i wrote this email 2-3 months ago…
It’s now 5 months + since the shameful event at Lifegate church …
Ian Teh <>
Dear [ ]
I trust you are keeping well.
I have been spending time with Jason Chew (as you may know). He has just relayed to me, your suggestion for a mediator from Churches of Christ (COC) to try and take this forward.
I hope you dont mind me expressing some of my thoughts, as follows.
This is not just a straight forward dispute. There was once upon a time (nearly a year ago) a straight forward dispute. Jason was involved in a proactive process to resolve that dispute. He responded to the process as required by the mediator. Tham Fuan was in some ways, only responding to Jason’s responses. While the mediation process was on foot, Tham Fuan and the remainder 3 members of the lifegate board gave effect to a plan to remove Jason from the board. This plan was on foot even as the mediation process was under way. Tham Fuan was in the know of this plan and may even have had a role in it. Jason on the other hand, was completely in the dark and received the full brunt of the plan. (I hesitated to call it a plot to show grace). A plan it shall be for now. A plan to remove Jason, hatched and given effect without Jason’s knowledge, Only when it was all done and dusted and the final formality was to be carried out, was Jason told.
How can Jason be asked to yet again participate in a mediation process, given this history?
Also, the action which aggrieved, wasn’t just Tham Fuan’s alone, no matter how prominent that was. The others involved were the remaining 3 board members at that time. Are they not relevant in considering who should be party to this mediation, even if it was a positive idea?
COC talk about being open but they are closed too. Why is the idea that a precondition is not fitting for a mediation, sacrosanct? Arent there circumstances where preconditions are called for? Why be closed to that idea? I’d say in this context it is very relevant. Jason has every right to require that the 3 persons and Tham Fuan all respond to the point made – namely, that the act of planning and giving effect to the plan, of removing Jason from the board, all done without any notice or consultation, was wrong. It was illegal, it was dishonourable, and it was certainly ungodly. That is the point rightly made and the 3 and Tham Fuan need respond to this point. Only when there is transparency of this response, can there be any headway. If this is seen as a precondition for a reconciliation, this is absolutely correct. If it is deemed unnecessary, then you are asking Jason to suck it up big time.
Consider what in effect you’d be asking Jason to do. He has been kicked out of the board. Without notice. Rumours were spread – including by Tham Fuan over the pulpit – of Jason and Melina leaving the church. Members were coming up to them and asking them very awkward questions. At the AGM Jason was made to be the one needing to answer to allegations. The board and Tham Fuan had worked tirelessly galvanising members so that at the AGM it was a case of Jason having to answer to a number of issues. After all that, he has to come to a mediation meeting without seeking to know precisely what is the intention and what are the thoughts of the people who have done so much to allow the wrong to persist?
Taking a wholly worldly view of the matter, a very warranted next-step is legal action. I’d have little doubt the court would look at the action of Tham Fuan and his erstwhile board in a very impressed manner. I have of course, attempted to discourage some who have raised the spectre of such a legal action. But if counterparties continue to think they can leave Jason alone in the cold and not respond to his points, maybe that is what the doctor ordered.
Anyone seeking to have a role in this should try to understand what Jason and his family have had to journey through in recent months. Any proposed action cannot be done without this consideration. While everyone else continue in the blessed paths of warm fellowship in their respective communities of faith, Jason and his family are torn assunder without a place to call home. I hope you do not ask him for too much. I hope his erstwhile pastor has more compassion in him.