Asbury Theological Seminary officials say the school is in crisis after the board forced president Jeffrey Greenway to resign.

The Wilmore, Kentucky, school has formed a "peacemaking task force" and brought in a consultant and "crisis teams" to help heal divisions caused by Greenway's ouster.

"We're moving forward with a process of healing, renewal, and reconciliation," said Asbury spokeswoman Tina Pugel, labeling the uproar "an internal crisis."

"Conflict is healthy, and good can come from it," she added.

Thus far, trustees aren't saying precisely why they dumped their leader after barely two years on the job. Pugel said Greenway did nothing immoral or illegal, but that he and the trustees differed over the school's direction. Greenway has said little publicly on the dispute, which has shaken one of the nation's largest evangelical seminaries.

After the president and the board clashed last fall, more than 80 percent of the school's faculty gave Greenway a vote of confidence. Hundreds of students and alumni also signed petitions supporting him. But the board voted overwhelmingly to seek Greenway's resignation. He stepped down October 17.

Critics say the board of trustees didn't give Greenway a fair hearing and circumvented its own bylaws to improperly oust him. A complaint has been filed with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), the agency that accredits Asbury. ATS gave Asbury until mid-January to respond.

Greenway's removal has triggered outrage among some students, alumni, and faculty. Officials shut down an internal online forum after critics used it to lambaste the board.

Trustees have appointed professor of preaching J. Ellsworth Kalas as interim president. A new presidential search team may be put in place after the trustees meet in May, Pugel said. Officials hope to have a new president selected by the fall of 2008.

Asbury officials offered Greenway a severance package, if he would promise not to disclose the circumstances surrounding his departure. He rejected the deal.

"I have a great love for Asbury. … [My] life is richer because of the time I spent in leadership there," Greenway told CT. "We were on the cusp of many great things when the events that led to my resignation unfolded. I regret that many of those things will never come to fruition."

Greenway, an ordained minister and former district superintendent in the United Methodist Church, wasn't out of work long. In December, he became pastor of Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church near Columbus, Ohio, one of the largest UMC congregations in the country.

Despite the controversy, Asbury is continuing to expand. In December, Aflac cofounder Paul Amos, along with his wife, Jean, and son Dan, pledged $12.7 million to create a Ph.D. program in biblical studies.

Related Elsewhere:

Asbury Theological Seminary issued an announcement about Greenway's resignation.

The Lexington Herald-Leader has an article on Greenway's resignation.

Other Christianity Today articles on Asbury Theological Seminary include:

Seminaries Wire for Long-distance Learning | Theological education is moving rapidly to keep pace with technological change through the use of computers, video, and online services. (February 5, 1996)
The Battle of Lexington and Wilmore | "A look at the history of two Kentucky seminaries—one liberal, one evangelical—shows how evangelicals won the Protestant mainstream." (March 11, 2002)

Lockwood, religion editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, also covered the Asbury story on his blog when he worked for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Entries include:

Bad-mouth Asbury Seminary's trustees, lose $2,000
Divided seminary forms "peacemaking taskforce"
A plea to the Asbury community: Don't cooperate with Bible Belt Blogger
Ex-Asbury Seminary chief accepts new job; rejects proposed severance package
Claim: Asbury won't survive with current leadership

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