right to know the truth.
Make it clear to President Paulsen to respect your request and the requests of others for an internal investigation. Let him know that failure to comply, he is taking an autocratic stance such as the Pope of Rome does as the head of his church by deciding what is best for you as if you are little children.
If Paulsen refuses to conduct an independent inquiry, you should stop paying your money into the church till they come clean. "MONEY TALKS." The officers of your church work for you and are answerable to you. You pay their salaries with your hard earned money.
Dr. Paulsen does not have an e-mail address so you will have to write using the U. S. Mail. His address is:
- General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
- 12501 Old Columbia Pike
- Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600 USA.
- Main Phone Number: (301) 680-6000
Forward this Newsletter to your Adventist e-mail contacts and mail to your local church list if they do not have e-mail. They need to know what is going on behind closed doors of their church hierarchy so they too can help end SDA Corruption.
If you do not write, you should ask yourself what would Jesus do? Are you or are you not "YOUR BROTHER'S KEEPER"?
October 8, 2002
Many people e-mail me periodically asking about David Dennis' lawsuit. You would think that after the Seventh-day Adventist Church spent millions of dollars and seven years, keeping Brother Dennis' lawsuit from being heard in a court of law, hiding behind the first amendment they would stop misleading the public. But they are continuing to slander him behind his back. They compare David Dennis with " Osama bin Ladin".
David has "authorized" me to publish "An Open Letter", so you will not be misled by misinformation about him from the SDA Church. Please read his letter carefully so as not to miss important information.
An Open Letter
October 8, 2002
Elder Larry R. Colburn
Assistant to the GC President
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600
Copies of a letter you posted on September 12, 2002 are being widely circulated. Since I do not have access to your high tech media facilities I am quite unable to keep up with the continuing slanders emanating from the complex on Old Columbia Pike. I do, however, intend to respond when these matters come to my attention, hence this open letter to you today. I have I have come to realize that what certain leaders of the church lack in honesty, justice, and integrity they more than make up for with clever spin-doctoring.
Perhaps more than the inaccuracies of your letter, I find even more amazing the fact that, at One time, I considered you a trusted friend. Unfortunately, like so many other old buddies in the church employ, you have sold yourself to a system that protects itself rather than the interests of the constituents of the church body. You count on a blind loyalty that accepts your deeds and misdeeds and resents and resists any attempt to exhibit openness and transparency in the operations of the organization. In fact, another of my former friends, a GC employed attorney, who, like you, has been engaged to continue slandering me and my family sent out emails last November referring to my “vitriolic poison pen vendetta” and equating me to Osama bin Ladin.
Your letter of September 12 came as a bit of a surprise since you had written me exactly ten months before, on November 12, 2001, and, theoretically at least, on behalf of Dr. Paulsen, had asked me to “leave this difficult chapter behind and move forward”. I had done exactly that. I trusted you would do the same. Now I find you engaged once more, as during the seven years of my legal battle, in guerrilla-style warfare. One can only speculate regarding how many other such missives you have sent out. Perhaps you could begin by telling me why I am not allowed the opportunity to meet with Dr. Paulsen or a proper representative group of selected individuals to openly discuss the facts of my destruction by certain church leaders and in proper Christian understanding resolve the matter, rather than continuing your organized smear campaign? Are you even aware that my request for a policy-provided Grievance Committee was refused in writing? Certainly, I would have accepted a fair and balanced review of the charges against me in lieu of taking out litigation.
Clearly, your attempts to vilify me are designed so that you can ignore questions regarding internal corruption in the church. It does seem strange that after spending the last 18 years of my 34½ in church employ at the General Conference suddenly I am as hated as Osama bin Ladin. You speak with great authority concerning my acts of evil. This, too, is quite amazing since you have known me for at least 34 years. What “evidence” have you had of my personal alleged philandering? At one time I was foolish enough to think I could have used you for a character witness. Again, you have listened to someone else’s statements and may not even be aware of the “guilty until proven innocent” approach that was taken in my investigation.
Let’s do a little analysis of your letter. You state that there is “adequate evidence” of The GC assessment of my guilt. This is, indeed, an incredible statement! A question someone needs to answer is, IF there is so much “evidence”, pray WHY did the GC spend millions of dollars in the courts of Maryland over a seven year period just trying to keep this evidence from going to trial? I have never yet seen a response to that key question. You may be able to soothe the hearts of some with your authoritative rhetoric and slander, but any thinking person will know the case was dismissed from the court because of a technicality: in the U.S. currently, it seems, the church, any church, can hide its misdeeds and torts under the guise of First Amendment. It baffles me that as church members we have been taught to fight for the separation of church and state. Why? So church leaders can become corrupted and answer to no one?
