Post Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:02 pm

Goodbye

I love you all very much.

I’ve been needing to write this post for weeks, and all I can think as I sit down to write it is that: I love you all very much.

Some have suggested that those of us who are leaving are doing so because we are angry, because we are upset, that we are leaving in a huff and slamming the door behind us.

My dear, dear friends… nothing could be further from the truth.

I am not angry right now. I am sorrowful. In fact, my heart has long been broken at the thought of leaving this community. Because it is not a hasty decision. This is something I decided prayerfully and with many tears months ago, and as the weeks pass I’ve become more and more convinced that I am doing the right thing, as much as I wish I didn’t have to.

Some people have said that HolyWorlds is nothing more than a forum, just a structure, just code. That it’s not really important. But you know what? It is important to me. It means a lot more to me than I could ever explain. It was here that I met almost all my friends. It was here that I gained the courage to actually move forward and publish some of the novels I’d had laying around unedited. Here I grew, I started taking steps to overcome my depression and other major issues, I learned more about God and His role in my life. Perhaps most important of all, it was HolyWorlds that taught me to be loved. I’ve always been someone who didn’t fit in, who felt out of place and felt like I was never good enough. HolyWorlds was different. Here I fit in, here I feel like part of a family, and here, I learned that I am always good enough, and that I am always loved.

And that barely scratches the surface of how God has used this community in my life. I thought I was going to be here forever.

Because I love you all so much.

Originally, I had planned to leave quietly. I expected to be standing completely alone, and I didn’t have any desire to cause division or strife. But as more things happened, and more people came to stand beside me, I realized that you all deserve an explanation. So many people have come to me asking why, asking what is going on. You all deserve to know. The last thing I want to do is to cause trouble, or strife, so please read this knowing that I am not angry, and that I am seeking only to explain, not to stir up trouble.

First I want to clear one thing up. Some people have been saying that the reason I am leaving is because I feel HolyWorlds should be treated like a church and therefore should not have a female leader. This is a falsehood mixed with the truth, and I want to make sure that my position is very clear. I never said that HolyWorlds was a church, nor that it should be treated as one. HolyWorlds is a Christian online writing community. With that in mind, the issue of a female admin is not the only or the biggest issue here, but for me, personally, it is one contributing factor. I believe that the Bible teaches that we must hold ourselves to its principles no matter what the situation. Going against God’s design for ourselves or our communities hinders our progress and robs us of the blessings He has for us. Thus, because I believe that the Bible teaches that a woman leader for a community goes against God’s design, I do not believe having a female admin is an acceptable choice, regardless of how wonderful the individual is.

A disclaimer--I’m not saying that I believe women can never be leaders in any capacity. That is not true at all. I believe women can and should be leaders under the headship of a man. Thus having women such as Kaitlyn, Aubrey, and Elanor on the Council and as Marcher Lords has never been an issue for me, because they were subservient to Jay’s vision, and he had the final authority over the site. Similar to how a mother is a leader in her home, under the headship of the father. So it’s only the issue of a woman being the overall leader that I have an issue with.

I know many of you will disagree with me on this, and I am not writing these things to try to convince you of my position or to change your convictions in any way. All I am doing is seeking to explain what the Lord has impressed on me through His word and prayer. I know that if I hold to that, He will be pleased with my stand. Again, I am not trying to convince anyone of anything, I am merely seeking to state my position as clearly as possible so that there will be no misunderstanding or misrepresentation. Anyone who wishes to ask me more about my reasons for this position is welcome to email me about it, but for now, I just want to make my stance clear so that there is no question and so that no one else is speaking for me.

The other issues weigh on my heart much more heavily.

