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Radio teacher Skip Heitzig has returned to lead the church he founded as a small Bible study in 1981, then left in 2003. Heitzig resumed his role as senior pastor of Calvary of Albuquerque, with a weekly attendance of 14,000, months after he and the church board became embroiled in accusations about accountability and conflicts of interest.

Despite leaving in 2003 for Ocean Hills Church in Southern California, Heitzig remained chair of the board of directors at Calvary of Albuquerque (CA) while Pete Nelson, his chosen successor, took over at CA. Nelson resigned after two years as senior pastor. In his resignation letter, which was leaked to local media last February, Nelson accused Heitzig of stacking the board with people who didn't attend the church. When Nelson complained about the issue, he said Heitzig threatened "to take over as senior pastor."

Heitzig admitted he made mistakes during the transition, but rebutted Nelson's charges.

"Some of the things that he mentions or allegations that he brings he himself voted for in board meetings," Heitzig told CT. "When Pete Nelson resigned … I had a level of responsibility as founding pastor."

ca affiliates with Calvary Chapel, a network of 1,300 U.S. churches. The group began as an outgrowth of Chuck Smith's ministry to hippies during the Jesus Movement. At CA, as with many other network congregations, church bylaws make the senior pastor chair of the board of directors with the sole authority to nominate board members. CA, like many Calvary churches, does not have members, only people who attend.

Following the CA turmoil, Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowships (CCOF), an organization formed to maintain accountability for Calvary Chapel pastors, looked into the controversy. CCOF ...

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October 2006

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