In fact, the following sentence, an absolute falsehood, states that the “court ruled (the) charges cannot be substantiated”. You know, and I know, and you know that I know, as do many others, there is NO such ruling by the court. The truth is that we were never able to get one shred of documentation from the GC, who filed appeal after appeal to have the case dismissed. Strange. It would have seemed only logical, If your charges against me were even remotely factual, that you would have coveted an exoneration through a jury trial, which is all I asked for. After days of foolish and tiring depositions of me and my family, the very leaders who had been engaged by Folkenberg to find a basis, to have me fired, refused to provide any information. By stark contrast the record shows, I provided the court with responses to every question raised and all the documents requested.
Your letter continues by directing the reader to documents you provide from the “independent ministries”. Again, this I find unthinkable, except that in desperation you look for any possible way to prove my firing justified. I was first fired, then for the next eight years you have sought for a way to demonstrate the correctness of your actions. Unlike the GC, I stand ready at any time, to face charges leveled against me. I was asked sometime ago to meet with members of certain “independent ministries” to discuss charges brought against me. I told them I would gladly do so, but that my attorney had asked me not to make any statements until the litigation was over. I did not attend the meeting where apparently my character was assassinated in absentia. Some of those present have since sent me letters of Christian apology for being part of such a malicious group. Others listed as present, have subsequently told me they did not cast a vote. Ironically, at the time of the meeting a member of the board of the host ministry was living in open adultery. I have never seen any action recorded against him, even though he voluntarily withdrew from board membership and started his own ministry. It is not my purpose to promote the work of these ministries, but I find it puzzling that for years you have sought ways to stamp them out of existence. Some years ago, while still at the GC, I was invited to a committee where a book was being edited to try to destroy the influence of these groups. Indeed, the book was printed and circulated widely.
When I was pressured to resign from the GC, in October, 1994, I was told it was likely I could keep my credentials. When I was fired, in great hostility, my credentials were taken away. May I ask, if I could keep the credentials when resigning what changed the gravity of the crime if I was fired instead? My esteemed ex-friend, I chose not to resign because it would have been tantamount to an admission of guilt. I was not guilty of the ghastly charges brought against me by an emotionally troubled individual who suffered from false memory of some 12 years earlier. Every time I hear Henry Wright is the special speaker at a camp meeting or other public event I cringe. He was once elected to lead the ministerial association of the General Conference. You may wish to look into this, but I believe he not only did not lose his credentials for known guilt, but he never missed a day of pay. Today he is involved not only in speaking at the sacred desk, but also is considered a role model for young people. Numberless other similar cases fill the protected files of your offices. When did you last write someone a letter exposing the evils of the likes of Robert Folkenberg, who is currently off in Africa peddling his high tech evangelistic equipment? Why, my ex-friend, was I singled out for this uneven treatment?
Some say you (corporately) hate me because I exposed the financial shenanigans of those in high places. May I just state for the earthly record (as the heavenly one will corroborate) that I was only doing my job. In spite of the furors created, I do not believe any professional would challenge my responsibility in the way I dealt with observed corruption as the director for internal auditing for the world church, a position I was elected to and re-elected to fill. Others state that I am hated because I dared to bring a lawsuit. I personally believe there is a flaw in our justice system. As American citizens we have the “right to a trial by jury”. Why should anyone, a church included, be able to deny us that right? Why, at the time I was under such attack, was the church allowed with impunity to sue Rafael Perez in court for his humble little group of believers in Florida?
Church leadership has failed in its commitment to provide a definitive investigation of the charges I brought in public documents in February, 1995. His Highness has placed his signet on a letter, dated February 25, 2002, stating that he has washed his hands of the case and it is closed. This is not surprising since the court in my legal proceedings was told (its on the record) that former GC president Neal Wilson and those who testified with him represented the “Pope and his cardinals”. I am not sure it is cause for boasting that the court was also informed that Adventists have patterned their governance closely to that of the Church of Rome.
We, you and I, were once friends (or so I believed) and neighbors. I read recently with pride the fine article in the journal sent out to alumni of Union College of the wonderful work Rod is doing in New York City. I got teary eyed as I remembered the playful days he had with Sam in far off Jakarta and that cycle ride down the isle of Sumatra. I am proud of Rod, as I am my own son, who must carry through life the stigma you and many others have chosen to place on his family name. It is hard for me to imagine that one I had thought to be a true Christian could somehow justify your actions to continue spreading gossip and slander so ruthlessly. I know, you will say it is your job. As for me, and the record is clear, no job is worth the price of my soul!
Even though you will likely choose to carry on your malicious campaign I will not lower myself to the “behind my back” muckraking you engage in. Hence, this “open letter”. I certainly would welcome, however, any outstretched hand to have the charges, on both sides, openly and fairly reviewed and any and all errors corrected and appropriate apologies made. I fear the arrogance of current church leaders will forever preclude such a possibility. Meanwhile, you are left with the only course of self-justification—trying to destroy someone else.