There has been so much inappropriate behavior on the part of the leadership throughout this process. When a candidate that many people believed was more fitted to the role of admin was suggested to Jay, he refused to even consider the idea. When people came to him with advice and counsel, he ignored almost all the concerns brought to him. He flat-out lied, in public to you all, and in private. He has repeatedly tried to reduce those of us who are leaving to mere numbers, he has trampled on his friendships, betrayed trust, and has tried to make our actions seem petty, hasty, and unloving. I don’t say any of this in anger. In fact, I hate saying it. I love Jay as a brother in Christ, but his behavior in leading this forum has been completely inappropriate and unjust, and it would be wrong for me to hide that. The fact is, Jay is not in a place to understand what the forums’ needs are right now, and the way things stand, he is accountable to no one but himself, which is a dangerous position for any leader.

Harder still for me to address Elanor in this post. I love Elanor. I’ve always called her the golden flower of HolyWorlds. I could not agree more with those who have praised her character, her kindness, her compassion, and her many other good qualities. She is a wonderful and beautiful asset to this community, and I think she should have been a council member long ago. I believe that Elanor will do her very best in her new role, but that does not change the fact that I also believe that the role is not fitted to her. Her conduct during all of this has been gentle and kind, but through it all she has been accountable to no one but Jay, and has counseled with him on many of the changes for HolyWorlds. Jay has led others in manipulation before, and therefore I have concerns about how he has manipulated Elanor’s position here. I have no doubt in my heart that she has the very best of intentions, but the way things are set up make me tremble for the future of this community.

I love her dearly, but I am concerned not only for all of you, but for herself in this situation. I do not say these things with any desire to attack her character, this is merely a practical, objective analysis of what a leader needs to be, Biblically and pragmatically, and while she is a dedicated member who has served us all so well, I cannot believe this is the place for her. I really want to stress that this is nothing against her. The same would be true of myself, and of many wonderful members we have here on HolyWorlds. Just because someone is wonderful does not make them the right leader.

To those who claim I’m leaving because my choice for admin was not chosen--this is not the case. It’s true that I had someone in mind who I believed and still do believe to be the ideal person for the role, but it’s also true that if any biblically qualified candidate had been chosen and instilled in a biblical process, I would not have complained. Me getting my way is not and never has been the issue. I want what is best for the forum, and sometimes I don’t know what that is. Sometimes I’m wrong. But there are certain biblical principles that must be followed, and I am not alone in claiming that they have not been followed in this process.

This is so hard to write. I’ve been putting it off for weeks, because it just breaks my heart to say these things. It would be so much easier to just stay here with you all. But I know I cannot do that in good conscience. I cannot support a leader who I believe is biblically unqualified, and I cannot support a leadership system built on lies and betrayal.

As hard as this post was to begin, it’s even harder to end. I don’t want this to affect any of my friendships with you all. I’ll still be on Skype, on email, on G+, and on Twitter. You can talk to me whenever you like, and ask me anything. I’ll always be here for whoever needs me. But the difference is, I won’t be posting here anymore. I won’t answer PMs. I won’t be able to talk about my writing and publishing here as that journey continues. Perhaps saddest of all to me, I will not be able to recommend this forum to anyone. Any young Christian writers asking my advice about joining this forum will have to be told that I cannot recommend such a course. And this is incredibly sad to me. I used to recommend this place to everyone, and I never thought that would end.

What more is there to say? I will continue to pray for this community. I am not angry at anyone. I am only very sad. But I need to get this over with and move on. All of this has been so stressful and heartbreaking the past few months, and to be honest, as terribly sad as I am, I am ready to move on from that. I hate saying that, but it’s true.

Leaving sci-fi is the thing that hurts the most. This forum is so special to me. It's the first place I joined, my introduction to HolyWorlds and to all of my dear friends on here. It's the place I first told about the Firmament series, and I expected to spend a lot of time here as I got further into the series. But as I said, the time has come to leave. I pray that someday things will change, and that I can return.

I wish you all the best. And I suppose the best way to end this post is the way I began it:

I love you all very much.

Goodbye.

~ J. Grace Pennington
"He must become greater, I must become less."
~ John 3:30

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