The Moody Bible Institute (MBI) of Chicago, founded in 1886 and named after the renowned American evangelist Dwight L Moody, appeared to be in crisis today after firing one of its popular radio presenters who criticised the institute for irregular dealings.
Julie Roys, the host of Moody Radio's Up for Debate broadcast, was not given a reason for her sacking by the Christian school and was told that her laptop would soon be retrieved from her home.
She had written on her website: 'From maintaining a luxury suite for a famous board member to questionable loans to officers and targeting whistleblowers, MBI leadership has overseen a system of perks, privileges, and punishment that's an affront to the gospel. And sadly, this web of influence and corruption has not only hampered the board's ability to deal with the current crisis facing the institute, but contributed to it.'
Roys, who had made allegations of 'self-dealing' among the administration and trustees, told the Christian Post (CP) that she has 'sources on the record' and 'documented support for the allegations against the administration cited in my prior piece' that corroborate her claims. She added that she intends to release more documentation in the coming days.
The allegations come after the institute announced in November that as part of a strategic initiative to preserve its long-term financial well-being, it would close its campus in Spokane, Washington and its distance-learning extension site in Pasadena, California, and that some faculty members in Chicago would be cut, amid reports that student enrollment is significantly down across the board.
In 2009, Moody reportedly gave the MBI president Paul Nyquist a $500,000 loan — which has allegedly never been repaid — in order to acquire a $1.08 million condominium near the campus.
The loan was given during a period of financial hardship for the school, but MBI has maintained that their actions were necessary and are part of the strategic initiatives they announced last autumn.
Roys claims that from 2000 to 2008, MBI also provided a kind of 'second home' in a luxury apartment for the former Moody board chairman – now a trustee – Jerry B Jenkins, the co-author of the Left Behind fiction series. AS CP noted, Jenkins had given the school an undisclosed sum of money in 1999 which enabled them to purchase the building bearing his name.
'Had MBI allowed other people to use the suite, and had Jenkins used the apartment only when he was in town on trustee business, it would not be considered self-dealing,' Roys explained.
Meanwhile, according to Roys, whistleblowers have been silenced, reprimanded or fired, and the atmosphere at the school is one of fear and intimidation.
CP reported that the Higher Learning Commission, which oversees accreditation for Moody, stipulates that the school must share governance with faculty, but the administration has refused.
Upon learning of the charges last autumn, Roys urged Moody trustees to investigate but instead, the trustees reportedly went directly to the president, did not interview any faculty, and the matter was ultimately dropped.
At this point, Roys opted to conduct her own investigation in which she interviewed many faculty members and then flew to Michigan in December to present her findings to Moody Trustee Emeritus Paul Johnson and vice-chairman of the board of trustees, Rick Warren.
Roys told CP last week that for too long, Moody 'has swept wrongdoing under the rug' and that if it is to recover, a new era of transparency and accountability is needed.
Roys believes that 'the ideal outcome' would be for Nyquist to resign immediately along with other figures at the institute, and claims that Warren and Johnson are 'pushing hard for resignations'.
In November, members of the Moody staff published an open, anonymous letter in Moody Standard, the student newspaper, which was reprinted on a website called 'The Broken Twig: Documenting the Decline and Fall of the Moody Bible Institute'.
In their letter, the staff voiced concerns about the administration, saying they had 'engendered a culture of fear' and that they 'don't feel that the administration is willing to listen or respond in wise ways'.
They also wrote that the administration had made misleading claims about the faculty cuts, saying that approximately 10 per cent of Institute staff was being let go, when in truth 34 out of the 112 full-time faculty were cut.
In a statement last Friday emailed to CP, the Moody director of public relations Brian Regnerus said that the institute's recent staff reductions came as a result of strategic changes the school made – outlined on its website – in order to set the institution on course for 'continued Kingdom impact'.
He added: 'Such changes often result in wide-ranging emotions, especially for those whose jobs may have been impacted,' and '[a]s people seek to understand such changes, some reflect on past events and attribute new meaning to them. For others, the stress of change may impact their sense of trust in the organization...
'Moody recently became aware of a personal blog post by a Moody employee that addresses the recent changes at Moody as well as makes a number of assertions about Moody primarily based on anonymous and second-hand sources and include past events that have been resolved.
'These assertions, referred to in the blog post as "allegations", are presented in an emotionally-charged and misleading way from a particular perspective without a full understanding of the actual facts. The blog's characterization of Moody's current state disappointedly paints an incomplete and inaccurate picture.'
Regnerus's statement concluded: 'In our mission to educate the next generation of Christian leaders, and to spread the good news of the gospel through our radio and publishing ministries for the advancement of God's Word, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the inspiration and inerrancy of the Word of God. Moody faces challenges, but we do so with hope and a renewed confidence in the Lord's sovereignty as He guides and provides for Moody, which He has faithfully done for 132 years.'