An erstwhile friend, David D. Dennis
3413 Olandwood Ct #204, Olney, Maryland
From: David D. Dennis, 3413 Olandwood Ct., #204, Olney, MD 20832
October 29, 2002
Elder Larry R. Colburn
Assistant to the GC President
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600
In your abbreviated letter of October 16, after acknowledging receipt of my letter, you provide the following rather empty commentary:
It is evident that your view of the issues continues to be quite different from ours. After these interim years, and noting the continued focus of your letter, it appears that the church and its leaders can only rest this case in the hands of our almighty and all-knowing God. He is the compassionate and righteous Judge. Fortunately, the Word of God assures each one who believes that He is willing, when we confess any known sin, to forgive and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. What a comfort and what an encouragement! Yours in His service.
I am in full harmony with your statement about God’s forgiveness. Indeed, God is willing and ready to forgive the likes of Robert Folkenberg for his pillaging of church funds, personal corruption, and the abuse of the office of the president of the General Conference, just as God forgives you and me. I have forgiven Mr. Folkenberg, and his lackeys, for the wrongs done to my family and me. In our Christian circle, there is another important step. In my case this step has never been taken. With the uncertainties of this life and the sincere belief that our Lord’s return is near, it seems these individuals would covet my forgiveness. To date, not one of those involved in sending out the reams of public slander against me, has asked my forgiveness. Even from your high tower of infallibility, does that not seem a bit strange?
You have not explained why, in your letter dated November 12, 2001, you asked me to “leave this difficult chapter behind”, yet you continued your filthy diatribe. It seems, as a matter of both courtesy and honesty, you should have advised me of your drastically altered position. Nor, did you comment on what I once perceived as a personal friendship between us. I suppose you are recognizing, in spite of the pithy blather, that there is not, and possibly never was, a friendship. Since I have learned that you, and perhaps those who have helped you edit the continuing defamatory propaganda against me, wish to continue publicizing your unsupported and unprovoked comments, I shall today limit my appeal to a few direct and important unanswered questions relative to the GC treatment imposed upon me in 1994 and subsequently. As a church entity, supported by constituent giving, you owe to me, and others looking on, a full disclosure. You may wish to involve your fellow spin-doctors in helping to respond to the following questions:
- In your circular letter of September 12, 2002 you allege that “there is adequate evidence from the church” to support your claims of my deviant conduct. This false statement may, indeed, comfort some. My question: IF you have evidence, WHY was it necessary to expend the energies of so many in denominational employ, and at a cost of millions of dollars, just twisting in the court, to have the case thrown out? The fact that you worked for years to prevent the case from being heard by a jury trial is undisputed. It seems an affirmative decision by a jury, would have gone far in vindicating your cause. Is your unwillingness to proceed to a jury, as I had urged, an admission that you did not have the evidence to win the case?
- In the GC-imposed kangaroo court comprising my tribunal I was not allowed any input in the appointment of hearers, nor was I allowed the benefit of an attorney. The hand-picked group was convinced in their decision, in large measure, because of the input of the GC-appointed attorney, Folkenberg’s business crony, W. Carson, who harangued the group for 1½ hours to obtain their desired recommendation. Why was the same procedure not uniformly followed in the tribunal, some years later, for R. S. Folkenberg? (He was allowed to hand-pick the jury and was flanked by not one, but TWO attorneys). Why was I treated differently from others?
- In your recent comment you piously acknowledge assurance from “the Word of God”, please, therefore, explain the non-Biblical (yea, non-Christian!) treatment I have received--for years? I read again, only a few days ago, Romans 2:1. Evidently, the scores of GC employees, past and present, . . and now yourself, are all guilty of the judgment you have publicly imposed upon me. Are you admitting that all of you are guilty of “sexual misconduct”? What about the failure to apply the principles of Matthew 18, I Timothy 5:19, and James 3? In my case how do you find it justifiable to abandon such basic tenets of Christianity as the “Golden Rule”? If the church cannot be trusted, to whom shall we go? Indeed, active efforts have been made to have me excommunicated from church fellowship. How do you find that squaring with your misuse of the term, “The Caring Church”?
- There are still some individuals, with an awareness of the long legal struggle we had to engage in, even after Folkenberg’s ignominious fall from glory, who sincerely believe the case was not about the fiscal corruption at the highest levels of the denomination. No doubt your continuing slanders against me are a further attempt to cover things up. Interested parties were officially promised, by none other than the chief legal counsel for the General Conference, Robert Nixon, who still holds that position, that “as soon as (my) litigation was completed” there would be a “Commission set up to review the allegations” of my law suit. In writing (a service rarely provided by his Majesty), Dr. Paulsen, has refused to proceed with this commitment. Can we not, therefore, assume that the General Conference officially admits to the correctness of the allegations filed in the district court in February, 1995? This must be clarified!
I shall appreciate receiving your detailed response with more depth than your usual “Yours in His service”. I have, herewith, raised but a few of the important unanswered questions. There are many more to follow.
Your sniper target,
David D. Dennis